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The Buddha Diaries

'Waking Up', by SAM HARRIS: A Book Review

Peter Clothier | Posted 09.02.2015 | Books
Peter Clothier

It surprised me to find this book by Sam Harris so helpful in my own search for a deeper meaning in life; and I was more surprised still to discover, halfway through, that Harris's path had led him to the study and practice of Dzogchen Buddhism -- into which, thanks in good part to McLeod's book, I have been delving in my meditation practice.

The Unknown Terrorist, by Richard Flanagan: A Book Review

Peter Clothier | Posted 08.23.2015 | Books
Peter Clothier

It took only a few pages for me to recognize that Richard Flanagan is an exceptional writer. True, he writes about Australia in an unmistakably Australian accent (how do we hear accents when we hear no spoken words?) but it takes little imagination to transpose the post-9/11 Australia he writes about to America today.

Record of Miraculous Events... Book Review

Peter Clothier | Posted 06.18.2015 | Books
Peter Clothier

The book is a wonderful addition to the bedside table, to be picked up from time to time to indulge in the pleasure of a couple of stories, picked at random, to be transported into a magical world far from our own, but a world that operates according to its own laws, its own social mores, its own logic.

Mass Murder

Peter Clothier | Posted 06.04.2015 | Books
Peter Clothier

Aside from its compelling narrative, then, and the universal appeal of a disaster tale, Larson's book invites us to contemplate these questions about war, and the mass murder it has now inevitably become; and about the morality of those who lead us into it, and through it, with necessarily little regard for the individual human lives caught up in it.

'The Voices' by Michael Dennis Browne: An Appreciation

Peter Clothier | Posted 05.25.2015 | Books
Peter Clothier

I'll continue to wander amongst The Voices. As with all good books of poems, there will always be many places to visit, some of them quite dense and difficult thickets, others -- suddenly, surprisingly -- quite transparent and clear.

Brian Ransom: Art Review

Peter Clothier | Posted 05.09.2015 | Arts
Peter Clothier

I found his "Whistling Water Vessels" to be utterly enchanting -- and I use that word advisedly: they have a magical, ritualistic, even elemental quality that transcends their purely visual aesthetic satisfactions.

No Bird? A Film Review

Peter Clothier | Posted 05.04.2015 | Arts
Peter Clothier

Whether or not you subscribe to the essentially Romantic belief that greatness comes from suffering, Whiplash is a compelling teacher/student story and an intense study of the discipline and training that it takes to become a top-ranked musician.

Jim Morphesis 'Wounds of Existence': Art Review

Peter Clothier | Posted 04.26.2015 | Arts
Peter Clothier

The seriousness and profundity of this inquiry is what sets Morphesis's work apart from that of many of his contemporaries. In a culture that often seems content to skirt the surface of those things that affect our inner lives, I find his work to be not only emotionally provocative and intellectually engaging, but also remarkably courageous.

Night Will Fall: Film Review

Peter Clothier | Posted 04.01.2015 | Arts
Peter Clothier

Singer's documentary is a heart- and gut-wrenching reminder of that thing that we must "never forget."


Peter Clothier | Posted 02.18.2015 | Arts
Peter Clothier

A good half-century after it started, Roland Reiss's career continues to surprise and delight in a new exhibition at Diane Rosenstein gallery. The last time I caught up with this artist's work, a couple of years ago, he was already painting, um... flowers.

Ashes Rain Down: A Book Review

Peter Clothier | Posted 02.03.2015 | Books
Peter Clothier

We are in Southern California, in years not very far hence. We are not post, but rather, let's say, mid-apocalypse. Not the cataclysmic event of "science fiction," it is in process, happening, very slowly, all around us.

The Political Schtick: Theater Review

Peter Clothier | Posted 12.30.2014 | Arts
Peter Clothier

In New York last week, I made it a point (no pun intended!) to see "Tail! Spin!", a hilarious political satire on our wayward politicians and their penises. It's a riot. impeccably re-enacted by a fabulous cast, with all their excuses and explanations, their deflections and -- finally -- their unconvincing, if abject apologies.

A Mystery Solved? Art Review

Peter Clothier | Posted 12.15.2014 | Arts
Peter Clothier

Amelia Earhart buffs might be surprised to learn that the remains of her aircraft, widely reported to have gone down off Howland Island in the South Pacific, made it all the way across the Pacific Ocean to the Santa Monica Bay, where it was only recently rediscovered and successfully raised from the ocean floor by the artist Dan Van Clapp.


Peter Clothier | Posted 11.29.2014 | Politics
Peter Clothier

As for our president, Barack Obama, others may disagree with me, but I persist in seeing him as a man amongst these boys.

The Making of Them: TV Documentary Review (belated)

Peter Clothier | Posted 11.28.2014 | Arts
Peter Clothier

The discordance between words and body language on the part of both the parents and their sons is, at times, painful to watch. Like these young boys, I was unable to be truthful with my parents during my time at boarding school.

Valley Vista

Peter Clothier | Posted 11.28.2014 | Arts
Peter Clothier

The Valley was its own hotbed of creative activity back in the day when Los Angeles was still on the cusp of recognition as an important center for contemporary art.

Boyhood: Not Exactly a Film Review

Peter Clothier | Posted 11.09.2014 | Arts
Peter Clothier

Our armed forces are worthy of the respect that they receive. What turns boys to men is this kind of ritualized initiation -- a process that's significantly lacking in the development of the youngster who's portrayed in Boyhood, as it is to the majority of us today.

Midnight in Europe: Book Review

Peter Clothier | Posted 10.27.2014 | Books
Peter Clothier

From bright cafés to sultry brothels and bleak hotel rooms, from rumbling trains to -- in this case -- rusty tubs fighting roaring seas, he creates a compelling world populated by diplomats and spies, dangerous enchantresses and jaded aristocrats, all on the make in one way or another, all engaged in the battle for survival in a world that is rapidly falling apart.

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair: Book Review

Peter Clothier | Posted 10.15.2014 | Books
Peter Clothier

It's summer reading time for The Buddha Diaries. I just finished this (mostly) entertaining mystery novel by Joel Dicker... Imagine you're doing a j...

A Spy Among Friends: Book Review

Peter Clothier | Posted 10.07.2014 | Books
Peter Clothier

A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal, by Ben Macintyre is a gripping account of that period, beginning in the 1930s, when bright -- and privileged -- young people on both sides of the Atlantic looked with empathy at the post-Depression plight of the working classes and thought to find in communism an answer to injustice, poverty, and war.

Invisibles: Book Review

Peter Clothier | Posted 09.28.2014 | Arts
Peter Clothier

There's a formulation I use when I ask myself why I write -- or why I continue to write well past my realistic "shelf-life" as a writer: it's because this is what I am given to do.

'The Other Blacklist': A Very Personal Book Review

Peter Clothier | Posted 09.11.2014 | Books
Peter Clothier

We need look no further, in my opinion, than the irrational, fanatical obstructionism that greets every initiative by our first African-American President to know that racism remains a powerful, if poorly fig-leafed force in our country's life.


Peter Clothier | Posted 08.24.2014 | Arts
Peter Clothier

Nathaniel Rich has a fine sense of the apocalyptic absurd--its comical as well as its dark side. Odds Against Tomorrow sets us in the not-so-distant ...

RAILWAY MEN: A Film Review

Peter Clothier | Posted 07.09.2014 | Arts
Peter Clothier

I could not help but think of that other Burma Railway movie, The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957, directed by David Lean and based on the short story ...

Customers Included: Book Review

Peter Clothier | Posted 05.28.2014 | Books
Peter Clothier

I'll confess I shelved this book for a quite while after receiving a copy in the mail from its co-author, Phil Terry. It was the title and subtitle t...