This week at the Archive | 31 October 2011

The Girl in the Flammable Skirt: Stories, Aimee Bender

Here’s how the publisher described Bender’s 1998 debut collection of short stories: Aimee Bender’s stories portray a world twisted on its axis, a place of unconvention that resembles nothing so much as real life, in all its grotesque, beautiful glory. From the first line of each tale she lets us know she is telling a story, but the moral is never quite what we expect.

—suggested by George Oates

The Last Man on Earth

This classic film—based on the Richard Matheson science fiction Classic “I am Legend” and later remade as “The Omega Man”—features Vincent Price as a scientist in a post apocalyptic nightmare world consumed by bloodthirsty vampires. It’s a fine film for Halloween, or any other day.

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Recordings from the Illegal Art Exhibit collection

These songs are from the Illegal Art Exhibit, which documents the impact of copyright law on freedom of expression. Many of these tracks have been censored due to intellectual property law. For background on the particular tracks and the cases involved, see Copyright and Music: A History Told in MP3s.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu: Basics, and Joseph Goldstein on Satipatthana

These two selections—one from a great lay Buddhist meditation teacher, the other from a renowned American bhikkhu (Buddhist monk)—are essentially thorough courses in the development of the Buddha’s teaching. If there is one thing that I think should be preserved for future generations—one thing that will be as relevant in five years as it will in 5,000 it is to be found in both of these collections.

And what is that one thing? It is this: 2,500 years ago, an extraordinary human being, through rigorous self-experimentation, discovered a method for untangling human suffering. This path he devised is a gradual one and, as such, it does not place unconditional demands upon one’s faith. Instead it produces distinct results for one who makes the time and puts forth the effort to cultivate the practice.

Of all the audio series that I’ve heard on the subject, these two collections are among the very best. The first is a systematic explication of one of the most famous of the the Buddha’s discourses on the art of meditation in 35 progressive hour-long talks. The second collection consists of 55 15 minute impromptu discourses that focus on practical aspects of the teaching and methods for the development of intuitive wisdom.

—Danny Bernstein

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—David Glenn Rinehart