Biagi, Enzo. Lettera d'amore a una ragazza di una volta.
Italian (Love Letter to a [young] woman of another time). Rizzoli
(Milano: 2003). ISBN 88-17-99506-1.
[dh:2004-02-20] This book is here because it is
an example of language and what is evoked by words. The title does
not translate (di una volta - literally of one time or occasion, is an
expression for "another time," for example, and ragazza
started out as female teen-ager). Vicki was speaking with me today
about what the book is about, because I asked her about the first
sentence (also on the jacket blurb): «Cara Lucia, non ho altro mezzo
per rivolgermi a te e ti scrivo una lettera che non leggerai mai.».
This translates basically to "Dear Lucia, I have no other way to
speak myself to you and I write a letter that you will never
read." (All crudeness of translation is mine.) I asked
Vicki, who is reading the book in her Italian language class, whether
Lucia has gone away. Vicki told me that the author had a young
wife and a daughter and the wife died. Later, the daughter
died. We both teared up. And that is all that I have
read of the book - the title, the first sentence, and spoken with Vicki
about what the book is about. I will speak of this on nfoWare
in regard to language and situating meaning. When I read over this
paragraph, I am moved to weep also. It reminds me of the first
time I saw Michelangelo's Pieta at the Vatican exhibition of the
1964 New York World Fair.
Crichton, Michael. Travels. Alfred A. Knopf (New York:
1988). HarperCollins Perennial edition ISBN 0-06-050905-8 pbk.
[dh:2004-04-08] This book recounts author
Crichton's personal journey of self-discovery. On the way, he also
traveled to places. The desire to experience new places and step
into the unfamiliar is presented in terms of experiences that provided
insight into himself, others, and how we relate to one another. My
wife read the book first and said I would particularly enjoy the last
chapter. I have the book because Lion Kimbro quoted something
Crichton says about science and I asked where the source could be
found. Lion says he rereads the last two chapters. After
checking reader reviews on amazon.com, I was a little concerned about
mentions of the paranormal and other new-age-sounding content. I
couldn't imagine what that would be about, so I resolved to find
out. I need not have been concerned.
I read the "Postscript: Skeptics at Cal
Tech" first. Then I read the book from the beginning.
The most difficult part was reading about Crichton's experiences as a
medical student, especially with his observations about contemporary
superstitions fresh in my mind. In some parts of this book, I feel
sad, in other parts I weep, and mostly I am grateful for the simple
generosity with which the author exposes his continuing discovery of
himself. The author is very gentle about not imposing his
experience while owning it.
When I teach Computers101 for undergraduates,
especially budding computer scientists, I will assign this book and not
tell them why.
Ivan. Deschooling Society. Marian
Boyars Publishers (London: 1970). ISBN 0-7145-0879-9 pbk.
2002-11-29: At one point, there
was a slightly damaged edition of this text on the web. Apparently
that and Tools for Conviviality have now been removed. I
ordered this book because it is readily available and I wanted to see
the passages that were omitted in the on-line transcription.
Illich's writings had been proposed for review by a discussion group on
the Bootstrap Alliance list, and that was when I began to read some of
the works the first time. What I notice is his challenge to
basic assumptions. Whether or not I am comfortable with the
prognosis or the rationale, Illich confronts me with assumptions that
deserve to be questioned. One of the greatest perils that he
addresses is the creation of social institutions that, ultimately, end
up delivering the very thing that they were created to overcome.
That we be that we are providing one thing when the result is observably
the other is something that deserves constant scrutiny.
1. Why We Must Disestablish School
2. Phenomenology of School
3. Ritualization of Progress
4. Institutional Spectrum
5. Irrational Consistencies
6. Learning Webs
7. Rebirth of Epimethean Man
Illich, Ivan. Celebration of Awareness: A Call for
Institutional Revolution. Marian
Boyars Publishers (London:
1971, 1972, 1976, 1998, 2001). ISBN 0-7145-0838-1 pbk.
2002-11-29: I have this book
because it was convenient to order at the same time as [Illich1970].
What I notice is how much the challenges laid down here in that ripe
period, 35 years ago, remain present, and how much the evidence for our
deviation and the desperateness of our defense has grown in the
meantime. My wife and I just returned from watching the film Bowling
for Columbine. We are the most dangerous victims on the
planet. It is not comfortable to look at. And others pay a
monstrous price for what it now takes to keep us distracted.
I don't know if this is a (political)
philosophy book or not. I find that these articles give suitable
challenge to my comfortable illusions of who I am for myself and my
Content Introduction by Erich Fromm  Foreword 
1. A Call to Celebration 
2. Violence: A Mirror for Americans 
3. Not Foreigners, yet Foreign 
4. The Eloquence of Silence
5. The Seamy Side of Charity 
6. The Vanishing Clergyman 
7. The Powerless Church 
8. The Futility of Schooling 
9. School: The Sacred Cow
10. Sexual Power and Political Potency 
11. Planned Poverty: The End Result of
12. A Constitution for Cultural Revolution
Spinosa, Charles., Flores, Fernando., Dreyfus, Hubert L. Disclosing
New Worlds. MIT Press
(Cambridge, MA: 1997). ISBN
I find this to be a powerful exposition of how empowered
individuals and communities operate as creators of worlds and makers of
history. It is a highly-accessible, inspiring discussion. I
was led here following my encounter of writings by Fernando
Flores and Terry
Winograd on computers as instruments for managing our promises and
commitments and on cognition maybe not being what I would have
Walsch, Neale Donald. Conversations with God: an Uncommon
Dialog, Book 2. Hampton
Roads Publishing (Charlottesville, VA: 1997). ISBN
I heard the author speak one time in Mountain
View, while on a tour promoting this or the next book, I no longer
recall. I had owned the first Book, and once I was told the
message, I did not have any need to complete reading it. According
to Walsch, there are three messages in Book 1: (1) we are one; (2) there
is enough; and (3) there is no such thing as right and wrong. I
didn't stop because I had a problem with that. I stopped because I
"got it," as we say. For this volume, Walsch spoke about
education and reform of education around three core concepts or values:
awareness, honesty, and responsibility. I couldn't remember what
those were precisely, yet the idea was so compelling that I finally
ordered the book.
I am pleased that I ordered the book for
another reason. Some of the review published on amazon.com must
not be from people who read even as little as the back cover of either
volume. And, if it disturbs you that Adolf Hitler went to heaven,
you are probably not ready for this conversation. But you should
not dismiss it. The conversation is ready for you. In the
current American era of the world, it is important to express this
message more loudly, perhaps. -- dh:2003-07-17.
"Yet you will not have, cannot produce,
the society of which you have always dreamed unless and until you see
with wisdom and clarity the ultimate truth: that what you do to others,
you do to yourself; what you fail to do for others, you fail to do for
yourself; that the pain of others is your pain, and the joy of others
your joy, and that when you disclaim any part of it, you disclaim a part
of yourself." -- from the dust jacket.
Although I would not claim truth, I claim power
and humility in that. -- dh:2003-07-17.
Watts, Alan Wilson. The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing
Who You Are. Pantheon Books (New York: 1966). Vintage
Books Edition (New York: 1989). ISBN 0-679-72300-5 pbk.
"This book explores an unrecognized but
mighty taboo--our tacit conspiracy to ignore who, or what, we really
are. Briefly, the thesis is that the prevalent sensation of
oneself as a separate ego enclosed in a bag of skin is a hallucination
which accords neither with Western science nor with the experimental
philosophy-religions of the East--in particular the central and germinal
Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism. This hallucination underlies the
misuse of technology for the violent subjugation of man's natural
environment and, consequently, its eventual destruction.
"We are therefore in urgent need of a
sense of our own existence which is in accord with the physical facts
and which overcomes our feeling of alienation from the universe.
For this purpose I have drawn on the insights of Vedanta, stating them,
however, in a completely modern and Western style--so that this volume
makes no attempt to be a textbook on or introduction to Vendanta [sic]
in the ordinary sense. It is rather a cross-fertilization of
Western science with an Eastern intuition." From the Preface,