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Posts Tagged ‘literature’

A recent blog-hopping journey of mine landed me at a blog titled, “Planet eBook: The free eBooks blog.” I don’t know how I came across this blog but when I found it, the latest entry had just a short excerpt from the opening lines of Paradise Lost along with a generic book cover for Milton’s epic poem.

Then I saw that it had a “download page” link at the bottom of the post. I clicked on the link, which took me to a page with two available downloads: 1-page version or 2-page version I was like, “No…really? The entire work? It can’t be…” but I downloaded the 2-page version anyway. (The 2-page version shows two pages side-by-side from the book on each single pdf “page.”)

And sure enough, in a couple of seconds, I was electronically flipping through an extremely sharp-looking, easy to read, professionally done copy of Paradise Lost in its entirety on my laptop! Immediately thinking this was too good to be true, and had to be illegal, (more…)

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I know Valentine’s Day has already come and gone…but this was just too good not to post. I found the following clip on Berg Loves Pizza, a great music blog, and I decided to steal it and post it here:

That little boy is a future Ernest Hemingway! Or at least a future Nicholas Sparks. (Hey Kristiane! The boy’s name is Max!) I can’t think of any modern love poets…post-modern writers are too depressed by our thoroughly empty and depraved world to be writing useless love poems…or they find some super-depressing thing about love, and the world in general, to underscore with the poem. (I love modern/post-modern literature by the way. Seriously.)

According to the youtube description, this was an ad for Indigo, a Canadian bookstore chain, and their “Love of Reading” program (and, of course, to sell its books). I don’t know about you, but showing me this ad in grade school would’ve been more effective than telling me that “Reading is Funnnn-damental” or that I should “Read to Achieve.” Reading will help you get the ladies, yo!

(Note: I’d like to point out how big of a bitch inconsiderate the teacher was for reading that letter out loud. And what kind of a classroom full of kids doesn’t scream, laugh, and ridicule after a letter like that is read? Unless…the vocabulary and writing just went right over their heads…and what would that say about the success of Indigo’s “Love of Reading” program? Should I just enjoy the ad for what it is?)

Songs of the Day:

Rachel Yamagata – “Letter Read” / (album link)
Lupe Fiasco – “Can You Let Me Know” / (unreleased track)
Elliott Smith – “Thirteen” / (album link)

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Golden Compass I was reading through some Xanga.com blogs and I came across an entry by Nathon, titled “Tarnished Compass,” about the new movie, The Golden Compass. If you don’t know already, the movie is based on the first of a series of books by an atheist author, Philip Pullman, who has expressly stated that at least one of the motives for him writing his books is to discredit, and turn people away from, Christianity. Nathon (the Xanga blogger) is a Christian and his charge to other fellow Christians is to boycott the movie, not to “protect” against its “harmful message,” but “solely for the principle of standing up for what you believe in.” I see where he’s coming from, but I don’t think I’m going to actively boycott the movie. At most, I may end up involuntarily boycotting simply because I don’t watch many movies in the theaters as it is.

Okay, let’s go back, wayyy back….to the basic foundations of the story as described by Philip Pullman himself. In the novels, “Dust” is like the ever-present, spirit-like force of Light and Good, while “The Authority” is the evil-God, on which the theocratic society is based on. The origin of life and creation story in his novel series is summarized thusly :

[…] the notion is that there never was a Creator, instead there was matter, and this matter gradually became conscious of itself and developed Dust. Dust sort of precedes from matter as a way of understanding itself. The Authority was the first figure that condensed, as it were, in this way and from then on he was the oldest, the most powerful, the most authoritative. And all the other angels at first believed he was the Creator and then some angels decided that he wasn’t, and so we had the temptation and the Fall etc – all that sort of stuff came from that. (The Telegraph, 2004)

In Pullman’s world, the Authority basically tricked everyone into believing he was an all-powerful God — the Judeo-Christian God, in fact. He even birthed a Jesus through a virgin named Mary and created a dove-like Holy Spirit; and together, as a “Trinity,” they ruled the world through their various churches and organizations, the most powerful of which is “The Magisterium.” The foundation of the story is influenced by ancient mythology and clearly draws heavily from the modern interpretation of Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Fast forward a number of millenniums and we arrive at the beginning of the series. The story is about a girl named Lyra who lives in a world ruled and governed by the “Magisterium.” In the Catholic Church in our world, the magisterium is actually the “teaching body of the church.” (Note: This pattern continues throughout as the bad guys are referred to and labeled with very Christian or church-like terminology, while the good guys are labeled and described with vocabulary that has been traditionally looked down on by the Church — e.g. witches, gyptians [like “gypsies”], and “daemons,” which are, ironically, essentially the soul of a person.) This “Magisterium” has strict rules and guidelines for the people to live by and operates under the authority of…well, “The Authority.” (Were you running a little dry on the creative juices there, Phil?) The narrative follows Lyra on her adventures that lead her to discover the Magisterium is evil and the Authority (aka God) is not really an all-powerful, benevolent god, and both of them are working together to stay in power and prevent people from connecting with Dust, which is the Good that will free everyone…and undermine the Trinity’s power. The last book in the still-continuing series ultimately ends with Lyra, some other kids, and all the other good guys, finding and destroying the God figure, “The Authority,” and being connected with Dust, which leads them to truth, and true self-knowledge. There are giant, talking polar-bears, magical hot air balloons, cool nymph-like witches, maybe some midgets/dwarves, and umm…I don’t know…a lot of magical stuff, along the way. Oh yeah, there’s also a special, golden compass. (It tells you the answer to any question…sort of like one of those psychic cube toys, except it’s 100% accurate.)

I guess one could see how it could be a little controversial. I guess. It seems pretty damn creative to me.

I’m not really that fervent in my “evangelical” beliefs. I’m actually more on the fence about faith, God, and religion than ever right now — which is probably why all this controversy surrounding the movie has so firmly caught my interest. And I can’t help but find all the hype and dialogue about the movie somewhat peculiar. I don’t understand why the author is so outspoken and bitter in his statements and views. Before this huge mountain of controversy over the film adaptation, Pullman was met with a small amount of controversy (relative to what’s going on now) a few years ago when his trilogy of books, His Dark Materials (the first book from the series is the basis for the film), began growing in popularity and acclaim/criticism. Back then, he said some stuff which I’ll quote now:

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