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|Maedhros||Posted on Dec 16 2010, 08:25 AM|
Which is also one reason to why I find him appealing I guess, being drawn to mystics myself (as for example the above mentioned Etty Hillesum). I didn't know about Ratzinger's dissertation, I might even have to read that one if I can find it (as long as it's not written in his native German...) - would satisfy my interest for Bonaventura and for reading some of his writing.
I see, I think that's me being used to more or less all of the Christian American's I have encountered being far out on the right wing. Then again, I don't think any of them have been Catholics. Your point makes sense though, and really, many of the messages of the Gospels and Epistles (not to mention many saints, monastic movements and such) are about as communistic as they come, in the original sense of the word. In Sweden the Church (the old state church that is, which is by far the biggest one) is quite progressive, also on matters of sexuality and such though, which is another matter of course...
|Formendacil||Posted on Dec 15 2010, 12:12 PM|
I haven't personally read enough Bonaventure to have a strong opinion about him. I know that he tends to get associated with "Plato" as a counter to Thomas's association with "Aristotle," though Thomas is every bit as indebted to the (Neo-)Platonic tradition. However, even with that caveat aside, I know that the more Platonically-inclined of my theology friends tend to get a lot out of him.
He's also more of a mystic than Aquinas--which I would associate with being the first theologian/philosopher of the Franciscan tradition. However, since it's Aquinas we're talking about, it doesn't take much to be more of a mystic... he's rather epitomic of the *rational* variety of saint.
As a sidenote, it may be topically interesting to note that Fr. Ratzinger, years and years ago, did his doctoral dissertation on Bonaventure... which was considered a little too radical for the 1950s, and had to excise large signficant parts of the text to get it past the dissertation committee. It was recently published in its entirety.
On which note... it's dangerous to identify "left and right" in terms of politics with "conservative/liberal" in Church matters--although the use of the terminology DOES derive from a comparison, it's generally not a helpful comparison, because it gives more confusion than clarification. For example, the Church's social teaching is often more closely related to "leftist" concerns (witness, in Ameria, the historical trend of Catholics to vote Democrat, for social concerns).
And, yes... what passes for "right wing" in Europe barely passes for leftist here. Canada's sort of... middle of the road. Our Conservative Party (allegedly the right wing) has almost all the same policies of the Democrats in the States right now... but I would think that our leftier parties (too left for the States) would probably be considered centrist in Europe.
|Maedhros||Posted on Dec 14 2010, 01:22 AM|
Well, here I'd add that the situation in Swedish media is quite the opposite, with a very strong rightwing bias (then again what we in Sweden call right could in the US sometimes fit in with the Democratic party - I'm not sure about Canada...). Also, there's been an historical animosity at anything Catholic here, that I actually still think holds quite some sway, if in prejudice rather than outspoken (Sweden had its heyday of power in the Thirty Years War after all). Hopefully the closer ties to Poland that has grown after their EU membership could change that a bit...
And out of curiosity, what is your opinion of Bonaventura? He seems a bit in between the Platonic and Aristotelian traditions. I've come upon him since he's a Franciscan (which was my main field of study in my bachelor exam, but on a more personal level I am very much appealed by the Franciscan tradition as well) but his ideas are interesting to me in themselves. I really wish I had more time to delve into his works, as well as others...
|Formendacil||Posted on Dec 13 2010, 05:31 PM|
St. Augustine is probably the one who interests me more, as a saint, but as a philosopher I'm solidly in the Thomistic tradition. Augustine's heavily influenced by the Neo-Platonists, and as you can see from the Aristotle bit, I'm on the Aristotelian side of the Plato/Aristotle intuitive divide. Even in English, though, I can't deny that Aristotle is more of a slog to read than Plato. However, as the influence from philosophers is, to me, more in the idea than the expression, Aristotle and Thomas have the slots on this list.
The media have not been kind to him. They generally don't *lie* about anything he says, but they clearly dislike him, and, obviously, the liberal bias of the media doesn't sit well with Catholic moral positions. All the same, he is a gentlemanly old professor, and makes his points, when you read his own words, with very readable precision (ESPECIALLY for a German... the opposite of Kant and his ilk). I strongly recommend reading him... not so much to come to his way of thinking, but to realise that his way of thinking has a LOT of thought behind it, and is eminently reasonable, if you were to accept his premises. He's really a philosopher/theologian pope in the way few have been.
In that case, I should probably keep an eye out for it. His metaphysics are quibbly for me, but I can't debate his good artistic taste.
I would comment on your own picks, but my girlfriend beckons...
|Maedhros||Posted on Dec 13 2010, 03:01 PM|
| Thomas Aquinas is an interesting choice, can't say I'm an expert but the theology I do know is most often medieval, because of my studies. He is always interesting to read for his acute sense of logic and reasoning anyhow, whether one would agree with much of his views or not. My particular favourite would have to be Augustinus Hipponensis (St. Augustine), mainly because of his Confessiones though, which isn't so much of a theological tract. I also guess I might be biased towards him for the fact that his Latin is very pleasant to read, as opposed to quite a few other authors, both earlier and, before all, later (Medieval Latin is a messy business...).
I'm also a little curious about Ratzinger. He hasn't struck me as a very agreeable man as Pope, then again, I haven't read any of his written works, as you say...
Oh, and Aristotle (English derivations of Greek and Latin names always send a little shudder down my spine) is HEAVY, and I'd definitely consider loving any of his works beyond decency (Myself I'm more into Platon, might of course also have to do with me having read more of his work in the original language)
And by the way, Neil Gaiman said of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell that I mentioned earlier, that it was "unquestionably the finest English novel of the fantastic written in the last seventy years", so you might like it
Now, if I were to try a list similar to yours I think it would come to this:
1.) Joyce Carol Oates -- Goes without saying really.
2.) J.R.R. Tolkien -- Long time since I was deep in his works, but his world is always there, somewhere in the back of my head.
3.) Etty Hillesum -- Her diaries have probably changed my worldview more than anything else, with an unconditional love and outlook on life that resonates powerfully within me.
4.) Margaret Atwood -- Well, she's quite brilliant, and has a wide field of expertise.
5.) J.K. Rowling -- Sometimes I have a hard time justifying my love of her books to myself but I'd be a liar to say they haven't been very important to me through the years.
6.) Viriginia Woolf -- Changed my view of literature. uses the language in ways rarely seen. Also tells wonderfully subtle stories rarely to be seen.
7.) J.M. Barrie -- I honestly don't know what my life had been without Peter Pan.
8.) William Morris -- A political thinker who was also an artist and poet, ain't that great? I also like that his main political work is a work of fiction (if a bit naive I'd guess) about another society rather than a heavy tome on economics.
9.) Tove Jansson -- I always like children's stories that adults can appreciate as well. Her works I might even say I appreciate more now than as a child.
10.) Jonas Hassen Khemiri -- An author who tests the limits of the Swedish language in very interesting ways.
11.) Isabel Allende -- I love how the magical is simply normal in her books, how it's just part of the world.
12.) Ovidius - Well, I guess I had to throw in one old Roman here, being a Latinist. I loved reading his Metamorphoses.
13.) Jean-Jacques Rousseau -- It's been a while since I thought of him, and he's frankly quite a disturbing fellow. His writings will stay with me though, even though they irritate me as much as they inspire me.
14.) Carsten Jensen -- Actually I've only read one book of his, but it was quite a mindblowing one (even to the point that I've considered trying my hand at it in the original Danish). I've also encountered quite a bit of his journalistic work and find myself admiring that side of his career as well.
15.) Douglas Adams -- The Hitchhiker's Guide of course... what more is there to say?
|Formendacil||Posted on Dec 13 2010, 11:15 AM|
Given that I'm still fairly active on the Barrow-downs forum (the only Tolkien forum I've ever registered on), and given that I'm writing an article his Poetry for potential publication, I can hardly say I've been a bad fanboy... a bad student, maybe, but not a bad fanboy.
It's interesting you mention Margaret Atwood, because I'm finishing up a paper on her short story, "The Age of Lead," for my critical theory class, and I wrote my other paper in the same class on her poem "Variations on the Word Sleep." I'd never actually read anything by her previous to this semester, and I hadn't planned to focus on her... it just sort of happened. She is, if nothing else, both interesting and lucid.
Indeed. And I think it's largely for this reason that I've been consistently dissatisfied with most other fantasy I've encountered. Whereas Tolkien's inspirations are mythology and history, and this show through... most other fantasy authors' inspiration is... other fantasy authors. It's at least one more remove from the source, and like Tolkien "I much prefer history."
Well, that's a moderator's mention of interest--about all the go-ahead I need. And, if I want to get legalistically defensive, one need not write fiction to be an "inspiration." Ideas may come from anywhere. On that topic of ethos again, one's metaphysical understanding of the real world definitely plays into how one creates a fictional world.
So, what follows below is a copy of the Facebook meme, with the rules quoted to give some context. The authors are in roughly descending order, but I would take them too exactly.
The rules: 15 authors who will always stick with you, written up in a time-frame of no longer than 15 minutes. Don't take too long to think. Then, tag fifteen friends in your note. The people who have been tagged are then tasked with coming up with 15 authors of their own, and tagging an additional 15 friends - including the friend who originally tagged them.
1.) J.R.R. Tolkien (really, if you didn't guess him, you don't know me)
2.) Aristotle --*loved* the Nicomachean Ethics to a level beyond what most people consider decent for a philosophy text.
3.) G.K. Chesterton --he thinks like a snake and writes like a dove.
4.) Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman --because for all that I can't claim to have read much of him (there is that "yet" lingering there, perpetually), even the first chapter of the Idea of a University defines my mentality regarding higher education...
5.) Benedict XVI (aka Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) --his ideas are beautifully clear, and wonderfully thought out. Anyone who judges this pope based on what the media says needs to actually *read* something he's written. Even if the disagreement still remains, I don't think an open-minded person could actually say he's not a brilliantly nuanced mind.
6.) Arthur Conan Doyle --for Sherlock Holmes, obviously.
7.) William Shakespeare --I can't say there's a particular play that sticks with me, or even that I'd take him to that mythical desert island if I was trapped there (unless there's still room post-HoME), but he frames my "adult" understanding of English in an important way, and I genuinely enjoy him.
8.) St. Thomas Aquinas--again, not for anything *particular* he wrote. In this case for the high level of intuitive congruence between his philosophy and my way of thinking.
9.) C.S. Lewis --Narnia predated Middle-earth and was my introduction to fantasy (and to Tolkien). He's also written some excellent other works (Till We Have Faces; his Science-Fiction trilogy). I enjoy his Christian-centric works, but can't say I've been heavily influenced by them--save maybe way back in the early teen years.
10.) Neil Gaiman --because everything new I read by him I can't put down, even when it pushes my metaphysical buttons the wrong way.
11.) Evelyn Waugh --solely for Brideshead Revisited, one of the few pieces of "normal" (aka, not in a genre) of fiction-literature that I both enjoyed and found resonated exactly with my way of thinking.
12.) John Le Carré --because I agree with Dr. McNamara that he writes good literature, besides the fact that he's a good read.
13.) Agatha Christie --because for all that she may not be "great" fiction, I've read her corpus twice over.
14.) P.D. James --much like Christie, only I think I like her more. The Anglo-Catholic mentality helps, of course.
15.) William Faulkner --well, we'll see about him. He's here because of this semester... we'll see if he sticks around.
|Maedhros||Posted on Dec 12 2010, 04:37 PM|
I think I might have some year or two ago (when perusing Parma Eldalamberon and such, ah, those were the days!), but I've been a really bad fanboy lately... So I'll bow to your almighty Tolkien fandomness!
Your points about Tolkien are interesting, and I find myself agreeing with you on the ethos part, and for me coming from a non-christian* angle I guess that's even more important. Then again I do appreciate Narnia as well, but those books do wear me out a bit. One thing I also like about Tolkien, and that I think makes him not really fit in with the later fantasy genre that he's perceived as the father of is the nature of myths that his stories have. That's of course much more apparent in his early days when his goal of creating a mythos for England was quite outspoken (with Romans fighting elves and all that) but the "mythic feel" is still there even in his latest works. I'd always rather compare him to the Kalevala and old germanic stories than to Robert Jordan or David Eddings for example.
I must also say I found it interesting to re-read this topic, and look at my old messages for that matter. Now, if I would review my thoughts on this topic and write them down a bit more clearly it might just look a bit like this:
For me, the one great author, the Author, is Joyce Carol Oates. No one has influenced my writing style more I dare say, and no one has influenced the way I look at writing and literature more. She also has the added bonus of actually having great stories to tell as well (as opposed to for example Virginia Woolf, I'll get to her later). Now, the problem is that the sheer number of novels she has written is so big it's not even funny, thus one rarely knows where to start, and I've read far too few of her books really. I'll name two though: Blonde and My Sister, My Love.
Blonde is probably her best book, in any case the best piece of literature I've ever held in my hands I would say. I'm never going to forget the feeling I had as I finished it, the feeling that no matter what will happen, I'll never read anything as good again. I'm not going to go into great detail of the story (it's based on the life of Marilyn Monroe) but I can say that this is a book that has it all: all the storytelling perspectives you'd ever think of and maybe even more, an extremely moving story, actually some (bitter) humour and a powerful message for that matter.
As for My Sister, My Love, that's probably the most disgusting and downright unpleasant book I've ever read, and that might of course not sound so nice, and indeed reading it wasn't at all times, but in saying disgusting and unpleasant I mean it in a good way: this book will disturb you. It's also a masterpiece of literary technique and creativity, being told through diaries, letters, footnotes etc.
Another author I like is Margaret Atwood (and she also seems like a nice person as opposed to Oates who I actually find somewhat scary). Her style is not as distinct and interesting (she has a wonderful way of playing with words and their meanings that I like though) but she also tells really good stories, and gets into the characters' heads in a way that I rarely see. From her I'd most recommend some of her works of science fiction: Oryx&Crake and before all its sequel The Year of the Flood are both very good, and carry powerful messages of what on earth is happening in our societies right now.
I've already mentioned Virginia Woolf. A book by her will first and foremost be a tour de force in literary technique. Her writing might be the most interesting I know but after having read one of her books I rarely find myself being able to tell anyone what it was about: "Well, there were some people... talking... thinking... going about their everyday business..." You don't read her books for some relaxing entertainment, if your mind drifts you'll lose track of what's up immediately, the little track that you had that is... I realize she might seem a bit hard to appreciate but I'd warmly recommend anyone to try one of her books, to get some new persepctives on writing. Right now I'm reading The Years; Jacob's Room is also a very good one.
That's three big names, let's drop a few others:
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. The best piece of fantasy I've read in a very long time. The sheer length might be a bit intimidating but it really is a wonderful book: humourous, creepy, and wonderfully gentlemanly in a charming British way (being set in early 19th century Britain). About two magicians trying to revive English magic, meddling with fairies, partaking in the Napoleonic wars etc...
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. A murder mystery in a medieval monastery. What more can you wish for, really? Eco is also very educated; this stuff is very true to the time and place, despite having a fictional storyline of course.
The Master and Margarita by Michail Bulgakov. A satire of the cultural elite of the early Soviet era, the Devil arranging a ball, his minions going about doing mischiefs in Moscow. Again, what more can you wish for, really?
Then there's of course J.K. Rowling. I'm not ashamed of loving her books! (the names of the spells often irritates me as a latinist of course though...)
Well, I guess one could go on for quite a while, but there's a bit to think about at least.
I'd also be interested in your other favourites, Formy, but perhaps theologians and philosophers might need another topic...
*I'd guess non-christian really doesn't apply these days. Hanging out with a bunch of Franciscan tertiaries, going regularly to the local church and even having held a few short what one might call sermons there it'd feel somewhat stupid to deny I'm some sort of a christian...
|Formendacil||Posted on Dec 12 2010, 03:18 PM|
| Interesting... I just did a survey of "15 favourite authors" on Facebook, so the question's been in my mind of late. However, I don't feel like I can simply copy-and-paste from Facebook, because I did not treat "author" as a "fiction author" but simple as "author of a book," and quite a few philosophers and theologians made appearances, as a result.
Granted, this thread doesn't seem to be especially limited to fiction authors either, but it seems more faithful to the spirit of a creative writing-focused forum if I restrict myself to fiction authors.
In either case, the #1 favourite author is the same: J.R.R. Tolkien. Qwilly claims to see his influence in my work, and while I don't deny the charge, I am rather too close to it to see it myself. Personally, I think Tolkien's influence is strongest for me in terms of 1.) world-building and 2.) ethos.
In the case of 1.), I definitely picked up a strong love of history and the suggestiveness of history's untold stories, and world-making is something that continues to capture whenever I find it somewhere done well (there are, alas, myriads of examples of it being done... but not feeling done well. Done, that is, for the sake of having it, not for the sake of loving it.)
In the second case, regarding ethos, my favourite part about Middle-earth is that it is not an allegory--in fact, Tolkien's line about cordially disliking allegory in all of its manifestations and preferring history, true or feigned, is something of a personal motto. I'm a Catholic, and I knew and loved Narnia before I read Tolkien, but I've always felt "cheated" by the allegories in there--they steal from the "reality" of the story. Likewise, I was enchanted by Philip Pullman in "The Golden Compass" et al, but feel like he betrayed art by deliberately making it an anti-Narnia. Like Tolkien (probably because of Tolkien), I want telling a good story to be the first concern when a story is being told. The better the story, the more applicable it will be to life's lessons... but those will be found and applied by the reader, not forced there by the author.
So, yes... still a major Tolkien fanboy... indeed, THE major Tolkien fanboy, just in case someone dared challenge me.
|Sir Zeppelin||Posted on Dec 12 2010, 02:53 PM|
|Tokien has inspired me, but he hasn't inspired me the most. Raymond E. Feist's novels are a major source of my inpiration. Other authors are Roald Dahl (yes, a children's books author, but a great one nonetheless), Larry McMurphy (Lonesome Dove is a classic of our time), Micheal Shaara (Killer Angels. End of story), Louis L'Amour (not a great author, but a wonderfull storyteller), and Ernest Hemingway (The Old Man and the Sea is one of my favorites.).|
|Maedhros||Posted on Mar 11 2008, 02:34 AM|
I still stand by my comment that you ought to try something else every now and then