Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens raises several great questions, but also has major flaws. In lyrical language, the child Kya’s relationship with the natural world conveys a sense of wonder and appreciation of life. This is the best part of the book, showing how we are renewed and supported by our natural environment. However, this story is set against a gloomy plot. Some of the main characters are vibrant, but others are hollow and vague.
Two books are being written. One is the story of a child growing up despite a minimum of parenting but with the comfort and lessons of the natural world, who suffers abuse but finds help from other outcasts and compassionate people. The other story is a crass justification for people behaving badly. Love and death are reduced to a non-human level of understanding. People who have good character are sent into the background.
The book tries to have it both ways: that the child Kya matured and excelled intellectually because of a few relationships with other people and with nature, but also never really developed emotionally, morally and ethically for the same reasons. This doesn’t make sense. Kya is shown examples of morality and ethics in her relationships with those few who did help her. There are lessons in compassion and non-violent resilience in the marsh life as well as the cruel ones. She has the ability to read and write. She does reflect, which is essential to making moral and ethical decisions. She relies on certain people, knows they care for her and will accept her gifts.
Do repeated hardships keep her from maturing as a human being, or does she choose which examples and lessons to follow? Either way, she has a thin excuse for the actions she takes with the man who loves her and the man who threatens her. In this view, Kya only understands human behavior well enough to mimic it, and only understands the natural world well enough to mimic it. But that is not the dreaming, loving, artistic and forgiving person who appears in some parts of the book. So which is it?
After the story shows growth from experience and reflection, it reverts to an old paradigm of past mythology (the tragic flaw in the hero) and psychology (irremediable damage from childhood trauma), rather than moving forward into greater understanding, that is, toward an advance in humanity. That would truly be going far beyond—where the crawdads sing.
On 2nd September 2015 an image flashed around the world that saddened and horrified us all. A young boy, later identified as Alan Kurdi, lay motionless on a pristine beach in Turkey, the dawn sun glowing around him. He was dead. During his three young years he knew only war in Syria; a war his parents fled to find safety. The photo of Alan touched everyone and inspired, nay, I would say, drove one famous writer to pen a short book, Sea Prayer.
Within Khaled Hosseini’s Sea Prayer the words and illustrations are intrinsically linked, creating a wondrous work of art.
The first page starts as a letter (quasi-eulogy) to the narrator’s son, Marwan, and it recalls the beauty of life in Homs. The father describes his childhood when he had woken “to the stirrings of olive trees in the breeze/to the bleating of your grandmother’s goat”.
View original post 472 more words
She was amazing!
The only thing better than singing is more singing. –Ella Fitzgerald
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Today marks the birthday (4/25/1917) of one of my all-time favorite female jazz vocalists, EllaFitzgerald. Nearly forty years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing/hearing The First Lady of Song (as she was fittingly known) when she was appearing in San Francisco at a time I happened to be there. Her performance that night confirmed what I’d dug from decades of collecting her records and listening to her sing and interpret lyrics as only she could.
Ella, my musical muse and soulmate in song, for all the ‘spiritual’ pleasure you brought (and continue to…
View original post 125 more words
The book, Abundance, part of which is summarized here, describes how technology can solve many of our problems: energy production, food production and distribution, reducing waste, and improving health care. It’s all about creating a world that satisfies human needs, with a nod to protecting the earth. What are the values behind this move into a tech-managed world?
Although biotechnological applications in food have created much controversy in recent years, the science itself is nothing new. The 12,000-year history of farming is characterized by farmers manipulating living systems, creating new strains of crops through cross-pollination and manipulating the plants’ DNA.
Technology may have moved on, but the principle of manipulating organisms remains the same. Today, advances in genetic engineering provide solutions that are proving to be a key weapon in the fight to feed an ever increasing population.
However, the applications of biotechnology are not limited to food production. Craig Venter, famed for his project to sequence the human genome, is currently working to develop strains of algae as a biofuel source. Using algae is extremely beneficial as it doesn’t require arable land, can be grown in saltwater and is also capable of absorbing carbon from nearby power stations. If Venter hits his target, he will be able…
View original post 1,051 more words
Passionate appreciation of beginnings (of love)
If I were a female hummingbird perched still
and quiet on an upper myrtle branch
in the spring afternoon, and if you were a male
alone in the whole heaven before me, having parted
yourself, for me, from cedar top and honeysuckle stem
and earth down, your body hovering in midair
far away from jewelweed, thistle, and bee-balm;
And if I watched how you fell, plummeting before me,
and how you rose again and fell, with such mastery
that I believed for a moment you were the sky,
and the red marked-bird diving inside your circumference
was just the physical revelation of the light’s
most perfect desire;
And if I saw your sweeping and sucking
performance of swirling egg and semen in the air,
the weaving, twisting vision of red petal
and nectar and soaring rump, the rush of your wing
in its grand confusion of arcing and splitting
View original post 110 more words
“She could see all of Ferenwood from here: the rolling hills, the endless explosion of color cascading down and across the lush landscape. Reds and blues: Maroon and ceruleans. Yellow and tangerine and violet and aquamarine. Every hue held a flavor, a heartbeat, a life. She took a deep breath and drew it all in.”
― Tahereh Mafi, Furthermore
Carol A. Hand
I don’t often speak about the liminal space I occupy between Euro-American and Ojibwe beliefs about religion and spirituality. It was especially challenging to live between (Euro-American) academic notions of rationality, objectivity, and individuality and Ojibwe traditions of spirituality, inter-dependency, and other ways of knowing. I don’t often speak of my experiences for several crucial reasons. Frist, my position on the margins as a Native American has meant that people have asked me for spiritual advice because of the romantic stereotypes they held. They expected me to be wise and saintly. I’m not under the illusion that I have any advice to offer anyone on that dimension. Second, Ojibwe cultural traditions strongly discourage sharing one’s spiritual experiences with others. This makes sense on a number of levels. Third, as a Native American woman who has worked in Euro-American institutions that openly pathologize other ways of knowing, I…
View original post 977 more words
An important thinker in our midst, Nick Pollard
To begin my blog I want to say I feel honoured to be undertaking this role for such an inspirational leader of Occupational Therapy. Nick Pollard has been justly nominated to deliver this year’s Elizabeth Casson Memorial Lecture. However it will not be easy to sufficiently encapsulate the content of the lecture in this blog.
I will highlight a number of key messages for you and include some personal reflections. The complete lecture will be available on the RCOT & Conference website to listen at your leisure and as the leading article in next month’s edition of the British Journal of Occupational Therapy.
Nick was nominated to deliver this prestigious lecture by Dr Rebecca Khanna Assistant Dean Faculty Health Well-Being Sheffield Hallam University. During her introduction, Rebecca reminded us that this was the 42nd National Occupational Therapy Conference and of the following advice, that the person delivering the Elizabeth Casson…
View original post 844 more words
I wrote the following Guest Spot: A Thank You to Richard Zimler in
Last week I had the great pleasure of meeting the man himself and walk away from Lisbon with signed copies of his work.
I came across Richard Zimler’s The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon during an almost unrelated internet search. Fascinated by the subject of the Kabbala and the era of Lisbon of 1506 I devoured the book and soon started to read all of his other novels.
I had developed a keen interest in historical and Jewish fiction and was delighted to have found a writer whose work covered such a wide range of it, not just the holocaust years. What impressed me most was that Zimler never forgets others. While some writers only focus on the fate that befell the Jews, he calls out discrimination and hardships suffered by other minorities…
View original post 657 more words