Showing posts from October, 2007

History and What Makes You Not a Buddhist

What Makes You Not a Buddhist by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse A guide to Buddhism for Westerners that's chock full of very hip, timely examples that will date the book within a year. Until I finished the book and was ready to drop it like a hot potato with its judgmental ending metaphor--that not believing the 4 noble truths is like reading a medicine bottle and not taking the medicine--I had not noticed the implicit judgment in the title itself. It actually tells the reader up front that you are not a Buddhist. This guy is to Pema Chodoron like kayaking the Colorado River rapids are to canoeing on a placid lake. I don't trust his take on emotions. I find this with a lot of men who write about Buddhism. They treat emotions like annoying children that just need discipline rather than potential sources of wisdom. History: A Very Short Introduction by John Arnold This couldn't be shorter, but it's chock full of good insights about why and how to do history. My favorit

Storytelling and a novel

A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink Pink believes that the world of work is undergoing a shift, as we enter a "new age" that will require more right-brained work, as opposed to traditional left-brained approaches. He says that "high concept" and "high touch" skills are outstripping analytical thinking in the changing occupational landscape. "High concept involves the capacity to detect patterns and opportunities, to create artistic and emotional beauty, to craft a satisfying narrative, and to combine seemingly unrelated ideas into something new. High touch involves the ability to empathize with others, to understand the subtleties of human interactions, to find joy in one's self and to elicit it in others, and to stretch beyond the quotidian in pursuite of purpose and meaning." (p. 2-3) All good things, I think. And it's a fun roller-coaster of an argument, zipping from laughing clubs to video games. I think it's right that the bes

things I read in summer 2003

I've had many unsuccessful attempts to track what I was reading. Among them, a little notebook covered with fish. These entries are from there... The Lovely Bones by Sebold Haunting story (literally) narrated by the ghost of a girl raped and killed in the opening scene. The rest is her view from heaven... "A fourteen, my sister sailed away from me into a place I'd never been. In the walls of my sex there was horror and blood, in the walls of hers there were windows." (p 125) Anyone who has even had a friend who told them about sexual trauma can relate to an aspect of this quote. Great last line: "I wish you all a long and happy life." Straight Man by Russo College professor in a small town, only moderately successful, starts talking out loud by accident, when he thinks he's not speaking. People talk back. He melts down slowly, until one day he threatens to kill a duck a day until he has a budget for the English department. Who Will Run the Frog Ho

Articles on storytelling, storytimes

"Storytime Model for Large Groups" by Amanda Williams, in Children and Libraries v5 n2, p. 27 Pithy article that gives a template for best practices in such storytimes, based on her dissertation work, which in turn was based on about interviews with practicing librarians. What she writes holds true in my experience, but it's one of those dogged old difficulties with programming: the joy is in the spectacular presence of one's self with one's audience. Boiling this down into a template of best practices drains all that interactive joy, even when Williams spells out that this is a "guide" and needs adjustment for specific situations. Good article, very helpful for new practitioners especially and for those without a performance background who might feel overwhelmed with large groups. And yet the heart of the storyhour, its basis in storytelling practices of audience interaction even when the materials themselves are entirely print-based and no actual

Agassiz in The Metaphysical Club

The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand Subtitle is "A Story of Ideas in America," and indeed that's what it is, a big honking book, some of which I skimmed. The most interesting bits to me relate to my own research, including the resurgence of John Dewey's ideas after the demise of the cold war (discussed in the conclusion) and chapter 6, which is devoted to William James' involvement with Louis Agassiz. Here's the most compelling bit about Agassiz, who I'm curious about because of Caroline Hewins' Agassiz nature study club, founded in about 1878. Basically, I'm interested in the intersection of the growth of scientific ideas with the growth of children's literature in the late 19th century, which nonfiction books were strongly promoted by librarians as the best reading for children (I presented on aspects of this topic twice last year in different venues, once at the Education in Print Culture conf. in Madison and once at the Children's