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What's a human life Worth? Alice Feiring, TO FALL IN LOVE, DRINK THIS. Rowan Hooper, HOW TO SAVE THE WORLD FOR JUST A TRILLION. Edward Einhorn, IPHIGENIA IN AULIS

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Like many pivotal times in human history, say global plagues and wars, when civilizations rise and fall, when there is a question whether humanity will survive, human life is somehow cheapened. Between the rise of gun culture in the U.S. and society’s tragic acquiescence, and the sudden devaluation of women’s lives, I found myself wondering, “what’s a human life worth in these times?  I found a memoir, a “how-to,” and a an ancient play translated into a very moving graphic novel. For what it’s worth, read on.

 I was certainly in the mood for Alice Feiring’s coming of age story punctuated by very singular organic wines, To Fall in Love, Drink This: A wine writer’s memoir (Scribner).  A memoir about learning to drink seemed a gimmick for a wine writer, except this connoisseur’s education is like a painter learning his palette. Her narrative searches for meaning in light-dark encounters with family, lovers, writing and publishers. She finds sharp, unexpected, blissful, even incongruous flavors in vineyards with wine-makers dedicated to making natural wines without additives. (Natural wine making has been a maverick mission, considering the wine industry’s long-time endorsement of additives.) 
Feiring’s wine-makers; traditionalist women, men alone, couples, mostly make wine for the  love of it, hoping for money like this wine writer. Some vineyards have ancient family roots, others import them. Fun to ramble with Feiring to Chile, France, Vermont, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, Georgia (the Country), 

Interspersed with work excursions is a personal life. There’s her origins in Brooklyn,  before she escaped to her ramshackle 670sq ft apartment. Feiring’s family was a house divided, her father a swinging 1960s libertine, her mother a religious zealot. But when her father finally left, her mother never got over the loss. Yet Feiring was raised to be a traditional woman with marriage her destiny. This was derailed by her sensitive “nose” (inherited from a devout grandfather) which gave her subtleties in smell and taste others missed. She didn’t have the heart for her mother’s Manischewitz or her dad’s gin but natural pure wines. And she choose to write about what she loved. But her girlhood began full of  failure, the taste of yearning and the subtlety of surprise. Despite growing up with bad Burgundy, she later found her desire as an adult with a Jura wine, Benedicte et Stephanie Tissot Singular, “This wine seemed like a charming innocent who went off to the Sorbonne, smoked fiendishly, danced with frenzy, and yet could perform a flawless pirouette, and so clever, getting rid of bat guano or rewiring a house is just in a day’s work.” 

From a harrowing girlhood trip to the east Village, to rescuing her mother in Long Beach during Superstorm Sandy, Feiring’s personal adventures are full of courage and a desire for love. Unsurprisingly, the men she loved well are linked with appropriate wines. And the choice is sometimes pathos. On her beloved brother’s last night on earth, she brings him a sublimely flavorful wine, aged on the “skin” of a grape. Mitsvane grape. Marina Mitsvane, Kartli, Georgia

During New York City’s Covid lockdown, Alice Feiring found solace in flavor over buzz. Often she swills and spits out wine, because it is the weight, nuances, unexpected spice she desires. And, she says, only natural wines are worth her liver. Did her mother ever come to understand her “daughter who drinks?” Unsure. But her life was worth experiencing for its poignancy and pleasure.  
                                                 
                                                        *****                      
“Shows the world’s most intractable problems might not actually be intractable. A fascinating, thought-provoking work.”
Elizabth Kolbert, Pulitzer prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction
Think we need to give up the climate fight? That it’s useless, because the apocalypse is already upon us? Think again says Rowan Hooper, sr. editor at New Scientist, who’s published In The Wall Street Journal, WIRED and The Economist In How to Save the World for Just a Trillion Dollars (published by THE EXPERIMENT), he shows a Trillion is not so much, considering sums spent in our national budgets and the sums billionaires burn, throwing their weightlessmess into outer space. Read these wordsThere are problems we can fix for this sum. 

Hooper’s shopping cart is well researched as he describes the relative costs and benefits of his choices.  There are ten megaprojects that might save the world or advance humankind. KnowWe already have the science and the money.  Some big ticket items to consider; curing all disease, saving life on Earth, settling off planet, redesigning our planet, finding aliens, turning the world Vegan. Play the trillionaire with Hooper. Consider his take on priorities and “bargains” under a trillion. Gems below, I liked. Also of interest why geological engineering is a nonstarter, yet seeding clouds with salt water…”

“The argument for spending the trillion on universal education and cash transfers is irresistable but if we don’t put the 1 trillion to tackling climate change, starting right now, the future for the world’s poorest people, will be far worse than the present…”

“Half a trillion dollars spent on ecosystem renewal won’t save us from climate change. But if we got it right, simply letting forests grow is a powerful method for capturing carbon and increasing biodiversity and giving us time to get the rest of our society decarbonized…”

Why developing the moon makes more sense than Mars. Why 19 billion to the African Space Agency to establish the Terran Alliance for the Moon is a useful idea for NASA.

I found this book incredibly hopeful. Something can be done NOW.  People have studied this, we can afford it, and a plan can be made. I am grateful to this author that he put it together.  Humans are the only primates stupid enough to destroy their own environment. 
If we evolve more quickly, we might yet pull this out.

This book should be on the reading lists of schools, corporate handbooks, Congress. Voters might receive invitations to read. Saving the Earth means overcoming our lack of political and social will. The future is here, big-brained primates?  We can do it! 
                                                            *****

Edward Einhorn is a playwright, director, translator, librettist, novelist. He is also the Artistic Director of Untitled Theater Company, whose productions are uniquely engaged with ideas. Whether they come from science, philosophy or the classics, this is moving theater. Works can be original, provocative, meaningful, even obtuse yet entertaining.  


Einhorn translated Euripides’ text and his interpretation resonates in 2022, when not only the rights of women but their value as human beings has been challenged by a patriarchal political movement. At issue in the play IPhigenia in Aulli is the sacrifice of a girl, Iphigenia, to benefit a male war machine. The leader, Agamennon, is her father. This is an explosive primal story told in a beautifully rendered graphic novel. This version of the classic, makes her acquiescence plausible in the context.  The fact she gives her life for her father, not Helen, is a patriarchal tragedy. Achilles is a surprise here, willing to refute the “right” of her dad. 

Einhorn explains: “This play script/graphic novel hybrid version of Iphigenia in Aulis, which I translated and adapted, has art by Eisner-Award winner Eric Shanower.  It was just published by Image Comics. I think of it as sort of a play on paper, another way of making theater while not in the theater. We will be putting out an audio version of it in the Fall.”


Below are samples. Quick plot points. Agamennon and Menelaus are brothers. Helen, Menelaus’s wife, was so beautiful many men wanted her. Her father made them all pledge that after she chose her husband (Menelaus), they would fight any man who interferred with his right to his wife. When Helen ran off to Troy with Paris, an army was assembled to bring her back. Led by Agamennon, it’s waiting in the first picture for his sacrifice to set sail.

In Einhorn’s introduction to IPhigenia in Aullis, he explains how this book came about. “I have always envisioned this project as a play on paper. When I was young and didn’t have the opportunity to go to the theater too often, I would often just read scripts. Sometimes, to envision them, I would take toy figures and act them out. But mostly, I would have to imagine what the play would be, if I saw it.”

In a used bookstore I found a copy of Eugene Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano in a “typographical interpretation” by Robert Massin, using Nicolas Bataille’s Paris production as an inspiration. It was a revelation. The book used black and white images of the actors from the show, a variety of typefaces, and some brilliant graphic design to portray not only the words of the script but also Ionesco’s chaotic, playful style. I felt like the book was a show in itself, in many ways equal to seeing a high quality performance.”
I wanted to try a similar experiment. When Eric told me he was interested in combining his Age of Bronze graphic images with a new translation of the play, I jumped at it.  My translation was produced at La MaMa, in New York, which gave me a chance to develop it. Interpretive moments abound throughout the book. Eric drew the original illustrations for Age of Bronze and suggested the ones he thought would be most appropriate for this book. I helped arrange those illustrations (and a few he didn’t suggest), in order to express what I felt was the thrust of the emotion in the moment. In many ways, making those decisions felt similar to directing the play. I hope, when reading it, the words come to life, thanks to Eric’s work. There is no substitute for live theater, but this play on paper is, I think, its own experience, very different than reading an unadorned script.”




Source: https://notanotherbookreview.blogspot.com/2022/07/whats-human-life-worth-to-fall-in-love.html



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