Reading the Humanities


O.K., I’ll admit it, I was an English Lit major. And I went on to art school and four years of seminary thereafter. So it is not surprising that I believe there is value in each human exploring “the humanities”. This cannot be done without reading, although “reading” is different today than it was 100 years ago, 10 years ago, or even 2 years ago.

“The humanities can be described as the study of how people process and document the human experience. Since humans have been able, we have used philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history and language to understand and record our world. These modes of expression have become some of the subjects that traditionally fall under the humanities umbrella. Knowledge of these records of human experience gives us the opportunity to feel a sense of connection to those who have come before us, as well as to our contemporaries.” – “What are the Humanities”, Stanford Humanities Center.

With all the talk of “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), morphing to “STEAM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math), folks have forgotten the humanities. Nowadays, we “read” in many ways– books, online text supplemented by images, videos, original documents, movies, TV series– and through reading we learn about the world beyond us and our own developing skills. The time before us, the imaginings of others, the world beyond our locale. We now hear of “SEL” (social-emotional learning), “character education”, and “anti-bullying”. These learning areas are critical, but best as integrated parts of a lifelong study of the humanities, via READING.

We need to each become life-long readers, with the ability to enlarge our worldview by the work of writers and media creators, and the ability to discern facts. So I believe we should be talking about “STREAM” — Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, and Math. At, we have built an archive and toolset for teachers, students, and lifelong learners to become “READERS” in the best sense of the word– exploring life by researching, reading, relating, reasoning, and writing.

I will use this space to gather the ideas and works of some of the authors who have greatly enlarged my consciousness.

Why is Reading Crucial to Development and Participation in Life– some articles:
“Reading is Elemental”, Prof. Helen Vendler, Harvard Magazine, Oct. 2011.

Authors I am reading or re-reading:

Knausgaard with a “Å”

One in nine Norwegians have purchased Karl Ove Knausgård’s “My Struggle” books (6 volumes, 3,600 pages of autobiographical fiction.) His examination and offering of his own life has drawn readers around the world into deeper thought about their own lives and perceptions. Knausgård writes in his New Yorker article “The Inexplicable: Inside the mind of a mass killer” exploring  Norway’s mass murders by Anders Behring Breivik:

“The most powerful human forces are found in the meeting of the face and the gaze. Only there do we exist for one another. In the gaze of the other, we become, and in our own gaze others become. It is there, too, that we can be destroyed. Being unseen is devastating, and so is not seeing.”

Born in Oslo in 1968, growing up in southern Norway town Kristiansand and the island of Tromøy, Knausgård lived in Bergen from 1988-2002. His six-volume autobiographical novel explored the formation of his character and the realities of living, marriage, and parenthood. Now divorced, he now lives in Sweden. His published works:

“Out of the World” –1998
“A Time to Every Purpose Under Heaven”— 2004.
“My Struggle” Series of Six Books: 
Book One: 2008 (40) (with flashbacks to his father’s death in 1998 or so)
Book Two: 2008 (40) (with flashbacks to meeting his second wife in 2003 or so)
Book Three: 1968-1981  (1-13)
Book Four: 1987 (18)
Book Five: 1988-2002 (19-33)
Book Six: 2018
Fall: 2017
Winter: 2018
Spring: 2018
Summer: 2018

Faulkner with a “U”

William Faulkner traveled the world, lived in NYC and Hollywood, wrote screenplays to support his family, and changed his name from “Falkner” to “Faulkner”, but he returned always to his roots in Mississippi.

Finishing Philip Weinstein’s “Becoming Faulkner”, I am now going to begin to re-read Faulkner’s works. Given the pernicious persistence of racism, Faulkner’s prediction that it would take 300 years to transform civilization to equity now seems less bizarre. I am most interested in the fact that Faulkner the author, in telling his stories of black and white, seemed more able to empathize, to understand, and to demand change than Faulkner the person. I will be exploring the separation between the mind that creates and the person who lives and will be writing about this. How did his creative mind advance beyond his conscious ken?

Publication Order of Sin and Salvation Books

Sartoris (1929)
The Sound and the Fury (1929)
As I Lay Dying (1930)
Sanctuary (1931)
Light in August (1931)
Absalom, Absalom! (1936)
Requiem for a Nun (1951)

Publication Order of Snopes Books

The Hamlet (1940)
The Town (1957)
The Mansion (1959)

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Soldiers Pay (1926)
Mosquitoes (1927)
Pylon (1935)
The Unvanquished (1938)
The Wild Palms (1939)
Intruder in the Dust (1948)
A Fable (1954)
The Reivers (1962)
Flags in the Dust (1973)

Publication Order of Short Story Collections

These 13 (1931)
Doctor Martino and Other Stories (1934)
Go Down, Moses (1942)
The Portable Faulkner (1946)
Knight’s Gambit (1949)
Collected Stories of William Faulkner (1950)
Big Woods: The Hunting Stories (1955)
New Orleans Sketches (1958)
Three Famous Short Novels (1958)
Selected Short Stories of William Faulkner (1961)
The Wishing Tree (1964)
Uncollected Stories of William Faulkner (1979)

Swedenborg’s “Arcana Cælestia”


History and Geography and Social Networks


“How to Build an Information Time Machine”, Frederic Kaplan, TedTalk, TEDxCaFoscariU, 2013.