Metaphysica (Metaphysics) by Aristotle, Book Α
Filed under: Reader of the Stack Goes Canonical — Ibis at 12:02 pm on Sunday, February 15, 2009

I’m starting out on my next Aristotelian adventure, this time into the wilds of the Metaphysics. I’ve got my notes all lined up and an glossary of terms in Greek, English, and Latin. I’m going to try to make a little summary of each chapter as I read it, but I might not manage to do them all. I think this is the first book of Aristotle’s that has so much support material available. I guess people actually still read and study this one (as opposed to, say, Meteorology…).

Book Alpha
1. The advance from sensation through memory, experience, and art, to theoretical knowledge.


  • the desire for knowledge is part of human nature
  • learning is tied up with the senses and the capacity of memory
  • it is from memory that humans derive experience
  • skill arises from experience
  • experience is the knowledge of particulars and skill that of universals
  • those who have experience are more successful in practical situations than those with just theoretical knowledge
  • however, those with skill or knowledge are considered more wise because they know causes, not just the ‘that’ it happens & they are the ones who can teach
  • sensory input is not considered wisdom because there is no knowledge of causes
  • it is only when societies have leisure time or leisure classes that knowledge can be sought and obtained
Fifteen Days by Christie Blatchford
Filed under: Book Reviews,Goveror General's Literary Award — Ibis at 10:44 pm on Sunday, February 8, 2009

From the publisher:
“Long before she made her first trip to Afghanistan as an embedded reporter for The Globe and Mail, Christie Blatchford was already one of Canada’s most respected and eagerly read journalists. Her vivid prose, her unmistakable voice, her ability to connect emotionally with her subjects and readers, her hard-won and hard-nosed skills as a reporter–these had already established her as a household name. But with her many reports from Afghanistan, and in dozens of interviews with the returned members of the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and others back at home, she found the subject she was born to tackle. Her reporting of the conflict and her deeply empathetic observations of the men and women who wear the maple leaf are words for the ages, fit to stand alongside the nation’s best writing on war.

It is a testament to Christie Blatchford’s skills and integrity that along with the admiration of her readers, she won the respect and trust of the soldiers. They share breathtakingly honest accounts of their desire to serve, their willingness to confront fear and danger in the battlefield, their loyalty towards each other and the heartbreak occasioned by the loss of one of their own. Grounded in insights gained over the course of three trips to Afghanistan in 2006, and drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews not only with the servicemen and -women with whom she shared so much, but with their commanders and family members as well, Christie Blatchford creates a detailed, complex and deeply affecting picture of military life in the twenty-first century.”

My thoughts:
This is a very good book. Even though I’ve never experienced war and can’t possibly really understand what it’s like, Christie Blatchford has provided a window into the world of our soldiers in Afghanistan (at least what it was in 2006). You get a real sense of what operations are like, how it might feel to be under fire or at risk of an IED blowing up the vehicle you’re in, how the death of your mate could be so sudden and surprising but at the same time almost expected. She also gives insight into the lives of family and friends of the soldiers and the camaraderie of the military. I’m ending this book feeling even more respect for the troops because now I feel I have a greater knowledge of what they’re doing as well as a personal connection to them (even though I know the soldiers there now are not the same ones who were there in 2006). Anyway, I think Christie Blatchford really deserved the GG for this book.

Canada Reads 2009: Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards
Filed under: Canada Reads — Ibis at 9:21 pm on Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Canada Reads blurb for the book:
“When 12-year-old Sydney Henderson pushes Connie Devlin from a church roof, he makes a pact with God to never harm another soul if the boy survives.

Everything in Mercy Among the Children stems from this defining incident. After Connie gets up from the fall unscathed, Sydney goes through life in state of almost masochistic passivity and pacifism, in spite of the intolerance and ridicule he faces in his rural New Brunswick community.

Sydney’s choices eventually have consequences for his entire family, particularly his volatile son Lyle, who cannot comprehend his father’s turn-the-other-cheek attitude. When Sydney is implicated in a heinous crime in his Miramichi Valley community, Lyle decides that violence might be a more effective way to clear his family’s name.

Richards has been compared to Tolstoy for the moral questions he raises in this wrenching story. The novel is a compassionate depiction of people who struggle to endure the legacy of abuse, poverty and misfortune they’ve inherited from their parents.

Released to much praise in 2000, Mercy Among the Children was named one of the best books of the year by the Globe and Mail and Ottawa Citizen, and won the Scotiabank Giller Prize.”

Other useful links:
the Canada Reads page for Mercy Among the Children

My thoughts:
Before – This book has garnered much critical acclaim. Sometimes this heralds a good book, other times the book doesn’t live up to its hype. We’ll see which one Mercy turns out to be.

Canada Reads 2009: Fruit by Brian Francis
Filed under: Canada Reads — Ibis at 10:00 am on Monday, February 2, 2009

The Canada Reads blurb for the book:
“It’s 1984 in Sarnia, Ontario, and 13-year-old Peter Paddington is mortified. He’s overweight, has few friends and a crazy family and, to top things off, he’s just sprouted a pair of talking nipples.

When the ridicule of the bullies in his eighth grade class at Clarkedale Elementary grows too much to bear, Peter retreats into his own vivid imagination. At night, he seeks solace in his ‘Bedtime Movies’ — glamorous narratives, where he is always popular, famous and, most of all, loved. But by day, those pesky nipples won’t shut up. When they threaten to expose Peter’s innermost secrets and desires, he is forced to come up with a new plan, one that will help him finally accept himself.

Published in 2004, Brian Francis’s coming-of-age novel captures the realities of puberty and budding sexuality in living colour. Anyone who has ever felt like an awkward teenager or grown up around an eccentric cast of characters will find something to relate to in Peter’s story. This humorous and vivid take on one teenager’s life will have you laughing one instant and wincing in recognition the next.”

Other useful links:
the Canada Reads page for Fruit

My thoughts:
Before – This book was the one I was least looking forward to. An adolescent boy whose nipples talk to him? Everything about it seems unpleasant and juvenile. I’ve heard that it’s very funny so I’m trying to approach it with an open mind, but I can’t imagine that it will be a book that I think every Canadian should read.
After – This was a very quick read. Parts were somewhat humourous and I enjoyed the flashback to the 80s aspect (like Peter I was in grade 8 in 1984 too). Sometimes, especially at the beginning, I found it rather misogynistic (all the women put down by the narrator as annoying, selfish, or in the way of what he wants). It was okay, but not fantastic. Disliked the whole preoccupation with the nipples thing & the ending was particularly dumb. Not sure if I preferred this book or The Outlander.