Book Notes

The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway and Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

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So, I finished one book and started another. I finished The Snows of Kilimanjaro and started Sweet Tooth.

The Snows of Kilimanjaro is a book of short stories by Ernest Hemingway, some I have read before and some of which were new to me and I was reading for the first time. The last story in the collection was The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, my favorite Hemingway story and quite possibly my favorite short story of all time. The last time I read this story I was in my 20s. I remember when and where I read it and under what circumstances I was my reading it. It made such a large impression on me. So, these many years later, I read it again with great joy and new eyes. It still made a great impression on me and revived many fond memories. This story taught me at an early age that Hemingway lived by code and it was possible to even have a code. This was an early and important teaching in my life and one I have always tried to live by.

I picked up Sweet Tooth and began to read it. Within 10 pages I knew I was going to like it. First of all, it was dedicated to Christopher Hitchens. One of my favorite writers and one to whom I most look up to and strive to write like when I attempt to write nonfiction. It is not easy. He has set a high bar. A few pages in McEwan references some of my other favorites writers and books as well. These are writers of fiction who are also my heroes: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, Vladimir Nabokov’s Bend Sinister, and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. All of which I have read. I am betting this book will prove to be a good read!

White Lotus

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The lotus symbolizes the simultaneous nature of cause and effect or the laws of karma because it blossoms and produces seeds at the same time. We can create our own happiness under any circumstances. This is also symbolized by the lotus. The lotus grows and blossoms in a muddy swamp, yet remains utterly free of any defilement.

FUNERAL PROCESSION

Cemetery Blues

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Military funeral of Samuel V. Bell Sr. – 1981

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Bell Family – Samuel V. Bell Jr., Lewis Bell, his two sons Danny and David, and Sister Bert.

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Samuel Bell Jr, (my Father) Lewis Bell and Sister Bert, all gone

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My beautiful family, both gone

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He’ll be a grave man by morning

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A man of infinite jest

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They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.

All moments in time are lost like tears in the rain…..

 

 

 

MEME

I have been thinking about this new word, meme, which has lately entered into the lexicon. For some reason, I don’t know quite know why, it seems to annoy me. To further inquire into this cognitive dissonance, which I feel whenever I see the word in print, I decided to do a little research. It turns out a meme is a newly coined word, coined by British scientist Richard Dawkins, that identifies ideas or beliefs that are transmitted from person or group to another. A meme functions as a unit that carries cultural ideas from mind to mind through writing, speech, gestures or rituals. Some believe memes are analogous to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures. Some question whether culture can be captured or reduced to discrete units such as memes. I would fall into this category and hence my sense of dis-ease whenever I hear the word. Another reason I dislike the word, I think, is that I don’t like the concept of herd mentality, groupthink, mob rule, or even, heaven help me, team player. However, a term to help us understand these phenomena can be useful, I suppose. It’s just that we have so many other words, perfectly good words. Do we really need to invent new ones?