Fun at Foster's blog

POST SCRIPTS FROM THE TWO WORLD WARS, continued

Post scripts part one

1984: George Orwell, 1948
      

      Orwell sets his story in war torn London, where 30 to 40 bombs rain down on the city per week. Having just emerged from WWII, Londoners would have intimately related to the deprivation and destruction portrayed in 1984. The country, called Oceania, is at war with East Asia. It has always been at war with East Asia, while Eurasia has always been its ally. These are the only known nations in the world of 1984.
      The main character is Winston Smith, an “Outer Party” member of the Political Party called Ingsoc. (Orwell’s “New Speak” term for English Socialism). He works for the “Ministry of Truth”, a propaganda bureaucracy in which employees like Winston Smith are ordered by the “Inner Party” to change the facts of the past to reflect the present. As the book begins, Smith is in the process of changing the past to reflect the point that Oceania is now at war with Eurasia and has always been at war with Eurasia, while East Asia has always been its ally.
       Perpetual war is the only mechanism that maintains a World Economy, meager though it is (illustrated by two world wars that were fought within 30 years of each other). Only the Inner Party at the top enjoys the luxuries of their station. And only the Proletariat, at the bottom, are totally free.
     This is a nation ruled by posters of “Big Brother” with the Party slogan “Big Brother is Watching You”. It is a place where one’s entire daily routine and life are controlled by the Party; and the people are watched by two-way huge “Telescreens” located in every room of every tenement, broadcasting Party Propaganda constantly. There are also “The Thought Police”, every day citizens who snitch to the party about others. And then there is Room 101, for those who are found guilty of breaking the Law. It is a chamber designed to modify one’s behavior to that of the Collective through the means of psychological trauma and physical torture. It is “The Worst Thing in the World” because the methods used reflect that which terrifies each individual the most from their own psychological profile.
      The irony is that Winston remembers a better time, before Ingsoc and so does not buy into the Party, even though he contributes to the collective amnesia that plagued Oceania, maintained the order and secured his own powerlessness. Then there is the insipid National Language called “Newspeak” which is in the process of being designed to limit the vocabulary to 100,000 functional words in order to eradicate critical thinking as a form of mind control . Something described as “loquacious and elegant” becomes “double-plus-good” in the Newspeak lexicon.
      In the end, Winston has been caught making love to a woman that forbids it through the Party’s “Anti Sex League” and is sentenced to Room 101. (All of this is occurring during the popularity of B.F. Skinners Post World War II “Behaviorism” psychology). He is transcended to a point where he now loves Ingsoc, though at some point in the future, when he least expects it, he knows that he will be executed as punishment for breaking such an egregious law.
    This is Orwell’s warning to the Post War Era of the huge Socialistic Bureaucracy that came about in England afterwards and to the advent of Television: That those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it in the future. BIG BROTHER is only a poster. But the frightening thing about it is that it cannot be assassinated like a dictator. However, Winston Smith knows the truth. He saw it in the run down tenements of the poverty stricken Proletariat. The Inner Party does not care about them. They are free from its rule. HOPE lies only with the proletariat.

The Resident Scholar - Doug Taylor

Big Book Sale at Foster Library!

The San Buenaventura Friends of the Library are having a huge used book sale. The sale will take place in the Topping Room at the library in downtown Ventura. Please stop by for some great deals!

Saturday, January 26th 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Sunday, January 27th 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Get there early to get the best books!

Graphic Novel Reporter

Looking for graphic novel reviews but don’t know where to start? Do you want to start a graphic novel collection in your library but don’t know what to buy? Want to find a comic book shop in your area? Well, the Graphic Novel Reporter website may be for you.

Graphic Novel Reporter contains everything, from reviews of comic titles to places where you can buy them. The reviews are divided into categories according to age: adult, teen, and kid. The reviews themselves give a brief summary of the book along with any warnings or concerns about content. A neat feature of the reviews includes links to related books as well as links to other titles written by the author. If you want to actually buy graphic novels, the Comic Shop Locator will give you a list of places in your area, searched by zip code. Click on a shop and you will get an address, phone number, hours of operation, and a list of the comic brands they carry.

For those wanting to start a collection in their library, there are core lists for all ages. Divided into lists of manga and graphic novels for kids, adults, and teens, the lists are updated every six months, with titles both new and old. There are also “Best of” lists for the past three years. Core lists are also downloadable.

Other cool features include a manga glossary for commonly used terms, an Events and Conventions page for upcoming shows in the world of comics (such as the San Diego Comic Con), discussion guides for a small handful of comic titles, and interviews with artists, writers, and publishers.

I found this website a good place to start, especially in regards to core lists for libraries. Because it is continually getting updated, you’ll be sure to see newer titles mixed in with classics in the genre. While it doesn’t have reviews for every title in the comics universe (and I haven’t met a site yet that does), it does have a broad range of titles for all ages. It’s certainly worth a look.

-Heather's Comic Superstars

One-Pot Cakes - Cookbook Review

 

I love this cookbook! One-pot cakes provides simple recipes with easy to find ingredients with very little
clean up time required. I baked the Chocolate Applesauce Cake and it was absolutely delicious, one hint,
refrigerating the cake for a few hours after baking made the cake set and brought out all of the cake’s
flavors. For the first time baker or seasoned pro, you can’t go wrong with this book.

Check out the book at Foster Library, or put a hold on it - we will send it to you!

If there are any cookbooks in Foster Library’s collection that you would like me to try out, please leave the title on our Facebook page and I’ll get cooking! 

***** David’s Dish

The Walking Dead

 

One of the best graphic novel series ever (and one of my personal favorites) is Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. In the very competitive world of comics, it has managed in ten years to not only survive, but thrive. It has become one of the most popular series ever, with a loyal following and even spawning a TV series. 

In case you have been living on a desert island in all that time, The Walking Dead is about the survivors of a zombie apocalypse. That’s right, zombies, lots of them. It starts off as a cross between Night of the Living Dead and 28 Days Later. Our protagonist, Rick Grimes, is a police officer recovering in the hospital from a near-fatal gunshot wound. He emerges from his coma to a world run rampant with zombies. How’s that for a hello and good morning. He eventually comes across other survivors, his wife and son among them. 

What follows is the result of a total societal collapse, a world with no T.V., no phones, no government, and no authority, nothing of the modern world we’ve become totally dependent on. From then on, it is a constant fight for food, shelter, and safety, all of which are in short supply. Characters come and go in brutal ways, some at the hands (or teeth) of the walkers (the term zombie is never actually used), but many at the hands of other survivors. If you ever wanted to know what could happen to the world if everything fell apart, zombies or no zombies, this is for you. People, including Rick, are forced to make difficult, often unpleasant, decisions in order to survive. 

At one point, he tells the group, “We are the walking dead.” They are surviving, but not really living. As they move from one location to another in their search for sanctuary, they come across other survivors, many of whom don’t play fair. That’s what makes this series so interesting. Sure, you have zombies to worry about, but it’s the human element that really is the focus. They have more to fear from other survivors than from the walkers. It’s the struggle to survive when everything we take for granted is gone, to rebuild something that was lost, to have some semblance of normalcy, even sanity, when everything has gone insane.  

It’s certainly not for the squeamish. There is violence, lots of it, and (for the prim and proper) language, but if you’re willing to give it a try, you’re in for great story of survival, love, loss, and of course, zombies.

Heather Seaton

 

  

 

Photo of the Day - 1/7

 

 

First National Bank Building @ 494 E. Main St. in Ventura

Built in 1926 by architect H. H. Winner, the four story building on the corner of Main and California was designed in the  Renaissance Revival style.  The building had one of the first elevators in Ventura County.  Erle Stanley Gardner had his secretary type up the drafts for his first Perry Mason novels at this location.  Many of Mr. Gardner’s mystery and nonfiction works are available at E. P. Foster Library.  

Resident Photographer - Aleta Rodriguez 

POST SCRIPTS FROM THE TWO WORLD WARS

 

There are two classic novels in the annals of Fine Literature that allude to the personal, emotional and political angst of an entire generation shortly after the two World Wars. They are Orwell’s “1984” and Hemingway’s  “The Sun Also Rises.” One directs its attention to the literal and figurative scars and trauma of The Great War in the behaviors of the major characters .The other envisions a bombed out world of totalitarian nihilism in the political constructs of a Bureaucratic Socialism during the aftermath of Nazi Germany. Both deal with the tolls taken from the harshness and horror of mechanized warfare on a grand scale. I will reference one here, and the other later in the month.

THE SUN ALSO RISES: Earnest Hemmingway, 1926

Right out of the gate, Hemingway’s first novel, after a life of short story writing, won him the Nobel Prize in Literature. This is a dramatic study of “The Lost Generation,” a term coined by Gertrude Stein. The pain that came from an embittered global war left many people with a sense of moral bankruptcy and hopelessness in a world they perceived as having no meaning. It was the time of Sartre and Camus at the height of Existential Nihilism.

The characters are either American or British expatriates living the good life abroad. None of them like staying in the same place for an extended period of time due to an uneasy restlessness and the fact that they devour their stay with heavy drinking and shallow, nonsensical actions (like the running with the bulls at Pamplona). These were the truly ugly, ugly Americans.

The most tragic of the characters are Jake and Brett, who love each other dearly, but can never consummate their love due to a war wound that has left Jake impotent. Her search for love leads her to a bull fighter in Spain, but it, like her other relationships, leaves Brett feeling unfulfilled. Jake understands her plight, but cannot help but feel heartbroken for both of them, when she always returns to be with him. She had been a nurse and lost her husband to the war.

The character Mike had gained his inhuman-like drinking ability from his service in the war. And Cohn, the journalist, is seemingly unaffected by war. The others resent him for not having to deal with his problems by drinking. Yet, he too suffers from pretense, particularly in his love affairs that also go awry, as he makes a fool of himself thinking he has a chance with Brett.

What really strikes me as masterful is Hemingway’s ability to go deep inside each of these characters, no matter how shallow they all seem. They come alive out of his pages in the dearth of the personages they really are from the war wounds received. As robust a man as Hemingway was, I find him experimenting with his own sense of personal wonder as to how he would deal with an affliction, like impotence. In the end, he leave us all with an understanding of their common fate, and hints at it from another title about the Spanish Civil War written much later, “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”

   The title itself is from Ecclesiastes: “The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose”. It is a metaphor of the fact that life will prevail no matter what hardships the world offers up. This was the novel that inspired me to become a writer. 

The Resident Scholar - Doug Taylor

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