Tag Archives | Charles Dickens

The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson (And Tolstoy and Dickens)

By Tony Fischer via Flickr CC by 2.0)

By Tony Fischer via Flickr CC by 2.0)

via The Daily Beast:

A new play featuring the third U.S. president, and the authors of “War and Peace” and “Tale of Two Cities” ruminates on what makes us human—our aspirations or our actions?

In a compact 85 minutes, “The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens, and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord” ambitiously wades through life’s most primal, yet endlessly perplexing concepts (morality, mortality, etymology) from the prism of the three eponymous philosophers. That director Matt August’s ebullient and incisive production doesn’t locate the answers that have been eluding us since time immemorial is unsurprising. After all, “Discord” is more a series of conversations than revelations.

Taking a chapter out of Jean-Paul Sartre’s existential masterwork “No Exit,” playwright Scott Carter’s brisk and poignant theological romp opens with a triumvirate of deceased, perennially recognizable figures—Jefferson (Larry Cedar), Tolstoy (Armin Shimerman), and Dickens (David Melville)—ensnared in a white room with nothing but a desk, three chairs, and their consciousness.

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Oliver Sacks, Exploring How Hallucinations Happen

via NPR 9780307947437_custom-f54744401dadf5676ee07efe7e3a5f96294231c9-s2

In Oliver Sacks‘ book The Mind’s Eye, the neurologist included an interesting footnote in a chapter about losing vision in one eye because of cancer that said: “In the ’60s, during a period of experimenting with large doses of amphetamines, I experienced a different sort of vivid mental imagery.”

He expands on this footnote in his book, Hallucinations, where he writes about various types of hallucinations — visions triggered by grief, brain injury, migraines, medications and neurological disorders.

One chapter of the book — that’s out in paperback July 2 — deals with altered states and Sacks’ personal experimentation with hallucinogenic and mind-altering drugs in the ’60s. He says the first time he tried marijuana, it induced fascinating perceptual distortion. He was looking at his hand, and it appeared to be retreating from him, yet getting larger and larger.

“I was fascinated that one could have such perceptual changes, and also that they went with a certain feeling of significance, an almost numinous feeling.

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Charles Dickens’ Scrooge – A Victorian Shaman?

Marley's Ghost-John Leech, 1843The Fortean Times has a very interesting analysis of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”  by Guy Reid-Brown, in which he investigates the possible mystical/shamanic inspiration for the classic Christmas story:

No doubt as this Advent comm­ences, I, and many others, will be re-reading Charles Dickens’s 1843 seasonal classic  “A Christmas Carol” for the umpteenth time. Those of us who have fallen under its spell will doubtless continue to do so every year, even if we live to be as old as the oldest Biblical patriarch, and each time with the same degree of emotion – whether it be delight, wonder or sadness -– as the times before.

In any other context, such behaviour might be interpreted as borderline obsessive, but that simply doesn’t apply here. Ponder this for a moment: there are few other works in Western literat­ure that have enjoyed such a breadth and variety of adaptations across all media.

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‘A Klingon Christmas Carol’ Attacks A Holiday Classic (Video)

Klingon Christmas CarolFirst a Klingon opera, now this. Klingon (the language) sure has a lot of traction for one invented for a Star Trek movie in the '80s. And this is also a non-Christianized version of the Dickens classic, because as I learned from the story, the Klingons killed their gods. Douglas Belkin reports in the Wall Street Journal:
The arc of "A Klingon Christmas Carol" follows the familiar Dickens script: An old miser is visited on a hallowed night by three ghosts who shepherd him through a voyage of self-discovery. The narrative has been rejiggered to match the Klingon world view. For starters, since there is neither a messiah nor a celebration of his birth on the Klingon planet of Kronos, the action is pegged to the Klingon Feast of the Long Night. Carols and trees are replaced with drinking, fighting and mating rituals. And because Klingons are more concerned with bravery than kindness, the main character's quest is for courage.
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