Tag Archives | Literature

Beyond Words: Manly P. Hall Teaches You How to Read

“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” Tyrion Lannister

Ever wish you could get the most out of the material you read? From articles to books to academic papers to opinion pieces, there is a sea of old and new information out there (more like an overwhelming tsunami of it) that’s not only become increasingly difficult to keep up with and sift through, but to comprehend in the first place. In this lecture (“Mind and the Book“), Manly P. Hall doesn’t offer a “one weird trick” shortcut, but a deeply involved, integrative, and discerning discipline. It’s genuinely some of the best advice on reading (including its foundational importance and principles) that I’ve ever come across – and he puts it in such shatteringly obvious and crystallizing terms that the toolkit he provides will be sure to stick with you regardless of what you may read (and how “hard” it may be to understand).… Read the rest

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Charles Bukowski On Writing


I try to do all of my writing during the week. Songs I’ll write anytime. Poems anytime. But everything else gets pushed away at least once a week. It seems I’m always editing something or getting a blog post together by Sunday evening, but mostly, during the weekends, words are for reading.

Nowadays that means reading the articles I’ve streamlined into my Flipboard feed. I’ve got a pretty big ass phone at this point and it doubles as a very readable, little tablet.

This weekend I came across some news that a new Charles Bukowski book was going to be released. On Writing illuminates the author’s wordcraft with the help of a hitherto undiscovered cache of Buk’s letters.

“If a man truly desires to write, then he will. Rejection and ridicule will only strengthen him …There is no losing in writing, it will make your toes laugh as you sleep, it will make you stride like a tiger, it will fire the eye and put you face to face with death.

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City Lights Celebrates 60

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

When Gutenberg created the printing press, humanity took a massive leap in literacy, social equality, and political democracy. It’s hard to imagine in this day of tablet phones and digital literature, but after World War II the American paperback created a revolution of its own: it made books available for cheap and made publishing possible for all kinds of niche writing including that always-highly-touted, but-often-most-all-but-ignored object: the contemporary poetry collection. It wasn’t exactly the Gutenberg revolution, but the effect was impactful, widespread and, in the case of City Lights, sustained.

This year, Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights paperback publisher and bookstore is 60. Here’s the Los Angeles Review of Books on the birthday and the publisher’s latest release…

Major cultural changes often result from individual vocation and choices. Ferlinghetti’s life story seems so characteristically American. He had a rocky beginning in life: his Italian father died six months before his birth and his French mother was sent to an asylum a few months after.

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The Mystery of Lewis Carroll

The author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which sees its 150th anniversary this year, remains to this day an enigmatic figure. Jenny Woolf explores the joys and struggles of this brilliant, secretive, and complex man, creator of one of the world’s best-loved stories, at Public Domain Review:

When Charles L. Dodgson was born in January 1832, his paternal aunt wrote a letter to his parents, welcoming the “dear little stranger” and begging them to kiss him on her behalf. His clergyman father, already “overdone with delight” whenever he looked at his family, put a notice in The Times to announce the arrival of his much-wanted first son.

Lewis Carroll Self Portrait 1856 circa.jpg

Lewis Carroll Self Portrait, circa 1856.


The baby would grow up to become Lewis Carroll, author of two of the most famous children’s books in the world. Mystery, and even controversy, would surround him in later life, but one thing that never changed was his deep attachment to the members of his family, or theirs to him.

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The Rewriting of David Foster Wallace

For fans of David Foster Wallace’s writing (Infinite Jest being the main event), the current focus on the man himself rather than his (admittedly challenging) literary legacy is more than a little disturbing, as recounted by Christian Lorentzen at Vulture:

Nobody owns David Foster Wallace anymore. In the seven years since his suicide, he’s slipped out of the hands of those who knew him, and those who read him in his lifetime, and into the cultural maelstrom, which has flattened him. He has become a character, an icon, and in some circles a saint. A writer who courted contradiction and paradox, who could come on as a curmudgeon and a scold, who emerged from an avant-garde tradition and never retreated into conventional realism, he has been reduced to a wisdom-dispensing sage on the one hand and shorthand for the Writer As Tortured Soul on the other.

David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace.

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Why Are Beggars Despised? by George Orwell

Sandra Druschke (CC BY 2.0)

Sandra Druschke (CC BY 2.0)

via Reddit (r/books):

It is worth saying something about the social position of beggars, for when one has consorted with them, and found that they are ordinary human beings, one cannot help being struck by the curious attitude that society takes towards them. People seem to feel that there is some essential difference between beggars and ordinary “working” men. They are a race apart–outcasts, like criminals and prostitutes. Working men “work,” beggars do not “work”; they are parasites, worthless in their very nature. It is taken for granted that a beggar does not “earn” his living, as a bricklayer or a literary critic “earns” his. He is a mere social excrescence, tolerated because we live in a humane age, but essentially despicable.

Yet if one looks closely one sees that there is no essential difference between a beggar’s livelihood and that of numberless respectable people.… Read the rest

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James Joyce — Modern Psychonaut

Bobby Campbell (CC BY 2.0)

Bobby Campbell (CC BY 2.0)

“I am convinced personally that Mr. Joyce is a genius all the world will have to recognize.”
– Aleister Crowley, The Genius of Mr. James Joyce

“Joyce’s prose prepared me to enter psychedelic space.”
– Timothy Leary, FLASHBACKS

“(Finnegans Wake is) about as close to LSD on the page as you can get…”
– Terence McKenna, Surfing on Finnegans Wake

“If you’ve never had a psychedelic, reading Joyce is the next best equivalent.”
– Robert Anton Wilson, RAW Explains Everything

“I have read Finnegans Wake aloud at a time when takers of LSD said, ‘that is JUST LIKE LSD.’ So I have begun to feel that LSD may just be the lazy man’s form of Finnegans Wake.” 
– Marshall McLuhan, Q & A

“Someday I’m going to get my article published; I’m going to prove that Finnegans Wake is an information pool based on computer memory systems that didn’t exist until centuries after James Joyce’s era; that Joyce was plugged into a cosmic consciousness from which he derived the inspiration for his entire corpus of work.Read the rest

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A Very Seussian Call of Cthulhu

Australian artist, R.J. Ivankovic has diabolically mashed up two disparate, yet oddly complimentary genres in this fabulous collection: the weird fantasy and horror of H.P. Lovecraft and the weird fantasy and childlike wonder of Dr. Suess. Feast your eyes on the eldritch, sanity-blasting horror of two literary masters melded into an unspeakably delightful melange by creative forces beyond the ken of hapless mortals. We might live on a placid island of ignorance, but sometimes setting sail on the black seas of infinity is its own reward. Sometimes not, as the doomed narrator of the following tale will attest, but them's the breaks, kids. hpl_s_the_call_of_cthulhu___cover_by_drfaustusau-d4knqrz
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