Making my way through Batchelor’s Birth of the People’s Republic of Antarctica, which I was highly recommended about six years back. Although when I went back to remind myself who, it amuses me that they tried to temper their recommendation. I can totally see why. Batchelor (and his publisher) thought he was writing the great '60s counterculture answer to 1984, Brave New World. I think he falls soundly off the mark. But I’ll continue reading.
Finished. Now reading The Hobbit and A Linguistic Geography of Africa
I Normally don’t post my Religious learning here, but tonight I will start learning Kisvei Arizal, the teachings of the Arizal (Acronym for Eloki Rabbi Yitzchak Zichrono L’brachah- The Godly Rabbi Issac of Blessed Memory) as edited and organized by his student Rabbi Chaim Vital. His system of Kabbalah, his system of understanding the Zohar, Lurianic Kabbalah (his surname was “Luria”), has become the standard in Orthodox circles. There is a bit of a paradox here, as you need to understand his system to understand the Zohar, but learning the Zohar with a commentary based on his works, reading a secondary source summary of Lurianic Kabbalah beforehand is considered more basic- I actually tried to understand a part of the Kisvei Arizal, but I couldn’t, because I started in the 5th “Gate” of the “Eight Gates”, but after learning the Idra Rabbah section of the Zohar, I think I could understand it. The main difference is that the Kisvei Ari are arranged by topic, while the Zohar is a commentary on the Pentateuch, followed by the Tikunnei Zohar, a book that presents a little over a hundred of ways of understanding Genesis 1:1, and the Zohar Chadash, which is a collection of teachings that we believe to be from the 2nd Century School of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, where we believe the main body of the Zohar comes from, that Moses De Leon did not include in the Main Body (secular scholars consider De Leon as the author, we see him as the redactor/editor), that are arranged in the same way as the Zohar, plus Commentaries on Ecclesiastes, Ruth, and Lamentations. The Arizal say himself as the Reincarnation of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, and his students as reincarnations of Rabbi Shimon’s students, and the town the Arizal’s school was based in, Safed, is the Holiest city in Judaism that everybody who admits to Israel’s statehood admits is Israeli territory.
In Byron’s Wake by Miranda Seymour, which is a kind of double-biography of both Annabella Milbanke (Byron’s wife) and Ada Byron (their daughter; later Ada Lovelace).
The first section of the book is a slightly tedious soap opera which mainly serves to show what a bastard Byron was. Once he’s safely divorced (and then quickly killed, off camera) it all gets a lot more interesting, as both of the woman in question were quite remarkable in different ways (one as a social and educational reformer and the other as… well, you probably know).
Really interesting book overall, and worth reading if you have any interest in the period or generally in Diversity in ModernVictorian Society
Studies in Yüe Dialects: Phonology of Cantonese
Linguistic Structures of Native America
Finished Batchelor’s Birth of the People’s Republic of Antarctica, which as it turns out really was sheer nonsense.