Madeleine L’Engle is weirder than I remembered

by John Holbo on May 19, 2012

My books-for-kids threads have been good conversation starters so let’s keep it up. Zoe (age 10) and I have been listening to Madeleine L’Engle on audiobook. Listening to an audiobook while drawing is an excellent use of a Saturday afternoon. I remember reading The Time Quintet [amazon], I think when I was in 7th grade or so, and getting moderately tripped out. Then I got into Stephen King. Rereading – re-listening, whatever – I’m amazed by how weird they really are, as kid fare. How much weird religious-scientific exposition there is. Cherubim and mitochondria, making a sort of Episcopalian-psychedelic (Episcodelic? Psychopalian?) mélange. It’s like a cross between Harry Potter and Dante’s Purgatorio (no infernos, please, we’re universal salvationists.) Gifted kids of absent/highly-abstracted parents start out bewildered but get enlightened/spiritually-uplifted by weird alien/angels on the way to saving the world/universe.

We’re part way through A Wind In The Door, having finished A Wrinkle In Time last Saturday. Then last Sunday we went to see The Avengers – which was great! (did you hear?) – and Zoe was very excited that the plot was sort of similar. US government meddling with tesseract opens doorway to creepy alien forces beyond our comprehension across the universe, etc. Film was a bit more action-packed than the book.

Anyway, any Madeleine L’Engle thoughts? Religious sf (like C.S. Lewis.) Kid lit that bucks genre conventions, but that kids really like, proving that the conventions can be broken?

Good lines

by Henry Farrell on May 19, 2012

From Curtis White’s article on philanthropy in the current issue of Jacobin:

bq. In the United States, everyone may enjoy freedom of speech so long as it doesn’t matter. For those who would like what they say to matter, freedom of speech is very expensive.

It goes on:

bq. It is for this reason that organizations with a strong sense of public mission but not much money are dependent on the “blonde child of capitalism,” private philanthropy. This dependence is true for both conservative and progressive causes, but there is an important difference in the philanthropic culture that they appeal to. The conservative foundations happily fund “big picture” work. … On the other hand, progressive foundations may understand that the organizations they fund have visions, but it’s not the vision that they will give money to. … If there is need for a vision, the foundation itself will provide this. Unfortunately, according to one source, the foundation’s vision too often amounts to this: “If we had enough money, and access to enough markets, and enough technological expertise, we could solve all the problems.”

Have I mentioned recently how happily superannuated “Jacobin magazine”: makes me feel? You should all be subscribing.