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The 13 Weeks Radical Reading Regimen

Join me in testing out these 4 Rules to help you organize your research and make new connections.

by
Dave Swindle

Bio

April 10, 2013 - 2:30 pm

Mondays: Read Biographies and Memoirs of Extraordinary Individuals

First 13 Week Focus: Walt Disney

Back in October, I opened up my Counterculture Conservative book list with a section devoted to memoirs of interesting, inspiring people. I’ve decided to expand this section to also include biographies, a book genre that I’ll want to explore writing someday. To begin to understand the difference between good and bad biographical writing I’ve decided to research the life, art, and ideas of Walt Disney, making a point to compare and contrast each biography of him I can find. When I began exploring this task a few weeks ago I checked out several Disney biographies from the library in case Leonard Mosley’s Disney’s World (which I owned — a nice Half Price Books find from the dollar shelf) proved a let-down. It has not — I’ve really enjoyed it and am 117 pages in, about to start chapter 10, which starts in 1928. When I’m finished with it then I’ll move on to a book more hostile to Disney, Richard Schickel’s The Disney Version: The Life, Times, Art, and Commerce of Walt DisneyAnd I should probably check out more supplemental Disney history books from the library. Any suggestions?

Teaming with me in researching Disney and blogging about books on him is my friend Chris Queen. Check out his article on Jim Korkis’s new book Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South? And Other Forbidden Disney Stories and please let me know what kinds of articles about Disney you’re interested in seeing him write at PJ Lifestyle.

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All Comments   (16)
All Comments   (16)
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Read a book once and awhile on a topic or philosophy you don't like and disagree with. Perhaps dig further and see if the author's conclusions are consistent with first-person accounts, research, original documents and so on. Does the author treat opposing views fairly and give credible reasons for not subscribing to those views? This isn't any school assignment, so you can do as much or as little as you want and can quit at any time. Sometimes you find gems that change you for the better. Often this just strengthens the beliefs and values and knowledge base you already have.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
While reading a few books on a given topic—I'm currently reading a few books about the American Revolution—throw in a book or two that has a divergent view—I'm about to read some of Gen. Benedict Arnold's writings.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you're looking for specific things that involve Conservative vs. Liberal thought, my own view is that liberal politically correct thought derives its source from only one place: history. You see liberals constantly defend their views by invoking history, and misreadings of that history. Not philosophy, history.

The problem there is that their views are so faddist and provincial and history therefore so stripped of context, one can't even recognize what is basically Brown vs. Board of Education smeared over the last 5,000 years.

The answer to that is to become acquainted with the odd intersections and nuance of history liberals despise and ignore. To them history begins and ends with European colonialism and empire and that's it.

3 books come to mind: William Prescott's "History of the Conquest of Mexico," William Darymple's "White Mughals," and "A History of the Crusades, Vol. I. The First Hundred Years, University of Wisconsin Press, 1969 Baldwin, M. W., Editor

In the last, Chapter II: Conflict in the Mediterranean Before the First Crusade, is worth the price alone for dealing with a rarely shown era. There are others, most likely something about the Ottomans, but that is a great start.

For people unacquainted with those 3 books, you'll never see history quite the same way, and will have tools to easily throw aside moronic articles by people like Glenn Greenwald, whose enthusiasm to use history to explain things is only matched by his ignorance of it.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Burton,
You've gotten right to the point.
Liberals only see things from 1 direction&aren't open to others opinions.
Talk with these people far too often&they don't get full facts on anything.
Mainstream media doesn't tell any real facts nowdays.Wonder how any normal person can tune into networks anymore? Makes me question if people want truth&why I listen alot more to talk radio many hours weekly.Liz
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
To them history begins and ends with European colonialism and empire and that's it.

My thoughts similar. Deconstruct White supremacy and Ethnocentrism and what'da got?

A more realistic view of the Indian subcontinent and the Chinese?
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is a more useful comment. I'll look into these 3 books and authors. Many thanks.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Knowing the fall of Constantinople doomed Tenochtitlan, that Turks raided Cornwall, that Waterloo was honed using Tipu Sultan, and that the least successful forays of Islam, namely their enclaves on the Italian peninsula, were more successful than the Crusades, are useful oddments to know.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books. Thus I have found as a tutor in English Literature that if the average student wants to find out something about Platonism, the very last thing he thinks of doing is to take a translation of Plato off the library shelf and read the Symposium. He would rather read some dreary modern book ten times as long, all about “isms” and influences and only once in twelve pages telling him what Plato actually said. The error is rather an amiable one, for it springs from humility. The student is half afraid to meet one of the great philosophers face to face. He feels himself inadequate and thinks he will not understand him. But if he only knew, the great man, just because of his greatness, is much more intelligible than his modern commentator. The simplest student will be able to understand, if not all, yet a very great deal of what Plato said; but hardly anyone can understand some modern books on Platonism. It has always therefore been one of my main endeavours as a teacher to persuade the young that firsthand knowledge is not only more worth acquiring than secondhand knowledge, but is usually much easier and more delightful to acquire.

It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.
-C.S. Lewis, while discussing St. Athanasius' "On the Incarnation"
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think you're on the right track. Studies show that we learn best when we study one subject at a time. That's pretty much how I have my reading organized.

Something else I do is to keep a stock on novels on hand. If the other reading becomes a drag, meaning that literally in the sense that if I'm spending more energy for less return, I'll take a break and read a novel. That usually works relax the mind enough to get back to the other reading. Sometimes though it is necessary to set a book aside and come back to it later.

Another thing I do is to keep a pen and paper handy. New or interesting words get written on the paper to be looked up later. I've got a box full of index cards with these words and their definitions on them. The pen is also useful for writing page numbers on the title page of a blank page in front of it rather than dog-earing or using a highlighter to mark passage I like. This helps in reviewing a book and also if you read it again some time later you can see if you still find those passage relevant in addition to new ones that will stand out.

51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
If one needs to improve one's self, how do we know consciously choosing how to do it won't simply double down on failure?

I might recommend reading books on subjects that you not only have no natural interest in but have a bias against that produces that disinterest. If you look at a book and say "I'd never read that - read it." Or watch movies whose subject matter has no appeal.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"If one needs to improve one's self, how do we know consciously choosing how to do it won't simply double down on failure?"

Because some self-improvement methods are more likely to succeed than others. And the ones that I've used already have worked.

I second aharris's response to your not-very-helpful but typically contrarian suggestion. Your tip would lead me to the phone book. I was more looking for suggestions for the specific categories of books that I'm researching.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I wasn't being contrary. I was suggesting that unconscious bias is at the root of our problems when it comes to perceiving the world around us.

That further suggests resorting to tools of self-criticism to yank us out of provincial views.

An analogy might when one goes to college. It can be helpful to at least pretend everything a teacher puts out might be correct and experiment with those different points of view. After all, we have the rest of our lives to be ourselves and entertain only our own notions.

You know damn well I wasn't talking about a tax code or phone book, so why play that game and put it on me? I was talking about things (film, literature) we encounter and dismiss, never giving them a chance. We each have lists of such things.

51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
It just wasn't a very helpful comment, as most of your comments aren't. It had the feel like you didn't even bother reading the article. I get that impression from most of your comments -- more that you're just monologuing off of whatever the headline inspires in you rather than trying to engage in dialogue.

You're telling me that I should open my mind and read stuff that I disagree with or don't like. Well, I've got a whole day devoted to Marxism and other Evil Ideas that I disagree with and am "biased" against. So your advice that I should read stuff that I disagree with isn't helpful. It's as though you didn't bother to read the article which advocates exactly what you're telling me I should do.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I wasn't telling you anything. I made a suggestion at your invitation. I wrote about perceptual traps we are all vulnerable to, which is quite a different thing from your article. There's raw information, and a way to parse that raw information.

It's why liberals can look at a web site like Requires Only That You Hate, and see a social justice site marred only by rudeness and vulgarity, while I see a mirror image of Stormfront.

I specifically mentioned Glenn Greenwald later for a reason. His latest article about the true source of terrorism in Europe means he is an otherwise intelligent man, maybe a lot brighter than I am, who is so hopelessly caught in a perceptual trap he is incapable of perceiving it, or escaping from it. This is why hate parades around as justice, and why the Dem Party is the single greatest source of mainstream bigotry in America today.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm not so sure about that. I have at least some interest in most things, so choosing to read things that I have no natural interest in would lead me to read things like the tax code or phone books.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm the boy who used to read 30 volume encyclopedias from aardvark to zoology on rainy days. There are few books I won't read—if I go to a bookstore or library, I see shelves and shelves of books that I know would be a waste of my time to read. I usually read what I strongly like or dislike. Many of the decent books have bibliographies in the back for further reading if the subject was compelling.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
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