Monday, April 5, 2010

From Denzel to the Truth, or Props for props

I'm the dork who notices the books that characters in movies are reading. And if the title or author strikes me as interesting, I'll Google it to find out more. A pathetic practice, sure, but I find books all kinds of ways and movie books have netted me a few keepers.

I'm pretty sure that Matt Damon's intellectual smackdown in "Good Will Hunting" was the first place/time I'd heard of Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States." That's a book that reminds you that there is more than one story to be told around any historical event, that the less told stories are a critical part of getting a more complete picture, and that we rarely get close to a complete picture in history classes growing up.

At the end of one of the X-Men movies, Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier asks a new group of mutant students if they know T. H. White's "The Once and Future King." As a nine-year-old in fourth grade, I named our Golden Retriever "Morgan" after King Arthur's sister Morgan Le Fay (not so much endorseable as a namesake, but I liked the name ;). Any creative re-telling of the Arthurian legend will get my attention and White's "King" sits on my bookshelf as a keeper--one which is a favorite of my brother-in-law as well.

In the movie, "The Hurricane," as Denzel Washington lies in bed in his prison cell, there is a scene where he is reading "The Awakening of Intelligence" by Jiddu Krishnamurti. JK is not one you'd come across in school, but maybe he should be.

Krishnamurti has become one of my peeps. A philosophical/spiritual seeker who shuns the known/the expected, poo-poos the concept of gurus and won't be spoon-fed anything by anyone. He encourages us to find ourselves and to find things out for ourselves and to learn from our experience in the present; not to be so conditioned by the past that we lose the chance to live, to learn, now, for ourselves.

So that's my Monday morning thought for today. And Krishnamurti's "Freedom From the Known," thanks to a tangential introduction from Denzel and co., now ranks as one of my favorite slim books (124 pages). Feel free to fire back your own slim book favorites, which will perhaps be a post unto itself.

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