Listen to the Forests

A site called Sounds of the Forest is collecting sounds from forests and woodland areas around the world and presenting them on a world map.They are collecting the sounds of woodlands and forests from all around the world, building a soundmap bringing together aural tones and textures from the world’s woodlands.The sounds form an open source library, to be used by anyone to listen to and create from.

The sound clip above took me back to Castle Hill, New Zealand, which may look familiar to Lord of the Rings fans.

 

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Dear Book People

 

Sincerely Erik, is a moving short film written and directed by Naz Riahi about one bookseller struggling in these plague times. Although it is fictional, it poignantly reflects the reality that many folks in the book trade are experiencing all over the world at this difficult moment. The protagonist, Erik DuRon is the owner of Left bank Books in New York’s Greenwich Village neighborhood.

Last week, I stumbled upon this little gem of a film that captures the mood of the balance between isolation and community that defines bookselling these days. I hope that you will like it as much as I did.

 

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Subarctic Road Trip

Those of you who follow TBTP on a regular basis know that I am slightly obsessed with all things Iceland. And of course I am already  planning my next visit—hopefully for early next summer. So, I was excited to read about the opening of their newest tourist road trip route the Diamond Circle. Although I’ve already driven most of the route in the past, I like the notion that local travel experts have laid-out a select route with regional highlights. Officially launched on September 6th the Diamond Circle formally opens in the Northeast corner of the country..

The Diamond Circle is a circuit spanning 250km (155 mi) that connects travelers to famous landscapes and historical sites. In particular, the route features five key destinations: Goðafoss, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland, the blue and green landscapes of Lake MývatnDettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe, the crescent-shaped Ásbyrgi Canyon, and Húsavík, the oldest settlement in Iceland.

Along the Diamond Circle, you may also find some less well known places which are just as impressive as the famous destinations. Keep an eye out for the Tjörnes Peninsula which hides fossils and birds nests, the lush valley of Hólmatungur, the circular explosion crater Hverfjall, and numerous geothermal sites.

For a preview of the Diamond Circle and updates on the formal opening, take a look at the Diamond Circle Website.

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For in the beginning of literature there is myth

“Parable of Cervantes and the Quixote

by

Jorge Luis Borges

Translated by Andrew Hurley


Weary of his land of Spain, an old soldier of the king’s army sought solace in the vast
geographies of Ariosto, in that valley of the moon in which one finds the time that is squandered by dreams, and in the golden idol of Muhammad stolen by Montalbán.

In gentle self-mockery, this old soldier conceived a credulous man—his mind unsettled by the reading of all those wonders—who took it into his head to ride out in search of adventures and enchantments in prosaic places with names such as El Toboso and Montici.

Defeated by reality, by Spain, don Quixote died in 1614 in the town of his birth. He was survived only a short time by Miguel de Cervantes.

For both the dreamer and the dreamed, that entire adventure had been the clash of two worlds; the unreal world of romances and the common everyday world of the seventeenth century.

They never suspected that the years would at last smooth away the discord, never suspected that in the eyes of the future, La Mancha and Montici and the lean figure of the Knight of Mournful Countenance would be no less poetic than the adventures of Sindbad or the vast geographies of Ariosto.

For in the beginning of literature there is myth, as there is also in the end of it.

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The Parable of the Author

I am not a big re-reader of books, but at the start of the pandemic I picked-up a copy of Octavia Butler’s The Parable of the Sower. If you are not familiar with the novel, it was published in 1993, but was set in 2024-2025 California during an apocalyptic crisis. I had always assumed that it was a bestseller, but was surprised last week to find that it only made it onto the New York Times Bestseller List recently.

Butler (no relation) was the first science fiction writer to win a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship — a particularly impressive feat, considering the hurdles that have traditionally stood in the way for both women, and Black people, in publishing. She died of a stroke at the age of 58 in 2006. Despite her critical acclaim, she never received enough commercial success in her life to achieve her life goal of making it onto coveted the New York Times’ Bestseller List.

Butler’s Parable of the Sower reached #14 on the paperback fiction list, for the week ending August 29, 2020. It’s a poignant moment for Butler’s legacy, but also ironic, given the story line of the novel itself. Parable of the Sower was set in a time when the United States is ravaged by climate change, cataclysmic drought,corporate -fascist government, violent racism, and societal breakdown.

I won’t reveal any spoilers, but if you haven’t read the book, it’s well worth your time. And if you haven’t read any of Octavia Butler’s extraordinary science fiction, you’ve been missing out on a terrific writer and story teller.

 

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For Every Occasion

 

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All Keyed Up

It’s been decades since I actually owned and used an old school manual typewriter. When I did work on the old Smith Corona, I never turned out anything that vaguely resembled art. But British artist James Cook has revived the underappreciated 20th century artform of typewriter art. I can’t imagine where he finds all of the ribbons that he must burn through on his 50 year-old machines.

Take a look at these amazing short videos of Cook at work en plein air. 

 

 

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We wear the mask

The Mask by Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr,, one of the leading letterpress printers, book artists, and papermakers working in the United States today, was printed at Bloomington, Indiana, in 2000. Nearly all of his work has an Afrocentric focus. Mask features the use of wood and metal type, various definitions for the word “mask,” African mask imagery, multiple fold-out pages, and Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “We Wear the Mask.”

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

 

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Yes, it can happen here

There are a few memorable books that I read during my childhood that had profound influence on my social and political consciousness. Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here was one that I’ve never forgotten. The book was published during the rise of fascism in Europe and chronicles corporate-Fascist take over of the United States following the election of Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, a demagogue who promotes discord and division, but who promises dramatic economic and social reforms while promoting a return to patriotism and “traditional” values. After his election, Windrip takes complete control of the government and imposes totalitarian rule with the help of a ruthless paramilitary force called the Minute Men. The book’s plot centers on journalist Doremus Jessup’s opposition to the new regime and his subsequent struggle against it as part of a liberal rebellion.

This 85 year-old novel seems all too timely in the era of Trump and his neo-Fascist minions. It’s comforting to know that the book community has stepped-up to our Il Duce wannabe by publishing both novels and non-fiction aiming to raise political consciousness. The printing and bookbinding community has also been active in combating the rise of Fascism. One of the best examples has been the creation of dramatic new editions of Lewis’ prescient novel by eminent bookbinder Richard Minsky.

Minsky used some of his own blood, which is spattered on the spine and cover, and matched the color of the fresh blood with acrylic paint for most of the panel. The blood has turned brownish over time, so the acrylic maintains the illusion of immediacy.

You can learn more about the project on Minsky’s website.

 

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Denial Is A Cliff

Denial is a Cliff We Are Driven Over

Joy Priest
I want to believe Don West
when he writes: none of mineever made their living by driving slaves.
But in my grandfather’s mouth that utterance

would’ve taken on another meaning:
In the memory my mother shares,

he is flitting across Louisville
in his taxi, passing back-and-forth

like a cardinal, red-faced, proud-breasted,
delivering Black folks their dry cleaning—

had to, she tells me, as part of his route—
but once he started his second shift and turned

on the cab light, he wouldn’t accept
Black fare. I recall him reciting

the early presidents’
racist pseudoscience—American

at its liver—to rationalize his hatred
of my father, his denial

of my Blackness. That denial a peril
I survived, a cliff he could have driven me over

at any moment of my childhood. Maybe,
I want to think, because they were poor men

who labored, farmed tobacco and dug for oil,
my grandfather’s people resisted

slavery, felt a kinship with my father’s people.
Or that because my grandfather

was one of eleven mouths to feed
on their homestead—reduced to dirt

across the Great Depression—
he had a white identity to be proud of, a legacy

that didn’t join our names
in a bill of sale, but in struggle.

I search his surname and it travels
back to Germany, appears

on the deed to the house he inherited,
retired and died in, poor-white resentment

inflaming his stomach and liver.
But when I search the name I share with my father,

my only inheritance                      disappears
into the 19th century, sixth generation:

my ancestor bred
to produce 248 offspring

for his owner, from whence comes
our family name. Mr. West, here

we are different. Here, is where
my grandfather found his love for me discordant

as the voice of the dead whispering
history. Here is where we are connected,

not by class, but blood & slavery.

 

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