Saturday, August 12, 2006

A literary meme - Part 2

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This follows on from the previous post.



6. One book that wracked you with sobs?

Miss Eagle doesn't think she was wracked with sobs when she read this book - and she can't remember the last time this happened - but the tears flowed. The book in question is Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer. What a beautiful book! How Miss Eagle would love to be able to write a book such as this. Miss Eagle is a great fan of Kingsolver. I only have three of her novels under my belt (the other's are the Poisonwood Bible and The Bean Trees) but Miss Eagle's project is to read all of them.

7. One book you wish had never been written

If anyone is writing another conspiracy theory/mystery thriller which includes gnosticism and the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, could you please desist. Put down that pen! Delete that stuff from your computer! The world does not need one more piece of this drivel!

Back in the 80s, Miss Eagle read Holy Blood, Holy Grail which talked about the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Interesting ideas but nothing to write home about. Then in the 1990s, Miss Eagle came across Foucauld's Pendulum by Umberto Eco. This tour de force by one of the world's great public intellectuals covers everything - every mysterious organisation ever thought about by a conspiracy theorist. A sort of history of everything laid out in 600 pages with a satirical edge. Coming from the intellect of Eco, it is sometimes difficult and is nothing if not comprehensive. After that, Miss Eagle decided, why would one waste time reading The Da Vinci Code.

8. One book you're currently reading

Miss Eagle is currently immersed in Karen Armstrong's latest, The Great Transformation: the world in the time of Buddha, Socrates, Confucius and Jeremiah. This is going to be another tour de force from a great public intellectual. And, while on the subject of public intellectuals, can we name Karen Armstrong - who describes herself as a freelance monotheist - the most intelligent woman in the universe? Now this topic takes a huge sweep through time and across cultures, regions, and religions. Miss Eagle will suspend judgment on whether this Axial Age concept is worthwhile or merely another bundling book of life, the universe, and everything. Miss Eagle got in early with her copy on backorder from Readings based on a review in The Age. You see, dear Reader, the eight century BCE holds a great fascination for your correspondent because of the eighth century prophets of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. This was a period of strong voices, often from simple backgrounds, speaking out on ethics, justice, and humanity's relationship with its Creator - and the consequences should we contravene these natural laws. So if this was the situation in the middle-east of that period, then Miss Eagle was eager to participate in Armstrong's exploration into this period in other spaces and places.

Miss Eagle thinks that the purpose in Armstrong's epic is to help us to understand one another better at the deepest levels of the human spirit - something she lives out in her own life. This understanding is something that humanity is in sore need of at this point in history. Let's take up the challenge and join her on the adventure into these little known realms.

9. One book you've been meaning to read.

Miss Eagle keeps a list of books she means to read in a Task on Microsoft Outlook. Now, this doesn't mean she gets to actually read these books but as interesting ones come to her attention listing them means they are not forgotten. One from this list is Traumascapes by Maria Tumarkin. Traumascapes is a book about place - places scarred by tragedy. Miss Eagle, dear Reader, is a great believer in the spirit of place and so the theme of this book is appealing. But let Miss Eagle tell you one story that almost certainly has not made it into this book. A friend of Miss Eagle's from her Mount Isa days is a keen historian. In her research, she visited Linda Downs. Linda Downs had been the site of a battle between Aboriginal people and police. Seven police died. The police then decided to take their revenge and killed ten Aborigines for every police killed. 70 people. My friend tells me that, in accord with Aboriginal spirituality which says the spirit of a dead person returns to a tree, there are 70 trees at this site. All are dead and the atmosphere is one of ethereal silence. A sacred place of great trauma, indeed.


10. Now tag five bloggers

Aah, who gets tagged now?

Suse at Pea Soup, Lazy Cow,

Pete over at Crooked Paws Retreat, Clarice at Storybook Woods,

and Barb at Woofnanny.


A literary meme - Part 1

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Big Tree, Gardiner's Creek - Louis Buvelot

Collection of the City of Whitehorse, Melbourne

Anni Heino has tagged Denis and Miss Eagle with a book meme. So here is Miss Eagle's literary effort, Anni.

1. One book that changed your life

Miss Eagle's earliest memories of reading are the volumes of Australian poetry on her grandparent's bookshelves at Wilston in Brisbane. Here began her love of the Nationalists - those new generations of Australian poets whose stories of the social life and character of a newly discovered continent became woven into our lives; those poets who were published in the Pink Pages of The Bulletin.

Nana O'Carroll's particular favourite was Fair Girls and Grey Horses by Will Ogilvie. Needless to say, Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson were there. But Miss Eagle's earliest very own copy was a volume titled The Australasian Book of Verse for Boys and Girls. This book was on her bookshelf for decades until it literally fell to pieces. All the greats were represented along with people who talked about "out where the crow flies backwards and the pelican builds its nest". In adulthood, this love of Australian poetry became a love of the bush and transferred itself to art in the form of the works of Louis Buvelot and the Heidelberg School and the novels of the period of which the foremost is Such is Life.

And then, of course, there is no substitute for seeing Australia for oneself which Miss Eagle has been doing consistently for three decades and will continue to do. Next weekend, Miss Eagle traverses central and north-western Victoria en route to Broken Hill and then across to Robertson in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales up behind the Illawarra where she may, at last, get to meet Anni.

2. One book you have read more than once.

For this, Miss Eagle has singled out a little known 20th century spritual classic, A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly. Miss Eagle tries not to be without a copy of this little masterpiece but has given away numerous copies. Last year though, on Ebay, she obtained from the USA a first edition complete with dustjacket. What joy!

3. One book you'd want on a desert island.

At the age of 17, Miss Eagle fell hopelessly in love with Boris Pasternak after reading Dr Zhivago. Since then, she is never without a copy on the shelf. Pasternak's masterpiece gives the appearance of prose but it is, quite simply, poetry paraded as prose. And if you loved the movie, Miss Eagle wishes it to be known that the movie is only a very small portion of the book. But the main reason Miss Eagle keeps a copy on the bookshelf is not the novel itself but the collection of Dr Zhivago's poetry which comes at the conclusion of the novel. Aaah, the romance, the religion and the tragedy of Russia!

4. One book that made you giddy?

The award for this goes to The Outcasts of Foolgarah by Frank Hardy. Outcasts is a political satire published in 1971. The book is dated now because the politicians it lampoons are virtually unknown even to people of middle years these days. The Outcasts were the dunny men. The thesis of the novel is that the only ones with true freedom are those who are very wealthy who can own or flout the system or the very poor who are outside the system. The dunny men were too poor to have mortgages from the bank over their homes. They built their homes out of materials salvaged from the dump. They owned their own homes and so had a wonderful freedom. Miss Eagle had led a sheltered Catholic girl hood in a respectable family. Frank Hardy gave Miss Eagle an education in amongst the hilarity of The Outcasts.

5. One book that you wish had been written

Miss Eagle has a dear friend, Jenny. We live far apart these days and our friendship is the occasional email letter interspersed with funny emails. Jenny is older than Miss Eagle and a former animal control officer and pound keeper. She is or was a world expert in her field and what Jenny does not know about animals and their owners is not worth knowing. Jenny is of British origins and grew up in Kashmir where her father was stationed with the British Army. Jenny had a privileged lifestyle. She came to Australia, completely helpless but ready for adventure, when she was 18. She knew precious little so when she wanted to learn something she asked someone to take her on and teach her. This was how she came to be a panel beater at one point in her life. Jenny's adventures were many and through them all she became a woman of great wisdom and great humour. Miss Eagle used to say to her that she had to write her story and, if she didn't, Miss Eagle would follow her around with a tape recorder. This has never happened and Jenny emailed Miss Eagle a couple of weeks ago to say she has lung cancer. She has returned from treatment to palliative care. Now Jenny is at an age where news of life coming to an end is not a surprise. But I don't think this what she or her friends would have chosen for her. So, it looks like Jenny's story will not reach a wider public. But there are those of us who love her very much and there will always be a very warm space in our hearts which is especially hers.

Miss Eagle will take a pause.

The second five questions of the meme will be in the next post.


Friday, August 11, 2006

An adventure on the journey of life.

Miss Eagle's good friend, Jim Phillips of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, was diagnosed yesterday with bowel cancer. Miss Eagle asks for prayers for Jim - particularly as his work, business, and family life have to be sorted out to enable him to seek treatment interstate.

In the Territory there is a saying: Get a pain, catch a plane. So next Thursday Jim is on a plane to Brisbane.

Tennant Creek (pop. 4,000) and Alice Springs (pop. 25,000 and five hours away) is not the place to deal with something as serious as this. Jim's dearly beloved, Sylvia, keeps the admin part of the business going. An excellent supervisor keeps the real work going. We need prayer so that Sylvia can be relieved of her admin duties - which are vital to the sustainability of the business - to be with Jim in Brisbane.

Jim and Sylvia walk and work closely with God day by day in every way.
Please be with them as they journey with Him on this adventure too.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Nature v Nurture? Or kids being their own individual selves?

In response to my previous post, Denis talked about the nature v nurture situation in his experience in daughter-raising. Miss Eagle's own experience was her determination to steer her two sons away from a military mindset. Miss Eagle's sons did not join the Boy Scouts because of the Scouts' tendency to get involved with the army. Sons joined the Boys' Brigade instead. No guns were allowed in the house. Gun shaped water pistols were barely tolerated. But then what happened?

No. 2 Son while still in his high chair would chew his crusts of bread into a gun shape. When he was barely big enough to hold a hammer, he would get two scraps of wood and a nail and attempt to hammer them into a gun. But No. 2 Son is a pacifist. He grew up to be a very quiet and peaceful man interested in poetry and the environment. So nature v nurture. Horsefeathers! The cards go up in the air, in Miss Eagle's view, and land where they may. What are your experiences of nature v nurture?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Vive la difference!


"Women have an eight-lane superhighway for processing emotion, while men have a small country road," Louann Brizendine writes. Men, however, "have O'Hare Airport as a hub for processing thoughts about sex, where women have the airfield nearby that lands small and private planes."

This is from a book just out in the USA called The Female Brain. Louann Brizendine says - with the back up of her scientific research - what Miss Eagle has long believed. Neither the male nor the female brain are superior to the other, just different. But how different! And how does society recognize this and take the facts into account. Read about it here.

We are clever girls - and don't you forget it. A man's brain may be bigger overall, says Brizendine, but the main hub for emotion and memory formation is larger in a woman's brain, as is the wiring for language and "observing emotion in others."

Miss Eagle loved this bit:
Connecting through talking activates the pleasure centers in a girl's brain. We're not talking about a small amount of pleasure. This is huge. It's a major dopamine and oxytocin rush, which is the biggest, fattest neurological reward you can get outside of an orgasm.

Miss Eagle knows this feeling. Talking and talking and more talking was one of the reasons why Miss Eagle took to her late great Dearly Beloved. Not to mention that friends of Miss Eagle and her sister, The Director, have been known to comment that they would talk underwater! Now here's why. Clearly, we get off on it in a big way!

And there is a warning about hugs:

Research shows that the female brain naturally releases oxytocin after a 20-second hug. The embrace bonds the huggers and triggers the brain's trust circuits. So Brizendine advises, don't let a guy hug you unless you plan to trust him.

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