Thursday, June 6, 2013

current affairs of the mind

It's kind of nice to do research in these wired days. No more hit-and-miss searches of library branches - or the thing I really disliked, having to sit in libraries reading journals from huge binders. Instead: Wikipedia. Documentaries online or on Netflix. Connections with people on Facebook, by email. Articles from all over the world. Goodreads. My tablet. On and on. A good result of those library days is that it's fairly easy to sniff out which material is thorough and accurate, and which is speculation and crap. I can catch and interest and begin satisfying my curiosity almost immediately, and can attain immersion or satisfaction in days or weeks.

Two topics grabbed me recently: the FLDS (Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints), and Henry VIII. Go figure. The FLDS is a splinter group that broke off from the Church of Latter-Day Saints (aka the Mormon church), which became deeply weird and cruel under the leadership of Warren Jeffs. He's in prison now, but apparently still leading the sect from his cell. Both the mainstream LDS and the fringe splinters are fascinating because it's a recent religion, formed in the last century, and a wholly American one.

I can't remember what triggered my interest in the FLDS, but I caught the Henry VIII thing from reading The Other Boleyn Girl. It's fiction, but gave a good starting peek into Henry's reign. (Maybe I'm on a despot kick, with Jeffs and Henry.) I have a couple of non-fiction books yet to read, waiting in my tablet, but I am currently binge-watching  a fictionalized account on Netflix, The Tudors. I always found the whole English monarchy business kind of a bore (and the modern one truly is), but this business of Henry hijacking the Catholic church to get a divorce is pretty amazing stuff. More old monarchy reads to follow, I'm sure.

I'm now reading Bengali Harlem by Vivek Bald, which I had on hold at the library. (Yes, I still use the library, requesting holds online.) It's about Bengali immigrants to the US in the early 20th century, and how many settled in communities of color and intermarried with black, Puerto Rican, Cuban and Creole people. The book is proving a little dryer than expected, but it's still a nice slice of history.

I realize this is not much of a catch-up on the past month, but it's a start.

No comments:

Post a Comment