Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Inheritance for $14!!!

I just had to share, in case any of my readers are eagerly anticipating the release of Inheritance by Christopher Paolini.

You can get it for $14 through Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Inheritance-Cycle-Christopher-Paolini/dp/0375856110/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_c It's a pretty good deal. :) Plus I got free shipping, and it'll be delivered on the release date. Its normal price is $28, FYI.

Does anyone else think that this looks like the painting of Glaedr, just tinted green? Wait, that can't be a clue, is it...?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned books

Shade's Children
by Garth Nix
Science Fiction

This one was been banned for being "vulgar and obscene". I guess I can see where they're coming from, but you can't tell the same story without having some of the horrific bits, and it is a book that is really good.

It's a dystopian book in which there are no adults. Human children are used by machines (similar to The Matrix) and those who do escape don't live to adulthood because they always die in the battle against...well, I forget exactly what they're fighting, but it's something that's pretty nasty.

Despite the depressing picture I'm painting here it is a fun read.

Source: http://www.usd320.com/whs/lmc/bbooks.html 

Twelfth Night
by William Shakespeare
Drama: comedy

This one has been banned for "gay-positive themes". I find this rather amusing because I don't see the problem.

Twelfth Night is a comedy in which two twins are shipwrecked and separated. They both have their own adventures, with the brother finding a male comrade who falls in love with him (ok, so that's debatable), and the sister masquerading as a man...and falling in love with her master. And then the real fun begins.

It's a great play. My favorite character of all is Feste, who in some portrayals reminds me of Puck from A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Source: http://www.usd320.com/whs/lmc/bbooks.html

Holy Bible 

Full disclosure: I haven't read all of the Bible, but I've all of Genesis and have studied the Bible in college.

Yes, the Bible has been banned! You name it, the Bible's got it. That's part of why I think it's such a neat book -- it's got love, hate, anger, friendship, betrayal, redemption... But as I said, if you name it, the Bible has it. And that's probably exactly why it has been banned.

Reasons given for banning it include "Lewd, indecent and violent contents", as well as murder, incest, and inappropriate language. I'm sure there have been objections to it for other reasons as well, but these are all that I've found in my limited search.

Handing out Bibles is banned in Saudi Arabia, and throughout history various countries have made it against the rules to have Bibles of one form or another. For example, in 1551 it was unlawful in Spain to have a copy of the Bible written in Spanish. Various translations have been targeted for banning.

Source: http://www.usd320.com/whs/lmc/bbooks.html, http://www.listal.com/list/banned-burned-censored, http://www.oclc.org/research/top1000/bible.htm

Sunday, September 25, 2011

More banned books!

The Lottery
by Shirley Jackson
Historical fiction

This is a short story I read for a fiction class a few years ago. It starts off quite mysteriously, and the ending...well, if you've read it you know how it ends, and if you haven't I don't want to spoil it for you. Let's just say that it's shocking and controversial. But also a good read.

It was published in The New Yorker and a number of readers canceled their subscription because of it. Also, it was banned in South Africa.

The word count is 3773, and you can click here if you want to read it. I found the link to it in one of the Wikipedia articles. :)

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_books_banned_by_governments, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lottery

The Scarlet Letter
by Nathanial Hawthorn
Historical fiction

This book has been challenged because it is "pornographic." I find this rather amusing because I've read this book and there's no sex in it. Sure we know Hester had sex -- that's how she got her illegitimate child -- but that takes place before the start of the book.

For those who don't already know, The Scarlet Letter is the story of a young woman who travels to the Americas ahead of her husband and, once her husband fails to show up, has an affair with a man she has fallen in love with. Then, she gets pregnant. Oh, and the real fun starts when her husband shows up.

Source: http://classiclit.about.com/od/bannedliteratur1/tp/aa_bannedbooks.02.htm

Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?
by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

This is a really nice picture book for children, and I remember it was one of my brother's favorites when we were little. It was banned in 2010 "because the author has the same name as an obscure Marxist theorist, and no one bothered to check if they were actually the same person." What a reason to be banned!

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/29/the-11-most-surprising-ba_n_515381.html#s76408&title=Brown_Bear_Brown

Virtual Read-out: Sherman Alexie book

My second installation of the Virtual Read-Out is Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

This book has been banned from one high school and in another School District. It was temporarily banned from one school because it discusses masturbation, and from the School District for "violence, language and some sexual content." It was challenged in a second School District because of "obscene, vulgar and pornographic language." However, it was not banned in that second School District.

I read and reviewed this book in summer 2010. You can read my review here. It's a book that's really fun and really funny, while at the same time exploring the issues of racism. It's really good.

Sources: http://www.abffe.com/bbw-booklist-detailed.htm#alexie, http://ftrf.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek/ideasandresources/free_downloads/2011banned.pdf,

If you want to participate in the Virtual Read-Out find out how to here. If you want to see more Virtual Read-Outs click here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Changing one's mindset...or not

I've been reading The Burning Island by Pamela Frierson. It's a book about the volcanoes of Hawai'i, and in it Frierson talks about: the geology, how Westerners bring their own perceptions of volcanoes to these volcano islands, and about the mythologies of Hawai'i.

Frierson realized, some time or other, that Westerners bring their own perceptions of volcanoes -- founded on the Abrahamic religions -- to Hawai'i, and that this colors our understanding of Hawai'i culture and the volcanoes there. She spends several chapters on this topic, and I would like to share with you just one example that she provides. This particular example is the below painting, and here's what she says of it: "Cole's painting, with its juxtaposition of wayward nature (the volcano) and wayward female (Eve) suggests to me that the volcano may symbolize something more than the wild -- perhaps unholy? -- side of nature" (91). I could probably spend a few paragraphs discussing this quote (there's a lot packed into it!), but the basic and relevant idea here is that, according to Western thought, volcanoes are wild, unholy, ungodly, destructive, and basically bad things.

"The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden" painted by Thomas Cole.

Frierson seems determined to avoid Western ideas of volcanoes, which I think is why she spends so much time discussing those ideas -- so that they can be recognized, acknowledged, and then ignored or extinguished. Only then can she/we really understanding Hawai'ian culture, mythology, and the volcanoes properly. So you can imagine how amused I was when she slipped into Christian terminology.

When discussing volcanic activity in 1868 Frierson says "These campers, if they had such dreams [of paradise], jolted awake to a living hell" (180). What is this if not reference to Christian mythology?

I guess this shows that when you grow up in one culture/mindset it is difficult to remove it completely from your thinking.

Controversial books

Welcome to Banned Books Week! I was going to stick to talking about banned books that I've actually read, but in this post I'm going to talk about only one banned book I've read and two controversial books that I have not read, but which I have read about and think are interesting.

Twilight series
by Stephenie Meyer

Actually I haven't read all of them, but the only one I haven't read was the final book. And if you were with me when I first started this blog you know that I don't have a very high opinion of these books (just click the tag "Stephenie Meyer" if you're curious about what I've said). I wouldn't put these books in the hands of any pre-teen of mine. That being said, I wouldn't advocate banning this book. If a school put it in my hypothetical child's hands I would allow the kid to read it and then discuss the book in depth with my child.

Despite the controversy around these books I had not known that it was banned. But guess what? They are banned. In Australia. Because they are "too racy. Librarians have stripped the books from shelves in some junior schools because they believe the content is too sexual and goes against religious beliefs" (7). I actually think they are objecting to the books for the wrong reasons -- my objections are based on the fact that it shows unhealthy relationships as normal.


Maggie Goes on a Diet
by Paul M. Kramer

This book isn't yet published, but people are already making a fuss about it. In this book an obese teenage changes her habits to get into better shape: she switches to a healthier diet and begins to exercise more. By the end of the book she is a healthy weight and is playing soccer.

People object because they think it will encourage eating disorders among teens. I personally am not sure what to make of the book. I find the age range it's written for to be a little strange, since weight isn't something we would want most 4-8 year olds to be worrying about. And some of what I'm reading about this book seems good, but some seems pretty bad.

You can find out more (and there's plenty I haven't mentioned) in the links below or by Googling the title.

Sources: http://news.discovery.com/human/kids-weight-loss-book-110829.html, http://healthland.time.com/2011/08/25/will-fat-kids-become-popular-if-they-go-on-a-diet-maggie-goes-on-a-diet-makes-the-case/

Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be
by Daniel Loxton
Non fiction

As no doubt you can guess by the title this is a science book about evolution. It's written for children and it is  apparently a pretty good science book because it is a Land Anderson Award Nominee in Canada.

However, it couldn't get published in the USA because publishers said it would be too controversial. Furthermore, "Loxton said that he has already received angry emails from creationists demanding to know why his book doesn't give 'equal time' to their point of view." Hello, this is a book about science, not religion.

I haven't read this book, but based on the fact that it has won an award I'm guessing that kids in the USA are missing out.

Source: http://news.discovery.com/human/evolution-book-110916.html 

Virtual Read-Out: Bartimaeus

Here is my first contribution to the Virtual Read-Out part of Banned Books Week: The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud. It was removed from the recommended reading list of a middle school because of occult content, as were the other two books in the Bartimaeus trilogy.

Note: I got my info about the reasons for this book being challenged/banned here (http://ftrf.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek/ideasandresources/free_downloads/2009banned.pdf)

If you want to participate find out how to here. If you want to see more Virtual Read-Outs click here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Predictions for the final book in the Inheritance cycle by Christopher Paolini. Be warned that they contain spoilers for the previous books.

I've provided more reasons for #4, and predictions #9 and on are new.

1) I think that Roran is a Moses figure, and that he will either a) die, or b) become king of Alagaësia and be unable to return to his former life as a farmer. Why? I explain here why I think he's a Moses figure. Also, we already know that Nasuada will die (see prediction #3) so she can't become queen, and Roran is proven to be one heck of a leader. I don't think he would want to become king, but I could see people cornering him into accepting the crown.

2) Katrina will come face to face with Galbatorix, and there will be a need for her and Roran to use the rings that Eragon gifted them with. Why? Because in Eldest she makes Roran promise "that you will never make such a request again. You must promise me that even if we faced Galbatorix himself and only one of us could escape, you would not ask me to leave" (180). This somehow looks like a foreshadowing to me. Also, if this is the case, then the rings will definitely be put to use.

3) Nasuada will die. Why? Because we already know from Angela's fortune telling that Eragon will leave Alagaësia forever...but that's something he can't do if he owes fealty to someone in Alagaësia. Therefore, Nasuada must die.

4) That in the end of the book Eragon leaves Alagaësia with a green dragon and that dragon's rider. And Roran stands on the shore screaming in despair. Or screaming in something. Why? Because of the dream Eragon had in Eragon. And I'm just guessing about the guy on the shore being Roran. Also because of two particular times that people curse Eragon. The final Ra'zac: "May you leave Alagaësia and never return!" (65) Then at the end of the book: "I curse you with all my heart! May you leave Alagaësia and never return!" (709) The second guy even uses the same wording as the Ra'zac. Oh yeah, and in Eragon Angela read the dragon bones and told Eragon that he would leave Alagaësia one day.

5) That the new green dragon hatched just outside of Ellesméra, at the Stone of Broken Eggs. Why? Because Eragon happens across "a fragment of a green dragon egg" at that location (Eldest, 449). It seems like an important detail once we know that the next dragon will be green. Besides, the new dragon won't be of much help unless they wait for it him to mature, or unless they force him to grow prematurely like Galbatorix did to Thorn. And I can't see any of the good guys doing that to a dragon.

6) That in the end it will be a matter of who has the most Eldunarí and that Eragon must find the Vault of Souls. At the Vault of Souls Eragon must speak either his own true name or the true name of the Ancient Language -- probably his own true name. Why? We already know that Eragon must find a Vault of Souls, and that the Vault of Souls will hold the Eldunarí seems most likely. We also know that Eragon must speak a name, and we know that he wants to find his own name, so he will probably find his own name, and hence it seems likely that he must speak his own name.

7) Certain persons of interest will play important parts. Why and who? This is discussed further in this post.

8) Galbatorix will come dangerously close to finding the true name of the Ancient Language. Why? The last Ra'zac tells Eragon that "He has almossst found the name" (Brisingr, 65). The Ra'zac will not, or cannot, clarify what name he's talking about, but I'm sure it's a pretty important name. Elsewhere it's said that whoever knows the name of the Ancient Language will have complete power over the speakers of that language, and since Galbatorix is sort of power hungry it seems like something he'd go after. I'm pretty sure that it's also mentioned somewhere in Brisingr that he's had a project that has kept him occupied recently, and I think that project is finding the name.

9) Eragon and Arya will get together despite their age differences. Why? Arya is relatively young for an elf...and for the rest of my reasoning I'll copy and paste from this post:  We learned early in Brisingr that she was lovers with Fäolin, who was a older than her: "He was older than I, but we were kindred spirits, both curious about the world outside our forest, eager to explore and eager to strike against Galbatorix" (196). This seems like a good description of Eragon and Arya, since he manages to get a grip on himself by the end of the Brisingr and they act like good friends.

10) Eragon's true name will contain brisingr in it. Why? As Rhunön theorizes in Brisingr about the reason why Eragon's sword responds to the word brisingr, "I can think of two explanations for this marvel. One is that because you were involved with the forging, you imbued the blade with a portion of your personality and therefore it has become attuned to your wishes. My other explanation is that you have discovered the true name of your sword. Perhaps both those things are what has happened" (683). My theory is that both her ideas are correct, and that because the sword is so attuned to Eragon it contains part of his true name in its own true name. It's also a word/element that Eragon is comfortable with, and he keeps returning to it. For example, in Eragon he cast his first spell with the word. Even though he'd thought the word was merely profanity that Brom had muttered under his breath while trying to light a fire!


I finished Brisingr by Christopher Paolini this morning, and there are two major questions that I have.

Well, ok, there are more than two questions...but there are two things I want to talk about here. No wait, make that three.

If this post seems to ramble a bit that's probably because I'm just putting down ideas in a format that I would never hand in to a professor as homework. Much like certain other posts I've put on here.


First of all, what's up with the Ra'zac and dwarves whose minds Eragon couldn't sense? That's something that's a mystery to Eragon (although he does figure out with the dwarves that someone else was guarding their minds) but he doesn't ask Oromis about it when he has the chance. That's something that mystified me the first time I read it, and it continues to seem strange to me. Isn't that something that Eragon would want to know how to do himself? Knowing how to do it would help him defeat Galbatorix.

So, that's mystery one.

Mystery two, what did the Menoa tree take from Eragon? We get a hint here: "As the ore came to rest on the surface of the rich black soil, Eragon felt a slight twinge in his lower belly. He winced and rubbed at the spot, but the momentary flare of discomfort had already vanished" (659). Eragon doesn't think anything of it, and Saphira is either unaware of it or also disregards it. (I'm inclined to think that she would have paid attention to his pain, though.) So...whatever the Menoa tree wanted, she probably took it.

But what was it? As weird as it sounds, it looks to me like she took something from his body. I can't think of what she would want with anything he could give her, though, so my guess is that whatever she did we'll find out about it in the next book. And that Eragon won't like it.

Lastly...Eragon and Arya.

I'm not sure what to think about the two as a pair. On one hand it seems entirely likely that they'll become romantically involved, on the other hand it doesn't.

Reasons why they can't:
1) He's 16 years old and she's over 100 years old. That's a huge difference.

Reasons why they can/will:
1) Arya is relatively young for an elf.
2) We learned early in Brisingr that she was lovers with Fäolin, who was a older than her: "He was older than I, but we were kindred spirits, both curious about the world outside our forest, eager to explore and eager to strike against Galbatorix" (196). This seems like a good description of Eragon and Arya, since he manages to get a grip on himself by the end of the Brisingr and they act like good friends.

I'm inclined to think that they'll get together.

Virtual Read-Out

I wanted to share something that I just learned about.

Every year since the beginning of Banned Books Week (BBW) people have read excerpts from banned books as part of BBW activities. This year it's taken a new twist.

This year is the first year of the Virtual Read-Out, during which people will post videos of themselves to YouTube reading from banned books.

I think that this is totally awesome, and I wanted to share it here. I think I'll participate, even. I'm not so sure that I want to post my face for the world to see (even though I've sort of done that on Facebook...but in a slightly round about way...maybe, sorta...) but I don't have to point the camera at my face while I read, do I?

If you want more info check out these links:

Virtual Readout | Banned Books Week
bannedbook's Channel -- YouTube

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pride and Prejudice

In reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice I find myself thinking of the movies and play that I have seen, and considering which portrayal of which characters I like best in which productions. And although my favorite adaptation is the 1995 film, my favorite portrayal of certain characters are not all in that film.

First I'll list which adaptations I've seen, and then I'll share what I think of particular characters in the different thingies.

1995 TV series -- BBC -- my favorite overall
2005 film -- I came away disliking it
2010 stage production at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival -- I loved it!!!
Lost in Austen 2008 film -- a young woman from modern times gets transported into Austen's novel -- interesting take on things

Elizabeth Bennet 

BBC 1995 -- My favorite portrayal of Elizabeth is right here. She is awesome.

2005 film -- Not quite how I envisioned her, and at times she reminded me a little too much of Elizabeth Swan from another of Keira Knightly's roles.

Stage production -- Awesome. Not quite the same as the BBC version, but I didn't have any complaints.

Lost in Austen -- Of course we don't see Elizabeth very much in this one. What we do see of her was...surprising. But the whole movie was surprising with interesting twists thrown in all over the place.

Mr. Darcy
I'm not 100% happy with how he's portrayed in any of the adaptations.

BBC 1995 -- This is what most closely fits my idea of him, although I envision him as slightly less severe.

2005 film -- No. No. No.

Stage production -- Pretty good. I especially liked how he was so adorably awkward with Elizabeth at the end. That wasn't how I had read it at all, but it worked for me.

Lost in Austen -- No. No. No.

Lady Catherine de Bourgh

BBC 1995 -- Perfect.

2005 film -- Perfect. She's the one character in this film who matched up with my idea of what the character is like.

Stage production -- I don't remember...and of course I can't exactly go back and re-watch it. *sigh*

Lost in Austen -- Again, I don't remember my opinion of her.


BBC 1995 -- Almost perfect. Maybe perfect.

2005 film -- Not sure...I can't remember her that well.

Stage production -- A little over the top, but pretty darn good.

Lost in Austen -- Did we see much of her...?


BBC 1995 -- Not at all how I envision her. I mean, yes, she's a book nerd and likes to show of her (poor) musicianship skills...but it's not quite right.

2005 film -- I don't remember...

Stage production -- I think she's the character I remember the best from the stage production, and she was pretty much perfect. She was usually too busy reading or making music to speak up, but she wasn't shy about putting her opinions out there. Certain members of the Bennet family kept taking books away from her, and others (mainly Jane and Lizzy, I think) kept giving her her books back.

Lost in Austen -- Don't remember...


BBC 1995 -- My only complaint is to point out that Jane is supposed to be more beautiful than Lizzy, and that Lizzy is by far the prettiest of the sisters in this production.

2005 film -- ...? Can't remember it that well.

Stage production -- I don't remember particularly, but I liked her.

Lost in Austen  -- No. She seems a little too fragile.

Mr. Collins

I don't really like how he's portrayed in any of the productions, actually.

BBC 1995 -- I'm not overfond of their portrayal of him, actually.

2005 film -- Can't remember how he's done in this...

Stage production -- *sigh* Again, can't remember...

Lost in Austen -- No.

Mr. Bennet

BBC 1995 -- Good. Perfect, I think.

2005 film -- No. No. No.

Stage production -- I don't remember him particularly, but I liked how they did him.

Lost in Austen -- Not exactly how I envision him, but pretty good.

Mrs. Bennet

BBC 1995 -- Pretty darn good. I like what they did.

2005 film -- Didn't quite fit with how I envisioned her.

Stage production -- Awesomeness. Yes, awesomeness.

Lost in Austen -- No. No. She seems a little too smart in this movie.

Miss Bingly

BBC 1995 -- The character is right, but...but...it just seems like they needed a different actress. Or maybe it was the hair style and clothing that didn't quite seem to fit.

2005 film -- Don't remember...

Stage production -- Don't remember...

Lost in Austen -- Petite, beautiful, great voice, and nasty. Almost perfect. Up until the line "Your secret is also my secret..." You'll have to see the movie to know what I mean. It's a twist that Austen definitely would NOT have written in. lol But which is quite entertaining.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What I'm reading

It's been ages since I've done a "what I'm reading" post, so I figured I may as well do one now.

As for what I'm reading...I'm trying to read too many things all at once!!

The Burning Island
by Pamela Frierson

I started reading this earlier this year, and I think I've spent most of the year on it. It's not that it's a big book, it's just that I keep getting side tracked from it.

Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain
historical fiction

I've been reading it on my iPhone. Neat book, better than Tom Sawyer, I think.

Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen
historical fiction

I just started last night. I have it on my iPhone and as a book book that I got at Powell's recently. It was on my list of must read books for 2011, and I've read it before. :)

by Christopher Paolini

I'm listening to this as an audio book. I've read it before, and am looking forward to the release of the final Inheritance book in a couple months. :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reading the book first

For ages I have been stubborn about reading a book before watching the movie based on it. In fact, I refused to see The Fellowship of the Ring in theaters because I was (mistakenly) under the impression that it covered more than the first book, and insisted on reading all of The Lord of the Rings before watching The Fellowship of the Ring.

Because I have been a long time fan of reading the book first, I was delighted to learn about ReadIt1st, at http://www.readit1st.com/.

ReadIt1st was thought up by the awesome Hank Green, and on the homepage are two possible pledges. One reads:


The other one reads:


Believe it or not, I took the second pledge. After all, I can always take the first pledge later, right? And it's already something I do, right?

If you sign the pledge you have the option of signing up for a newsletter which will talk about upcoming movies based on books.

If you are interested in how ReadIt1st came about, check out this vlog video:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mysterious paper sculptures

Mysterious sculptures are appearing in libraries and at book events in Scotland. These sculptures have taken many shapes...

...some are trees...

...one is a battle...

...one is a dragon...

...one is a coffee and cupcake...

...all are created from books.

The most intriguing thing? Even though notes are always left with these beauties, no one knows who is making them.

To tell the truth, I'm a little envious. I think someone should be doing that here in Portland.

You can click here to see photos, or use the following url: http://community.thisiscentralstation.com/_Mysterious-paper-sculptures/blog/4991767/126249.html?as=126249 Googling "mysterious paper sculptures" also works. :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hands getting chopped off

Well that's a lovely title for this post, isn't it?

I just watched a very interesting video about how often hands get chopped off in Star Wars. I'm not sure what to make of the hands-getting-chopped-off phenomena, but I thought it worth passing along. I also find it quite interesting that Darth Vader loses his hands three times.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Named vs. nameless

Again, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin. This time though I'm examining references to having names vs. being nameless.

I decided to do this because I thought it would be interesting to look at this subject. However, I don't seem to have found any answers in the process (not that I really had any questions, which may have been a mistake), and I have come up with a bunch of questions. Mission accomplished?


"That name I lay on this Hearth as a curse, and with it my shame. Keep that for me. Now nameless I will go seek my death" (24).

Chapter 2, "The Place Inside the Blizzard.

Getheren (sounds a lot like Gethen...) curses his people with his name.

"And now you cannot say my name.

This was true. Hode moved his white lips, but could not say his brother's name" (25).

CH2 still.

I guess this means that Getheren well and truly discarded his name? No, because people talked about him and say his name later.

"He himself denied that his name was Getheren" (26).


"I am Getheren of Shath, [. . .] Tell them at Shath that I take back my name and my shadow" (26).

Shortly thereafter he dies. And Shath begins to prosper again.

Why? Why was his name a curse? And why did taking it back kill him?

"[...] my name is Genly, but Karhiders can't say l [...]" (30).

So they call him Genry Ai. (Which I find amusing since I have trouble saying r.) I'm not sure what to make of this -- Genly doesn't really have his name when he is in Karhide. But does have it in Orgoreyn.

" ' Genry,' I said, abandoning my 'l' " (57).

Why does it choose to abandon it here?

"I stumbled out behind the rest and was mechanically following them when I heard my name. I had not recognized it; for one thing the Orgota could say l. [. . . .] I was set apart from those nameless ones with whom I had fled down a dark road and whose lack of identity I had shared all night in a dark room. I was named, known, recognized; I existed. It was an intense relief" (112).

So he finally gets it back in Orgoreyn...might this have something to do with lightness and shadows? That things are so bright in Orgoreyn that he finally gets his name back, and that because things are dark in Karhide they can't say his name properly there?

"[...] and he called me by my given name. I did not cut his tongue out, because since I left Estre I don't carry a knife" (156).

So apparently the use of a person's given name is highly improper unless you're very close.

"I never learned the name of any of them in the truck" (170-1).

I guess a person's identity ceased to be relevant in there?

"To wear a false name galls me, but nothing else would save me, or get me clear across the width of Orgoreyn to the coast of the Western Sea" (185).

Therem doesn't like using a false name. Why not?

Page 212

I don't feel like typing it out. This is where Genly and Therem aren't sure what to call each other, and Therem explains that friends or hearth brothers use first names. They wind up calling each other Ai and Harth.

"If I wrote a new Yomesh Canon I should send thieves here after death. Thieves who steal sacks of food by night in Turuf. Thieves who steal a man's hearth and name from him and send him out ashamed and exiled" (230).

Not sure what to make of this.

Obviously he's referring to himself when he's talking about food. But I think he's talking about Tibe when it comes to the name and hearth. He's obviously not very happy, to put it mildly.

"No, call me by name. If you can speak inside my skull with a dead man's voice then you can call me by my name! Would he have called my 'Hearth'?" (253).

...not sure what to say, really.

"Even mindspeaking he could never say 'l' properly" (254).

This raises interesting questions about how a person might think their language...but that's totally off topic.

I guess this means that Therem is never able to name Genly properly.

"We never told our names to our hosts in Kurkurast. Estraven was very reluctant to use a false name, and our true ones could not be avowed" (273-4).

We see again that Therem doesn't want to use a false name, but this time he refuses to use one. Why not now, when he did before?

"It wouldn't be hard, he said, if Estraven would take a false name [...]" (279).

Apparently Therem is willing to take a false name if it means he can stay in Karhide?

Patriotism in LHoD_1

In Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness there are two ideas about what patriotism is, and both of them are vastly different. That's not to say that one is right and the other is wrong. Rather, I think they are two different kinds of patriotism: a patriotism based on hate, and a patriotism based on love.

In this post I'll take a look at both of them. I'll refer to my notes I took on this subject in these two posts:

Patriotism -- Tibe and others
Therem on patriotism


Patriotism based on hate

The king is "in his own eyes is Karhide" (19) and therefore also "the perfect patriot" (19). At the same time, "Death walks behind the king" (3). Therefore the king is patriotism incarnate (wow that sounds weird) and therefore if death walks behind him, death also walks behind patriotism.

Why? Why would death be connected to patriotism? Perhaps because of fear...when discussing patriotism with Genly, Therem states "No, I don't mean love, when I say patriotism. I mean fear. The fear of the other" (19). Fear can easily lead to hate, and destruction. And therefore, death.

This is definitely the kind of patriotism that the Karhide government runs on. The king himself says "I fear those who sent you. I fear liars, and I fear tricksters, and worst I fear the bitter truth. And so I rule my country well. Because only fear rules men. Nothing else works" (40). Later on Tibe uses fear as a tool to pull the country together in an attempt to being a war (102).

To sum it up in a list, this kind of patriotism plays on:

*Us vs. Them
*Not given in to outsider's demands

Additionally, it seems worth noting that it is apparently impossible to have war unless one is patriotic (49).

Patriotism based on love

First, I'd like to start this section off with something that Therem says:

"Hate Orgoreyn? No, how should I? How does one hate a country, or love one? Tibe talks about it; I lack the trick of it. I know people, I know towns, farms, hills and rivers and rocks, I know how the sun at sunset in autumn falls on the side of a certain plowland in the hills; but what is the sense of giving a boundary to all that, of giving it a name and ceasing to love where the name ceases to apply? What is love of one's country; is it hate of one's uncountry? Then it's not a good thing. Is it simply self-love? That's a good thing, but one mustn't make a virtue of it, or a profession. . . . Insofar as I love life, I love the hills of the Domain of Estre, but that sort of love does not have a boundary-line of hate" (211-2).

In this kind of patriotism a person loves people, "towns, farms, hills and rivers and rocks" (211). And unlike the fear based patriotism, there is no "us vs. them" attitude. At the same time, there is definitely a distinction between the two countries, as we see when Therem says "But I'd rather be in Karhide . . . if you really think it could be managed. . . ." (279). Those are the words of someone who truly loves his country, or at any rate loves his people and land...which is what makes up a country.

Summing up what this kind of patriotism is:

*Acting in the interest of individuals, rather than the country


As I think on this, and reread the book later, I might alter or expound on what I've written here.

Therem on patriotism

In this post I'll take a look at what Therem has to say on patriotism in Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness.


"But that's not a patriotic idea. In fact it's a cowardly one, and impugns the shifgrethor of the king himself" (16).

Therem admits that his idea of taking trying to keep people safe in the dispute is not particularly patriotic. Meaning that patriotism is:

*Not giving in

Patriotism is not:

*Allowing your "enemy" an inch of land in order to save lives

"I forgot what a king is, forgot that the king in his own eyes is Karhide, forgot what patriotism is and that he is, of necessity, the perfect patriot. [. . . .] No, I don't mean love, when I say patriotism. I mean fear. The fear of the other. And its expressions are political, not poetical: hate, rivalry, aggression. [. . . .] I'm not acting patriotically. There are, after all, other nations on Gethen" (19).

Patriotism is:

*Us vs. them

Patriotism is not:


Of course, even though Therem is telling us what other's definition of patriotism is, he's demonstrating a different kind of patriotism. His patriotism is concern for the welfare of mankind, not just his own people.

"The prestige-competition, heretofore mostly economic, might force Karhide to emulate its larger neighbor, to become a nation instead of a family quarrel, as Estraven had said; to become, as Estraven had also said, patriotic. If this occurred the Gethenians might have an excellent chance of achieving the condition of war" (49).

So...to have war one must be patriotic.

"[...] perhaps I do not really want Orgoreyn to prove more enlightened than Karhide, to take the risk and win the praise and leave Karhide in the shadow. If this envy be patriotic, it comes too late [...]" (150)

So, in the fear based patriotism a person puts their own country first, always...which Therem is only now beginning to think of, too late.

"What does it matter which country wakens first, so long as we waken?" (198)

Again, Therem is not putting his own country first.

"Hate Orgoreyn? No, how should I? How does one hate a country, or love one? Tibe talks about it; I lack the trick of it. I know people, I know towns, farms, hills and rivers and rocks, I know how the sun at sunset in autumn falls on the side of a certain plowland in the hills; but what is the sense of giving a boundary to all that, of giving it a name and ceasing to love where the name ceases to apply? What is love of one's country; is it hate of one's uncountry? Then it's not a good thing. Is it simply self-love? That's a good thing, but one mustn't make a virtue of it, or a profession. . . . Insofar as I love life, I love the hills of the Domain of Estre, but that sort of love does not have a boundary-line of hate. And beyond that, I am ignorant, I hope" (211-2).

Quite a speech!

To sum it up, Therem's idea of patriotism is love, and putting the welfare of the people and land he loves first.

"A man who doesn't detest a bad government is a fool. And if there were such a thing as a good government on earth, it would be a great joy to serve it" (212).

So, does Therem hate the government of Karhide?

"But I'd rather be in Karhide . . . if you really think it could be managed. . . ." (279).

Therem definitely does love his land.

"Therefore for the first time it came plainly to me that, my friend being dead, I must accomplish the thing he died for. I must set the keystone in the arch" (289).

I'm not sure if this is patriotism on Genly's part. It does show that Therem gave his life for the good of the many, which I think can be called patriotic.

Pulling things together_1

In this post I'm going to try to figure out what all my previous notes about shadow references in Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness mean.


The posts covered are:

Darkness in intro
More on darkness!
LHoD -- Shadows!
LHoD -- darkness and shadows
LHoD, darkness 

First of all, I'm going to quote from the intro, because it's pretty important:

"Apollo, the god of light, of reason, of proportion, harmony, number -- Apollo blinds those who press too close in worship. Don't look straight at the sun. Go into a dark bar for a bit and have a beer with Dionysios, every now and then."

So we see that light, or lack of shadows is:


So, dark must be:


Light should enlighten things, and darkness make things unclear. But we Le Guin tells us that there is such a thing as too much light...so, I guess we need a middle ground.

Now, moving on!



*Shifgrethor is closely related to shadows (20, 247,

*Orgoreyn is portrayed as being a light filled place of reason and harmony and all that stuff, but it's actually so blinding that it may as well be pitch black dark (120, 146, 147, 167-8, 174)

*Genly is shown as bringing light (200)

*Volcanoes seem to balance the light and the dark (225, 226, 231,

*Sometimes letting in a little light creates more shadows than clarity (255)

*Unshadow -- when you have no shadows you can't see. Therefore, you have to have some uncertainty in life in order to keep going. (260-7)

*It seems significant that the journey across the ice ends when they see a light (271)

*Death is described as darkness (284)

*The coming of the Ekumen seems to bring balance between light and dark (295)


*Therem embodies darkness throughout some of the book at least, as we see in the many references to his dark figure (122, 131, 145, 200, 215,
***I'd like to note that I didn't see any references to Therem being dark until he got to Orgoreyn. Maybe Orgoreyn brings out the darkness in him?

*Therem seems to seek a middle ground between dark and light (150, 151, 200, 267, 274,


*The Handdara seek, or anyways work with, the darkness (43, 55, 60, 68, 71, 159, 193, 196, 246, 250,
*They also work with the light, especially the weavers (57, 58, 66, 67,

The weaver (57, 58, 66, 67, 71,

Things to ponder

*Snow and footsteps in the snow -- which is light, which is shadow?? (57, 159-60, 225,

*Possible references to shifgrethor (26, 70, 75, 79, 81, 85, 124, 147, 150, 151, 273, 288,

*There's a suggestion that darkness might be connected to stress (153-4)

*Suggestion that fear and shadows might be related (267)

*Page 164
*Page 239
Pages 260-7 -- unshadow

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Patriotism -- Tibe and others

So, here I'm looking at patriotism in Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness.

Different characters have different ideas of what patriotism is.


"Death walks behind the king" (3).

And the king is the perfect patriot (19), so therefore death walks behind patriotism? Or patriotism involves sacrifice?

"I fear those who sent you. I fear liars, and I fear tricksters, and worst I fear the bitter truth. And so I rule my country well. Because only fear rules men. Nothing else works. Nothing else lasts long enough. You are what you say, yet you're a joke, a hoax. There's nothing in between the stars but void and terror and darkness, and you come out of that all alone trying to frighten me. But I am already afraid, and I am the king. Fear is king!" (40)

Well, the king of Karhide is of the opinion that fear must be used to rule...and that patriotism involves fear?

" 'What the devil, I know what you were exiled for, my dear: for liking Karhide better than its king.'

'Rather for liking the king better than his cousin, perhaps.'

'Or for liking Karhide better than Orgoreyn,' said Yegey" (84).

Not sure if this has to do with patriotism, but it might...

"Argaven was not sane; the sinister coherence of his mind darkened the mood of his capital; he fed on fear" (101).

Again, not sure if this is to do with patriotism...

"He wanted his hearers to be frightened and angry. His themes were not pride and love at all, though he used the words perpetually; as he used them they meant self-praise and hate" (102).

This is just a small part of a whole paragraph about Tibe's opinion of patriotism. The gist -- Tibe's opinion is that proper patriotism is hate and fear of anything outside of one's country.  There's also a little bit, perhaps, on page 103.

"If you play against your own side you'll lose the whole game. That's what these fellows with no patriotism, only self-love, can't see" (146).

So we don't know what Shusgis' definition of patriotism is, but we know that it doesn't include self-love.

"If Tibe had known any good reason to fear you, he would have accused you of serving a faction, and Argaven, who is very easily moved by fear, would likely have had you murdered" (197).

Well at any rate it's about how politics work.

"And I wondered, not for the first time, what patriotism is, what the love of country truly consists of, how that yearning loyalty that had shaken my friend's voice arises: and how so real a love can become, too often, so foolish and vile a bigotry. Where does it go wrong?" (280)

So, patriotism can mean love, though it can also mean hate. Depending on who you ask.

" 'He loved his country very dearly, sir, but he did not serve it, or you. He served the master I serve. [. . .] Mankind.'

As I spoke I did not know if what I said was true. True, in part; an aspect of the truth. It would be no less true to say that Estraven's acts had risen out of pure personal loyalty, a sense of responsibility and friendship towards one single human being, myself. Nor would that be the whole truth" (293).

I've got this here instead of saving it for Therem's post because although it's about Therem (as is the previous one) it's not said by Therem.

Basically, patriotism here would mean:

*love to individuals
*love to something bigger?

More on Handdara

Here are some references to the Handdara in Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness that I had missed.


"The unexpected is what makes life possible [...]" (122).

Therem says this. I'm assuming it's Handdara teaching, and reminds me of what Faxe says on page 71.

"You might have to come to believe that it's a useless one, in order to practice it" (252).

Therem, on the topic of foretelling.

"Your Handdara fascinates me, Harth, but now and then I wonder if it isn't simply a paradox developed into a way of life. . . ." (252)

Is it a paradox...?

Darkness in intro

Now I'm finally taking a look at references to darkness and shadows in the intro to Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness. Frustratingly, though, there are no page numbers in this section of my book. Nope, not even Roman numerals. *sigh*

I think that this is pretty revealing about how terms are used in the book...so I don't know why I waited until last to examine these. Heh. Sometimes I don't do the brightest things.

There's only one reference to darkness, though.

"Apollo, the god of light, of reason, of proportion, harmony, number -- Apollo blinds those who press too close in worship. Don't look straight at the sun. Go into a dark bar for a bit and have a beer with Dionysios, every now and then."

So light is...


All these things should add clarity to life. But Le Guin is saying quite clearly here that they'll blind you just as much as darkness.

I should read up on Apollo and Dionysios...I already know their stories, but I should re-familiarize myself with them.


More on The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin.


 "So that the intimacy of mind established between us was a bond, indeed, but an obscure and austere one, not so much admitting further light (as I had expected it to) as showing the extent of the darkness" (255).

Sometimes you expect something to enlighten you, but it doesn't.

Unshadow -- pgs 260-67

I might want to examine this more closely later, but the gist of it is that you can't see anything if there aren't any shadows.

"Fear's very useful. Like darkness; like shadows" (267).

I'm not sure if Therem is comparing fear to shadows here. Both subjects were already under discussion.

"It is yin and yang. Light is the left hand of darkness . . . how did it go? Light, dark. Fear, courage. Cold, warmth. Female, male. It is yourself, Therem. Both and one. A shadow on snow" (267).

Emphasizing duality.

"Through the opened door-valve the sky's brightness shone. It lightened the heart, though we were too rundown to be able to show our relief in alacrity or zest of movement" (268).

So, light can be lightening on the spirit, or heart.

"Is that a light?" (271)

The end of their journey across the ice is signaled by a light.

" 'It's well known that honorable men come to be outlawed, yet their shadow does not shrink,' [. . . .] The king shortens no man's shadow, though he may try,' " (273).

Discussion of honor and shifgrethor, I think. But they talk about it in terms of shadows, and shadows cast.

"I remember him standing there in the shadows of the firelit room [. . . .] his face was burned by cold almost as by fire. He was a dark, hard, and yet elusive figure int eh quick, restless light" (274).

The play of dark against the light...reminds me of the volcanoes, almost. Hmm...

"[...] from the sulphurous fire and dark of the pass between Drummer and Dremegole [. . . .] of the shadowless weather, of the night's darkness. I listened as fascinated as all the rest, my gaze on my friend's dark face" (276).

He's not able to describe the journey without talking about light and dark. And again, he describes Therem as dark.

I would love to hear Therem tell the story. Just the description of his story telling sounds fantastic.

"It had come on to snow hard, and I had to spend the night in town, not knowing the roads well enough to want to set off on them in the snow and dark" (281).


"A sunlit sky, a white world, and we two strokes of shadow on it, fleeing" (282).

Not sure what to make of this.

"You'll have to wait till dark, Therem" (282).

Not safe to cross the border in the light.

"The darkness seemed to take forever coming on. In the late blue twilight we left the dell and went creeping behind trees and bushes over the hill till we could make out the line of the border-fence, a few dim dots along the pallid snow. No lights, nothing moved, no sound" (283).

Again, not sure what to say about this.

"I think they shouted warnings or orders to halt, and a light sprang up somewhere [...]" (284).

Not sure what to say, again.

"[...] I going to prison and he into the dark" (284).

So, death is also darkness!

"Some shadows got shorter and some longer, as they say in Karhide" (288).


"I was met by a person in a white heib [...]" (289).

Faxe! Again, dressed in light. Sorta.

"I sat down across the hearth from Argaven, and saw his face in the light of the flames" (291).

Huh...so his Argaven's face light, or dark?

"On the screens, coming in, the crew must have seen the terminator lying clear across the Great Continent along the border [. . .] for it was twilight when we, looking up, saw the one star descending" (295).

Not sure what to make of this. It looks like the coming of the Ekumen brings balance between light and dark?

"From the lakeshore looking up southward at hte hills I saw a light I knew: the blink, the white suffusion of the sky, the glare of the glacier lying high beyond. The Ice was there" (298).

Not sure what to say. But it reminds me of the light they saw when they finally found people when getting off of the ice.

"But the young one with a sudden movement came out of the shadows into the light between the window and the fire, a bleak uneasy light, and he spoke harshly [...]" (300).

Not sure what to say here.

LHoD -- darkness and shadows

More on darkness and shadows from Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness.


"It was blind dark outside[...]" (212)

When Genly and Therem are in the tent, and it's night outside. And the darkness is being described as blinding.

"Estraven gave me his brief dark stare and said, 'We need protein'" (215).

Again, Estraven being described as dark.

"A darkness loured all day in the west even under the rainclouds. From time to time all things, clouds, icy rain, ice, air, would turn a dull red, then fade slowly back to gray" (225).

Not sure what to make of this.

"The Snow of Ignorance remains untrodden" (225).

 Snow is being used to represent ignorance...so have I been wrong in what I've written before, and snow is actually supposed to represent the darkness? Or is Therem acknowledging that too much light/knowledge is also blinding, and therefore leads a person to ignorance?

"Worms of fire crawl down its black sides [...]" (226).

On the volcano we see light and dark playing together.

"It was dark all day, [. . . .] Dark as late twilight all day" (228-9).

Their journey over the ice seems to have been pretty dark, at least while they were around the volcano.

"A steady wind blows along at ground level from the northeast, clearing this higher air of the soot and stink of the planet's bowels which we have breathed for days, flattening out the smoke behind us to cover, like a dark lid, the glaciers, the lower mountains, the valleys of stones, the rest of the earth. Tehre is nothing, the Ice says, but Ice. -- But the young volcano there to northward has another word it thinks of saying" (231).

Underlining is my doing.

Here we see a sort of competition between the light and the dark. And the volcano, even though it spews bright lava, also covers things in darkness. So, it keeps the balance between the light and the dark?

Page 239 

Must examine this in one post

"Sometimes as I am falling asleep in a dark, quiet room I have fro a moment a great and treasurable illusion of the past. The wall of a tent leans up over my face, not visible but audible, a slanting plane of faint sound: the susurrus of blown snow. Nothing can be seen. The light-emission of the Chabe stove is cut off, and it exists only as a sphere of heat, a heart of warmth" (240).

Memories of darkness that are "treasurable" to Genly.

"[...] and turned the light-emission off. As he did so he murmured a short and charming grace of invocation, the only ritual words I have ever learned of hte Handdara: 'Praise then darkness and Creation unfinished,' he said, and there was darkness" (246).

Not sure what to say about this...

"Shifgrethor? It comes from an old word for shadow" (247).

So, shifgrethor is connected to shadows, and therefore to understand it I have to do all this. :)

"I told him to clear his mind, let it be dark. This he did, no doubt, more promptly and thoroughly than I ever had done: he was an adept of the Handdara, after all" (250).

Darkness is being equated with blankness.

Look at this font!!

Welcome to my book mending desk!

Ok, so technically it isn't my book mending desk, though I tend to think of it as mine. It's at the library where I volunteer, and chances are that if I'm not occupying that space, then someone else is.

But that's beside the point here.

Where I mend books

There are plenty of times that I've pulled out pen and pencil to note down the title of a book that I wanted to read, but I never felt the desire to pull out my camera until I met up with The Phantom of the Subway by Geronimo Stilton.

Just look at it!!

What surprised me is the font, which you can see on page one in the preceding photo. The publisher didn't just pick Times New Roman or whatever and run with it. Instead someone played with the font so that it becomes a part of the story telling. I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it!

And it got me to thinking...this is one book where there would definitely be a loss if they turned it into an audio book. Font is a visual thing, and although you can do cool sound effects in audio books it just wouldn't be the same thing.

If you want to see more pages Amazon.com will let you look inside the book.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A trip to Powell's Bookstore :D

I won a $25 Powell's gift card for participating in the summer reading program at my local library.

So I was wondering...should I spend it now? Or should I use it to buy textbooks? After all, as an English major I do study novels that I can buy at a local bookstore.

I decided to spend it now. lol Or more precisely, yesterday.

I was careful with what I bought, and decided not to buy anything unless 1) I know the author, or 2) I've read the book.

The books I bought:

Abhorsen by Garth Nix -- I love love love this trilogy. Tall One* (who was with me at the time) was shocked to learn that I only have the audiobook of Sabriel, the first in the trilogy. Abhorsen is the final in the Aborsen trilogy.

Malafrenda by Ursula K. Le Guin -- Haven't read it, but I know and love the author.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen -- There were quite a few of these on the shelf, actually! I got to pick and choose which one to get. It's one I've read and loved before, and it's on my official to read list for 2011. (This was actually the last book I grabbed and by this point Tall One had spent enough time in the bookstore and had left to go geocaching. I was definitely annoying him in the time I was taking to look for the best deals on the best books.)

Mort by Terry Pratchett -- I've read one Discworld book, and I want to read more. This book wasn't actually the best deal I found, but it was still a fairly good deal. Tall One was disappointed in my choice because he's already read it and he wanted me to buy one he hadn't read so that he could steal it from me.

Edges by Ursula K. Le Guin -- Haven't read it, but it looks great.

I got all this for under $25. And best of all? I was using a gift card that I won by reading other books!!!

And what is that Book Magic thingy? Well...

Please don't yell at me for marking up The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin. It's the only novel I've marked up, I swear, and it is for a good reason.

This should be handy for studying, both school stuff and whatever I feel like studying. :)

*My brother. Tall One is the name I use for him on my main blog.


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