Books, Film, and Music, discovered in January, 2010


  1. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad.
  2. The Beginner’s Guide to Immortality, by Clifford A. Pickover
  3. Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl
  4. Archetypes and Collective Unconscious, by Carl Jung
  5. The Interpretation of Dreams, by Sigmund Freud.


  1. Avatar – twice. A very good movie with Sigourner Weaver, but I don’t think it was quite as good as it was all hyped up to be.
  2. Sherlock Holmes – best movie of the month and maybe of the year (haven’t gotten that far yet). Robert Downy Jr. is pure brilliance, and Jude Law is a favorite of mine.
  3. Up in the Air – a wonderful, deep movie with dreamy George Clooney.


  1. Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds : a reggae band from LA that was opened at a show by my man’s band, The Bend, at the Clubhouse
  2. Sinclair’s Revenge: a local punkish reggae band that played with the Bend at the Clubhouse and Martini Ranch
  3. Tribal Seeds: a reggae band from San Diego that played with the Bend at Martini Ranch
  4. Midnite: a very famous reggae band from the island st. Croix with strong influences from Rasta, Jah
  5. Boards of Canada: a very famous electronic sounding rock band from Scotland


time travel and pickover…

A natural misconception of time travel is the form in which it takes place- that it is a structured method by means of a man-made object or machine. What is time travel? The idea that one can, in theory, change his previous actions to create new results or jump into the future to take a sneak peak of what is to come. With technological and scientific advancements, is it not possible that within the next thousand years, a form of time travel could manifest itself? Or are we perhaps searching for something that is already in our grasp? –From on Time Travel and Seperate Realities December 27th

My goal for this year is to write one essay a week throughout the year and collect them into a book that I hope to be published. This is a little sliver of my first essay on time travel being an actuality instead of a possibility. It was inspired by the book Sex, Drugs, Einstein, and Elves by Clifford A. Pickover. Because the book inspired me to write this eight-paged thesis, I decided–what the heck. So I sent it off to Pickover himself, and was suprised and delighted when he replied. Here is the email for your (and my) gratification:

From: Cliff Pickover

To: Claire Nusbaum <>
Sent: Sun, December 27, 2009 4:17:40 PM
Subject: Re: On Time Travel

Hi Claire, nice to hear from you!

How did you learn about my book “Sex, Drugs, Einstein, and Elves”?
The follow-on to that book is “A Beginner’s Guide to Immortality.”

Thanks for sharing with me your essay.  Judging from what you wrote,
you might enjoy “The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment” by Eckhart Tolle.
Tolle’s idea is that we are unhappy because we live too much in the past (perhaps regretting some events)
or we live too much in the future (thinking only about how life will be once we attain some goal or status) —
but we don’t know how to be happy here and now, which is the location in which we actually spend our lives
He gives tips for trying to be more aware of the beauty of the “now.”

Sometime, tell me more about yourself.  Thanks, and happy holidays!

Regards, Cliff  


On Sun, Dec 27, 2009 at 5:27 PM, Claire Nusbaum <> wrote:

Hi, my name is Claire Nusbaum and I have a huge favor to ask of you. Personally I consider you one of my literary heroes and was inspired by your book Sex, Drugs, Einstein, and Elves. I wrote a short essay on time travel, and thought that if you had a spare moment, you might take a look at it? I’m a senior in highschool, but I aspire to be a writer and metaphysicist, and I find your books the most intriguing I have read in a long time.

hope to hear from you,

Claire. 🙂

I screamed when he popped up in my inbox.

artist and writer of the week…

my favorite kind of artwork is the provacative kind; the one that provokes an emotion out of the viewer, whether it is disgust or awe. Erwin Olaf‘s work does both at the same time. He is an exceptional photographer whose work can be considered controversial and thought-invoking, statements about society or people intrinsically.

Olaf works in Amsterdam in an altered church hall (scandalous!). He mixes photojournalism with artsy photography. He “explores issues of gender, sensuality, humor, despair, and grace in each sucessive series.” All of his work is symbolic and he often does wonderful nudes.


this polish author, Joseph Conrad, who learned the language English when he was twenty-one, is one of the most prolific writers of his generation. Most of his literature are involving the sea or being on board. His style is modern romantic, and my favorite book of his is Heart of Darkness.

His homelife was very interesting. His family was very poor and his father was exiled to a small city north of Moscow for organizing an uprising. Conrad was an orphan by the age of eleven.

Haikus-sacred poetry

Don’t weep, insects —
Lovers, stars themselves,
Must part                    

                        –Kobayashi Issa

This little poetry jewel I found while researching Buddhist literature after reading an amazing collection of Buddhist stories called Two Zen Classics translated by Katsuki Sekida. This awesome book is full of little stories called “koans” which help zen students attain “truths inexpressible in words”. The Two Zen Classics are: The Gateless Gate and The Blue Cliff Records, both from the Song Dynasty (960 AD to 1279 AD). The book is full of insights to eastern thinking.

This particular haiku was translated by Takashi Ikemoto. It was written in the early 18th century. Issa is supposed to be one of the best haiku composers ever.

This haiku contains two themes. The first is of God, who is referred to as the Beloved in Buddhist Culture, and his relationship to his followers, who are referred to as Lovers. The theme is that the Lover hopes to be impregnated by the Beloved’s divinity. Interesting theme, huh?

The second theme is the short-lived but blissful happiness that one feels; it is often compared to drunkenness.

I really loved this poem, as I love all haikus, because of the beauty hidden within it’s natural simplicity.

“Zen Buddhism has significantly shaped the historical development of Japanese haiku. Not all the haiku poets were Zen Buddhists, but several key figures were.

 Issa lived for several years in monasteries and took his name from the Buddhist ideas of emptiness and change. “Inasmuch as life is empty as a bubble which vanishes instantly, I will henceforth call myself Haikaiji Issa,” he wrote. Haikaiji means “haiku temple” and Issa means “one tea,” signifying a bubble in a cup of tea. When Issa was paralysed by a stroke at the age of fifty eight, and recovered, he changed his name to Soseibo, meaning “Revived priest.”

In Zen Buddhism there is a great enlightenment called satori, sought through many years of disciplined meditation. There are also many little flashes of enlightenment, called kensho, which are intense forms of those everyday noticings that surprise us or please us because they seem to reveal a truth, or to be exemplary, or to connect us again, momentarily, with the sense of awe. Haiku is a momentary, condensed poetic form and its special quality is that it is perfectly adapted to give the reader that little instant of kensho insight. Basho developed the haiku form so that each haiku became a little burst of awakening. It is this that is the essence of haiku, not its number of syllables.”

                                    —-George Marsh

book of the week, king

the book of the week goes to…The Green Mile by Stephen King. King, one of my favorite horror/suspense/mystery novelists along with Dean Koontz,  wrote this little jewel in ’96, when I was five years old. This book held my interest particularly because I’ve always been strongly passionate about corruption in prison and I plan on working in one sometime in the near future. But enough about me, here’s the summery of the book in a nutshell:

“Set in the 1930s at the Cold Mountain Penitentiary’s death-row facility, The Green Mile is the riveting and tragic story of John Coffey, a giant, preternaturally gentle inmate condemned to death for the rape and murder of twin nine-year-old girls. It is a story narrated years later by Paul Edgecomb, the ward superintendent compelled to help every prisoner spend his last days peacefully and every man walk the green mile to execution with his humanity intact. Edgecomb has sent seventy-eight inmates to their date with “old sparky,” but he’s never encountered one like Coffey — a man who wants to die, yet has the power to heal. And in this place of ultimate retribution, Edgecomb discovers the terrible truth about Coffey’s gift, a truth that challenges his most cherished beliefs — and ours. Originally published in 1996 in six self-contained monthly installments, The Green Mile is an astonishingly rich and complex novel that delivers over and over again. Each individual volume became a huge success when first published, and all six were on the New York Times bestseller list simultaneously.” –the Boston Globe

Themes of the book:

“Like I said, the movie touches upon many topics, and each of them is worthy of comment. It illustrates the true nature of the death penalty, showing how cruel and barbaric it is as well as showing how innocent people can easily be put in positions where they are executed unjustly. The movie also touches upon the issue of Judeo-Christian faith and god, and as an atheist, I found it the least interesting topic (it’s also not sufficiently explored except to illustrate that god wouldn’t have given powers like the kind Coffey has if Coffey truly was destined to be a child killer). The movie is about compassion—Coffey is a Christ-like figure who dies for humanity’s sins, crucified by people who don’t know better. Yet he himself is not capable of complete forgiveness (unlike good old JC), and a key portion of the plot involves him getting his revenge (to the rousing cheers of the audience). But as I say above, ultimately what ties all of this together is that everyone seeks to harm someone else, whether justified or not. The parents of the children Coffey is believed to have killed have venom in their minds against him. Percy and a maniacal prison inmate (Sam Rockwell) seek nothing more than perverse destruction. Even the prison guards really have one sole purpose: to help kill. Coffey appears to be the only one who truly seeks to heal, but that is not without exception either and in the end, he too kills with his love.” –Ram samudrala

The book was turned into a film three years after it’s publication, featuring Tom Hanks as Paul, and Michael Duncan as John. The movie is told in flashbacks and won four academy awards.

Click here to listen to King talk about the Green Mile:

click here to watch the film’s trailer:

To see what King lists at his top ten books for ’09, go here:,,20331246,00.html

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