Category Archives: Literature

Hearing Virginia Woolf in Buddhism Class

(Italicized text from The Waves by Virginia Woolf)

The young monk sinks easily into the asana, or lotus, position. He is Caucasian, tall and thin with large dark eyes and a friendly smile. I guess him to be in his thirties. Over a plain, long-sleeved cotton shirt, he wears the traditional Tibetan Buddhist robe—a maroon cotton cloth wrapped across the left shoulder and another wrapped around his waist, floor-length. His short black hair is in a tight knot at the center of his crown, sleek as if gelled to control stray curls. Before him, on the tiny puja (prayer table) sits not an ancient scroll in Pali or Sanskrit but a laptop. The glowing Apple on its open cover seems especially incongruous; I wonder if he is ever tempted by all the seductive fruit of the Internet. Continue reading

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Review: Obselidia

I agree with Virginia Woolf who said that nothing thicker than a knife’s blade separates happiness from melancholy. My favorite films waver between humor and sadness and take my imagination to surprising places. I recently discovered a gem of a … Continue reading

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Review: The Woman with the Five Elephants

The Woman with the Five Elephants Director, Vadim Jendreyko Country: Switzerland/German Released 2010 Svetlana Geier, the subject of Vadim Jendreyko’s documentary The Woman with the Five Elephants, is an example of how one’s passion can bring order out of chaos. … Continue reading

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Discovering the Past in Le Marais, Paris

It does not seem to me, Austerlitz added, that we understand the laws governing the return of the past, but I feel more and more as if time did not exist at all, only various spaces interlocking according to the … Continue reading

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Seeking Stillness

“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the … Continue reading

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Montaigne and the Sweet Death

Everyone wishes for his own good death and envies the rare ones that seem to qualify. Of all the deaths of people I have known, the one I envy is that of my mother’s best friend Phyllis. She had spent … Continue reading

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The Magnitude of the Magnolia

I love flowers for their treachery their fragile bodies grace my imagination’s avenues without their presence my mind would be an unmarked grave. –from The Spring Flowers Own by Etel Adnan May, my favorite month, the month of ambrosial blossoms—jasmine, … Continue reading

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What is the Grass?

What is the grass?  A child asks Whitman that question in “Song of Myself,” the best-known poem in Leaves of Grass.  At first, he says he doesn’t know, but, being Whitman, soon takes up the metaphorical challenge.  He offers a … Continue reading

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Tennessee Williams at the Copacabana

Today, I am here with 88-year-old mother in the nursing home dining room for Friday Happy Hour. The beverage highlight is a Fuzzy Navel with rum. All of the resident attendees, my mother included, are in wheelchairs. I am thinking … Continue reading

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The Blind Leading the Blind

Thoughts after Reading Jose Saramago’s Blindness Reading tastes are as individual as food preferences. It is, after all, biology that governs individuality, so what is it in my DNA that makes some books resonate while even critically acclaimed others do … Continue reading

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