The Sylvia Beach Hotel

Sylvia Beach Hotel - a set on Flickr
Hotel for booklovers, located in Newport Oregon; each room is dedicated to the style of a particular author. These photos were taken of the rooms I was able to view in mid August, 2008.
What an... interesting experiment. I'm not sure if some of these rooms are spot on or horrifying. Some are both. I love the implication that Dr. Seuss naturally developed into ugly 80's bedspread patterns, and I have decidedly mixed feelings about the Woolf room. The Poe room is probably not accurate either, but... eeh. I don't know if I could sleep in a room that accurately reflected the spirit of EA Poe. The EB White room is pretty, and charmingly... chaste, I suppose. My favorite is the library in the attic. But, that doesn't count. Of the Author rooms, I like the Fitzgerald room. Just needs a discarded liquor bottle.

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Prime Minister Pierre-Louis

An interesting article on the new Prime Minister of Haiti. She sounds like a good woman, who means well - given Haiti's past, I can only hope she stays that way, and that nobody pulls a coup on her.

Pierre-Louis' task in Haiti: to revive a wounded nation - 08/18/2008 - MiamiHerald.com
Supporters point out that Pierre-Louis, who is fluent in four languages -- French, Creole, English and Spanish -- and holds master's and doctoral degrees from U.S. universities, can work anywhere. Instead, she has chosen to remain in Haiti.

In a public address recently to outline her general policies, Pierre-Louis said Haiti has no shortage of deeply rooted social and economic problems -- so many that during the difficult ratification process, she questioned her decision to accept the nomination by Haitian President René Préval.

''My decision was not triggered by the desire to hold a position,'' she told reporters. ``My decision is rooted deep inside my commitment to my country.''

Haiti watchers say that while Pierre-Louis has proved herself to be an effective leader and formidable contender, how well she does -- if given the chance to govern -- will depend on her ability to manage conflicts with Parliament, to which she is responsible.

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Why Kafka (and Dickinson) Become Slaves to Biographers

Earlier today, I read an interesting article. I highly recommend it. The author says about Kafka part of what I tried to say about Dickinson, here. Only, it makes sense when he says it.

From 3quarksdaily
The process of reading a text, line by line, is hard work. Not quite as hard work as writing it, perhaps, but almost. Biographical interpretations are an excuse for lazy reading. Using an author’s life to crack the code of his texts is just too easy. There are no shortcuts to interpretation. That was why I spent three hours reading ten pages of Kafka with my students.

I would only add two things:
1) I think the realization has as much to do with spiritual safety as it does with analytical laziness. It feels good to read Emily Dickinson and tsk-tsk over the poor neurotic woman who wrote such pretty poems. There is something satisfying about reading Kafka as an explanation as some other guy's life transformed into a clever metaphor. But the power of these works is that they can latch onto and reflect us, the readers. If you want to read a poem that admits the things you won't admit to yourself, read Dickinson. If you want to read literature that talks about how fascinating the author is, try Nabokov (j/k).
2) I do not think this eliminates the value of a biography of someone like Dickinson. I think biography, like psychotherapy, is an art form, something very pretty, that can be beautiful in certain circumstances, useful in certain others, neither in many circumstances, both in a select few.

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The murmur of the outer Infinite...

It's been a difficult few days generally, and everything feels generally topsy-turvy, unfortunately a chronically intermittent condition when I am in a house, I think. But irrelevant to the subject. The point is, that I am now getting old enough to actually feel all the htings that when I was young and romantic I wanted to feel. Now that I am old, these things no longer feel like grand gestures,t ehy feel sort of stunted and uncomfortably out of place. I finished a book earlier today, and had to go pick up some dinner, (mucked up the timing on having the planned dinner ready, of course), and wanted a new book to read if I ended up waiting at the store. I'd checked out a book of poetry by Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, from the library, but I am not up to doing something that takes brains and creativity to understand, tonight, so I fumbled the shelves trying to find a spine that felt friendly. It would have been a good day for Kilmeny of the Orchard, but alas, I only listened to that online, and I feel, illogically enough, like I ought to read something at least that I have not read this year, as I feel obligated to finish up the 5-squared blog, thingie, goal, stuff. So, at the last minute, knowing that I was probably delaying too long already and everyone's dinner would be cold, on top of being yet another night of fast food, I just plunged in my hand and grabbed something. Aurora Leigh, Elizabeth Barret Browning.

Oh, Jason, you poor little fool, of all the books.

Aurora Leigh is an old acquaintance, and EBB is an older one, one of those poets I didn't really read so much as stare at her picture, and dream up lives for, so the book had a warm, comforting heft to it in my hand (although, sadly, it's kind of a very cheap printing of the book). Amanda knows her as the poet I read out loud in a voice her mother and her described as being like a Catholic priest at litany, to put Laurence to sleep as a baby. Oh, memory! Oh life, oh me! (see, Whitman could say that as a declaration, for me, it's like I'm berating myself). The first stanza, friends, read in the driveway, hwile turning on the car:

Of writing many books there is no end;
And I who have written much in prose and verse
For others' uses, will write now for mine,--
As when you paint your portrait for a friend,
Who keeps it in a drawer and looks at it
Long after he has ceased to love you, just
To hold together what he was and is.

I could go on, but I won't, but it was, I will just say, very difficult to be polite and conversational with the very nice gentleman at the restaurant, who asked what I was reading. It's strange to me, I'd always pictured my reading life as being broad, that I'd try to read mroe and mroe. I wanted to be the brave, conquistadorial reader like Amanda, who can plausibly dream of, say, reading the entire list of books that have won a Pulitzer, ever. That was what I always thought would be what I would try for, the well-read man. I think I've given up on that. There just doesn't seem to be any reason for it, and I suppose I'm honestly just not that kind fo person, I'm not well read, just like I don't have a wide circle of friends, and I feel a pang of guilt when I leave a house or a car behind to some new owner. When I fele particularly sensitive, when my mind is most open to the emotional import of somethign new, it contracts, reflexively, it cloutches on to old, kind friends, and murmurs back and forth with them. Anyway, it was kind of Ms Browning to lend me a shoulder today, I guess I'm more writing a sort of thank you than anything, not that you can tell from this ramble I suppose.

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