Monday, August 21, 2017

David Haviland Provides Fascinating Nonfiction History of Medical Practices!



How do you remove a brain? From around 3500 BC onward, the ancient Egyptians developed a complex system of mummification, preserving the corpses of their dead by drying them out, removing the internal organs, and wrapping the corpse in bandages. This practice may well have been inspired by the natural mummification which took place when bodies were buried in the arid Egyptian desert. Having observed that a body could be perfectly preserved after death, the Egyptians seem to have developed a belief that preservation of the body was necessary, if the spirit was to survive in the afterlife. They believed that the soul consisted of three separate spirits, and one of these, Ka, was intimately bound up with the physical body. Unless the body was preserved in this world, the Ka could not survive in the next. The mummification process was a complex, painstaking ritual. The body would be taken to Ibu, the ‘place of purification’, and washed in the waters of the Nile. It would then be taken to Per-Nefer, the ‘house of mummification’, to be embalmed. First, the brain would be removed and discarded, as it was thought to be unimportant...
interest in the Egyptians’ lavish tombs in the 19th century, they were faced with a number of mysteries. One of these was the question of how the Egyptians had managed to remove the brains of their dead. There was no evidence of damage to the mummies’ craniums, and yet the brains had been completely removed. How was this possible?
~~~




We have always been fascinated by the macabre... We watched fascinated when the first Frankenstein was created... We rejoiced together with the Scarecrow who needed a brain...and many are crazy about everything undead... It is scary fun to enjoy entertainment that borders on the absurd, probably because we now know so much about the excellent medical work and research that is now being done...

But what of the time before modern medicine? There wasn't even certified doctors and hospitals that are readily available during those early years...
David Haviland has brought together a considerable history of both the reality of the evolution of medicine, as well as those who used it to swindle...




The book moves from ancient times on to the time of snake oil salesman
with chapters on The Wisdom of the Ancients, Disgusting Diseases, Dodgy Diagnosis, Curious Cures, The Good Doctor, Bad Medicine, The Human Body, Rude bits, Public Health, and Snake Oil...

I wasn't sure about this book, I admit. So when the first story talked about crocodile dung being used as a contraceptive, my first reaction was, "O Boy!" Then learned that dead mouse paste was used for toothache... "Geeze!"

Then I started the titled story about removing the brain...I got interested since it was related to ancient burial practices of Egypt, which is something most of us have heard about in relation to mummies... Now here's the thing, later we'll be reviewing some of the stories of grave robbing, which was true, because they needed fresh bodies to use for students of medicine...Now, Frankenstein might have gotten his brain that way...and the Scarecrow might have gotten his brain from a wizard... but nobody ever used the brains that were removed from Egyptians. You see, they thought the brain had no value after death, so how did they remove it, as they did all other internal parts of the body? Well... no I really can't tell you anything except... it...is...gross!

The key points of fascination was that they believed the heart was the most important part and was left in the body, while the brain held no interest... I immediately started thinking about the science fiction stories about saving the brain...




Ok, soon I was hooked... bizarre, scary, macabre, and yet fascinating to see how far off some doctors were in trying to help people...and yet others who started to learn more and begin to discover, sometimes by accident... and even a myth or two, such as that Julius Caesar was born by Caesarian birth, but actually that type of procedure had been used before Caesar was even born...

Here's some of my favorites from the book:
  • What is the disease of kings - Gout, due to rich foods and alcohol.
  • Of the four ‘humours’, what was special about ‘melancholy.’ These four humours were believed to be at the centre of a complex network of signs and relationships, which were thought to explain every aspect of a person’s health and personality. For example, each humour was associated with one of the four elements that the Greeks believed comprised the universe: air, fire, water, and earth. Blood was hot and agitated, like air. Yellow bile was hot and dry, and thus connected to fire. Phlegm was linked to water, and black bile was cold and dry, like earth. These analogies were extended to link the humours to astrology, the seasons, and different character types...
  • Why was Queen Victoria’s hernia never diagnosed?  Think about it...LOL
  • Was Adolf Hitler addicted to crystal meth? Actually, I was more surprised to know that it existed that far back, then that...he was...
  • How did Agatha Christie’s ‘The Pale Horse’ save lives? After reading the book, giving the symptoms...a friend saved another's life...Cool!
  • Who was the real Sherlock Holmes? A brilliant diagnostic doctor who used his observation skills for medical reasons!
I thought about loving medical thrillers based upon real-life potential...Well, readers of this book will read about thrills that were happening that were important to getting to where we are in our medical activities of today. I was happy to find this both an invaluable reference and quite enjoyable... Do check it out!


GABixlerReviews

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Final Book in The David Chronicles! A Response from the Reader...



He is my firstborn, the one I am bound to trust, above all others. There is nothing I will withhold from him, especially now, when he is so weak, so susceptible. Besides, even if I’m making a mistake, what’s the worst that can happen? I ask for a quill so as to write a note to Tamar. 
Jonadab has it right there, at the ready. It has been neatly sharpened, so as not to waste any time. “Come to the house of your brother Amnon,” I tell her in my note, “and prepare some food for him.” I consider for a moment if I should replace the word food with dumpling. I decide against it, perhaps because for me, it evokes the unpleasant sight of Amnon licking his lips. And so, without delay, the note is sealed and on its way.
The conversation with Amnon keeps haunting me as I climb uphill, back to my palace. I find his last question disturbing, without being able to explain why. It seemed innocent enough, at first. 
“Would you do anything for me?” 
To which I said, “Of course, son.” 
“How much are you willing to sacrifice?” 
“What kind of a question is that?” In place of an answer, he pressed on. 
“Would you become my accomplice?” 
“To do what?” I wondered, because no crime had been named. I mean, his mind is far from being transparent! How was I supposed to guess what he...
“Where’s Tamar?” I ask, in a voice that is thick with worry. “And Amnon? You seen him? Where’s he?” She waves her dripping hand at me, but it is unclear if this is meant to indicate that there is no one inside—or that I, too, should leave the place. 
I shout at her, hearing my voice echo, with great urgency, throughout the house, “Your master, Amnon, where’s he?” 
The maidservant brings a finger to her wrinkled lips, perhaps to calm me down, which is when, for the first time, I start listening. Like me, she cups her ear. There is a sound out there, barely human—but somehow I recognize that it is not the wind, wailing with such despair, such sad lament. 
At last, “There. There she is,” the maidservant whispers, breaking her silence. 
“Tamar?” I say, hoping the answer would be No.
“Tamar,” she says, her voice cracking. “I was told to do it.” 
“Do what?” 
“Was it my fault? My job is to obey orders.” 
“What was it your did?” 
I can barely hear her, as she says, “I had no choice but to put her out and bolt the door shut after her. She was wearing an ornate coat, a coat of many colors, the kind of garment virgin princesses would wear. 
Once she found herself on the street Tamar ripped it. She put ashes on her head and put her hands on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.”
~~~


As soon as I had reviewed three of the Inspired by Art books in this series, the last of which complemented this book, I knew I wanted to read the novels. As with the Art book, I found the third book, The Edge of Revolt, the most provocative and filled with new information...for me... I admit that somehow I had missed the impact of what happened to David in his later life...and to his children...

I knew also that I wanted to discuss the books with the author, so began arranging a spotlight to be held on my blog...(that activity has been streaming since the 15th and shows many of those pictures from the Inspired books as well as Poznansky's own art works in different mediums--Take time to check everything out!

In creating questions to discuss, I made my first comment about David, as he had aged... I thought he was weak and although that opinion differed from the author, I continued to feel that way. I admit, however, that I found myself responding to the book as a contemporary rather than historical book. Indeed, reading the book in contemporary language emphasizes just how little many of us have changed over hundreds of years...

The book is brilliantly written, so much so that I could not help forming opinions about the main character based upon my personal concerns of today. More so than in other books, I found I was unable to accept David's part in the rape of Tamar, his daughter. While recognizing that the role of women was different at that time, it was hard to accept the rape of women happened then, in the King's family, and is not only still going on but seems to have taken on a new dimension as Human Trafficking reigns across the world.

Other reviewers may provide a totally unbiased overview that I find I do not want to do for this book...so do check out all the other reviews this book has received... This is an opinion piece, a reader's response to the story, as opposed to my regular review... That is caused by today's chaotic environment where hate, prejudice and injustice seems to rule... openly and with little regard for others.

David had worked hard, first to kill Goliath, and then to go on leading many wars to gain more territory. I raised the hypothesis at the time of David's first murder. What if God's plan was to have the very young David not kill Goliath, but go and stand before him in friendship... Many laugh at the thought...but God is a God of love...after Jesus came...So what change did God have in mind when Jesus died for each of us? For it now seems that little has changed across the world...

Was the death of Jesus in vain, since wars have gone on and on after His Crucifixion? 

David was a man favored by God and it was prophesied that he would be King...Yet David followed the path of his peers, he sought power almost immediately, even while sharing his words in Psalms... He married often as well as had a harem, as was what occurred at that time...

But then he chose to have an affair with a married woman, and after impregnating her, had her husband murdered so he could marry Bathsheba. It is evident from the original story that they fell in love...it happened then and it happens today... Murder was done then...and murder continues across our world, oftentimes through wars that now are even more dangerous with weapons out of control and people using weapons as a sign of power...

But when Tamara was raped... I was forced to consider that the world may never change... For Tamara was raped by her step-brother...forced out of his home, left to be seen as a ruined girl, now no longer worthy of marriage...and receiving no justice for her assault! 

Tamara's father was King at the time. It was up to him to provide justice for his daughter...Not only did he not act as appropriate to convict his son, he made no real effort to comfort his daughter... I see the same thing today, as justice does not seem to be done, rather it is questioned as judgments are made that do not make sense...

David had two positions in his older life. He was King. He was a father.

As King, it was his responsibility to act on behalf of Tamara. He didn't; he allowed it to fester for years, until another son, Absalom, took his brother's life on behalf of Tamara, and, in my opinion, to reveal David's weakness in not handling his duties as King. And when Absalom had his brother killed...David continued to do nothing...as the country's leader.

My favorite Psalm is 121...Written by David, as was his many others, he speaks eloquently, powerfully, and with inspired words...I have a Thomas Kinkaid painting behind me as I type this...In it, he has combined what could be my home in this cabin and adds the legend from Psalm 121: I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills...



Psalm 121 King James Version (KJV)
121 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
2 My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
8 The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
King James Version (KJV)


But David was also a father...It is in that role that he also failed to act, loving all his children and not being able to act to raise his hand against any of them... In this too, I saw that David was weak... for does it not also say...
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.--KJV
And as I read on, I didn't change my mind that David should have acted differently, especially toward Tamar. And yet, there is so much to learn from this third book... Just as David had chosen once to kill for selfish reasons, taking Bathsheba as his own, those decisions of free will continue on and on as we come to face ourselves in this world today... The Tamars of today are many more than at that time--my heart cries for these women pulled today into sex slavery and human trafficking...

And I realize, and as the author indicated in her book descriptions,  that this book is brought to us today to see what our own decisions have brought forth in the world... to clarify and use the stories of what occurred years ago, to look and see the real world that is today... Thank you Uvi Podnansky.

And, that, in every way, we are still in the position of making our own choices, our own decisions. We cannot see David as a man of God as well as dismiss him as a weak man, for if we eliminate that David sought his own forgiveness, we forget that so we must also seek forgiveness and strength when we fail...





As my thoughts continued, I found that it had been time for me to read this book. To recognize that we are each, only human...and weak... We must learn from David's story and decide what we want to say and do in response to David. We can be charmed by his poetry, his music but now there is a bit of darkness in his words as we constantly must adjust to the reality that even men of God are not perfect, no not one... and it is only God that we can look to for perfection...  





And we discover, after all, that we are like David himself... We are weak in our own desires and loves and it is only through God--His Grace-- that we can continue to abide in His Love.



Read The David Chronicles! See what message, what inspiration you will find from these literary books, based upon the original Hebrew, of God's words. There is little about God in David's story... It is you who must seek your way by knowing more, learning more, and opening up yourself to the reality then and our reality...right...now...

Many of you know that I have been very concerned about the chaos happening in America, especially after the Charlottesville violence just this week... David was obviously a man of God, but he acted as he should not have when he had a man murdered. Was that first murder what led to what occurred between and among his children... We must right now choose... will we speak out against evil or do we remain silent, as David did... If is often said that the Bible is the inspired Word of God...and with that comes the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to work through each of us to discover how we are being led...

Are we on The Edge of Revolt?

Uvi Poznansky has written her story as she was inspired to do... Read the entire trilogy... It is great literature of historical events. It is thought-provoking, provocative, and timely and just may have words that will speak to you, as this book did for me... Highly recommended...


GABixlerReviews

Second Book in The David Chronicles Provides Literary Novel on David and Bathsheba!




I am a king. Truly, I am! At first I find it hard to believe, and I wipe my eyes in wonder, and try to convince myself of this puzzling fact, because when you dream about ascending to the throne for as long as I have, you learn to suspect what you see, because it may still be the lingering effect of your fantasy, even if to you it seems real. Of course I have no throne to speak of, not yet, because I cannot inherit anything that belonged to my predecessor. 
Alas, my kingdom is limited to a small, insignificant province, I mean, to the territory of my own tribe, Judea. The elders of Israel, who represent the other eleven tribes, show no signs of accepting my rule. They insist that to them I am a criminal, a traitor who joined forces with the enemy. They are unreasonably stubborn, which forces us into a bloody, unnecessary civil war. 
Are they blind? Can’t they see how much easier it would be for all concerned, had they relented? It is my goal—illusive as it may be—to minimize our casualties. This goal keeps me out of reach of Saul’s court, and his property. I don’t mind steering clear of it, because after all, not much is left. 
The House of Saul has collapsed. His palace is in ruins, its contents looted by our people as well as the Philistines. Since his defeat at Mount Gilboa, not a single piece of furniture has been recovered and brought here from his court, which matters little to me. My taste is more refined, and much more expensive than his. Immediately following my hasty coronation in the city of Hebron I find myself so bored with military skirmishes as to delegate the pleasure of fighting to my first in command, Joav. 
Which gives me the luxury of turning my attention to what I enjoy most: beauty. My secret pleasure—besides women—is creating the loveliest throne room plunder can buy. So this morning I sharpen my quill and begin writing a message to the renowned craftsmen in the Phoenician city of Sidon, north of the border. They are experts at producing dyes, by means of breaking the shells of tens of thousands of sea snails to extract a precious gram of pigment, which must be prevented from degrading in the sun, and tended to with the utmost care, for which only they know the secret, having perfected it over many years. This skill, combined with their unequaled art of embroidery, is just what I need for embellishing the decor in this place. I would pay any price for that bluish purple indigo dye, because it is so rare as to become the mark of royalty.
I must persuade them, with just the right phrases, to come here to my compound, in this God forsaken minor province, and take measurements for curtains, pillows, armrests and other fineries. No one would be better than them at the task of adorning this place with exotic fabrics, so it may look fit for the ruler of a future empire. 
To my dismay I find it impossible to set my mind on my composition, because as a married man I must attend, first and foremost, to the needs of my family. Taking care of one woman is difficult enough. Multiply that triple fold, and you will come close to understanding what I am going through. 
Clamoring for my attention, here come my precious sweethearts.
 “A new decor would be nice, my lord. Truly, I have nothing against it,” says my wife, Abigail. “But how about a personal gift, I mean, a little something for your servant? A purple dress? Wouldn’t it look deliciously attractive on me?”
And when I say nothing, she goes on to promise, “It’ll make me be good, so good to you, in ways you’ve never even imagined before, which in turn may inspire my lord to write something new, perhaps a psalm for your servant, to be admired by all of us here, and by every cultured person in the entire country.” She always peppers her talk with my lord and your servant, which is pleasant to hear most of the time, but at this particular moment I find it somewhat overbearing. So in turn I yawn, which prevents me from thinking of a quick way to brush her off. To remind me how much I love her, Abigal quotes my best lines, which I wrote for her at the beginning of our affair. 
“My beloved is mine and I am his,” she breathes in my ear. “He browses among the lilies. Until the day breaks, and the shadows flee. Turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle, or like a young stag on the rugged hills.” 
I have to admit, “That’s a pretty good line, if I say so myself! It has become so famous as to be claimed by every man in the land as his own.” 
Before I can go back to my writing, my other wife, Ahinoam of Jezreel, leans over my desk with her newborn baby. 
With motherly pride she bounces him this way and that in her arms. “You know me,” she says. “Unlike that other wife of yours I’m modest, much too modest to ask anything for myself.” 
“Thank goodness,” say I, with a sigh of relief. “But then again, what about your son, Amnon?” 
“What about him?” “He’s your first born, dear, the fruit of your loins,” she says, with a sudden blush. 
“I suppose he is,” say I. “So?” 
Ahinoam puts Amnon in my arms, wanting me to coo at him. “I don’t want to put any ideas in your head,” she says, “but—” “Then, don’t!” 
“But, but won’t he look adorable, and ever so princely, in a cute little purplish suit?” 
“I’m too busy for chitchat, don’t you see?” I tell her, trying to subdue the tone of complaint in my voice. 
“But—” 
“And,” I go on to say, “adorable as he may be, I’m not going to squander my hard earned booty, and on top of it let tens of thousands of sea snails be crushed into extinction, just for a trifle, for a baby suit, which he’ll soon outgrow.” 
“That would be such a waste,” says Abigail, nudging Ahinoam, ever so gently, away from me. “On the other hand, if you’d find it in your heart to buy your servant a new gown, I promise: I’m never going to outgrow it!” 
“Oh darling,” says Ahinoam, under her breath. “It would be quite a challenge to get any bigger than you already are.” 
Which Abigail pretends not to hear. Batting her eyelashes, she blows a little kiss in my direction and says, “The expense is well worth it, my lord. Really, it’s just like saving money.” Meanwhile, my new bride, Maacha, elbows her way between both of them. 
“Splurging is something I truly appreciate,” she says, “but why would you do it for simple women, women who don’t have a drop of royal blood flowing in their veins? They’re commoners. I’m not!” 
To which I say, “I have nothing against commoners. I’m one of them.” 
Abigail smiles. “Thank you, my lord.” 
At that, Maacha stamps her foot. “Did you hear that? She admits being a maid. I’m a princess!” 
And Ahinoam jeers at her, “Who cares? You’re not even one of us, are you?”
~~~

When you read a memoir created by somebody else other than the author, you are bound to question the accuracy of that tale. Indeed, many readers may know the story of David and Bathsheba, through their reading of religious books, including the Bible and even those books that are written in the original book, written in Hebrew. The latter was read by the author and as she read through years since he was younger, she became intrigued by David...Her enthusiastic research and subsequent publishing of books centered on David are not only amazing but a significant contribution to the literary historical genre...

Though I knew much about David from my own reading and through sermons, I realized that for the most part, the story of Bathsheba is usually not taught, and especially not discussed. It therefore occurred to me, who early in life, found the King James Version a "bit much" for expecting all people to understand and learn what we were supposedly to learn from the Book.

Reading this trilogy in contemporary English, therefore, has been a delight as not only does it cover basic Bible information, but successfully surrounds that basic story with an elaborate setting, dialogue and characters beyond those you may know, and more importantly, as the author decided to do, to show that what was written may be directly applicable to each of us living today...

Here's the thing though, reading these books in contemporary English, allows you to see the good, the bad, and the ugly, of the lives of those who now reside in various books, including the Bible. For instance, we see changes that have occurred culturally that would negate the use of the Bible as a role model...

Take for instance, David's love of women--having wives as well as concubines  historically found at that time. Somewhere along in history, well after the Bible was published, at least in America, it was decided that one man and one woman should be the basic religious home, directly contradicting the Bible...

But let's look deeper into David and Bathsheba, the two main characters in this book. As recently as this month, in talking about the books I was reading, I was told..."but Bathsheba seduced David..." It was very clear to me that this individual had either been taught, or had molded her opinion of the scripture to suit her thoughts about the type of man David must have been to be considered favored by God...

Yet, for me, the story, as written, made a significant point to me. No matter how much we want to follow God and his guidance, we still are human and fall prey to our own desires. David did desire Bathsheba...so much so, that he gave orders to ensure that Bathsheba's pregnancy was not known, and when that failed, ordered her husband's death...

Could God love us even in failing to follow His word? This story certainly supports that as truth. But what of Bathsheba? Was she guilty? Or was it David who did what it took to fulfill his own lust? And again, Bathsheba--was she able to forget that her lover had not only impregnated her, but then killed her husband to hide their guilt...


As a book reviewer, I realized a long time ago that, as a Christian, we should be able to read and learn from other books about the stories in the Bible and other holy books.  If our faith is not strong enough to question, as Thomas did, we should try to understand why that is...

This trilogy is not religious. The story has been translated from Hebrew into Contemporary English that flirts with the American language that many of us do not appreciate, but is certainly reflective of today. Poznansky's research and study of the material is written as if she was writing her own memoir. She knows the material inside and out and has gifted us with an exciting and realistic fictional representation of how David came to take a married woman and then arranged the murder of a woman who had grown to be, perhaps, the only woman he ever really loved... The book is fascinating, thought-provoking, and revelatory... It may be just the book you should read if you've ever questioned why this story is included in holy scriptures...

Highly recommended--and for some it may be a must-read...it was for me...


GABixlerReviews

Uvi Poznansky's Debut Novel of The David Chronicles


I hear the jingle of keys. To my ears, it is such a lovely sound... “Come,” I cry out, “crack it, crack open the door! Step into my chamber... If my memory isn’t playing its tricks on me, you must be the first to visit me here for quite a long while…” 
No one answers. “Come in,” I plead, hoping that no one could catch the shaky tone of my voice. My fever is gone. In its place, now come severe bouts of shivering. I try, as best I can, to control myself. I slow down the chattering of my teeth as I call out, “Of one thing I’m sure: Reading what I’ve been working on—which, for lack of a better term I would call a memoir—you would think me a madman.”
Suddenly I suspect there is more than one of them out there. Putting my ear to the iron door I hear them shuffling their feet on the other side, without uttering a single word. 
To make them speak to me I let myself admit, out loud, “You’re right. Perhaps I am.” 
There, through the keyhole—I can somehow sense it—an eye is observing me. There are limits to power. When afflicted by an unexplained illness, even a king can be placed in quarantine. The words freeze on my lips, Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony… My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long? 
I am tempted to kick the door, to startle them—but the isolation in this place is such that it forces me to talk, because I need to hear a human voice, and I need someone to listen. So I call out, “Perhaps it’s me who’s confused,” but I refuse to believe it. The door creaks on its hinges, only to reveal two shadows stirring out there, one blurring the other. They let silence reign over me, so in spite of myself I start wringing one hand with the other. I hang my head over these knuckles, over these pale, veined wrists which I hardly recognize as mine, finding myself overcome by a new enemy, one I never expected: the chill of old age. 
In my youth I became famous for being a fine, eloquent speaker, with a particular talent for eulogies—but now it seems that my listeners have left me. Why write another psalm? Who would read it? Who would take it to heart? 
Being abandoned is not something I take lightly. I want to tell the crowds to come back to me, and not only to take a listen—but to adore me, too! Glancing at the shadows, “Come in,” I beseech. “Let me see, let me touch you. Talk to me… And let me tell you my story.” 
Where will I start it? From my childhood, from the first time I came to the court. The moments of my life are vivid in my mind, too vivid to be dismissed as merely the wishful thinking of a locked up old man. 
My fingers still carry the sense, the cold touch of Saul’s crown, when at last I laid my hands on it. And I know, in a way that no one else can begin to imagine, how heavy it is. This was the thing—or so I thought, back then—the very thing that would make me what I wanted: larger than life. Larger than life? I start laughing, at myself most of all, only to be startled by echoes. I listen in alarm to the way they peel, pealing away from the walls. “Listen,” I say, “whoever you are: I am a poet, a bard. 
For me, reality is a hard thing to grasp, at least your kind of reality: one that’s confined, as if by a straightjacket, to the task at hand. Trapped in such a life I would feel... Oh, what’s the right word? Condemned.”
...This time I can see, with great clarity, that power does not come from the crown. At long last I have no urge anymore to keep my grasp on it. Now I know, power comes from within, from something else entirely: my skill with words. I wish I would have recognized it a long time ago, on my first visit to the royal court. Perhaps then I would have become a poet. Not a king...
~~~


The author of The David Chronicles was captured by the stories of David, which she read in its original language... Now she has  created a three-book literary masterpiece so that readers can learn of the individual--David.

The Debut begins with a Prologue in which David has reached old age, having lived his life, yet not totally ready to give his reign over to his heir. The books are written as if David was writing his memoir--the story of his life as he wants to have his family and others know him. Most of all we see David as the man--the human being created by God. The human, like all of us, who deeply loved His God, but who also faced the issues that each of us do... David has a number of significant stories in his life. Book 1 covers his major event when he took on Goliath...


If you have not already done so, you may want to refer to my review of the complementary book, Inspired by Art: Fighting Goliath spotlighting various artists who have given the world their vision of this story. While many may have knowledge of the story between Goliath and David, I was intrigued by the book enough to want to read the contemporary tale envisioned by Poznansky. Also check out Fall of a Giant which continues the review of art work related to the amazing David and Goliant saga... 

We begin the story as David leaves his home to audition for King Saul as a musician, a poet, intent on bringing the King comfort...



Although many who listened were entranced by David's singing and poetry, the King was not and asked who had invited David there, only to be reminded that he, himself, had thought some music might help him feel better.

Finally with the King's permission, David stayed at court and we learn much about what was happening in the life of King Saul, as seen by David... Watching that time, but reading it in today's words and language, is intriguing--we don't know exactly how to respond to a story that does not follow what we already know...but rather fills in the setting, the background and the people there at that time. Could life then be just as complicated and full of emotional angst as it is now?

And what we find is a David who is just as confused as we are in trying to look toward the future, what it holds, what path he should take. He sees the grandeur of the King's castle, the riches within, the power he holds over the people and the country. And David feels the first taste of fame... grandeur... and glory... Does he dare to consider any of these things in his future? Could David become a leader of men? Could anybody ever look to him as their leader--perhaps even their King?

And in thinking more and more, he accidentally speaks openly and Saul, thinking to chide him, asks, why don't you kill a giant?

And the rest of the story is...as they say...history...

And yet it is not...

Poznansky, in taking God's constant presence out of the picture, reveals a man finding his own way, feeling the emotions we feel as well. He is not portrayed as a Godly man, rather he is pictured as we are, striving to live our lives, seeking God's guidance, but not necessarily knowing that his choices are, perhaps, part of God's plan (even though his future had been prophesied). The result is a refreshing, complementary look into the lives of those living in early times who were, basically, much like each of us who know God and try to follow His words...

I will add that much was added to the book about which we may not have known...For instance, David bargained with King Saul for his daughter's hand if he succeeded in killing the giant... I did not see any of what was presented as contradictory of what you may have learned from the Bible, but rather a literary fictional story that helps readers to ponder, to consider how common men--a boy from a farm in this case--might some day come to be known as a man favored by God...  Although I personally didn't enjoy seeing the curse words, I am aware that today's world uses them as part of the culture of today... Therefore, I did not see them as detracting from the value of the story, rather that I was offended personally because of my own background. In that light, I must say that Poznansky has presented an outstanding exploration into the historic life of David, who became King...

Highly recommended,

GABixlerReviews

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Discussion with Uvi Poznansky - Come on Over and Say Hi!


Hi Again Uvi! I am certainly enjoying talking with you during this 3-day spotlight, which will conclude with my reviews of your trilogy tomorrow... 


The David Chronicles! What got you interested...did you lay out your entire series or did you start with one book and move forward...







I have been enthralled with David since childhood, and by the time I started writing the trilogy it seemed that he was living and breathing inside my head. There was no need to lay the story out, because the events are already recounted in scripture. What I focused on is bringing it to life from the king’s point of view, rather than from the point of view of an objective narrator. For example,  when Tamar, the king’s daughter, is raped by Amnon, or when Absalom, the king’s son, finds his death, how can David describe these events, since he was not there to witness it? Well, he has an anxious premonition that something is about to go awry, and when the news is conveyed to him he learns all he can about what happened. Being a writer of great talent, he records these events for himself, fighting through his grief. 

For your books, approximately what percentage would be considered history versus the fiction added to bring the story to life? Did you use a specific Bible or other religious book to begin? Specifically, how did you gain the amount of knowledge necessary to translate scripture references to a complete series of books?

Studying the biblical story in the original language, rather than in translation, made the story very direct for me. In Hebrew there are no ‘versions’ of the bible--there is the one and only text where every sentence, every word is the same across all illuminated manuscripts and printed books. Translations are interpretations, but growing up in Israel, what I studied is the original.


Here is how David describes Amnon’s chamber.

Upon entering his house I find myself confused—even before taking a look at him—to see that things in it have been staged in a new manner. Perhaps it just seems that way, because of the remarkably dim air, which is thick with some medicinal vapor. It blots the outlines of the furniture, and casts gloom over the entire space. The heavy cabinet that used to stand opposite the bedroom door is now barricading it, so I have to find my way around that obstacle. 
Usually at this hour the windows are wide open, so sunlight may pour in, to showcase the bed in all its decadence. It is an expensive, heavy piece, decorated according to his taste, with fancy inlays of metal, mother-of-pearl, and ivory, contrasting each other in hue and shine. But now, the thing is drenched in shadows. 
In the dark, you barely note the life-sized statue of a nude holding a fan, standing at this corner of the bed, and the matching statue at the other corner. Carved of Egyptian alabaster, both of these figures lean forward as if to stop you right there, and prevent you from slipping around them. I imagine that if not for being suspended in that motion, they would hiss something, some sordid secret in your ear.
The scarlet draperies have been pulled shut, allowing only a single ray of sun to wander in, and reach for the pillow. There lies Amnon, having dropped his hand limply, and perhaps a bit theatrically, over the edge of the mattress. 
As if threatening to cross him off, the blade of light rests there, barely stirring across his cheek, which brings back the old grief. Tears well in my eyes, stinging me. I blink them off and try to find Amnon’s eyes, but they are obscure to me, completely hidden in the deepest shadow. Perhaps I have yet to adjust to the dark.
“I’m so hot,” he sighs, his voice husky. “Oh, am I in fever!”

It is very clear as we read passages such as this, that you've spent much time in contemplation and imaging... 

Let's talk first about your Inspired by Art books...Did the concept for those books come before or after your novels? How did they play a part in relation to your novels? Tell us a little about your teaching activities related to the books...

My art collections are a product of the same fascination with the character, the same interest that sparked the novels. A few years back I embarked on collecting art not by artistic style or era, but rather by the story moment-by-moment, blow-by-blow of the story, as imagined by various artists. Rembrandt, Ivan Schwebel, James Tissot, Rubens, William Blake, Gustave DorĂ©, and Vallotton, to name but a few. These collections served as the basis for a research course which I taught in a university setting, guiding my students in the analysis of contrasts between viewpoints around the biblical story. 

Taking it a step further, as I reviewed these three books, one of the major things that struck me was the wide spectrum that was used by the various artists to illustrate a given scene; e.g., David killing Goliath. My question is when writing your books, were you persuaded by a specific artist that "this" was what looks like what happened? Or did you use just scripture? or a broader research base? David for instance, was portrayed as a young man in some paintings but others showed him much older and muscular... What age and physical description did you decide to use in your first, opening book? Was it important to you to stay as close as possible to history or did you allow your creative imagination considerable latitude?

When you see how artists look at these events from different viewpoints, you realize there is no ‘absolute’ way to view it. The life of David is, in a way, a mystery, which invites us into a journey of exploration.

I am often inspired by the art when writing a specific scene. For example, the execution of Amnon, as orchestrated by his brother, Absalom, is imagined here by his father, David: 

This was no murder. There is no other name for it but execution.
I stare at the darkness of the palms of my hands and at once, images of that feast—for lack of a better term—light up in my mind. I hear every sound in that place, and take in every smell, as if I have witnessed the entire affair myself, as if I own the senses of the killer and of the victim at once, as if I am possessed by them, because they are, both of them, my own flesh and blood. 
I shudder to see so many daggers drawn out of metal holsters. Their harsh grating noise penetrates me. A gasp, a last gurgle of surprise escapes from Amnon’s throat, as many hands grip him, and twist his arms forcefully behind his back. 
The bleating of sheep is heard faintly in the background as blades rise, flashing in the air. Then they plunge upon his throat, clinking against each other, and the first of them slashes the vein. 
His bloodied corpse is thrown, like leftover meat, by the side of the bench where he has sat. Overhead, birds of prey start hovering. Flies are buzzing, buzzing all around, sensing the sweet taste of blood, which is spurting from his neck. 
His eyes turn. They go on turning in their sockets, nearly flipping over in an unnatural way, as if to see the man standing directly behind him. Absalom. There, there he is, striking a victorious pose: legs wide apart, arms crossed, giving him what he has wanted: a nod, a final nod of recognition.
Oh, my son, Absalom.

A powerful statement!

While I enjoyed both the first and second books, I was more familiar with the stories of Goliath and Bathsheba...But by the third book, David has been King for many years, has a large family, and has written many of his literary contributions...
For me, he seemed a man who had grown old enough to look back and concern himself with the past as opposed to what he was doing to rule at that time. In fact, he seemed a rather weak, disheartened man.  You've mentioned that the books are created from his words. And, in fact, I found the artwork created for this period a much more provocative presentation. How do you see from your research that King David had come to this point in his life?

Indeed, in The Edge of Revolt David has passed the prime of his life. He has gone from an age of action into an age of reflection, so in my mind I see him as the psalmist and poet more so than ever. There is great beauty in that, but in addition, great pain, because is finds himself unable to make decisions, especially when Amnon his son rapes Tamar his daughter, and when Absalom his second son executes Amnon. 

Still, I would not call David weak, but rather, profoundly torn between his love for his children, whom he adores, and the need to restrain and punish them when they commit crimes against each other and against him. Such a choice is daunting, so I fully understand how disheartened he becomes. How ironic is it that while his palace is being designed with the greatest of splendors, a destruction comes from within his family, threatening to undermine the foundations of the House of David.

In many paintings describing him at this age, a sense of darkness is depicted. For example, in this painting depicting him as a psalmist, wearing an elaborate head scarf and readying himself to play his musical instrument. But notice the head of Goliath at his feet. It is a trophy from years past, which must have been preserved to survive decades after the famous battle... It is at once a reminder of glory and of death. This painting gave me the idea to have David stare into the eye-holes of the mummified  head of Goliath:

Amnon winks again, which enrages me, in a flash, into dragging him by the ear, all the way to the opposite side of the court, to the central glass display, where the head of goliath, preserved by Egyptian experts, is encased.
Its eyebrows are bushier than I remember, and so is the serpentine hair twisting upon itself. It seems to be hissing, creeping towards us, pressing against the glass as if to burst it open, which makes me wonder if there is still a remnant of life inside this scalp. I have to remind myself that nearly three decades have passed since the day I killed him. 
Meanwhile Amnon cannot help but shudder, perhaps because of the darkness crawling out of those empty eye sockets, and even more than that, because he can see his own reflection right there, in between the huge jaws, over the sheet of glass that separates him from that thing, that memento of my earliest battle.
I let go of his ear, not before breathing into it, “Ever think of death?”

There was definitely a struggle that David did not want to give up his Kingdom, but that His sons and even his army were discontented with the good life they now had, with nothing to do. Given my personal thoughts on war and how it gets started, I found it unacceptable, the only word I can use, that David had become lackadaisical and sad that David was not doing more as their leader to establish other options for the citizens other than continuing in war... Noting that his own thoughts were more self-serving, am I correct in being disenchanted with the man he'd become?

I would beg to differ. When his son Absalom, whom he adores, tries to topple him from the throne, David does not stay in Jerusalem to mount a battle against his son. Instead, he escapes the city and goes into exile. And when Absalom’s army chases him down, David, who has grown to hate the violence of war, instructs his generals and soldiers not to hurt his son, to be gentle with the man who wants to kill him. 

Having been to so many wars in the past, I cannot help but imagine the soundless spread of wings, as birds of prey hover in the air, as they descend upon lifeless figures and peck at their wounds. I hear groans of pain even as I watch these young, fresh faces, many of whom are smiling at me, waving farewell. 
All of them hear me loud and clear when I bellow, “Halt! One more thing, before you go!”
Joav, Abishai and Ittai stop marching, and all the men behind them come to attention. The last thing they expect of me, as they head for a crucial battle, is a plea for restraint.
“Be gentle with the young man Absalom,” I tell them, “for my sake.”

He had ensured he had Bathsheba by getting her husband killed, had wives and his harem...yet it seemed that Bathsheba was the only female that stood by him at that time. What's more, when his son, who had quite a reputation for mishandling women, sought his sister, David, perhaps not willing to see the potential danger, sent her into his home and directly into a situation she could not handle... She was raped. and David did nothing. Is there any historical background that you can provide that would explain David's lack of action, even to comfort his daughter?

You know, most women described in the bible with a single sentence that immortalizes their beauty. Some of them are not even mentioned by name, because in those times they would be considered the property of their husband. Tamar presents the opposite case: her entire dialogue with her rapist has somehow been preserved for future generations, which is amazing not only by contrast to other women who were not given a voice but also because of the shameful circumstances. It got me thinking: How did it happen that the scribes agreed to include her conversation with Amnon is such a complete way? 

Having realized that Tamar has been raped, David tries to protect her by making sure word does not get around. 

Having failed to protect Tamar, I must shield her now in an entirely different way. No one should learn these sordid details of the assault. In public, the story should be denied, if at all possible. For certain, it should not make it into the official records of history, because that would be like violating my daughter all over again.

In The Edge of Revolt, I imagine David maturing into the opposite approach, that of giving a voice to the victim.

“Give her a voice,” says Bathsheba, in a tone that is intense, and full of pity for Tamar, and for all of us. “Let everyone hear how a woman does all she can, with such amazing courage, to resist a rape. Let her story be told!”
“That,” say I, “will take a change in the way things are.”

As often is the case, including today,  men, leaders, fail to act when a woman is raped. Yet, many speak out when such an outrage does occur. In this case, another son of David was angry that his sister had been abused by a brother and arranged his death. Still David did not act... Do you think that protecting family members who commit crimes can be just ignored in the hope of it all going away?

It appears that lack of action by King David led directly to the revolt that came. It also seemed that some loyal followers cared more for their King than did his own family... I admit, I failed to see the lesson that could be learned...Is there one?

This story is about coming full circle to believe something that you did not recognize at the beginning of the journey. His generation believed in glorifying the victorious at the cost of silencing the downtrodden. But listen to David’s thoughts as he comes to his last hours:

Below, somewhere in the women’s quarters, children are starting to awaken. I hear their voices: some cry, others call for their mothers. One of them, a young girl, runs out to the courtyard, then stops and turns her head back. 
I squint against the light, which allows me to recognize her: she is my grandchild, Absalom’s child.
Now she waves at me. Her laughter is so pure, so melodic. It is full of silvery notes, which reminds me of my own daughter, Tamar, and the way she used to laugh, before silence overtook her. 
I want to go down to the child and put my arms around her to keep her safe, now and in the future—but I know that it is not in my power. Even so I murmur to her, across the distance, “Let you never surrender to silence, because if you do, it would leave you with the rusty, poisonous taste of shame.” 
The child has opened the gate. Like me, she is watching the sunrise. I wonder what it means for her. Perhaps, hope.
One day my daughter, Tamar, will stop listening to the dictates of those who wished to hush her. She will no longer obey the words, ‘Shut up,’ which she must still be hearing in her mind, in the voice of Amnon, who raped her. Nor will she obey the words, “Be silent for now,” in the voice of Absalom, who sought to protect her. 
The real shame—now I know—is to consent to silence. A day will come when she will transform her suffering into meaning, into words.


Uvi, where do you see this series going? Is there more to come? What other projects are you working on? Big plans for the future?

For now, this series is complete. Rise to Power describes David as a young boy coming to the court of the king. A Peek at Bathsheba describes him in the prime of his life, when he succumbs to a moment of temptation that might cost him his entire legacy. And The Edge of Revolt describes the last phase of his life. Together with the six accompanying art books, with collections of art by the masters throughout the ages, this series is complete.

I am now writing the next volume in my family saga series, Still Life with Memories. This volume is titled Marriage before Death, and I dedicate it to the heroines that worked with French resistance forces against the Nazi war machine. It continues the love story between Lenny, a marine, and Natasha, a pianist, but this time it is becoming a full throttled thriller!

So, stay tuned...



Uvi Poznansky is a bestselling, award-winning author, poet and artist. “I paint with my pen,” she says, “and write with my paintbrush.” Her romance boxed set, A Touch of Passion, is the 2016 WINNER of The Romance Reviews Readers' Choice Awards.

Education and work:
Uvi earned her B. A. in Architecture and Town Planning from the Technion in Haifa, Israel and practiced with an innovative Architectural firm, taking a major part in the large-scale project, called Home for the Soldier.

Having moved to Troy, N.Y. with her husband and two children, Uvi received a Fellowship grant and a Teaching Assistantship from the Architecture department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. There, she guided teams in a variety of design projects and earned her M.A. in Architecture. Then, taking a sharp turn in her education, she earned her M.S. degree in Computer Science from the University of Michigan.

She worked first as an architect, and later as a software engineer, software team leader, software manager and a software consultant (with an emphasis on user interface for medical instruments devices.) All the while, she wrote and painted constantly, and exhibited in Israel and California. In addition, she taught art appreciation classes. Her versatile body of work includes bronze and ceramic sculptures, oil and watercolor paintings, charcoal, pen and pencil drawings, and mixed media.

Books and Genres:

Her two series won great acclaim. Still Life with Memories is a family saga series with touches of romance. It includes Apart From Love, My Own Voice, The White Piano, The Music of Us, and Dancing with Air. The David Chronicles is a historical fiction series. It includes Rise to Power, A Peek at Bathsheba, and The Edge of Revolt.

Her poetry book, Home, is in tribute to her father. Her collection of dark tales, Twisted, and her Historical Fiction book, A Favorite Son, are both new age, biblically inspired books. In addition, Uvi wrote and illustrated two children books, Jess and Wiggle and Now I Am Paper. For each one of these books, she created an animation video (find them on YouTube and on her Goodreads page.)