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    SAGEWorks Boot Camp - Enrollment Now open.  SAGEWorks assists people 40 years  and older in learning relevant, cutting-edge job search skills in a LGBT-friendly environment.  This 2 week training takes place from Monday - Friday, 2/1/16 - 2/12/16 - 9:30 am to 2:00 pm at The SAGE Center, 305 7th Avenue, New York, NY 10001. 

    New York Public Library CEIS Mini College and Career Fair on Tuesday, January 19, 2016, 11 am - 4 pm for all interested jobseekers at Washington Heights Library, 1000 St. Nicholas Avenue, New York,  NY 10032.  Please bring resumes and dress in business attire.  Wheelchair accessible.

    Spanish Speaking Resume Writing workshop on Thursday, January 21, 2016, 12:30 -2:30 pm for all interested jobseekers and dislocated workers to organize, revise and update resume at Flushing Workforce 1 Career Center, 138 60 Barclay Ave. 2nd Floor, Flushing NY 11355.

    New York Public Library CEIS Mini College and Career Fair on Friday, Januaray 22, 2016, 11 am -- 4 pm for all interested jobseekers at Francis Martin Library, 2150 University Avenue, Bronx, NY 10453.  Please bring resumes and dress in business attire.  Wheelchair accessible.

    Job Postings at New York City Workforce 1.  

    affiche le pour
    Caption

    Apprenticeship Opportunities in New York City.

    The New York City Employment and Training Coalition (NYCE&TC) is an association of 200 community-based organizations, educational institutions, and labor unions that annually provide job training and employment services to over 750,000 New Yorkers, including welfare recipients, unemployed workers, low-wage workers, at-risk youth, the formerly incarcerated, immigrants and the mentally and physically disabled. View NYCE&TC Job Listings.

    Digital NYC is the official online hub of the New York City startup and technology ecosystem, bringing together every company, startup, investor, event, job, class, blog, video, workplace, accelerator, incubator, resource, and organization in the five boroughs. Search jobs by category on this site.

    St. Nicks Alliance Workforce Development provides Free Job Training and Educational Programs in Environmental Response and Remediation Tec (ERRT). Commercial Driver's License, Pest Control Technician Training (PCT), Employment Search and Prep Training and Job Placement, Earn Benefits and Career Path Center. For information and assistance, please visit St. Nicks Alliance Workforce Development or call 718-302-2057 ext. 202.

    Brooklyn Workforce Innovations helps jobless and working poor New Yorkers establish careers in sectors that offer good wages and opportunities for advancement. Currently, BWI offers free job training programs in four industries: commercial driving, telecommunications cable installation, TV and film production, and skilled woodworking.

    CMP (formerly Chinatown Manpower Project) in lower Manhattan is now recruiting for a free training in Quickbooks, Basic Accounting, and Excel. This training is open to anyone who is receiving food stamps but no cash assistance. Class runs for eight weeks, followed by one-on-one meetings with a job developer. CMP also provides Free Home Health Aide Training for bilingual English/Cantonese speakers who are receiving food stamps but no cash assistance. Training runs Mondays through Fridays for six weeks and includes test prep and taking the HHA certification exam. Students learn about direct care techniques such as taking vital signs and assisting with personal hygiene and nutrition. For more information for the above two training programs, email: info@cmpny.org, call 212-571-1690, or visit. CMP also provides tuition-based healthcare and business trainings free to students who are entitled to ACCESS funding.

    Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) trains women and places them in careers in the skilled construction, utility, and maintenance trades. It helps women achieve economic independence and a secure future. For information call 212-627-6252 or register online.

    Grace Institute provides tuition-free, practical job training in a supportive learning community for underserved New York area women of all ages and from many different backgrounds. For information call 212-832-7605.

    Please note this page will be revised when more recruitment events for the week of January 17   become available.


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    Did you love Girl on the Train? The Martian? All the Light We Cannot See?  We've got some read alikes for you.

    The Girl on the Train

    #1 Recommendations for readers who enjoyed The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, more suspense novels told from multiple perspectives:

    And Then There Was One by Patricia Gussin

    Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

    The Son by Jo Nesbø

     

     

     

    Rogue Lawyer

    #2 Recommendations for readers who enjoyed Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham, some enduring legal thrillers:

    Presumed Innocentby Scott Turow

    Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver

    Defending Jacobby William Landay

     

     

     

    The Martian

    #3 Recommendations for readers who enjoyed The Martian by Andy Weir, more survival stories:

    Annihilationby Jeff  Vadermeer

    The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro

    Lock In by John Scalzi

     

     

     

    January#4 Recommendations for readers who enjoyed January by Audrey Carlan, more call girl adventures:

    The Diary Of Manhattan Call Girlby Tracy Quan

    Bell De Jour by Anonymous

    White House Call Girl: The Real Watergate Storyby Phil Stanford

     

     

    All the Light We Cannot See

    #5 Recommendations for readers who enjoyed All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, more titles with blind protagonists.

    Homer & Langleyby E.L. Doctorow

    How to Paint a Dead Manby Sarah Hall

    What I Lovedby Siri Hustvedt

     

     

     

    Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to​ be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ​picks! Tell us what you'd recommend: Leave a comment or email us.

     

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    benal

    Jolanta's podcast on dog training was named the iTunes podcast of the year in 2009. Better yet, this trainer extraordinare resides in our very city. So if your canine requires behavioral intervention, you could give her a call. 

    Teaching a dog to not go through open doors, leaving tempting steaks alone, crossing his or her front paws to "act like a lady," walking on a slack leash, not jumping up on people, and not barking incessantly. These are valuable training goals for your dog, but like many things in life, they are more easily said than done. 

    Patience, patience, and more patience is the key to effective training. Deep breathing exercises can also help if and when you become frustrated with your pooch. Benal works with dogs' natural energy. Follow her lead and work on exercises at a time that is good for your dog (ie. not when s/he is too energetic, scared, tired or burnt out.) Use items and behaviors and activities that your dog enjoys as rewards to make learning fun. If you follow Benal's strategies, hopefully you will end up with a dog who allows you to maintain your sanity and also impresses the neighbors. 

    The Dog Trainer's Complete Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Pet by Jolanta Benal, 2011

    This is by far one of the most informative books about animal behavioral modification that I have ever read. Benal is obviously very intelligent and dedicated, and the book is extremely thorough. Best of all, she loves animals. I find that the book is applicable to my cats and possibly equines, as well. 


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    Javier Velez is a the floor manager at BookOps, where materials from The New York Public Library and The Brooklyn Public Library are sorted on a giant laser scanning book sorts. He tells his Library story and the sense of pride he feels training the other workers on the floor, knowing that he’s preparing them with skills that will last a lifetime.

    Library Stories is a video series from The New York Public Library that shows what the Library means to our users, staff, donors, and communities through moving personal interviews.

    Like, share, and watch more Library Stories on Facebook or YouTube.


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    This is one of a series of blog posts related to the NYPL Public Domain Release: discover the collections and find inspiration for using them in your own research, teaching, and creative practice. 

    Classroom educators understand that addressing local, state, and national learning requirements and standards for their students in all subject areas is their primary responsibility. You can use our treasure trove of digitized public domain materials as educational resources in K-12 classrooms.

    Take a look at the ideas below for integrating specific tools, items and collections into lesson plans for students of various ages. The great thing about the public domain launch and related digital tools is that they can address both very general academic habits and skills as well as support the understanding of more specific historical content for older students.

    Knowledge Organization

    Public Domain Visualization

    Fundamental to engaging in critical thinking in all age groups is practicing categorization skills. The 180,000+ items included in the NYPL’s public domain launch have been remixed into various groupings through an interactive visualization tool.

    • Allow students to practice both basic technology and informational literacy skills through exploring this interactive (i.e., manipulating a touchscreen or using a keypad and mouse to highlight specific items and understanding keyword groupings).
    • As a follow-up, ask students to organize classroom materials in similar categories (for example, have younger students organize publicly owned classroom resources by color or in chronological order, or task a high school homeroom with thinking through, identifying, and creating genres for their collective work over the course of a school year).

    Time Travel on Fifth Avenue

     489619
    Construction of New York Public Library interior, Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, 1905. Image ID: 489619

    Are you a New York City public elementary school educator? Enhance your K-4th grade Social Studies curricula through interactives designed to investigate New York’s changing landscape over time.

    • Time travel to Fifth Avenue as it appeared in 1911, and ask your students to make direct observations about the differences between that year and the contemporary scenery captured through Google’s Street View.
    • Encourage younger students to use these observations as the basis for either hypothesizing what common elements are found in communities, why this street looks so different in 2016 versus 1911, or ask them to directly connect these observations to what they know about New York’s climate, geography, and industrial history.

    Time Travel the United States

    If you’re teaching in other locations, never fear: there are countless visuals and texts within the public domain resources you can use in similar inquiry-driven activities with your students. I particularly love the Farm Security Administration photograph collection and the massive, comprehensive Robert N. Dennis Collection of stereoscopic views of all the regions of the United States for this purpose. For those collections, students will have to practice digital research skills, which is an added bonus for modern educators.

    Farm Security Adminstration photograph of an Anacostia, D.C. mother watching her children out the window as she prepares a meal. Gordon Parks, 1942, image ID 3969615
    Farm Security Adminstration photograph of an Anacostia, D.C. mother watching her children out the window as she prepares a meal. Gordon Parks, 1942, Image ID: 3969615

    A related note: I once had a student say to me: “Why do you have old stuff?” This is an important question for all educators to ponder, but NYPL can help. Historical primary source materials may not appear to be as visually engaging to teens as Instagram. If you decide to dive into the aforementioned stereoscopic views collections, why not have students first play around with Labs’ Stereograminator tool? Generating original GIFs may be a great entry point for older students resistant to working with historical documents.

    • Start with students’ own images sourced from a class Flickr account and introduce historical material as a way to compare and contrast their experiences or home neighborhoods with the past.

    Civil Rights

    Are you working with middle or high school students on dynamic curricular topics that aren’t fossilized, but are in fact more relevant than ever, such as the Civil Rights era? The public domain materials can support this work, too. In particular, the Navigating the Green Book interactive, drawing from the collections of the NYPL Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, provides students with a way to apply historical evidence of the black experience to mapping activities and allows them to experience firsthand the everyday choices black Americans had to navigate in 20th-century America.

    Immigration

    Working on an immigration unit with your 8th graders? Access photographs of Ellis Island and other documentation of the social conditions facing new Americans at the turn of the century. Our collection of photos by Lewis Wickes Hine, while not part of the public domain release, also capture this period of intense change in the early 20th century.

    • Download and print selections, and have students curate their own exhibit with original accompanying narrative text rooted in classroom-based research.
     418057
    German stowaway. Image ID: 418057

    You can extend students’ digital exploration into the immigrant experience through NYPL’s Emigrant City transcription tool, a crowdsourcing effort to extract specific loan and mortgage information from New York’s Emigrant Savings Bank records. The marking of records, transcription, and verification of the newly transcribed information can be done as a whole class, small groups, or individually, and is a great way for students engage with census-related informational texts and to practice hard digital literacy skills. Participatory interactives like this are great for students, and their work will lead to a fuller historical record for future researchers and will feed into future library projects.

    American Revolution

    American Revolutionary era papers

    Studying the American Revolutionary era and its key figures? Search and download original papers by Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison for either written or digital annotation and analysis by students:

    • What in these documents is still relevant to the United States today?
    • What topics and governmental policies do students think need amending, and why?
    • Enhance these debates through keyword searches into the public domain for accompanying visuals. Mix the media, physically or digitally!

    The Public Domain

    Public domain materials belong to you and your students. As an added bonus, these collections and items are verified and part of this offering due to their scholarly value: you can trust that what you see here is worthy of study.

    A starting point for integrating this digital treasure trove of content in classrooms of all ages is through discussions about properly sourcing reference materials in original pieces of writing and/or other demonstrations of student learning and thinking, but there are endless possibilities for integrating the materials themselves into regular classroom use.

    These suggestions only scratch the surface of the public domain materials’ educational and creative potential. Library staff will continue to develop methods and tools for increased public and educational access to and engagement with our research collections. We’re excited to continue developing ways to serve youth and educators in New York and beyond, and will be sure to keep you in the public domain loop.


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    This is one of a series of blog posts related to the NYPL Public Domain Release: discover the collections and find inspiration for using them in your own research, teaching, and creative practice. 

    Black Crook dancer
    Pauline Markham as Stalacta in an early cast of The Black Crook. Image ID: 85593

    One hundred and fifty years ago this May, a fire destroyed the Academy of Music on 14th Street and Irving Place. Theatrical producers Henry Jarrett and Harry Palmer had planned to use the venue in the fall for a spectacular extravaganza, employing the dancers from a French production of La Biche au Bois and scenery from productions they had seen in England on a European tour the previous winter. The producing team had only returned to New York in April with their contracts already signed, and so, when the theater burned down, they had to move quickly to find another venue. William Wheatley, manager of Niblo’s Garden, agreed to have the ballets inserted into a production of The Black Crook—a melodrama for which he had recently purchased the rights. The piece was a hit—in part because some in the press (with various motivations) condemned it as indecent because of the tight-fitting costumes of the ballet dancers.

    I have written about The Black Crook several times before, and have published several digital editions of the text and images of the sheet music associated with the original production. Over the years, the library has also digitized and made available several photographs of the casts of early productions, as well as our copy of an early prompt script. This month, thanks to the Library’s release of all of our high resolution photographs of objects with no known U.S. copyright restrictions, the promptbook, the sheet music, and the photos may be used without restriction for any purpose, including commercially.

    First page of NYPL prompt book
    First page of NYPL's copy of an early promptbook. Image ID: 2019627

    The text of the play itself, and the sheet music published before 1923, have been in the public domain for some time, but now we’re providing our high resolution images of these objects that can be used for any purpose at all. This means that anyone who wants to publish and sell a facsimile edition of our 1866 prompt book (perhaps even using our copies of the sheet music and photos of the original cast) can do so, using our best images, without asking anybody. An enterprising director could stage a revival of The Black Crook and use these photos as projections in the scenic design or in the program without restriction.

    You can also copyright your own innovations based on these images. For instance, soon after we published the sheet music online, Adam Roberts and a team of singers in Austin, Texas, performed several songs and released them under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license, which means that you can freely share the recordings, but you can’t sell them without his team’s permission. You too could record yourself performing the play, and the copyright of the recording would be yours.

    All of this is possible because the U.S. Constitution allows Congress to pass laws “securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries” in order “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.” In 1856, Congress extended this protection of “science” to the plays, allowing "the proprietor of dramatic compositions, designed or suited for public representation...the sole right to[...] act, perform, or represent the same.”1 The idea is that those who create should enjoy, for a limited period of time, the exclusive ownership of their work. However, the hope is that, once published, and “a limited time” has passed, new creations may be freely built on the foundation laid by others. I’m hopeful that, on this 150th anniversary of this piece that figures so prominently in musical theater history, theater companies around the world will take the opportunity to stage this piece for which so much production material has now been made freely available.

    1) In 1867, though, a judge in California decided that The Black Crook was so lewd it was not, in his mind, “suited for public representation.” He therefore refused to extend copyright protection to the play.


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    Welcome to The Librarian is In, the New York Public Library's podcast about books, culture, and what to read next.

    Subscribe on iTunes

    Our little podcast is three episodes old! This week, Frank and Gwen are joined by the mighty Jennifer Craft from the Mulberry Street branch.

    We talk about how to fit more reading into busy schedules, Lin-Manuel Miranda, horror books and movies, childhood favorites, David Bowie, Lin-Manuel Miranda again, and our love for Downton Abbey’s kind Anna and unstoppable Edith.

    edith
    Lady Edith. Image from PBS.

    What We're Reading Now

    Extended library hours

    The Bunker Diaryby Kevin Brooks (and a bit of the controversy)

    Carrie and The Shining

    Intensity by Dean Koontz

    Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Eric Larsen

    Titanic

    The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians by Carla Morris, illustrated by Brad Sneed

    Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians
    Spoiler alert: Melvin is adorable.

    Hot Topix

    Hamilton cast recording

    Behind-the-scenes book about Hamilton planned for April

    1776 musical

    Downton Abbey

    downton
    Maggie Smith, call us! Image from Nick Briggs/Carnival Films.

    Serial, season 1 and 2

    Queen of Earth by Alex Ross Perry, starring Elizabeth Moss

    Repulsion by Roman Polanski

    The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud and her commentsabout“likeable”characters

    Interviewer: I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you? Her outlook is almost unbearably grim.

    Messud: For heaven’s sake, what kind of question is that? Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert? Would you want to be friends with Mickey Sabbath? Saleem Sinai? Hamlet? Krapp? Oedipus? Oscar Wao? Antigone? Raskolnikov? Any of the characters in The Corrections? Any of the characters in Infinite Jest? Any of the characters in anything Pynchon has ever written? Or Martin Amis? Or Orhan Pamuk? Or Alice Munro, for that matter? If you’re reading to find friends, you’re in deep trouble. We read to find life, in all its possibilities. The relevant question isn’t “is this a potential friend for me?” but “is this character alive?”

    Guest Star

    Jennifer Craft, manager of the Mulberry Street Library in SoHo

    NYPL’s Helen Bernstein Book Award

    Books potentially included in Jennifer’s parents’ adorable two-person book club: James Michener, Black Sunday by Thomas Harris, Alastair McClain, Leon Uris

    She by H. Rider Haggard

    The bar at Pravda

    Free ebooks! from Project Gutenberg

    City of Fireby Garth Risk Hallberg

    New York Review of Books reissues

    Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien

    Arabel’s Raven by Joan Aiken

    Jenny book
    Jennifer's copy of Arabel's Raven, complete with white call number
    Jenny's library card
    Jenny!

    Turning Our Pages

    Something we learned, something that makes us laugh, or something that inspires us

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech, delivered by Lin-Manuel Miranda in Riverside Church at the #MLKNow event and originally written by Vincent Harding

    Harding’s Hope & History: Why We Must Share the Story of the Movement

    Hemingway exhibit at The Morgan Library & Museum

    Hemingway’s must-read list

    Thanks for listening, and find us online @NYPLRecommends, the Bibliofile blog, and nypl.org. Or email us at recommendations@nypl.org!


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    Subscribe on iTunes.

    Toni Morrison and Angela Davis are two of the most necessary and brilliant intellectuals of our time. Morrison, a Novel Prize winner and Pulitzer Prize winner, has written several novels, plays, works of children's literature, and nonfiction. Scholar, activist, and author Angela Davis is a founding member of Critical Resistance, a group working to end the prison industrial complex. For this week's episode of the New York Public Library Podcast, we're proud to present Toni Morrison and Angela Davis discussing connecting for progress.

    Angela Davis and Toni Morrison
    Angela Davis and Toni Morrison

    One of Morrison's most intriguing positions is that the enactment of violence is equivalent to self-destruction. In answer to one question, she discussed the detriment of homophobia to the homophobic:

    "Homophobia—it’s so obviously—the violence connected with that, it’s so obviously a destruction of the self, I mean it’s just blatant, you know, to me, this others, or maybe people don’t realize it so much, but calling people names and beating them up and hanging people off of fences, I mean it’s just so self-destructive, you know. The more vicious it is toward the so-called homosexual person, the more violence there is toward oneself in that, and I think that that, you know, distributes itself in other kinds of scapegoats."

    Morrison spoke about the way the power of language to define our identities. In particular, she was interested in the social potential of the word "citizen":

    "Citizen suggests some relationship with your neighbors, your block, your town, with the village. After World War II they stopped using that word and we were consumers. That’s all you could hear, the American consumer this and the American consumer that. And we bought things for status and that’s what we were supposed to do. Now, what are we? We are taxpayers. All of a sudden, it’s about my little tax, my little money, I don’t want to give it to the government, those people who should not have it. You know, the people, we talk about capitalism sort of seeping into the blood, they just change the language and redefine us and we go for it. My driver was fussing about his taxes. I said, “so what? You pay taxes, so what?” But you know, all of a sudden we lose who we are, or are redefined. And when the language changes, we change. The labels change, so all of a sudden it’s about taxes. If I hear any something else about taxes—but if we were still citizens, that’s a different thing. We feel some obligation. We don’t pass by people."

    Davis, too, emphasized the importance of sociality in actualizing positive change. She spoke against neoliberal ideologies and American exceptionalism in favor of engagement:

    "We only think of ourselves as individuals. We don’t think about possible connections, broader connections with communities that are not only in the U.S. but that are in other parts of the world as well. It seems to me that this is the real challenge of this period even for people who consider themselves progressive in a country like the United States of America, because we also are—we also imagine ourselves as somewhat different from the rest of the people in the world, you know, American exceptionalism has its impact even on those who pretend to be most radical, exactly. And so what would it take, what would it take to create a connection with that community I was speaking about? There are about seven thousand people, Afro-descended Colombians, many of whom still have African names because they have created a history and a culture that goes back to resistance against slavery and they’re still resisting. As a matter of fact they received an eviction order for August 18th, and they refused to leave... [W]ritten protest is a  process that could perhaps help us feel as if we are making community, we are reaching out beyond ourselves and that we have emotional connections with people who live on this mountain, in this village called La Toma."

    You can subscribe to the New York Public Library Podcast to hear more conversations with wonderful artists, writers, and intellectuals. Join the conversation today!


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    CHI FIC WANGZHEJUEREN

    武媚娘 : 一代女皇武則天的傳奇人生 || Wu Meiniang : yi dai nü huang Wuzetian de chuan qi ren sheng = The empress of China

    作者: 王者覺仁    新北市 : 亞洲圖書有限公司, 2015    ISBN/ISSN: 9865921375

    ​武媚娘我相信大家對武則天並不陌生。武則天是中國歷史上唯一掌握君權的女皇帝,她的一生經歷被多次改編成電影電視作品。不知道你們有沒有讀過武則天小說。我本人很喜歡閱讀小說,因為通過閱讀可以更深切的了解主人公的內心世界。

    『高宗留下的那道遺詔是耐人尋味的「軍國大事有不決者,兼取天后進止。」意思是,繼位皇帝對軍國大事有不能裁決的,應該聽取天后的意見。』pg 076

    『神皇武曌端坐於九重宮闕之中,聆聽著百官萬民山呼海嘯般的請願之聲,目睹百鳥朝鳳,鳳棲梧桐的稀世祥瑞一幕幕出現,臉上終於綻放出一個等待多年的笑容。』pg 199

    『武則天憑著「蛾眉不肯讓人,狐媚偏能惑主」的本領,衝破中國封建歷史中的男性霸權,也憑著超乎常人的陰險、殘忍、深沉、謀略,一步步建立屬於自己的帝國。曠世女皇武則天的生平充滿傅奇色彩,她轟轟烈烈的一生,正是詭譎狡詐的政治鬥爭、糜欄奢華的宮廷密辛的縮影,更隱含著身為一個女人的苦澀與掙扎。這位前無古人,後無來者的一代女皇,究竟如向成就自己的非凡霸業。 』pg cover page

    Special Thanks goes to Hung-yun Chang at Mid-Manhattan Library, Maria Fung in Collection Development and Peng Zhou at Chatham Square Library for all their help with this blog post.


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    The Salesman Guide 1928
    The Salesman Guide 1928

    “Marketing is sharing your awesomeness with other people.”
    —Evan Horowitz

    We were happy to have Evan Horowitz, a business advisor, at the Business Library last week giving a program on how to change your marketing to attract more prospects and turn them into clients.

    He explained that most entrepreneurs, when they first start out, have “expert” skills, i.e. skills acquired due to the mastery in their field. And as important as those skills are, they are not enough to run and grow a business—entrepreneurs also need many other valuable “CEO” skills.

    One of those additional skills is the ability to market their products/services in a way that turns prospects into clients, and clients into repeats. And how can that be done?  

    Flip your marketing upside down!

    It requires you to flip the commonly conceived notion of marketing on its head. Simply put, instead of emphasizing the features (what you, as the expert, want to highlight), emphasize the benefits (what your client wants to hear, because this is what will solve his problem or meet his goals).

    Remember: “features tell, benefits sell.”

    Understand what the concerns, frustrations, and goals of your prospects and clients are, and then emphasize them as the solution you sell. For example, say you are a fitness trainer, which approach do you think will sell better to a bride-to-be?

    1. “I will design for you an interval workout consisting of plyometrics, isometrics and strength training”; OR
    2. “I will design for you a workout that will make you look great in your wedding dress and look fabulous in your wedding photos.”

    All features that YOU, as the expert, know will work for her are in approach (a) above. However, the bride will likely tune out with all that terminology and may not understand what you are saying—at least initially. However, if you go with approach (b) she will perfectly understand that the benefits you can provide are exactly what SHE CARES ABOUT and wants to achieve. And as you train her, then you can share your expertise and educate her on the terminology of the exercises, etc. Always put yourself in your customer's shoes and ask: "What's in it for me?"

    In sum, once you have highlighted the benefits, then you will have the client’s permission to explain the features, not before.  

    Evan will be back to do more programs, don’t miss them! The next one is “Five secrets to a steady flow of new clients with the limited time and money you have” on Thursday, February 25, 2016 from 6 – 7:30 PM. 

    Want to learn more on this topic? We have some great books for you:

    The E-Myth

    The E-Myth Revisited
    by Michael Gerber

    How to go from being an expert at your craft to learning how to start and run a business.

    Agile Selling

    Agile Selling: Get Up to Speed Quickly in Today's Ever-Changing Sales World
    by Jill Konrath

    Mindsets, strategies and habits that to use in crazy-busy times to start strong, increase sales and stay nimble. 

    Worried about how to sell? Gitomer believes you're missing out on the more important aspect of sales: why people buy. This, he says, is "all that matters." His book aims to demystify buying principles for salespeople.

    Made to Stick

    Made to Stick
    by Dan and Chip Heath

    How to create messages that get through to people, are memorable, and sell. A great example of the benefits to the customer is explained when the authors write (paraphrasing): “customers don’t need a drill, they need a hole in the wall to hang the family picture.”

    Ultimate Sales Machine

    The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies.
    by Chet Holmes

    The book is fabulous overall, but don't miss these chapters: 

    • The high art of getting the best buyers. (The fastest, least expensive way to dramatically increase sales.)
    • The seven musts of marketing. (Turbocharge every aspect of your primary marketing efforts.)
    • The nitty-gritty of getting the best buyers. (Step-by-step, day-by-day tactics to land your dream clients.)
    • Sales skills. (The deeper you go, the more you will sell.)
    • Follow-up and client bonding skills. (How to keep clients forever and dramatically increase your profits.)

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    Welcome to The Librarian is In, the New York Public Library's podcast about books, culture, and what to read next.

    Subscribe on iTunes

    We're four! And we're learning all the secrets of how the Library gets its books. Come behind the scenes with selection expert Wayne Roylance of BookOps, the special secret spy agen— er, the "technical services" unit of the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library.

    We discuss the Helen Ellis/Shirley Jackson/Anita Brookner triumverate, Frank's shocking Harry Potter confession, Martin Amis' career as a child actor (seriously!), and much more.

     

    What We're Reading Now

    American Housewife by Helen Ellis, and one of the short stories, "Dead Doormen," available on LitHub

    The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

    Anita Brookner

    The One Bad Mother podcast

    Orlando by Virginia Woolf (Is it a love letter to Vita Sackville-West? Maybe!)

    Vita Sackville-West was the intended recipient of “the longest love letter in the world”, as Sackville-West’s own son Nigel Nicholson described it. She was certainly its primary inspiration. Writing to her on the day of Orlando’s inception, Woolf asks: “Suppose Orlando turns out to be Vita… there’s a kind of shimmer of reality which sometimes attaches itself to my people, as the lustre on an oyster shell… shall you mind? Say yes or no."

    Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburgby Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik, and the Tumblr that predated it

    rbg
    Best sticker ever. In D.C., in the book, and reprinted in Rolling Stone.

     

    The Bunker Diaryby Kevin Brooks (and a bit of the controversy)

    Euphoria by Lily King, and the audiobook via Overdrive

    Some actual information about the real Margaret Mead

    The Audie Awards and Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge

     

    Hot Topix

    The Harry Potter books, and the audiobook versions read by Jim Dale

    Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

    The four new Harry Potter schools, Pottermore, and the sneak peek ofFantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

    ***Note: Gwen got this piece of breaking news dreadfully wrong. It's four new SCHOOLS, not HOUSES. And they're in different countries, not at Hogwarts. Read the article; it's much clearer. She's sorry. Blame Frank.***

    Book Riot's The Podcast (episode #141 is the one in which they discuss Pottermore)

    Downton Abbey

    Making a Murderer and our list of books on the process of journalism

    The Brown Bookshelf's 28 Days Later project

    And the movie... with zombies!

    Jefferson Market's economics and math patterns courses

    Roomby Emma Donoghue

     

    Guest Star

    BookOps! (and here's a crazy video of BookOps from the air...)

    The American Library Association's "Notable Books" list

    A Death in the Family by James Agee

     

    Turning Our Pages

    (Something we learned, something that makes us laugh, or something that inspires us...)

    The entire archive of The New Yorker, 1925-present, is available online via NYPL! (WE SHOULD HAVE SAID THIS DURING THE SHOW!)

    new yorkers
    All online! Free! Seriously! Image via Flickr.

     

    Woolcott Gibbs, Innocent Voyage, A High Wind in Jamaica, and Martin Amis -- we will link to Wayne's blog post when it exists!

    #1000BlackGirlBooks on Twitter and in the media

    Kelly's list of middle-grade books with African-American girl protagonists

    Thanks for listening, and find us online @NYPLRecommends, the Bibliofile blog, and nypl.org. Or email us at recommendations@nypl.org!


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    A musical heritage of the Jewish community...uncovering psychological tricks of a hustler...racial inequality and a call to action...revisiting Folk City, New York...Woody Allen—a life...the intersection of word geeks and grammar police...criminal negligence in the U.S. armed forces...exploring Gramercy Park and Union Square...transformation of urban gardens...New York’s first and oldest charter school... beauty, culture and the fascination of Cuba...

    If any of these topics have piqued your interest, join us for an Author @ the Library talk this February at Mid-Manhattan Library to hear distinguished non-fiction authors discuss their work and answer your questions. Author talks take place at 6:30 pm on the 6th Floor of the Library, unless otherwise noted. You can also request the authors' books by clicking on the book covers below.

    Dislocated Memories

    Monday, February 1, 2016

    Dislocated Memories: Jews, Music, and Postwar German Culture with Tina Frühauf, Ph.D., a musicologist, writer, and a professional organist, who serves on the faculty of Columbia University and is Editor at Repertoire International de Littérature Musicale.

    This illustrated lecture spotlights music in the Jewish communities of Germany after 1945. It draws together Jewish music, German culture and the legacy of the Holocaust and makes powerful arguments about the impact of the Holocaust and its aftermath in changing contexts of musical performance and composition.

    	 Falafel nation

    Wednesday, February 3, 2016

    Falafel Nation: Cuisine and the Making of National Identity in Israel with Yael Raviv, the Director of Umami Food and Art Festival in New York City.

    When people discuss food in Israel, their debates ask politically charged questions: Who has the right to falafel? Whose hummus is better? This illustrated lecture aims to move beyond the simply territorial to divulge the role food plays in the Jewish nation.

    The Con Men

    Thursday, February 4, 2016

    The Con Men Hustling in New York City with Terry Williams, a professor of sociology at the New School for Social Research and Trevor B. Milton, an assistant professor in social sciences at Queensborough Community College, CUNY.

    This illustrated lecture spotlights hustling in New York City and explores the sociological reasons why con artists play their game and the psychological tricks they use to win.

    The Beast Side

    Monday, February 8, 2016

    The Beast Side: Living (and Dying) While Black in America with D. Watkins, an award-winning writer, educator, speaker, and columnist for Salon.

    This illustrated lecture is a socio-cultural history and an urgent call to action following the author's experience and that of his community as Trayvon Martin was killed, as Ferguson was torn apart, and as Baltimore itself exploded after the death of Freddie Gray.

    Folk City

    Tuesday, February 9, 2016

    Folk City: New York and the American Folk Music Revival with Stephen Petrus, an Andrew W. Mellon Research Fellow at the New-York Historical Society.

    This illustrated lecture explores New York's central role in fueling the nationwide craze for folk music in post-war America. It shows that the city’s artistic, political, and commercial assets helped to shape a breeding ground for the folk music revival, one of the great cultural phenomena of the twentieth century.

    Woody

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016

    Woody: The Biography with David Evanier, a former Senior Editor of The Paris Reviewand the author of ten books.

    This lecture features key movies, plays and prose and his personal life and tackles the themes that Allen has spent a lifetime sorting through in art: morality, sexuality, Judaism, the eternal struggle of head and heart.

    Word Nerd

    Thursday, February 11, 2016

    Word Nerd: Dispatches from the Games, Grammar and Geek Undergroundwith John D Williams Jr., former Executive Director of the National SCRABBLE Association and the co-author of the best-sellingEverything SCRABBLE®.

    This illustrated lecture explores anagrams, palindromes, the highest-scoring SCRABBLE plays of all time, the birth of the World SCRABBLE Championship, as well as many of the more colorful figures that inhabit this subculture.

    The Burn Pits

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016

    The Burn Pits: The Poisoning of America's Soldiers with Joseph Hickman, a former US Marine and Army sergeant.

    This lecture chronicles the experiences of many young men and women who signed up to serve their country in the wake of 9/11, only to return home permanently damaged, the victims of their own armed forces' criminal negligence.

    Exploring Gramercy Park and Union Square

    Wednesday, February 17, 2016

    Exploring Gramercy Park and Union Square with Alfred Pommer, a licensed New York City Guide and Joyce Pommer, a former art gallery owner in New York City.

    This illustrated lecture features the stories and history of two of Manhattan’s most desirable neighborhoods for more than 150 years.

    The Rooftop Growing Guide

    Thursday, February 18, 2016

    The Rooftop Growing Guide: How to Transform Your Roof into a Garden or Farm with Annie Novak, the Co-founder and head farmer of the nation's first commercial green roof row farm, Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Brooklyn.

    This illustrated roof showcases how to make an edible rooftop garden thrive.

    A Light Shines in Harlem

    Monday, February 22, 2016

    A Light Shines in Harlem: New York’s First Charter School and the Movement It Led with the author, Mary C. Bounds, an award-winning journalist, in conversation with Dawn M. Hill, a Co-founder of the Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem.

    This lecture and dialogue tells the fascinating story of the Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem, the first charter school in New York, and of the charter movement.

    Passage to Cuba

    Thursday, February 25, 2016

    Passage to Cuba: An Up-Close Look at the World's Most Colorful Culture with author and photographer, Cynthia Carris Alonso.

    In this lecture, the author shares her knowledge and experience of Cuban culture, travel in Cuba, and the Caribbean nation's changing relationship with the United States.

    Author @ the Library! is a series of monthly events where accomplished non-fiction authors discuss their work. You may meet the Author of interesting and engaging non-fiction reads, participate in a lively discussion and access books and materials on topics of interest. Come checkout a book, DVD or e-book on the topic.

    Don’t miss the many interesting films, book discussions, as well as computer and technology classes, on our program calendar. Sit back at Story Time for Grown-ups as we celebrate Black History Month with Favorite Stories by African-American Authors beginning on Februray 3rd.If you enjoy talking about books, join us on Friday, February 12 for Open Book Night,our theme this month is Love Makes the World Go 'Round. The Contemporary Classic Book Discussion meets on Monday, February 8; the featured novel is Dave Egger’s fascinatingly philosophical sci-fi, The Circle.

    All of our programs and classes are free, so why not come and check one out! Hope to see you soon at the library!

    Download the Mid-Manhattan Library's February 2016 Author Talks & More flyer.


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    On display until February 29 at St. Agnes Library is Sandra Jetton’s Street Theater: Scenes from the Show. Sandra is a graduate of Rollins College and a student at the International Center for Photography. She and her husband, film producer David Picker, are Upper West Side residents. See her website sandrajettonphotography.com for further information.

    What led to your interest in becoming a photographer?

    I studied to be an opera singer. If you add that particular bit of history to my love of photography you may understand my attraction to the theatrical and the unusual.

    What is the inspiration in your art?

    To me, street photography is a true American art form. It combines the social landscape, storytelling, use of light, the styles of the times, architecture and personal observations.

    What other artists have influenced your work?

    Too many photographers to count, but I’m always drawn to Bruce Davidson for his beautiful and shocking photos of New York in the '70s and '80s, as well as Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander and Saul Leiter. And of course Robert Frank’s The Americans.

    Do you have a routine for when you are making your art?

    Just carry a camera with me wherever I go. It really slows us down when my husband and I are trying to get somewhere. But he’s a very good sport—and he also has an excellent eye, often pointing me towards some wonderful shots.

    What is your next project?

    I’m currently exploring deserted spaces, particularly those with interesting histories. Some of my most recent work includes photographs at the long-closed Contagious Disease Ward at Ellis Island, abandoned since the 1950s.

    What is the best advice you have to give someone who is just starting out?

    All artists should feel like they are just starting out. There are wonderful new things to explore on the streets every day. Keep your eyes open and be fearless!


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    The Magic of Groundhog DayWe’ve all been there… day in, day out, same thing, we’re tired physically and emotionally. It’s no longer fulfilling. We wonder where our initial passion for our business went, and whether we are doing the right thing.

    Help! How do we get out of this rut?

    Paul Hannam is the author of The Magic of Groundhog Day, a book based on the 1993 film Groundhog Day (trailer) starring Bill Murray. In the movie, Phil Connors (Murray) is a TV weatherman who somehow gets stuck in a time warp, and is forced to live the same day over and over.

    Our habits are the reasons why we relive the same things over and over in our real lives, and this analogy is what makes the book an easy but powerful read. This is what the author calls the Groundhog Effect: the conditioning that keeps us stuck.

    The book provides guidance to break patterns or habits that are no longer helpful so that we can find the fulfillment that fuels our lives. Especially for us, small business owners, we wear so many hats that occasionally we need to stop and remember to breathe. Setting priorities will enable us to take care of our health, security and well-being as well as that our families and employees.

    In a nutshell, Hannam states that we are creatures of habit. We have developed certain patterns of behavior and reaction that may have served us in the past, but in the present are no longer helpful.  The first step is to recognize them. Once we are aware of how we are conditioned to act, we can break free and begin to make true changes.

    Want more books like this one? Here are a few others, and you can also join our small business and career book club for more great reads.

    Mindset

    Mindset
    By Carol Dweck

    A simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area.

    Change your questions, change your life

    Change Your Questions, Change Your Life
    By Marilee Adams

    Asking the right questions of the right people can radically transform attitudes, actions, and results. This book provides easy-to-learn tools that can make a significant and immediate difference in people's business and personal lives. 

    The E-Myth

    The E-Myth Revisited
    By Michael E. Gerber

    How to go from being an expert at your craft to learning how to start and run a business. Helpful habits to instill in you and powerful ideas to act upon.


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    Sal Magaddino is passionate about his job as the Deputy Director for Logistics of BookOps, which is charged with distributing over 35,000 materials a day to more than 150 locations throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Brooklyn. With the help of an energetic team, he’s been able to completely transform the way the Library circulates materials and reduce delivery times dramatically. This behind-the-scenes story shows that the mechanical heart of the Library takes a lot of big hearts to make it run.

    Ep. 15 "It's All About Service" | Library Stories

    "We deliver to 150 locations every day. We sort over 35,000 items a day...everything we do is to support the branches and support the patrons." - Sal Magaddino, Deputy Director for Logistics, NYPL Book Operations

    Posted by NYPL The New York Public Library on Wednesday, February 3, 2016

    Library Stories is a video series from The New York Public Library that shows what the Library means to our users, staff, donors, and communities through moving personal interviews.

    Like, share, and watch more Library Stories on Facebook or YouTube.


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    Walter Camp, Yale Captain, 1878.
    Walter Camp, Yale Football Captain, 1878. Image ID: 101420

    Before you dive into that bowl of chips this Superbowl Sunday, take a moment to appreciate Walter Camp, the man who gave you football. This guy, the fit, mutton-chopped “Father of American Football,” literally wrote the rules.

    Before Camp, there was college chaos. As far back as the 1820s, students at Ivy League schools played a Medieval thing called “mob football,” which involved two teams of as many people as possible beating each other up until someone kicked a ball through some goal posts. In the 1860s, students started taking football on the road, visiting each other’s fields in intercollegiate games. These games shared a handful of standards, such as twenty players per team on a 140-foot-long field, but the rules still varied per home field. In other words, if your team visited another school, you played by their rules: they had home field advantage.

    Fifth Avenue Hotel
    Fifth Avenue Hotel, New York, NY, 1881. Image ID: 477006

    In 1873, students from Yale, Princeton, Columbia, and Harvard met at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York City—i.e., not Texas—to agree on the first set of intercollegiate rules. They met again in 1876 at the Massasoit House in Springfield, Massachusetts—again, not Texas—and subsequently formed an association with a convention to continue refining the rules. Yale initially bowed out, but Walter Camp, a Yale captain, soon became a key figure, and proposed several new rules, including such enduring features as the eleven-player team, line of scrimmage, center-to-quarterback snap, and system of downs. When the association accepted Camp’s rules in 1880, football as you know it was born.

    Now, because this is the Super Bowl we’re talking about, let’s go ahead and make too much of it. The year of the second Massasoit House convention, 1876, was the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence. The rules prior to Walter Camp’s were based on a combination of two English sports: rugby and, well, football. Thus, the game until 1880 was played under British rule, and this tradition continued until one man, a true revolutionary, protested the Crown and threw off its stranglehold on the American way of life. The Revolution was won again, and football became football while the other football became soccer.

    Yale vs Army
    Army defeats Yale 33-0 on the gridiron, c. 1920s. Image ID: 414716

    Not to be stopped, Walter Camp continued introducing innovations in subsequent playing and coaching years, such as the tell-tale visual-graphic “gridiron” of painted yard lines, and the game-defining strategy of arranging players into “backs,” including one quarterback. In his 1911 book, Football for the Spectator, Walter Camp describes these and other key features of the sport, and rather eloquently at that. He was in fact a prolific writer. Many of his titles can be found in the NYPL catalog.


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    Goth Reader
    A typical reader of 'Charlotte Sometimes'

    Not as oneself did one find rest ever, in her experience [...] but as a wedge of darkness.To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

    This double, then, the guaranteed the autonomy of the subject, [allowed for a] freedom from a pathetic existence in which it could be manipulated by other things, persons, or traditions. But once this double was thus detached, once it was set loose in the world, it was inevitable that the subject would occasionally "run into it," approach it a little too closely. Whenever this happens, anxiety signals us to take our distance once again. Read My Desire, Joan Copjec

    By account of the author herself, Penelope Farmer's Charlotte Sometimes has remained in print since its first edition due in large part to the song by the same name released in October of 1981 by the Goth group, The Cure—indeed, it is the only novel of her large body of work to do so. Since then the book has received readership by many Goths who, if only for their love of The Cure, have sought out the original text which served to inspire one of the gloomiest anthems of twentieth century popular culture.

    I fully admit that this is how I came to read Charlotte Sometimes. Yet, what I found was not a story for prematurely aged cranks and perpetually adolescent adults (that strange collection of souls who make up 'Goth'), but one of the most insightful coming-of-age tales I've come across. I can't help but feel I would've been better off reading Farmer than adoring Smith during those turbulent years of youth. Hindsight is 20-20.

    Allow me to provide a brief outline of the story. The year is 1958—Our Charlotte Makepeace finds herself away from home for the first time in a boarding school for girls. Now, adjusting to new surroundings, new people, and a new way of life is a trying task in itself, sure to provide enough narrative fodder for a decent coming-of-age tale. But throw in time travel? What was merely a tricky situation has squarely entered the realm of the 'bizarre'.

    Time Travel?
    Girlhood adolescence is hard enough without time travel. Image ID: 1260415

    Yes, one day Charlotte wakes up to find that she has traveled back in time to the year 1918, and is occupying the body of a girl called Clare Moby. They continue to swap bodies and times every other day. Then, in part II, Charlotte finds herself unable to escape the year 1918 and must find a way to return to her own time before the school year runs out...

    This alone makes for a strange story. But Farmer's book has an incredible depth accomplished with an effortlessness I rarely come across in contemplative fiction written for adults, let alone children. For this reason, I cannot accept it as a simple story about a child who travels time, but a story where an adolescent girl lays the foundation for her maturity.

    From the first passage, we find that adjusting to the strangeness of boarding school is no easy task for Charlotte, for everything in her life suddenly smacks of unsettling novelty. The first sentence of the book reads,

    By bedtime all the faces, the voices had blurred for Charlotte to one face, one voice.

    At this point we may feel certain that Charlotte has a steady sense of who she has been up until now—that is, she's not the vivid swirl of strangeness which surrounds her at the boarding school. In their immediacy, all these new unsorted factors congeal into a singular mass which stand against Charlotte herself. The reader may understand this as desperate measure by Charlotte to suppress the trauma of change—a fantasy which allows Charlotte to regard all this strangeness as somewhere 'out there.' In Lacanian terms, a lack has begun to appear in Charlotte's symbolic order.

    This lack presents itself gradually. An acquaintance with her roommate Suzanna's family life allows the reader to peer into the queer trauma soon to follow. Farmer tells us that in this strange, new environment of the girls' boarding school, for Charlotte, Suzanna's life becomes even more real than her own—her quest for her Self becomes a fruitless frenzied hunt,

    She scarcely felt as real herself and spent much of her time hunting for her name, on lists, for instance, game lists, table lists, class lists, cloakroom lists; on everything, everywhere, lockers, pegs, drawers, clothes, shoes, even on her toothbrush and sponge, as if she needed to prove her own reality. When she was not looking for her name, she was writing it, and not just Charlotte either as she would have put on her books at home, or even at the little village school where she went before. Charlotte alone proved no identity at all*. [...] For since this morning she had felt herself to be so many different people, and half of them she did not recognize.

    *emphasis mine

    Then, of course, the true rupture begins. Charlotte Makepeace finds herself waking up forty years earlier in the year 1918 in the same boarding school occupying the body of a girl called Clare Mary Moby.

    What's important to note here is that Charlotte's world, both in 1918 and 1958, has not become carnivalesque nonsense for Charlotte so much as Charlotte herself, as an actor with agency, has proved ineffectual in light of her new circumstances. In her new situation at the boarding school Charlotte can no longer draw upon herself as an essential 'character' which has its neat little place within a world which made sense to her.

    Charlotte and Clare eventually become acquainted with their body swapping. By way of a diary dated for September 14, 1918, Clare and Charlotte realize that they are able to communicate with each other while inhabiting each other's bodies. In such a way, Charlotte lives a double life... but with herself...

    [...] Charlotte felt as if she were reading two stories alternately, reaching some point of tension in one, only to continue in the other.

    Temple of Time
    'Charlotte Sometimes'—not your typical time-travel novel. Image ID: ps_grd_350

    This relationship between the so-called Charlotte-as-such and Charlotte/Clare as historical fact calls Charlotte to retroactively reconsider who 'Charlotte' is/was in the first place. As Clare in 1918 she wants to seamlessly perform 'Clare.' Then, when returning to 1958, she must again assimilate Clare's actions and disposition as her own. In one example, Clare is very much the solitary type. Consequently, when Charlotte returns to the year 1958, she must redeem her friends' notion of her as a solitary person since all her schoolmates regard her as such. The idea of Clare eventually emerges in Charlotte's own life and times as the prohibiting superego. The anxiety of having to negotiate Charlotte and Clare-as-Charlotte eventually causes her to act out in strange ways—to sincerely 'be' Clare.

    She felt she had to island herself now more and more, to draw in bridges, like a knight barricading himself in his castle. Otherwise she feared she would give herself away, asking a question, for instance, about something she ought to have known if she spent every day in the same place and time, or doing or saying something that would look odd because serious, conscientious Clare would never do or say such things.

    In such a way, Clare the solitary becomes a large part of what makes Charlotte.

    She did not feel comfortable till a wall of shrubs hid her from the eyes of the school buildings, when immediately there rushed hard into her a most curiously wild kind of happiness that made her tremble, yet sharpened her mind inside

    It is important to note that this first, early step towards reconstructing Charlotte occurred through an initial misrecognition, and that there is never an affirmative moment of 'Charlotte'. It is useful here to draw upon Žižek's notion of 'redoubled reflection' as outlined in his 1989 work, 'The Sublime Object of Ideology'. On the basic level of what Žižek calls elementary reflection, the subject simply views the world in strict terms of essence and appearance—where by mediating-sublating-positing every positive immediacy, appearance becomes a point of absolute negativity—the chaos is 'out there' somewhere (think—the first line of Charlotte Sometimes). This point of view necessarily requires a subject which takes itself for granted as some sort of reliable terra firma apart from this world of mere appearance. It establishes the subject as one who posits their own presuppositions.

    On the other hand, Zizek's redoubled subject takes things further by presupposing itself as positing. In this sense, there is no 'mere appearance', but

    [...] an inverse-alienated image of the very essence, essence itself in the form of its otherness, in other words, a presupposition which is not merely posited by the essence: in it, essence presupposes itself as positing.

    [...] the subject effectively 'posits his own presuppositions' by presupposing, by reflecting himself in them as positing.

    In this spirit, when the so-called veil of appearances has been torn asunder the subject finds a void of nothingness not only in the world, but in themselves as well, rendering the relationship between the subject's unconscious and their world not as an interior psychic whole against externality, but as an inter-subjectivity, establishing what Lacan calls 'extimacy'. In another interesting passage, Charlotte ruminates,

    Perhaps we never look at people properly, Charlotte thought. And she remembered looking in a mirror once and trying to draw herself; how, after she had been staring at her features for a little while, they seemed no longer to make her face or any face. They were just a collection of eyes and nose and mouth. Perhaps if you stared at anyone like that, their face would disintegrate in the same way, till you could not tell whether you knew them or not, especially, of course, if there was no reason for them not to be who they said they were.

    It is Charlotte's 'failure to draw' a faithful rendering of herself I find very interesting. Like any other coming-of-age story, Charlotte Sometimes is about someone who finds themselves at a crossroads where they are called upon to make difficult choices which foster personal development. Yet, Charlotte's eventual maturity is not the result of looking inwardly to reveal some sort of guiding compass. Charlotte's maturity is won by redeeming her subjectivity through having to negotiate herself as a subject embedded in a world.

    Crossroads
    Ah, the proverbial crossroads... Image ID: 1663882

    Throughout the book there are many episodes of confusion and anxiety. Yet, it is interesting to note that Charlotte in her most simple and satisfied state of mind occurs while she is engrossed with the rules and regulations of a game of 'spillikins,' or pick-up-sticks. In games the rules as defined by an order of symbols are simple—during play, we are able to completely forget ourselves by our complete immersion into the rules of the game being played. It is in 1918, of all times, where Charlotte expresses a moment of pure restfulness while watching the game unfold. The game allows for a world in which all that is peripheral melts away...

    There was a moment of suspense when success was near, the relief as she safely flicked a spillikin away, the frustration, contrariwise, when at the last minute fingers lost their control or when one that had seemed an easy win proved so delicately balanced that it set the whole heap twitching at a single touch.

    The game contracted, expanded seconds, contracted, expanded minutes; made an illusion of no time that lulled Charlotte and comforted her. They might, she thought, have been playing at any time, their minds moving easily from one present to another, from 1918, here, now, to Arthur in the past, to Emma in the future, and also to Clare. [...] She felt as if she were suspended between these times, the past, this present, that future of her own, belonging to all and none of them

    Through the game, Charlotte is able to suspend her subjectivity and 'become' the game, the game itself allowing for a kind of pure presence. This passage demonstrates Charlotte's acquaintance with the entrapment of existence within systems of rules which allow for an understanding of the world. As mind-bending as it may sound, it is this entrapment which allows the subject to enjoy their freedoms, to schematize the division between themselves and the symbolic order via fantasy.

    This is in no way tantamount to saying that in order to feel whole Charlotte must completely efface her own subjectivity. On the contrary, she must now learn to maintain distance from the game in order to master it. A beautiful jar of water and marbles ties in Charlotte's final step towards maturation—Charlotte is at first mesmerized by the beauty of the marbles magnified by the water in the jar...

    But when she put her fingers into the water and pulled a marble out, it was small by comparison with those still in the glass, and unimportant, too. It was like the difference between what you long for and what you find—[...] It was like everything that made you ache because in one sense it was so close and in another unobtainable. Charlotte picked up the glass, held it to the light, and gazed into it obliviously. For that moment everything else around her, everything else that had happened, seemed to splinter in her head and fall away.

    The close inspection of the marble removed from the jar of water which had made the marbles so beautiful for Charlotte, ended up as some horrific desire fulfillment, shattering the distance necessary for the fantasy structure that allows the subject to come to terms with 'reality.' As we can see, coming face-to-face with the object of one's desire resulted in Charlotte's psychic splintering, floating about in a state similar to the Hegelian 'Night of the World', that pre-symbolic domain of partial drives where, 'here shoots a bloody head, there another white ghastly apparition.'

    Marbles
    Marbles, un(a)bound. Image ID: 1666811

    In the first chapter of 'The Ticklish Subject', Žižek employs a fairly lengthy passage from Hegel's vivid description of the Night of the World to illustrate the dismembering of the world via the subject's imagination when it comes too close to the Notion itself (in our example, Charlotte's close examination of the marble when no longer mediated by the fantasy-relationship of the jar of water). In such a way, our knowledge can never garner a true sense of reality, but,

    There is 'reality; [...] only in so far as the domain of the Notion is alienated from itself, split, traversed by some radical deadlock, caught in some debilitating inconsistency.

    If we take this idea seriously, we may find a similar paradox in the objective symbolic order that we found in the subject—that the 'false' appearance is comprised within the 'thing itself'.

    At the end of the story, Charlotte is reunited with this jar of marbles in 1958 when Clare's sister's daughter, Sarah, gives it to her as a gift from Clare's sister, Emily, whom Charlotte spent much time growing with in 1918. In triumph, Charlotte places this jar of marbles on her own dresser, in her own time and place, in a sense furnishing her life with the gift of legacy which she had endured so many psychic discomforts to inherit.

    The marbles looked very pretty, everybody said, and Charlotte was pleased, because no longer now was her chest of drawers the only one without ornament. It looked individual; it belonged to someone. It seemed odd that it belonged to her more as Clare than as Charlotte. But she had begun to realize that she could never entirely escape from being Clare. The memory of it, if nothing else, was rooted in her mind. And what had happened to her would go on mattering, just as what had happened in the war itself would go on mattering, permanently.

    In just under 200 pages, Charlotte travels time, attends a séance, learns a whole lot about the First World War, and witnesses the pain of battle (brilliant aspects of the story I have not even begun to cover!) She makes friends, and learns about who she is through her mistakes and successes. What have we learned as readers? That to be 'oneself' is not to presume a familiarity with yourself and assert it unreflectively. Neither is it a matter of blindly submitting yourself to the world you inherit. It is to realize that as individuals we not only inherit an entire world of historical intent and accident, but must adopt an attitude of responsibility towards it. That we may be comfortable in our environment only insofar as we take ownership of it, buying a little of what we are sold, yet maintaining our distance. That we ourselves are history, and are responsible for not only the future, but in how we regard the past. After all, the way in which we redeem the past is how we create a prolegomena for any philosophy which looks towards the future.

    And while I'll always have a fondness for all-black, clunky boots, and a passing familiarity with Romantic poetry, Penelope Farmer's amazing book which manages to make the complexities of growing older so engrossing, charming, and above all, readable, is hard to beat.

    Works to Read From This Post

    Penelope Farmer—Charlotte Sometimes
    Slavoj Zizek—The Ticklish Subject
    Joan Copjec—Read My Desire
    Jacques Lacan—Ecrits

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    Find My Past Logo

    Find My Past is the newest addition to NYPL’s collection of genealogy databases. Available at all NYPL locations, this database holds many useful records for furthering your family history research. Here are three reasons to explore this database and continue your genealogical journey:

    McCoy Sisters
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    1. UK and Ireland Records

    In addition to holding United States records, Find My Past provides access to a trove of UK and Ireland genealogy collections.

    Millions of English, Scottish, and Welsh records are accessible through Find My Past, some dating as far back as 1200. Collections include parish records, censuses, passenger lists, British Army service records, birth, marriage, and death records, and more.

    Also search for Irish ancestors in the largest collection of online Irish records, many of which are only available on Find My Past. Vital records, court records, land records, and military records are just some of the collections available. For more on researching Irish ancestors at NYPL, see the class: Irish Genealogy: Resources and Research Methods.

    2. PERSI

    Find My Past is the only place you will find the up-to-date PERSI (the PERiodical Source Index). With indexing for over 8,000 periodicals, PERSI is the largest and most widely used index to genealogy and local history magazines, newsletters, and journals—including many held at NYPL.

    Genealogy periodicals are valuable (but often underused) resources. Find helpful information such as indexes and transcriptions of records, family histories, advanced research strategies, and beginner tips. Established and maintained by the Allen County Public Library, PERSI provides references to over 2.5 million articles—just search by family name and location.

    PERSI Image
    The Periodical Source Index, Find My Past

    While this index is useful in itself, PERSI now contains a growing number of digitized articles, providing instant access to genealogy and local history periodicals throughout the US and UK.

    Learn more about NYPL’s collections of genealogy periodicals in the class: Genealogical Research with Newspapers and Periodicals.

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    3. New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Collections

    Find My Past also provides access to a number of collections from the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B), an organization devoted to New York family history research.

    Collections include The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record 1870-present, family Bibles, church records surveys, and NYG&B member biographies. Also browse the NYG&B’s digital book collection for family genealogies, local histories, and transcribed and indexed records such as cemetery records, coroner reports, marriage records, estate and probate records, immigration and naturalization records, and more.

    Donated in 2008, the complete NYG&B library is also available at NYPL.

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    Discover more Find My Past collections through browsing the “A-Z of record sets” option under “Search.” Also find a variety of research guides under “Help,” and more genealogy articles via the Find My Past blog.

    Keep in mind that the 1939 Register and newspapers are not included in library subscriptions.

    Find My Past has replaced the former Origins database.


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    The purpose of this post is to convince you to add one belated resolution for 2016: bookmark the link to SIBL's programs and classes in your favorites. Why?

    The Science, Industry and Business Library is renowned in the NYC metro area as the site for continuous education in those areas crucial to every New Yorker: money and work. SIBL offered 320+ sessions in 2015, repeating frequently those most in demand. The retrospective round up below captures SIBL's year-round cavalcade of career and job, financial management, and entrepreneurship and small business offerings, many of which, as you will see recur frequently. Look for these in 2016 so you can plan ahead.

    January

    • “Introduction to Trademarks (presented ten times)
    • New Resolutions for Your Career: Establishing and Maintaining Career Momentum in 2015
    • Budgeting: Cash & Credit
    • It's Never Too Late to Start Investing (presented twice)
    • Maximizing Your Return
    • How to Build Your Brand and Keep it in the Black: A Workshop for Entrepreneurs
    • Writing a LinkedIn Summary (presented twice)
    • Harnessing the Power of LinkedIn as a Research Tool
    • Marketing Yourself with Confidence (presented four times)
    • Your Job Search is A Full Time Job. How to Manage Your Job Search (presented twice)
    • Critique Your Resume (presented twenty-one times)
    • Investing in Stocks: The Basics (presented eighteen times)
    • Online with MorningStar & ValueLine (presented fifteen times)
    • Health Care Reform: What It Means To You (presented three times)
    • Mutual Funds & ETFs (presented thirteen times)
    • Career Resources (presented twenty times)
    • Dare to Change
    • Researching the 5 Ps of Your Marketing Plan (presented ten times)
    • Bonds & Bond Mutual Funds
    • LinkedIn Best Practices (presented twice)

    February

    • Interview Intervention: The Self Recruiter® Interview Checklist (presented four times)
    • Dominate Your Fate℠: 3 RED keys to change to your choice career, not to allow your career to change your choices
    • Avoiding the Common Mistakes on Wills (presented twice)
    • Getting Started in Export Research (presented ten times)
    • Self-Recruiter® Career Evolution: Preparing For Your Career's Next Leap with Social Media Marketing (presented four times)
    • 4 Keys to Success: Credit, Cash Flow, Customers and Cons (presented twice)
    • Job Search Fundamentals
    • Deliver Powerful Presentations that get RESULTS!
    • Career Management for Introverts
    • Starting a Small Business (presented twice)
    • Planning for Retirement and College
    • Who Are You and What Are You Supposed to Be Doing with Your Life? (presented twice)
    • Global Business News & More Using Factiva (presented thirteen times)
    • Life Skills: Budgeting, Credit, & Debt (presented eight times)
    • Resume & “Pitch” Intensive: Craft Messages that Land Interviews and Offers
    • Self-Recruiter® Communications Mastery in Job Search: How to Engage Hiring Managers (presented twice)
    • Broker, Financial Planner, or Investment Advisor: How to Pick (presented twice)
    • Self-Recruiter® Resume Renovation (presented three times)
    • Creating a Personal Brand
    • Is Your Resume Promoting You or Hurting You?
    • Bonds Basics (presented fourteen times)

    March

    • The Networking Meeting: Getting the Most Out of Your Contacts
    • Self-Recruiter® Lecture Series: Building Your Professional Network with LinkedIn & How To Use It In Your Job Search (presented six times)
    • Getting Hired Using Online Social Media
    • Real Life Financial Advice for Young Investors
    • Best Practices in Your Job Search (presented eleven times)
    • The Paradigm Shift in Job Search: Marketing Yourself to the Decision-Maker (presented three times)
    • Smart Social Security Strategies (presented twice)
    • Job Seekers: Download a Customized Company List for Contacts (presented ten times)
    • Quickbooks Workshop
    • Business Start-up Resources & Services
    • Turn Job Interviews into Offers
    • Writing a Winning Resume
    • Get Tips and Advice from Employers Who Hire!
    • Smarter Social Security: Strategies to Maximize Spousal Benefits
    • Authentic Branding: Letting the Real You Shine in Any Situation (presented twice)
    • Online Funding for Business (presented twice)
    • Staying Positive during a Difficult Job Search
    • Freedom of Information Day lecture
    • Acting Improvisation for Leadership Presence

    April

    • Planning for a Successful Retirement (presented five times)
    • Negotiating: The Bottom Line for Your Job Campaign
    • The Truth in Retailing: Why E-tailing Doesn’t Work
    • Are you ‘fluent’ in LinkedIn? (presented thirteen times)
    • Living Large On Less in NYC
    • Facebook for Business (presented five times)
    • Interpreting Financial Statements (presented seven times)
    • Advanced LinkedIn: Jump-start Your Career
    • Investment Choices: What is Right for me?
    • Jump Start Your Job Search (presented twice)
    • Financial Planning Before and During a Divorce
    • Using Social Media to Find a Job
    • Promotions and Planning for Your Business (presented twice)
    • Beyond the Basics: The ABC’s of ETFs,Vas, & Other Financial Products
    • What Are You Saving For?
    • The Role of the Federal Reserve in the Economy
    • Medicare 2015
    • Wills & Advance Directives
    • Brokers, Financial Advisors, & Financial Planners: How to Pick One?
    • The Importance of Asset Allocation in Building a Diversified Portfolio
    • How to Give a Powerful Elevator Pitch
    • Home Buyer Workshop
    • Social Security: What You Need to Know About Retirement
    • Taking the Mystery Out of Retirement Planning
    • Investing Basics: Make Informed Investment Decisions & Avoid Fraud
    • Are You Branding Yourself to be Remembered?

    May

    • Imports and Exports: The Cost of Ignoring Business Risks
    • Five Plastic Money Cards - The Good, Bad and Ugly
    • Become the Perfect Candidate: Tap into the 'Hidden' Job Market (presented twice)
    • Customs and Border Protection: Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), the Centers of Excellence and Expertise and Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS)
    • Elevator "Pitch Perfect!"
    • The Key to a Dream Retirement
    • Should I Throw Away My Resume?
    • Customs and Border Protection: Customs-Trade Partnership against Terrorism (C-TPAT) Update
    • Self-Recruiter®Resume Renovation (presented three times)
    • Imports and Exports: The Cost of Ignoring Operational Risks
    • How to Handle Difficult Interview Questions (presented twice)
    • Social Security: How it Will Fit in Your Retirement (presented eight times)
    • Customs and Border Protection: Foreign Trade Zones
    • Meet Your International Trade Expert Network in New York
    • Effective Strategies for Conducting a Successful Job Search
    • Thinking through the Job Interview
    • Returning To the Workforce after a Long Break or Sabbatical
    • How to Absolutely, Positively Ace Your Job Interview
    • Writing a LinkedIn Summary (presented five times)
    • Is What You Do Right For You? A Holistic Approach to Assessing Career Fit

    June

    • Broker, Financial Planner, or Investment Advisor: How to Pick One
    • Business Communications for Your Career
    • Self-Recruiter® Lecture Series: Organizing and Managing Your Job Search (presented five times)
    • Managing the Head Game in Your Job Search
    • Crash Course in Interviewing (presented twice)
    • Keep the Momentum Going
    • Maximizing Your IRA & 401(k)
    • Presentation Skills for Job Seekers
    • Shall We Wed? Financial Planning and Same-sex Households
    • Summer Pitch: How to Talk About Your Career in Any Setting
    • Getting a Bank Loan for Your Business
    • Stocks and Stock Mutual Funds
    • Reinvent Your Career (presented twice)
    • For Seniors Only: Wills and Advance Directives
    • For Seniors Only: Investing for Seniors
    • For Seniors Only: Identity Theft
    • Writing a LinkedIn Summary
    • NYC Local Law 87
    • It's Not About Age: Tips to Conduct a Successful Job Search No Matter Your Age
    • Introduction to Medicare

    July

    • A Seminar in Resume Problems
    • Career Finder’s Club (presented four times)
    • Powerful First Impressions: How to Find and Get the Job You Really Want (presented seven times)
    • Planning and Organizing a Job Search Campaign
    • Constructing a Diversified Portfolio for Beginners
    • Refining Your Personal Brand: Using Marketing Principles to Ace "Tell Me about Yourself"
    • Attitude is The Key to Successful Job Search
    • Live Within Your Means: The ABCs of Budgeting
    • Networking to Your Next Job/Career

    August

    • Networking: Building and Maintaining Your Visibility
    • Crafting an Elevator Pitch
    • LinkedIn for Business - How to Use Its Social Media Marketing To Reach Your Business Goals
    • Identity Theft: What’s Happening Now
    • Branding from Both Sides Now — Creating & Trademarking Your Identity
    • Crafting an Elevator Pitch (presented twice)

    September

    • Positive Strategies to Help Achieve a Less Stressful More Successful Job Search
    • Targeting a Great Career: Achieve Satisfaction in Your Next Job
    • Writing a LinkedIn Summary (presented twice)
    • College Funding Awareness Program
    • Debunking LinkedIn Myths for Job Seekers (and Entrepreneurs)
    • Why Don't I have a Job Yet?
    • Advertising Research for Your Business
    • Reinvent Your Career
    • Not a US Citizen? What you Need to Know
    • Dominate Your Fate℠: 3 RED Keys to Catapult Up The Career Curve, Not Let Your Career Keep You Down
    • Digital Resources for the Growing Your Fashion Business
    • How To Create Your Own Best Job Search Strategy

    October

    • Career Management for Introverts
    • Building Your Professional Network with LinkedIn & How To Use It In Your Job Search
    • Technology! How It Can Help You to Bank and Budget Better
    • Is What You Do Right For You? A Holistic Approach to Assessing Career Fit
    • De-Mystifying Twitter for Small Business: Tweeting Towards Sales
    • Creating a Social Media Marketing Campaign for Your Business on LinkedIn
    • Resume & “Pitch” Intensive - Craft Messages that Land Interviews and Offers
    • From Pins to Profits: Using Pinterest for Your Business
    • Strategies for Smart Savings and Investing
    • Medicare 2015
    • FINRA Tools: Investor Resources at Your Fingertips
    • What You Need to Know About the Small Business Marketplace of the NY State of Health
    • What You Should Know About Long Term Care Insurance
    • A Talk with the Tax Guy: Questions Your Accountant Didn't Answer During Tax Season
    • 401(k)s, 403(b)s… Optimizing Your Retirement Plan at Work
    • Stop! Thief! How to Spot & Stop Identity Theft
    • Wills and Advance Directives
    • How Indexing Provides an Intelligent and Effective Way to Invest
    • Essential Tips for Financing an Affordable College Education
    • Maximizing Interpersonal Relationships
    • Introduction to Patents (presented thirteen times)

    November

    • Investing! What Your Money Can Do for You (presented thirteen times)
    • Proven Interviewing Strategies to Get the Job Offer
    • Turn Job Interviews into Offers
    • Crafting an Elevator Pitch five times
    • How to Maintain Momentum in Your Job Search
    • The Self‐Recruiter® Interview Checklist
    • Optimizing Your Budget & Cash Flow (presented twice)
    • Money Matters Military. Returning to the Civilian Workforce
    • Effective Online Job Search & Interviewing Techniques
    • Keep the Momentum Going
    • Market/Industry Research in SIBL

    December

    • How to Get Health Insurance for Your Small Business through the NY State of Health
    • Money Matters Military. Found Money: Optimizing Budgets and Cash Flow
    • AARP Back To Work 50+ Virtual Career Network (presented fifteen times)
    • Basics of On-Line Market Trading with T3 Live On-Line Resources for Libraries
    • Free Small Business Risk Education Workshop (presented three times)
    • Starting a Small Business (presented twice)
    • Creating a Memorable Branding Statement
    • How to Use Recruiters, Ads, Social Media and Letter Campaigns To Your Best Advantage In Your Job Campaign (presented twice)
    • Staying Motivated Throughout the Job Search Process (presented twice)
    • Interview with Confidence (presented twice)
    • What Makes a Good Financial Plan? (presented twice)
    • Year End Tax Tips
    • From Broadway to Business: Lessons from the Stage for Leadership Success

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    Domenico Feti - Melancholy (Version 2)
    Domenico Fetti (1589-1623) Melancholy, via Wikimedia Commons

    “You know, it’s really very peculiar. To be mortal is the most basic human experience and yet man has never been able to accept it, grasp it, and behave accordingly. Man doesn’t know how to be mortal.” —Milan Kundera, Immortality

    We fear death. We don’t want to die. We hate our mortality and don’t want to be made aware of it. We repress all thought of death and live as if we have unlimited time.

    For Saint Augustine, fear of death makes a happy life impossible. True happiness requires immortality. “The true life is one that is both everlasting and happy,” and “since all men want to be happy, they want also to be immortal if they know what they want; for otherwise they could not be happy.” 1

    Absent a religious belief in immortality, denial is the most common way of treating the fear of death. In the words of Pascal, “To be happy he would have to make himself immortal; but, not being able to do so, it has occurred to him to prevent himself from thinking of death.” 2 And that is what diversions and distractions provide. “Diversion…This is all that men have been able to discover to make themselves happy. And those…who think men unreasonable for spending a whole day in chasing a hare…scarce know our nature. The hare in itself would not screen us from the sight of death and calamities; but the chase, which turns away our attention from these, does screen us.” 3

    Arguments against the Fear of Death

    But there are other ways of combating the fear of death. All the ancient schools of thought, Epicureans, Skeptics, and Stoics, thought the fear of death irrational and employed arguments to combat it. For them, philosophy was primarily therapeutic, a treatment for suffering. “Philosophy heals human diseases, diseases produced by false beliefs. Its arguments are to the soul as the doctor’s remedies are to the body.” 4

    But what effect can reason and argument have against our emotions, especially such a powerful emotion as the fear of death? It is a mistake to think that all our emotions are simply blind urges unaffected by what we think or believe. Take anger. People get angry for a reason. I am mad because I believe I have been wronged in some way. If I discover I was mistaken my anger will disappear. Similarly, the Hellenistic philosophers thought the fear of death rests on false beliefs that rational argument could take away.

    For Epicurus, eliminating the fear of death,  central to living a happy life, can be achieved through a  correct understanding of death. Epicurus’ main argument against this fear is the “no subject of harm” argument. If death is bad it has to be bad for somebody. But death cannot be bad for the living, since they are alive, nor for the dead, since they don’t exist. "[W]hen we exist, death is not yet present, and when death is present, then we do not exist." Since death affects neither the dead nor the living, there is no need to fear it. “Death, therefore…is nothing to us…” 5 (It must be kept in mind that Epicurus is talking about death, not dying. Dying can be experienced, death cannot.)

    But like many, the poet Philip Larkin found Epicurus’ argument unconvincing:

    “And specious stuff that says No rational being
    Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
    That this is what we fear — no sight, no sound,
    No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
    Nothing to love or link with,
    The anaesthetic from which none come round.” 6

    A more powerful argument used by the Epicureans against the fear of death is the “symmetry” argument. This was probably first used by Lucretius, a Roman disciple of Epicurus. Lucretius argued since we do not feel horror at our past non-existence, the time before we were born, it is irrational to feel horror at our future non-existence, the time after our death, since they are the same. Or as Seneca expressed it: “Would you not think him an utter fool who wept because he was not alive a thousand years ago? And is he not just as much a fool who weeps because he will not be alive a thousand years from now? It is all the same; you will not be and you were not. Neither of these periods of time belongs to you.” 7

    Some version of the symmetry argument has been put forth by Cicero, Plutarch, Seneca, Schopenhauer and Hume. Hume cited Lucretius’ argument to Boswell, Dr. Johnson’s biographer, when he interviewed Hume on his death bed. “I asked him if the thought of Annihilation never gave him any uneasiness. He said not the least; no more than the thought than he had not been as Lucretius observes.” 8

    A World without Death

    If our deepest wish was granted and we became immortal would it be a blessing or a curse? We fear death but life without it might be even more terrible. Would immortality leave us longing to be mortal again? Mortality might be so entwined with life that if we ceased to be mortal we would cease to be human.

    What would a world without death look like? Since we have no experience of immortality we can only imagine it. To begin with, if there were births but no deaths, the world would quickly become unlivable. People would need to stop having children and the world would become a stale, static place.

    What would we do with an extended or even immortal life? We could have several careers, have multiple spouses, and develop more interests, in short, more of everything. But more time is not the same as endless time. Is there any activity that we can imagine doing, not for a long time, but forever? Would we lose all interest in life if we lived forever? “Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.” 9

    With unlimited time there would be no urgency to do anything. The idea of wasting time becomes nonsensical if we have time without end. That our time is limited, that our days are numbered, is the ultimate incentive to act. It is the old story of a person given six months to live suddenly trying to cram a life time of living in what time he has left. Death creates urgency.

    Jorge Luis Borges imagined immortality in his short story, “The Immortal,” about a Roman army officer in quest of a river whose waters grants immortality. He finds the river and the City of the Immortals on its far bank. On the opposite side lie the inhabitants naked and shriveled in shallow pits in the sand, subsisting on snake meat, oblivious to everything, doing nothing, wanting nothing.

    He drinks from the river becomes immortal. Centuries pass. Finally, in the tenth century the immortals decide to disperse to search for a river whose waters will restore their mortality. Borges offers “an ironical mirror image of the story of the Fall in which mankind was exiled from his happy immortal state to one of pain and death. The immortals embark on a quest for the river of death which will liberate them from the onus of immortality and which will again invest their lives with meaning by rendering them finite.” 10 Borges concludes that “Death…makes men precious…every act they execute may be their last…Everything among the mortals has the value of the irretrievable and the perilous.” 11

    In his famous essay, The Makropulos Case, Bernard Williams argues that it is good that we are not immortal because life without death would be meaningless. Given infinite time tedium would make life unbearable. (Of course, many people believe a life that ends in death is meaningless, that without the promise of immortality in an afterlife, life would be absurd.)

    When Williams writes that mortality is good, he is not saying that death is not to be feared. It “could be true…that death gave…meaning to life and that death was…something to be feared.” 12 It is good that we die, for instance, when it ends great suffering, and it is good that we don’t live too long, but death is bad when it comes too soon, cutting off the full potential of a life.

    The Value of Mortality

    For the bioethicist, Leon Kass, there are important virtues that arise from our mortality. “Could life be serious or meaningful without the limits of mortality? Is not the limit on our time the ground of our taking life seriously and living it passionately?”13 What if what is most important to us is inseparable from our mortality and finitude? If we were immortal how could we be brave or noble or any of the virtues that require risk and the threat of death? The Homeric gods, eternally youthful and beautiful, live shallow, frivolous lives.

    Odysseus on his voyage home is held captive by the beautiful and ageless Calypso. He rejects the goddess’ offer of eternal life if he stays with her, wanting only to return to his mortal wife, Penelope. As Martha Nussbaum remarks, “he chooses the life of a human being, and a marriage to a woman who will…age and die… He chooses…not only risk and difficulty, but the certainty of death…” 14

    Accepting Our Mortality

    Epicurus argued that “a right understanding that death is nothing to us makes the mortality of life enjoyable, not because it adds to it an infinite span of time, but because it takes away the craving for immortality.”15 I would argue that we can lose or weaken our longing for immortality not by eliminating the fear of death, if that is even possible, but rather by realizing that immortality would result in profound boredom and meaninglessness. We would still hate and fear death but it would make us more accepting of our mortal condition and less likely to condemn this life or seek to flee from it.

    For the psalmist learning to accept our mortality is the path to wisdom. “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”16 Or in the words of Montaigne, “All the wisdom and argument in the world eventually come down to one conclusion which is to teach us not to be afraid of dying.”17

    1. Arendt, Hannah, Love and Saint Augustine. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996, 10- 11.
    2. Pascal, Blaise, and T. S. Eliot. Pascal's Pensées. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1958, 169.
    3. Ibid., 139.
    4. Nussbaum, Martha, The therapy of desire : theory and practice in Hellenistic ethics, Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1994, 14.
    5. Epicurus, “Letter to Menoeceus.” In The Epicurus Reader: selected writings and testimonia translated and edited, with notes, by Brad Inwood and L.P. Gerson; introduction by D.S. Hutchinson. Indianapolis : Hackett, c1994, 125.
    6. Larkin, Philip, and Anthony Thwaite. “Aubade.” In Philip Larkin: Collected Poems. London: Faber, 1988, 208.
    7. Seneca (trans. R.M. Gummere). “On Taking One’s Own Life.” In Epistulae Morales II (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1953), p. 175.
    8. Boswell, James, and John Wain. The Journals of James Boswell, 1762-1795. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991, 249.
    9. Ertz, Susan. Anger in the Sky. New York, London, Harper & brothers [c1943].
    10. Stewart, Jon. “Borges on Immortality.” InPhilosophy and Literature, Volume 17, Number 2, October 1993, 299.
    11. Borges, Jorge Luis, James East Irby, André Maurois, and Donald A. Yates. Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings. New York: New Directions Pub. Corp, 1962, 155.
    12. Williams, Bernard. “The Makropulos case: reflections on the tedium of immortality.” InThe Metaphysics of death/ edited, with an introduction, by John Martin Fischer. 73.
    13. Kass, Leon. Toward a More Natural Science: Biology and Human Affairs. New York: Free Press, 1985, 309.
    14. Nussbaum, Martha Craven. “Transcending Humanity.” Love's Knowledge: Essays on Philosophy and Literature. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, 365.
    15. Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus from Epicurus, The Extant Remains, translated by Cyril Bailey (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1926). 124b 1-3.
    16. Ps. 90:12 ESV (English Standard Version).
    17. Montaigne, Michel de, and M. A. Screech. “To Philosophize Is to Learn How to Die.” InThe Essays of Michel de Montaigne. London: Allen Lane, 1991, 89.

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