2024 | 2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 |
2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 |

We lost Milo this year but I'm going to start reading books to dedicate these pages to him. Miss you, feller.


"Dirt Music" Tim Winton

He bangs away until he finds a sound. An E, he thinks, but it’s only a guess. Gets himself a four-four beat with a bit of shellgrit footstomp for color and suddenly there’s a groove, a little room in there for feeling. Boom-boom-boom-boom. It’s the righteous one-chord boogie of Mister John Lee Hooker. It’s Long John Baldry. It’s Elmore James and Sleepy John Estes. It’s a jaw harp wangling down the tree into the sandstone just begging for bottleneck and banjo. Okay not bluegrass but browngrass at least and the rest of you has to sing to it; there’s just no way you can’t. Makes you laugh, dammit. Gets your teeth buzzing. Boom-booma-boom-boo! Just one note. One, one, one, one. Yes Bill. You Bill. One command. One joy. One desire. One curse. One weight. One measure. One King. One God. One Law. One, one, one, one – you go up and down your note like a pup up and down a dune until you don’t feel your festering bites or your oozy eyes or sun-scoured neck, until you’re not one moment empty, nor one bit lost or one breath scared. You’re so damn far into ones you’re not one anything. You’re a resonating multiplication. You’re a crowd. You’re the stones at Georgie’s back and the olives shaken to the dirt at her feet. All the hot sweet night you’re the hairs on the back of her arm.

"Saturday" Ian McEwan

How restful it must have been, in another age, to be prosperous and believe that an all-knowing supernatural force had allotted people to their stations in life. And not see how the belief served your own prosperity – a form of anosognosia, a useful psychiatric term for a lack of awareness of one’s own condition. Now we think we do see, how do things stand? After the ruinous experiments of the lately deceased century, after so much vile behavior, so many deaths, a queasy agnosticism has settled around these matters of justice and redistributed wealth. No more big idea. The world must improve, if at all, by tiny steps. People mostly take an existential view – having to sweep the streets for a living looks like simple bad luck. It’s not a visionary age. The streets need to be clean. Let the unlucky enlist.

"Cities of the Plain" Cormac McCarthy

Men imagine that the choices before them are theirs to make. But we are free to act only upon what is given. Choice is lost in the maze of generations and each act in that maze is itself an enslavement for it voids every alternative and binds one ever more tightly into the constraints that make a life. If the dead man could have forgiven his enemy for whatever wrong was done to him all would have been otherwise. Did the son set out to avenge his father? Did the dead man sacrifice his son? Our plans are predicted upon a future unknown to us. The world takes its form hourly by a weighing of things at hand, and while we may seek to puzzle out that form we have no way to do so. We have only God’s law, and the wisdom to follow it if we will.

"Wise Blood" Flannery O'Connor

"The Long-Legged Fly" James Sallis

“Big Joe Williams.” Full screen, then quarter screen above and to the left of Corduroy Steel-rim. “He once told an interviewer that all these young guys had it wrong. They were trying to get inside the blues, he said, when what the blues was, was a way of letting you get outside – outside the sixteen or eighteen hours you had to work every day, outside where you lived and what you and your children had to look forward to, outside the way you just plain hurt all the time.”
Very low behind him, some sprightly finger-picked ragtime from Blind Blake, segueing into Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was the Night.” “Blue, then, developed, ultimately, as another form of dissembling, another way of not saying what was meant. As a ‘safe’ way of dealing with anger, pain, disillusion, rage, loss. The bluesman singing that his baby’s down left him again is not talking about the end of a relationship, he is bemoaning the usurpation of his entire life and self.”

"Cry Me A River" T. R. Pearson

Clifford hadn’t bothered to carry with him the generator manual since he was after all a guy and the generator was a mechanized contraption, and he just guessed guys like him could manipulate a contraption like that without a book to instruct and illuminate him. He’d made the thing work well enough at the chief’s lawn party, but he could not in truth recall how in fact he’d managed to do it as there were valves to shut and dials to set and switches to throw. He figured it would come to him shortly, was waiting there on the shoulder still for it to come when Ellis, who had appreciably more guy to him even half-drunk than Clifford ever would stone sober, manipulated the valves and set the dials and threw the switches and choked the carburetor and pulled the starter cord and brought thereby that contraption to life.

My neighbor upstairs is a homosexual who calls himself Desmond though I know from his mother that his name is instead Bob. Desmond is not a bashful and retiring sort of fellow and seems quite proud of his orientation, incorporates the news of it into every introduction he makes for himself, announces his name and identifies his alignment as stoutly and forthrightly as if he were maybe just a Freemason or a practicing Republican. Desmond is not a dainty manner of creature and I evermore hear him stalking about overhead, pounding the nappy carpet with his bell-peen feet. He can never seem to light and linger in one place or another but wanders and circulates most of the evening hours until I guess he gives out and collapses at last. Desmond owns a pair of tufted boudoir chairs, a couple of claw footed tables, an empire settee and a carved mahogany bed along with a handsome armoire where he keeps his stereo and his extensive collection of recordings, cast albums chiefly from musical productions that sound through the ceiling to have been composed by organ grinders.

I bought a little TV at a tag sale and it had there at the outset a bright, crisp picture, but come one Saturday afternoon I wrenched off the antenna trying to bring in the bowling which I took as a sign and a visitation and concluded on my own that a fellow who’s watch people bowl on television probably doesn’t deserve an antenna or have much claim to decent reception. It wasn’t even like I could so much as hear the thing in the first place due to Desmond upstairs whose schedule seemed often enough to coincide with my own. Whenever I was disposed to lay about and watch some species of idiocy on my TV Desmond would invariably grow inspired to tour his premises at a trot, race sometimes between rooms or up and back along the hallway and raise on occasion his voice with the cast members who would sing alone or sing in pairs or join all up and sing as a chorus with near as much modulation and charm as a sack full of pie pans dragged along the ground.

Mr. Shumate, however, in the tradition of poetical sorts the world over, was far too transported by the delicate beauty of his declamations to take much notice of their anesthetic effects which allowed him in time to become, in the hoary tradition of poets, friendless and solitary but for the occasional company of versifiers otherwise of which there were assorted local specimens who were prone to exchange sumptuous poetical phrases like mortar rounds. Blessed consequently with the disposition and the occasion both to work largely undistracted by regular human commerce, Mr. Shumate began to enlarge the scope of his endeavors and progressed presently beyond mere lines and phrases, improved his leisure by cobbling together entire stanzas and full-scale poems outright.

"The Outlander" Gil Adamson

Even here, solitude was impossible, as if the world were a nerve-jangling carnival where grotesqueries might swing out on springs and cackle at him – lost and wild girls beckoning, dead men aping his own likely future. He stepped wide around the shallow lump, wide and quiet, and went on quietly, as if some unseen spirit hung in the trees, watching. Then he started toward higher ground. Moving not north or west, but up, higher, toward the peaks. Away from man and woman. Away from life itself.

They came from a family of fifteen boys, an incredible assault on the laws of probability. The mother dead of exhaustion when the youngest was two – lucky for her, the family wisdom went, otherwise she would have just gone on having boys. How many could she bear? As with any family of more than four children, the older ones looked after the younger ones. Most of the boys knew how to sew and change a diaper, and they all knew how to cook, though badly.

"Crow Lake" Mary Lawson

He told me that all creatures, from the single-celled to the most complex, the main purpose in life was to reproduce. I remember being puzzled. It seemed strange that something should exist only in order to cause something else to exist. It was unsatisfactory, somehow. Rather pointless, like traveling for the sake of it.

"The Bartender's Tale" Ivan Doig

"In the Garden of the Beasts" Erik Larson

"The Troubled Man" Henning Mankell

"The History of Love" Nicole Krauss

Bird asked what a paleontologist was and Mom said that if he took a complete, illustrated guide to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, shred it into a hundred pieces, cast them into the wind from the museum's steps, let a few weeks pass, went back and scoured Fifth Avenue and Central Park for as many surviving scraps as he could find, then tried to reconstruct the history of painting, including schools, styles, genres, and names of painters from his scraps, that would be like being a paleontologist. The only difference is that paleontologists study fossils in order to figure out the origin of life. Every fourteen-year-old should know something about where she comes from, my mother said. It wouldn't do to go around without the faintest clue of how it all began.

"Night Crew" John Sanford

"Blood Ties" Jennifer Lash

Truth was, she felt, such a transitory thing. One man's certainty might well be another's incredulity. The only dimension civilization depended on, was a kind of calm; the strength of order; the presence of coherent patterns; the regulation of chaos. Too many questions, too much acknowledgment of alternatives, other angles, other points of view, might lead to fresh chaos and greater disorder. It was the way to anarchy, to the blind, blood-letting pursuit of that wild freedom advocated by the ill-educated mob who sought only for themselves, totally disregarding the balance, the complete picture.

"After Silence" Jonathan Carroll

One of my favorite "new" authors. Also recently read White Apples and Outside the Dog Museum. Highly intelligent and swiftly moving fiction.

"Sunset Limited" James Lee Burke

My experience has been that the physical and emotional transformation that eventually comes aborning in every bully never takes but one form. The catalyst is fear and its effects are like a flame on candle wax. The sneer around the mouth and the contempt and disdain in the eyes melt away and are replaced by a self-effacing smile, a confession of an inconsequential weakness, and a saccharine affectation of goodwill in the voice. The disingenuousness is like oil exuded from the skin; there's an actual stink in the clothes.

"Where You Once Belonged" Kent Haruf

"Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children" Ransom Riggs

"White Apples" Jonathan Carroll

After Coco scattered some tiles on the bar in front of her friend Isabelle –
"No one can ever leave their design alone once they've started tinkering with it, and everyone does. If you move this tile, now that one needs realigning. Then another. Your whole life you're moving your pieces around and around, always trying to get the big picture just right. Sometimes it looks okay for a while, it looks perfect. But then you get older, or the things in your life change, and suddenly the pieces need to be shuffled again. Again and again, like what you're doing now."
Isabelle had been staring at her design. Looking up, she saw Coco put one of the unused tiles in her mouth and start chewing it. She picked up another and ate that too. After she'd swallowed, Coco continued talking.
"There are two mosaics. The first is the life that you create and live. When it's finished, that life is placed into a greater mosaic. The one where everything goes at the end."

"That Old Ace In the Hole" Annie Proulx

LaVon snorted. “Forget that pioneer and first-settler stuff,” she said. “They didn't have much to do with town locations. It was all the rayroads. The rayroad corporations said where the towns was goin a go and that's where they went. Nothin a do with pioneers. It was all corporate goals and money and business. Then they sold lots and hoped it would all work out. The rayroads didn't care about the towns – they was after the long-term wheat and cattle freight charges. They had plans for the whole region, the whole state – the whole country – and they run things. What the rayroads done is break things up.Used a be a special kind of panhandle region here from Dodge City to Mobeetie to Old Tascoa, all tied together by the trails. I agree there was some towns away from the rayroad that people started, like Cowboy Rose, but most of them was out in the boondocks and they wasn't worth much. Funny, now it's those little places that people like. A course Cowboy Rose got the spur track in later but it never started out as a rayroad town. Rayroad towns was strictly about money – business street, depot, bank, couple a merchants. Not much else. It was a different place then. But everything changes.”

Headaches, sore throat, dizziness. Them hogs are pumped full a antibiotics and growth hormones. Eat that pork and it gets in you. Bacteria and viruses adapt to the antibiotics so the day is comin when if we get sick the antibiotics can't help.

He came out of the bakery with his warm sack of cookies and drove to the tiny park with its shade trees, where he planned to enjoy the first half dozen. He found an empty bench near the playground, swept the fallen leaves and twigs from it and, while he ate the cookies, watched two or three preschoolers play, their mothers sitting on the concrete curbing around the sandpit. An older girl, certainly old enough to be in school, perhaps the fifth grade, was twirling around a maypole affair, clutching a leather strap attached to a nylon cord. Each time she swung herself off the ground for a spin she cried, 'Wheee!' in a high, put-on voice. He was instantly, with the speed of a slammed door, transported to some swing in his childhood, a tire swing tied to the branch of a shady tree and himself swinging and saying 'Wheee!' in exactly the same way, saying it, not out of glee, but because it was what you said when you swung around, and remembered himself alone and marked for solitude, beneath his feet the oval of hard dirt where the grass was worn away, feeling sick from the motion of the swing but still saying 'Wheee!' as thought he were having fun, although there was no one to see nor hear him. He could smell the tree and the tire with its little slosh of water from the last time it had rained, and a very bad feeling of desolation, of aching loneliness, flooded through him and into the taste of the cookies, which he knew he would never like again.

"Man With An Axe" Jon A. Jackson

Jon Jackson has become one of my favorite detective murder-mystery novelists. This one is the 7th in a series that features Detroit Detective Sergeant "Fang" Mulheisen. I'm sure I've missed some continuity so now it's time to find the first six. Lot's of Detroit references and it's also helpful if you have some knowledge of jazz history. Why is this? How can it be? Is it just that most of us have such an unassuageable hunger for community that even a squad of avowed mercenary athletes, all dressed up in the same costume and proclaiming that they are the Detroit team, suffices to bind us into a semblance of unity? Is it because we followed the fortunes of the team on radio and television and in the papers from our youth on, so that even when the names of the individual heroes change the corporate image remains and that image is cloaked in our childhood dreams and heartbreaks and longings, to the extent that at the age of forty, or fifty, or even ninety, we pick up a newspaper and automatically look to see how the Tigers, or the Red Wings, are doing?

"Freedomland" Richard Price

Detective story. Movie made from it. I can't seem to get enough of these quick read whodunits…

Quote of the Day
From a previously unpublished excerpt of a 1978 interview with Susan Sontag by Jonathan Cott (Harper's, Aug 2013):

Sontag: "…Somebody once asked Picasso why he never traveled abroad. He went from Spain to Paris and then moved to the south of France, but he never went anywhere. And he said: I travel in my head. I do think there are those choices, and perhaps you don't feel them so much when you're young – and probably you shouldn't – but later on, if you want to go beyond something that is simply good or promising to the real fulfillment and risk-taking of a big body of work, you have to stay home."

"False Friend" Myla Goldberg

"Sudden Prey" John Sanford

"Three Junes" Julia Glass

Of the virtues his father preached, discretion began to seem the most rewarding: It kept people guessing and sometimes, by default, admiring.

"All I did for years, all I remember doing, was practice. Practice: such a limp word for the context. You do not, if you are serious, practice your instrument. You flay, eviscerate, excoriate the thing until it surrenders its thingness, until its carapace cracks open and it bleeds. Even a voice. You belabor it until any sound but the sound of that instrument is, to your ears, gelatinous babble.” As he lectured me, he gazed imperiously at a billboard showing a tight-bodied boy in underpants that were tighter still. Mal's face glowed blue, then red, then orange as trade names winked above the avenue before us.

"Before the Frost" Henning Mankell

"Life Is Elsewhere" Milan Kundera

Revolution and youth are closely allied. What can a revolution promise adults? To some it brings disgrace, to others favor. But even that favor is questionable, for it affects only the worse half of life, and in addition to advantages it also entails uncertainty, exhausting activity and upheaval of settled habits.
Youth is substantially better off: it is not burdened by guilt, and the revolution can accept young people in toto. The uncertainty of revolutionary times is an advantage for youth, because it is the world of the fathers that is challenged. How exciting is the entry into the age of maturity over the shattered ramparts of the adult world!

"Bee Season" Myla Goldberg

Aaron's friendships up to this point have been circumstantial, fellow targets and picked-lasts banding together for safety's sake. Conversations have been confined to sanctioned topics: sports, girls, television, school. Any slight departure from this limited docket could open up the potential for further singling out, a rick that none of them, already at the bottom rung of the social ladder, dared take. When Aaron was younger, a friend was anyone he played with at recess, a good friend anyone with whom he also shared lunch. Only recently has Aaron realized that he knows as little about the remaindered boys he calls friends as they know about him. The years they have known each other have buttressed, rather than eased, their conversational boundaries. Rules established long ago have become the fabric of the friendships themselves. Aaron cannot imagine asking the religious views of Marvin, a compulsive reader of fantasy paperbacks featuring beasts and busty virgins on their covers. Or Steven, who brushed his teeth after every meal and wears his headgear in school, if he's ever felt God. He knows too well what would happen should he interrupt a cafeteria comparison of NBA coaching styles with a question about meditation – the silence, the strange looks, the unspoken excitement that one of their number had opened himself up for attack. Thought the benefits of Aaron's membership in this group are limited to a regular lunch table and someone with whom to split a bucket of popcorn at the next Superman sequel, it is better than complete lonerdom, that lowest caste forced to scramble for unoccupied cafeteria seats, suffering the slings and arrows of the other diners. It is better than having to see a movie alone. Aaron had comforted himself with the idea that college would offer the opportunity for an improved him to gain a new set of friends.

"The Snowman" Jo Nesbø

"84" Haruki Murakami

On October 6, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated by radical Islamic terrorists. Aomame recalled the event with renewed pity for Sadat. She had always been fond of Sadat's bald head, and she felt only revulsion for any kind of religious fundamentalists. The very thought of such people's intolerant worldview, their inflated sense of their own superiority, and their callous imposition of their own beliefs on others was enough to fill her with rage.

Again Ushikawa raised his hand to stop Tengo. It was a small hand, but the fingers were short and stubby. “Now, now, please don't get worked up over this. I don't mean any harm. All I am trying to say is that selling off one's talents and time in dribs and drabs to make ends meet never produces good results. It may sound presumptuous of me to say this, but your talent is a genuine diamond in the rough, and I don't want to see it wasted and ruined on pointless things."

"No need to explain," Tengo said. If you can't understand it without an explanation, you can't understand it with an explanation.

Whenever the sixth tune on the flip side of the LP, 'Atlanta Blues,' began, she would grab one of Tengo's body parts and praise Bigard's concise, exquisite solo, which was sandwiched between Armstrong's song and his trumpet solo. 'Listen to that! Amazing – that first, long wail like a little child's cry! What is it – surprise? Overflowing joy? An appeal for happiness? It turns into a joyful sigh and weaves its way through a beautiful river of sound until it's smoothly absorbed into some perfect, unknowable place. There! Listen! Nobody else can play such thrilling solos. Jimmy Noone, Sidney Bechet, Pee Wee Russell, Benny Goodman: they're all great clarinetists, but none of them can create such perfectly sculptured works of art.

"Outside the Dog Museum" Jonathan Carroll

Somehow the noise suddenly moved a step closer. As if one moment it was out there, the next here, inches away, close enough to feel its breath on my face. Although my eyes were closed, I felt a kind of vertigo. My brain didn't even have to click in before my stomach wailed, 'Get back!' Only here it wasn't fear of falling from a great height, it was because noise had so totally invaded and taken over. Perhaps we need five senses because singly they're too intense and concentrated. Hearing alone, for example, would drive us mad. Life lived only through sound. That's what vertigo is – suddenly life goes only through the eyes and it's too much.

I don't know about Morton, but the ten days we spent together in Zell am See were some of the best of my life. As an adult, I have never had a real man friend, and I use that term in all the rough and tumble, us pals, drink into the night, talk about women, spill your male guts way it was intended. As friends, women interest me far more than men. Women's minds are more intricate and labyrinthine, their perceptions deeper, and what they tell you is generally new stuff. Male friendships are ham and eggs, toast and coffee meals. Men-Women friendships are an exotic, foreign taste – delicious in odd ways, like fresh paprika, like fennel.

"Listen, I want to tell you something last. My speech is coming apart, everything is, but stay with me. I'll try to make it clear enough to understand for you. Mankind's always paid too much attention to the dead. It's been a fundamental part of life itself. Don't you do this, Harry. Forget the dead. Forget dying. It was never part of God's design. Man invented death, and so long as it continues to fascinate him, God allows it to remain." The next time the big man tried, he was able to get up again and make it to the door. "Threaten the dead. Make them afraid with what you create. Any man who loves his work forgets the dead, even his own. Any human work that is finished shows them again how incomplete they are."

"The Leopard" Jo Nesbø

"The Valkyries" Paulo Coehlo

"A Dog's Ransom" Patricia Highsmith

"The Phantom Tollbooth" Norton Juster

"SILENCE," suggested the king. "Now, young man, what can you do to entertain us? Sing songs? Tell stories? Compose sonnets? Juggle plates? Do tumbling tricks? Which is it?"
"I can't do any of those things," admitted Milo.
"What an ordinary little boy," commented the king. "Why, my cabinet members can do all sorts of things. The duke here can make mountains out of molehills. The minister splits hairs. The count makes hay while the sun shines. The earl leaves no stone unturned. And the undersecretary," he finished ominously, "hangs by a thread. Can't you do anything at all?"

"An Echo In the Bone" Diane Gabaldon

"Life" Keith Richards

Even for non-guitar players, it's worth trying to describe what he does. At the 5 chord, instead of making the conventional barre chord, the B7th, which requires a little effort with the left hand, he wouldn't bother with the B at all. He'd leave the open A note ringing and just slide a finger up the D string to a 7th. Believe me, it's the laziest, sloppiest single thing you can do in that situation, and (b) one of the most brilliant musical inventions of all time. But that is how Jimmy Reed managed to play the same song for thirty years and get away with it. I learned how to do it from a white boy, Bobby Goldsboro, who had a couple of hits in the '60s. He used to work with Jimmy Reed and said he'd show me the tricks. I knew all the other moves, but I never knew that 5 chord move until he showed it to me, on a bus somewhere in Ohio, in the mid-'60s. He said, “I spent years on the road with Jimmy Reed. He does that 5 chord like this.” “Shit! That's all it is?” “That's it, motherfucker. You live and learn.” Suddenly, out of a bright sky, you get it! That haunting droning note. Absolute disregard for any musical rules whatsoever. Also absolute disregard for the audience or anybody else. “It goes like this.” In a way, we admired Jimmy more for that than his playing. It was the attitude. And also very haunting songs. They might be based on a seemingly simplistic bedrock, but you try 'Little Rain.'

The beauty, the majesty of the five-string open G tuning for an electric guitar is that you've only got three note – the other two are repetitions of each other an octave apart. It's tuned GDGBD. Certain strings run through the whole song, so you get a drone going all the time, and because it's electric they reverberate. Only three notes, but because of these different octaves, if fills the whole gap between bass and top notes with sound. It gives you this beautiful resonance and ring. I found working with open tunings that there's a million places you don't need to put your fingers. The notes are there already. You can leave certain strings wide open. It's finding the spaces in between that makes open tuning work. And if you're working the right chord, you can hear this other chord going on behind it, which actually you're not playing. It's there. It defies logic. And it's just laying there saying, “Fuck me.” And it's a matter of the same old cliché´in that respect. It's what you leave out that counts. Let it go so that one note harmonizes off the other. And so even though you've now changed your fingers to another position, that note is still ringing. And you can even let it hang there. It's called the drone note. Or at least that's what I call it. The sitar works on similar lines – sympathetic ringing, or what they call the sympathetic strings. Logically it shouldn't work, but when you play it, and the note keeps ringing even though you've now changes to another chord, you realize that that is the root note of the whole thing you're trying to do. It's the drone.

"My Friend Dahmer" Derf Backderf

"Naked Prey" John Sanford

"Headhunters" Jo Nesbø

"The Forgery of Venus" Michael Gruber

"I was thinking the robber barons of America or the aristocrats of Europe. And the artists themselves have always been freebooters, living on the edge of society. When art becomes domesticated into a branch of show business, it becomes flaccid and dull, as now." "Sorry, but that's nonsense, like Harry Lime's remark about Switzerland and the cuckoo clock in The Third Man Velazquez had a steady job –"
"Yes, and in his lifetime he did fewer than hundred fifty paintings. Rembrandt, living on the edge, did over five hundred."
"And Vermeer, who was even more on the edge, did forty. I'm sorry, it won't was, Krebs. You can't generalize about what kind of temperament and what social conditions produce great painting. It's a mystery."
I could see he was starting to get a little steamed to have his pet theories exploded like this, but it's always gotten me steamed to hear theories about how art happens dumped on my head by people who never handled a brush. But then he shrugged, and smiled, and said, "Well, perhaps you're right. It is a life I am used to, and we all tell ourselves stories to justify ourselves to others, because we wish to have some company in these little scenarios. But I see it is not to be, you have a head as hard as mine. And really, it does not matter in the least, as long as you do not forget that the sword that hangs over us is harder than both our heads. Ah, good, here is our meal."

"…You ingest a drug and you experience events outside the bounds of rational explanation. Tell me, are you familiar with the theory that we have five bodies?"
"No," I said, "but I'm not sure I want to know about it, if it's going to scare me worse than I am already."
He smiled like the mad scientist in a bad movie, mock sadistically, or maybe not that mock. "Yes, so first we have the body that science and medicine deal with, the meat, the nerves and chemicals and so on. Then we have the second, the representation of the body in the mind, which does not always match the reality of the first – phantom limbs and so on – plus the sense of ourselves and the recognition that this thing also exists in others, as when we feel the loom of another person close to us or look into another's eyes."
He looked into my eyes and grinned.
"Third we have the unconscious body, the source of dreams and, we think, of creativity. It is the task of the mystics to merge the second with the third body to find the soul, as they would put it. Those who accomplish this are the only ones who are truly awake – everyone else is a robot enslaved to the mass mind, as pumped out by the media or established by social norms. Then fourth is the magical body, by which adepts can be in two places at once or walk through walls or heal the sick or curse their enemies. Finally there is the spiritual body, which Hegel called the zeitgeist. The one who can control all the other bodies and also controls history."
"You believe all this?"
He shrugged. "It's just a theory. But it does explain some things. It explains how you could become Velasquez. It helps to explain why the most cultivated and educated nation in Europe should have submitted itself happily and enthusiastically to the absolute power of an ill-bred corporal. I can tell you, Wimot, I was there, just a boy perhaps, but I was there. I felt the power. For my first years of conscious life I was living entirely in someone else's dream, and my father, who is no fool, was the same. Even now, it is hard for me to believe that such power was entirely of this world. And when it was over, as soon as he blew out his brains, I felt a sense of release, of waking out of a long dream, and every German who was conscious at the time will tell you the same story. We looked around at the ruins and asked ourselves, how did this happen? How did ordinary Germans do such terrible things? Some people have argued that Germans are naturally brutal and undemocratic, at your knees or at your throat, as they say, but this is unsatisfying. The French terrified Europe for far longer than the Germans ever did, and they are always held up as the model of civilization, and the Scandinavians were monsters of destruction for three centuries and are all lambs up there now and don't hurt a fly. And besides that, if we are naturally so awful, how come we are today the least militaristic nation on earth? So my point is that, if such a mysterious and unexpected thing could happen to a whole nation, I think that when a man tells me he is living for periods in a different time and having the thoughts of a man long dead, I say, why not?"

"The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian" Lawrence Block