“How well do I understand myself?” Self-understanding poses a qualitative question, while self-respect mainly states an observation.
Technical and Analytical Readings
- Robert C. Solomon, True to Our Feelings: What Our Emotions Are Really Telling Us (Oxford University Press, 2006).
Blues music is the forerunner of soul music. Its originators were African-American men who were trying to come to grips with their difficult lives in the deep American South. Its narratives are rich with the stories of the men and women whose difficult and painful lives were a crucible that inspired their work.
- Ted Gioia, Delta Blues: The Life and Times of the Mississippi Masters Who Revolutionized American Music (W.W. Norton & Company, 2008).
- Robert Palmer, Deep Blues: A Musical and Cultural History of the Mississippi Delta (Penguin, 1982).
- Elijah Wald, Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues (Amistad, 2004).
- Lawrence Cohn, Nothing But the Blues: The Music and the Musicians (Abbeville Press, 1993).
These titles express how fear can block people from understanding, much less appreciating, the inner experiences of others:
- Giles Oakley, The Devil's Music: A History of the Blues (Da Capo Press, 1997).
- Gayle Dean Wardlow, Chasin' That Devil Music: Searching for the Blues (Backbeat, 1998).
Other true narratives:
- Katharine Graham, Personal History (Alfred A. Knopf, 1997): “That she failed and failed and admits it so openly is winning. That she sees so deeply into her faults and turns to others in desperation makes you cheer for her. That she expresses such love and gratitude for those who helped her is touching. That she grew and finally succeeded is inspiring.”
- Alma Guillermoprieto, Dancing with Cuba: A Memoir of the Revolution (Pantheon, 2004): her “ . . . vivid account of . . . six frustrating, fascinating months that opened her eyes to the world beyond dance, and, one suspects, helped turn her into the marvelous journalist familiar to readers of The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books and many other publications.”
Documentary and Educational Films
- Appropriate Behavior: A young bisexual Iranian-American women struggles with relationships and her own sense of identity.
Music: songs and other short pieces
- Johann Sebastian Bach, Solo Cello Suite No. 5 in C minor, bwv 1011: (4) Sarabande
- Jonas Hassen Khemiri, Montecore: The Silence of the Tiger (Knopf, 2011), exploring whether we can understand others’ stories, or our own.
- Mary Gordon, The Love of My Youth: A Novel (Pantheon Books 2011), showcasing the author’s “to reveal truths that are hard to face in the uninspiring light of day, but without which we could not see ourselves as we are.”
- Francisco Goldman, Monkey Boy: A Novel (Grove Press, 2021): “. . . a memory book, a novel that reads like an autobiographical immersion, a story that travels relentlessly between a difficult present and an unfinished past.”
- Veronica Roth, Chosen Ones: A Novel (William Morrow, 2020): “Her approach is to bring us inside Sloane’s bitter excavation of the past even while keeping us at arm’s length. Each small fragment of an answer is hard-won.”
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Music of Elton John:
- Greatest hits
- Live in London (1977)
- Elton John in Central Park, New York City (1980)
- Live in Barcelona, Spain (1992)
- Royal Opera House concert, London (2002)
- At The Red Piano, Las Vegas (2005)
- 60 Live at Madison Square Garden, New York City (2007)
- Outside Lands San Francisco concert (2015)
- BBC Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park (2016)
- “Farewell, Yellow Brick Road” Tour (2019)
Flora Purim, a Brazilian singer who knows who she is, artistically. Her albums include: