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"listen-in-the-wind" (kirkland, wa USA)

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Peripheral Visions
Peripheral Visions
by Mary Bateson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.87
53 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars deep ideas proffered like cookies with afternoon tea, May 17 2003
This review is from: Peripheral Visions (Paperback)
The utter simplicity of this book is deceptive. The ideas go very deep and are shattering in their implications. Yet they are proffered like cookies with afternoon tea.
Mary Catherine Bateson presents learning as something directly related to the capacity to enjoy life; learning as an activity pursued throughout life, having only a tenuous connection with school as such. The quotes below give you a flavor of the depth of her reflections and of the pithyness of her expression.
"Increasingly, we will cease to focus on learning as preliminary and see it threaded through other layers of experience, offering one of life's great pleasures."
"The capacity to enjoy, to value one experience over another, is the precondition of the capacity to learn."
"Looking, listening and learning offer the modern equivalent of moving through life as a pilgrimage."
"It is hard to think of learning more fundamental to the shape of society than learning whether to trust or distrust others."
"Human beings construct meaning as spiders make webs."
"The solution is to take responsibility for the choice of metaphors, to savor them and ponder their suggestions, above all to live with many and take no one metaphor as absolute."
"School casts a shadow on all subsequent learning. Trying to understand learning by studying schooling is rather like trying to understand sexuality by studying bordellos."
"Not only don't we know what we know, we don't know what we teach."
"Most of the learning of a lifetime, including much of what is learned in school, never shows up in a curriculum."

Stargirl
Stargirl
by Jerry Spinelli
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 16.05
71 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars The Gospel according to Spinelli - bubbly and tangy-sweet, Feb. 17 2001
This review is from: Stargirl (Hardcover)
I love this book. I love books that work on lots of levels, for many audiences, and from many starting points. Stargirl succeeds on many levels, yet fails on an important level - it fails to offer something that can be emulated rather than admired from a distance. The comment in an earlier review: "If I was not at school, i would have cried at the end" is very poignant here. The contrast between being fully expressed and being ordinary is beautifully drawn and powerfully explored. Spinelli doesn't make the mistake of making Stargirl strange like a self-absorbed hermit - Stargirl is "for" others, not "like" others, not "better than" others. Still, Stargirl is too unattainable in her perfection, yet too unaware of what it would take to bring others along with her, thus her perfection stays with her and will die with her, living as a memory at best.
I think the book works best as a fable for adults. Best as a way to evoke adolescence as we adults remember it to sound and feel, poor as a gateway into a teenage world. Parallels with the gospel story are easy to draw, the boy Leo in the role of Peter, Archie as John the Baptist, parallels so plentiful they appear deliberate. As a re-telling of a gospel story, making it contemporary, Stargirl is the best I've seen.
Just like we tell our daughters not to wait passively for the prince like Cinderella, just like churches tell their members not to wait despondently till Christ's second coming while the weeds overtake the garden, let's give our teenagers models other than Stargirl to emulate.
I read this book to my teenagers, and they loved this book and were moved by it even if the teenager characters didn't seem quite real to them.

Dire Mastery: Discipleship From Freud to Lacan
Dire Mastery: Discipleship From Freud to Lacan
by Francois Roustang
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 70.57
21 used & new from CDN$ 3.46

4.0 out of 5 stars Freud: the long and looming shadow of the Founder, Jan. 27 2001
Roustang writes a fascinating account of the birth of the Psychoanalytic Movement and Freud's attempts to both grow and control the movement he founded. Freud had created something new, something that had the potential to free people up. To spread his discovery, he felt he needed disciples - people who would take Psychoanalytic theory beyond where he could take it himself. The kind of people he needed for that - smart, creative, determined and powerful people - were also precisely the kind of people who would chafe at the control he insisted on imposing on them. Roustang describes vividly, at chapter length, the various flavors of relationships that existed between him and Jung, him and Tausk, him and Groddeck, and gives shorter accounts of Abraham, Rank, Ferenczi, Andreas-Salome, Deutsch, and Fliess. The wide variety of strategies these folks employed to protect themselves against Freud astounds. Jung had his distancing superiority, Tausk an obedient stance ending in his suicide, and Groddeck his resignation that his own highly original work could only be heard as derivative of Freud's work.
I like the book as a case study on launching a new kind of conversation into a world that's not exactly waiting with baited breath for this new conversation: the pitfalls and the traps to avoid. I don't claim that this is Roustang's entire purpose. He is interested in exposing what the book's cover calls "fundamental conflict among the basic tenets of Freudian theory", thus "psychoanalysis can never be effectively administered through the means of a psychoanalytic association or any sort of collective body". This is supposed to pave the way to his own new theory of psychosis.
The original (French) title of the book is "Un destin si funeste", which translates to something like "So disastrous a fate". From Roustang's account, I'm rather more struck by the sudden emergence of all these thinkers, all within a train ride of Vienna, all with similar new conceptions of Man, representing such a clear break with the past, as if they were listening to currents on the same wind.

Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher
Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher
by Lewis Thomas
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.55
59 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars your chance to meet Lewis Thomas, Jan. 17 2001
Lewis Thomas is who I want to be when I grow up - his writing is intelligent, witty, highly personable, full of fresh insights and passion for his subject matter: man and his home in the universe. Lives of a Cell is the book that jumpstarted my interest in biology over twenty years ago.
"Viewed from the distance of the moon, the astonishing thing about the earth, catching the breath, is that it is alive." - so begins the essay "The World's Biggest Membrane", in which he likens the earth with its atmosphere to a cell with its membrane. "The photographs show the dry, pounded surface of the moon in the foreground, dead as an old bone. Aloft, floating free beneath the moist, gleaming membrane of bright blue sky, is the rising earth, the only exuberant thing in this part of the cosmos. [...] It has the organized, self-contained look of a live creature, full of information, marvelously skilled in handling the sun."
What other science writer manages to surprise and delight you at every turn of a phrase? What other poet brings the incredible precise detail and the easy authority of a practising scientist? What other essayist ranges from the smallest part of a cell to the solar system with equal curiosity and interest and yet always manages to keep man in focus?
Lewis Thomas opened up a whole niche of science writing by showing its immense appeal, which is yet not mass appeal. Writers and thinkers as highly talented and diverse as Natalie Angier and Diane Ackerman have settled in this niche, and have prospered there.

The Order of Things: An Archaeology of Human Sciences
The Order of Things: An Archaeology of Human Sciences
by Michel Foucault
Edition: Paperback
40 used & new from CDN$ 9.22

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ardent Renaissance Man turns history of science on its side, Jan. 13 2001
This is my favorite book by Foucault. The book reads well, as a series of connected stories.
You will need to bring an interest in the history of economic thought, the history of linguistic thought, the history of thinking about art, the history of biological thought, and other such histories, though you don't need a college level background in each to be able to get full value from reading the book. He ranges both deep and wide in all these histories, and presents them in a completely new way - you'll feel as if your feet have been yanked from underneath you.
Imagine the normal way a history of a single science is presented: you see the progression of ideas, there is the old idea, the growing realisation of a problem inherent in the old idea, a key person grows up and comes up with a new idea, and we see how the new idea came about and how it gained support and took hold and how the old idea lost out, quickly or after a protracted struggle. This is such a familiar framework that we completely take it for granted. Maybe we shouldn't, says Foucault.
He claims to have found something remarkable when looking at all these different histories of thought side by side. He says major changes in the very way that economics was conceived had a counterpart in major changes in the way linguistics was conceived and biology and so on, in a very narrow span of years. This leads him to distinguish three eras such that within each era the thinking in economics, biology, linguistics, etc was more similar to each other than e.g. the thinking in economics from one era to the next. Each of these eras, which he calls "epistemes", comes to a fairly sudden end all across Europe.
In each episteme, there are certain ways of looking at knowledge, but also ways of looking at what is worth knowing and what is worth asking and what is taken for granted, that are typical of that episteme and are shared across the various subjects of study. Once in a new episteme, the questions and concerns of the previous episteme become exasperatingly quaint (like "how could they waste their time arguing about the number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin").
Foucault traces his three epistemes in great detail, doing a wonderful detective-novel job at bringing you along and keeping you interested in the essential weirdness of the previous epistemes, till he gets to the modern episteme, and then you slake a sigh of relief because everything suddenly sounds so eminently reasonable. But by now you can see the contingency of the modern way of thinking - why, for example, modern man would structure his history of sciences the way he does. In a sense, modern man, embedded like a tar baby in the current episteme could never have come up with Foucault's theory of epistemes. Fittingly, Foucault, at the end of the book, drops some tantalizing hints that the current episteme may be close to an end as well, and what might replace it.
Time to throw some of your favorite answers away and start asking some new questions!

The Boy Who Lost His Face
The Boy Who Lost His Face
by Louis Sachar
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 7.99
84 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars like a crocus in the snow, Dec 17 2000
The parent in me says that this book should be required reading for all kids. The kid in me (what's left of it) knows that making it required would be exactly the wrong thing to do if you want kids to read it. I want kids to read this! For the last two years, I've been reading to my kids. We've read all the Harry Potters, C.S. Lewis, the first book of the Lord of the Rings, Holes - another Louis Sachar book, and highly recommended - and more. This book went over the best, by far, of all of them. My 9-year old daughter loves it, my 14-year old son, as well as our 20-year old and my wife laughing from across the room. We're all transported into this teenage-world where you are paralyzed by your concern about what everybody might think about you. There is something so rich about this book, like crocuses emerging from the snow. It shows how "standing up for yourself" can have many different forms and you can find your own. (Note re the language used in this book: my kids were extremely impressed with it.)

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