The Lows

‘Beauty Sleep’ by Kate Camp


 I read several other books of her poetry last year and enjoyed them. Not sure if it was a change in me or this book was different from those, but did not enjoy this one near as much. I can’t even remember much of it now, so probably best summed up as unremarkable.

‘Selected Poems of James K Baxter’ James K. Baxter


 Heavy going. Almost didn’t finisht this career-spanning collection of poetry. I picked this up because I’d enjoyed ‘Autumn Testament’. Disappointing. I had to wade through the bland, lifeless poems covering his early career.

Yeah, I get it. He was all into classical forms and allusions to classical myth etc. Pretentious tripe. It was boring and overly structured. I liked his form-defying later stuff where he gets into a more local, commune-inspired, Māori-Christian-mystic-spiritualist vibe. Probably best kept more as a refernce, or something you pick at from time to time rather than trying to bulldoze through (like I did).

 ‘Miscellany One’ by Dylan Thomas


 Another cheap find in a second hand store. Mostly bought it because it’s, you know, the Dylan Thomas. It was boring.

 ‘Exile and the Kingdom’ by Albert Camus


 Perhaps a little unfair to put this in ‘the Lows’ but I had to pad-out this section somehow because I don’t like to waste my time reading crap. I found most of the stories  unremarkable. They weren’t terrible, but there was this feeling that Camus was alluding to a deeper theme in these compact short-stories and maybe I’m just dumb, but I didn’t get it. They were just short-stories to me… with little plot, characters as crude tools and no real theme.

‘Inside Rehab’ by Anne Fletcher


 I found this really interesting at the start, but then it becomes quite apparent the author has an agenda and then drags out the whole book to try and prove or at least support their view. Of course, she could’ve researched it first, reached this view from observation, then wrote about it. But it wasn’t the feeling I got from the book. Definitely more focussed on the US system but still probably worth reading for alcohol and drug workers or those with an interest in different rehab models an their effectiveness. (General conclusion: in-patient treatment is no more effective than out-patient and even worse in some instances. Most models and facilities are behind the times, not keeping up with modern empirical findings).

‘Thomas Hobbes’ by A E Taylor


 Exceptionally dry and snoozish discussion of Thomas Hobbes’s work. Read this for a university assignment. Wished I hadn’t.

‘Primates and Philosophers’ by Frans De Waal


 Also read this for a University assignment. It’s a primatologist drawing on his research to argue for evolution of morality, including altruism and empathy. He argues that we can have a positive morality (rather than the more cynical, negative ‘veneer theory’, ‘egoist’ model where morality is learned for self-preservation, self-interest etc) without needing to include God or spirituality. Dry, heavy going… except for the parts where the chimps be all friendly to each other and try and help wounded birds to fly. Those parts were awesome.


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