Barbea Williams, Dancer/Choreographer. I recently read Light From Ancient Africa, by Nayeem Akbar. Akbar talks about African psychology, giving interesting facts about the origin of psychology in Africa as compared to Western psychology. He writes about his trip to Kemet (ancient Egypt). There seems to be a much more spiritual quality in African psychology, more of a collective, more of a whole. Africa is more community based (than the Western world). Akbar talks about the age that we're living in, the idea of science without wisdom. This seems to reflect so much in terms of the problems that we're dealing with--like pollution-- and how this reflects on society as a whole. It makes sense to me. He also writes about the mysteries of the ka, or the divine ka, and what it has to do with the soul. (The book) has aspects of science that we know about today, but it doesn't eliminate what we need to breathe and drink. It doesn't leave out the concepts of pure water and pure air. All of that has to be integrated...and manifest.

Debra Ruffner, Executive Director, Tucson Women's Commission. I'm re-reading He, She, and It, by Marge Piercy. I enjoy science fiction, written by women, dealing with gender issues. Piercy has written a variety of books on issues pertaining to women. In this book, she brings up gender issues of the future and the integration of technology into what we consider a third gender. It's about a woman's relationship not only with her family, but also her growing relationship with the cyborg, an integration of high-tech and human qualities. The book challenges our perception of what's male and female, redeveloping our perception of what actually is human. The woman character starts relating to and believing that this machine is human. Piercy incorporates a lot of history in her books, which I like. Another plot line is about a Rabbi who's created a man of clay. Through his spiritual abilities, he awakens a kind of consciousness in this "non-human" entity.It's another way in which she examines what it means to be human.

James DiGiovanna, Former Marvel Comics Editor/Freelance Writer, on Pre-Raphaelites in Love by Gay Daly. I'm interested in the Pre-Raphaelites because it's the first avant-garde art movement where people got together, formed a manifesto, and created a name for themselves. I think partly it's a response to the loss of community around them. So they create their own artificial community--they call it a brotherhood--and they attempt to acquire meaning in their lives by adherence to the principles of that brotherhood. This particular book is a lighter study of them. It discusses their lives, how they deal with their girlfriends and boyfriends. They have a very asceticised approach to romance. For example, one of them attempts to live as though he were Dante and his beloved was Beatrice, so he tries not to approach her too closely, he keeps his distance. Another wants to have a marriage based on Biblical principles he's drawn out of his own ascetic reading of the Bible. So they have these very perverse and odd relationships as a result of applying artistic ideals to their lives. In a sense, they founded the notion of living your life as an artwork, that all the aspects of your life should be ascetic. TW

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