what I have been reading


The book on the bottom was recently purchased.  There are no signs of wear and yet I can picture it becoming as worn as the book on the top.  The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, is the life story of a wealthy Afghan.  Most of the novel takes place in pre-invasion Afghanistan (Soviet invasion that is) and ends up in present day San Francisco.  Despite its exotic setting, the meat of it is really a tale of a boy and his father.  I won’t bore you with all the details but I will say that I could not put the thing down.  So many relationships and situations struck such a chord in me.  While not a depressing novel, The Kite Runner could not be called upbeat.  There were times that the sadness lingered even when I had to put it down.  There has been no other book that has had such a pure emotional impression on me.  But there has also been no other book that has been filled with such truth.  By truth I mean to say it resonated as a true story rather than fiction. No part was so fantastical as to be unbelievable.  Quite the contrary.  If this was not somewhat of an autobiography of Hosseini I would be surprised.  I’ll investigate this and report back.  Meanwhile I have purchased his second novel entitled A Thousand Splendid Suns.        

The book in the middle, An Open Heart, is an edited compilation of excerpts from talks given by the Dalai Lama in August of 1999 at the Beacon Theater in New York City.  I have read this book, given to me by a good friend on his wedding day, only once before.  It inspired a long fascination with Buddhist thought and practice that continues to this day.  I’ve read numerous books on the topic and listen to talks given by Buddhist teachers almost every evening.  I must tell you that I am not a Buddhist and do not practice Buddhism in the lifestyle sense of the word.  I am what gurus jokingly call a “bookstore Buddhist.”  That is not to say I don’t meditate on a daily basis, it is simply that I do not spend time on a cushion.  I have found that short periods of concentration on the breath does wonders throughout the day.  While this half-assed practice will never end my suffering finally, it certainly reduces my stress and has made me a healthier human being.  As I read this book a second time, I realize how practical His teachings are.  It made me aware that I am much more interested in the philosophy of eastern religion than its actual benefit to me personally.  My favorite talks are by Alan Watts.  He studied Eastern thought and brought it to the West in the form of entertaining lectures.  I highly recommend the Alan Watts podcast.  The only other book by the Dalai Lama I have read was called The Universe in a Single Atom.  This was an attempt by His Holiness to show that metaphysics is completely compatible with existing scientific knowledge.  It really made no sense at all and I had to put down the rubbish halfway through.  Most of you know my thoughts on that so I won’t go on.
The worn and tattered book on top is one that I have read several times and yet could not remember the ending. For this reason I picked it up again and began to read, despite my apprehension.  You see, it is such a gamble beginning a novel that may be ruined halfway through. Memory, I have recently learned, works through retrieval cues. As such it is very dangerous to bank on our inability to retrieve a memory at any given moment. That is to say there was the potential all along for me to recall the ending just before it revealed itself and thereby ruin the whole damned thing. Luckily, I read it long enough ago that it was an entirely new experience for me up to the very end. What an amazing thing to be able to relive an experience as if for the first time. If only we could do that at will with other first experiences such as love or food or sex. This novel made me obsess about immortality for a while as all her novels do. This is a change for me as I am in a state of constant obsession with death and the goal of accepting its inevitability before it arrives. Reading Anne Rice for me now is quite like a recovering alcoholic who sneaks a single drink that undoes years of sobriety. Damn you Rice, but I adore you.
On a different note: I have been posting pretty consistently for the last ten days or so as was my goal. Unfortunately they have been almost entirely unrelated to photography.  I shall return with my latest work shortly.
To those few who actually still visit this site: In a way this is some kind of fantasy role-playing for me. I write, post, and act as if this site actually has an audience because it makes me feel all gooey inside. Please forgive my self-aggrandizing statements and overly dramatic writing.  I am a wannabe photographer, wannabe writer, and a wannabe blogger. Through this website I feel sometimes as though it is real. Although I love to get comments, it always feels as though I’ve been caught dancing by myself when I thought no one was there.  ; )

1 Response to “what I have been reading”

  1. 1 rb
    August 1, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Hey…I’m soon to take the plunge on a dslr. What accy’s would you recommend (ie camera bag, tripod, etc). I’m looking to get the Olympus e-520. thx….rb

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