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What book are you reading right now? - Page 184

post #2746 of 4524
Originally Posted by longbowbbs View Post



Yes! 23 years!!



AHHH!!!!! Every time I pick up the series again I'll read them all at once up until around book 9-10 and then get burned out on them. I really regret that I've never read them all especially with the series finally finishing up and all. Probably my favorite series of books I'd say. So easy to bring the world to life in your own head using the massive amount of detail he was always known for writing into it.

post #2747 of 4524

book cover of  D.C. Dead   (Stone Barrington, book 22) by Stuart Woods

post #2748 of 4524
Just started reading the Honor Harrington series again... Decided to go from the beginning with "On Basilisk Station".
post #2749 of 4524

post #2750 of 4524

Oooo. I loved that book when I was younger. I read my copy of it into oblivion. I've totally forgotten about it until just now.

Originally Posted by MegaMushroom View Post

Just started reading the Honor Harrington series again... Decided to go from the beginning with "On Basilisk Station".
post #2751 of 4524

Here is a little collection of essays that affects me so strongly that I feel compelled to write a long commentary on it: Piano Pieces by Russell Sherman.

Sherman is a concert pianist and teacher, and his tightly-composed, aphoristic essays -- often a mere paragraph or two -- is permeated with music: arabesques of adjectives meander through a staccato of wordplay, while tonal shifts are afforded by resonant metaphors. The following passages are entirely typical:



“If there is such a thing as a blue note, could there not also be green notes and mauve notes? Notes can be just notes, of course, devoid of shadow or color, therefore hardly noteworthy. Something like batter partitioned in a cookie mould -- inedible and unedifying. Notes that do not denote or connote belong only to factories, and can never appeal to the olfactories of the Muse and her followers.”

“[On exploring a musical composition] What does this mean? What does that say? Name it; provide a meaning, a face, a haunt. a ground; a role, a dream, a fate, and its part of the plot. Which part? Obedient, conforming, deforming, derailing, didactic, intactful, slender, slanderous, tame, or tepid? No, never tepid, however quiescent. Quiet has a pulse too.”


So, beneath all this rhetoric bravura, what does Sherman’s book say? I think I can put a name on it; unfortunately the lesson is more banal than his prose: musicians should be informed by their imagination; music should flow with the inevitability of the river, the caprice of the wind. Unfortunately, critics, competition judges, and sound recordings have stymied the natural impulse of music making, replacing it with a rigid dogma, branding outliers with condescending labels like “sentimental”, “eccentric” and “intellectual” -- Sherman has evidently suffered much under this word: each appearance is followed by a (!). The interest in classical music and other forms of high culture is on the wane, because peoples’ souls are consumed by rampant, cynical consumerism. They are afraid of uncertainties in life, emptiness, and other existential enigmas, so they hide their fear under the garish neon signs of pop culture. The notions of “beauty” and “nature” have been corrupted, reduced to kitsch, like the beach scenes with palm trees on travel agents’ brochures. Musicians, and mankind in general, should re-connect to the real nature, a nature complete with plainness and darkness, sludge and silence.

All these are valid, wholesome observations, just things that have been said -- more succinctly -- millions of times before. It is like opening an exquisitely wrapped present to find inside... a set of toothbrushes. But then there’s nothing wrong with toothbrushes; after all everybody needs them, and you can save the pretty paper for use later.

As a teacher, Sherman meets young people all the time, and he laments the damage consumerist culture have done to their minds -- the debasement of their language, the attrition of their imagination and taste, the replacement of ideal with cynicism. Yet, perhaps because of his overflowing concern and affection of his young charges, Sherman commits a very common error: treating young people as blameless angels, only to be corrupted by outside (i.e.: adult) influences over which they have no power. When Sherman talks about the youth, the word “victim” or its derivatives are never far behind.

The notion of Youth as a dew-strewn, fresh-sprung rose, to be rendered sick by the invisible worm of adulthood, is a romantic, self-serving one: self-serving because it allows each generation to blame their ills on their forebears. It ignores the extent young people are able to shape the cultural environment they are in -- to sow their own crap, to put it bluntly. Surely adults did not invent graffiti, ghost-riding, or Gangnam style. What adults do is to be the arbitrator of marketability, cherry-picking among various youth cultures for the one that might “make it big”, as in the case of the middle-aged bloke who took Korean street dances to the internet and made big bucks.

Sherman saves his strongest vitriol for rock ‘n roll (which to him includes Madonna). He finds rock music “monotonous, predictable, stagnant and dreary”, at best a “false rebellion” and at worst a “gargoyle”. He is however curiously silent about rap and hip-hop (rap is mentioned in passing, in a neutral context, so Sherman is aware of it), entertainment products that are at the very least equally guilty of being false rebellions and more guilty of being uninspired and grotesque. I can only speculate that, coming from a musical tradition commonly regarded as whiter than white, Sherman might not want to invite the charge of racism by criticizing black culture, no matter how fair, sensible or insightful such criticism might be.

Throughout the book, Sherman is extremely dismissive of pre-conceived notions, for example he regards “performance styles” impediments to musical expression. Yet he sometimes contradicts himself in a most spectacular manner, as when he recounts a tale told by his teacher Edward Steuermann, about a man trying to describe the character of milk to his blind friend:



“Simple, to start with, it’s white.”

“But what is white?” his friend asks unavailingly.
“And besides, it is a liquid, like water.”
“But what is water?”
“Look here, it is white, and it is a smooth, creamy liquid that comes from a cow.”
“But what is a cow, and what is smooth and creamy?”
“Well, let’s put it this way, it is like rubbing your hand along the neck of a swan.”
“Ah! Now I know what milk is.”


Not only does this story make no sense (“What is a swan? and how can I be sure I’m rubbing along its neck and not its leg?”), Steuermann (and Sherman) suggests that some romantic, pre-packaged, oft-repeated ideal, that of the supposed gentleness and purity of a swan, is an adequate substitute for personal experience. Surely a blind man can know milk! All its “liquidness”, “smoothness” and “creaminess”! All he needs is to be given a glass of milk, let his nose take in the scent, let his tongue bathe in the faint sweetness, let his mouth be coated with its luscious film. Indeed, elsewhere Sherman quotes G.B. Shaw: “education must appeal to the actual experiences to the senses”, so it is puzzling to see Sherman falling for a silly romantic cliche.

While reading the book I keep wondering what kind of pianist Sherman is, and I have the impression that he must be a Schumann person -- surely to get inside the mind of Schumann, you need to be very well read, full of heart, and occasionally, just a little indulgent, a tad blinkered? I checked Amazon and no, he does not appear to have a Schumann recording -- Ah, this time, it is my turn to let pre-conceived notions lead me astray.

post #2752 of 4524

davinci code. Seen the movie a few times but this is my first time reading the book. Very similar in pace and plot to other dan brown books ive read

post #2753 of 4524


Amazing book, kept me up until 5 am

post #2754 of 4524

One of the best books I've ever read.

Originally Posted by Quinto View Post


Amazing book, kept me up until 5 am

post #2755 of 4524

Tenth of December

- a collection of short stories 
by American author George Saunders

File source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tenth_of_December.jpg



George Saunders Lives Up To The Hype ;')



post #2756 of 4524
I'll read pretty much anything, maybe excluding "for dummies" books biggrin.gif Right now I'm on the Scarlett letter and Wuthering heights, loving the classics smily_headphones1.gif
post #2757 of 4524

Short Stories For Short Attention Spanned, Low Informationed Dummies


By : Fox News


/ Not yet in print due to illiteracy amongst the target demographic ;')



Edited by Hi-Finthen - 1/31/13 at 11:21am
post #2758 of 4524

Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga - Hunter S Thompson 


Interesting indeed

post #2759 of 4524

Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

Discovered an amazing website that goes hand-in-hand!



Edited by jkxs - 2/1/13 at 6:32pm
post #2760 of 4524

book cover of  The Innocent  by David Baldacci

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