a feeling for all living things

It is odd that we have so little relationship with nature, with the insects and the leaping frog, and the owl that hoots among the hills calling for its mate. We never seem to have a feeling for all living things on the earth. If we could establish a deep, abiding relationship with nature, we would never kill an animal for our appetite, we would never harm, vivisect, a monkey, a dog, a guinea pig for our benefit. We would find other ways to heal our wounds, heal our bodies. But the healing of the mind is something totally different. That healing gradually takes place if you are with nature, with that orange on the tree, and the blade of grass that pushes through the cement, and the hills covered, hidden, by the clouds.

Jiddu Krishnamurti, Krishnamurti to Himself, p 10

belated lists for 2014

Happy New Year! Here are my belated lists of favorite books read and music listened to in 2014. Neither list is in any particular order. My reading slowed down in autumn when I took on Reiner Stach’s Kafka biographies. They ended up being my top favorites for the year, reminding me once again of my love for a good literary biography. As for music, it wasn’t a big year for new discoveries, but plenty of indulging in old favorites and a few newer passions from recent years. I tend to listen to music seasonally, so not all of these are in rotation year-round. I also plan to post a list of favorite films for the year, but that will take some extra time to compile as I don’t always make notes of what I watch.


Completed reads: 72
Abandoned reads: 4

1. Kafka: The Decisive Years by Reiner Stach
2. Kafka: The Years of Insight by Reiner Stach
3. The Notebook, The Proof, The Third Lie: Three Novels by Agota Kristof
4. To Whom It May Concern by Raymond Federman
5. The Will to Sickness by Gerhard Roth
6. Kaddish for an Unborn Child by Imre Kertész
7. Yes by Thomas Bernhard
8. It Then by Danielle Collobert
9. Selected Poems of René Char by René Char
10. Life, End of by Christine Brooke-Rose
11. I Am Lazarus: Stories by Anna Kavan
12. Topology of a Phantom City by Alain Robbe-Grillet
13. Mauve Desert by Nicole Brossard
14. Song of the West: Selected Poems by Georg Trakl
15. A Schoolboy’s Diary and Other Stories by Robert Walser


1. The Smiths
2. The Cure
3. Swans
4. Grails
5. Nadja
6. Jesu
7. Om
8. Lycia
9. Caudal
10. Boards of Canada
11. Gravenhurst (thanks, Dan; RIP Nick Talbot)
12. Nick Drake (mostly Pink Moon)
13. Skinny Puppy (mostly Remission, Bites, Rabies, & The Singles Collect)
14. Front Line Assembly (mostly The Initial Command & State of Mind)
15. Slowdive, with Low [live show with JFaunt ♥]
16. Helicon’s 29th Annual Winter Solstice Concert [live show]
17. Danny Paisley & The Southern Grass, with Chester River Runoff [live show]

my austrian gorge

I rung in the New Year with a vicious bout of gastroenteritis. It felt like 2012 was clawing its way out of my body. And now that it is gone I am empty. Perhaps it is good to start another year empty. Fill me up, 2013.

People say don’t take your health for granted. Every time I am ill I am reminded of this. For the world seen through sickened eyes is not the same as that seen through healthy eyes. One moves through life with somnambulistic motions. Gone are the little tendrils of thought so often coursing off in all directions. A single-mindedness takes over. I must drink some water. I must lie down. I must walk the dog. I must lie down again. Mere survival. Reading becomes impossible. Too much focus required. Staring into space becomes commonplace. Or glazing over in front of the telescreen. Anything to dull consciousness of the ill feelings.

Yesterday I worked from home. I was not well enough to return to the office, but there was work to be done, and I felt capable of doing it. Besides, the last thing I wanted to do was spread this plague to anyone else. I always find that I am more productive and efficient when I work from home. I’m not sure why this is. It may be that I am able to work in front of a window at home. One might think that this would lead to distraction and daydreaming but such is oddly not the case. I find it comforting. My bird friends come to visit, alighting in the crepe myrtle branches and hopping about on the porch roof. It keeps my spirits up and my mind focused on task. At the office I sit in a dim windowless womb in front of two screens, impassively observing my soul die a laborious death, each email and meeting appointment a tiny wound I am too dulled to deflect (in his typically dark style, Thomas Bernhard once wrote: “Instead of committing suicide, people go to work”).

Coming out of illness now, I am feeling tentative. My diet remains bland and simple. I miss coffee. The world still seems an unforgiving place. Outside the wind howls, chilling my weakened frame. But I can read again, and I find solace in Bernhard’s novel Correction. It is the perfect book for right now, with its hypnotic cadence, repetition, lack of paragraph breaks, dark subject matter. I feel poised above a rushing gorge in the Austrian wilderness.

Perhaps this is the worst 2013 had to hurl at me. Toxins now purged, I feel ready.

Soundtrack to this post:

Red Lorry Yellow Lorry — Nothing Wrong
Shipping News — Flies the Field
Metroschifter — Schift-Ship

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