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15 November 2011

Book Review The Sabbath

The SabbathThe Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thoughtful book about the importance of the Sabbath because it is about "time" not about "space." 

"There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord.  Life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquisition of things of space, becomes our sole concern." 

"We must conquer space in order to sanctify time.  All week long we are called upon to sanctify life through employing things of space.  On the Sabbath it is given us to share in the holiness that is in the heart of time."

Though this is a Jewish text, it isn't only for Jews;  folks of all stripes can get something out of Heschel's thoughtful, if sometimes scattered, disorganized, and repetitive, prose:

"Technical civilization is man's triumph over space.  Yet time remains impervious.  We can overcome distance but can neither recapture the past nor dig out the future.  Man transcends space, and time transcends man."

"Every one of us occupies a portion of space.  He takes it up exclusively.  Yet, no one possesses time.  there is no moment which I possess exclusively.  This very moment belongs to all living men as it belongs to me." 

"We share time."

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14 November 2011

Book Review The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media

The Influencing MachineThe Influencing Machine by Brooke Gladstone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A graphic novel that gives you a history of the media in visual bits that bite deep.

The main point;  "We hunger for objectivity, but increasingly swallow "news" like Jell-O shots in ad hoc cyber-saloons.  We marinate in punditry season with only those facts and opinions we can digest without cognitive distress.   I see our most hallowed journalistic institutions crumbling, I see our business model that relied on mass audiences being displaced, with stunning speed, by one that survives by aggregating millions of tiny, targeted audience fragments.  The reality that anyone with a cell phone can now presume to make, break, or fabricate the news has shaken our citadels of culture and journalism to the core.
The once mighty gatekeepers watch in horror as libelous, manifestly unprofessional websites flood the media ether with unadulterated id.  Terrifying.  I can't wait to watch it play out."

Something oxymoronic about a book like this pointing out that we, as a people, have lost our ability to read in-depth for long periods of time.  But would I have picked up a 500 page tome on this subject?  Probably not. I blame Google.

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