Book Haüs

1. Lucretius “The Nature of Things” – SB++    2. Studs Terkel “Working” – SB++    3. Pierre Bayard “How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read” – SB+  4. Herodotus “The Histories” SB+  5. Mina Loy “Feminist Manifesto” – RB +    6. Frans de Waal “The Age of Empathy” – SB     7. Albert Camus “The Plague” RB ++   

Lucretius “The Nature of Things” – SB++ This book was the one that resonated the most with me personally. I often find myself thinking in ways that are similar to how Lucretius lays out his ideas. I also believe that the connections between everything are not purely arbitrary and that some things are connected for specific reasons (even if we haven’t figured out those reasons yet). I do also believe that all things happen for a reason and that everything is related and can be broken down further. This is something I try to hold on to during my everyday life. Lucretius talks of ‘indivisible particles,’ things that we would most likely align with atoms today. I chose the photo showing what I believe are atoms under some sort of extreme magnification because it fits with this theme that Lucretius was going with. They also appear to be ‘falling into place’ much the same way as Lucretius mentions throughout the text.
2. Studs Terkel “Working” – SB++ After examining how everything is interconnected, I began to think about how all of the work that we do is also ‘interconnected’ in a way. There have been many times throughout the semester that we have seen that the work that one does can be for a variety of reasons, stemming from many different circumstances. The phrase in the photo that I chose resonates with me and I believe that some of the workers (Mike LaFevre, Donna Murray, etc.) in this particular book would agree with that statement. I also personally agree with that statement, I think that everyone creates something (not particularly all physical items, but still) and that their creations go out into the world for everyone else to see (whether they be good or bad). I also believe that we can get stuck in our work and not really appreciate it for what it is. That is, we get stuck in the monotonous grind of work causing us to want to be “sittin’ on the dock of the bay watchin’ the tide roll away,” which isn’t a particularly bad thing for all that its worth, and may actually help one relax and take a break from the work grind. It can also be very enticing to simply stay stuck in one’s ways and never really come out of the proverbial shell. I think that only a certain amount of sittin’ on the dock of the bay is necessary.
3. Pierre Bayard “How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read” – SB+ This book really made me think about the big picture, and how everything can be related (as did some other books/works). The descriptions laid out in this book have been the way that I always go about approaching a book, I realize that one does not need to read a book cover to cover to understand how it fits into our consciousness. Although reading a book about not reading books seemed a bit counterintuitive, I appreciated the fact that somebody else thinks about this the same way that I do. Though this book focused on books, I do not believe that this is the only thing that one can use this type of discourse on. I believe that all events and histories are not separate events, but more of an interconnected web of happenings that are constantly being added to and changing the way they relate to one another. I think of the saying “don’t lose the forest for the trees,” and the way that focusing on one very small detail can take away from getting the big picture (the larger connections that everything has). I zoomed in on the work chosen so that the detail is extremely fine, but you cannot tell what the work is of. When looking at the full extent of the work it is easy to see that it is a lot of books, the same way in which looking through every minute detail may ultimately lead you to failure when it comes to the big picture.
4. Herodotus “The Histories” SB+ Thinking about the relationships between everything and the connections that we make about those things got me thinking about the small details. Though I do not believe that they are all completely necessary all the time, there is certainly a place and time for everything. Herodotus would most likely agree that there is a place for minute detail, as we see throughout “The Histories” he is very detail oriented. Who is related to who, where they lived, what they did, how what they did impacted future generations, etc., we see all the detail in “The Histories.” I appreciate detail like that, and there is really no other way to link things together in such a fashion without using such detail. Possibly in this case one would be “losing the trees for the forest,” meaning that focusing on the small details might be necessary in some circumstances in order to actually get to the big picture. The sculpture I used demonstrates this well. It is made of small pieces of rebar, but when they are placed together it looks like one continuous figure, very much in the same way that all the minute details in “The Histories” come together to make one big picture. Also, Herodotus was doing something extremely new for his time. None before him had written like this before. I think it is important to note that the way he wrote influenced generations to come.
5. Mina Loy “Feminist Manifesto” – RB + As I stated before, possibly we have become far too complacent with the way things are. We stay sittin’ on the dock of the bay and never really accomplish anything. There has to be some sort of fire starter, a catalyst for change in order for people to get riled up enough to listen to what they have to say. I think that Herodotus did this in a different fashion, simply by doing something that had never been done before. He started a revolution in writing history that we still follow today. Mina Loy, on the other hand, needed people to listen to her and needed them to listen immediately. I think her “Feminist Manifesto” was so loud and bombastic so that she could get people to hear her voice and so that she could ‘start a fire’ in the people that would lead them towards change. In a time when many people were the same, she had to be different, she had to be louder and more in your face than anybody else. I believe that this type of behavior still holds true today. We have seen an increase in coverage of protests and riots throughout the country ranging from marches against police brutality and racism to marches for Trans rights. The protests and riots, while not always peaceful are certainly bombastic and loud; and they very well may be the way to really get everybody’s attention. Possibly you have to ‘burn down’ (I use that phrase literally and figuratively) the old ways in order to fuel change.
6. Frans de Waal “The Age of Empathy” – SB In thinking about riots, protests, manifestos, and all other things fiery I thought that maybe we should all just be nicer to one another; maybe that is the way nature intended us to be. It is possible that we are meant to be peaceful and society has made us the way we are. Perhaps this is not the way things are meant to be? I think that Frans de Waal lays out this claim fairly wall. He may have been on to something when talking about man’s responsibility to help one another. Maybe we are losing sight of the big picture again, perhaps we need to refocus on the things that are really important…like each other. The small details in life (the everyday things that we all seem to worry and complain about) are just getting in the way of the big picture. Maybe I’m just a dreamer, but I also believe that in this interconnected world of battles and fights that we have, there is also a hope for a better world. One where we all come together to help one another for the better good. I think that the image and song help convey this message well.
7. Albert Camus “The Plague” RB ++ I do realize that his project has taken me all over the place. There are ideas that I have that may never be attainable, there are thought patterns laid out that may not necessarily be in line with one another, but, somehow they all seem to come together. As grim as this may sound, it seems as if our own mortality is the only thing that can get us to truthfully think about all of the things that I have thought about in this project. Why is it that we write histories down in such a detailed fashion? Well, some day we won’t be here and I am sure we would like to have left our mark on society. Why do we try so hard to change the way things are? Because, in the future those changes may be the only thing that people remember us by. Why is it that we value the work that we do? Once again, that may be the only testament to our lives once we are gone. It was hard trying to wrap my head around all of these thoughts and even harder to find a book that really summed them up. Albert Camus’ “The Plague” deals with the inevitability of death in a way that really causes us to examine ourselves and certainly opens up thought paths that lead to some of the ideas discussed in this project and throughout our class. It seems that death may be the great equalizer that ultimately puts us all on the same level, and when that happens we can really begin to think about what all of this truly means.
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