Three new books last week. Each very different. And each meaningful and/or important, at least to me.
I am one week away from the end of this strange, interrupted semester at Webster University.
My last summer trip has just been canceled.
So, with a week to go, I’m thinking of what this summer may be, and realizing that it won’t be like any summer in my last 20 years.
I’m taking a ‘diploma’ course in Jungian archetypes. One-hundred-fifty hours of work! I’ll start this later this week, I think, and pick away at it 10-12 hours a week.
My summer conference about the teaching of contemporary commercial music vocal techniques is canceled, so no trip to Virginia in July. I’ll take the course on-line in its virtual form instead.
My trip to Puerto Rico was already canceled, and it looks like I’ll not be going to New York this summer, either.
So, two courses . . . and books.
I’ve set out some serious reading this summer. Some Albert Camus. Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. Believe it or not, War and Peace, which I’ve never read. Perhaps the Wolf Hall trilogy.
And the piles of books about voice-teaching and teaching psychology and story-telling through song . . . all of which have been on the pile for some time now.
I’ll need to pay attention to the body as well. In this eighth week of physical distance, my weight has only gone up slightly, but it needs to come down for the sake of my joints, my heart, and my liver.
I’m betting this summer will also have a pile of Webster work too, since I’m anticipating prepping for on-line instruction (at least partially) of the musicianship course I teach.
From a Webster University student this week:
Many of my daylight hours on Tuesday were spent with cufflinks and books.
The Missing Link is a local store in Chelsea. I’ve written about them before.
And I spent too much . . . ahem, time . . . there on Tuesday, leaving with eleven new-to-me pairs of cufflinks. A sampling:
I went through these trays to find eleven pairs that cried out for me:
I could have done some real damage, with $300-500 cufflinks available:
But I left happy!
After lunch of chicken and a biscuit . . .
I headed to the Grolier Club for two extraordinary exhibits. One was written up in the New York Times last week:
From the miniature book exhibit:
On Facebook a few days ago, a former student, posting about a book: “It’s been a while since a book made me cry so hard.”
In the mood for a good novel to read whilst on sabbatical, I asked the Webster library to find the book for me.
And so it was that on Friday I began reading The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.
From the Daily Mail: “Extraordinary. . . . Beautifully descriptive and heartachingly lyrical, this is a love story as sensitive and intuitive as any you will find.”
The prose is clean, spare, achingly beautiful, if not a trifle over-written at times. Some of the sentences left me breathless. This is tour-de-force writing, and an astounding first novel.
I wrote Yufei tonight, saying “I knew the legend before the I started reading. I knew the ending. And yet when the inevitable came, and the voice changed and stilled, I found myself weeping.” The novel’s last two pages were gut-crunching in their ache and their beauty.
I agree with Christian: it’s been a long time since a book made me cry this hard. I had an ugly cry Sunday evening as I put the book down, my breath heaving in sorrow . . . my heart wishing the story to be true . . . my soul longing to talk to the man who makes it complete, but who is in China right now. Patroclus’ gentle, persistent loneliness spoke deeply to me in that moment.
I have finished another book. Now starting to work on a history of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s collaborations.
I’ve finished two books this week.
This was a thoughtful read, and one that I deeply appreciate. The guided meditations and ponderations have been fruitful. I needed this book this summer.
I’m recommending this book for every academic department chair, dean, academic affairs officer. This is an important read. My take-aways are many and plentiful!
The Great Hall of the Austrian National Library is a Baroque wonder. Built by Emperor Karl VI in the 1700s, it has survived the empire, the Nazis, and the tourists. And it’s stunning.
My visit on Thursday could have lasted hours.
Facing the center of the hall is the extraordinary collection from military hero and aesthete Prince Eugene of Savoy, who built the Belvedere as well.