Join Me and the Boy that Lived: Daniel Radcliffe Reads Harry Potter

That’s right. If you haven’t heard, Pottermore will host a reading of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in it’s entirely, chapter by chapter. This delightfully soaring cast includes non-other than Daniel Radcliffe, along with a myriad cast of others you know and love (Stephen Fry, etc.)

Follow the link below to check it out, and rest assured i’ll be there every step of the way.

I hope this finds you well. That somehow in the bleakness and muck, the uncertainty of this strange moment, that you’ve found a silver lining. Something unexpected. Some kind of magic.

Join Daniel Radcliffe and co. on a journey through the Wizarding World, from that fateful day of November 1st, 1981 to… well, I certainly hope that radiant moment so many years later. Platform 9 3/4, you know the one, where the saga comes to an end… er, pause… 😉

WATCH HERE
https://www.wizardingworld.com/chapters/reading-the-boy-who-lived?utm_medium=email&utm_source=sg&utm_campaign=hpah-video-chap1

-Cheers,
Nicholas

Sunday Morning – A Poem

Sunday Morning

BY WALLACE STEVENS     

I

Complacencies of the peignoir, and late
Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair,
And the green freedom of a cockatoo
Upon a rug mingle to dissipate
The holy hush of ancient sacrifice.
She dreams a little, and she feels the dark
Encroachment of that old catastrophe,
As a calm darkens among water-lights.
The pungent oranges and bright, green wings
Seem things in some procession of the dead,
Winding across wide water, without sound.
The day is like wide water, without sound,
Stilled for the passing of her dreaming feet
Over the seas, to silent Palestine,
Dominion of the blood and sepulchre.

II

Why should she give her bounty to the dead?
What is divinity if it can come
Only in silent shadows and in dreams?
Shall she not find in comforts of the sun,
In pungent fruit and bright, green wings, or else
In any balm or beauty of the earth,
Things to be cherished like the thought of heaven?
Divinity must live within herself:
Passions of rain, or moods in falling snow;
Grievings in loneliness, or unsubdued
Elations when the forest blooms; gusty
Emotions on wet roads on autumn nights;
All pleasures and all pains, remembering
The bough of summer and the winter branch.
These are the measures destined for her soul.

III

Jove in the clouds had his inhuman birth.
No mother suckled him, no sweet land gave
Large-mannered motions to his mythy mind.
He moved among us, as a muttering king,
Magnificent, would move among his hinds,
Until our blood, commingling, virginal,
With heaven, brought such requital to desire
The very hinds discerned it, in a star.
Shall our blood fail? Or shall it come to be
The blood of paradise? And shall the earth
Seem all of paradise that we shall know?
The sky will be much friendlier then than now,
A part of labor and a part of pain,
And next in glory to enduring love,
Not this dividing and indifferent blue.

IV

She says, “I am content when wakened birds,
Before they fly, test the reality
Of misty fields, by their sweet questionings;
But when the birds are gone, and their warm fields
Return no more, where, then, is paradise?”
There is not any haunt of prophecy,
Nor any old chimera of the grave,
Neither the golden underground, nor isle
Melodious, where spirits gat them home,
Nor visionary south, nor cloudy palm
Remote on heaven’s hill, that has endured
As April’s green endures; or will endure
Like her remembrance of awakened birds,
Or her desire for June and evening, tipped
By the consummation of the swallow’s wings.

V

She says, “But in contentment I still feel
The need of some imperishable bliss.”
Death is the mother of beauty; hence from her,
Alone, shall come fulfilment to our dreams
And our desires. Although she strews the leaves
Of sure obliteration on our paths,
The path sick sorrow took, the many paths
Where triumph rang its brassy phrase, or love
Whispered a little out of tenderness,
She makes the willow shiver in the sun
For maidens who were wont to sit and gaze
Upon the grass, relinquished to their feet.
She causes boys to pile new plums and pears
On disregarded plate. The maidens taste
And stray impassioned in the littering leaves.

VI

Is there no change of death in paradise?
Does ripe fruit never fall? Or do the boughs
Hang always heavy in that perfect sky,
Unchanging, yet so like our perishing earth,
With rivers like our own that seek for seas
They never find, the same receding shores
That never touch with inarticulate pang?
Why set the pear upon those river-banks
Or spice the shores with odors of the plum?
Alas, that they should wear our colors there,
The silken weavings of our afternoons,
And pick the strings of our insipid lutes!
Death is the mother of beauty, mystical,
Within whose burning bosom we devise
Our earthly mothers waiting, sleeplessly.

VII

Supple and turbulent, a ring of men
Shall chant in orgy on a summer morn
Their boisterous devotion to the sun,
Not as a god, but as a god might be,
Naked among them, like a savage source.
Their chant shall be a chant of paradise,
Out of their blood, returning to the sky;
And in their chant shall enter, voice by voice,
The windy lake wherein their lord delights,
The trees, like serafin, and echoing hills,
That choir among themselves long afterward.
They shall know well the heavenly fellowship
Of men that perish and of summer morn.
And whence they came and whither they shall go
The dew upon their feet shall manifest.

VIII

She hears, upon that water without sound,
A voice that cries, “The tomb in Palestine
Is not the porch of spirits lingering.
It is the grave of Jesus, where he lay.”
We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.
Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail
Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
And, in the isolation of the sky,
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
Downward to darkness, on extended wings.

Bathing With Amy Lowell (1874-1925): A Poem to Feed Your Week

Bath

Little spots of sunshine lie on the surface of the water and dance, dance, and their reflections wobble deliciously over the ceiling; a stir of my finger sets them whirring, reeling

The day is fresh-washed and fair, and there is a smell of tulips and narcissus in the air.
The sunshine pours in at the bath-room window and bores through the water in the bathtub in lathes and planes of greenish-white. It cleaves the water into flaws like a jewel, and cracks it to bright light.
      

Little spots of sunshine lie on the surface of the water and dance, dance, and their reflections wobble deliciously over the ceiling; a stir of my finger sets them whirring, reeling. I move a foot and the planes of light in the water jar. I lie back and laugh, and let the green-white water, the sun-flawed beryl water, flow over me. The day is almost too bright to bear, the green water covers me from the too bright day. I will lie here awhile and play with the water and the sun spots. The sky is blue and high. A crow flaps by the window, and there is a whiff of tulips and narcissus in the air.

BY AMY LOWELL

Amy Lowell, “Bath” from The Complete Poetical Works of Amy Lowell. Copyright © 1955 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Copyright © renewed 1983 by Houghton Mifflin Company, Brinton P. Roberts, and G. D’Andelot, Esquire. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

If the Shoe Fits: Comparative Folklore and the Cinderella(s) Story

East, West, North, South. Strike out in any direction and one is sure to find themselves a tale of such an event. So-and-so meets so-and-so, fates and starstruck, forbidden love and yet it’s meant to be… From Strabo’s Greek servant who finds herself marrying the pharaoh of Egypt to Japan’s “Middle Captain Princess,” whose parallels with Perrault’s Cinderella, while limited, express still the proper functions meant to serve its audience. In other words, “The achievement of the hero is one that he is ready for and it’s really a manifestation of his character.” (Campbell, Joseph: The Power of Myth. Chapter 12) The following essay is an analysis on the functions, characteristics, and mythology of two such cases. First, that of the standard European folkloric narrative of Cinderella. And second, the legend of Ye Xian, the fantastical Chinese peasant-gone-princess from a millennium earlier, the 9th century. and equally entrenched with magic. Despite elephantine differences, cultural variants, language barriers, and psychological distances readers of these tales observe their commonalities. For herein lie the richest gifts of storytelling: to relay the most human of desires; to define urges; to express feelings in such a way that is universally recognized. For those of us in the West we approach Cinderella from an insider’s point of view, or as Victor Turner would say, from an “exegetic” perspective (Introduction to Mythology). In this case we are removed by several centuries and distinct, yet recognizable cultural difference. Whereas we approach Ye Xian as complete outsiders, or as Turner termed from an “operational” perspective. The story of Cinderella, all its variations, complexes, prejudices, heroes, and heroines, strikes a resounding chord for all those listeners of her tale. And for this very reason: the story of Cinderella remains the most human and ripe for plucking. This is a story so ingrained in the collective mind that one can’t help but find themselves absorbed in the narrative. For it is the origin tale of the underdog: the one who overcame injustice: the one who got away. Whose patience and virtues paid off either by luck or karma.

Rites of passage, anxiety, the loss of adolescence. The challenges of this family romance are many. But the heroine inevitably comes out ahead, sometimes in life, other time’s through a meandering network of reincarnations.   

Daughter of the Tang Dynasty: The Legend of Ye Xian

The legend of Ye Xian comes from a collection of folktales from the Tang Dynasty (9th century) referred to as the Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang, authored by Duan Chengshi. Wherein Ye Xian’s mother dies in childbirth and is left in the care of her father’s second wife, Jun-Li, whose negligence and demands are equal to those of Cinderella’s stepmother. Likewise Ye Xian’s beauty far surpasses her stepmothers whose bitter envy manifests via demanding, menial chores, jests, and backbreaking work. Unlike the story of Cinderella, Ye Xian is severely mocked and bullied. But one day while out fetching water Ye Xian encounters a fish. This is not just any fish but the very lively and very vocal manifestation of her spirit guardian (Ye Xian’s mother’s spirit/comparable to Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother) whom is meant to guide and protect her. Yet one day, the stepmother Jun-Li catches Ye Xian communing with this mysterious fish and becomes enraged. She returns in the dead of night and creeping up the pond she stabs the fish with a dagger and eats it. Shortly after Ye Xian is left to mourn as her stepmother attends the royal ball. In her misery Ye Xian is visited by yet another spirit, an ancient guardian spirit who restores her faith revealing that her mother’s energy lives on. Performing a magical burial ritual, Ye Xian’s mother is conjured in ghost-form and tasked with granting her daughter one wish: to visit the royal gala. Thus, Ye Xian manages to escape the gloom of her cavernous quarters for just one night, magically endowed with a gown and slippers. Immediately following her admittance, she becomes the life of the gala, everyone infatuated with her. That is until seeing her stepmother whereupon Ye Xian flees and in so doing loses a slipper. This lone tiny golden slipper is discovered by the king who sets out to make the owner of such an ornate and small piece of footwear his bride.

Thus, by luck, by action of external forces, and by divine intervention, Ye Xian is liberated, married to the king, swept away and rescued from the clutches of her wicked stepmother.

The similarities are many, but more interesting are the differences peppered throughout Ye Xian’s story which undoubtedly cast intqigue upon Western audiences. Whereas Cinderella’s liberation comes via fairy god mother, Ye Xian is liberated by an an ancestral spirit. Whereas Cinderella befriends mice, Ye Xian befriends a lovely koi (her mothers reincarnated form). And while Cinderella’s

The symbology of Perrault’s Cinderella range from shapeshifting pumpkins to ungodly felines while the motifs of Duan Chengshi’s tale reflect the symbolic thinking of an Asian audience: embracing the spirit realm, polygamy, and the significance of foot-binding (intoned in the prince’s desire of the woman with “tiniest feet.”). Curiously Cinderella and Ye Xian are both passive observers of their fate, playing a rather meek existence whose process of individuation is achieved mostly through the effort of others. Whether that’s being “discovered” by the prince of either tale or being coaxed by a fairy god mother, or ancestral spirit into taking the journey in the first place. These are simply surface level assessments. To fully appreciate the significance of “Cinderella’s” cultural variations and likewise similarities it is important to focus our attention upon specific insights.

The stories of Ye Xian hail from deep antiquity yet as a major function of folklore suggests a proper analysis of this tale will reveal cultural, historical, and metaphysical insights into 9th century China. Such that modern audiences are opened a window into the Tang Dynasty.

Cinderella, the Unconscious and her Symbolism

“We should understand that dream symbols are for the most part manifestations of a psyche that is beyond the control of the conscious mind. Meaning and purposefulness are not the prerogatives of the mind; they operate in the whole of living nature. There is no difference in principle between organic and psychic growth. As a plant produces its flower, so the psyche creates its symbols. Every dream is evidence of this process.”

C.G Jung, Man and His Symbols

To view Cinderella/Ye Xian as a product of the collective unconscious we must reflect upon the more recent Cinderella Complex (Collette Dowling. 1984) as a very real phenomenon. This modern term defines the precise trait shared between all “Cinderella” stories: they feature a heroine as a passive observer – rather than active participant of her own fate. With this in mind we can take a modern approach to the Jungian analysis which requires an assessment of the narratives characters, their structural components, and functions as manifest.

The individuation of Cinderella/Ye Xian begins with the call of action by external forces. The meek young girl with a father that is either absent or dead is abused by her stepmother (shadow figure), and is motivated by supernatural forces, either fairy godmother or talking fish/Spirit Mother (shadow figures) to challenge her circumstances and free herself from oppression resulting in a noble marriage and ultimately the reversal of all her hardship. The shadow figure in both stories is manifest in the stepmother and to a lesser extent, the stepsiblings. As for the contrasexual embodiment of the animus we see the ancestral guardian in Ye Xian’s arch as the male personification of her psyche. This spirit serves to drive Ye Xian further along her rite of passage when she becomes all but stalled by the death of her mother’s reincarnation, the talking fish. Ye Xian comes to terms with her shadow as her stepmother is outwitted by her attending the ball, and thus if officially challenged for the first time, initiating the scene of the lost slipper, and ultimately resulting in her marriage to the King. The inner psychology of the times in all variations of “Cinderella” reveal the universal truths which reside within the collective unconscious since time immemorial. It is noteworthy our human urge to value those who overcome suffering by all manner of plot, so long as they achieve their individuation by successfully navigating their rites of passage and entering adulthood.

Cinderella: A Big Romantic Family

“For the whole consequence of evolution from blind impulse through conscious will to self conscious knowledge, seems still somehow to correspond to a continued result of births, rebirths and new births, which reach from the birth of the child from the mother, beyond the birth of the individual from the mass, to the birth of the creative work from the individual and finally to the birth of knowledge from the work.”

Otto Rank, 1976

The history of man has run a rather linear course from tree-dwelling ape to gather-hunter rising ultimately to urbanite. Myths come to us from times immemorial, passed orally through the ages, altered to fit the times. I can’t help but wonder about the “Cinderella” that must have existed before recorded history. That said the “family romance” is certainly one which must stem from our primitive ancestors most fundamental instincts.

In 1909 Otto Rank (1884-1939) defined the “mythotype,” or “hero archetype” as a term used to collectivize patterns found throughout folktales regarding their heroes/heroines (Introduction to Mythology). Kinship and tribal roles have always played an important role in our lives, and familial relationships are as important as ever. Thus I find it noteworthy to consider Rank’s views on projection, which reconfigure the Oedipus complex in a sort of role-reversal so that it is the parent, not the child, acting in rebellion: a representation of the hostility and “powerlessness” felt by the child coming of age (Introduction to Mythology). Cinderella’s father and mother come into question in a Rankian analysis. The formers negligence, as an absentee parent and the latter, having passed away to be replaced by an “evil stepmother.” Themes of birth and regeneration are also in the story of Ye Xian, featuring various scenes of reincarnation, spirit manipulation, and divination. Both

Analyzing Myths and Folktales as Historical Manifestos

As much as we may syphon off the ephemeral minds of ancient writers, myths also offer a healthy serving of stimulating historical insights. For instance, in the stories of Ye Xian one may find details specific to the the Tang Dynasty. Of significant beliefs, household norms, and discernably 9th century traditions. This is true too of Cinderella’s 17th century Europe. In the former we’re dropped into the Golden Age of China. A world of sophisticated clocks and gunpowder. A time of great scientific breakthroughs and artistry. An empire heavily influenced by Confucianism and Taoism. The Tang Legal Code with its 500 codices and the laws of the Kojiki. Ancestor worship and the Incorporation of Buddhism (Chan(zen)) too. The Tang Dynasty witnessed a wealth of foreign cultures, economic diversity, and dominance over great swaths of geography as the kingdom grew larger in size, beginning to resemble China as modern audiences would recognize it. But what might we specifically draw from this folkloric China? Perhaps most striking is the significance of Ye Xian’s slipper. Not for its design, nor for the girl to whom it belongs, but rather for its size – the size of her feet are the sole concern of the kings appeal. The “Chinese Cinderella” is not measured by her beauty nor grace but the size of her most delicate stray slipper which symbolizes rather prominently the importance of foot-binding in the Tang Dynasty China. Thus, the story reflects significant marks of nobility and refinement which are traits not found within the European variations of Cinderella. From the European tradition, Cinderella is subservient, beautiful, and measured first by these traits, not her lineage nor commitment to cultural tradition. She is later pursued by the prince who seeks her based upon their prior meeting, not because of her shoe alone, but because the slipper belonged to her

Thinking Animal + Feeling Animal = Folktales

Folklore manifests in endless variation. That said, the tales, legends, and myths comprising such lore follow rather precise patterns inherited by the collective. When considering the importance of this tradition we shall consider William Bascom’s Four Functions of Folklore:

“Folklore lets people escape from repressions imposed upon them by society.

Folklore validates culture, justifying its rituals and institutions to those who perform and observe them. Folklore is a pedagogic device which reinforces morals and values and builds wit. Folklore is a means of applying social pressure and exercising social control.”

-William Bascom, Journal of American Folklore

Thus, it goes without saying, folklore is that device which grants individuals a place in this world. And doing so presents myriad paths of which they may choose to follow as fits one’s needs, desires, tendencies, and instincts. Folktales ultimately arise for a number of reasons beyond this inherent need direction. Distinct cultural variations occur for aetiological reasons, making orderly an otherwise mysterious and chaotic world. Even in this time of advanced quantum physics. For every answer we’re presented with more and deeper mysteries. The only lack we face in modernized society is that commitment to folklore. This is evident in the apathy and widespread listlessness sweeping America.

Cinderella’s Once and Future Selves

As readers of “Cinderella” we find “unconscious expression of ourselves” (C.G. Jung). It is no wonder these legends continue to be told. Their insights shed light upon the universal truths of what it means to be human. Our anxieties and desires alike. Stories arising from the collective unconscious meant to illustrate our inherited right to self-individuation. While at the same time offering guidance as to how one might go about such a dramatic transformation. In all her various forms from Cinderella to Ye Xian, Chujo-Hime (Japan) to Strabo’s Rhodopis (Greece/Egypt) we find these insights right true to their time, their place, and their humanity. Perhaps most enchanting and valuable of all is the fact that in a globalized world we may digest even greater insights from these legends than ever imagined. As our world grows smaller, as cultures blossom, the folktales they share shall become ever more present and more understood. To say any particular version of “Cinderella” is more relevant to me, or more fitting for my (hypothetical) child is to prejudice one for another and I simply cannot do such a thing for the various experiences, trials, and tribulations of all her adventures, in Europe, through Asia, the Classical World and the New World, hers is a remarkable and noteworthy tale. Through all her faults (passivity), and her strengths (daring to dream), “Cinderella” strikes a chord for all those coming-of-age, young or old. What matters is how the story is inherited. The various insights, motifs, and symbols learned in this semester will guide the way I share stories. Will shape the way I talk about the world, near and far. I am deeply grateful for the clusters, units, hours, and weeks we invested in the art and science of mythology.

Works Cited

  1. Joseph Campbell et al. “The Power of Myth” Turtleback Books, 2012.
  2. Bascom, William. “‘Four Functions of Folklore.’” Journal of American Folklore , 1954.
  3. Dowling, Colette. = The Cinderella Complex: Women’s Hidden Fear of Independence. Mikasa Shyobō, 1984.
  4. Jung, C. G., et al. Man and His Symbols. Stellar Classics, 2013.
  5. Rank, Otto. The Myth of the Birth of the Hero: a Psychological Interpretation of Mythology. Read Books Ltd., 2013.
  6. Thury, Eva M., and Margaret Klopfle Devinney. Introduction to Mythology: Contemporary Approaches to Classical and World Myths. Oxford University Press, 2017.
  7. Turner, Victor. Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure. ROUTLEDGE, 2017.

From Ulysses to Knausgaard: Time to Read That 500+ Page Novel/Series

It’s an investment for sure. But one of the greatest you’ll ever make. From a year-long commitment to Knausgaard’s monumental sextet “My Struggle” to the 2013 saga Americanah by the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In this time of “social distancing” and respite, we turn the situation upside down, or is it right-side up? or right-side down? and embrace the solitude, grab that bull, those enameled prosaic horns and strike a path into the deep forests of epic literature.

20 Knock-Your-Socks-Off Novels Over 500 Pages

From the brilliance that is the New York Public Library:

  • The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
    A pianist accrues clues to his past in this enigmatic literary thriller.
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
    “Frankly, my dear,” you should give a damn about this sprawling Civil War classic.
  • Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson
    The author of Jesus’ Son takes on Vietnam-era CIA.
  • Them by Joyce Carol Oates
    The National Book Award-winning third novel of Oates’ Wonderland Quartet covers three decades of slumming in Detroit.
  • The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
    A couple conspires to seduce a sick American girl for her riches.
  • Ada, Or, Ardor, A Family Chronicle by Vladimir Nabokov
    The title says it all: word play and linguistic filigree of the highest order.
  • Mortals by Norman Rush
    No one does Botswana — or a sentence — like Norman Rush.
  • Native Son by Richard Wright
    Bigger (Thomas) is better in Wright’s seminal novel Native Son.
  • Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
    Want to know what a Schwarzgerät is? Then read the book.
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
    A beautiful woman, a train, a trainwreck. You know how this one ends.
  • The Making of Americans by Gertrude Stein
    In Stein’s hands, the glue that holds together a family drama is writing about writing.
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
    There are a lot of fruitless endeavors in the war that is Okies v. Dust Bowl.
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
    An erudite group of budding intellectuals has something to hide, and it may just be a dead body.
  • The Shape of Things to Come by H.G. Wells
    Wells imagines life from 1933 to 2106. 
  • Letting Go by Philip Roth
    Any bibliophile will appreciate a book in which a major plot point involves a letter being left in a copy of The Portrait of a Lady.
  • Middlemarch by George Eliot
    An extraordinary book about marrying a dud.
  • Underworld by Don DeLillo
    A DeLillo sentence is taut, energetic, and intelligent, so think about what happens when DeLillo’s sentences reach the length of a novel.
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
    This epic of whale proportions is perhaps the best American novel about the madness of dreams.
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
    Bro out intellectually with this novel of ideas.
  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
    Entertainment looms a frightening shadow even over footnotes in DFW’s neo-classic tome.
  • https://www.nypl.org/blog/2014/05/12/20-knock-your-socks-novels-over-500-pages

3 Unique Research Methods for Identifying Small Publishers – by Rosalie Morales Kearns…

on Jane Friedman site: Back when I was seeking a publisher for my novel, finding small presses was a haphazard process. I would compile lists from …

3 Unique Research Methods for Identifying Small Publishers – by Rosalie Morales Kearns…

What the Hell is Water? David Foster Wallace and the Need to Believe

On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.” #DavidFosterWallace

“Because here’s something else that’s weird but true: in the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship—be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles—is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.”

David Foster Wallace

Writing Through a Pandemic: Writer’s Edit is Hiring Freelancers

If you’re among the writers of the world I’m sure you’re familiar with the monolithic resource that is the Writer’s Edit. If not (…who are you?), well they’re a one-stop shop for writers of all flavors, compiling advice and classes to nurture the seasoned novelist and the budding author alike with a global reach coming in at all angles from experienced contributors like you and myself.

What’s more: they’re hiring. Fire up them digits, strap on your lingua-cap, and put yourself to the good work, to helping writers just like us get through this murky, ambiguous time.

Writing Through a Pandemic: @WritersEdit is Hiring #Freelancers

The Grandeur of Ordinary Life: James Joyce on Literature About You, Me, And Everyone In Between

“In the particular is contained the universal.” – James Joyce

What. A. Quote!

Now, here we have the a monolith in name, diction, style, form, class, you name it who’s greatest achievement is rekindling the fire of what makes a novel a novel, or bending, no, rewriting the rules of literature and yet despite all that here he is claiming that all he’s written is the “universal” by tapping into the “particular.”

This must be one of the most complex statements ever declared on paper. For here we have a revolutionare extraordinare placing onus of his legacy upon readers, everyday humans. Which is to say that it’s the mundane, everyday existance that makes life, not only worth writing about, but living!

I hope you enjoyed this random thought of the week. I’d love to hear your thoughts as well. A fan or Joyce? Yea, Nay, or …Yay?

Until next time…

On Arabic Sweets and the Middle East: Kunafa – NICHOLAS ANDRIANI

All of these things are true… I had been in Jordan for several weeks and my love affair with Arabian sweets had reached a lofty peak. In fact, I would begin and end each day with a platter of pastries, smothered in honeys and syrups that would flood through heaps of pistachios on my plate. Then it happened… I…
— Read on nicholasandriani.wordpress.com/2019/05/09/how-to-kanafeh/

Love in the Time of COVID-19

What. A. Time. It. Is.

Take it for yourself, take respite, take a spell off the grid and rekindle the self you’ve long missed.

As we continue to wrap our heads around our first officiated pandemic, not that we aren’t the victims of other, more abstract pandemics such as racism, colonialism, and free-market capitalism, but hey, morality/philosophy will have to take a backburner today. No, today we’re dealing with a vicious strain of flu that has shutdown cities, closed international borders, and left the world with little to do but stream endlessly clever gifs.

As for myself it’s time to catch up on homework, continue revising my works in progress, and to spend much needed time with the family. This includes, but is not limited too, mass quantities of Winstead’s Hamburgers, Pokemon Dungeon Dx, Knausgaard’s My Struggle: Part Six, while allocating the remainder of my listless self to meandering forgotten trails, hiking, gardening, and listening, just being present.

Strange how we in the anthropology field have pressed the urgency of preparing, adapting, and taking preemptive steps to address the proverbial “pandemic of the future” but as it appears, the United States government took little heed. Gah, c’est la vie.

All we can do now is remain calm, open minded, and considerate of each other’s needs. Be compassionate of those with greater strains than our own and support them in this time of uncertainty.

I was going to use this time, this post, here, now to promote the relaunch of my bookshop but I find nothing more off putting and in bad taste than the hoards of emails I receive from brands dishing out
kumbaya” this and that, and how much they care about their employees health and did I know they’re offering free shipping? Or, hey, BOGO!

This isn’t the time to save a buck on ball caps or sleek new sunglasses. Take it for yourself, take respite, take a spell off the grid and rekindle the self you’ve long missed.

I just want you to know i’m here, thinking about you. Wishing you well. And looking forward to the brighter future in which we learn from the current situation to reform, rekindle, and rewrite our legacies.

“Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.”

H.W. Longfellow

Book Announcement: Agents of World Renewal: The Rise of Yonaoshi Gods in Japan

Found on the brilliance that is ShinpaiDeshou

Do You Shampoo? Curry? You Can Thank Sake Dean Mahomed – On Influential Muslims

Highlights

  • Introduced Shampooing to Europe
  • First Indian to Write a Book in English (I’m suspicious of this)
  • Opened the first Indian restaurant in London, 1810
  • Served as Surgeon in the British Army

Quite a figure.

I’m endlessly fascinated by the storied history and culture of food. If you think about it food, with all those various customs, colloquial nuances, simple and complex, erotic and understated, is truly our greatest and most intimate experience with the world around us.

Sake Dean Mahomed was an entrepreneur and surgeon who helped break down cultural barriers between India and England.

Mahomed is credited with introducing Indian cuisine and Indian therapeutic massages known as shampoo baths to Europe in the early 19th century. But it’s for his writings that Google honored him with a Doodle on Tuesday. It was on this date in 1794 that Mahomed became the first Indian author to write and publish a book in English.

Born in Patna, India, in 1759, Mahomed was taken under the wing of a British Army officer at the age of 10 after his father died. He served as a trainee surgeon in the army of the British East India Company and remained with the unit until 1782, when he resigned from the army and accompanied his benefactor to Britain.

In 1794, Mahomed published The Travels of Dean Mahomed, an autobiographical narrative about his adventures in India. The book recounts his time in the army and describes many important Indian cities and military campaigns.

Needless to say, Mohamed lived quite a rich and accomplished life.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this installment of Influential Muslims

Go Folk Yourself: A Semester Abroad, Japanese, Folklore, & the Glorious Spirit Realm – Call to Arms!

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Call to Arms:

I am a full-time student and researcher with a passion for the cultures and people that diversify and energize our world. I believe that literature and the stories we tell the world contain a multitude of interpretations and gemstones waiting to be mined. 

I’m launching this campaign to raise funds for a semester abroad in Japan, researching language, translation, and folklore.

By supporting my campaign you will be fueling the dreams of a wild-eyed dreamer who is ever grateful for your support

Enter CIIS: 


Spring II 2020
Dates: April 4 – June 23, 2020
Application Deadline: December 8, 2019
Costs:
Courses Only: 4,264 Member | $4,664 Non-member
Courses with Dorm: $7,964 Member | $8,364 Non-member
Courses with Homestay: $8,964 Member | $9,364 Non-member

Program Overview
Founded in 1983, KCP International Japanese Language School is located in Shinjuku, the business, entertainment, and shopping center of Tokyo. The KCP campus is a short walk from Shinjuku-gyoenmae Station on the Marunouchi subway line. From there, a student has access to such Tokyo landmarks and attractions as the Japanese government buildings, Shinjuku and Yoyogi Parks, Meiji Shrine, Tokyo Tower, and popular student destinations including Shibuya and Harajuku.

The school has been featured in many publications throughout Asia and is recognized as a leader in Japanese language education. KCP International Japanese Language School provides an opportunity for serious students to achieve remarkable proficiency in Japanese. With a student-teacher ratio of 20 to 3, KCP serves over 500 students per year.

English-speaking staff provides language support, including special tutorials, in English if needed. KCP offers two areas of study. The first, a total immersion Intensive Japanese Language Course (taught in Japanese), is the main focus of the KCP program. Special emphasis is placed on a balanced language education program that stresses the 4 most important communication skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The language course is offered at six levels. The second, a Japanese Culture and Civilization Course, offers opportunities to experience Japan first-hand while visiting many notable sights in Tokyo

Buddhism = Monism, Dualism, or…? feat. Alex Zendo, Buddhist Teacher

Monism is the view that attributes oneness or singleness (Greek:μόνος) to a concept (e.g., existence).

Buddhism is beyond monism, dualism, pluralism etc. Those -istic teachings are like photos. Monism says that there is the best perspective (camera angle) to make a good photo of that particular thing. For example, a person should be photographed from the front, to see the face and body well. Dualism says that there is equally important information in human photos from the back (for medical purposes, for example; some mystics say that looking at the back of a person we can see his state and thoughts easier). That two-photos approach also is used in criminalist photography: getting head photos en face and side-view. That’s like dualism. Then pluralism says that in various cases different angles can be best. Like when an artist paints some person, capturing unique personality and feelings…

What is Buddhism like?

Buddhism sees the difference between the object and its photos. That’s what we realize well in awakening. All the photos are dropped. We could use them but are not caught by them. So sometimes Buddhist teachings might look monistic; or not monistic — that depends rather on a person that perceives them.

A Zen Master asked a monk, pointing at the portrait of bearded patriarch Bodhidharma: “Why this foreigner has no beard?”

Who Are You? Why Are You? Thinking Philosophically

Today in class professor initiated a juicy discussion into the self. I thought you may enjoy diving into our conversation – and I’m extremely interested in your views of self, and your philosophies on life. I’m a firm believer that language IS arbitrary. But I also agree that our abilities, as storytellers and myth makers, define what it means to be human.

Thinking Philosophically

What Is Your Philosophy of Life?

Everybody has a philosophy of life. Identify some of the foundation beliefs that form your philosophy of life, using these questions as a guide. Express your ideas as completely and clearly as you can. Think deeply and beyond superficialities and refuse to be satisfied with the first idea that you have.

  • What do you most value in life? Why?
  • What moral beliefs influence your choices and your behavior toward others? How do you determine the “right” thing to do?
  • What role do religious beliefs play in your life? Do you believe in “God”? Why or why not? Is there an afterlife? If so, what is the path to it?
  • What gives your life meaning? What is the purpose of your life? What do you hope to achieve in your life?
  • How do we find truth? How do you know when you “know” something is true? What is an example of something you know to be true?
  • Do you believe that your choices are free? Do you hold yourself responsible for your choices?
  • What do you consider to be “beautiful”? Why? What is the function of art? Should “extreme” forms of artistic expression be censored? Why or why not?
  • Are all people entitled to basic human rights? Why? What is justice?
  • What are other important beliefs in your life?

On the Road Less Traveled : A Personal Essay on the Path of Most Resistance and the Adventure That is Life.

As our world grows increasingly smaller it’s easier than ever to seek refuge in the comfort of familiar places. Yet, we live in a time when thoughts and ideas manifest in flashes of delight, th blink of an eye and round-the-world travel is at the fingertips of risk takers and adventurers alike. I see Marco Polo and Gertrude Bell in the men and women I met abroad. Sharing the road, sharing tales of individual split-second experiences worth more than time itself.

I started blogging back in 2012, shortly after moving to Jordan — not only to share my story and to learn from others, but to inspire, to instill the momentum it takes to lace up ones boots and hit the road. It wasn’t until I found myself alone in a most foreign country that I felt the hot passion of life. Where my native tongue was about as useful as the moo! of a cow and most the time, I had no idea what the hell I was putting in my mouth… but it tasted good and I wanted more! And that is why you must hit the road.

Don’t be victimized by the culture of fear. Our planet is waiting to be explored, to reveal it’s secrets to you, to me, to any who dare ask, it will expose you to the raw truths of life. To the quarks of distant cultures and alien tongues. To disgusting foods and delicious cuisines, to dangerous and countless blessings.

Let’s take control of 2015. Don’t be afraid to leap without looking. I encourage you to take off the training wheels and take the road less traveled.

-Yallah!

Interview with Maria Rochelle

What an immense pleasure it was joining fellow author Maria Rochelle in what became quite a revealing conversation… A discussion on travel, literature, writing, life, love and losing oneself in the beautiful madness of all things.

Since reading Knausgaard i’ve determined to take several wide steps away from the ego (easier said than done, right!). Giving my literature room for accuracy, honesty. It’s too easy to dress yourself up with fancy words, credentials, achievements etc. but what I want to hear, what I need to hear, comes from the fabric of reality — the truth.

So, it’s my objective this year to be more honest, with myself as much as others. Learning to say “no” more, and feeling less obliged to the prophetic “yes.” And in turn, taking care of my very self — I have a tendency to overcompensate, to be “too nice,” as they say.

Without further ado, I hope you enjoy our conversation and be sure to visit Maria’s work as well. As a multi-genre author, she’s covered some very impressive territory, including her tour de force children’s series, Jasmine Dreams.

Read the full interview here.

On Arabic Sweets and the Middle East: Kunafa

All of these things are true...

I had been in Jordan for several weeks and my love affair with Arabian sweets had reached a lofty peak. In fact, I would begin and end each day with a platter of pastries, smothered in honeys and syrups that would flood through heaps of pistachios on my plate.

Then it happened… I voraciously reached junkie status. More, more. Never enough! Every bakery that caught my sight was fair game,  out for a greater high, exploring the labyrinthine neighborhoods for the more legendary bakeries. But it was in Wadi Musa where my friend, Khaleed, led me right into the snare of Kanafeh.

An unmarked door led to an unnamed bakery where, despite the raging 100f degree day, a father and son were cheerfully slaving away, racking out sheets of pastries. They were using round, shallow pans and alchemy to produce what many call “Arabian cheesecake”.

This “cheesecake” was Kanafehe

A definitive oxymoron- soft and crunchy, sweet’n’salty, cheesy, gooey and crispy. All neatly encased in a glaze of simple syrup and rose water. Good enough to make one prostrate in reverence to the baker.

The ingredients are few yet they lend themselves to an endless array of pastries. We all know and love baklava but it wasn’t until I discovered Kanafeh that the Arabian culture opened up before me, so delicate and sweet behind that mysterious veil.

Now, please excuse this appauling photograph…

…but 1879!!!

IMG_2298
Knafa, Kanafeh, Kunafa? Whatever it is… Tel Aviv, Israel

Let’s just say there’s no right/wrong way to spell it- “A rose by any other name” and all that-

523975_3679462710501_1083950525_n
Kanafeh in Ramallah, Palestine

 

IMG_2093
Kanafeh and assorted pastries in Wadi Musa (Jordan)

There are three variants of kanafeh but in this recipe we’ll focus on khishnah (rough Kunafa)

Ingredients

  • 1 Package- Kataifi Pastry (kataifi is something like spun phyllo. Rather than laid out in thin sheets, it is processed in a way that produces vermicelli-like noodles. Check out this great video to see how it’s made)
  • 1 cup- Ghee
  • 2 cups- Akkawi cheese (you can substitute with mozzarella)

Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup- water
  • 1 1/2 cup- sugar
  • 2 tbsp- Rose water (or orange blossom water)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Optional Toppings

  • Pistachios (crushed)
  • Almonds (whole or crushed)
  • Whatever else catches your fancy (if you dare stray from pistachios…)

As with all recipes- preheat your oven (350f/180c)

Prepare the simple syrup (so that it can cool entirely before the kanafeh is finished) by mixing the water and sugar in a pot- bring to a boil. Add the lemon juice and continue boiling for 10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Promptly remove the syrup and allow to cool for several minutes. Then add the rose water, or orange blossom water.

At this time, you’ll want to begin shredding the kataifi. This is best done with a food processor but can be achieved by hand. As packaged, kataifi comes in endless noodles and you’ll need to shred them further- so that the average noodle is around one inch in length.

 

Once you have the noodles at the right size, place the kataifi in a large mixing bowl and gently incorporate the melted ghee (clarified butter.)

As the noodles set, begin the process of cutting down the cheese, or even shredding it if possible. I’ve experimented with many cheeses, some sweeter, some saltier, and there’s no rule for what you use. Just be sure to have 2 cups of a quality melting cheese to your liking either shredded or cut in long, narrow strips.

Taking a 9×13 pan, spread out a generous layer of the processed kataifi (about 2/3 of your noodles). Press the noodles firmly into the pan working it into a flat, even surface so that you can then evenly distribute the cheese, all of the cheese.

Follow the cheese with the remaining kataifi and, again, pack the noodles into the cheese, evenly.

With the oven heated, cook the kanafeh until the noodles have become a golden brown (around 10-15 mins)

Once the kanafeh has baked through you’ll want to allow it to cool for 10 mins

At this point, the kanafeh should have become more firm and set into its cheesy, sexy self.

Now, carefully place a cookie sheet atop the baking dish with the kanafeh and invert the pan so that the kanafeh is now on the cookie sheet.

Litter the surface with crushed pistachios and drown your darling with the simple syrup/rose water concoction.

Voila.

OK, so the example given below, about that. I had a tough time finding kataifi, so I substituted the noodles for simple phyllo sheets… no harm done. Yet, I will admit that iteration does neglect all the pleasing textures that comes along with kataifi. However, i’ll take what I can get. So get creative.

20140418-111911.jpg

20140418-111902.jpg

 

So, any takers?

Yallah’bye!

SaveSave

SaveSave

All of these things are true...

A couple weeks in my desperate affair with Arabian sweets had reached dangerous highs. In fact, I would begin and end each day with a platter of pastries, smothered in honey and flooded with syrup and pistachio.

Junkie. That’s what you’d call me. A baklav-addict. More, more. Never enough. Every bakery was fair game as I lurked ancient cobbled alleys, out for a greater high, wandering deeper into the labyrinth in search for legendary bakeries. All of this was is good and well but it was in Wadi Musa where my friend, Khaleed, led me right into the snare of Kanafeh.

I followed him downtown through an unmarked door into an unnamed bakery where, despite the raging 110-degrees, a father and son were cheerfully slaving away, racking out sheets of pastries. Round shallow pans and alchemy. Arabian cheesecake.

This cheesecake was Kanafehe

The edible oxymoron – soft and crunchy, sweet’n’salty, cheesy, gooey, and crispy. All neatly encased in a glaze of syrup and rose water.

The ingredients are few yet they lend themselves to an endless array of pastries. We all know and love baklava but it wasn’t until I discovered Kanafeh that I finally tasted the essence of Arabian culture: so delicate and sweet behind that mysterious veil.

Now, please excuse this appalling photograph…

IMG_2298
Knafa, Kanafeh, Kunafa? Whatever it is… Tel Aviv, Israel
…but 1879!!!

Let’s just say there’s no right/wrong way to spell it. A rose by any other name

523975_3679462710501_1083950525_n
Kanafeh in Ramallah, Palestine
IMG_2093
Kanafeh and assorted pastries in Wadi Musa (Jordan)

There are three variants of kanafeh but in this recipe we’ll focus on khishnah (rough Kunafa)

Ingredients

  • 1 Package- Kataifi Pastry (kataifi is something like spun phyllo. Rather than laid out in thin sheets, it is processed in a way that produces vermicelli-like noodles. Check out this great video to see how it’s made)
  • 1 cup- Ghee
  • 2 cups- Akkawi cheese (you can substitute with mozzarella)

Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup- water
  • 1 1/2 cup- sugar
  • 2 tbsp- Rose water (or orange blossom water)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Optional Toppings

  • Pistachios (crushed)
  • Almonds (whole or crushed)
  • Whatever else catches your fancy (if you dare stray from pistachios…)

As with all recipes- preheat your oven (350f/180c)

Prepare the simple syrup (so that it can cool entirely before the kanafeh is finished) by mixing the water and sugar in a pot- bring to a boil. Add the lemon juice and continue boiling for 10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Promptly remove the syrup and allow to cool for several minutes. Then add the rose water, or orange blossom water.

At this time, you’ll want to begin shredding the kataifi. This is best done with a food processor but can be achieved by hand. As packaged, kataifi comes in endless noodles and you’ll need to shred them further- so that the average noodle is around one inch in length.

Once you have the noodles at the right size, place the kataifi in a large mixing bowl and gently incorporate the melted ghee (clarified butter.)

As the noodles set, begin the process of cutting down the cheese, or even shredding it if possible. I’ve experimented with many cheeses, some sweeter, some saltier, and there’s no rule for what you use. Just be sure to have 2 cups of a quality melting cheese to your liking either shredded or cut in long, narrow strips.

Taking a 9×13 pan, spread out a generous layer of the processed kataifi (about 2/3 of your noodles). Press the noodles firmly into the pan working it into a flat, even surface so that you can then evenly distribute the cheese, all of the cheese.

Follow the cheese with the remaining kataifi and, again, pack the noodles into the cheese, evenly.

With the oven heated, cook the kanafeh until the noodles have become a golden brown (around 10-15 mins)

Once the kanafeh has baked through you’ll want to allow it to cool for 10 mins

At this point, the kanafeh should have become more firm and set into its cheesy, sexy self.

Now, carefully place a cookie sheet atop the baking dish with the kanafeh and invert the pan so that the kanafeh is now on the cookie sheet.

Litter the surface with crushed pistachios and drown your darling with the simple syrup/rose water concoction.

Voila.

OK, so the example given below, about that. I had a tough time finding kataifi, so I substituted the noodles for simple phyllo sheets… no harm done. Yet, I will admit that iteration does neglect all the pleasing textures that comes along with kataifi. However, i’ll take what I can get. So get creative.

20140418-111911.jpg
20140418-111902.jpg

So, any takers?

Yallah

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