I checked out from the library and finished reading the book “We The Media, Grassroots Journalism By The People For The People”, by Dan Gillmor (O'Reilly Press). Dan Gillmor is a well known columnist for the San Jose Mercury News. In his book, he discusses in what ways he thinks the internet might affect things such as journalism and politics, and other aspects of society. The book has plenty of interesting tidbits of information, interesting observations and speculations, talks some about blogging, has a large listing of URLs and footnotes in the back, and also has plenty of glittering generalities and a few good points that I would agree with. His favorite word in the book is “conversation”, which occurs again and again, and it is significant that he sometimes cites the Cluetrain Manifesto. Also, in various places Mr. Gillmor definitely shows himself to be rather left-of-center since it is evident that he takes loony Leftist™ outfits like Indymedia seriously (see pages 144-148). But I will wink at that because I consider the book overall to be well written and thoughtful and okay reading. It’s not what I would call a “great” book, but it was a competently written one and worth reading.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
As I have mentioned earlier, I have been reading Eusebius’ History of the Church. I’ve reached the part where he covers the Great Persecution under Roman emperors Diocletian and Maximin, and indeed it was very horrific. What is curious to me is Eusebius’ attitude about suicide. As far as I can recall, Xtians have always opposed suicide under all circumstances. I did notice however that Eusebius, with no hint of censure on his part, mentioned several cases, in his lengthy accounts of the persecution, where Xtian women committed suicide, often by drowning themselves in a nearby river, rather than endure impending sexual assault at the hands of Roman soldiers, or others, who were acting as tools of the persecution. Eusebius seemed to think that suicide was commendable in this case. While I am not trying to make too much out of this, I did find it curious, and it might provide a different perspective on the well known painting by Paul Delaroche, entitled “The Young Martyr”. In the painting, we have a beautiful young maiden, hands bound, floating dead in the clear water of a river. Although it is late evening, the background being dark, a heavenly light shines down from above upon her, and an aureole is depicted just above her head, an artistic convention indicating a martyr. However, there is no indications of the cause of death, and no apparent wounds are seen anywhere, so presumably the young lady died by drowning. What I wonder is whether in this case the painter Delaroche was harkening back to the incidents mentioned by Eusebius, and thus is implying that the lady chose to drown herself rather than have her chastity assaulted. I really don’t know for sure, but the painting might have such an interpretation.
Sunday, January 02, 2005
While I am ruminating on what direction to take Lunar Skeletons, I have been reading The History of the Church by Eusebius (AD 260-339), who was once a bishop in Caesarea in Palestine back in the days of the Roman Empire. I read The History once before, years ago, but this Christmas I received a gift card to Border's Books, and so I decided, for some reason, to pick up the Penguin Classics edition of G.A. Williamson's translation. Eusebius may sound dry-as-dust, but for me at least, it has been interesting reading.