Very Short Introductions

Yes, these are very basic, but they actually make for great revision of some basics after a long summer of reading for fun. (full list)

Jonathan Culler, Literary Theory
Edward Craig, Philosophy
Robert J. C. Young, Postcolonialism

masterpost of all the plant books i own

this is all the plant books i own minus some suuuper vintage ones that dont matter so imma just gonna. put the casual books up top and all the others under the cut

there are many. my interests are diverse. be warned


The Plant Messiah - Carlos Magdalena

Reaching for the Sun - John King

Brilliant Green: The surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence (Kindle Edition) - Stefano Mancuso and Alessandra Viola

In Praise of Plants - Francis Halle

The Hidden Life of Trees: What they Feel, How they Communicate (Kindle Edition) - Peter Wohlleben

Botany for Dummies (Kindle Edition) - Rene Fester Kratz

Lab Girl - Hope Jahren. This was given to me by my dad because he heard it was about a female botanist and her fun botany adventures but I haven’t read it yet because it’s currently popular and I’m petty and an edgy stubborn teen that must Avoid Popular Things™. that being said its supposed to be really good so putting it here out of the admittance that it’s probably really good and I should read it

Keep reading

Finished #reading Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction, by Eric H. Cline. 

Public interest in biblical archaeology is at an all-time high, as television documentaries pull in millions of viewers to watch shows on the Exodus, the Ark of the Covenant, and the so-called Lost Tomb of Jesus. Important discoveries with relevance to the Bible are made virtually every year―during 2007 and 2008 alone researchers announced at least seven major discoveries in Israel, five of them in or near Jerusalem. Biblical Archaeology offers a passport into this fascinating realm, where ancient religion and modern science meet, and where tomorrow’s discovery may answer a riddle that has lasted a thousand years.

Archaeologist Eric H. Cline here offers a complete overview of this exciting field. He discusses the early pioneers, such as Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie and William Foxwell Albright, the origins of biblical archaeology as a discipline, and the major controversies that first prompted explorers to go in search of objects and sites that would “prove” the Bible. He then surveys some of the most well-known biblical archaeologists, including Kathleen Kenyon and Yigael Yadin, the sites that are essential sources of knowledge for biblical archaeology, such as Hazor, Megiddo, Gezer, Lachish, Masada, and Jerusalem, and some of the most important discoveries that have been made, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Mesha Inscription, and the Tel Dan Stele. Subsequent chapters examine additional archaeological finds that shed further light on the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, the issue of potential frauds and forgeries, including the James Ossuary and the Jehoash Tablet, and future prospects of the field.

A fascinating VSI that I devoured inside a single day. Cline is evidently relatively moderate in his approach to biblical archaeology, critical both of conservative biblicist attempts to use archaeology to “prove the Bible is true”, and of what he describes as the “sabotaging nihilism” of the minimalist school (for whom the Bible has almost no historicity whatsoever). 

The book has two parts: a history of biblical archaeology, from its early days as a branch of European imperialism (the line between “surveying possible biblical sites” and “spying on the Ottoman Empire” being a decidedly fine one) through to its increasingly scientific contemporary form; and then an overview of how the findings of biblical archaeology corroborate (or fail to corroborate) the biblical text. 

On that latter aspect (which Cline acknowledges is the main area of interest for laypeople), the broad conclusions Cline draws are: 

  • For the earliest events of the Bible (from the Flood through to the settlement of Canaan) there is almost no archaeological evidence. No evidence has been found for a worldwide Flood or for the Exodus, and in some cases (in particular the destruction of Jericho) the evidence we have contradicts the biblical text. 
  • For the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, by contrast, there is considerable archaeological evidence to corroborate elements of the biblical accounts –at least after David and Solomon, who remain somewhat lost in the mists. Furthermore, “in no case has the biblical account of an event in the early first millennium BCE yet been shown by an extrabiblical inscription to be completely false.” 
  • No direct archaeological evidence has yet been found for Jesus or the apostles, though this is unsurprising given that the New Testament deals with a small group of individuals over a few decades, in contrast to the Hebrew Bible’s broad geographical and historical scope. However, archaeology has shed considerable light on the historical and cultural context of Jesus and the early church. 

In his final chapter, Cline tells the sorry tale of recent high-profile “finds” that attracted huge media coverage (and much excited discussion among Christians) but have almost certainly proved to be forgeries, including the James Ossuary and the Jehoash Tablet. The lesson for the lay reader from these scandals is to follow the approach of “most professional biblical archaeologists and professional journals”, who “refuse to publish or discuss objects from the art market that do not have a proper provenance or documented context.” Or, more simply: if it sounds too good to be true, it is. 

And as Cline makes clear in the book’s epilogue, the real discoveries being made by archaeologists are sufficiently exciting without having to resort to dubious tales of “sensational” finds. 

A Very Short Introduction: Medical Ethics by Tony Hope •

This series is really fab - they’re literally a short introduction to a massive range of different topics. I’ve just read Medical Ethics, but I also have Epidemiology and Stem Cells. These books are absolutely perfect for learning about a topic that you don’t know very much about, and they explain everything in a very clear and concise way. They’re also great to write about on your personal statement, showing that you’ve read around the subject you’re interested in.

There are loads, so whatever topic you’re interested in, have a search and it’s likely that there will be a book in this series on it. I really recommend them!

In more personal terms, [archaeology] is a subject in which one can thoroughly enjoy one’s work, and meet or be in close touch with scores of friendly and like-minded people around the globe, particularly at conferences. Conversely, the degree of territoriality, bitchiness, backstabbing, and vicious infighting for some reason goes way beyond what is normally encountered in other disciplines. If you are planning to enter this field, you need the hide of a rhinoceros. There are inevitably a few archaeologists who are pompous, hypocritical, dishonest, pretentious, self-promoting, and unprincipled, but that does not stop them doing well in the profession. Quite the contrary, in fact. (Alas, I’m unable to name some examples here, much as I would like to, but they know who they are.)
—  strong words in Paul Bahn’s Very Short Introduction to Archaeology (Oxford, 1996)

So, 2017 was a bit of a terrible year, truth be told, but I did manage to read 115 books.

At the start of the year, I set myself the rather broad goal to ‘read more widely’. Doing a PhD in a Classics based subject does mean that I’m sometimes in danger of surrounding myself with books written by stuffy old white dudes in the 1900s, and that didn’t super appeal. So, I decided to read with the deliberate intent of broadening my horizons.

What that meant, in practice, was that I ended up reading a load of weird stuff. Books by people whose politics are repulsive to me? Why not! A book written without any punctuation and in an artificial reconstruction of Old English? Great! 600 pages of self-published pirate porn? Sure! (Although I didn’t read that one on the bus.)

Here are all the books I read this year, complete with a quote I felt best summed up the book or most enjoyed:

1.     Paganism: A Very Short Introduction – Owen Davies. 4/5
‘At first, the old vocabulary pertaining to the ‘other’ sufficed. The populations of the Americas, Africa, and Asia were heathens, barbarians, savages, gentiles, pagans.’

2.     I Saw a Man – Owen Sheers. 4/5
If he’d been able to speak to her, if her ghost should have visited him one night, he’d have told her you cannot be familiar with death, it can only be familiar with you.

3.     Blindness - José Saramago. 5/5
In a few minutes, the rescuers reached their destination, they knew it before even coming into contact with the bodies, the blood over which they were crawling was like a messenger come to tell them, I was life, behind me there is nothing.

4.     Love is Blind – Mary Burchell. 4/5
This is the moment of truth between us.

5.     We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Shirley Jackson. 5/5
I told you that you would like it on the moon.

6.     The Humans – Matt Haig. 5/5
So, we must conclude that madness is sometimes a question of time, and sometimes of postcode.

7.     Your Brother’s Blood – David Towsey. 4/5
He was tired of not being home.

8.     Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck. 5/5
He looked at his right hand that had thrown the gun away.

9.     The Walking Dead vol. 1 – Robert Kirkman. 5/5

10.   The Walking Dead vol. 2 – Robert Kirkman. 4/5

11.   The Walking Dead vol. 3 – Robert Kirkman. 4/5

12.   The Complete Maus – Art Spiegelmann. 5/5
And here my troubles began.

13.   The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson. 4/5
With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to that truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.

14.   When Bad Things Happen in Good Bikinis – Helen Bailey. 5/5
You are my happy ending.

15.   The Atomic, Blood Stained Bus – Michael Ritchie. 4/5
David drank the rest of his pint and waited for something to happen. It didn’t.

16.   Bird, Blood, Snow – Cynan Jones. 3/5
Something in my brain was asking to be known.

17.   Sarah – JT Leroy. 3/5
We gotta practice our miracles.

18.   Captive Prince – CS Pacat. 4/5
How the taint of this place had sunk down into his bones.

19.   The Hiding Place – Trezza Azzopardi. 5/5
The nightmares rise and fall like gulls on the horizon; something is being unearthed.

20.   Prince’s Gambit – CS Pacat. 5/5
To get what you want, you have to know exactly how much you are willing to give up.

21.   Kings Rising – CS Pacat. 5/5
This is the testimony of the dead.

22.   But You Did Not Come Back – Marceline Loridan-Ivens. 5/5
I had so little time to save enough of you within me.

23.   The Cat Inside – William S. Burroughs
I don’t think anyone could write a completely honest autobiography. I am sure no-one could bear to read it: My Past Was An Evil River.

24.   The Summer Palace – CS Pacat. 3/5
Words were easier than this.

25.   Red Dog - Louis de Bernières. 4/5
After half a lifetime of looking for John, perhaps in that final dream he found him.

26.   The Cat Inside – Lena Divani. 5/5
Doing nothing is, in all seriousness, one of the hardest things in the world.

27.   Animal Farm – George Orwell. 5/5
The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was which.

28.   Liquidation - Imre Kertész. 5/5
Masses of books, good and bad, of all sorts of genres are dormant within me.

29.   The Young Visiters – Daisy Ashford. 4/5
When the great morning came Mr Salteena did not have an egg for his breakfast in case he should be sick on the journey.

30.   The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood. 5/5
The life of the moon may not be on the surface, but inside.

31.   The Good Immigrant – ed. Nikesh Shukla. 5/5
There is no stopping time, nor the blurring of lines nor the blending of shades.

32.   Anthem – Ayn Rand. 2/5
I am not a bandage for their wounds. I am not a sacrifice on their altars.

33.   The Wake – Paul Kingsnorth. 5/5
he saes name me

34.   The Hound of the Baskervilles – Arthur Conan Doyle
I have given some attention to this matter and it is undoubtedly of importance.

35.   The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers. 5/5
The people we remember are the ones who decided how our maps should be drawn. Nobody remembers who built the roads.

36.   The Adventures of Charls, the Veretian Cloth Merchant – CS Pacat. 4/5
I’d work my whole life to be worthy of him.

37.   Black River – Louise Walsh. 2/5
Only God should move mountains.

38.   Stick Out Your Tongue – Ma Jian. 2/5
She sensed that the woman who had woken inside her just a few hours ago was slowly being ripped to shreds.

39.   Forbidden Love – Norma Khouri. 2/5
I wondered what kind of pain she had endured to make her build her fortress.

40.   The Hen who Dreamed she Could Fly - Sun-Mi Hwang. 4/5
She couldn’t tell what was about to happen, but she knew it was going to be entirely new.

41.   Difficult Women – Roxane Gay. 4/5
If you bear it long enough, you can become accustomed to almost anything.

42.   Boy, Snow, Bird - Helen Oyeyemi. 2/5
What’s next is what happened before.

43.   World War Z – Max Brooks. 4/5
As much as I longed for death, I continued to take whatever measures necessary to prevent it.

44.   Fifteen Dogs – Andre Alexis. 4/5
Violence has reasons that reason itself cannot know.

45.   Stevenson Under the Palm Trees - Alberto Manguel. 3/5
Nostalgia was the pain of missing places that he had never seen before.

46.   The Gifts of Reading - Robert MacFarlane. 5/5
A book lost by someone is often a book found by someone else.

47.   The Devil in America - Kai Ashante Wilson. 4/5
The Devil wouldn’t face a fool next time.

48.   Kaddish for an Unborn Child - Imre Kertész. 3/5
My existence viewed as the potentiality of your being.

49.   Three Elegies for Kosovo - Ismail Kadare. 3/5
Blood flows one way in life and another way in song, and one never knows which flow is the right one.

50.   Grief is the Thing with Feathers – Max Porter. 4/5
He woke up and didn’t see me against the blackness of his trauma.

51.   Abahn Sabana David - Marguerite Duras. 2/5
He said: Look here, leave it all, you’re building on ruins.

52.   Transcendence – Shay Savage. 4/5
But time still moves, and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

53.   Gnomon - Lucia Dertien. 4/5
He liked losing the self who was losing himself.

54.   Marrow – Yan Lianke. 3/5
The entire world had fallen quiet.

55.   A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess. 5/5
Stop treating me like a thing that’s like got to be just used.

56.   Kitchen - Banana Yoshimoto. 5/5
Over and over, we begin again.

57.   The Buddha in the Attic - Julie Otsuka. 4/5
I watched my brother’s face turn to ash and float up into the sky.

58.   Pig Tales – Marie Darrieussecq. 4/5
Rationality is the ruin of mankind, you can take it from me.

59.   My Cousin Rachel – Daphne du Maurier. 5/5
What have I done to you? Your face has changed.

60.   Language – Xiaolu Guo. 4/5
I am alien, like Hollywood film Alien, I live in another planet, with funny looking and strange language.

61.   Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier. 5/5
I could fight the living but I could not fight the dead.

62.   The Incest Diary – Anonymous. 3/5
And I knew how to leave my body behind and let things happen to it.

63.   Postcards from the Edge – Carrie Fisher. 4/5
I’m looking for myself and I find me everywhere.

64.   The Testament of Mary - Colm Tóibín. 4/5
Memory fills my body as much as blood and bones.

65.   Tell Me Everything You Don’t Remember - Christine Hyung-Oak Lee. 4/5
What I lost had to be lost.

66.   Hunger – Roxane Gay. 5/5
This is the body I made.

67.   The Vegetarian - Han Kang. 4/5
‘When did all this begin?’ she sometimes asked herself, in such moments. 'No - when did it all begin to fall apart?’

68.   When Dimple Met Rishi - Sandhya Menon. 3/5
She looked peaceful there, the sunset making her black hair glow with red, like she was holding lava inside her instead of blood.

69.   The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas. 5/5
Funerals aren’t for dead people. They’re for the living.

70.   The Woman Next Door - Yewande Omotoso. 3/5
She understood that hate was a kind of acid and she preferred not to burn.

71.   Rules for Virgins – Amy Tan. 4/5
You offer no bargains, and you never accept anything less than what you are worth.

72.   A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers - Xiaolu Guo. 5/5
Everywhere is you, and you are everywhere, every sentence, every page.

73.   Sorry to Disrupt the Peace - Patty Yumi Cottrell. 5/5
My point is, how is anyone supposed to live with anything?

74.   Blue Sky July - Nia Wyn. 4/5
There was all of life and all of death between us.

75.   A Small Revolution – Jimin Han. 3/5
What good did being a martyr do for the ones who loved you?

76.   Annie John – Jamaica Kincaid. 4/5
They had no different idea of how to be in the world: they certainly didn’t think that the world was a strange place to be caught living in.

77.   My Name is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Stroud. 3/5
No-one in this world comes from nothing.

78.   Schoolgirl – Osamu Dazai. 5/5
Sometimes happiness arrives one night too late.

79.   Octavio’s Journey - Miguel Bonnefoy. 5/5
Every people has its original wound: ours is the collapse of our history.

80.   Miracle in the Andes – Nando Parrado. 5/5
I would walk until I had walked all the life out of me, and when I fell I would die that much closer to my father.

81.   Such Small Hands - Andres Barba. 4/5
How is it that a thing gets caught inside a name and then never comes out again?

82.   Tamburlaine Must Die – Louise Welsh. 4/5
Hell is on this earth and we are in it.

83.   The Lamentation of Their Women - Kai Ashante Wilson. 3/5
Here in the police station, there was a little noise like that in hell.

84.   The Lover – Marguerite Duras. 5/5
And the error, the outrage, filled the whole universe.

85.   The Icarus Girl – Helen Oyeyemi. 4/5
Could it be that simple? I scream because I have no twin.

86.   Fairytales for Lost Children - Diriye Osman. 3/5
I went where I had to go, where my body and brain took me. I went where my blood beat.

87.   The Blazing World - Margaret Cavendish. 4/5
Conquerors seldom enjoy their conquest, for they being feared more than loved, most commonly come to an untimely end.

88.   Margaret the First - Danielle Dutton. 4/5
Yet how hard it is to point to a moment. To say: There, in that moment, I changed.

89.   Nagasaki - Éric Faye. 5/5
I didn’t have the heart for anything: it had stopped.

90.   My Phantom Husband - Marie Darrieussecq. 4/5
But the space left when he’d gone remained; a hole gaped in the universe. That was the scandal, and I knew of no law which could describe, fill or sanction it.

91.   The Color Purple – Alice Walker. 5/5
Have you ever found God in church? I never did. I just found a bunch of folks hoping for him to show.

92.   The Love of Good Women - Isabel Miller. 4/5
I was afraid I’d never be alive again.

93.   The Invention of Morel - Adolfo Bioy Casares. 5/5
The dead remain in the midst of the living.

94.   The Bigamist - Mary Turner Thompson. 4/5
Nothing I had ever felt was real, nothing I knew was real; everything was gone.

95.   Against the Law - Peter Wildeblood. 4/5
I believe there is something good in each one of us, and I suppose you could call that God.

96.   Night – Elie Wiesel. 5/5
Behind me, I heard the same man asking, “For God’s sake, where is God?” And from within me, I heard a voice answer, “Where He is? This is where - here, hanging from this gallows.”

97.   All Our Names - Dinaw Mengestu. 4/5
No-one will have ever loved each other more than we did.

98.   The Meat Tree – Gwyneth Lewis. 3/5
What am I missing while I’m dark in the light?

99.   Brethren: Raised by Wolves, Volume One - WA Hoffman. 4/5
I lived because I could not die.

100. Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd. 5/5
And when Reason bids us goodnight, sir, what then?

101. Travels in an Old Tongue – Pamela Petro. 4/5
Nid eir i annwn ond unwaith, one only goes to Hell once.

102. The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway. 5/5
Do not think about sin, he thought. There are enough problems now without sin.

103. Disgrace – JM Coetzee. 4/5
I live, I have lived, I lived.

104. Depression – William Styron. 4/5
The madness of depression is, generally speaking, the antithesis of violence. It is a storm indeed, but a storm of murk.

105. I Am Malala - Malala Yousafzai, Christina Lamb. 4/5
So yes, the Taliban have shot me. But they can only shoot a body.

106. An Untamed State - Roxane Gay. 4/5
You have no idea what I can take.

107. We Should All Be Feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. 4/5
Culture does not make people. People make culture.

108. Nina is Not OK - Shappi Khorsandi. 5/5
Me, I want to say. I have died. I can never live again.

109. Emergency Admissions - Kit Wharton. 3/5
Hell is other people - but heaven is too.

110. Trumpet – Jackie Kay. 4/5
When the pendulum of the old clock’s big hand moves forward, somebody always turns it back.

111. A Taste of Honey - Kai Ashante Wilson. 3/5
Aqib’s saving thought: I am the dream but so is he. And that felt right to him, as did the thought: He is real, but so am I.

112. Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher. 4/5
I wanted to be less, so I took more.

113. Shockaholic – Carrie Fisher. 3/5
You love them until they can’t feel loved any more, then you keep on loving them as if they were still there - as if there’s been a reprieve at the last moment and fate has reversed itself.

114. The Wonder - Emma Donoghue. 5/5
I’ve seen you where you were, and where you never will be.

115. Dangerous – Milo Yiannopoulos. 1/5
Editor comment: If that headline is hate speech, THIS WHOLE BOOK is hate speech

And in no particular order, my top 10 books of the year:

  1. Blindness - José Saramago
  2. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  3. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers
  4. Hunger – Roxane Gay
  5. Sorry to Disrupt the Peace - Patty Yumi Cottrell
  6. The Lover – Marguerite Duras
  7. Nagasaki - Éric Faye
  8. The Invention of Morel - Adolfo Bioy Casares
  9. Nina is Not OK - Shappi Khorsandi
  10. The Wake – Paul Kingsnorth

This year, I’d like to read even weirder stuff, and also set myself the goal of reading at least 10 musty old classics. Might not aim for 115 again, though. God, no.

A good deal of the hostility to theory no doubt comes from the fact that to admit the importance of theory is to make an open-ended commitment to leave yourself in a position where there are always important things you don’t know. But this is the condition of life itself.
—  Jonathan Culler, from A Very Short Introduction to Literary Theory

Alright y’all. I may be living in rural ghana at the moment, but I finally have decent enough wifi to be on tumblr and upload pictures. WHICH MEANS. Look at my puppy. This is my scrappy butt. I’ve known him since he was six weeks old, and nearly black he was so dark. November sixth he will be five months old, and hopefully by then he can actually come home with me. 

Very short introduction!! This is Gyata (jata, the gy is like in “gym”). In Fanti it means “lion,” and right now the little guy may be all of six pounds or so, which means the people in my village think his name is freaking hilarious. I do too, particularly when he comes running and his ears no longer follow physics. They do weird things, those ears. He’s been my saving grace and the light of my days, ultimately he’s the reason I’ve been having less and less anxiety and more and more energy to actually work. He’s just so care free! Most of the time. He really doesn’t like men… if he sees a group of them and I don’t outright shelter him, Gyata bolts… Something to work on. But for now, LOOK AT MY AFRICAN VILLAGE BABY HE’S SUCH A NERD

anonymous asked:

I once read a "very short introduction to" book about sleep/dreaming and every single scientist HATES Freud. They despise him. They talk about how much they hate him even when it's unrelated.

God, I need to read this book. Freud bashing is my jam. I want it on my tombstone when I die. ‘Could not stand to exist in the same world that produced Freud for a moment longer’.

anonymous asked:

Hey, could you recommend any books/Essays etc for "beginners" in the movement. Especially concerning how communist/ anarchist societies work and were the difference is. I understand and agree when people tell me about anarchocommunism but I just dont seem to be able to explain it myself to others.. so i hope through reading i will be able to process and express it better. Thanks in advance!

Hi anon!

For general “beginners” reading I’d suggest the following:

For material focusing on anarcho-/libertarian communism I’d suggest:

“We are communists. But our communism is not that of the authoritarian school: it is anarchist communism, communism without government, free communism. It is a synthesis of the two chief aims pursued by humanity since the dawn of its history—economic freedom and political freedom.“ - Peter Kropotkin, Anarchist Communism: Its Basis and Principles

If others have more reading suggestions please contribute!

- J.

The power of acceptance

by Gary Hayden
Straits Times 30th May 2017

We can learn from monks to remain calm, untroubled and focused, whether things go well or badly

Sometimes, when the pressures of work pile up, I think about monks.

In his book, Buddha: A Very Short Introduction, anthropology professor Michael Carrithers from the University of Durham in England recounts his experiences of doing fieldwork with forest monks in Sri Lanka.

He recalls that some of the monks poured enormous amounts of time and energy into long-term projects, such as founding forest hermitages, and were very successful in these endeavours.

Yet they remained relaxed about their work and even “relatively indifferent to the results of their efforts”.

I often think about those monks. Their attitude is one to which I aspire.

They were committed to their work. Wholeheartedly so. But they understood that even their best efforts may not guarantee success. And so, whether things went well or badly, they remained calm and untroubled.

They understood the power of acceptance.

Acceptance, in the Buddhist sense of the word, is not passivity. It is not accepting what happens without an active response, merely shrugging one’s shoulders and declining to engage.

Rather, it is looking clearly and calmly at a situation, seeing it for what it is and working with it as it is.

The Buddhist writer and teacher Jack Kornfield, in Bringing Home The Dharma, Awakening Right Where You Are, puts it nicely.

He says: “Acceptance allows us to relax and open up to the facts before us. It does not mean that we cannot work to improve things. But just now, this is what is so.”

This non-passive acceptance of tough circumstances is not an easy trait to acquire.

It is far easier, when things go wrong, to allow oneself to become frustrated and discouraged than it is to remain focused and engaged.

I know this from experience.

Like many people, I take my work seriously. Whatever I do, whether it is teaching English, working on a new book or writing this column, I try to do it well.

But, of course, I do not always succeed as well as I would wish. And so I live with a nagging sense of anxiety; a mild but constant fear of failure.

I used to think that these negative emotions were necessary, that I needed them in order to stay motivated.

But I no longer think that way.

Now, when I look inside myself, I see that if the anxiety were to disappear, the motivation would remain. I would still regard my work as worthwhile and would still try to do it well.

In fact, I now view those negative emotions as counterproductive. Because, at the very times when I most need focus, energy and enthusiasm - for example, when a lesson is not going well or a piece of writing refuses to come together - they distract, de-energise and deflate me.

There is more power in focused acceptance than there is in panic.

One of my favourite ancient philosophers, Epictetus, preached the virtues of acceptance.

He says: “Some things are in our control and others not.”

The trick to life, he says, is to focus our energies on the things we can control and accept patiently the things we cannot.

Despite our best efforts, things can and sometimes will go wrong. We need to accept that, and press on calmly and cheerfully anyway.

When, in the course of sexual desire, you contemplate the beauty of your companion, you are standing back from your desire, so as to absorb it into another, larger and less immediately sensuous aim. This is, indeed, the metaphysical significance of the erotic gaze: that it is a search for knowledge—a summons to the other person to shine forth in sensory form and to make himself known.
—  Roger Scruton, Beauty: A Short Introduction
My First Day of Japanese High School!


{Warning- this is an extremely long post. I apologize for the giant text wall!}

Today was my first day of school here in Japan! Well, almost first day- today I was just there for a few hours to take a tour and give my self introduction. But I still count it as my first day because I am now officially a student of Fujimigaoka.

I woke up at 5:30 (which is the same time I woke up in America) and went upstairs to eat breakfast. After eating I went to get ready. Right now all the students are still wearing their summer uniforms. I will make a video all about my uniforms, but I don’t have everything yet so I will wait until I have all the pieces to make the video. The belt was too big for me, so I didn’t wear that. In the summer you can either wear long-sleeve or short-sleeve blouses, so I chose the short-sleeve one for today (Japan is so humid!). On top of the shirt is the sweater vest, and although it’s cute I don’t understand why it’s necessary in summer! Everything seemed to fit, but the vest was a little baggy around the arms- at the fitting they kept giving me bigger sizes even though I told them that the medium was fine. But the story about my uniform fitting is for another time (^ u ^)

At around 9:10, my host mom and I left the house; but first we took some pictures. I look so awkward (> u <) Of course on my first day it happened to be raining- only lightly, but I was hoping for some sun. Just as we stepped out of the house and onto the sidewalk, my host Rotary counselor pulled up in his car. Even though the train station is only a three minute walk, he offered to drive us there; we were all going to meet up at the station anyways, so we thought that we might as well go together. At the station my host mom charged one of the older train cards my host family had so I didn’t have to buy a ticket every time. This is what the card looks like (it’s a popular train pass brand here):

As you can see, mine’s a little beat up! Oh well, it still works and that’s all that really matters. Tokyo train stations are so busy and crowded, especially in the morning rush. The previous night my host dad explained to me my train route to school. I have to take two trains, but the entire journey only takes about ten minutes. The maps of the train lines are a little confusing, even though all of the stations and routes have the names printed in English. I guess it’s difficult because there are just so many train lines. At the station I also met my counselor’s assistant- she is such a sweet lady. Everyone was commenting how cute I looked in my uniform (I disagree- I don’t think it looks good on me!). The route to my school is so confusing, even my counselors and host mom struggled a bit to navigate the stations. But somehow we finally made it to the right area. From the last station it’s about a five minute walk to my school. My host mom held the umbrella over me so I could film the walk there (I filmed it not only for YouTube but for me to watch it and memorize the route). Everyone here has been so supportive of my YouTube channel- I’m so happy!

When we entered the school, one of the ladies at the desk showed us the cubby slots to place our shoes in. We had to change into these really attractive (can you feel my sarcasm?) indoor slippers which had the school name printed on them. The front mat had the school crest on it (almost everything at Fujimigaoka seems to have the school crest!).

We were all led into a conference room, and in a few minutes the school principle and vice principle came in to go over the basic formalities. They had my Rotary application and proceeded to ask me questions about myself. Some of the questions I could have answered in Japanese, but I was so nervous that my mind blanked and English came out of my mouth before I could stop myself. The principle asked me what I like to do, what my parents do, and if I knew Japanese. When I said my mom is a doctor, he looked stunned. He said I come from a very respectable family. I told them I’ve been studying for six years, and took one Japanese course at school; he almost rolled off his chair in surprise. They told me that I didn’t have to worry about the self-intro speech, and that I could do it in English or a mix of Japanese in English. I surprised everyone, including my counselors, when I said that I was going to do the entire thing in Japanese. The principles said they looked forward to hearing it, and then they took their leave to prepare for the opening ceremony. My counselor asked me if I wrote my speech in romaji (Japanese wrtitten with the english alphabet), and my host mom stepped in and said it was all in Kana and Kanji. I passed them my notebook, and my counselor’s jaw hit the table.

I was getting a little more nervous as I heard the all the chatter of the other students on their way to the auditorium. Soon I would be in that auditorium, in front of everyone, giving my speech. Everyone kept telling me to relax, and I did my best but I was still on edge. When one of the teachers came to escort us to the auditorium, I almost tripped because my feet were unsteady. This was going to be the largest crowd I have ever spoken in front of. The building itself is huge, and it’s six stories high- I barely saw even a quarter of the entire campus. I had seen pictures of the auditorium online, but it was even bigger in person. The bleachers were almost entirely filled; all of the girls were chatting and sharing stories of what they did over the summer. Many of them noticed me standing awkwardly in the doorway. I sat down off to the side with my host mom and counselors; my moment was approaching quickly. But first the principle said his opening words. After him, the two new English language teachers from the UK gave their self introductions. It didn’t sound like they knew Japanese that well; my host mom leaned over and said my speech was much more advanced.

One of the teachers is from London, and the other is from Scotland. They both seem really nice and energetic- I hope I get to meet them in person later. The Scottish teacher had spent a year of university in New York, so maybe I can ask him about that later. They both went through powerpoint presentations about themselves, and the students seemed pretty enthusiastic about it. Finally, after all of that was done it was finally my turn. I gave my camera to my host mom so she could film, and I waited to go up on stage while the principle introduced me. He said a little about me, and the second he mentioned I was from America I heard a squeal from the girls. But the the thing that surprised me the most was the reaction I got when he mentioned my mom is a doctor. There was a loud gasp of awe from the entire auditorium- I think being a doctor is a pretty big deal here in Japan. I was ushered onto the stage and told to go to the podium. Because the indoor slippers had no grip, my sock-covered feet kept sliding out of them, so I had to concentrate really hard on not losing a slipper as I made my way up the stage stairs.

The lights felt way too bright, but as I looked out at the crowd, everyone looked really friendly and eager to hear what I had to say. I took a deep breath and began. There were a few parts I stumbled over, but the crowd was hanging onto my every word. When I said my Japanese isn’t very good, everyone started making sounds of disagreement. I think they thought I was joking, because there was a little laughter too. There was a huge roar of applause when I finished, but when the principle mentioned that I would be studying here for a year one group in the crowd started clapping and bouncing in their seats- they looked really excited and happy that I am going to stay for so long. I bowed to everyone and returned to my seat. Everyone congratulated me on my speech, and I left the auditorium feeling a little lighter. But I wasn’t done quite yet. Later I would go to my class and make another self-intro speech.

We went back to the same meeting room to leave our things, and then I went with the teacher, my host mom, and my counselor’s assistant to a room where I would be fitted for my gym uniforms. There are so many pieces to a Japanese school uniform; I have so much Fujimigaoka merchandise now! I had to change into the uniforms to try them on. Again, no one believes me when I said I needed a size medium, and they gave all larges. But once I emerged from the dressing room looking like an oompa-loompa in the oversized clothes they immediately gave me the right sizes. I have a summer and winter gym uniform, and a separate gym skirt for dance class. Ugh, I hate gym class because I am terrible at sports. Back in America I wouldn’t have to take gym anymore, but it looks like I will never escape PE! I also got fitted for my cleaning apron- in Japan the children clean the schools; there are no janitors. Finally I was allowed to change back into my regular uniform. I hope we have a lot of time to change, because it takes forever to button and unbutton my shirt!

After I changed back we went to my classroom. The room itself is pretty small. All of my classmates were there, and they started squealing as soon as I came in. I gave a very short introduction, because they just heard my long one, and then I said goodbye (I won’t be going to school again until Monday, September 7th- that will be my first full day). In the next class over, there is a girl who will be coming with me on the train every day and helping me out for the first few months. I am so grateful for that- she is so nice! I hope we become good friends. For the next hour or so we were talking with my teacher in the meeting room. My host mom and counselor were asking different question, and because it was all in really fast Japanese I kind of zoned out. I know I should have been more attentive, but I was exhausted and I felt a headache coming on. I knew my host mom would explain everything to me later. I also got my school schedule- I will explain it in another post once my classes are finalized. I was asked what clubs I want to join, and I said calligraphy, flower arranging, or tea ceremony. Because I said I like art, sensei (teacher) asked me to help paint things for the upcoming school festival.

Finally around 1:00 PM we were ready to return home. I bid my teachers farewell, and my host mom and I started our journey back. My host mom got me a nice new train card, and she said we have to find a cute train card pouch for me to keep it in.

 On the way we stopped at the store and picked up some bento meals for lunch; I chose オムライス (omuraisu- omelette rice). Its an omelette on top of a bed of rice with sauce drizzled on it. It is so yummy!

We got home around 1:30 PM, I ate, and I fell asleep on the couch. It was a long, tiring day- but it was a great first day of school. I’m excited to see how the rest of the year goes!

(Video of my first day will be posted soon!)

If we cannot justify the very concept of the aesthetic, except as ideology, then aesthetic judgment is without philosophical foundation. An ideology is adopted for its social or political utility, rather than its truth. And to show that some concept—holiness, justice, beauty, or whatever—is ideological, is to undermine its claim to objectivity. It is to suggest that there is no such thing as holiness, justice or beauty, but only the belief in it—a belief that arises under certain social and economic relations and plays a part in cementing them, but which will vanish as conditions change.
—  Roger Scruton, Beauty: A Very Short Introduction

veganvenom  asked:

Prompt: Courfeyrac leaves his bag in the Musain after a meeting. Combeferre picks it up, intending to return it to his friend later, but it's unzipped and a load of books tumble out. They include "A Very Short Introduction to Butterflies and Moths", "Philosophy for Dummies" and "How Scientists Think".

“Yeah, I think that should work. I’ll make a facebook event and email Planned Parenthood when I get home.” Combeferre places the minutes from today’s meeting in a folder and slips it into his messenger bag, alongside his laptop.

“Sounds good!” Enjolras’s glance strays from Combeferre’s face for a moment and Ferre turns to see Grantaire leaving the cafe.

“Why don’t you head home now? I can tidy up,” he says, a knowing smile tugging at his lips.

“What? Oh–thanks, yeah, I think I’ll just–R! Hey, about what you said earlier…” Enjolras is gone in about three seconds, and Combeferre shakes his head in amusement as he turns to examine the back room of the Musaine. A few chairs need to be pushed in still, and he throws away a stray napkin before coming across a bright yellow backpack. He reaches down to pick it up, intending to drop it by Courf and Marius’s apartment.

The moment he lifts it up, the bag’s contents scatter across the floor, several loud thumps startling Ferre and making him start. Dammit…he really should have remembered that Courf’s zipper is broken, Combeferre thinks as he kneels down to gather the contents. There are a few pamphlets on HIV prevention form their last meeting, a truly ridiculous number of vanilla chapsticks, a spare pair of socks, and more books than should reaonably have fit in a bag this size.

Placing the smaller items back in the bag, Combeferre gathers the books and examines their titles with interest. Encyclopedia Insectae, Philosophy for Dummies, A Brief History of Time…Combeferre has turned off the light and sprinted down the street, backpack clutched in his arms, before he can see the rest of the covers.

“You stole my books!”

“Ferre? What are you doing here?” Courfeyrac, clad only in an oversized t shirt and boxers, looks at Ferre in confusion as he stands in his doorway.

“You stole my books!” Ferre repeats, holding the yellow backpack out. “I’ve been looking for these for weeks; I needed the Encyclopedia for one of my essays.”

“Oh.” Courfeyrac’s face is flushed as he stands there, holding his bag awkwardly. “I’m sorry, I just–um–I wanted to–have a conversation. With you.” He can’t meet Ferre’s gaze, and shifts back and forth in his stocking feet.


“I wanted to have a conversation!” Courf finally looks up, biting his lip nervously before he continues. “Ever since we started college, it seems like we’re talking less and less…you’ve got Joly to talk about biology and astronomy and stuff and there’s no time for all our little adventures. We haven’t had one of our midnight picnics in the park since we graduated high school…I know it’s silly and of course you’re going to make new friends and that’s ok, obviously, but I just thought if I understood some of what you’re studying, maybe you’d talk to me more…”


“I just. Miss you.” Combeferre’s heart breaks a little at those words, as he gazes down on the face of one of his two oldest friends. 

“I miss you too.” Ferre steps forward and wraps his arms around Courfeyrac. “You know you’re one of the most important people in my life, though, right? And I honestly love that we can talk about things other than my classes, talking to you is like…” like a breath of fresh air, like my heart turns into a giant moth that’s fluttering in my chest, like… “It’s a relief.”

Courfeyrac pulls back a little at that, blinking in surprise. “It is?”

“Yes!” Combeferre exclaims. “I love talking to you more than anyone, Courf.”

“Oh.” The word falls out softly, and that beautiful, sunny smile Ferre loves so much slowly appears on Courf’s face. “I feel the same way…do you want to come in, Ferre? It’s kind of cold out.” He steps aside and Combeferre enters the small apartment, watching him set his bag near the door and turn back around.

“I’m sorry if you’ve felt left out, Courf, I know I’ve been busy. Do you want to do one of our Disney marathons tonight maybe?” As he says it, Ferre notices the constellation print on Courf’s shirt, which is several sizes too large.

“That would be great,” Courf says brightly.

“Oh, and one more thing, Courf.”


“Is that my shirt?”

“Oh! Um, yes. I–uh–it was because–” The sight of a thoroughly flustered Courfeyrac stirs something deep inside Combeferre, and he finds himself laughing out loud.

“I…think I know why,” he says softly. He steps forward and suddenly their lips are pressed together, his arms around the smaller man as they both shake with silent, giddy, relieved laughter. 

The books are forgotten and the next time Ferre sees them, he is placing them on the shelf he and Courf just built together.

anonymous asked:

What books or resources would you recommend for a highschooler getting into literary criticism and theory?

I would recommend starting chronologically to get a solid grasp of the major movements and periods—structuralism, formalism, psychoanalysis, feminism, Marxism, New Criticism, deconstruction, poststructuralism, etc.—that theory and criticism are “divided into.” As you read, you’ll get a better sense of how texts respond to and critique each other, as well as the political, social, and historical backdrop of each text. Once you have a sense as to which figures/movements/concepts interest you most, you’ll be able to focus on those rather than just a broad overview.


The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism is a text that tries to capture all the major voices and schools of thought, but it can be an expensive book for someone outside the university library system.

Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler is accessible and concise. Instead of structuring the book around the major schools of literary theory, Culler focuses on the shared claims and questions that underpin those schools. Culler’s other books, The Pursuit of Signs: Semiotics, Literature, and Deconstruction and On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism after Structuralism, are good primers to semiotics, deconstruction, and poststructuralism.


This lecture series from Yale Open Course provides a good overview of the major movements of theory and criticism in an accessible, clear way.