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From the HB newsletter

On Friday, September 27, Mr. King will be joining us at Harvard Yard's Memorial Church to read from and discuss Doctor Sleep, his long-anticipated sequel to The Shining. Tickets go on sale online only at 9am on Monday, August 5, will be $35 each, and will include a first edition of Doctor Sleep. Find all the event details, and some important information about tickets and signed books, here.
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_The Notation Is Not the Music_
Barthold Kuijken (Indiana University Press, 2013)

Written by a leading authority and artist of the historical transverse flute, The Notation Is Not the Music offers invaluable insight into the issues of historically informed performance and the parameters--and limitations--of notation-dependent performance. As Barthold Kuijken illustrates, performers of historical music should consider what is written on the page as a mere steppingstone for performance. Only by continual examination and reexamination of the sources to discover original intent can an early music practitioner come close to authentic performance.


Jul. 8th, 2013 03:14 pm
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This video of tips from on making the most from your practice
is fascinating after just finishing _Guitar Zero_, as they are the same points made by the psychologist-author of _Guitar Zero_. Both emphasize the need to practice slowly and carefully so the student doesn't make learn bad habits, which are difficult to unlearn, and both mention that the foundation of playing well is through hours of practice, so that what starts out as a bunch of small steps requiring mental focus, such as chord changes, become an unthinking process where all those little parts merge into a whole.
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_Guitar zero : The new musician and the science of learning_ Gary F. Marcus (2012)

I loved this book, and I will be keeping it in the reread pile, because it is full of useful information for the would-be guitar player of any age. It is also suitable for the general reader, gently introducing some of the more technical terms used in both neuroscience and music theory, but never becoming bogged down with jargon. It's real strength, however, is that it provides a strong dose of encouragement for any adult who has thought of learning to play a musical instrument but felt overwhelmed by what seems to be the steep learning curve.
continued below cut )
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Yesterday Alexx and his dad took me to the Music Emporium in Arlington to pick out a guitar, and the second one I tried turned out to be the most perfect guitar, for me, which I have ever held. It's a smaller scale folk and blues Seagull guitar (the brand did not influence my decision, but it did seem like a sign), and it even has a matte finish, instead of the highly varnished finish which I never liked. I've already forgotten which woods it is made from, but it has the bell-like tone I like. Alexx even found a blue guitar strap which has golden Wicker Man suns on it. I love my new guitar so much that last night I slept with it. Actually, it's that I need to find a space for it in the Closet of Mysteries (which stays somewhat cooler than the aerye). Anyway, I am short enough that I can have the guitar in its case at the foot of my bed and still have plenty of room for sleeping.

Then E. came to visit, and brought more Christmas presents: a nifty little lantern that burns tea light candles, a book titled _The Lady and Her Monsters: A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankensteins, and Mary Shelley's Masterpiece_, and, my favorite, blue and gold socks embroidered with the word "bookworm."

Last, but not least, Alexx bought me a Kindle ebook:
_Selections from the Carmina Burana: A New Verse Translation (Penguin Classics)_.
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I am really lusting after this book

_The Carmina Burana: Songs from Benediktbeuern (Second Edition)_
by Tariq William Marshall (Apr 15, 2013)

which is not available in e-format, although a reviewer claims that an extra when you buy the paper book is a downloadable version.

As the format being used for the downloadable files is PDF, which has about a fifty-fifty chance of being accessible with my screenreader program, I am wondering if anyone has bought this book and tried out the downloadable content, specifically, is the PDF just image files, and does it have the highest setting of DRM attached, which locks out screen readers?
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Alexx nobly patched together my fragmented and slightly scrambled scan of _Seven Greeks_ translated by Guy Davenport, which features seven Greek poet/performers who chronologically came after Homer and Hesiod but before the classical period. This translation was made by a poet, not a classical scholar, and this reflects its strength and its weakness: it is a highly quotable translation which reflects many of the concerns and attitudes of our modern century, but is not necessarilyt as accurate a translation as the classical scholar would approve of.

Archilochos, who lived in the 7 century BC, was a soldier-poet whose poems are pretty much concerned with two subjects: fighting and sex. Through the first century or so, he was one of the most famous of Greek poets, as well-known as Homer, and one of aphorisms is still quoted often, although most have no idea who the original author was:
The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog just one big thing.

Classical scholar William Harris has placed his own translation and notes online at

Read more... )
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It seems that searching the galaxy for your buddy's lost brain is period, dating to at least the Renaissance.

I only found this out this week, while reading Umberto Eco's _The Infinity of Lists_ which is, surprise, a collection of literary lists.

You can read the appropriate canto from _Orlando_ here
beginning at:

block quote begin
LXXIII. He, that with other scope had thither soared,
Pauses not all these wonder to peruse:
But led by the disciple of our Lord,
His way towards a spacious vale pursues;
A place wherein is wonderfully stored
Whatever on our earth below we lose.
end block quote

And here is a brief description of some of the lists in Eco's book:

begin block quote
The history of literature is full of obsessive collections of objects. Sometimes these are fantastic, such as the things (as Ariosto tells us) found on the moon by Astolfo, who had gone there to retrieve Orlando's brain. Sometimes they are disturbing, such as the list of malign substances used by the "witches in Shakespeare's Macbeth. Sometimes they are ecstasies of perfumes, such as the collection of flowers that Marino describes in his Adonis. Sometimes they are poor and essential, such as the collection of flotsam that enables Robinson Crusoe to survive on his island, or the poor little treasure that Mark Twain tells us Tom Sawyer put together. Sometimes they are dizzyingly normal, such as the huge collection of insignificant objects in the drawer of Leopold Bloom's kitchen sideboard in Joyce's Ulysses...
block quote end
from _The Infinity of Lists_ by Umberto Eco
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I recently read an excerpt of this autobiographical essay in a past issue of "Lapham's Quarterly," and went looking for the entire essay, which reminded me of the writings of one of my favorite authors, Walter de la Mare. It turned out to be, as far as I could tell, only available in a collection of Hesse's essays titled _Autobiographical Writings_, which has not been reprinted since 1972. As I don't see any way in which I could be depriving the author of royalties by sharing it, I have uploaded the entire essay to SendSpace so others could read it. Here is the link, though I haven't used SendSpace in awhile so tell me if I got it wrong

begin quote
Fortunately, like most children, I had learned what is most valuable, most indispensable for life before my school years began, taught by apple trees, by rain and sun, river and woods, bees and beetles, taught by the god Pan, taught by the dancing idol in my grandfather's treasure room. I knew my way around in the world, I associated fearlessly with animals and stars. I was at home in orchards and with fishes in the water, and I could already
sing a good number of songs. I could do magic too, a skill that I unfortunately soon forgot and had to relearn at a very advanced age--and I possessed all the legendary wisdom of childhood.
end of quote
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subtitled: What to read instead of Dan Brown's _Inferno_

Set in Venice, _The Abomination_ is an action-packed conspiracy thriller which features two strong female protagonists: Kat, a captain in the Italian military police who is working her first homicide, and Holly, an American Army intelligence officer who just arrived at her new post in Venice.
Holly's first day at work involves what she thinks is just an annoying paperwork task, but soon she realizes that there is much more going on....something involving old secrets which someone doesn't want to see the light of day.

Kat and Holly also find themselves getting entangled with a notorious hacker who has created an online world called Carnivia, which is a virtual representation of the city of Venice itself, and, as in a number of Walter Jon Williams's most recent novels, this virtual world reflects many of the cultural tensions of the realtime world upon which it is based.

Holt obviously did a tremendous amount of research for this thriller, and his characters come across as believable, flawed but sympathetic. _The Abomination_ has not one but two female protagonists who are both literally kickass characters, but are also complex modern women in male-dominated professions, where sexism creates just as many complications for them as criminal activities. More than once I found myself checking that this book had been written by a male author, which I realize reflects my own personal bias, but hey, as a female reader I have had my heart broken more than a few times by male authors who promised me a strong independent woman who soon turned out to be a brain-numb nympho with improbable breasts who had to be rescued by her much stronger and smarter boyfriend.

I didn't actually finish Dan Brown's new novel, _Inferno_, but I did get somewhere between halfway to two-thirds of the way through it before being so completely icked out by the characterizations of female characters that I had to stop. It's an interesting thing about the three female characters in _Inferno_: the good women are distinguished by the fact that they reallyreallyreally want to have children. On the other hand, if you are born female and a genius, this will totally mess you up psychologically, including making your hair fall out and causing you to be so confused by normal human emotions and relationships that you will remain a virgin until you are in your thirties, at which time you will likely fall for a sociopathic geneticist who claims there is evidence supporting Malthus's theory of overpopulation so, despite your medical training and your supposed grasp of logic, you will play Pinky to his Brain and join him in instigating a pandemic which will solve the world overpopulation problem, and somewhere in there there will be some really superficial references to Dante's _Inferno_.

But I'm not going to rant about Dan Brown's writing, promise.
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This time Brown turns his hand to interpreting Dante's _Inferno_, which is also the title of Brown's novel. I can't say how it works as literature, but I am finding it a potent soporific, despite the little surges of indignation-inspired adrenaline which it repeatedly produces in my system. According to a doctor in the novel, Malthus's theory of apocalyptic overpopulation was correct, and it can be supported with "potent facts," because it is "the truth." I predict that soon there will be a surge of articles and books exploring this, er, robust theory.

Also, it is the protagonist's super-abilities as a "symbologist" which allows him to interpret literature on multiple levels, as opposed to the rest of us unsophisticated readers who only perceive the literal meaning.

I am taking a page from Umberto Eco's book, however, and trying to read the novel through Eco's declaration that Dan Brown is actually one of Eco's imaginary characters. The suspension of disbelief is not working very well, however, because, to me, Eco's writing is like the most beautiful colorful poetry written upon the most luxurious vellum, complex in both its physical and intellectual forms, while Brown's writing makes me think of beige Crayon on the thinnest of toilet paper.
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Last week I scanned a paper copy of Guy Davenport's _Seven Greeks_, which is a collection of his translations of the writings of seven Greek poets who came after Homer and Hesiod

The page design must have been in two columns, however, because the scanned text came out all scrambled.

But when your scanner gives you scrambled eggs, it's time to make souffle.

So I have been piecing the scrambled fragments together by going to Google and entering the search terms of the title of the book and then the last phrase which I know was in the correct sequence, like this

"Seven Greeks" "The trap's spring."

And I get back a result like this:

7 Greeks - Page 45 - Google Books Result
1995 - Poetry
115 Gently cock The trap's spring. 116 Let us sing, Ahem, Of Glaukos who wore The pompadour. 117 Damp crotch. 118 Where, where, O Entias, Is the guidon ...

(You may have already realized that this Archilochos guy was more than slightly obscene at times. but, hey, he was a soldier-poet so his two favorite subjects are sex and fighting.)

Anyway, I then take the results and go correct my scanned text. It is both time- and mind-consuming, and I often find I have been doing it for hours without realizing it.

But this morning I realized something--well, two things, actually.

1. I am insane.
2. I am getting a metatextual experience of the fragmentary nature of the texts which is very similar to the scholars who pieced together the original paper fragments.

And *that* is pretty cool.

For my sighted friends who have never had the experience of reconstructing a patchy scanned text, here is a link to an online project which allows people to help piece together papyrus fragments in the British Library.

Ancient Lives
is a collaboration between a diverse group of Oxford papyrologists and researchers in the Departments of Classics and Astrophysics, the Imaging Papyri Project, the Oxyrhynchus Papyri Project, the Egypt Exploration Society and the Citizen Science Alliance, a collaborative body of universities and museums dedicated to allowing everyone to make a meaningful contribution to scientific research.
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From a book on the Knights Templar which I am currently reading:

block quote start
While in camp, or while in a castle in wartime, the brothers were not allowed to go out without permission, in case of ambush. Nor were they allowed to go out foraging or to reconnoitre on their own initiative. A lone horseman was very vulnerable to attack. Bishop Jacques de Vitry recounted an anecdote of a Templar caught in a Muslim ambush who saved himself by making his horse leap off the cliff road into the sea (the horse died, but he survived).
block quote end
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While I'm kind of at a loss for the popular fascination with zombies, I seem to have developed a sudden addiction for reading academic books about zombies in popular culture. The book I am currently reading was very obviously scanned from a paper version of the book and, frankly, I think zombies could have done a better job of it.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about. What I wanted to mention was that sometimes one comes across a scanno which opens up all sorts of new ideas.

The one which I am particularly fascinated by is one scholar's statement that, zombies, unlike other varieties of monster, do not have a long narrative history, unlike, say _Dracula_, written by *Brain Stoker.*

Let's see: _Dracula_ contains piles and piles of maundering prose, and Stoker *was* a theatrical agent...

I think that an argument could be made that Brain Stoker was some variety of evil zombie. Really, I want to read the book where Brain Stoker, the zombie theatrical agent, and Robbie Stevenson, the wimpy ailing guy with a split personality, team up to solve a mystery, possibly located in an alternate London where Holmes only accepts cases from those who are not life-impaired.
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despite the fact that, as I have mentione on previous occasions, I am not a fan of zombie stories.

1. Gregory is a genre trickster, a narrative mixologist who whips up concoctions made up of ingredients that you would swear could not possibly complement each other, let alone offer anything new to say about genre fiction. In this case, the flavors are basically "Night of the Living Dead" (as documentary, no less) meets Ray Bradbury Midwest farmboy fantasy, with a shot of horror and some superhero comics as a garnish. (
2. The theme of zombie as disabled isn't even a subtext in this story: Gregory puts it right out there. (Plus there are some totally kickass roll-your-own prosthetics.)
3. Stony is the antithesis of the mindless zombie: he is a complicated character full of hopes and hurts and contradictions. In other words, completely human.
4. Female characters kick ass all over this book and yes, there is a final girl.
5. It makes Alexx so happy that now we can have media studies conversations about all of our favorite parts and, even after he spent the last year telling me I should read it, he hasn't uttered the phrase "I told you you would like it."
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_Some Kind of Fairytale_ (2012) by Graham Joyce

I don't read a lot of fantasy anymore because most of the fantasy books I pick up turn out to feel like the same old story. Of course, most of my favorite books turn out to be the same old stories, so obviously it is not the fact that the story is familiar which is the turn off, so I guess it is still something of a riddle for me why the same old story works some times and not others.

_Some Kind of Fairytale_ is the first fantasy novel I have read in a long time which made me think, "Oh, yes, this story *had* to be told as a fantasy story because it does something only fantasy can do."

The plot: It's Christmas day, and a middle-aged couple hear a knock at their door; when they open the door, a young woman is standing there. She claims to be their daughter who disappeared twenty years before. There is a lot of evidence to indicate that she really is who she claims to be, but she refuses to explain where she has been or what caused her disappearance.

The story has a definite "Turn of the Screw" atmosphere which creates a lot of ambiguity regarding whether or not anything fantastic is actually going on
continued below cut )
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I predict that this title will show up on a lot of the "best of" lists for 2013, although it's hard to say whether those will be mystery or horror lists, since this novel has that "Turn of the Screw" atmosphere in which one is uncertain whether anything supernatural is going on or not. The story also manages to be both psychological and darkly humorous, and the characters are a large part of what makes this such a wonderful book.

The small town of Brewster, Rhode Island, is shocked when a newborn baby is abducted from the hospital and then disappears without a trace, except for a live snake which has been left in its place. Then other strange occurrences begin to accumulate, including the increasing number of coyotes which have invaded the town and seem oddly unafraid of humans. Police detective Woody Potter and his partner, Bobby, become increasingly more difficult to find reasonable explanations for the numerous bizarre events, and soon the town's inhabitants are more interested in finding scapegoats rather than reasonable explanations.

This is one of those books which is difficult to sum up in a few sentences because, hwile there is a lot of action, the characters are the engine that really makes it move, as each character responds to the events in a way which seems a natural extension of his or her personality. The result is a powerful example of New England gothic which is only further complemented by Dobyns's other form of genre writing, poetry. While there is no actual poetry in the book, Dobyns's prose provides another powerful facet to the story.

Highly recommended for both mystery and horror fans.
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1. _Introduction to Planetary Geomorphology_ by Ronald Greeley (Cambridge University Press, 2013)
Nearly all major planets and moons in our Solar System have been visited by spacecraft and the data they have returned has revealed the incredible diversity of planetary surfaces. Featuring a wealth of images, this textbook explores the geological evolution of the planets and moons. Introductory chapters discuss how information gathered from spacecraft is used to unravel the geological complexities of our Solar System. Subsequent chapters focus on current understandings of planetary systems. The textbook shows how planetary images and remote sensing data are analyzed through the application of fundamental geological principles. It draws on results from spacecraft sent throughout the Solar System by NASA and other space agencies. Aimed at undergraduate students in planetary geology, geoscience, astronomy and solar system science, it highlights the differences and similarities of the surfaces at a level that can be readily understood by non-specialists.

2. _The Phonological Mind_ by Iris Berent (Cambridge University Press, 2013)
"Humans instinctively form words by weaving patterns of meaningless speech elements. Moreover, we do so in specific, regular ways. We contrast dogs and gods, favour blogs to lbogs. We begin forming sound-patterns at birth and, like songbirds, we do so spontaneously, even in the absence of an adult model. We even impose these phonological patterns on invented cultural technologies such as reading and writing. But why are humans compelled to generate phonological patterns? And why do different phonological systems - signed and spoken - share aspects of their design? Drawing on findings from a broad range of disciplines including linguistics, experimental psychology, neuroscience and comparative animal studies, Iris Berent explores these questions and proposes a new hypothesis about the architecture of the phonological mind"--


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