The electricity went out throughout the San Francisco Bay Area this week. It was not an act of nature, the will of God, or an unexpected disaster befalling the geographic region. The cause was that the electric company decided it was best for everyone concerned that they shut down their machines. The imposed loss of electricity was jarring. As the final review of these audio segments was taking place during the shutdown, it did not take a leap of imagination to appreciate the genius of E.M. Forster’s THE MACHINE STOPS.
Remember, in 1909, telephones were in place, but radio was still in its early stages. Television or the transmission of images from one location to another was not even a pipe dream. Yet, each passage of this premonitory short story rings true, as if it was written yesterday. Our civilization assumes it is creating a technological utopia to make our individuality a place of comfort and joy. Yet, if we pierce the veil of our own creation, a stalking dystopian world of despair awaits. THE MACHINE STOPS is one of the best novellas ever written about the world we live in today. It provides a basis for deep reflection of our core values as a global civilization. It illustrates how fragile the world we created hangs on the premise that the machines never stop.
Edward Morgan Forster was an English novelist, short story writer, essayist and librettist. He is known best for his ironic and well-plotted novels examining class difference and hypocrisy and also the attitudes towards gender and homosexuality in early 20th-century British society. Read more on Wikipedia.
In this short story containing 26 poetic essays, Al Mustafa is traveling to the harbor in Orphalese, to board a ship that will carry him back to the isle of his birth. When he enters the city, many people come to meet him and beseech him to speak to them and tell them all that has been shown to him during his twelve-year stay in their city. And so the Prophet speaks to them.
Mustafa’s speeches are presented in individual sections, dealing with a variety of subject matters including love, marriage, work, crime, pain, and many other topics. At the end of the book, Mustafa bids a final farewell to the people, boards the ship, and vanishes into the mist.
This Lebanese-American writer, poet, and painter, is primarily known for his 1923 book The Prophet. Many of Gibran’s writings deal with Christianity, especially on the topic of spiritual love. During the last 20 years of his life, he lived in the United States, where his works gained recognition and influence within the American popular culture.
A poem written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge after awaking from an opium induced dream of Xanadu, the summer palace of the Emperor Kublai Khan. A much more extensive poem came to him upon awaking, but he was interrupted while writing it down and then could not remember the remaining lines.
An English poet, literary critic and philosopher who was one of the founders of the Romantic Movement in England. He was instrumental in introducing the German idealist philosophy to English-speaking cultures.
This classic short story is a fleeting look at the relationship between a Prussian Captain and his orderly. While the Captain exhibits sexual tension towards the young orderly, the feeling is not reciprocated. As a result, the psychological pressure between the two men escalates to an explosive and devastating conclusion.
This English writer embodies a collected work that represents an extended reflection on the dehumanizing effects of modernity and industrialization. Like many of his writings, The Prussian Officer includes sexual overtones that were quite explicit for the times, culminating in a British obscenity trial for his novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The jury decision to allow publication of the novel is considered a turning point in freedom of expression.
These four excerpts, from the writings of John Muir, document his naturalist studies in a number of different settings. These highly descriptive stories detail his expeditions in the rugged outdoors. His documented studies led him to an awe of the natural splendors of the earth, and eventually to a position of preservation. His direct activism helped to save the Yosemite Valley and other wilderness areas.
John Muir is the most famous and influential American naturalist and conservationist. The Sierra Club, which he founded, is now one of the most important conservation organizations in the United States.
The Book of Wisdom, also referred to as the Wisdom of Solomon, is one of the Old Testament books of the Bible and is classified with a number of other books that have the main purpose of instruction. The author, although many times wrongly attributed to Solomon, was an Alexandrian Jew who was attempting to strengthen the religious commitment of the Hellenistic Jewish community and, if possible, to convert the Gentiles.
The Book Of Wisdom has three main parts: Chapters 1 – 5 stress the superiority of the pious and wise over the godless; Chapters 6 – 9 praise personified Wisdom; and Chapters 10 – 19 illustrate the marvels of Wisdom.
A fascinating and insightful document on the theory of rebirth and the principles of spiritual cause and effect. This study tracks the belief in the theory of reincarnation throughout cultures and enlightens the listener to the principles that make this concept sustain throughout thousands of generations.
William Walker Atkinson was an American attorney, merchant, publisher, and author, as well as an occultist and an American pioneer of New Thought movement. Due in part to Atkinson’s intense personal secrecy and extensive use of writing pen names, he is now largely forgotten, despite having written more than 100 books in the last 30 years of his life.
This is a fantastical comedy about an old man who has read so many books about knights errant that he is convinced that he is one himself. He sets out on a series of adventures with his trusted and true servant Sancho Panza. But with every adventure it is amazing that he is able to survive the story itself.
This Spanish novelist, poet and playwright is the author of Don Quixote, often considered the first modern novel. His work is considered among the most important in all of literature and his influence on the Spanish language has been very great.
Thus Spoke Zarathustra is a 19th century literary masterpiece and key philosophical work by Nietzsche. Zarathustra descends from his cave in the mountains after ten years of solitude, brimming with wisdom and love and wants to teach humanity.
The individual lessons and sermons delivered by Zarathustra cover most of the general themes of Nietzsche’s mature philosophy, though often in highly symbolic and obscure form.
Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher who wrote critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy and science. His influence remains substantial within areas reaching far beyond philosophy and his works remain a key source of philosophy reading and discussion. Nietzsche was a Libra.
This short story begins on a yacht anchored off the Florida coast where a young woman, Ardita, and her Uncle are engaged in a heated discussion about her dating decisions. Ardita, independent and stubborn, is set on marrying a young man who her uncle believes does not have the highest character values. She refuses to leave the yacht they are on to go to town with him and meet someone who he believes is a better match for her. So she stays behind. But while he is gone, the boat is overtaken by a band of pirates. Ardita is unwilling to surrender the vessel so they take her to sea with them and that is where the rest of the story unfolds. This short story is from the book “Flappers & Philosophers”
The 1920’s, also known as the Jazz Age, were wild times, and Francis Scott Fitzgerald was its king. Although he led a wild and luxurious lifestyle, Fitzgerald was known more for his prominent works of literature, which have gained a permanent place among the American classics. This CD set contains two short stories from his book Tales of the Jazz Age, which reflect the era and lifestyle of which Fitzgerald was accustomed.