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About American Philosophy

The occasion of this post is my recent discovery of a wonderful book by John Kaag entitled American Philosophy, a Love Story. Before I get to any criticism of the work, I should commit myself beyond the adjective ‘wonderful,’ and say that I think it is indeed truly excellent and worthwhile, but worth a great deal more to those who are interested in the genealogy of the ideas that drive our modern world. The rest of you may just get a kick out of the love story. read more…

On opening a bookshop

Opening a bookshop is akin, in some minds (my own, for instance), to opening a show—a sheerly theatrical event. There is no chance in hell that you will make much in the way of profit. There is a very slim chance of it succeeding longer than the requisite three year term limit for most new businesses. It is done out of hubris. Because you can. And you must. read more…

Observations

Children crave order in their lives. Given the seeming chaos aswirl about them, fixing on the specific edges of a particular blanket or a sequence of events that repeats regularly, like a nap time or snack time, offers them a sense of what and when. There is comfort to place and as they learn the words for the objects they encounter daily they are pleased to discover an identity to things. You can witness the joy of their recognition.

This is all very simplistic, of course. More is going on in those new minds that we can readily understand, but there is much that can be seen and heard that is common to any child, no matter the culture or circumstance. They enjoy the order of shapes and colors. And if they are given the chance, they enjoy changing the order when they are able, exerting some control over the objects about them. The more they discover they can manipulate their world, the greater joy they find in it, and the faster they learn. read more…

It’s a calendared thing

It is a calendared thing
To mark the beginning,
And once again to start
As if there’s an end to it,
And the year is complete
And something new commenced;
As if you might do over,
Or bid farewell and goodbye
To what you have done—
Little or all that it is;
For what you did
Is what you’re doing
And what you’ve done
Is what you’re pursuing.

Sing Auld Lang Syne, my dear
And bid time return, again,
To find the best you’ve lost,
Or forget the things undone—
But resolution is not enough.
It’s what you’re doing,
And not the seasons you’ve rung.
Auld acquaintance will not forget
The hurt you’ve wrought
Or the love you’ve brought
And the weather will not beget
Or better any or all of that,
Unless you change your course.
So, choose your destination!

The Bookseller’s Dilemma

Booksellers are a lot like actors. It is a cliche that actors will too often assume they are capable of the accomplishments of the characters they portray and come to believe that they know what a character actually felt. Booksellers often see themselves as possessing the wisdom that is in the books they sell, whereas they only possess the books. The playacting of children is in many ways a rehearsal for the actions of adults. The empathy felt by the reader will often extend into everyday life. That is the power of books, just as it is the wonder felt by an audience in suspended disbelief watching a portrayal in a movie or on the stage. read more…

The Arrogance

I suppose it is the arrogance that offends me most. Not the stupidity. An individual can be correct and be arrogant and thus offensive. I am usually willing to forgive stupidity because such foolishness comes to me so easily. But stupidity, at least on a case by case basis, can be cured. Arrogance, not so much. It is the arrogant who kill other people on the road as often as themselves, who ruin other peoples lives with politics without care, and who assume knowledge they do not have to crush the creativity of others. And that’s just for starters. The more I think about it, the more instances of arrogance reveal themselves as the crux of most of the bad situations in life. read more…

Latest Blog Posts

About American Philosophy

The occasion of this post is my recent discovery of a wonderful book by John Kaag entitled American Philosophy, a Love Story. Before I get to any criticism of the work, I should commit myself beyond the adjective ‘wonderful,’ and say that I think it is indeed truly...

On opening a bookshop

Opening a bookshop is akin, in some minds (my own, for instance), to opening a show—a sheerly theatrical event. There is no chance in hell that you will make much in the way of profit. There is a very slim chance of it succeeding longer than the requisite three year...

Observations

Children crave order in their lives. Given the seeming chaos aswirl about them, fixing on the specific edges of a particular blanket or a sequence of events that repeats regularly, like a nap time or snack time, offers them a sense of what and when. There is comfort...

It’s a calendared thing

It is a calendared thing To mark the beginning, And once again to start As if there’s an end to it, And the year is complete And something new commenced; As if you might do over, Or bid farewell and goodbye To what you have done— Little or all that it is; For what you...

The Bookseller’s Dilemma

Booksellers are a lot like actors. It is a cliche that actors will too often assume they are capable of the accomplishments of the characters they portray and come to believe that they know what a character actually felt. Booksellers often see themselves as possessing...

The Arrogance

I suppose it is the arrogance that offends me most. Not the stupidity. An individual can be correct and be arrogant and thus offensive. I am usually willing to forgive stupidity because such foolishness comes to me so easily. But stupidity, at least on a case by case...

Neither frangible nor fungible

That some would have you believe your liberties are fragile and must be protected by government, or that you must trade your liberty in one thing to have it in another, is in the very nature of tyrants, despots, and town clerks. Your freedom is your domain, alone....

The Keeper Jones: Weeds in the tall grass

[If you liked the previous posting, here's another from that novel, now renamed The Keeper Jones ]   The fact of the matter was, he did not like people. Simple as that. They were generally mean, smelly, short sighted, lazy, dull, boring and boorish creatures who were...

The Keeper Jones

[A new tidbit that might amuse from an older story to be readied for publication someday soon.]   April flowers: 2317     He usually wore an Irish tweed cap. This singular fact had become something of a trademark among his friends when sitting in on vid conferences....

A guest at the feast of memory

What we all must learn, I suppose, or else loose ourselves completely, is that very little in the world is really about us. My experience fifty years ago at Mark Hopkins College in Brattleboro Vermont was peripheral to that time and place—not secondary or marginal or...

Masha and the Bear

I have been a fairly consistent purveyor of doom for most of my adult life. It has been a regular theme in my daily discourse as well as in much of my work (As my children can attest), coupled with a theme that this catastrophe has been impeding for generations,...

That’s great! Against banality in it’s prime

I should be ashamed of myself, but I will probably use the word carelessly again this very day. But still, I am ashamed of myself for it. There is not an easier word to use for both what is in fact the best and what is simply terrific, or momentarily special, or even...

Novels & Novellas Available for Purchase

I Am William McGuire

I Am William McGuire

It’s a bloody Cro-Magnon world.
What’s a Neanderthal to do?

 

A Slepyng Hound to Wake

A Slepyng Hound to Wake

Leaving well enough alone is not good enough at all—not if the reason for a death is to be found in the life that was lost.
Hound

Hound

Henry Sullivan has made a simpler life for himself, finding and selling books. There is little room in it for either love or murder.

 

About

I have been informed by trusted authority that the short quip which I have placed here for the last year or so, by way of biography, lacks gravitas. “Over-paid by others for hyphenated jobs such as lawn-work, snow-shoveling, house-painting, office-boy, dish-washer, warehouse-grunt, table-waiter and hotel night-clerk–I’ve since chosen to be a writer, editor, publisher, and for most of my life, a bookseller, and even managed to occasionally pay myself. Hound is my first published novel.” And so it does. It is hard to be serious about so unserious a subject as oneself. But herewith, and keeping the ‘nasty bits’ (Brit expressions are so brilliant) to myself, I offer then, this ongoing post begun as posts at Small Beer Press. If anyone is interested, from time to time I will add something at the end to bring the epic closer to the present moment.

read more...