Monday, July 31, 2017

Some Old Friends Spark Joy (Whilst Kondo-ing My Library)

Elvis approves
I moved. And of course, this involved oodles of Kondo-ing.

For those who missed the phenomenon of Japanese tidying expert Marie Kondo: She says the way to do it is to pick up each object and ask yourself, does this spark joy? If so, keep it (even if it's a raggedy T-shirt), and if not (even if it's a brand new suede sofa that cost a heap), thank it, then chuck it--or donate it or sell it, or whatever, but get it out of your space. Many organizers and sundry pundits have dismissed Kondo-ing as "woo woo." Too bad for them because, by Jove, by whatever Shinto spirit you want to name, or the god Pan, or Elvis Presley, it works.

My personal and working library is at last in good order, and I am delighted to share with you, dear and thoughtful reader, just a few of the many old friends that sparked much joy:



See this post that mentions the luminous Sara Mansfield Taber: 


Both of these books made my annual top 10 book read lists.



I often quote from Rupert Isaacson's The Healing Land in my literary travel writing workshops.


Taking the advice in Neil Fiore's The Now Habit enabled me to finish my novel.

David Allen's GTD saves the bacon every time.

Back in 2010 Regina Leeds contributed a guest-blog:



I have a sizable collection of books about books. Books for me are heaven.
I wrote a bit about book history in my recent longform Kindle,



Sophy Burnham is best known for her works on angels, 
but she has a sizable body of outstanding work of literary essay / sociology. 
Her The Landed Gentry was especially helpful for me for understanding 
some of the characters in one of my books.
Doormen by Peter Bearman... that merits a post...


Drujienna's Harp was one of my very favorite novels 
when I was first starting to read novels.
As for The Golden Key, pictured right, 
my copy was left for some days by an open window in the rain 
back in 1960-something, but I have saved it and I always shall.


> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.






Monday, July 24, 2017

Roopa Pai Decodes the Bhagavad Gita, the Holy Book that Predates Organized Religion

The other day a Mexican Spiritist author sent me some questions about how Spiritism influenced Francisco I. Madero as the leader of Mexico's 1910 Revolution and as president of Mexico (1911-1913)-- so the topic has once again been on my mind. Of course, as those of you have read my book about Madero's secret book of 1911, and/or who been following this blog well know, Madero's Spiritist Manual is more than a rehash of ye olde Kardecian Spiritism: Madero stirs in sprinkles and cupfuls of all sorts of esoteric ideas from other authors and occult tradition. Also reflected in his Spiritist Manual is Madero's avid interest in the Hindu Holy Book of 700 verses in 18 chapters known as the Bhagavad Gita.

> See my post on Madero's commentary on the Gita.

And there, in the Bhagavad Gita, is where I believe we can find the answer to another more frequently asked question, how did a Spiritist, supposedly devoted to brotherly love and peace, pick up arms and fight a revolution?

The Bhagavad Gita is about war. It is also about the afterlife and life itself, down to some very earthy, very granular levels. Because I have since moved on to work on another, very different book-- a travel memoir about Far West Texas (in which Madero makes a cameo appearance, of course, because the 1910 Revolution started at the border)-- I have not been able to go into the detail about the Bhagavad Gita that the subject warrants. So I was very pleased to find and be able to link to this TEDx talk by Roopa Pai about the Gita, "India's book of answers." Pai calls the Gita "a shining moral compass for guidance"; "a primer on the art of civilized debate"; "a killer app for contentment"; "the ultimate equal rights manifesto"; "the original monograph on free trade"; "the original tree huggers handbook"; "the Indian book on baby names"; and "a mathematical treatment on the mobius strip called karma."

Roopa Pai's is the best short introduction I have yet found to the Gita, and I highly recommend it.





P.S. In addition to the link to Roopa Pai's talk on the Gita, you will find many more resources for researchers on the webpage for my book, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual.

> Resources for Researchers (films and videos)




Monday, July 10, 2017

My Great Great Great Uncle, De Witt Clinton Boutelle, Painter of the Hudson River School

Untitled (Hudson River Landscape with Indian) 1848
De Witt Clinton Boutelle
Chrysler Museum of Art
Apart from trying to finish my book on Far West Texas and the overdue prologue for a friend's most unusual and outstanding book and moving house (half the books now in boxes, my train of thoughts surely must be bubble-wrapped into one or three of them) and see about querying publishers for various projects and translations, and trying also (also!) to not fall too woefully behind with email (... am trying to take my own advice...), this week I got wrapped up with some thunderous family news... precisely, of the existence of De Witt Clinton Boutelle (1820 - 1884), a great great great uncle who was, lo and behold, a remarkably talented painter of the Hudson River School. My sister, thanks to Google, found his grave. And from there it was all open sesame.

> More about the Hudson River Landscape with Indian of 1848 in the Chrysler Museum.

> Here is De Witt Clinton Boutelle's "Indian Surveying a Landscape" 1855, in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. (I note that it was purchased from a private collection in Springfield MA.)

> And here is Boutelle's 1873 portrait of Asa Packer.

> And a bunch more of Boutelle's landscapes at artnet.

> Even more at https://americangallery19th.wordpress.com/category/boutelle-dewitt-c/ .

> And a note on Boutelle's "Catskills Mountain House" of 1845.


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> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.