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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Marty's Meme

Marty tagged Granny and me for a book meme. Granny posted hers quickly and efficiently. As is common with me, I dilly-dallied, had to ponder on it, discarded numerous replies, procrastinated, was distracted by a few dozen red herrings, and finally settled down to write. Choosing has not been easy. I am a book lover and have been a voracious reader all my life. Books have had a tremendous impact on my life.
The meme calls for ONE book that has met specific criteria. ONE?? An almost impossible decision.

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1). One book that has changed your life.

A toughie. We are shaped and molded in so many ways, by so many influences, that it is difficult to pinpoint one single thing. I will go back to my childhood. I was taught about the pain of racial bias by my maternal grandmother as she related tales of her maternal grandparents' suffering. My great-great grandfather was a mixed breed Cherokee Native American who married a white woman of good family; their union created a scandal, a disowning of my great great grandmother for marrying beneath her. An Indian in those days was scarcely a cut above a negro slave, and in fact, the Native Americans were called "red niggers". Both were treated as pariah dogs by even the lowest white in the social hierarchy. Their flight from hate and abuse was marked by the births of their children in state to state until they reached refuge in Texas, where they found acceptance. Their story was a part of our oral family history and served as an object lesson against racial bias. So I had a good foundation in racial tolerance.

Before I was born my maternal grandparents had negro hired help to work the fields, attend the cattle and horses, and for household help. When they moved to south Texas, they engaged Mexican labor. I was of school age before I ever saw an African American. My only knowledge of black people came from a book I checked out repeatedly from our rural Book Mobile, a library on wheels that visited the rural schools.

It was "Little Black Sambo", a story of a little African boy who encountered a tiger and through a series of adventures outsmarted the tiger and escaped being devoured. The book had colored illustrations and I was amazed to see a black child with kinky hair, flatish nose and full lips, quite unlike anyone I had ever seen. I was filled with admiration for this black child who seemed so smart and so brave. Little Black Sambo shaped my attitude and perception of a race I had never met. This child's tale coupled with my grandmother's teachings instilled in me an acceptance and tolerance of different races that served me in good stead when I entered the world at large and encountered the ugliness of racial hatred.

In the rural south Texas community where I grew up there was no overt racial hatred but definitely racial bias, viewing dark skinned people as enately inferior, just a few cuts below the whites in social status. I failed to absorb that attitude; Little Black Sambo had taught me that dark skin did not equate to inferiority, because he had shown me how smart and brave he was.
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2). One book you have read more than once.

That's another toughie. Every book I have in my personal library I have read more than once; some I have read many times. I retain them in my library BECAUSE I want to re-read them.

I suppose I'll have to say Stephen Hawking's "Brief History of Time." That one is not re-read for pleasure, but in a dogged attempt to understand even a tiny fraction of what the man has to say. I am fascinated by theoretical physics, the universe and all it entails and am as dumb as a stump when it comes to grasping the simplest fact. It is said that mathematics is the language of the universe and my brain declares it will not speak that language. Nor can I think in those concepts. But I try.
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3). One book you'd want on a desert isle.

Oh Boy! That's like being forced to choose which child you would keep and which ones you'd abandon.

After considerable dithering, I narrowed the choice to two: Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky's "Stargazers and Gravediggers", his memoirs to "Worlds in Collision", and Thor Heyerdahl's "Early Man and the Ocean, a Search for the Beginnings of Navigation and Seaborne Civilizations". Dr. Velikovsy is my most favorite maverick, heretic, and brilliant re-writer of earth history. I like mavericks, even when I don't agree with them, but I love Dr. Velikovsky, admire him greatly, despise his detractors, and cannot forgive him for jumping up and dying before he had published his other works . I have every book he has published.

Unlike Dr. Velikovsy, Thor Heyerdahl has gained respectibility and acceptance in the scientific community but he too was reviled and regarded as a maverick when he first published . Ofcourse he had his money-where-his-mouth-was voyages to back up his theories. I think I'd have to choose Heyerdahl's "Early Man..." . Not only is it a re-reader and a study-er, but might be practical for individuals marooned on a desert isle.
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4). One book that made you laugh.

That's easy. Bombeck's "The Grass is Greener Over the Septic Tank". Everything Bombeck wrote.
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5). One book you wish you had written.

Several were on that list but I will choose John G. Fuller's "The Day of St. Anthony's Fire". Parts of it I would have rewritten in the street vernacular of the hippies and would have preached it from soapboxes and handed out free copies in an effort to counteract Timothy Leary's endorsement of LSD. Probably a futile effort; the mind expansion crap was too seductive for the young, but if I could have convinced just a few to leave LSD alone, maybe some would have not suffered the bad things. And yes, I know that many did their thing with no ill effects other than a bad trip or two, but some did not.
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6). One book you wish had never been written.

William Powell's "The Anarchist CookBook". Yes, I know that today you can get stuff off the internet that makes CookBook look like a kindergarten primer, and it is, comparatively. But if the CookBook hadn't been written, some tragedies may have been averted. I hated it. I hated what it taught foolish young ones, full of angst and rebellion, to do to hurt people and to hurt themselves.
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7). One book that made you cry.

Jack Hashian's "Mamigon". . Historically and factually accurate, written as a fictional novel, presents in plain, matter of fact prose the suffering of a people subjected to
incredibly inhumane sadism and genocide. Only one of many in history, sad to say. Reading this book helps one to understand other atrocities committed against a people, atrocities that are muted in the news and downplayed by governments. It makes you cry in pity, horror, and a terrible rage, and it sensitizes you to other inhumanities.
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8). One book you are currently reading

Reading two: "Our Endangered Values" by President Jimmy Carter (still haven't finished it) and "They Came Before Columbus" by Ivan Van Sertima, another maverick that has the scientific establishment standing on its ear. They are P.O.d.
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9). One book you are meaning to read.

Katherine Yurica's "BloodGuilty Churches". I've skimmed a few pages. Have read a number of articles by Yurica and in the main tend to agree with her. She has nailed the fundies pretty well.
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10). Tag 5 people.

OK.

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