musings, thoughts, and writings of Barbara W. Klaser

July 7, 2007

The Universe In A Single Atom

A post by Susan at Spinning reminded me of a book I recently read, written by the Dalai Lama — The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality. The Dalai Lama has nurtured a lifelong interest in science, and this book explores the gaps and meeting places between religion and science, in what I found to be a thoughtful and profound treatise. It was interesting to read how a religious leader views science, which sometimes threatens his long held beliefs and at other times seems to support them. Granted, Buddhism is one of the least dogmatic religions, and Buddhists don’t believe in a personal God or a specific creation myth, as far as I can discern from this and other readings, so he tends to be much more flexible toward science than other religious leaders might be.

I’ve often seen science as exploring the underpinnings, materials, and physical characteristics of the same great work of art (the Universe) that religious leaders and philosophers explore the ideas and impulses behind. Both, at their best, explore the best ways to live within that great work. To me their goals seem to mesh perfectly, so long as greed, dogma, and power plays don’t get in the way. But then I don’t have a set religious belief to try to fit everything into. I think the more set in concrete one’s beliefs are, in either science or spiritual teachings, the more difficult it may be to see the common ground and bridge the gaps. Flexibility is important, and we already know that some of the greatest scientific discoveries are results of either accidents or imagination. Einstein considered imagination more important than knowledge —

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

Perhaps the most important way we’re made in any creator’s image is that we’re creative ourselves. It’s that very imaginative nature that can enable us to be flexible and love the mystery of life, rather than try to impose steadfast answers on others.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 12:32 pm PST, 07/07/07

April 2, 2007

Essential Guitar

I’ve mentioned before how much I love guitar music. Well, I did it. I’ve wanted a guitar of my own for many months. I finally bought myself one — not too expensive, and not a piece of trash, just a nice, modestly-priced beginner’s acoustic guitar. I’ve begun learning to play it, and I’m hooked. My guitar is my best new friend, and is rapidly becoming essential to me.

I hesitate to mention the following in the same post as my halting beginner’s attempts. If you heard me play, you’d think it wasn’t even the same instrument as what these guys play, and it’s not exactly, since mine isn’t a classic guitar with nylon strings, and theirs probably cost thousands — but anyway, the word “guitar” is involved.

Essential Guitar

Essential Guitar: 33 Guitar Masterpieces may be the best money I’ve ever spent on anything. It’s a 2-CD set. The first is 77 minutes long and the second is 75, so I get 2-1/2 hours of bliss for less than what I’d usually pay for one CD. It includes Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, performed by Pepe Romero on the guitar with the Acadamy of St. Martin in the Fields (I needed to replace my old LP recording of that), plus 30 other classical compositions and traditional Spanish pieces, performed by various guitar masters including Pepe Romero, Los Romeros, Julian Bream, Andrés Segovia and others. The composers include Rodrigo, Villa-Lobos, Bach, Vivaldi, Albéniz, Scarlatti, and more.

Have you ever heard music that you wanted to last forever, maybe even to dive inside and live there for a while, immersing yourself in sound? That’s how I feel about this collection. The only problem I have with it is that I bought it thinking it might be nice to listen to while I write. Not so. It’s terrible for that. I’ll sit with my hands poised above the laptop keyboard, assuring myself I’ll get some work done while I listen. The music takes hold and carries me away.

I’m not expert at describing this or any type of music. I just know what I love. You might too, if you enjoy classical or Spanish guitar — unless you have absurd expectations about combining listening with work.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 6:35 pm PST, 04/02/07

August 13, 2005

Los Romeros

Several years ago, while listening to a classical music radio station at my workplace, I heard a recording I knew I had to own. I scrambled to jot down the name of the piece when it ended. As soon as the opportunity arose I bought the album. This was the era just prior to CDs. When I got the record home and listened, I read the cover carefully. I noticed a name I didn’t take as anything extraordinary at the time.

The recording was Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, performed by The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, with Neville Marriner conducting, and guitar solos by Pepe Romero.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 3:14 pm PST, 08/13/05

June 2, 2005

The Writer’s Mentor, by Cathleen Rountree

I recently read The Writer’s Mentor, by Cathleen Rountree, which has already become a favorite resource for me, one of those books on writing I’ll keep on my shelf and go back to again and again.

The Writer’s Mentor isn’t a book full of how-to tips and writing exercises. It’s more about the writing life, and how to keep your creative self nourished. I found it vaguely reminiscent of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, but more specific to writers, and without structured exercises like morning pages and artist dates. Aspiring writers are instead encouraged to find their own best patterns of writing and creative renewal.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 4:17 pm PST, 06/02/05

May 21, 2005

Return To Me

Return To Me with Minnie Driver, David Duchovny and Bonnie Hunt, is a tale of what happens when a heart transplant recipient accidentally meets her donor’s husband. I wasn’t sure if I’d like this movie, but it’s sensitive, intelligent and romantic. No ghosts or spooks involved. You may need a box of tissues. It’s light on humor, heavy on the better side of human nature, and has a distinct healing affect on the viewer. Bonnie Hunt directed and wrote the screenplay with Don Lake. It’s from a few years ago—2000, released on DVD in 2001.

Postscript May 23: I watched this DVD again last night, and it was even better the second time around. The humor stood out for me more and I enjoyed that a lot. Perhaps on the first viewing I was caught up in the emotion of the theme. James Belushi and the late Carroll O’Connor, also in the cast, were hilarious.

Postscript July 28, 2007 This post has been edited from its original form because the news story it linked to moved or became unavailable at the URL I posted. Some of the comments refer to that news article, which mentioned that some people in India who saw another movie (not Return to Me) grew suspicious of transplants for religious or superstitious reasons.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 6:57 pm PST, 05/21/05

March 6, 2005

Finding Your Voice, by Les Edgerton

For the first few pages of Finding Your Voice: How to Put Personality in Your Writing, I didn’t think I’d get much out of it. Les Edgerton didn’t sound like any writing teacher I’d ever listened to. By the time I’d finished reading Chapter One I felt more at home, and I knew I’d continue reading. Why? Les Edgerton understands voice, and he writes about it in a way I understand. What put me off at first? Surprise. I’m not used to finding such a friendly voice in a book on writing. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 7:16 pm PST, 03/06/05

February 21, 2005

Eight of Swords, by David Skibbins

I’ve been fortunate in the past few days to read an advance copy of Eight of Swords, winner of the 2004 Malice Domestic/St. Martin’s Press Best First Traditional Mystery award. It’s due for release in April 2005.

In this fast-reading story, David Skibbins introduces us to Warren Ritter, a man with a past that he very much needs to keep hidden. Warren’s estranged sister doesn’t help with this when she discovers him reading Tarot cards on the streets of Berkley. In her excitement and anger, she announces his real name to everyone within earshot. She has good reason. She thought he was dead.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 5:32 pm PST, 02/21/05

February 15, 2005

Masks of Murder, by C. C. Canby

In Masks of Murder, by C. C. Canby, police detective Zeke Mallard is stabbed to death in his garage while unloading groceries from his car. As a result, rookie detective Richard Lanslow takes on the case every police detective loathes, that of investigating the murder of another officer, in this case his own partner. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 12:59 pm PST, 02/15/05

January 21, 2005

The Probable Future, by Alice Hoffman

Favorite authors gain my attention in unexpected ways. When I was a teenager my mother came home from the library one day with (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 5:23 pm PST, 01/21/05

January 13, 2005

Life of Pi, by Yann Martel

Yann Martel’s novel, Life of Pi, is a brutal, dramatic tale. It perplexes, confronting the reader with realism and fantasy in the same thoughts. It’s the kind of story that makes you wonder if it could possibly have really happened. If so, what really happened? I’m left with a mystery, but not a frustrating one, it’s magical in a sense. I savor it like the taste of a fine meal I’ve just finished. I linger over it and reminisce. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 2:21 pm PST, 01/13/05

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