impressions

The Daxue and Zhongyong

Richard Carroll
When reading Serious Literature for Grown-Ups, we may often feel like the Ethiopian courtier reading Isaiah, “How can I understand, if there is none to instruct me?” This can be difficult for some to admit, given the modern preference among many for coming to one’s own conclusions on things, but if we’re to grow in wisdom we need the intellectual humility to recognise that we do not and cannot know everything, especially on an early reading of a difficult text.

A Few Dr. Seuss Books

Richard Carroll
Dr. Seuss is a contender for the most famous author of children’s books, especially if we restrict that category to picture books. So, he’s not someone who needs my advertising here, but I only had a couple of his books when I was growing up, so reading these with my children is a new experience for me and I thought I may as well share a few thoughts on them.

Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio

Richard Carroll
I wasn’t able to do any seasonal reading for October last year, but now that I have a little spare time I decided to check out Pu Songling’s collection, Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio. I’ve read a few of these stories before in adapted form via the app Du Chinese, and eventually I’d like to read the original book. For now, though, I have to be content with the translation by John Minford.

Elizabethan Recusant Prose: 1559-1582

Richard Carroll
Sometimes, I come across a book that reminds me of how little I actually know. I’ve read a lot of books over the years, but as I’ve said elsewhere, my learning is broad but shallow. So, I always appreciate reading an author with true depth of knowledge is a specialised subject - e.g., A. C. Southern’s Elizabethan Recusant Prose: 1559-1582. Who is A. C. Southern? I actually couldn’t find much about him, except that this work is a revision of his Ph.

Fun with Board Books

Richard Carroll
When it comes to Serious Books for Grown-Ups, I’ve never read so little as I have in the past year and a half or so. That number hasn’t dropped to zero and I do still read more than the average American (though yes, that’s a low bar to clear), but it’s certainly not what I’d like. However, the total amount of time I’ve spent reading is as high as it’s ever been thanks to my children and their library of board books - which, for those who don’t know, are short books for babies and toddlers printed on stiff cardboard pages, so they’re much sturdier than regular books.

Foundations of Confucian Thought

Richard Carroll
A few years ago, I read and reviewed Yuri Pines’ book The Everlasting Empire, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in Chinese intellectual history, or Chinese history generally for that matter. Since I enjoyed that book, when I was looking for more work on Confucianism a while back I picked up one of his earlier books, Foundations of Confucian Thought: Intellectual Life in the Chunqiu Period, 722-453 B.C.E. Confucius and his followers did not, of course, emerge from nowhere, so a full understanding of Confucianism requires some knowledge not just of their source materials (primarily the Five Classics), but the intellectual milieu they originated in.

Cultured Grugs

Richard Carroll
Not that long ago, around 2015 or so, the Right was drowning in blogs and podcasts, but had no books and no art. Now it seems that every Rightist from the most erudite Reactionary to the simplest shitposter has a book they’d like to sell, whether it be political analysis, a novel, or book of essays. A number of broadly Right-wing publishers have also appeared over the last few years. All of this is, of course, a welcome development, as social media and short-form writing, despite certain strengths, are also limited by being short-lived and lacking space to develop any serious ideas.

The Road Home

Richard Carroll
Shortly after I began studying Chinese, I thought it would be interesting to check out some Chinese films. I can’t really understand spoken Chinese well yet, so admittedly, any movie would be more for entertainment and a touch of cultural immersion more than a language learning tool. Nonetheless, I decided to give The Road Home a shot recently since it’s well-reviewed and looked like a film my wife might also enjoy, which is rather rare with movies I like.

Two Books for Raising Saints

Richard Carroll
Last year, many of the books I read had to do with marriage. Now that I’m married, much of my 2021 reading has to do with raising children. The topics vary; most useful are those that are just “this is what you do with a newborn,” that is, how to feed, diaper, take temperatures, that sort of thing. Baby sign language is another interesting topic, as it allows older babies (roughly six months and older) communicate their needs, as well as share observations with family as a bridge to speech.

Snap Back to Reality

Richard Carroll
A couple years ago I did something rather dangerous and reviewed a novel written by an e-friend, Neovictorian’s Sanity. Fortunately, the novel was in fact enjoyable and genuinely interesting. Shortly after publishing Sanity, Neovictorian announced that he was working on a sequel, Reality, and I was, for the first time since high school, looking forward to a new novel by a living author. Amazing! Being swamped by schoolwork and wedding planning kept me from starting and finishing the book until recently, well after its January 2020 release date, but so it goes.