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Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray

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Peter T. 10 Aug 03 - 11:20 AM
Amos 10 Aug 03 - 11:23 AM
Rapparee 10 Aug 03 - 11:44 AM
Little Hawk 10 Aug 03 - 01:22 PM
Bill D 10 Aug 03 - 01:26 PM
Uncle_DaveO 10 Aug 03 - 01:27 PM
Amos 10 Aug 03 - 01:34 PM
KateG 10 Aug 03 - 01:58 PM
Amos 10 Aug 03 - 02:01 PM
Desdemona 10 Aug 03 - 02:15 PM
Rapparee 10 Aug 03 - 02:34 PM
Peter T. 10 Aug 03 - 02:47 PM
Peg 10 Aug 03 - 02:57 PM
GUEST 10 Aug 03 - 03:04 PM
fat B****rd 10 Aug 03 - 03:11 PM
Art Thieme 10 Aug 03 - 03:15 PM
GUEST 10 Aug 03 - 03:15 PM
Art Thieme 10 Aug 03 - 03:17 PM
GUEST 10 Aug 03 - 03:24 PM
Peter T. 10 Aug 03 - 03:28 PM
GUEST,heric 10 Aug 03 - 03:44 PM
Little Hawk 10 Aug 03 - 04:07 PM
GUEST 10 Aug 03 - 04:25 PM
GUEST 10 Aug 03 - 04:40 PM
GUEST,heric 10 Aug 03 - 04:49 PM
Peter T. 10 Aug 03 - 05:18 PM
GUEST,heric 10 Aug 03 - 05:55 PM
SINSULL 10 Aug 03 - 06:41 PM
GUEST 10 Aug 03 - 06:57 PM
Amos 10 Aug 03 - 07:02 PM
Art Thieme 10 Aug 03 - 09:21 PM
Helen 10 Aug 03 - 09:40 PM
Amos 10 Aug 03 - 09:41 PM
mack/misophist 10 Aug 03 - 09:52 PM
Little Hawk 10 Aug 03 - 10:12 PM
Little Hawk 10 Aug 03 - 10:20 PM
SINSULL 10 Aug 03 - 11:03 PM
Amos 11 Aug 03 - 12:23 AM
Stilly River Sage 11 Aug 03 - 01:03 AM
katlaughing 11 Aug 03 - 02:56 AM
Mr Happy 11 Aug 03 - 05:27 AM
GUEST,John Hardly 11 Aug 03 - 07:30 AM
Kim C 11 Aug 03 - 08:38 AM
Sam L 11 Aug 03 - 09:31 AM
Peg 11 Aug 03 - 10:02 AM
GUEST,Kaleb 11 Aug 03 - 10:38 AM
Stilly River Sage 11 Aug 03 - 10:52 AM
Stilly River Sage 11 Aug 03 - 12:12 PM
Little Hawk 11 Aug 03 - 12:17 PM
Amos 11 Aug 03 - 12:51 PM
GUEST,heric 11 Aug 03 - 01:23 PM
Art Thieme 11 Aug 03 - 03:45 PM
GUEST,MMario 11 Aug 03 - 03:53 PM
Deda 11 Aug 03 - 04:27 PM
Peg 11 Aug 03 - 05:21 PM
GUEST,amergin 11 Aug 03 - 05:34 PM
annamill 11 Aug 03 - 06:14 PM
Little Hawk 11 Aug 03 - 06:25 PM
GUEST,heric 11 Aug 03 - 06:52 PM
Stilly River Sage 11 Aug 03 - 07:24 PM
SINSULL 11 Aug 03 - 07:31 PM
Peg 11 Aug 03 - 10:59 PM
Little Hawk 11 Aug 03 - 11:03 PM
MAG 12 Aug 03 - 01:58 AM
Stilly River Sage 12 Aug 03 - 02:13 AM
Cluin 12 Aug 03 - 03:11 AM
Amos 12 Aug 03 - 09:06 AM
Janie 12 Aug 03 - 09:26 AM
Little Hawk 12 Aug 03 - 11:09 AM
Sam L 12 Aug 03 - 12:10 PM
Amos 12 Aug 03 - 12:20 PM
Stilly River Sage 12 Aug 03 - 12:39 PM
GUEST,heric 12 Aug 03 - 01:02 PM
Peter T. 12 Aug 03 - 01:08 PM
Little Hawk 12 Aug 03 - 01:39 PM
mack/misophist 13 Aug 03 - 01:37 AM
Little Hawk 13 Aug 03 - 10:44 AM
Amos 13 Aug 03 - 10:49 AM
Peter T. 13 Aug 03 - 01:53 PM
greg stephens 13 Aug 03 - 02:42 PM
Amos 13 Aug 03 - 02:49 PM
Cluin 13 Aug 03 - 03:51 PM
greg stephens 13 Aug 03 - 03:56 PM
Deckman 13 Aug 03 - 04:02 PM
Ely 13 Aug 03 - 04:03 PM
Cluin 13 Aug 03 - 04:06 PM
Cluin 13 Aug 03 - 04:12 PM
alanabit 13 Aug 03 - 04:37 PM
Stilly River Sage 13 Aug 03 - 04:45 PM
McGrath of Harlow 13 Aug 03 - 05:17 PM
Amos 13 Aug 03 - 05:29 PM
SINSULL 13 Aug 03 - 08:42 PM
McGrath of Harlow 13 Aug 03 - 10:05 PM
Little Hawk 13 Aug 03 - 10:20 PM
Amos 13 Aug 03 - 10:43 PM
GUEST,heric 13 Aug 03 - 10:49 PM
Little Hawk 14 Aug 03 - 12:10 AM
Stilly River Sage 14 Aug 03 - 12:16 AM
Peg 14 Aug 03 - 01:37 AM
Sam L 14 Aug 03 - 09:47 AM
GUEST 14 Aug 03 - 11:26 AM
Allan C. 14 Aug 03 - 11:59 AM
GUEST,heric 14 Aug 03 - 12:49 PM
Sam L 14 Aug 03 - 04:51 PM
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Gervase 15 Aug 03 - 10:17 AM
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Peter T. 15 Aug 03 - 11:38 AM
Stilly River Sage 15 Aug 03 - 12:43 PM
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Subject: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Peter T.
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 11:20 AM

El Swanno and I were having a discussion about "Cannery Row", and I remembered that one of the basic things about the book is that it was hugely influential on the beats and hippie movement, promoting the dangerous seductiveness of a world of deadbeat down-and-outers. Like Kerouac's "On The Road", you just want to get up and go. Thinking about it, I am surprised that it is allowed in schools or libraries: it remains very dangerous, more dangerous than "Building A-Bombs for Dummies."
I was wondering if any other books -- of the "Catcher in the Rye", etc., persuasion, have been dangerous in that way to Mudcatters.....

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Amos
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 11:23 AM

Atlas Shrugged, surely -- completely subversive.

A


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Rapparee
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 11:44 AM

CAN you be led astray if you're not willing to go astray anyway?


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Little Hawk
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 01:22 PM

When I was 18 or 19 I tried to read either "The Fountainhead" or "Atlas Shrugged" (can't remember which) and simply couldn't wade through it. I detested it with every fibre of my being for some reason. I loved H.G. Wells and H.Ryder Haggard and Conan Doyle and Mark Twain and C.S. Forester at the same age. Does that make sense, Amos? I never again attempted to read Ayn Rand.

I read "Catcher in the Rye" and was underwhelmed.

Actually, most modern American bestselling authors seem to leave me cold. I don't think I like the dominant values of this society very much at all. What is presently thought to be "cool" just isn't, to me.

I do like the modern comic "Liberty Meadows" a lot. Great humour and a great love story too.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Bill D
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 01:26 PM

The ones that led ME astray, (thank goodness) were by Walter Kaufmann...
"Critique of Religion and Philosophy" and "Faith of a Heretic" ...it's been all uphill from there..(thank goodness)


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 01:27 PM

Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead are not really novels at all. They are political tracts, thinly disguised as novels, with characters about one millimeter thick, who do things, whatever they are, for only one reason: Because Ayn Rand says so. No psychological verisimilitude, no inevitability. No novel.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Amos
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 01:34 PM

Dave-O,

They came from a time when the deconstructed abstraction was an acceptable form of art -- I am thinking of art, from the same period, that graces the ceilings of Mexican halls and public buildings capturing the spirit of the agrarian worker, and all those over-muscled worker-images from the socialist movement of the thirties. In anycase, they were both compelling stories for a certain kind of public -- cartoon-like or not. I wonder how many copies thyey have sold? Certainly there is no argument they are successful books, whether "novels" or some other sort.

A


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: KateG
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 01:58 PM

Lord of the Rings - It got me into Old Norse language and literature and from thence into early Medieval/Viking archaeology. Lots of fun, but hardly the basis of a remunerative career. Naturally, what I do now has nothing to do with any of it, which is why I'm still a wage slave while my more sensible classmates are planning their early retirements.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Amos
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 02:01 PM

LH:

Le coeur as ses raisons, que le raison ne connait pas. Of course it makes sense.

A


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Desdemona
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 02:15 PM

I was blessed in that my parents' bookshelf was filled with such a catholic (in the small "c" sense) variety of literature that before I was 10 I'd been reading quite literally all over the map, and no-one ever seemed bothered about *what* I read, but only glad *that* I read so much. I do recall an auntie, when I was about 9, glimpsing me deep in "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" & wondering aloud if that were suitable for someone my age, but my mother pointed out that since I'd already finished with the Bronte sisters & Mark Twain I was probably all right!

D.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Rapparee
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 02:34 PM

I honestly can't think of any.

I tried to read Ayn Rand but bogged down in what I thought was sententious silliness. I read "Tropic of Cancer" and such (Henry Miller) and thought it both hopeless and pointless. Stuff like "Steal This Book" and "Revolution For the Hell of It" struck me as too self-consciously determined to shock. Karl Marx is out of touch with human nature. The Existentialists and the rest made for good, deep, thought-filled conversation in the Student Union but little else (although Buber's "Daniel" is something I still re-read from time to time).

Maybe I was born with a attitude that prevents me from taking too seriously those who take themselves sooooo seriously. If so, it's a great protection from various forms of swill.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Peter T.
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 02:47 PM

Travel books seem to me to be dangerous -- I have a friend whose marriage was wrecked by reading Joshua Slocum's book about sailing alone around the world. He took up with that most demanding of all mistresses, a boat, and his wife eventually left him (boats bored her, and in the end so did he). I know because she took up with me for awhile.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Peg
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 02:57 PM

yeah, I was gonna mention Ayn Rand too. One of my professors in college laughed when I said I was reading   them and referred to her as a Fascist. I think these books can have a profound impact on young adults, if not politically or ideologically, then    at least for their example of strong people who live according to their principles. But one needs to separate that from the fascistic elements I suppose! ;)

I disagree the afore-mentioned books are not novels; I actually found the stories and writing very compelling as well as the characterizations. The characters do sorta turn into mouthpieces   eventually, especially John Galt in Atlas Shrugged, with those many-paged speeches on money, but to say these are not novels suggests one hasn't read them the whole way through.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 03:04 PM

'The Creature From Jeckyll Island'

About the US Federal Reserve. Did you folks know that NONE of our (America's) income tax goes to the running of the US? Zero. Zilch. Nada. Your income tax is payable to the Federal Reserve, which is a privately-chartered bank. Mostly European banking interests. They pressured the US congress to allow the bank to be set up in the US, then to pass the income tax law, and ever since we have been giving a portion of our paychecks to the Rothschilds / Saxe-Coburg-Gothas. The US Federal govt is funded primarily by usage taxes and interest earned from investments.

And all countries with a 'central bank' like the Federal Reserve are in the same boat. The central banks are answerable to the World Bank, which is currently in the process of taking over the world (Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia...)

Subversive enough for you?


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: fat B****rd
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 03:11 PM

"Been Down So Long, It Looks Like Up To Me" by Richard Farina. Sex, drugs and Jazz.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Art Thieme
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 03:15 PM

WHEW !!!

Peter T and all,

This has to be a troll thread. If you are serious, all I can say is that I feel extremely sorry for you.   I would be proud to say that some or all of the volumes you find so terrible are some of my favorite books. I am proud of that. They are also great books and belong at the top of my list of books I would suggest to anyone.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 03:15 PM

In no particular order:

Diary of Anais Nin

Tropic of Cancer

Fear of Flying

Milagro Beanfield War

Civil Disobedience (Thoreau essay)

Folk and fairy tales--not the Disney crap

At Play in the Fields of the Lord

The Red Pony

In the Night Kitchen

To Kill a Mockingbird

Hiroshima

Slaughterhouse Five

(the above two books probably did more to undermine my naivete and faith in the US government as a force for good in the world, than any other books I've ever read)

Anarchist Cookbook

A Doll's House

Mama Day

Silent Spring

Ceremony

Rules for Radicals

Global Reach The Power of the Multinational Corporations (published in 1976)

Mythology and astrology books (of the latter, those that talked about the mythology of the heavens and constellations in different cultures in an historic context) which opened me to challenging the Christian monopoly on the dominant, homogenous Anglo American worldview, and taught me that the world of religion wasn't monolithic, static, or stable, even though that was what the church and political fathers wanted us to believe was Truth. And that religion was more often sadisticly seductive than enlightening, uplifting, or compassionate.

Siddhartha

A Room of One's Own

Lysistrata

Leaves of Grass

The Rights of Man


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Art Thieme
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 03:17 PM

Bible


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 03:24 PM

As a mythology lover, I found the bible pretty dull by comparison to other mythology books as a youngster. But once I got older, I realized it was the King James version I had trouble with.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Peter T.
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 03:28 PM

Gee, Art, I thought it was obvious I meant "dangerous" in a positive sense.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST,heric
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 03:44 PM

I wish I had let Siddhartha carry me astray. I thought about it long and hard, and had a woman persuading me down that path (she took it) but I chose the road more traveled. I'm going to read that Joshua Slocum thing and try again.

But same guest, how did Mockingbird screw you up?? Did you develop a penchant for spitting at people?

And on dangerous in the positive sense: There is a sponge bob episode on point, where he pontificates at length for the Flying Dutchman what meaning one should take from "good and scary."


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Little Hawk
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 04:07 PM

Darn good list of books there, GUEST.

Art, "Subversive" or "dangerous" in the context of this thread means: that which enlightens you to the fact that things are not quite the way the government and your schools tried to brainwash you into believing that they are.

In other words..."subversive" and "dangerous" are good, if you want to live as a free being instead of a duped, compliant slave.

I am getting a better and better understanding of why Ayn Rand's writing revolted me...

- LH


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 04:25 PM

Thanks LH. There are many more actually, but I thought I'd wait and see what other people listed.

If you want to read something really scary though, go here:

Ayn Rand Institute

You can even take an introductory course on objectivism.

Personally, my favorite explanation of The Fountainhead/Atlas Shrugged objectivists was in a Simpsons episode, where Maggie is sent to the Ayn Rand School for Tots. Signs on the wall read "Helping is Futile". Maggie plots an escape for herself and the toddlers, sucking intently on the pacifier/Nuk as she leads the babies up the drain pipes, into the heating ducts...hilarious.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 04:40 PM

To Kill a Mockingbird was subversive for me in a lot of ways. One way it inspired me was the realistic depiction of girls as tomboys, and the hell they go through when forced to conform to society's views of "proper young ladies". Harper Lee nailed that experience with the character Scout.

Another character that was quite subversive was Boo Radley. I read this book when I was probably nine or so years old, and I couldn't believe the amout of compassion Harper Lee showed for him.

I also read the book around the time of the Selma church bombing that killed the four girls, a real life event I was tremendously influenced by as a youngster. I feared something similar could happen to me at church. I also read Hiroshima on the sly for the first time about then. My mother had forbidden me from reading it, when I found it one summer among my grandfather's books. So I got it from a friend's house, and consumed it as fast as I could. I never told my mother that, though. This was also during the era of 'Duck and Cover' school drills in the US, which I, like all the millions of other schoolchildren at the time, took part in. So reading that book struck a personal chord with me as an impressionable youngster too. I was afraid Japan would get nukes and bomb us back.

Funny how the mind of a child works, eh?


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST,heric
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 04:49 PM

Thanks for the explanation, I really was hoping for that. The book has many obvious moral lessons, but it sems to have a power that surges from something beyond the obvious.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Peter T.
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 05:18 PM

There is an interesting interview with Sissy Spacek in a series the New York Times did of stars and movies -- they had the star sit and watch, and talk about, a favourite movie of theirs while it was running. She talks about "To Kill A Mockingbird" and (she grew up in a small Texas town) she makes the point that the first half of the story is so rooted in a child's life -- she herself had a cigar box full of treasures -- that the second half, the woes of the larger world, sneaks up on you the way it would for a child in real life. It only gradually reveals itself. You never really lose your sense that you are watching the film from a child's eye view, and the discovery that your father is enmeshed in something big, and is playing a larger role than you dreamed of, is deeply powerful. I thought it was a very wise set of comments.

yours,
Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST,heric
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 05:55 PM

Very insightful (and helpful.) Conicidentally, I let my kids watch it recently, and the six year old's phrase of the week became: "I'm little but I'm old."


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: SINSULL
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 06:41 PM

"Black Rain", the story of survivors of the Hiroshima bombing. Simple people whose lives were filled with suffering, shunned by society, and surrounded by reminders of their former lives. "Hiroshima", to me, had a voyeuristic quality about it like not being able to pass a traffic accident without looking. "Black Rain" documents the years that follow. There is a movie version - not nearly as vivid perhaps because in reading I formed my own images of the characters.

"Atlas Shrugged". I re-read it every couple of years. "To each according to his need; from each according to his ability." The very idea is an obscenity.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 06:57 PM

when the wind blows


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Amos
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 07:02 PM

In all honesty I am not sure it is an obscenity in itself -- it is just wildly incomplete, so that any implementation would end up reinforcing all the victim hood and penalizing all the productivity. If it were done with a complete syntax of coherent, related policies it could be quite workable, but as written it is scary.

A


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Art Thieme
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 09:21 PM

Oh !

Sorry. I agree with you then.

I must be getting dense or something.

How about THE RZOR'S EDGE ---Somerset Maughm (Larry Derroll is surely 'dangerous'.

Art


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Helen
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 09:40 PM

O agree about To Kill a Mockingbird being subversive. And Sissy Spacek's comments make a lot of sense to me.

Hermann Hesse's books: it's hard for me to pin down why I think they are "subversive" except that they are gentle and express so much care and concern for human day-to-day life. In the face of Nazi Germany's events at that time I can see why he would have been considered dangerous.

DH Lawrence was subversive about sexuality, and in a funnier alternative JP Donleavy did much the same for me. It probably led me into a lot of trouble I *could* have done without, questioning small town morality about the proper place and behaviour for girls. (Talking about small town morality - our town has a very dominant, very vigorous Dominican Catholic atmosphere which pervaded the view of the non-Catholic (like me) population. Very hell-fire and brimstone view of life, the universe and everything, expecially anything related to sex.) That was subversive in a negative way, in my opinion. I can still pick people who were educated in those schools even if I have never met them before.

Is this thread creep? Sorry. But it is based on certain people's interpretations of a set of beliefs and literature and tradition.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Amos
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 09:41 PM

Odd--I just finished reading The Razor's Edge!! Maybe we do live on the same planet after all!! :>)   --Yes, Larry is dangerous, but the whole context is so removed from currency that it would take an unusual young person to relate to it.

A


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: mack/misophist
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 09:52 PM

At his trial, Bluebeard (the real one, Gilles de Retz, Joan of Arc's right hand man), said he had beed lead to murder, sodomy, and devil worship by a book: Suetonius' Lives of The 12 Noble Caesars. I rather enjoyed it, myself.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Little Hawk
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 10:12 PM

I'm not sure what you mean, Sinsull. Please elaborate. For instance, is not a happy and successful family based upon mutually providing each member with what they genuinely need and having each member at the same time contribute according to their ability to do so? Its the basic premise that cooperative tribal units (like many Native Americans) operated upon. It's the essence of helpful cooperation and effective community. It's the basis on which Captain Bligh got his boat of desperate sailors (after the mutiny) mostly alive to Australia, against all odds of anyone surviving. Each got what he needed (on an equal basis) and each contributed as best he could, according to his ability. That's brotherhood.

Like I said, please elaborate as to what you find obscene and why.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Little Hawk
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 10:20 PM

And why do you re-read "Atlas Shrugged" every 2 years? Because you like it or because you are a masochist? Enquiring minds want to know. :-)


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: SINSULL
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 11:03 PM

Read the book Little Hawk and I will be happy to discuss it with you. By your own admission you haven't and therefore do not understand the meaning of the statement.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Amos
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 12:23 AM

The BIG difference, LH, is between the principle in play as a voluntary evolved organizing principle, as in a family, with a fundament of affinity and help informing it, and an abstract guideline on which enforced codes are then built. The former is the pattern in the familial example you cite, and the latter is the reason for the failure of Marxism.

The latter is an obscene distortion of a truth which is itself seen in, but not completely articulated by, the former.

A


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 01:03 AM

To suggest someone can't have an opinion about a book that they have evaluated and found wanting, thus choosing to not read it, doesn't disqualify them from the discussion. Their reasons for NOT reading it are as valid as any reasons for reading it. I'm afraid I have to side with LH on this--I was probably 4/5 of the way through The Fountainhead and it just finally choked me to the point I put it down and left it. I didn't bother with any of her others after that.

Dangerous books in my world were The Monkey Wrench Gang by Ed Abbey and the short story "Rain" by W. Somerset Maugham in East and West; the collected short stories of W. Somerset Maugham.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: katlaughing
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 02:56 AM

Very early on: the Jungle Books, Nancy Drew..laugh if you will but I loved the unconventional living style of Mowgli and communication with the critters; Nancy Drew stories, though now they sound old-fashioned, still for me as a very young girl, brought out the "I can do anything you can do" in me and fed my love of solving mysteries; Mark Twain's books, esp. in treatment of racism and rebellion.

In early motherhood, the Afternoon Women, comfirmed my pro-choice views.

Our reading was never censored at home, the complete home library was open to us as was the public one. My list of influential books could get pretty long.:-)

kat


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Mr Happy
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 05:27 AM

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists:Robert Tressall


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST,John Hardly
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 07:30 AM

At least from a pop perspective (to a pop audience), Barbara Kingsolver may be the most successful current propagandist/novelist. Her writing sucks you in to such a degree -- and her characters are so compelling, that you almost forget their improbability. She's very adept at making her worldview believeably superior.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Kim C
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 08:38 AM

I can't say that books have ever led me astray. Books I read that I didn't like, I forgot quickly. Books I read that I liked, I managed to take something inspirational from.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Sam L
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 09:31 AM

Huck Finn messed me up seriously, making me feel I led a sheltered life and that my experiences weren't valid and meaningful. I felt I had to get outside the lines and into trouble. I probably read it too young.

I seem to remember in 6 Degrees of Separation the young man's bogus thesis involved various murderers and miscreants attributing their motivations to The Catcher In The Rye. People always seem to forget the part about his dead little brother, and it seems to just be about everything, the saddness of the world.

I've never been able to read Ayn Rand--nothing about her philosophy, but if someone wants to preach at me they ought to do their job to hold my attention. She doesn't. No convincing details, none of the basic stuff of life, just a dull sock-puppet show.

Our Bodies Ourselves messed me up a bit. I think I could see what it was meant to be in a general way for many young women, but I couldn't see it without a young male prurient voyeurism.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Peg
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 10:02 AM

Sorry but I cannot agree that "evaluating" a book is the   same as   actually READING it. So I am with Sinsull, you   can't discuss it with her   unless you've read it. Discussing the books of Rand's you HAVE   read, that is another story (or at least, the one you   partially   read). I would recommend finishing The Fountainhead some day; it's got some cool twists in the end. :) There is a great (but corny) film version starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal. Also there was an episode of Barney Miller where an architect is accused of following the lead character's example and blows up his own building.

I remember in grad school, when I worked for a women's newspaper, there was all sorts of brouhaha about whether we shoudl review Camille Paglia's Sexual Personae. Many of the women did not want to give it any space. But they were judging it without having read it. One woman said "I've read parts of it" which, to me, doesn't empower someone to discuss it in a critical manner, unless they are commenting in a very limited fashion (say, on the writing style, or on that particular section). I ended up reviewing it because I was the only womaqn on the staff willing to read it. And while I disagreed with a great deal of what the author was saying (and to this day I find her to be a strident, arrogant weirdo), I thought the book deserved some recognition for its iconoclastic attempt to address feminist assumotions in literary criticism. Subversive, yes. Dangerous?   Only if you think she's right about everything.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST,Kaleb
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 10:38 AM

Daniel Quinn's Ishmael.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 10:52 AM

Peg, stories and literature are part of our cultural milieu, and whether we know about them by review, by reputation, by movie, or by actually hearing them as recorded books or reading them, we know about many stories. To suggest that we must waste our time reading stories we know we aren't going to like in order to discuss them with you or Sinsull is nonsense. There are lots of stories I would like to read some day, on my very long list of "books to read." Why do I want to read them? Because I know what is in them. There's so much cultural baggage attached to stories by Rand that anyone who wants to discuss her philosophy can pick up the essence of it without reading the entire novel. They won't be discussing it as deeply, based on specific citations from the text, but given free-will and creative thought, the philosophy of Ayn Rand can be discussed without reading the dogma.

My son was disappointed when a kid at school raced through the latest Harry Potter novel and announced to his friends a piece of the story about someone dying. Dylan had read only a few chapters but now feels he knows enough about the novel, disappointed as he is, that he doesn't want to read it any more. I told him that even with this knowledge of the story, reading it is still a journey and he'll still enjoy the book. For you, reading those novels is a journey you enjoy, but for the rest of us who want to cut to the chase, that is a legitimate option of not reading the book.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 12:12 PM

P.S. I should have said "makes no sense" not "nonsense" when describing the approach to reading above. It comes closer to what I was trying to say.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Little Hawk
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 12:17 PM

I typed a lengthy reply on the other computer and tried to send it 3 times with absolutely no success. Bleuagh!!!

Okay, thanks for the intelligent and useful explanation, Amos. I detest Big Brother and his "enforced codes" of behaviour whether or not he is corporate/capitalist, communist, socialist, Baptist, Catholic, fascist or any other such conformity-based authority system.

Obviously, that's not what I have in mind when I say that I believe in "to each according to his need, from each according to his ability". I believe in individual freedom...coupled with mutual responsibility and caring...which is what one sees in a healthy family or a healthy tribal unit. You don't do things because you are under coercion to...you do them because they are obviously helpful and useful for all concerned and because you love people and respect them. Fer chrissake...it's pretty bloody obvious, isn't it?

Sinsull, you have got me curious. I will attempt to read "Atlas Shrugged", although I approach it with a feeling of horror.

Now let's see if this one "sends"...

- LH


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Amos
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 12:51 PM

Fer chrissake...it's pretty bloody obvious, isn't it?


Sure, as long as you're talking to people capable of observing the obvious, which is not everyone, by a long shot.

A


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST,heric
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 01:23 PM

I am not capable of observing the obvious. It has taken me decades to come to grips with that. Observing the current administration has forced me face this problem. I am constantly trying to make myself learn "Yes, things ARE actually as they initially appear."

As to your particular obvious point: The problem is defining and agreeing upon the scope of inclusion. (And then addressing foreign relations.)


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Art Thieme
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 03:45 PM

J.Hardly,

Amazing. In recent months Barbara Kinsolver's books have become quite important to me. I've read three of 'em. Am in the middle of POISONWOOD BIBLE as we speak. I'm not suere if she is really as good as she seems to be or I'm just, as you said, "sucked in". --------- Does he suck people in-----or does she just suck?

I'm leaning toward feeling that she is truly a pretty fine writer (for a lady).   ***BIG SMILE***

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 03:53 PM

probably the book I've read that led me the furthest astray was the Cornell Univeristy Course Catalog.

a very dangerous book!


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Deda
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 04:27 PM

"Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" was an influential book for me, profoundly so -- but I am not at all clear on what the term "Astray" means here. "Astray" from what? "Zen.." helped me through a difficult transition, when I was definitely "straying" from a previously fiercely held set of beliefs. (A lot of people might describe those previous beliefs as being pretty far "astray".) So did Arthur Koestler's "Darkness at Noon", and (author's name escapes -- another bit of gray matter bites the dust)(but revives!) Eric Hoffer's "The True Believer."

Actually, so did Shirley MacLaine's series of autobiographical books about her various spiritual experiences. They weren't great literature but they helped me through a time when I was having to figure out how spiritual experiences can be understood and discussed in english, and among people with differing core beliefs.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Peg
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 05:21 PM

SRS:

the whole point is, without reading Rand's novels, you cannot decide whether they are novels or dogma. I mean, to be able to form that opinion you have to read them and decide for YOURSELF; not let someone else tell you her books reflect her ideology and that they are, therefore, dogma.

I think you make an interesting point regarding what passes for "cultural literacy" these days, and I am as guilty of it as anyone, but to dismiss something based on the OPINIONS or assessments of others without having any direct familiarity of it is pretentious and dilettantish in the extreme. Which is fine if that's the effect you're going for.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST,amergin
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 05:34 PM

so some one who reads a chapter or two and discards the book because they find it crap are not qualified to form that opinion that they formed on their own? What I want to know is why anyone would bother to read a book they find to be aimless and boring....

when I read 1984...I skipped over that whole sections about political ideology, for it served no purpose than put my mind to sleep. It was very dry and boring...like reading Marx himself...

I still found the book to be very good, but because I did not read the whole thing does that mean I am not qualified to form an opinion on my own?


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: annamill
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 06:14 PM

"I will attempt to read "Atlas Shrugged", although I approach it with a feeling of horror."

Be very careful, LH, it MAY change your life!

Love, Annamill


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Little Hawk
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 06:25 PM

1984 was very depressing and defeatist, but so is pretty well everything else written by George Orwell...I think...

I can't say so definitively, though, because I have not read everything written by George Orwell...nor am I likely to. I did wade all the way through 1984. It was like experiencing a mild migraine and severe constipation at the same time. I read Animal Farm too. It's clever and makes some good points about human nature, but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

And for all I know, that was the effect on the reader that Orwell was aiming for... :-)

I know one thing. When people have been deeply hurt in their youth by Communism, Christianity, Capitalism or any other damned all-embracing "ism" and they later become successful authors or politicians they seem to have this compulsion to browbeat the World over what hurt them for the rest of their days and ascribe all of the ills of the World to that one single source. They become depressing fanatics with an axe to grind. In this way they end up as the perfect Alpha partner to the oppressive Omega which haunted their youth, and then dance in circles with it unto eternity, like two scorpions locked in a fatal embrace. Such people could be found throughout the Cold War, manning the battlements on either side of the "Iron Curtain" and hurling verbal brickbats at one another, while preparing their hapless peoples for mutual annihilation.

Hatred is not a very balanced or healthy point of view on which to base a whole life's philosophy.

Shirley MacLaine's books? Yeah, they were neat, and they have something positive to say. I'd vote for a weekend with Shirley MacLaine over a weekend with George Orwell any old day. :-) Shirley is rather wise. Orwell was merely intelligent.

I tried and failed to locate a copy of "Atlas Shrugged" at the library today. Will try later. They did have "The Fountainhead" and it looked longer than the Bible to me...Ayn Rand was clearly not often at a loss for words.

The wisest thing I've probably ever read was Kahlil Ghibran's book "The Prophet", but that is a completely different kind of writing from the other stuff we've been discussing here. Nonetheless it is quite subversive in terms of conventional society, if you read it with proper attention.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST,heric
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 06:52 PM

text online
http://www.lebanon2000.com/Gibran.htm
we'll all be qualified Ghibranians


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 07:24 PM

Peg, you must waste a lot of time reading stuff you don't want to read, going to movies you don't really like, eating foods you don't really care for, just to do it yourself. Haven't you found other people whose opinions you respect? Reviewers you trust? We can learn vicariously and not have to tread the same path as those others, because of positive or negative opinions they express. Have you never said to someone "read this, I think it is just what you're looking for." Put the thesaurus away and pick up the New York Times Review of Books, Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia, and others. Cliff's Notes. These days, you can even download a copy!


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: SINSULL
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 07:31 PM

To understand Rand's books completely, read the biographies written about her by her heir apparent/lover and his ex-wife (Rand had a May-December romance with the husband believing that they were the equivalent of John Galt and Dagney Taggert). Both ended up despising her and holding her philosophy in utter contempt. She ended up a bitter and somewhat nasty old woman, a parody of herself shunned by the mainstream. But there was a time when her offices occupied an entire floor of the Empire State Building and her books, pamphlets, newsletters, etc. were distributed worldwide.

Little Hawk,
Read Atlas Shrugged as science fiction and you may even enjoy it. Picture William Shatner as John Galt and you may even become a convert. There are two characters and one quote that never rang true to me - the sister-in-law's death, the fisherwoman at Galt's Gulch and "Brother, you asked for it." I rteally do read it every couple of years.
SINS


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Peg
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 10:59 PM

Of course one can have an opinion about a book without having read it; it simply won't be an informed opinion.

I don't even know why we're debating this, it seems rather obvious to me.

The point made was not about someone reading PART of a book before deciding to discard it, but about NOT reading it at all and feeling qualified to judge it.

I am a film critic by trade, and have also reviewed a lot of books; I tend to not take reviews too terribly seriously as a result...but I do enjoy reading them. But I never read them to decide whether I want to see something.

Thesaurus??? I don't even own one I don't think. And I do like reading the Times Book review.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Little Hawk
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 11:03 PM

Shatner as Galt? Well, there's an intriguing suggestion... :-) (I don't actually worship Shatner, I just pretend to, but what the hell, it's worth a try, I guess.)

Stilly River Sage - Damned funny post, there! LOL! I think that all of those of us who detest the Republican Party should also try out being Republicans for a year or two, just so we know why we detest it so! Har! Har! Then too, I could try being a beer-swilling, violent yahoo who calls breasts "hooters" and pinches the waitress's bum every time she passes the table. Hell, what right do I have to judge those kind of guys as jerks until I've tried it myself, right?

Hmmmm. Lotsa food for thought here awright...

But as usual, yes, I really do have a moderate understanding of both sides of the argument here, so I probably will read "Atlas Shrugged at some point.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: MAG
Date: 12 Aug 03 - 01:58 AM

My opinion of Ayn Rand came up on another book thread; I read one book of hers in high school and never want to read another.

subversive in a good way?

Brave New World

Everything I read in an anthropology class I took because it was being taught by a prominent feminist (Judy Shapiro) -- great class.

Everything I read in my early days in the feminist revival of the late 60's and early 70's (enumerated on that other thread)

Mao's Four Essays on Philosophy

Wells' Days of the Comet, which I read as an early adolescent when I had gone through everything else of his in the Public Library of my hometown. I'm sure the librarian didn't know about his espousal of free love -- she wouldn't let me check out Forever Amber or Lady Chatterly's Lover when I was 16; in fact threatened to tell my mother I tired. (Thank goodness the profession has long rejected that philosophy.)

A little book called *Situational Ethics* lent me by one a' them radical seminarians when I was a teenager. Bless him. My first introduction to dialectics.

I could go on. May we give our (collective) children the freedom to learn to think critically.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 12 Aug 03 - 02:13 AM

I'm working on an MA in philosophy--I'm around so many people who have opinions about this author I don't need to read any more of her work to form an opinion myself. Especially since not one of them has suggested that Rand is worth reading these days.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Cluin
Date: 12 Aug 03 - 03:11 AM

Sex for Dummies


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Amos
Date: 12 Aug 03 - 09:06 AM

Farenheit 451 and all of Ray Bradbury and most of Robert Heinlein.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Janie
Date: 12 Aug 03 - 09:26 AM

I have to say I am astonished at the frequency with which Ayn Rand appears here. I think of her books as a "phase of life" (late adolescence) read. There was a time in high school when I loved her books and read all of them. I get tickled at myself now for having once thought of them as significant books. Now they strike me as the forerunners of the trash romance. What am I missing?

Dangerous books for me

"Stranger in a Strange Land"

"The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism"

"Siddhartha"

"An Eternity of Species"

"A History of God"

"Johnny Got His Gun"

"The Biography of Benjamin Franklin"

Etc, and so on.

Janie


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Little Hawk
Date: 12 Aug 03 - 11:09 AM

Well, the books that were most influential in leading me "astray" (toward greater freedom) were a number of social novels by H.G.Wells, all of them about little, inhibited English shopkeeper-type guys trapped in boring unfulfilling lives of conventionality, who in a moment of desperation managed to free themselves and find themselves. Powerful stuff for a kid who was utterly under the control of his parents (I am an only child) and teachers and had not a clue what to do about it...until reading H.G.Wells and listening to Bob Dylan.

And that's probably why I love Bob as much as I do. He (like Wells) played a major role in rescuing a soul that had almost ceased to exist as a separate being with an identity of its own.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Sam L
Date: 12 Aug 03 - 12:10 PM

I don't know whether I can class a book as a novel or not, but I can tell pretty quick if it's a novel I'm interested in reading. Good writers do you a favor by getting down to business. If it takes them a while to warm up, they throw that stuff out.

I don't have any particular bias against Rand's ideas, since I don't really know what they are. But I do specifically remember her refusing to describe her architect's stuff. It was just HIM--I think his name was Rourke?-- and he was just IT. I think I read a little more, then gave up.

I've never seen anything so starkly idiosyncratic as this in life. Maybe she has--wish she'd tell me about it. Failing that I fear I suspect her relationship to her character is like she's the president of his fan club, and he'd probably find her an intolerable embarrassment to hang out with.

   I don't care for her writing because I think good descriptive prose and details are not just nice to read, to pretty things up--it's evidence that the writer has taken their idea on a few walks out in the world, exposed it to sunlight, picked up it's poop. That's interesting whether you agree with the ideas or not. It's how ideas really get played out, honed, maybe tempered a little, meet their limits, aquire a sense of proportion. Good observation is a big part of the authority of a made-up story, for me, if it has any at all. I don't know why I'd listen to someone just because they've hung a notion on a plot--like an empty suit on a hanger.

I don't know what each/need each/ability is supposed to mean, but it would probably be a handy rule if you were god, or just a little omniscient. Needs and abilities are pretty elusive things to pin down, otherwise. It sounds neater and clearer than anything in life really is.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Amos
Date: 12 Aug 03 - 12:20 PM

That may be why she appealed to unformed teenage minds -- they were too unformed to realize they were looking at a cartoon.


A


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 12 Aug 03 - 12:39 PM

Janie, I like that assessment.

Fred, there are quite a few examples through the twentieth century of women authors who fell in love with their fictional characters. (I wonder if there is a male equivalent?) The case has been made that Margaret Mitchell loved her creation Rhett Butler, and that Dorothy L. Sayers was more than a little smitten with her Lord Peter Whimsey. I would say that Rand's Rourke fits that category. I was an undergraduate when I read most of The Fountainhead. When I started reading it, I'd encounted some other "east coast romances," like Hitchcock's Marnie and Rona Jaffe's potboilers (Best of Everything), that have similar chiseled masculine characters, and was probably expecting something along those lines from the Rand synopsis. How's that for muddying the waters?

What made some of those stories "dangerous" was how they treated sex, in a world where our parents tried to convince us the everyone waited until they were married, where babies born out of wedlock were very rare (and the fact that young women were dying from illegal abortions was hush hush). Rand had the elements there, but like Upton Sinclair in his much earlier treatise, The Jungle, you realized after a while that these were cardboard characters, being moved around the board by poorly concealed strings as the authors Rand and Sinclair got around to what they really wanted to talk about, politics and/or philosophy. The window-dressing just didn't work.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST,heric
Date: 12 Aug 03 - 01:02 PM

wait wait wait - thread drift away - PEG: it was YOU who said in recommending films "any Johnny Depp movie." I swear you did, causing me to rent BOTH Dead Man and The Man Who Cried. The former has its fans, and can be forgiven, even if I, a Neil Young fan who recognized him instantly on the score, would have SHOT him given the opportunity near the end of the film. But the latter, the Man Who Cried, is unforgivable. I won't shoot you either, but, but, ohhhhhh that was painful. okay you're forgiven rant off back to your regularly scheduled whatever.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Peter T.
Date: 12 Aug 03 - 01:08 PM

Little Hawk, if you have never read it, you should read "Homage To Catalonia" by Orwell.(It helps if you can get a map or two or Hugh Thomas' big tome on the Spanish Civil War). It is one of the great books, beautifully, consummately written. Whenever anyone asks me about great non-fiction writing, it is at the top of my list.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Little Hawk
Date: 12 Aug 03 - 01:39 PM

That does sound interesting, Peter. What was Orwell's connection with the Spanish Civil War. Was he there? It certainly was a situation that inspired many powerful writings.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: mack/misophist
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 01:37 AM

I must disagree with the Stilly River Sage about The Jungle. Perhaps the sage misunderstood, thinking the people were the focus of the storey, rather than the factory. A brilliant piece of muckraking and a fine novel.

Orwell served in the militia during the war. "Homage" is one of the dozen best war memoirs around. If Little Hawk would rather read a Canadian book, Farley Mowat's is up near the top, also. I'm afraid the name escapes me.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Little Hawk
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 10:44 AM

I've read some Farley Mowat, but not that one. He can be quite entertaining.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Amos
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 10:49 AM

Mowat is famous for the Boat that Wouldn't Float, the Dog that Wouldn't Be, A Whale for the Killing, one about wolves. The last two are real slayers, IMO.

A


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Peter T.
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 01:53 PM

Orwell was in Spain as part of a volunteer English group, and he latched on -- almost by accident it seems -- to an anarchist group called the P.O.U.M. -- which fought against the Fascists, and were supposed to be allied with the range of opposition groups (in reality they weren't the opposition, they were the Government side; the Fascists were rebels bent on overthrowing the Government); it turned out that, besides the Fascists, the big enemy the small anti-Fascist groups were struggling against was on their own side -- the Communists, who were supported by Stalin, and who did everything they could to undermine everyone on supposedly their own side. Orwell lived through this, and it was central to his distrust of the Communists and the more radical Socialists from then on. This made him persona non grata back in England in the late 1930s, where people were still somewhat starry eyed about Stalin, etc. Orwell describes all this: though the great tour de force is the description of Barcelona under siege.


yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: greg stephens
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 02:42 PM

The difference between Americans and Brits is an interesting feature of Mudcat. I would guess that Ayn Rand is an example of this. I am pretty literate in English terms, but I've never heard of her(and I would guess that I'm not alone in England in that respect). Should I be taking a look? I can't even get much impression from all this discussion as to what kind of books they are. Could someone do me a one paragraph synopsis of an Ayn Rand plot?


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Amos
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 02:49 PM

Ayn Rand wrote books which extolled the primacy of individual initiative and which dramatized the belief that all good is produced by individuals and the exercise of individual ability. She portrays heroically individualistic, strongminded people running into the swamps of societal mechanisms which drain power from the very people on whom society depends for any advance, being undermined by leeches and socialistic bloodsuckers and whiny victims.

Her two most renowned works are Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, both of which ar eprobably available at your lending library.

A


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Cluin
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 03:51 PM

... and now, back to Drunken Naked Twister...


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: greg stephens
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 03:56 PM

Well,I'll certainly try my local lending library, and report back, Amos. But I'll guess they wont be there, I dont think they can ever have crossed the Atlantic.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Deckman
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 04:02 PM

The U.S. Constitution. Bob


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Ely
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 04:03 PM

Perhaps this is a phenomenon of American education: I read _the Fountainhead_ in 11th grade as a comparison to _the Grapes of Wrath_, which was an experiment that I now think was pretty brave for a public school English teacher, even in an honors class. We nearly started some brawls during discussions, too. I've never liked Ayn Rand.

Has anyone else seen that postcard of a classroom full of (I think they're West Pointers, but I forget), identically dressed in uniforms and cropped hair, diligently reading _On The Road_? Masterpiece of situational irony.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Cluin
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 04:06 PM

Studying the enemy?


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Cluin
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 04:12 PM

By the way.... Cannery Row, great book. Loved it, several times. Parts to make you howl laughing as well as make you think.

A quote:

   "It has always seemed strange to me," said Doc. "The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second."
   "Who wants to be good if he has to be hungry too?" said Richard Frost.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: alanabit
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 04:37 PM

I can second Peter T's comments about "Homage to Catalonia". It's very easy to perceive George Orwell as being dogmatic and dour - which I think does not do him justice. He was an ex-public school boy, who spent some time as a policeman in Malaysia and also quite deliberately lived "Down and out in London and Paris". He knew what he was talking about and he did some handy character sketches on the way. Hís portrait of the unemployed carpenter in "Down and Out" is unforgettable. His political essays can some over as dour if you read them that way, but I prefer to see them as having a deadpan sense of humour as he straight facedly pokes fun at his opponents. Some people read it as heavy handedness - I read it as underplayed irony.
Another writer who described the time just before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War was the poet Laurie Lee in "As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning". That book rather over romanticises the life of a busker, but it's a great read. I'll bet that has led more than one young chap astray!
"Siddhartta" by Herman Hesse is a lovely read and has a very optimistic theme, but the handling of the same theme by Somerset-Maugham in "The Razor's Edge" left me in a trance for days. I'm with Art Thieme on this one.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 04:45 PM

There is one very short Ayn Rand novel available as full-text online, called Anthem. If you want more information before you take the plunge, try this page.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 05:17 PM

"To each according to his need; from each according to his ability."

Actually the way to apply it is to yourself, rather than to other people. Am I taking more than I reasonably need, in the circumstances? and am I doing less than I should be doing, given my abilities and circumstances?

It's about as crazy as "Love your neighbour" or even "Love your enemies; do good to those who hurt you." Quotes taken from a very subversive book.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Amos
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 05:29 PM

The closing chapters of 1984 contain some of the most sophisticated political commentary I have ever read anywhere. Maybe I have lead a sheltered life, though!

A


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: SINSULL
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 08:42 PM

Some very interesting comments. I wonder about the ages of posters and how that affects their evaluation of Atlas Shrugged. I was raised Roman Catholic in the 50s and was taught that "good" people do for others even at the cost of their own suffering. Selfishness was an abomination. I can still see the blackboard with a diagram: two souls. One of the little boy who went to bed without saying his prayers (small blemish on soul) and horror of horrors skipped morning prayers so that he could rush downstairs and take the biggest banana (two more marks, one quite large). His sister's soul remained lily white (actually black - it was a blackboard) as she slept less and did without big bananas.

Atlas Shrugged was the first hint I got of another philosophy. Dagne Taggert, refusing to support her useless brother, was a shock.

By the way, I always found the sex in AS somewhat disappointing. Macho male accomplishes orgasm while submissive female passively accepts. So much for grabbing the biggest banana!

For those who have not read the book: The title describes the plot of the book. When Atlas (capable productive individuals) refuses to be responsible for supporting the burden of an ungrateful world (crooked politicians, those who succeed on the coat tails of others, the unproductive), he shrugs off his burden and world chaos is the result.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 10:05 PM

A lot of people think that way. I suppose books like that might give some of them an excuse to think it's ok. But you've got to be wanting to think that way in the first place to be able to stomach that kind of thinking, in a book or anywhere else.

Look around the world and it's pretty clear that a lot of people with a lot of power are that way inclined. I doubt if some of them ever read a book in their life. "Spivs" were what the less successful members of the class used to be called, and it wasn't a compliment.

When I was eight or so I got as a prize a book called "William the Rebel" by Richmal Crompton. It probably did as much as anything to set me on what I'd see as the right path.

You get from a book what you take to it really, more often than not.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Little Hawk
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 10:20 PM

SINSULL - Ahhh...now I have a better understanding of what would have attracted you to Rand's philosophy (as far as I think I understand her philosophy).

Now, consider my situation. Unlike you, SINSULL, I was brought up in a completely nonreligious family, a non-church-going essentially atheistic and materialistic family, with a father who was a compulsive success-oriented workaholic with tremendous professional ambition and a determination to the "the Big Boss". He simply could not work for anyone else, because he had to call every shot, and everyone else was "an idiot". All he ever thought about or talked about was his business. Everything else was sacrificed to this one obsession. Nothing else mattered.

So, you see, when I read about one of Rand's heroic self-made men, who do you think I see? My father, a man who as far as I am concerned has pretty much wasted his life on a single-minded and pointless obsession, and caused a lot of unnecessary pain to others in the process, and been a really not very good husband or father. He's like "the ugly capitalist", and he's not even much good at it, although he certainly tries hard. He's almost 80 and still works 7 days a week. It's bizarre. He has never once stopped to "smell the roses". Selfishness ain't bad in his system...it's the only way to go, because there really IS no one else except him in his system.

You experienced one common form of oppression as a child...the Catholic guilt-ridden, suffer-to-get-into-heaven religious kind...I experienced a completely different one. I was never persecuted by religion as a child, I was persecuted by crass materialism and social-climbing ambition. There WAS no heaven in that system, except the secular heaven of becoming a big important "success" in the eyes of other people. As if it mattered...

- LH


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Amos
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 10:43 PM

Well, regardless of who your Father is, you get to design your own legacy. Makes no sense asserting that how you see things is attributable to someone else. Nope.

A


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST,heric
Date: 13 Aug 03 - 10:49 PM

We Ghibraniacs always say about kids:


You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit,

not even in your dreams.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Little Hawk
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 12:10 AM

That's right, Amos, and that for many people may just be the thorniest struggle of their lives.

That's one of my favourite quotes, heric.

By the way, I am quite relieved that I did not (like many of my friends) grow up in a dogmatically religious household, Catholic or otherwise. God knows, it could've been a lot worse... :-)

- LH


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 12:16 AM

heric, that's depressing. And I hope it's wrong. Dreams must span generations--even if we finally understand them best in the later years of our lives.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Peg
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 01:37 AM

Hey, I   thought   the sex in Atlas Shrugged was pretty   hot (considering it   wasn't explicit). Dagny Taggart submissive??? Not hardly...what about her   torrid affair with Francisco D'anconia?

Heric; are you serious?   I forced you to rent movies with Johnny Depp in them??? I   should be summarily executed. How dare I.

I love Dead Man.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Sam L
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 09:47 AM

I like McGrath's comment about applying a maxim to one's self. And it reminds me of all the metafiction I read-- mostly '70's "superfiction" short-stories, John Barth, Borges, Italo Calvino--really the whole trend generally. I think a lot of it was silly, precious, merely clever and self-indulgent, some not so good at all, but the whole vein changed the way I read anyone. The idea of a writer thinking primarily about their own actions, as a writer, made sense of a lot of things I didn't understand in literature. It led me way astray of how I read before.

So when Ayn Rand comes up, I don't really have a position regarding her wisdom about life in general, but her books are a too big a chore for me. Whatever she thought, the fact of the matter is she wrote books of made-up stories, and I don't recognise her depictions, from my own experiences, as mature observations, they don't resonate, for me, aren't convincingly meaningful.

Other people with other experiences may see it, but I can't help thinking they may be coloring in her pictures for her with their own experiences. She's nothing like a good writer as I understand it, and has a lot of similarities to comic books in her handling of characters. That kind of projection would explain why some--maybe not all--her readers take her so much to heart.

I like Tolstoy for a lot of the kinds of ideas that have come up about Rand. I even read the essay chapters--by the time they come in I'm completely convinced.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 11:26 AM

I think it would be good if high school students had to read Ayn Rand and Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickle and Dimed".

That would give them a serious taste of the real world, IMO.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Allan C.
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 11:59 AM

Among others, Frank Yerby's "Judas, My Brother" had quite an influence upon my thoughts regarding religion. Although the basis for the plot was just a bit thin, there were countless footnotes that were well worth the reading. By the time I read this book I had already begun to question religious perceptions and dogma. The book, while not necessarily being "the icing on the cake" certainly was the filling between the layers.

Whether or not it led me astray is an entirely different question.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST,heric
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 12:49 PM

Sage: Yes, at best a sweet melancholia, but the follow up and conclusion, if it helps, is:

"Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies [i.e your kid], so He loves also the bow that is stable."

Of course, you can ignore, evade, or change it all with varying definitions of "house of tomorrow" and "He." But thanks to LH for the Ghibran reference.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Sam L
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 04:51 PM

Well Guest, I maintain that the taste of the real world you get from reading any books is just a taste of reading those books, since that's what you're really doing in the so-called "real" world.

One lame thing about Tolstoy though, the sex is not very hot at all, mostly just a bunch of people blushing about something or other every few minutes.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 05:13 PM

No, I disagree with that Fred. I think we can both teach and learn about the real world through books. I don't think that books work for everyone, because people have different temperments, and a lot of people don't like reading. But I think you can teach a lot about the real world through books to the people who do like to read, and enjoy seeing the world through different people's eyes, which is what reading does for me. Over the years, my reading has taught me enough to survive in the real world that I never would have "learned" on my own without reading.

But I do agree, there is a line beyond which learning through reading will become an intellectual exercise, rather than enlightening. And I hate that sort of reading/writing/mode of dysfunctional relating to the real world too!


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 07:08 PM

Books are just one way of getting Our Stories across. And our cultures all priviledge storytellers. Not only for entertainment, but more importantly, for teaching. In an age of mass communication, it's harder to be heard above the din.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 07:14 PM

If it weren't for stories we'd only live one life. And that's maybe not enough to explore all the different ways of living it.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Gervase
Date: 15 Aug 03 - 10:17 AM

Glad to see someone else plump for The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - I remember reading it as a teenager and feeling the first stirrings of a political consciousness. Orwell, too, was a great influence. I keep going back to his letters and journalism rather than his fiction and finding myself green with envy at his talents.
As for 'dangerous' in Peter T's original post, possibly for me the most dangerous book was John Seymour's "Self Suffiency' (recently replublished for the River Cottage generation), which was my vade mecum when I was flat broke and living in Suffolk. From it I learned the self-confidence to grow my own food and make my own tools, and to plan towards putting more of it into action while turning my back as far as possible on the less savoury aspects of the modern world.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST,fred Miller no cookie
Date: 15 Aug 03 - 10:49 AM

Well, I agree with your disagreement with me, Guest. I really overstated my point. I just meant some healthy skepticism, too.

But I keep hoping someday to meet up with anyone else who was partly formed by all that superfiction stuff. I got into it right in the transition between my juvenile mode, and reading (as you nicely put it) to see things through someone else's eyes. A lot of my favorite writers just don't come up much. Nobody seems to have ever liked Nabokov. Nor do many aspects of reading that seem to relate to those stylistic concerns. It seems to be a 70's trend like striped bell-bottoms, platform shoes, or big collars--things people prefer to forget. Fine, y'all, laugh if you will. But it affected me, and it seems to have dulled my taste for many books that come up much more often.

Maybe it's a short story thing. A lot of short stories have affected me and stayed with me much more than most novels. I'd usually mention Salinger's Laughing Man, or others, before The Catcher occurred to me. I can quote from many of John Updike's stories but hardly at all from his novels. I can re-tell most of Raymond Carver's stories off the top of my head, and I have, to explain the mush Robert Altman's movie Shortcuts made of them, dropping all the significant endings, cramming them together. Short stories don't come up as much as they really should, they're good stuff.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Peter T.
Date: 15 Aug 03 - 11:38 AM

Not quite off topic, but I was profoundly influenced by a painting I saw in the Accademia in Venice, by Tintoretto. It is a painting of St. Mark asleep in a boat while the storm rages around him (he is on the way to found Venice), sailors panic, etc. It is of course a mimic of Jesus' sleeping in the same situation. For some reason it chimed in my mind with some of those old pop novels ("Quo Vadis" etc.) about the travels of St. Paul and St. Peter, and the early Christians in general. I confess I have always hated St. Paul (and his theology), am not a Christian, and have a healthy fear of missionaries -- but there is something quite sweet about the atmosphere of these early disciples -- heading off around the world, not caring for risk, being comforted whatever happens by the knowledge that Jesus is there to help. You get the same feeling in the early stages of almost every religion, before they get grim. The atmosphere got to me: the simplicity of the nature of the wanderings, the small communities of the faithful surrounded by a hostile world. Sort of Jack Kerouac-like.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 15 Aug 03 - 12:43 PM

This has me thinking of a couple of films that fit this category--could be "dangerous" for some because they worked to disturb the status quo of others. Educating Rita for one, and Thelma and Louise. Of the two, Rita was the most subversive for it's time.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST,Baffled
Date: 16 Aug 03 - 04:26 PM

I heard that a book on getting "power from the devil" was the
number one book read by students in the USA around 1998.

Does anyone know if this is true?


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 16 Aug 03 - 04:30 PM

Do a search on it yourself, Baffled. Sounds like some trolling going on in this question.


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Subject: RE: Dangerous Books That Lead You Astray
From: GUEST,Angel face
Date: 16 Aug 03 - 04:35 PM

Do you know he came for me around 1984, I gave him the JC sign
and he got very angry with me. I'd say most people shit their
pants and give it away or others get a slight second wind and
bargin. I almost had a sleepless night but kept thinking
reality...I have to get up for work in the morning tehe


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