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Friday, October 17, 2014

Literary Comfort Food

As a person who loves to read, and loves to collect books the taking off of a weekend to read a book is a moment, a sacrosanct time that is used for reflection and recovery.

I've been fortunate in life to come upon a number of books that move me.  But, more than that, books have caused me to grow mentally, spiritually as well as causing me to become enlightened, and find myself comforted.  Through books I can escape, learn to be a hero, become wise, understand my fears, and go outside of myself and grow from the experience.

Books are a ticket to move from this lifetime to many other lifetimes.  You can travel without ever moving, you can fight a war against horrible monsters, and never be hit.  Truth can be learned, and you can grow, without being the one to pay the painful cost in flesh and blood.

Group 1, Uplifting and Enlightenment

I adore the legends and lore of King Arthur, of the world of Medieval Europe, and of mythic adventures.  Heroism and courage are all I need to give me strength to overcome the obstacles in my path.  Le Morte D'Arthur, Beowulf, Le Petit Prince and Instant Replay all fit in this comfort food group.



Group 2, Metaphysical, Metaphors, Myth

Sometimes the truth, no matter how important it is, cannot be swallowed whole and without help to digest.  For me the biggest truths in life that I could not break down and understand were cracked apart by Albert Camus, and Soren Kierkegaard.  They allowed me to see that even if existence is absurd, that we are called to bring meaning to it through our attention to morals, courage, honesty, and faith.  Albert Camus saved me, in many ways in the dark days on either side of the loss of my mother.  Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queen and Kafka's Metamorphosis were mythic and powerful works that allowed me to see outside of the political and reality worlds I lived in.  And they continue to spark new ways to look at those worlds for me.


Group 3, History and Paths towards the Truth

As a person who has a primary interest in Asian and specifically Japanese military history those works are well known to me and I don't actually revisit them as comfort food.  I read them over and again to dig deeper, not to revisit and explore, but to plant my flag further in and discover new lands.  But in the ancient world I have only the fondest memories of teachers like Ron Marchese from UMDuluth, and learning things that fired my soul.  His words, his knowledge and wisdom fired my spirit to move further than I'd ever have gone.  Peter Green's works on Alexander and the Greco-Persian Wars is amazing, and if I had the money I'd buy every friend copies.  I adore them.  Between Past and the Present is important.  It explains how the past has been hijacked by morons of the present to further idiot causes such as Afrocentrism, and other factless arguments.  Xenophon's Anabasis has long provided me with inspiration.  Against long odds the Greeks accomplished impossible things.  And I grow with every reading.



Group 4, Speculative Fiction

The books shown are some of the authors who fire my imagination, but there are many others.  I am in the debt of them, and this entry is the shortest because I so often speak of it, it should be obvious, the depths of my love and dedication for those works and creative talents.  However, I will say, wherever these authors took me, however I was moved, they did so in a fashion that made me want to come back, again and again.



You might well think, the lists offered to this point are all sentimental choices, offered with little thought and basically random choice and irrational ways of choosing.  I get told I am irrational from many people, for many different reasons.  Truth to tell, I don't actually care.  I wish I could be beloved and thought a genius, of course.  Who doesn't want that.  But having said that, the only truly emotional choice is the final group of books, those written by author Alan Dean Foster.  I began reading his work 40 years ago when my leg was broken and I was in a cast, laying upon a bed, in summer, in my room.  His works kept my mind entertained, and I was deeply comforted by his style, and his way of taking you across galaxies, yet still finding your way back home.  He is one of my very favorite authors, still.  



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