My Favorites

March 15, 2017

Determining What I Favor

Revised 3 July 2017

In the 2016 holiday season’s exchange of letters, one family covered the year’s passing by every family member listing their favorites in a series of categories. This is clever and interesting, I thought, as I began to read the choices made by two parents and their three children. Novel and fresh this approach may be; however, at once none of it made sense to me. Possibly due to the divide of generations and their interests, their choices were outside my range of knowledge and attention.

Why was that? What would I say when taking the same approach?

Time to explore where I am.

SONG: First off, music plays a very large part in my life. Though I cannot perform in any medium except when I sing in a group, at church being the best example. I know dozens, if not more than a hundred hymns by heart. I sing best when endeavoring to blend with the true tones around me. Still, my major role remains being the audience, an attentive listener. I never missed a vocal or instrumental performance when in high school, listened to popular music on WDGY when young, and fell in with the music crowd when at St. Olaf. Though I am fond of a wide range of music, I prefer the classical repertoire that began with attention to WCAL (the St. Olaf radio station) when young. I spent part of my newspaper route earnings on a classical subscription club that supplied 331/3 rpm recordings.

When in my 50s, someone asked me to name my favorite song. I was taken aback: I had to think for about a minute because, for the first time, I realized I had no favorite. First off, what did the questioner mean by “song?” Something with words that is sung, I supposed. Songs, part of the music in my life, could hardly be ranked: either I liked them or did not. Because I enjoy a wide array of composers – J.S. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, and others at the top careening with one another – how could I distinguish a favorite? What function would a favorite have? The idea of a favorite seemed exclusionary to me.

Perhaps if the question asked, “What piece of music captured you this past year?” I could answer: “Bach’s Resurexit from the B Minor Mass,” or “Gounod’s Missa Solemnelle,” or “Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration,” or “Orff’s Carmina Burana” – musics happening to me in the past that I cannot get over. These are just a few examples among more than many.

Likely my inability to fill in the song slot is that in general, I have separated myself from popular music since the days when MTV went sour. Get the Knack (1979) is the last lp I listened to repeatedly. I fail to find any attraction in Minnesotans Bob Dylan (boring and unmusical) or Prince (better left to the young).

MOVIE: The first film I saw that made a huge impression on me was The Search (1948). Then there was Quo Vadis (1951), followed by Member of the Wedding (1952), The 5,000 Fingers of Doctor T (1953), and Desk Set (1957). I definitely have my favorites among films and can even more easily rank them based on how well they fulfill my expectations for captivating interest, positive value, execution, and most importantly flow, by which I mean the pace and necessity of each scene in sequence. The movies that I favor the most are those that have impact on me and that I never tire of watching repeatedly.

For movies, it is easier to link them to a year than is the case for songs or music.

In 2015, the films I liked the best were Bridge of Spies and Woman in Gold. Though both films have great merit, Bridge is better done because of the strength of the central characters – the spy and his attorney – and because of the strong drama of the importance of the unpopular spy case and its coincident relationship to the exchange of political prisoners.

In 2016, the films I liked most have been Sully and Arrival. Bridge and Sully link due to the major role of Tom Hanks in both, a wide ranging and excellent actor. Bridge attracts me because it is mostly a story carried out by committed characters and their carefully considered words though the historical background is argumentative, if not contentious. Arrival won my admiration because it features a character of few words whose role is one of memory and breakthrough thinking in the midst of what is popularly considered an alien invasion. In actuality, it is the fourteen receiving countries who in the undertow of the story become alienated from one another, quite a lesson to learn in a hostile election year. Arrival caught me so strongly, I had to buy a copy of Ted Chiang’s collection of short stories that includes “The Story of Your Life,” source of the screenplay. His story differs from the film in being internal and full of theory.

TV SHOW: Sorry, but I am very limited here. Basically, I quit watching most commercial television when CBS news went from an hour to 30 minutes or fewer. For some years, I still watched 60 Minutes, but I don’t do that anymore either. The last long serial, I watched was Mary Hartman/Mary Hartmann (1976-1977) which had its bizarre attractions. But when it ended, I decided that was enough addictive watching. Over the years since, several series have come and gone without me witnessing a single episode. Another separation from television watching is that when Pat had cancer more than a decade ago, we started watching Netflix by disc. We continue to do so with something like 1400 movies watched. This habit became our chief way of catching up with new releases plus watching older and foreign offerings.

I confess: we are addicted to Game of Thrones. That is to say, we have become followers of the dwindling Stark family, who have shrunk in number but increased in strength. I never cared much for George R. R. Martin or his writing which in the 1970s had too much razzle-dazzle for me. I was already gone on Le Guin at that time anyway. Otherwise we turn to Turner Classic Movies for what we think we’d like or watch public television being fond of Morse, Lewis, Vera, Masterpiece Theater, Masterpiece Classic, and most especially and necessarily the news hour. Alongside, we spend a lot of hours listening to Minnesota Public Radio’s news and broadcasts of classics.

BOOK: Anyone who knows me knows that I am addicted to books and reading. Besides that, my strongest desire is to author a book that entirely satisfies me. I find myself indebted to books for my present and continued state of learning which concomitantly includes understanding oneself to the extent I have so far achieved. Certainly, books have surrounded me since birth thanks to the parents being readers and reading to me. I have been associated with books as their fan, as a professional librarian, and as an aspiring learner and writer.

I appreciate books for what they convey through the artistic and/or formative worth of expressed words. With so many thousands of new books each year, I favor the ones that cover in one way or another the varied fields of knowledge, especially those of philosophical, theoretical, or values-oriented approaches. Such books are worth long-time use and worth reading more than once. Unfortunately, I manage to reread few of them among the 6,000 plus that I have.

Of books read in 2015, the one that means the most to me is Penelope Lively’s Dancing Fish and Ammonites: a memoir (2013). Though a slow starter, I appreciated in a most welcoming fashion Lively’s reflections on aging and the effective values of words, literature, and books.

In 2016, Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Complete Orsinia (2016) includes all her works related to the imagined middle-European country of Orsinia. The bulk of this Library of America (series #281) consists of two sizeable works, Orsinian Tales (1976) and Malafrena (1979) besides a few other additions. With Le Guin, my favorite imaginative author, reading her is not so much the deep stories told as much as it is her ingenuity of writing in ways that catch the emotions, ideas, and appreciation of artistry as very few authors have achieved. She has become my consistent favorite.

In writing to my friend of almost 45 years – Cy Chauvin –  I raved to him concerning the strong influence that Le Guin has on me. In our end of the year exchange of books, he sent to me Le Guin’s Words Are My Matter (2016). In her collection of “writings about life and books,” covering publications of essays, articles, and book reviews from 2000 into 2016, she explores the territory of language and the conveyance of telling and relating to story. At nearly 90 years, she is wonderfully alive and wise in her writing. She says on the book jacket, “Hard times are coming … We’ll need writers who can remember freedom.”

GAME: I don’t play games unless you count making up genealogies as a game.

THINGS DONE: Since relocating in Maplewood in early 2011 after 35 years in Red Wing, we have been heavily involved in our usual roster of causes and preferences. These include chauffeuring our younger grandchildren around and attending their performances in theater, music and dance. We also support the programs of Pilgrim Lutheran Church which currently involve serving on the Leadership Team for supporting a refugee family in 2017. Otherwise, I continue being the administrator for Classics for Pilgrim, the monthly discussion of mostly novels, published between 1800 and 50 years past. We are now in our sixth season.

I have regular routines. I do a fair amount of writing or the background work to writing – the necessary work towards novel construction and completion. In our eleventh year, Beverly Voldseth and I meet monthly to read aloud the poems in Poetry and talk about them. I bicycle when the weather favors me. I have longish telephone conversations with Robert Hanson, my friend from third grade onwards, and we meet about 2-3 times a year, especially when he has some poetry or other writing needing editing.

Mary Treacy and I email frequently, and get together for coffee when we can or really need to talk. I correspond with a few other people, but especially with my siblings in a round robin email letter. That’s about once a month.

One measure of this year is the net gain of 165 titles in my library. Also I added about 8,000 individuals in 3,000 marriages to my background genealogies furnishing The Company of Seidor and other related novels.

Another achievement of importance was the trip of a lifetime, May in Norway and the Baltic ports, which I report in a separate article.


Additions 2017

January 11, 2017

Aquisitions to the CeptsForm Library in 2017.

Updated 13 November

This listing follows earlier Additions posted in previous years. See the links under MY LIBRARY. I cite titles as a public glimpse at my ongoing interests as well as keeping a brief record for library management purposes. Acquisitions are the business record of library additions. Accordingly, each following citation carries only enough information to identify each title’s addition to the collection and is not bibliographically complete. However, I want to make clear what each book is about and provide subtitle words or bracketed clarifications when the title is not specific or may be misleading.

Data includes limited elements: date of acquisition and source, a distinguishing accession number for each volume, abbreviated author, brief title, edition if distinctive, and cost. Accession numbers may appear out of sequence when numbers are inadvertently skipped or deliberately reused for replacement copies, noted by an “r” suffix.

Note on sources: Dr. Joseph Amato (now retired) when Chair of the History Department at Southwest State University in Minnesota, gave me some of the Historical Essay series. Arc’s Value Village, Maplewood is a second hand store with used books as a sideline. Many of them are in boxes. Nevertheless, I persevere. Arizona History Museum in Tucson has a small store with items specific to the region. Augsburg Fortress is the press of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Barnes & Noble (place) a surviving big box store carries a range of items, currently popular, but also orders titles at customer request. Brocket Design provides books, reported through Amazon. Fair Trade Books is a high quality book store in Red Wing, featuring used books, some new, and will order. The owner chooses the books to add and gives credit that allows sellers to draw on for half price discounts on used titles. Alice Ellis is a close friend of the family we have known since college, who on occasion gives us books. Family encompasses books inherited from my parents or their parents. Friends of Ramsey County Library [place] is a non-profit that sells used books in the library’s outlets to fund various library programs. Books are inexpensive, quality is high, choices are few. Half-Price Books [place], the booming discount chain, well-stocked and well-organized where even the used books and discounted remainders can be further reduced for clearance. Other promotions follow frequent customers. I routinely visit stores in Maplewood, Roseville, and Saint Paul. Books are also sold online, though with shipping charges. Library of America since 1979 features classic cultural and literary writings from U.S. authors in elucidating editions and keeps all volumes in print. Books are sold individually or by subscription. Membership in this non-profit provides volumes at slightly reduced prices. Midway Books is a decades old and relatively large (3 floors) used book and magazine store. It occupies a corner of University and Snelling (the busiest intersection in Minneapolis-St. Paul with the Green Line light rail stopping by. My Thrift Store, Saint Paul, at Larpenteur and Rice has added used books to its merchandise; quality books are few but further discounted from the relatively low prices. Pilgrim Lutheran Church, Saint Paul, joins its neighborhood in supplying free books through its Little Library on the corner of St. Clair and Prior. Saint Olaf College Bookstore supports the curriculum with texts, carries works of faculty and alumni, includes children’s literature, and discounted titles.  Savers (place) a chain of thrift stores includes a jumble of books with a few real finds for the persistent. SubText in Saint Paul remains my favorite independent bookstore in Minnesota with an owner who loves literature. Patricia A. Sween knows my interests and at times gives me a book or two. The Swingles is the family pseudonym of our son Kristofer Sween and his wife Donna Dingle. They know I like books.

Added 8 January – Half-Price Books, Saint Paul.

#16257 D. Bettridge, A travel guide to the seven kingdoms of Westeros. 2.15

#6736r J.D. Franklin, Writing for story: … dramatic nonfiction … 2.15

#16258 G.S. Kirk, Myth: its meaning & function … 2.15

#1479r G.S. Kirk, The nature of Greek myths. 2.15

Added 13 January – The Library of America

#16259 C. McCullers, Stories, plays and other writings (Dews). 30.90

Added 17 January

– Family (Berge?)

#16260 M. Ulvestad, Norge i Amerika med kart [Norway in America with map].

Added 20 January, Dr. Joseph Amato

#16261 Historical essays on rural life (Southwest State University, Department of History). gift

Added 28 January, The Swingles

#16262 J. Gunther, Inside Africa. gift

#16263 J. Gunther, Inside Russia today [1958]. gift

#16264 C. Woodham-Smith, Queen Victoria … to the death of the Prince Consort. gift

Added 2 February, Fair Trade Books.

#16283-16285 The encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church (Bodensieck). 3v. 18.55

Added 13 February, Barnes & Noble, Tucson.

#3464r H.S. Lewis, Elmer Gantry. 10.70

Added 16 February, Arizona History Museum.

#16265 Geronimo, Geronimo, my life (Barret). 9.60

#16289 T.E. Sheridan, A history of the Southwest. 10.95

Added 18 February, Savers, Tucson.

#16266 Kinder- und Hausmärchen, Selected folktales (J. & W. Grimm/Appelbaum). 3.85

#16267 Maspero, G. C. C., Popular stories of ancient Egypt (El-Shamy). 3.85

Added 23 February, Library of America.

#3258 S. Jackson, Novels and stories (Oates). 30.90

Added 28 February, Half-Price Books, Roseville

#2893r E. Hemingway, A farewell to arms. 8.00

Added 9 March, Half-Price Books, Maplewood

#16279 S.R. Covey, First things first [conduct of life]. 3.20

 #16280 A history of private life: II. Revelations of the Medieval world (Duby). 6.45

#16281 The spirit of seventy-six: … the American revolution … (Commager & Morris). 3.20

#16282 B.S. Strauss, The Spartacus war. 3.20

Added 9 March, Arc Value Village, Maplewood

#16286 The church, marriage, & the family (Whitehead). 1.75

Added 18 March, Library of America

#16205r E. Bishop, Poems, prose, letters (Giroux & Schwartz). 30.90

Added 21 March, Author

#16287 R.K. Anderson, Selected writings through 1997. gift

Added 21 March, Library Development and Services

#16288 Library and information services issues (Minnesota Governor’s Conference/Sween). gratis

Added 27 March, Ramsey County Library, Roseville.

#16290  Great books of the Western World (Hutchins & Adler) v.1: The great conversation: the substance of a liberal education. 1.00

#16291 D. Quinn, Beyond civilization: humanity’s next great adventure. .50

#16292 D. Satz, Why some things should not be for sale: moral limits … 1.00

Added 6 April, Half-Price Books, Maplewood

#16293 J.H. St. John de Crevecoeur , Letters from an American farmer (Stone). 3.20

#16294 J.C. Holt, Robin Hood; rev. & enl. 3.25

Added 6 April, Midway Books

#16295 J. Steinbeck, Cannery Row (Shillinglaw). 5.40

Added 7 April, Friends of Ramsey County Library, Maplewood

#16296 R.C. Marius & M.E. Page, A short guide to writing about history; 5th ed. 1.00

Added 5 May, Patricia A. Sween

#16297 M. Oliver, Upstream: selected essays. gift

#16298 M. Oliver, West wind: poems and prose poems. gift

Added 6 May , Barnes & Noble, Maplewood

#16299 B. Gracián y Morales, The art of worldly wisdom (Fischer/Schroeder). 7.35

#1109r A. Huxley, The perennial philosophy. 17.25

#16300 H. Petroski, The evolution of successful things. 4.25

Added 8 May, Half-Price Books, Maplewood

#16301 P.L. Fradkin, Wells Fargo and the American West. 3.20

#16302 J. Rudinow & A. Graybosch, Ethics and values in the information age. 3.25

#16303 J.V. Smith, Fiction writer’s brainstormer. 3.20

Added 12 May, Subtext

#16311 E.M. Remarque, The black obelisk (Lindley). 19.40

Added 13 May, Half-Price Books, Saint Paul

#16304 J. Dos Passos,  1919. 5.90

#16305 D. Powell, Novels 1944-1962 (Page): My home is far away; The locusts have no king; The wicked pavilion; The goldenspur. 11.00

Added 16 May, Half-Price Books, Maplewood

#16306 J. Le Carré, pseud.; i.e. D.J.M. Cornwell, The spy who came in from the cold. 7.50

#16307 A.I. Solzhenitsyn, One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich (Willetts). 6.95

Added 16 May, Half-Price Books, Roseville

#16308 J.C. Davis, In defense of civility: how religion can unite … 2.20

#16309 R.M. Gates, Duty: a secretary at war. 3.25

#16310 J.E. Steinbeck, The winter of our discontent. 7.40

Added 19 May, Augsburg Fortress

#16312 L.S. Brugh & G.W. Lathrop, The Sunday assembly using Evangelical Lutheran Worship. gratis

#16313 J.M. Kittelson & H.H. Wiersma, Luther the reformer; 2nd ed. gratis

Added 21 May, Half-Price Books, Saint Paul

#16314 W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, & J.M. Williams, The craft of research; 2nd ed. 3.25

#16315 A. Holden, William Shakespeare. 3.25

#16316 C. Sandler, Henry Hudson. 3.25

#16317 J.G. Stoessinger, Why nations go to war; 8th ed. 3.25

Added 28 May, Half-Price Books, Madison East

#16318 M. Beard, SPQR: … ancient Rome. 12.15

#16319 Body and soul: … sexuality as justice-love (Ellison & Thorson-Smith). 2.55

#16320 J.P. Euben, Corrupting youth: … democratic culture … 5.00

#16321 J. Garvey & J. Stangroom, The story of philosophy: … Western thought. 5.05

#16322 D.L. Pals, Eight theories of religion; 2nd ed. 6.75

#16323 Z. Salzmann, Language, culture, and society; … linguistic anthropology; 4th ed. 5.05

Added 2 June, Saint Olaf College Bookstore

#16324 G. Harvey, Writing with sources; 2nd ed. 1.00

Added 9 June, Fair Trade Books

#16325 T. Hartmann, The last hours of ancient sunlight. 7.80

#16326 H. Hitchings, The secret life of words: … English [language]. 8.40

Added 20 June, Library of America

#16327 D. Powell, Novels 1930-1942 (Page). 35.00

Added 1 July, Library of America

#16328 J.Q. Adams, Diary. I: 1779-1821 (Waldstreicher). 30.90

Added 6 July, Fair Trade Books

#16329 A. MacIntyre, A short history of ethics; 2nd ed. 8.15

#!6330 The Norton anthology of modern poetry; 2nd ed. 16.65

Added 10 July, Pilgrim Little Library

#16331 Nelson’s complete concordance of the Revised Standard Version Bible; 2nd ed. (Ellison) free

Added 10 July, My Thrift Store

#16332  A sense of history … American Heritage [articles from the 1985 edition not included in the 1995 edition. 1.90

#16333 P. Stanford, The legend of Pope Joan. 1.15

Added 13 July, Half-Priced Books, St. Paul

#16334 M. Dennison, The twelve Caesars. 2.15

#16335 J. Fonte, Sovereignty or submission: … Americans … ruled by others? 2.15

#16336 W.H. McNeill, The rise of the West (1963): [lists of illustrations and maps]. 2.15

#16337 G.A. Williamson, World of Josephus. 2.15

Added 26 July, Brocket Design

#16338 R.A. Watson, The philosopher’s diet: … lose weight and change the world. 15.00

Added 28 July, Library of America

#16339 J.Q. Adams, Diaries II, 1821-1848. 30.90

Added 9 August, Arc’s Value Village, Maplewood

#16340 A book of women poets from antiquity to now (A. & W. Barnstone). 1.50

#16341 S.E. Morison, The European discovery of America: the northern voyages. 1.50

Added 16 August, Fair Trade Books

#16342 B. Brecht, Mother Courage and her children/Mutter Courage und ihre kinder (Kushner). 4.25

#16343 B. Dunham, Man against myth [political and social deceptions]4.15.

#16344 C. Phillips, Socrates in love: … for a die-hard romantic. 4.10

Added 23 August, Library of America

#3404r U.K. Le Guin, Hainish novels and stories (Attebery) v. 1. 30.90

Added 1 September, Half-Price Books, Saint Paul

#16345 A. Pettegree. Brand Luther: … printing and … Reformation. 12.90.

#16346 Readings in Christian humanism (Shaw et al.). 7.70

#16347 Understanding the Dead Sea scrolls (Shanks). 1.70

Added 5 September, Barnes & Noble, Maplewood

#16348 The lost books of the Bible: … gospels, epistles … (Home/Platt).7.50

Added 6 September, Alice Ellis..

#16349 O. Ekroll, Nidaros cathedral: the west front sculptures. gift

Added 7 September, Barnes & Noble, Roseville.

#16350 B. Malamud, God’s grace (Horn). 1.60

#16351 P. Watson, The modern mind: … intellectual history of the 20th century. 8.60

Added 9 September, Friends of Ramsey County Library, Maplewood.

#16352 L.J. Swidler, Biblical affirmations of women. 1.00

#16353 C. Wells, Sailing from Byzantium: … lost empire shaped the world. 1.50

Added 15 September, Fair Trade Books

#12242r E. Fromm, The revolution of hope: … humanized technology. 3.20

#16354 S. Greenblatt, The swerve: how the world became modern. 18.15

#16355 F.L. Mott, American journalism: … through 260 years; rev. ed. 3.20

Added 21 September, Half-Price Books, Madison East

#16356 R.C. Marius, Martin Luther: … between God and Death. 13.70

Added 21 September, Barnes & Noble, Madison West

#16357 N.J. Karolides et.al., 120 banished books. 1.10

Added 21 September, Half-Price Books, Madison Whitney

#16358 M.E. Lehmann, Luther and prayer. 6.30

Added 22 September, Library of America

#4800r U.K. Le Guin, Hanish novels & stories (Atterby) – v.2. 30.90

Added 7 October, Pilgrim Lutheran Church

#16359 T. Wolff, Old school: a novel. free

#16360 T. Wolff, Our story begins: new and selected stories. free

Added 12 October, Ramsey County Library Friends

#16361 E.S. Fiorenza, In memory of her: feminist … Christian origins. 1.00dd

#16362 J. Keenan, Encyclopedia of American Indian wars, 1492-1890. 1.00

#16363 G. Woolf, Rome [as an empire]. 1.00

Added 12 October, Half-Priced Books, Maplewood.

#16364 L. Keppie, The making of the Roman army. 9.65

Added 20 October, Fair Trade Books

#16365 J. Appleby, Shores of knowledge: new world discoveries and scientific imagination.13.65

#16366 G.E. Moore, Principia ethica. 2.95

Added 27 October, review

#16367 S.O. Imbo, Oral traditions as philosophy. gratis

Added 27 October, Barnes & Noble, Maplewood

#16368 R.K. Armey & M. Kibbe, Give us liberty: a Tea Party manifesto. 1.49

Added 30 October, Subtext

#16369 H. Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: … the banality of evil. 17.25

Added 3 November, Ramsey County Library Friends

#3893r, 16370 W.S. Porter, The complete works of O. Henry (Hansen) 2v. 4.00

Added 13 November, Half-Price Books, Saint Paul

#16371 S. Dando-Collins. Mark Antony’s heroes: … the third Gallica Legion … 3.25

#16372 From Magna Carta to the Constitution … 2.15

#16373 D.J. Harrington, Invitation to the Apocrypha. 2.15

#16374 P. James, Understand Roman civilization. 2.15

#16375, R.M. Kidder, How good people make touch choices. 2.15

#16376, H.M.D Parker, The Roman legions. 3.25


At Home With Yourself

February 26, 2016

AtDesk


Additions 2016

January 1, 2016

Acquisitions to the CeptsForm Library in 2016.

Updated 31 December

This listing follows earlier Additions posted in previous years. See the links under MY LIBRARY. I cite titles as a public glimpse at my ongoing interests as well as keeping a brief record for library management purposes. Acquisitions are the business record of library additions. Accordingly, each following citation carries only enough information to identify each title’s addition to the collection and is not bibliographically complete. However, I want to make clear what each book is about and provide subtitle words or bracketed clarifications when the title is not specific or may be misleading.

Data includes limited elements: date of acquisition and source, a distinguishing acquisition number for each volume, abbreviated author, brief title, edition if distinctive, and cost. Accession numbers may appear out of sequence when numbers are inadvertently skipped or deliberately reused from discovered duplicate titles or reused for replacement copies, noted by an “r” suffix.

Note on sources: Amazon Books supplies me with a lot of bibliographical information, but I hardly ever shop there unless the price is right or I can’t find something elsewhere. Arc’s Value Village, Maplewood, carries a jumble of used books, and offers further discounts. Barnes & Noble, a survivor in the big box bookstore competition, is most appealing at its HarMar mall location in Roseville, the chain’s largest outlet in Minnesota. The store also holds a large used book section, unfortunately with very little order. Even I wear out trying to find something of use amid the clutter. Content Bookstore in Northfield is the current in a series of stores selling used and remainder titles, but at increased prices and less range than its predecessors. Copperfield’s Books is a small, independent chain of attractive stores in Sonoma County, California. Some books are on sale. Costco among its many discounts includes a limited number of books, most available for a short time, but timely.  Fair Trade Books, relatively new to Red Wing, has grown in size and quality over its first two years. The owner takes used books and banks the credit for 50% deductions. He also orders books and has a book case of new titles to sell. I stop by whenever I am in town and have time. Friends of the Ramsey County Library operates used book sales at its libraries for rock-bottom prices. I browse offerings every time I’m near one. Goodwill [place], the widespread thrift store may vary from place to place, but can be expected to contain books at low or deeply discounted prices.  When they are in a jumble, looking for desired books can be taxing. Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana sells through Amazon with relatively low prices for used books in good to excellent condition. Half-Price Books [place] is a booming discount chain, well-stocked and well-organized where even the used books and discounted remainders can be on reduced-price clearance. Promotional discounts may also apply. A giant clearance sale takes place at the State Fair Grandstand in Minnesota. Hanseatic Museum in Bergen, Norway has books related to its mission for sale. Benjamin Heins, my oldest grandchild with many of the same interests, is as interested in books and reading as I am. Library of America has for over 30 years produced notable editions of exemplary and representative works in American life and literature that appeal to my propensity for the classics. Midway Books, on the corner of Snelling and University, the busiest intersection in the Metro Area – made busier by the Green Line light rail stop, is one of the more well-established used book stores in the Twin Cities. Past polls rated it a favorite. The three floor store is amazingly stocked, including academic offerings. Prices may be a bit more than found elsewhere, but bargains when you need them. Minnesota State Publications, usually gratis, are available in print and online. Norske Bremuseum (Norwegian Glacier Museum) in Fjaerland carries many publications in its gift shop. Norway House on Lake in Minneapolis is a center for Norwegian culture and related activities. The gift shop carries a few titles. Norwegian American Historical Association aka NAHA with office, collection, and archives at St. Olaf College specializes in Norwegian-American ancestry, immigration, and subsequent history. I am a life member.  Rose Collection refers to books acquired by the late Thomas J. Rose, M.D., a studious reader in a number of important areas. His wife, Karen, gave me the titles I wished to take. Saint Olaf Book Store at my alma mater features required texts for classes, some used and other remainders at discounts and books by faculty and alumni. Generally, I find something at each visit. Saint Vincent de Paul Society [place] operates a number of varying thrift stores carrying mostly clothes & books. Savers in Woodbury, a general thrift store, includes books, a few of which appeal to me, and has senior discounts on Tuesdays. Sixth Chamber Used Books of which I’ve been a customer for 20 years is a crammed and bountiful store where its relatively small space is used to the best advantage amplified by a companion store in River Falls WI and a database the includes also those books warehoused out of public view. Sixth Chamber is one of my two favorite stores. Subtext Booksellers, the only bookstore in downtown Saint Paul is a high quality and service-oriented gift to the reading community. To browse there vitalizes me and proves a worthy ordering source for books not otherwise found. The Swingles, i.e. the family of Kristo Sween and Donna Dingle know my interest in books. Uncle Hugo’s, the longest running science fiction bookstore, is a crammed space of used and new imaginative fiction. I have not read much sf since the ’70s but at times something piques my curiosity. Unique/Value Thrift [place] offers a few books, placed in broad categories, typically below my interests. Best to shop on a discount day for further bargains. Viking Star, a cruise liner, has amid various book collections, a paperback exchange on Deck One. Beverly Voldseth, a dear friend, shares a common interest in reading and poetry and generously exchanges books with me.

Added: 1 January, Half-Price Books, Maplewood.

#16091 E. Ferguson, Backgrounds of early Christianity; 2nd ed. 6.85

#16092 D.A. Flower, The shores of wisdom: the … library of Alexandria. 4.30

#16093 J.D. Sachs, The price of civilization: … virtue and prosperity. 1.70

#16094 L. Stone, Kinship and gender; 3rd ed. 1.70

#16095 B. Watterson, The Egyptians. 6.85

Added: 19 January, Sixth Chamber Used Books

#16096 B. Holm, The heart can be filled anywhere on earth [Minneota MN]. 7.55

Added: 21 January, Fair Trade Books.

#16097 Ancient religions (Johnson). 3.75

#9530r C. Duriez, The C.S. Lewis encyclopedia. 3.80

Added: 21 January, Beverly Voldseth.

#16098 J. Burnside & A. Shelton, Melissagraphia; 2nd ed. [poetry in handmade book]. gift

Added: 27 January, Barnes & Noble, HarMar in Roseville.

#16099 H.J.M. Nouwen, Reaching out: the three movements of spiritual life. 15.00

Added: 9 February, Value Thrift, Maplewood.

#16100-16102 Bible: … translated from the Vulgate Latin (Knox). 3v. 7.50

Added: 10 February, Sixth Chamber Used Books.

#16103 S. Pinker, The better angels of our nature: why violence has declined. 16.15

Added: 10 February, Half-Price Books (Highland) Saint Paul.

#16104 J. Habermas, The past as future [interviews] (Haller/Pensky). 2.15

#16105 J. Reston, Warriors of God: Richard Lionheart and Salidin … 2.15

Added: 17 February, Fair Trade Books.

#16106 H.G. Liddell, An intermediate Greek-English lexikon. 14.50

#16107 Manu. The laws of … (Doniger & Smith). 3.50

Added: 3 March, Half-Price Books, Maplewood

#16108 Apollodorus, of Athens, Gods and heroes of the Greeks (Simpson). 2.15

#16109 N. Cooper, English manor houses. 2.15

#16110 Dictionary of Scandinavian history (Nordstrom). 2.15

#16111 F. McLynn, Richard and John: Kings [of England]. 10.70

#16112 M. de Montaigne, Essais: choix … (Fragonard). 2.15

#16113 R. J. Norman, On humanism. 2.15

#16114 D. Wilson, A brief history of the English Reformation. 5.35

Added: 7 March, Half-Price Books, Saint Paul (Highland)

#16115 C.E. Braaten, Principles of Lutheran theology. 2.15

#16116 M.B. Crawford, The world beyond your head: … distraction.2.15

#16117 D.P. Currie, The Constitution in Congress: … 1829-1961 2.15

#16118 J.H. Hick, Disputed questions in theology and the philosophy of religion. 2.15

#16119 S. Shadrake, The world of the gladiator. 2.15

Added: 16 March, Half-Price Books, Roseville.

#16121 J.L. Byock, Viking age Iceland. 3.20

#16122 S. Friar, The companion to castles [in England]. 3.20

#16123 N. Rodgers, Roman empire. 5.95

#16124 R.E. Nisbett, The geography of thought: … Asians and Westerners. 3.20

Added: 16 March, Midway Books

#16125 J.E.A. Jolliffe, The Constitutional history of medieval Enland [English settlement to 1485]. 9.70

Added: 17 March,  Norway House

#16126 N.M. Brown, The far traveler: … a Viking woman. 16.95

Added: 26 March, Rose Collection

#16120 T. Berry, The dream of earth. gift

#16127 J.D. Crossan, God and empire. gift

#16128 C. Dawson, Progress & religion. gift

#16129 The educated person: … essays. gift

#16130 D. Ehrenfeld, The arrogance of humanism. gift

#16131 N. Frye, The double vision: language and meaning in religion. gift

#16132 D.R. Griffin, Two great truths: … naturalism and Christian faith. gift

#16133 J.J. McNeill, Taking a chance on God: liberating theology for gays … gift

#6928r W.H. McNeill, Plagues and peoples. gift

#16134 S.V.R. Nasr, The Shia revival. gift

#16135 H.R. Niebuhr, Christ and culture. gift

#16136 P.J. Palmer, The courage to teach. gift

#16137 P.J. Palmer, The promise of paradox: … contradictions in the Christian life. gift

#16138 Spiritual disciplines: … from the Eranos Yearbooks (Campbell). gift

#16139 A. Stevens, Archetypes: … the self. gift

#16140 A. Stevens, On Jung. gift

#16141 A. Stevens, The roots of war: a Jungian perspective. gift

#16142 Toward a universal theology of religion (Swidler). gift

Added: 30 March, Friends of the Ramsey County Library, Maplewood

#16143 T.S. Asbridge, The first crusade. 1.00

#16144 J.W. Burrow, A history of histories. 1.00

#16145 W. R. Manchester, A world lit only by fire: … medieval mind and the renaissance. 1.00

#16146 J. Reston, The last apoocalyse: Europe … 1000 A.D.

#16147 D. Staloff, Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson: the politics of Enlightenment. 1.00

Added: 2 April, Half-Price Books, Madison WI (east)

#16148 J.J. Ellis, American sphinx: … Thomas Jefferson. 2.10

#16149 L. Martin, The history of witchcraft. 2.10

#16150 M. Siddiqui, How to read the Qur’an. 2.10

#16151 A.C. Walworth, Woodrow Wilson; 3rd ed. 3.15

#16152 T.E. Wheeler, Mr. Lincon’s T-mails: [his use of] the telegraph … 3.15

Added: 2 April, Saint Vincent de Paul, Madison WI (Williamson)

#16153 V.A.P. Cronin, The flowering of the Renaissance. 1.10

#16154 T.H. Groome, Educating for life. 2.20

#16155 L.R. Laing, Celtic Britain. 2.20

#16156 L.R. Laing & J. Laing, Anglo-Saxon England. 2.20

#16157 T. Rowley, The Norman heritage, 1066-1200. 2.20

Added: 5 April, Library of America

#2419r-2420r J.F. Cooper, The Leatherstocking tales. 2v: [in story order] The deerslayer; The last of the Mohicans; The pathfinder; The pioneers; The prairie. 12.90

Added: 8 April, Fair Trade Books

#16158 S. Kierkegaard, Stages on life’s way (H.V. Hong & E.H. Hong). 4.30

Added: 26 April, Library of America

#16159 A. Adams, Letters (Grlles). Member

Added: 30 April, Hanseatic Museum, Bergen

#16160 M. Trebbi, The Hanseatic Museum and Schøtstuene (Neltec). 3.45 (40 NOK)

Added: 6 May, Library of America

#1658r R. Niehbur, Major works on religion and politics (Sifton). 30.90

Added: 10 May, Lower Town Shop

#16161 Valeri Sepp, Tallinn (Kotieva). 7.70€

Added: 11 May, Kiosk

#16162 Natalia Papova, Saint Petersburg and its environs (Kenyon).

Added: 15 May, Viking Star paperback exchange

#16163 S. Lindqvist, Terra nullis: [disposition of Australia’s aborigines]. free

Added: 20 May, Norske Bremuseum

#16164 B.S. John, Fjaerland. 2.60(30 NOK)

Added: 25 May, Arc’s Value Village

#16165 D. Armey & M. Kibbe, Give us liberty: a Tea Party manifesto. 1.60

#16166 W.C. Harris, Lincoln’s rise to the presidency. 2.50

#16167 The Rough Guide to Scandinavia (Brown et.al.) 1.60

Added: 26 May, Value Thrift, Saint Paul (Sun Ray)

#16168 D.K. Godwin, Team of rivals: the political genius of Abraham Lincoln. 1.70

#16169 S.R. Prothero, Religious Literacy: … need to know … 1.70

Added: 1 June, Fair Trade Books

#16170 D.N.J. MacCulloch, The Reformation. 5.60

#16171 H.R. Niebuhr, The responsible self. 6.15

#16172-16173 W. Pannenberg, Basic questions  in theology. 4.15

Added: 2 June, Goodwill, Maplewood.

#16174 D.R. Hillers, Covenant: … a biblical idea. 1.00

#16175 E. Wiesel, Night [his survival of Buchenwald]. 1.00

Added: 5 June, Saint Olaf Book Store

#16176 A. Foxman & C. Wolf, Viral hate: … on the internet. 1.60

#16177 T. Kidder & R. Todd, Good prose: … nonfiction. 5.35

Added: 7 June, Amazon Books

#16178 L. Janus, Norwegian verbs and essentials of grammar. 17.40

#4085r W. Shakespeare, The complete sonnets and poems (Burrow). 16.80.

Added: 8 June, Fair Trade  Books

#16179 R.F. Holland, Against empiricism: … education, epistemology, and value.32.10

Added: 10 June, Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana

#16180 D. Brooks, The road to character. 8.00

Added: 16 June, Library of America

#2719r J. Baldwin, Later novels (Pickney). 30.90

Added: 16 June, Content Bookstore

#16181 Short stories in French [parallel English] (Conrad). 6.45

Added: 17 June, Half-Price Books, Roseville.

#7337r T. Mann, The magic mountain (Woods). 9.10

Added: 18 June, FT Books through Amazon

#16182 Engelsk skoleordbok [school dictionary: English to Norwegian & Norwegian to English]. 8.00B

Added: 2 July, Half-Price Books, Maplewood

#16183 E. de Bono, Teach your children to think. 2.15

#16184 Lutherans today: American … identity (Cimino). 2.15

#16185 M.E. Marty, Martin Luther: a … life. 2.15

#16186 S.H. Shiffrin, The first amendment, democracy, and romance. 2.15

#16187 S.J Schimmel, The tenacity of unreasonable beliefs: fundamentalism … 6.45

Added: 2 July, Friends of the Ramsey County Library, Maplewood

#16188 D.B. Ingram, Critical theory and philosophy. 1.00

#16189 D. Thompson, Counterknowledge: how we surrender to [falsity]. 1.00

Added: 7 July, Half-Price Books, Maplewood

#16190 W. Glasser, The quality school; rev ed. 2.15

#16191 R.G. Grant, Battle: a visual journey; 1st American ed. 3.20.

#16192 N. Postman, The end of education: redefining the value … 2.15

#16193 P. Tillich, A history of Christian thought from its Judaic and Hellenistic origins to existentialism (Braaten). 3.20

Added: 15 July, Arc’s Value Village, Saint Paul

#16194 The international thesaurus of quotations (Tripp). 4.50

Added: 17 July, Subtext Bookseller

#2133r H. Balzac, Pére Goriot (RafaelBrooks). 23.00

Added:26 July, Library of America

#16195 J. Adams, Writings from the new nation, 1784-1826. 30.90

Added: 28 July, Barnes & Noble, Roseville

#16196 V.V. Nabokov, Pnin. 16.05

#16197 M. Yourcenar, Oriental tales (Manguel). 1.10

Added: 1 August, Friends of the Ramsey County Library, Maplewood

#16198 N.A. Basbanes, On paper. 1.50

#16199 Giving their word: conversations with contemporary poets (Ratiner). 1.00

#16200 S. Klein, Survival of the nicest: … altruism made us human (Dollenmayer). 1.00

#16201 J.T. Nealon & S.S. Giroux, The theory toolbox: critical concepts… 1.50

Added: 2 August, Savers, Woodbury

#2511r C. Dickens, A tale of two cities. 1.90

#16202 A. Fuentes, Race, monogamy, and other lies they told you. 2.60

Added: 8 August, Barnes & Noble, Maplewood

#6083r H. James, The turn of the screw, The Aspern papers and two stories (Sweet). 6.40

#16203 R. Raphael, Founding myths: … our patriotic past. 8.55

Added: March,  Minnesota Public Radio

#16204 R. Steves & C. Hewitt, Northern European cruise ports. 25.00

Added: 9 August,  Half-Price Books, Roseville

#16205 E. Bishop, The complete poems, 1927-1979. 3.20

#16206 P. Jenkins, The lost history of Christianity: [1ooo years in Middle East, Africa, Asia]. 3.20

#16207 M. Yourcenar, Memoirs of Hadrian (Frick). 8.05

Added: 16 August, Sixth Chamber Used Books

#16208 S.P. Huntington, The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order. 8.10

#16209 C. McCarthy, All of one peace: essays on nonviolence. 5.50

#16210 G. Mattingly, The Armada. .55

#16211 M. Yo)urcenar, Fires (Katz). [narratives on classic figures]. 7.00

#16212 R. Zubrin & R. Wagner, The case for Mars. .55

Added: 16 August, Unique/Value Thrift Sun Ray, St. Paul

#16213 M.L. King, Western civilization; 3rd ed., Combined. 1.50

Added: 23 August, Half-Price Books, St. Paul

#16214 The Columbia history of the 20th century (Bulliet). 2.15

#16215 T.S. Hamerow, Reflections on history and historians. 2.1:5

#2893r E. Hemingway, A farewell to arms. 7.50

#16217 C. Skidmore, The rise of the Tudors. 2.15

Added: 24 August, Midway Books

#16216 M. Yourcenar, A coin in nine hands: a novel. 4.30

Added: 25 August, Library of America

#16218 War No More: … American antiwar and peace writing (Rosenwal). 30.90

Added: 26 August, A Little Library in White Bear

#16219 T. Rosenbaum, The myth of moral justice: … what is right. gratis

Added: 5 September, Copperfield’s Books, Healdsburg, CA

#16220 R. Frost, The poetry of … (Lathem). 9.80

Added: 10 September, Costco, Maplewood

#16221 H.R. Clinton & T. Kaine, Stronger together: a blue print … 10.70

Added: 27 September, Library of America

#4840r U.K. Le Guin, The complete Orsinia: Malafrena, stories and songs (Attebery). 30.90

Added: 6 October, Saint Olaf College Book Store

#16222 The best American science fiction and fantasy, 1915 (Adams). 5.30

#16223 Earth habitat: eco-injustice and the church’s response (Hessel & Rasmussen). 5.30

#16224 D.A. Thompson, Crossing the divide: Luther, feminism, and the cross. 1.15

Added: 7 October, Half-Price Books clearance sale

#16225 F. Anderson & A.R.L. Cayton, The dominion of war: … North America, 1500-2000. 2.40

#16226 F.F. Church, So help me God: first [U.S.] battle over church and state. 2.40

#16227 A. Ferguson, Land of Lincoln [his influence]. 2.40

#16228 M.A. Genovese & R.J. Spitzer, The presidency and the constitution. 2.40

#583r W.C. Langer, The mind of Hitler. 2.40

#16229 C. Morris, The discovery of the individual, 1050-1200. 2.40

#16230 R. Rosenbaum, Explaining Hitler: … origins of his evil. 2.40

#16231 C. Ross, Edward IV. 2.40

#16232 The social fabric: … civil war to present; 8th ed.(Cary et.al.)  v.2 . 2.40

Added: 13 October, Barnes & Noble, Bloomington

#16233 E.A.W. Budge, Babylonian life and history (Widell). 5.10

Added: 22 October, Half-Price Books, Saint Paul

#16234 Beyond the founders: new approaches to … early America (Pasley et al). 2.15

#16235 D. Gabor, How to start a conversation and make friends. 2.15

#16236 A.J. Langguth, After Lincoln: … North won the Civil War and lost the peace. 3.25

#1 N6237 Theology that matters: ecology, economy, and God (Ray). 2.15 

#16238 K.J. Torjesen, When women were priests. 2.15

#16239 S. Winger, Lincoln, religion, and romantic-cultural politics. 2.15

#16240 R. Wright, The moral animal: evolutionary psychology …2.15

Added: 22 October, Sixth Chamber Used Books

#16241 S. Neiman, Moral clarity: … for grown-up idealists. 8.50

Added: 29 October, Norwegian American Historical Association

#16242 From America to Norway: … letters …: v.3, 1893-1914 (Øverland). Member

#16243 Norwegian-American women: migration, communities, and identities (Bergland & Lahlum). 17.00

Added: 5 November, Library of America

#16244 J. Edwards, Writings from the Great Awakening (Gura). 30.90

Added: 14 November, Minnesota State Publications (online)

#16245 Public libraries: evaluation report. print off

Added: 29 November, Savers, Woodbury

#16246 R.P. Carlisle, Scientific American inventions and discoveries. 2.00

#3486r J. London, Novels & stories (Pizer). 3.25

Added: 9 December, Fair Trade Books

#16(B247 E. Durkheim, Essays on morals and education (Pickering). 8.25

#16248 Romanticism and consciousness: essays (Bloom). 8.25

Added: 10 December, Library of America

#16249 J. Marshall, Writings (Hobson). 30.90

Added: 14 December, Uncle Hugo’s

#16250 T. Chiang, Stories of your life and others. 17.25

Added: 24 December, The Swingles

#16251 D. Defoe, Memoirs of a Cavalier (O’Neil). gift

Added: 24 December, Benjamin Heins & Carol Daniels

#16252 U.K. Le Guin, The other wind. gift

Added: 24 December, Cy Chauvin

#16253 U.K. Le Guin, Words Are My Matter. gift

Added: 25 December, Norway House

#16254 Norway (Insight Guides); new ed. 24.65

Added: 31 December, Half-Price Books, East Town.

#16255 The Augustinian Tradition (Matthews) 10.55

#16256 U.K. Le Guin, Unlocking the air and other stories. 6.30

For previous listings, see the Addition links on the MY LIBRARY page.


Authenticity of My Big Five

September 30, 2015

Extraversion, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, Agreeableness, Openness

A while ago I reported the results of a personality inventory of the “big five” characteristics. Today I took another one linked from the political blog fivethirtyeight, written from the standpoint of authenticity, Hillary Clinton’s in particular. Once I launched into this inventory, I imagined that results would constitute a check on the prior one.

The distributor of these factor markers is the International Personallity Item Pool which has a fuller scale 300 item version presented as having a high degree of pertinence and reliability. However, answering all these questions takes an estimated 30-40 minutes. Thus the quicker inventory has 50 questions.

The specific wording of these character descriptions seems to vary from my previous experience taking a123test®. This time I went through the statements twice in an effort to assure that I understood the measures fully and replied with corresponding accuracy. Each question calls for one of five possible responses – disagree, slightly disagree, neutral, slightly agree, or agree. These responses are the flip of the 123 version – strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree.

My responses to the statements found me responding disagree 18 times, slightly disagree 2, neutral 2, slightly agree 9, and agree 19 times. I wanted to answer on the extreme ends of the responses; nevertheless, at times I found I could not. These predicaments and choices were based on my splitting hairs on just how each statement represented me when a more rigid approach would have sprung from all or nothing choices. Some example statements follow.

3. I am always prepared. I regard that I am usually prepared, but not always as fully as I like or at times learn from an experience that I  could have prepared better. So I only slightly agreed.

8. I leave my belongings around. Yes, sometimes, more than I would like. I don’t always hang my clothes up. I have a tendency to pile, not file building miscellaneous stacks because I am very archival. But I also have thousands of clippings, sheets of correspondence and writings. I own something over 6,000 volumes. Most of this is in order, but I am always behind and struggle to spend some portion of every day clearing my desk. Alas, I can only slightly agree.

16. I keep in the background. Well … I like the background, the vantage point, the retreat to do my thinking and rejuvenate the soul and its consciousness. But I speak out as needed; I serve on task forces; I conduct and speak out at forums; I do readings in front of audiences. I organize book clubs for years at a time. Lately, I have even sung in pickup choirs, something I have been leery of doing for over 70 years. Another slightly agree.

23. I get chores done right away. First off, what is meant by “chores?” I interpreted it to cover anything that is done on a routine or regular basis. That’s agree for me. However, most of what I do requires what I prefer to call mulling, especially matters of an intellectual nature which is where I spend most of my waking time. I cannot handle matters of this nature right away because they do not lend themselves to immediacy. Alas, most of the 13 novels I have attempted have never been completed because I haven’t resolved a satisfactory way to finish them. This time I slightly disagree.

37. I take time out for others. Yes, of course. But the time I spend is largely foundational in building up the community, the culture, or the civilization. I seek my own pleasure in so doing and I trouble whether anything I ever do will have a lasting effect. So I have to slightly agree.

Twice, I have taken the neutral position, something I have not wanted to do. But it seemed to me that was the only alternative since the statement does not really or fully apply to me as it stands.

41. I don’t mind being the center of attention. Okay, I don’t mind, but I do not seek to be at a noticeable center, and my preference remains to get out to the edge and stay there.

47. I make people feel at ease. Pardon me, but I have no gauge for determining an answer to this one.

So here is my resulting profile expressed for each trait. Scores run 1-5, low to high and show the relative dominance of personality domains. Percentiles show that portion of the population I score higher than, presumably better than to fit my own personality.

Neuroticism (elsewhere termed Natural Reaction) shows the tendency to experience and/or show negative emotions or neuroses. My score is 1.8, rather low, and at 9%.

Extraversion shows the orientation towards and satisfaction from other people. The score is 2.4, towards the middle, and at 24%

Conscientiousness reflects carefulness and order for one who is hardworking and reliable. I score 3.7. above the middle, and at 62%

Openness indicates how much I seek out new experiences. I score 4.5, very high, at 71%.

Finally, agreeableness points to how much a person likes and wants to please others. Here the score reaches my highest, 4.7, with 87% ranking lower than I find myself.

I remain unsure or confused as to whether this inventory coincides with others that seek personality identification. In the typologies based on Jung, extraversion-introversion reflect where the sense of oneself comes from and the consequent source of psychological energy.

Nevertheless, it seems the image and identification of my self holds. I see myself as one who has learned or practiced the control of his emotions. I can weep at a painting but remain controlled at the death of a friend or relative. I recognize and live my obligation to others but regard my role as distantly overarching and essentially far reaching, not intimate except with a few. I prefer the depth and nurture of solitude in a life that has numerous public demands. I want to be orderly, thoughtful and imaginative in creative and intellectual ways. I want to make my ideals real and grow through learning and the study required to reach desired levels of knowledge.

Alas, I am not completely satisfied that however much these ratings are in a desirable direction for me, they are not as ultimately on target as other inventories have been.

Copyright © 2015 by Roger Sween.

I welcome comments on this blog. Direct personal comments to me at my email address.


Malgonkar’s The Princes

June 18, 2015

The Princes by Manohar Malgonkar (1963) continues to impress me.

This novel, that I paid 50 cents for in June 1998, intrigued me.  I’d long wondered how Viceroy Mountbatten was able to achieve the assimilation of hundreds of princely states into the national government of independent India.  I’m also constantly interested in other cultures distinct form our own and other modes of thought.  Seven years later when I got around to reading The Princes, I did not expect to be so gripped.

Ahbay, the only child of the Maharaja of Begwad, Hiroji, tells this story of the transition of one imaginary but purportedly typical state.  I fell into awe of the range, consistency, and dramatic intensity of its telling.  Malgonkar covers Ahbay’s childhood, youth, school days, military career in WWII, and young adulthood as his father ages to 50 and Begwad passes to the nationals.  This historical transition frames the novel as does the overall conflict of the maturing and westernized, liberal Ahbay with his traditional, even archaic father.  The drama proceeds through 32 chapters, each a model of tight storytelling.

Robert Coles says in The Call of Stories that what good literature does is show lives that are complex, ironic, ambiguous, and fateful.  Though my principles are for lives that are direct, meaningful, goal-oriented, and self-controlled, I recognize Cole’s grasp of what it is that characterizes the classics and the successfully serious in fiction.  These characteristics have become my aim, too, and I seek them out in what is most worth reading.

The Princes is akin to Ali and Nino (read and reviewed in 2004) in that vast historical changes occur as a background to human lives.  And it is the “little things” of personal lives that carry the drama.  Father and son are at odds; Mother disappoints son, and what restoration is possible between them?  Youth thinks he is in love forever, though the woman seems loose at worst, a devious gold digger at best.  The maharaja heralds tradition, but is there more than his attachment to privilege?  Slowly the naturally kind, intentionally liberal sees that his role in life is to honor his father, adopt the same values—at least in action—and serve the state according to those princely values that are at stake.

Most interesting to me is the handling of character.  Though scores of people troop through the story, a core emerge in first, second, or third place.  They play out their interrelationships with one another, mostly with Ahbay, and they change, deepen, or we see them from differing angles.

What Malgonkar does so well is show the personal face of what we usually call feudalism—socio-political relationships based on loyalty and honor.  Here is the ethos that from one view is restrictive and open to abuse, but from another is the essence of aristocracy, faithfulness to the highest values of fealty and responsibility.

Along with appreciation of this realization comes revulsion of so much else that is part of the system.  The penchant for hunting dominates the calendar.  The time on horseback absorbs daily routine.  Sports preclude academics in school and college.  Men control; women serve.  Marriage is for succession, whether of raj or untouchability.  Concubinage recognizes the nature of sex, at least for men.

Though Ahbay becomes the devoted son of his father, and though he takes on more responsibility, the story never becomes one of standing against the machinations of the oppressed.  The story is one of the continuing giving away of the old to the new with as much honor and dignity as one can manage or carve out for oneself.

The novel attracted me so much, I sought to know more of Malgonkar.  Born in 1913, he had a life parallel to Ahbay, though not of that class.  He saw himself as writing old-fashioned romantic novels and was politically active, to the right of center.  The Princes is the most critically well-received of his novels; he also wrote articles and non-fiction.  I also became interested in A Bend in the Ganges (1964) set against the 1947 partition and The Devil’s Wind (1972) about the 1857 Sepoy mutiny, the only novel telling the story from the Indian point of view.

Further, my myopic view that the demise of the princely states had been a willing one was far from the truth.  As The Princes shows and Lawrence James’ Raj (1998) confirms, the various rulers hoped to retain their independence and paramount relations with the British Empire after independence.  No way could this happen, and everyone from Gandhi to Mountbatten, regardless of how he portrays himself in the BBC film of his life, brought about the end of the prince’s exceptional status.

Note: This post is a updated revision of a review I wrote about ten years ago.

 


Value Politics

June 9, 2015

Values in Regard to Politics

Note: I began a draft  of this post on February 2 and then lost track of it until June. In part, this reflection led me to drop out of the discussion group a couple months later. I also mulled over the demands upon me during a break in San Antonio as I sorted out the press of other projects against the uncertainty of the future and my time to work on them.

I belong to a monthly all-male discussion group that considers various topics and their political dimensions. We are all professionals of some sort, most retired. Except for an avowedly conservative member, we tend to be liberal or progressive with one libertarian. Our discussions are free-wheeling, largely contextual, and nearly never conclusive. My view remains that these meet-ups are far from the symposiums dating from ancient models, neither in manner nor pursuit. Amazing how conversation has lost its rigor in the last 2500 years. At least, so it seems to me.

Our convenor does his job well in making sure everyone is heard. He prompts the discussion with opening questions and even offers summaries in the absence of group conclusions. My major disappointment is that no thread develops in these discussions; hardly ever does a statement grow and morph with subsequent speakers. What we have, by in large is an exchange of views.

So mostly, I participate as a means of hearing others that I do not otherwise meet and examining my own views beyond my usual attention to what I read and think about. I can’t say that I learn much except how others think and speak.

In January we decided that in February we would look at Minnesota legislative politics in regard to transportation and education issues. No one was given the charge of sources, so some filled the void with email references to partisan bills newly introduced or to newspaper articles. The convenor in one email described this process as “loosey,” an apt term, I thought.  Then he suggested a most admirable approach. We should come prepared to state our values as far as they influence our political decisions. Now we are getting somewhere, I thought.

I went to work in my usual way. First mulling over what I specivically think. Then jotting some thoughts. Next writing more definitive statements. The morning of, I was at the typing and rewriting stage. Finally printing eight copies for distribution. I was very pleased with myself but did worry that it was too cerebral and might be regarded as presumptuous, or worse, pretentious. I would see how the discussion went.

Alas, there was no discussion on values. The closest we came was mention of Jonathan Haidt’s The Religious Mind. In the flow of talk, I expressed myself in a couple areas, fueled by what I had thought about and written. Next month we are talking about the impact of drones.

On the way home, I thought I might as well get some more use out of what I had written and therefore supply the following as I had prepared it to share.

Definition: Human values are principles, intrinsically desirable, that guide and govern actions toward appropriate and beneficial outcomes. Values in order to be operational follow from human virtues. Virtue (the strength to do what is right) is both intellectual and moral.

  1. Politics, being the means of achieving agreement for the common good and general benefit, centers the human experience.
  2. In a representative government, the locus of power resides in the public through duties shared and exercised by the people and their elected representatives.
  3. The burden upon the public as the electorate is to engage in the political process in order to select and replace representatives who best serve them through the political system.
  4. Effective selection of political representatives depends upon the knowledge and discernment of the electorate.
  5. Existence of an informed and competent public assumes that learning the ability to learn remains a lifetime requirement.
  6. The mechanisms of learning are multiple and at the disposal of the learner.
  7. In a democracy, the people provide formal education for one another as one mechanism of learning, one that aims at being foundational – that is, learning how to learn fseor the lifetime.
  8. The strength of politics and its achievement depends heavily on these values and their practices in the general culture.

These 8 expressions are primarily stands reached by examining history and philosophies of human well-being.

1. Today the media in emphasizing conflict to the extent of the language it uses – “battleground states,” “war chests,” and the like – presents politics as adversarial when politics exists to bring us to accord and harmony. We are made to think that agreement is impossible unless some party holds the majority in order to make decisions for our benefit. Certainly we have governmental challenges, but it is partisanship not politics that is to blame.

2. The result of the emphasis on partisanship is that the public grows cynical and loses the realization that they are the responsible body in the politics of representation. We fail to realize that politics is a shared endeavor, and we neglect to do our part as citizens.

3. The duty of the electorate to select representatives faces a challenge when the preferences of some outweigh the good of all and the long run of history. The public is not meant to be divided into competitive parties when the aim of politics is to reach agreement.

4. Knowledge and discernment come to the aid of comity. They open and widen understanding; they generate and sustain tolerance. They change perspective from I-am-first to we-live-together.

5. Learning if it is to be fully useful must continue in the face of change, forgetting, and responsibilities that do not end.

6. Many ways to learn run parallel with one another and meet learners as they differ and change. Parents and other adults guide and model for children and one another. Conversation moves from the phatic (establishing relationships) to the enlightening. Books and libraries, though existing for millenia constitute an enormous heritage and have been greatly extended to the public in the last 200 years. Media may distract from learning but continues to be full of potential in support of learning. We can choose to learn or choose to be entertained to an extent that becomes a distraction and interferes with learning.

7. Schooling, though loaded with a number of expectations, at basis only succeeds when it prepares us for life through setting us on the path of learning how to learn and thereby pursuing our own on-going learning. We then  progress from the basics to increasing breadth and complexity while enabling ourselves with learning skills the chief of which are thinking, deciding, choosing, communicating, creating, and participating in community life – all aspects of learning and means of learning in themselves.

8. Alas, we live in a culture that often assumes schooling to be the whole and end of learning. Instead contemporary culture promotes consumption over the renewing of ourselves.

In short, I am not hopeful about our prospects. I continue to desire course corrections, but I bother myself that improvements are not ahead. Our adversarial nature and innate selfishness without the redemption of commonality and human well-being hold our future precariously, tipping to ruin and loss.