📚 23 - May
Not necessarily a good reading month for me, but I paid a lot more attention to the texts that I normally do.
Ursula K. Le Guin (1968). The Wizard of Earthsea.
I thought this book was published in the 1980s! I'm not super plugged into the world of SFF, but I normally associate fantasy novels of the 1960s with the paperback knights-on-muscular-horses, damsel-in-emerald-wooded-background type of high fantasy that I assumed this book to be retrospectively "in response to." Goes to show what fools we all can be.
A fun read—a young man's coming-of-age as he chases, from island to island, an evil that he himself has brought forth into the world. The ending was both inevitable and surprising. The scope of the time (and the hero's growth as a character, from naive to cocky to laid-low to wise) is shown richly in the text by his adventures along the way. Characters are encountered and then disappear; locales are entered briefly, interacted with, and then left abruptly with the hero seemingly unchanged. The hero goes to an island, he's unwelcome, so he hurries and leaves without doing much of anything. These types of scenes, any one of which could be cut as superfluous, accrete to give the story its richness.
Aldous Huxley (1945). The Perennial Philosophy.
Strongly recommend this book to anyone dipping their toes in mystical religion or trying to find an (emotionally/psychically) accessible way into religious thought. (And who isn't??) The book aligned almost exactly with my own spiritual experiences and intuitions—and, for better or worse, my own experiences and intuitions are all I have to rely on.
An introduction to mystical spirituality in which Huxley argues that there's a set of precepts that are the "Highest Common Factor in all preceding and subsequent theologies." Much of the book is quotes from texts/thinkers across traditions, and it is divided into themed chapters (e.g. "Charity," "Prayer," "Grace and Free Will") that are presented almost as corollaries of a shared underlying truth about how to access spiritual transcendence or, perhaps more realistically speaking, live a spiritually fulfilling life. For example, if you try to extend infinite loving charity to all around you, non-attachment will spring from that, which will allow you to be spiritual at all times, which translates expanding your sense of loving charity...
Huxley is also quite opinionated. Lord help me, tomorrow I'll be infinitely magnanimous, but today I'll be petty and delight in how much Huxley despises Martin Luther.###