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A Few Brief Reviews of Books

Heidegger's Topology by Jeff Malpas

After looking at this book for just a couple of hours I unfortunately had to take it back to the library because I realized that all the graduate-level topology courses that I took in the math department had nothing at all to do with what "topology" means in this book.  I had hoped that this book would show me a way to use math so better to understand existentialism, but that was just my absurd fantasy.

However, the book subsequently got a second chance, and I took the time to read the whole of it.  At least there was an interesting discussion of being open.  

The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse

I liked this book, and I was surprised therein to find such praise and such criticism of scholarship in general.  I thought about my own position  in the world (.i.e, a tutor) as being the kind of position that the hero might have wanted to have eventually.

The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics

Poking around though about half of this one during a few months,  I basically get the feeling that like mathematics, metaphysical studies would involve understanding abstract concepts which would be valuable actually to apply to concrete situations, but doing that would take much creativity and understanding beyond the effort just to read the book.

Learning Capoeira by Greg Downey

This book succeeds to describe the character of the game and its students, and I suppose that it elaborates much of what I already knew.  I also thought that it was annoying in places, like where appear quotes from philosophers (Heidegger), followed by some attempt to validate Capoeira as an example of what they were saying.   The reference to existentialism implies that Capoeira would not be good enough to be worth discussing unless within the context of philosophy, and that is a snobbish attitude.

Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The absurdity of the lengths to which the leader will go to maintain control over his people is unforgettable, and I can't seem to read this book without thinking that it is a dark comedy.   It is so unbelievably violent and with such disturbing scenes that it becomes totally unbelievable, and bearing that in mind makes the story very funny.

Phenomenology: an Introduction, by Michael Lewis

This book made more sense to me than most books on the subject do, and I am glad to have read it, but a paraphrase or a summary with any decent originality is still mostly out of reach.  Why did these philosophers not become scientists instead?  Was the reason to do with being unwilling to make an unacceptable sacrifice?

The Religion of the Mithras Cult in the Roman Empire:  Mysteries of the Unconquered Sun, by Roger Beck

After reading through this book I found that I was unable to perform genuinely any rituals attributed to the cult, but one idea seems to stick:  Harmony of tension in opposition.  Going quickly through the book I found a lot of information on different ways to analyze religion in general, yet only to see how they fail to produce any definite results pertaining to Mithras.  I suppose that I had hoped to discover that the cult had more of a place for an intellectual awareness of celestial mechanics, but instead I get the feeling that the planets and the motions are more symbolic than so to justify calculation.   I suppose that I would just stare blankly with a loss of words if someone tried to tell me that my "soul" descended from "God" through the space above the Moon down to Earth, only to be fated to rise up again by the end of life.

Naked Lunchby William Burroughs

On the surface this book strikes me as shockingly trashy, but then as an attempt to capture some very peculiar fragments of personality, it makes more sense.  I'm glad to have read it just to be aware that someone, in this case Burroughs, actually tried to write down some feelings that had apparently eluded publishers for centuries. 

Why the Humanities Matter:  A Commonsense Approach by Frederick Luis Aldama.

The author and I agree on certain books being worth reading because they teach us how to read, but his personal life seemed a bit intrusive to the topics. 

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