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Walter

Member Since 2009

42
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 20 reviews
  • 216 ratings
  • 634 titles in library
  • 62 purchased in 2014
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  • Myth in Human History

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Grant L. Voth
    Overall
    (46)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (41)

    Myths provide the keys to truly grasping the ways that principles, rituals, codes, and taboos are woven into the fabric of a particular society or civilization. It's through myths that we can answer these and other fundamental questions: How was the universe created, and why? What is the purpose of evil? Why is society organized the way it is? How did natural features like rivers, mountains, and oceans emerge?This entertaining and illuminating course plunges you into the world's greatest myths.

    Walter says: "Five stars, with some caveats"
    "Five stars, with some caveats"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This course is an excellent introduction and overview of world mythology. It covers a lot of ground, and does it well. While I would recommend it to anyone, I need to add the following caveats:

    Because it covers so much ground, it moves as a very brisk speed, and in some cases I would have preferred to get more depth (for example, more detail on some of the hero myths, and more discussion of the psychological interpretation of myth, a la Rank, Jung and Campbell). Dr. Voth did a really good job of covering the material, but there's enough here for two or even three lecture series.

    Second, I found my interest waning slightly in during the latter part of the course. This may have been because (while he never says so) Prof. Voth seems to be suggesting a kind of monomyth for trickster myths (similar to the monomyth of the hero). While I thought the argument and evidence presented for the hero monomyth was compelling, it seemed that the trickster myths were much more diverse (hard to see an parallel between the Norse Loki and the African Anansi as presented here, for example).

    Still, the course material was very engaging, and I will definitely be broadening my study of mythology as a result.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Archetypal Imagination: Carolyn and Ernest Fay Series in Analytical Psychology

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By James Hollis
    • Narrated By Kevin Pierce
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    In The Archetypal Imagination, Hollis offers a lyrical Jungian appreciation of the archetypal imagination. He argues that without the human mind's ability to form energy-filled images that link us to worlds beyond our rational and emotional capacities, we would have neither culture nor spirituality. Drawing upon the work of poets and philosophers, Hollis shows the importance of depth experience, meaning, and connection to an "other" world.

    Walter says: "Not like his other books"
    "Not like his other books"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I wish I had liked this book better. I really enjoyed and got a lot out of Dr. Hollis' other audio books, all of which I highly recommend. There's value here too, but the book is very different from the others.

    To begin with, this is not written for a broad audience but rather for those who have a solid background in the works and theories of C.G. Jung. In particular, Dr. Hollis uses Jung's theories to explicate works of the archetypal imagination - including the poetry of Rilke and works of art by artists he's known. And he uses those works of art to discuss Jung's theory of the archetypes. Hollis' erudition and knowledge of the arts is impressive and is very much on display, particularly in his discussion of Rilke.

    The discussion of visual art does not work in an audio book. It is possible to download a free pdf copy of the book through the Texas A&M University website, but if you are like me (and a lot of people) and listen to audio books on your daily commute, that may not help much.

    There is a very strong spiritual theme here (though if you are a literalist about religion, Hollis' works are probably not for you - he's very clear about not having any patience with literalism in religion). This focus is much more pronounced here than in his works for a broader audience. I would have preferred more of a focus on the psychological than the spiritual, but as I said, this book is not like his other works.

    On another note, the narrator does a good job in English (strong voice, clear enunciation), but mispronounces many of the foreign words (especially German) that are peppered throughout the text. My knowledge of German is limited to a couple of years in high school, and that was enough to make me cringe at some of the mispronunciations.

    If I thought the book were worthless, I would not have spent this much time discussing it. My feelings are decidedly mixed - I really wanted to enjoy this book, but ultimately didn't. Someone with a more specialized theoretical interest might. I'll put this one aside, and look forward to the next of his audio books that's addressed to a broader lay audience.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • What W. H. Auden Can Do for You: Alexander McCall Smith

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Alexander McCall Smith
    • Narrated By William Neenan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (8)

    When facing a moral dilemma, Isabel Dalhousie--Edinburgh philosopher, amateur detective, and title character of a series of novels by best-selling author Alexander McCall Smith - often refers to the great twentieth-century poet W. H. Auden. This is no accident: McCall Smith has long been fascinated by Auden. Indeed, the novelist, best known for his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, calls the poet not only the greatest literary discovery of his life but also the best of guides on how to live.

    Richard Seeley says: "On the Power of Poetry, Mostly Auden's"
    "Wanting more!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've had an interest in W.H. Auden's poetry, though I am not familiar with much of it - so this book seemed like a logical choice. And yes, it's sparked my interest further and helped me to see things about his poetry and his life that I was unaware of. My only thought is that I would have liked to get even more information and insight about Auden, his poetry, and the author's relationship to him.

    A great introduction to Auden, so despite its brevity, I recommend it!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Skeptics and Believers: Religious Debate in the Western Intellectual Tradition

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Tyler Roberts
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    Beginning in the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation and the Scientific Revolution began to erode the position of authority. As a result, new philosophers began constructing a universal rationality independent of faith. This schism fundamentally changed the course of Western civilization, and it has had consequences that remain with us to this day. This 36-lecture journey will help you understand exactly what the debate has been and will continue to be about.

    Walter says: "Light on skeptics, heavy on believers"
    "Light on skeptics, heavy on believers"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you want a history of the debate between skeptics and believers told essentially from the believers' point of view, this lecture series does a good job. My impression is that Professor Roberts includes just enough of the skeptics to show how they affected the arguments of the believers. But if you're looking for a robust summation of Hume, Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, etc. presented with an emphasis equal to that given the other side, this is not it. In fact, I'd say it's at best 1/3 skeptics and 2/3 believers.

    At the very least, the title of the series is misleading. It might have more appropriately been something like: "Religious Debates in the Western Intellectual Tradition: The Response of Believers to their Critics." But then, I would not have purchased it.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By James Hollis, Ph.D.
    • Narrated By Jim Bond
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (46)
    Performance
    (20)
    Story
    (19)

    Taking a fresh look at the concept of happiness, Hollis uses a warm, accessible tone to encourage listeners to learn to tolerate ambiguity, embrace growth rather than security, respect the power of Eros, engage spiritual crises, and acknowledge the shadow of mortality. Providing inspiring wisdom and personal reflections to address our deepest worries, What Matters Most yields far more than mere self-help clich├ęs.

    EC says: "Leaves Other Self-Help Books In the Dust"
    "Just short of five stars"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Excellent exploration of the human psyche - both our personality and our soul. The concepts, ideas and stories provide great insight into life's struggles - and have, for me, been helpful in addressing some of the bigger questions in life.

    Why just short of five stars? A work like this will always include some mystical notes. Mostly I am OK with that - but just occasionally I felt that the writing went a little too far in that direction, and it became a bit disorienting. At those moments it felt as though I had lost a sense of what the point was, almost like having a mild case of vertigo.

    This is not a book for the conventionally-minded, and I recommend that if you are at all a fundamentalist (or are dependent on the certainties that much of what religion preaches), you should just skip it. He has a definite opinion of religious fundamentalism, and it's not a kind one.

    Also, if you are wedded to the material values of mainstream culture, this book may not be for you - no kind words there, either.

    But if you are willing to start with doubt about the easy answers that our culture provides, or you find that you've begun to doubt them, then this book may help you on your journey.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By Neil Gaiman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4444)
    Performance
    (4098)
    Story
    (4111)

    A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. He is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie - magical, comforting, wise beyond her years - promised to protect him, no matter what.

    Dave says: "Oh, the Wondrous Ocean!"
    "Genius"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Neil Gaiman's best works are ostensibly about the supernatural, and this is no exception. The worlds and the characters he creates are truly magical, and that is reason enough to read and savor his books. But that's not all.

    I realized this when listening to The Ocean at the End of the Lane. His books are also about the exploration of the psyche -

    American Gods - a story about a man who doesn't know who he is.

    Anansi Boys - a story about a man who is incomplete, because he believes he is incomplete.

    The Ocean at the End of the Lane - a story about a man who cannot remember the most important thing about his own past.

    Each is the story of a man searching to become whole.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Live in Concert

    • ORIGINAL (1 hr and 13 mins)
    • By Douglas Adams
    • Narrated By Douglas Adams
    Overall
    (73)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (26)

    Author Douglas Adams kidnapped an audience and held them hostage for 90 minutes at London's Almeida Theatre. The audience members were subjected to extremely hot August temperatures and Adams's dramatic solo performances of excerpts and scenes from his wildly funny Hitchhiker's Guide Trilogy.

    Sean says: "A Live Performance"
    "Live, it's..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Douglas Adams, reading excerpts from the Hitchhiker's Guide! Well, it's only a few excerpts, and he occasionally stables (slightly) in his reading. Still, great to hear to how he expresses some of the dialog and portrays some of his own characters. Plus, there are a couple of asides that provide some context about things in the books (avoiding possible spoilers!).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

    • ABRIDGED (3 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Douglas Adams
    • Narrated By Douglas Adams
    Overall
    (213)
    Performance
    (162)
    Story
    (161)

    There is a long tradition of Great Detectives, and Dirk Gently does not belong to it. But his search for a missing cat uncovers a ghost, a time traveler, AND the devastating secret of humankind! Detective Gently's bill for saving the human race from extinction: NO CHARGE.

    George T. Crawford says: "Sadly, it's abridged"
    "Douglas Adams strikes again!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Dirk Gently is another great Adams character, and the situations (though set on Earth) are as absurd as anything in The Hitchhiker's Guide. I give it only four stars overall simply because it's abridged - I want more!

    Normally, I wouldn't even think of buying an abridged audiobook, but this is Douglas Adams - read by the author. So for me that makes all the difference.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Primary Phase (Dramatised)

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Douglas Adams
    • Narrated By Peter Jones, Simon Jones, Geoffrey McGivern, and others
    Overall
    (1220)
    Performance
    (944)
    Story
    (948)

    A Special Edition of the original radio series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978 and recently voted the Nation's Favourite Audiobook in a Guardian poll. Starring Peter Jones, Simon Jones, Geoffrey McGivern, Mark Wing-Davey, Susan Sheridan and Stephen Moore, these six episodes (Fit the First to Fit the Sixth) have been remastered to modern-day standards by Dirk Maggs, and for the first time feature Philip Pope's arrangement of the familiar theme tune.

    Thomas says: "Difficult to listen to in the car!"
    "Possibly the best thing written in my lifetime"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    OK - those are strong words, and there really has been a lot of great writing in the last 50 years (I did say "possibly"). But the combination of imaginative genius, over-the-top humor and just enough philosophical thought makes H2G2 a true standout. The radio plays predated the published books, and were my first exposure to Douglas Adams in the early 1980s - they remain the best way to experience The Hitchhiker's Guide.

    There are only a few audio books that I return to and listen a second time. H2G2 is an audio book that I am moved to listen to at least every two years. Basically, I'd be lost without the Guide... If I could give it six stars, I would.

    P.S. Years after I fell in love with the books, I learned that Adams had been a script writer and editor for the BBC's Doctor Who, and that he was a friend of Richard Dawkins - he introduced Lalla Ward (who played Romana on Doctor Who) to Dawkins, they subsequently married. Lalla Ward co-narrates Dawkins' audio books, which I also recommend. That serves to illustrate "the interconnectedness of all all things" (which is something you'll come upon in another of Adams' books - Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Secondary Phase (Dramatised)

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Douglas Adams
    • Narrated By Peter Jones, Simon Jones, Geoffrey McGivern, and others
    Overall
    (366)
    Performance
    (228)
    Story
    (226)

    A Special Edition of the original radio series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978 and recently voted the Nation's Favourite Audiobook in a Guardian poll.

    Starring Peter Jones, Simon Jones, Geoffrey McGivern, Mark Wing-Davey, Susan Sheridan and Stephen Moore, these six episodes (Fit the First to Fit the Sixth) have been remastered to modern-day standards by Dirk Maggs, and for the first time feature Philip Pope's arrangement of the familiar theme tune.

    Craig says: "Possible Reason For Some Low Ratings"
    "More of "Possibly the Best""
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    See my review of "The Primary Phase" for my glowing - nay, gushing - endorsement of the H2G2 radio plays.

    This radio series starts at the offices of the Hitchhiker's Guide, where something is definitely amiss, and ends with a visit to the ruler of the universe - an old man, who's trying to feed his cat a bit of fish. It's as wild a ride as the Primary Phase, and was broadcast beginning in December, 1978 (months after the Primary Phase had been broadcast).

    Really great stuff!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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