A few recent listings — ‘The High End’

10:17 am March 22nd, 2015

So, there you are at the yard sale, confronted by boxes of old books, records, and miscellany. What do you look for?

“Buy what you like,” has long been good advice. Until you learn to grade for condition — and to tell a first edition from a later reissue or even (God forbid) a book club — please don’t go paying more than pocket change on the assumption you can “get rich on e-Bay.”

And of course, even when you learn to do more targeted research (online and even in those dreaded “reference books” — because there are a lot of “learners” online), always remember that an asking price isn’t a realized price. At Cat’s Curiosities we mark our books down every six months or so, and lots of books that start at $100 (even though we think that’s a fair market price) may not sell till they creep down into the $60 range. Everybody wants a bargain.

All that said, here are a few of our recent finds & postings that may indicate there are still some treasures out there:

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‘Entheogenic-Religious Fiction’

3:22 pm March 14th, 2015

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Thomas B. Roberts, professor emeritus at Northern Illinois University, edited the books “The Psychedelic Future of the Mind” and “Psychoactive Sacramentals: Essays on Entheogens and Religion,” the latter of which was acknowledged as a valuable source in my latest novel, “The Testament of James.”

Dr. Roberts (no known relation to the Beatles’ Doctor Robert) was kind enough to post a four-star review of “Testament” to Amazon this week, titled “Entheogenic-Religious Fiction,” also posting it to a number of addresses on his “psychedelics” list, which is also much appreciated.

Dr. Roberts writes: “A new member of the psychedelic literary genre, The Testament of James appeals to readers who share an interest in the roles that entheogens may have played in the founding of Judaism and Christianity. A manuscript apparently written by James, brother of Jesus, is smuggled out of Egypt and offered to the book’s hero, Matthew, who is a bookseller near a college in New England. Matthew, a highly respected dealer, specializes in collectors’, scarce, and rare editions.

“Along the way, someone dies. But Testament isn’t primarily a murder mystery. It’s about the struggles Matthew and his staff have with the Egyptian brothers who delivered the book; they want to be paid. Representatives of the Egyptian government want the book repatriated as a stolen national treasure. Roman Catholic monks want to obtain it to ‘bury’ in Vatican vaults. And a rich reverend from California wants to make its contents widely available.

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‘Well, there’s nothing artificial about it’

11:25 am March 5th, 2015

The book “The Archaic Revival” (HarperCollins 1991), which is a compilation of writings by and interviews with the late entheogen pioneer Terence McKenna, concludes with an interview conducted by Nevill Drury as it appeared in the Autumn, 1990 (Vol. 11, No. 1) issue of the Australian magazine “Nature and Health.”

An excerpt of the most relevant portion (for our purposes) can be found at http://www.salvia-divinorum-scotland.co.uk/quotes/mckenna/prejudice.htm :

ND: What then is your answer to people who continue to dismiss psychedelic experience as artificial? Surely your view is the exact reverse of that?

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Gun owners no longer willing to take it lying down

9:48 am March 4th, 2015

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has long prohibited towns and cities from enforcing local firearm ordinances that impact the ownership, possession, transfer or transport of guns or ammo.

But gun-rights groups have long complained that scores of municipalities ignored the 40-year-old prohibition by passing their own, piecemeal gun control enactments, which rarely got tested in court, The Associated Press reports.

So a new state law went into effect in Pennsylvania at the start of the year, making it easier for gun-rights groups to challenge such illegal local ordinances.

And it seems to be working. Nearly two dozen Pennsylvania municipalities have agreed to get rid of their illegal ordinances rather than face litigation, reports Joshua Prince, an attorney for four pro-gun-rights groups, who cited the new law in putting nearly 100 Pennsylvania municipalities on notice that they would face legal action unless they rescinded their gun edicts.

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‘A natural and, perhaps, even necessary component of spirituality’

12:38 pm February 19th, 2015

Out of Wyoming, firm proponent of self-ownership Mama Liberty has weighed in with a thoughtful commentary on “The Testament of James” (here), focusing on what the tale tells us about the nature of organized religion, and its relation to social control.

“Some people got together and figured out how to use the belief or disbelief of people to their own advantage, to gain control over the people themselves,” as she puts it. “It’s been going on for most of recorded history, and probably before that. . . . It is obviously in the best interest of those controllers not to encourage or allow any competing beliefs among those they control, and new or different stories might just become a threat to their power. . . . People are easy to manipulate if they can be convinced that anyone or anything ‘different’ is threatening, that those who do not believe as they do must be less than human.”

Many an American or European reader will doubtless respond to this summary by preening “Not us; we’re enlightened; we tolerate and even welcome religious diversity.”

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For cat people only :-) Or, when kittens take selfies …

9:19 pm February 15th, 2015

(Brunette, again.)

We’re blessed with a bunch of cool and creative cats. They’re a primary source of laughter around here, especially the kittens (well, they’re six months old now, but they’re still pretty entertaining.)

Strider, our gray male kitten (see above) loves to lounge around and help Vin at his computer. So does Sandy (see Vin’s author photo … give it a minute to load) a big cream and orange tomcat that adopted us — he previously belonged to a neighbor, though I suspect he’d furiously deny belonging to anyone. He’s ours to the extent that we let him in when he wants in, and out when he wants out (usually around 4:30 a.m.) and he obviously enjoys our premium food (plus occasional table scraps) so he always arrives with a good appetite. Sandy’s a great hunter and sometimes leaves choice tidbits on our doormat. Well, that’s preferable to the gifts of live mice he’s been known to bring into the house once or twice. ;-)

The female cats/kittens seem to prefer to hang out with me in the “hers” office. More on that some other time, perhaps.

But I digress, back to Strider …

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‘An alternative interpretation of the life and work of Jesus . . .’

11:06 pm February 10th, 2015

The genial John Walker, formerly of Autodesk et al., has posted a new review of “The Testament of James” here:

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“Hunter and his friend Chantal Stevens, ex-military who has agreed to help out in the shop, find themselves in the middle of the quest for one of the most legendary, and considered mythical, rare books of all time. . . .

“A good part of the book is a charming and often humorous look inside the world of rare books, one with which the author is clearly well-acquainted. There is intrigue, a bit of mysticism, and the occasional libertarian zinger aimed at a deserving target. As the story unfolds, an alternative interpretation of the life and work of Jesus and the history of the early Church emerges, which explains why so many players are so desperately seeking the lost book.

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‘A substantial shift in attitudes’

5:22 pm February 5th, 2015

In case anyone is suffering those winter blahs, let’s start with some recent good news: The Huffington Post reports “For the first time in more than 20 years, Americans say it’s more important to protect the right to own guns than it is to control gun ownership.”

A new Pew Research Poll released Dec. 10 revealed “a substantial shift in attitudes since shortly after the Newtown school shootings.”

In a poll taken immediately after the December, 2012, school shootings in Connecticut, public opinion had favored gun control by 7 points — 49 percent to 42 percent.

But while 46 percent still think “gun control” is more important, a 52 percent majority of Americans are now more concerned with protecting the right to own guns — “the first time a majority has held that position since Pew started asking the question in 1993.”

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‘Our entire universe is contained in the mind and the spirit’

5:04 pm February 2nd, 2015

Despite a bit of predictable straying down rabbit trails (which the host admirably tolerates in preference to “over-moderating,”) an interesting discussion developed not long ago beneath the first part of her recent interview with me at Claire Wolfe’s site ( www.backwoodshome.com/blogs/ClaireWolfe/2015/01/03/ ), albeit mostly among people who of necessity (since it had only just come out) hadn’t yet read “The Testament of James.”

“As for entheogens,” one commenter offered, “if there is a real God, I want to know Him. I mean the *real* one, not some chemistry set ‘god’ that comes from a pill or from a fungus filtered through a caribou’s kidneys, or a weed, or some tree bark distillation.

“And if there is no real God, I want to know that too. I want to know what *is*, not just what *seems*. I don’t want to believe in some chemically-induced phantasm that exists only in my addled brain. I’m interested in the God whose existence and reality are in no way dependent upon anyone’s perceptions.”

An interesting goal, given that the world as we know it can exist only as a model re-constructed in our brains by our organizing intelligence, or “minds,” based precisely on our “perceptions,” which are necessarily limited. (Unaided by “artificial” means, can you perceive X-rays? Microwaves? Sounds above the frequency range of human hearing? Then how can you “know” they exist, any more than — barring reliance on your “perceptions” — you can “know” Napoleon lost at Waterloo, or that the battle was ever even fought, or that your mother loves you, or anything else?)

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Don’t forget to look up!

4:51 pm January 30th, 2015
Ring around the moon

Halo around the moon!

(Brunette, here.)

OK, unfortunately the picture doesn’t really do it justice. I stepped outside last night, and could so easily have missed this — the biggest, brightest ring I’ve ever seen around the moon. It’s not unusual to spot halos around the sun, I’ve taken many pics of those … but this felt pretty awe inspiring. :)

So, next time you’re out — day or night — don’t forget to look up!

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