14 March 2006


4. Twelfth Night, or What You Will by William Shakespeare (3/5)

5. Hieroglyphics: The Writings of Ancient Egypt by Maria C. Betro (3.5/5)

The use of the word "hieroglyphics" in this book (even the title) bothers me some because of its initial meaning. Books from a couple of decades ago make clear the distinction that hieroglyphs are the symbols and the language, while hieroglyphic is just an adjective relating to the script that's frequently misused. However, after consulting some current dictionaries, it's clear that hieroglyphics is just another word that's been misused so long that it's adopted the incorrect usage as part of its definition. The book was originally written in Italian, so it may not have been the choice of the original author.

Aside from that, the book is pretty good if you want to learn about individual hieroglyphs. The latter half of the text mostly devotes one page to each hieroglyph. The symbol is shown along with cursive equivalents in hieratic and demotic. The background and meaning of the symbol are given (if known) and are accompanied by a photographic example. Some of the examples could be better. In some cases, the thing the hieroglyph represents is shown instead of a written occurrencee of it.

6. Introducing Egyptian Hieroglyphs by Barbara Watterson (4/5)

The first half of the book provides very basic information on the origins of written language which I found pretty useless having already encountered it in other books. The second half is where it becomes worthwhile as the text shifts to instruction in the reading and writing of hieroglyphs. It omits the fact that hieroglyphs, like present-day handwriting, can vary in style from person to person, but it still gives a good overview. I'll need to check it out again to work through all the exercises and get a better handle on the grammar.

7. The Vagina Monologues (The V-Day edition) by Eve Ensler (5/5)

Easily the best thing I've read this year. In my rating system, 5/5 is reserved only for top favorites, books I want or do own, that I would reread multiple times. I read The Vagina Monologues yesterday, and already I want to reread it.

For some books, I skip introductions and post-chatter, but in this one, they're worth reading. The development of the play, the V-Day movement, and the effect it's had on other people involved with it is really compelling reading.

I remember the first time I saw part of the play. I was staying with some friends who had HBO during my longest nomadic trek back in 2002-2003. It had already started, but it didn't take me long to recognize what it must be. I didn't know what to expect, but it made me laugh. And then the next monologue was about a brutal rape, and I changed the channel. My HBO benefactors were three guys I knew from my film school and LA days. Good guys, but guys' guys. Their space was very male, and I just didn't feel comfortable watching it there- not that I find rape easy to hear about or see depicted anywhere.

It reminds me of My Dinner With Andre. What I recall most from that film are images that were never shown, just described.

In any case, I'm glad I finally got around to reading The Vagina Monologues as a whole piece. It made me feel like writing, and any book that can do that is good by me.

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  1. I fell asleep in the middle of My Dinner with Andre. Does that make me a bad intellectual?

  2. Maybe you already wrote about it in another post, but I'm curious how you became so interested in reading hieroglyphs.

  3. Michele: Nah. I was 7 or 8 when I saw it, so naturally the image of a naked guy getting buried alive stuck with me. The rest I don't much recall.

    Neil: The answer is too long, I'll make it a post.