Saturday, September 02, 2000

Great Books

On my recent trip to California, I read The New Lifetime Reading Plan by Clifton Fadiman and John S. Major. I think the title is somewhat misleading -- it sounds as if the goal of the book is to get you to plow through these classics, from #1 (The Epic of Gilgamesh) to #133 (Things Fall Apart). While I suppose you could use the book this way, I see this book put to better use as a list of suggestions for books you might consider reading. As in, "Hey, The Federalist Papers -- that would be pretty interesting."

And the commentary itself is the most valuable. I had the good fortune to read a number of these books in three semesters of "Great Books" at the University of Michigan. I had wonderful professors who guided me through the works. This book, with a handful of pages devoted to each work, is no substitute for that. Still, the suggestion can be very helpful for someone approaching, say, Nietzsche:

"Suggestion: Use the edition called The Portable Nietzsche, if available. The translations are intelligent, the notes and other apparatus helpful. You might read the whole of Zarathustra, uneven as that strange work is; the selections from Beyond Good and Evil; Toward a Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo, and perhaps The Antichrist."

I don't know how many of these books I'll read -- they said the list is aimed at those "who have not met more than ten percent" of the authors (I'm in the twenties, I think). But I probably will want this book on my bookshelf for when I feel like picking up a classic and am looking for some guidance. Now where can I get a copy of Gilgamesh?

Thursday, August 31, 2000

Santa Barbara Pictures

My camera gave out pretty quickly into the trip, but I did get some pictures worth sharing. I'm trying an experiment with Yahoo! Photos; it was much easier to upload them there than to create my own pages.

Start Here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2000

"So far he hasn't yet paid me $55.95..."

I almost didn't link to this, because a) things could just get too self-referential and b) well, if this weblog is going to have a theme, I'm not sure it should be that theme, but Jeanene has weighed in on last Wednesday's Viewer Mail.

Monday, August 28, 2000

From Russia With Love

I got back last night from Berkeley. Nice conference; more about that later. The hotel was OK; some people were complaining, though. Dan Bernstein told this Russian hotel story that made us grateful for the one we had. Dan's a nice guy, although he does have some interesting hobbies.