Well written with a compelling narrative. At times philosophically heavy and hard to chew but in a good way.
However, the narrative is no longer as en...moreWell written with a compelling narrative. At times philosophically heavy and hard to chew but in a good way.
However, the narrative is no longer as enticing because many forms of art have explored this theme in the past few decades rendering, in my view, the work less potent. Films such as Minority Report, Equilibrium, and Gattaca have visually captured this "futuristic" reality that Orwell conceived of and in turn it's very power, the power of a shockingly new but believable reality becomes weak and feeble from mere exposure; as a reader I felt desensitized.
Some of my favorite quotes below:
"Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low. But the essential structure of society has never altered. The aims of these three groups are entirely irreconcilable" (152).
"But in a physical sense war involves very small numbers of people, mostly highly trained specialists, and causes comparatively few casualties. the fighting, when there is any, takes place on the vague frontiers whose whereabouts the average man can only guess at" (153). - modern war has changed; and just like the British in the Revolutionary war, we can not afford to mis-represent it, mis-understand it or our wrong thinking will take us to wrong conclusions.
"Secondly, in a material sense, there is no longer, anything to fight about" (154).
"The primary aim of modern warfare is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living. Ever since the end of the nineteenth century, the problem of what to do with the surplus of consumption goods has been latent in industrial society" (155).
"The essential act of war is destruction, no necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor" (157).
"While wars could be won or lost, no ruling class could be completely irresponsible. but when war becomes literally continuous, it also ceases to be dangerous" (163).
"The essence of oligarchical rule is not father to son inheritance, but the persistence of a certain world view and a certain way of life, imposed by the dead upon the living" (173).
As described this book is dark, vivid, and eloquent. The writing is very descriptive and effective. I don't know why, but sometimes I read books and a...moreAs described this book is dark, vivid, and eloquent. The writing is very descriptive and effective. I don't know why, but sometimes I read books and all I can think is how awesome it would be if I could make them into a movie. That's how I felt about this book. Actually- that's how I feel about a lot of the more recent literature (1900's and up) that I've read. Maybe a fault of mine, but when I read books with intense imagery I feel less drawn in to the story itself and rather find myself spending more time imagining my own version in my head. So this book was odd- it didn't create a new world for me or take me for a ride like some of my favorites, but my mind is crawling with all sorts of artistic, dark images that only exist in my imagination where I've all but filmed the whole thing. (less)
Life isn't perfection; It isn't hiding the dark facts that slip into our biography from ourselves. It's accepting our humanity in order to see the bea...moreLife isn't perfection; It isn't hiding the dark facts that slip into our biography from ourselves. It's accepting our humanity in order to see the beautiful.
Olive Kitteridge is a novel about the fragility we all share as humans, but how in hiding from our own weaknesses we effectively shut out love, and the experience of shared human experiences.
The novel is delicately woven together from different people, each exposing the rawness of their life- a rawness that stays hidden from everyone around them. So in fact, while sharing the same pain, they are rendered islands of isolation.
"You couldn't make yourself stop feeling a certain way, no matter what the other person did. You had to just wait. Eventually the feeling went away because others came along. Or sometimes it didn't go away but got squeezed into something tiny, and hung like a piece of tinsel in the back of your mind" (56).
"Some skin that had stood between himself and the world seemed to have been ripped away, and everything was close, and frightening" (102).
"The natural rubber band around people's lives that curiosity stretched for a while had long ago returned to encompass their own particularities" (142).
"It was shame that swiped across her soul, like these windshield wipers before her: two large black long fingers, relentless and rhythmic in their chastisement" (160).
"People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it" (161). (less)
I just wrote a really long review and it didn't save. Damn it. It was good. So now you'll just get my favorite quotes.
"And this is easy and efficient...moreI just wrote a really long review and it didn't save. Damn it. It was good. So now you'll just get my favorite quotes.
"And this is easy and efficient. So easy that the wonder goes out of work, so efficient that the wonder goes out of land and the working ot it, and with the wonder the deep understanding and the relation. And in the tractor man there grows the contempt that comes only to a stranger who has little understanding and no relation." pg 115
"The people in flight from the terror behind- strange things happen to them, some bitterly cruel and some so beautiful that the faith is refired forever" pg 122(less)
I hate Tess for her weakness (why can't she fight back; determine her own destiny) yet I am moved to feel for her as she is continually beat down by t...moreI hate Tess for her weakness (why can't she fight back; determine her own destiny) yet I am moved to feel for her as she is continually beat down by the world she lives in (how many tragedies can the human spirit really survive before all that is left is pity). Nature is benevolent to some while harsh on others. This is the philosophy that Hardy puts forward in his novel: victim or not, the large wheel of nature: physical, human, supernatural- is indifferent and falls upon the unfortunate with random accuracy.
Hardy has beautiful descriptions that are a combination of physical landscapes and human experience: "The night came in, and took up its place there, unconcerned and indifferent; the night which had already swallowed up his happiness, and was now digesting it listlessly; and was ready to swallow up the happiness of a thousand other people with as little disturbance or change of mind."
I believe nature is indifferent- some of us are living, some will die tomorrow, some more will be tried perhaps beyond their strength. Up till now in life I have always been able to control my response to circumstances- refusing to be a victim. Is there a limit to my own resilience, when all that is left is anger at the known, or unknown?
The following quotes, to me, are an accurate portrayal of the progression of the human spirit:
"Tess Durbeyfield as this time of her life was a mere vessel of emotion untinctured by experience"
"By experience we find out a short way by a long wandering. But it had not been in Tess's power- nor is it in anybody's power- to feel the whole truth of golden opinions while it is possible to profit by them"
"It was unexpected youth, surging up anew after its temporary check, and bringing with it hope, and the invincible instinct towards self delight"
"Nevertheless humanity stood before him no longer in the pensive sweetness of Italian art, but in the staring and ghastly attitudes of a Wiertz Museum, and with the leer of a study by Van Beers"
This book tackles the powerful tension that lies between idealism and reality. As human beings we are often drawn to ask ourselves whether we are capa...moreThis book tackles the powerful tension that lies between idealism and reality. As human beings we are often drawn to ask ourselves whether we are capable of something great- truly experiencing the pinnacle of some achievement or feeling in our lifetime. Sadly however, Madame Bovary never takes off.
I spend more time bogged down in descriptions of people, houses, countryside, and back again that by the time I was more than halfway through the book- very little had still happened. To me, it was well written but simply put, boring. There were sparks of great insight into human desires and what drives them, but far less than needed to keep me going. I shant recommend it nor read it again. Too bad, because it's a great theme.
Just for kicks, here are some quotes I found worth recording:
"Before marriage she thought herself in love; but the happiness that should have followed this love not having come, she must, she thought, have been mistaken. And Emma tried to find out what one meant exactly in life by the words felicity, passion, rapture, that had seemed ot her so beautiful in books."
"He was beginning to feel that depression caused by the repetition of the same kind of life, when no interest inspires and no hope sustains it. ... Yet the prospect of a new condition of life frightened as mush as it seduced him" (73).
"She sprang towards him, she pressed against him, she stirred carefully the dying embers, sough all around her anything that could revive it; and the most distant reminiscences, like the most immediate occasions, what she experienced as well as what she imagine, her coluptous desires that were unsatisfied, her projects of happiness that crackled in the wind like dead boughs, her sterile virtue, her lost hopes, the domestic tete-a-tete she gathered it all up, took everything and made it all serve as fuel for her melancholy" (78). - It's so dangerous as human beings when we let unfulfilled sentiments turn onto another person and then hold them in silent contempt. Either speak our minds and be free or we must let it go.
"But happiness, no doubt, was a lie invented for the despair of all desire. She now knew the smallness of the passions that art exaggerated" (143). - It's so easy to get caught up in the romanticism of art, the thrill and passion of it incites and coming back down to reality can often burn. Is art a microcosm of one intense moment or feeling sold as a complete picture?
"By the side of a Parisian in her laces, in the drawing room of some illustrious physician, a person driving his carriage and wearing many orders, the poor clerk would no doubt have trembled like a child; bu here, Rouen, on the harbor, with the wife of this small doctor he felt at his ease, sure beforehand he would shine. Self possession depends on its environment" (147). - Are human beings constantly evaluating themselves against the presence of others- judging accomplishments and status of others, desperately trying to avoid the "bottom"- their own self judgement that would make them lacking in comparison to those around them.
"He was in one of those crises in which the whole soul shows indistinctly what it contains, like the ocean, which, in the storm, opens itself form the seaweeds on tis shores down to the sands of its abysses" (158). - Crisis truly test man, what he is made of and who he is, these are the points in life where we define ourselves real-time.
"But the disparaging of those we love always alienates us from them to some extent. WE must not touch our idols; the gilt sticks to our fingers" (179).
"Every notary bears within him the debris of a poet" (184). - What could we have been; what separates the good from the great?
"Then, thought she might feel humiliated at the baseness of such enjoyment, she clung to it from habit or from corruption, and each day she hungered after them the more, exhausting all felicity in wishing for too much of it" (185). (less)
This book inspired me to paint a painting about food. It empowers the reader to recreate his or her food experiences. In Defense of Food yields logica...moreThis book inspired me to paint a painting about food. It empowers the reader to recreate his or her food experiences. In Defense of Food yields logical grounds for taking back the dining experience from the fast-food and over processed approaches to eating; the reader is left contemplating his or her next meal and how to create it, how to enjoy it- how to make it art.
"Food is also about pleasure, about community, about family and spirituality, about our relationship to the natural world, and about expressing our identity" (8).
"There have been traditional diets based on just about any kind of whole food you can imagine. What this suggests is that the human animal is well adapted to a great many different diets. The Western diet, however, is not one of them" (11).
"Since nutrients, as compared with foods, are invisible and therefore slightly mysterious, if falls to scientists (and to the journalists through whom the scientists reach the public) to explain the hidden reality of foods to us. In form this is a quasireligious idea, suggesting the visible world is not the one that really matters, which implies the need for a priesthood" (28).
"Indeed, nutrionism supplies the ultimate justification for processing food by implying that with a judicious application of food science, fake foods can be made even more nutritious that the real thing" (32).
"Break the thing down into its component parts and study those one by one, even if that means ignoring subtle interactions and contexts and the fact that the whole may well be more than, or maybe just different from, the sum of its parts" (62) This is what modern nutritional science had done to destroy our concept of healthy and food.
"By breaking the links among local soils, local foods, and local peoples, the industrial food system disrupted the circular flow of nutrients through the food chain" (100).
"Destroying complexity is a lot easier than creating it" (116).(less)
Interview with the Vampire is backed by solid, descriptive writing along with strong philosophical intrigue as the road into darkness, or the naked tr...moreInterview with the Vampire is backed by solid, descriptive writing along with strong philosophical intrigue as the road into darkness, or the naked truth, is exposed through Louis. I wish I had not watched the movie as it made the book a little more predictable (the book was far better).
"That is a much more mundane idea, said the vampire immediately. People who cease to believe in God or goodness altogether still believe in the devil. I don't know why. No, I do indeed know why. Evil is always possible. And goodness is eternally difficult" (13).
"The monument does not say that this or that man walked here. No, that what he felt in one time in one spot continues" (41).
"Because all aesthetic decisions are moral, really. . . What about the cliche of the artist who leaves his wife and children so he can paint. . . both were moral decisions. Both served a higher good, in the mind of the artist, the conflict lies between the morals of the artist and the morals of society, no between aesthetics and morality" (72).
"The ribbons crushed form the bonnet fell loose and I felt a palpable relief to see the childish dress, those ribbon, and something wonderfully comforting her arms, a small china doll" (206).
"Because if God doesn't exist we are the creatures of highest consciousness in the universe. we alone understand the passage of time and the value of every minute of human life. and what constitutes evil, real evil, is the taking of a single human life. whether a man would have died tomorrow or the day after or eventually. it doesn't matter. Because if God does not exist, this life, every second of it, is all we have" (237). (less)
This book had moments of magic; the kind that makes you young again, dreaming of adventure where life on the high seas as a pirate or living in the Sw...moreThis book had moments of magic; the kind that makes you young again, dreaming of adventure where life on the high seas as a pirate or living in the Swiss Family Robinson tree house is real and vivid- perfect in only the way a young child can dream it. However, once past the first part the book lagged for me; I actually found it a chore to finish. Stevenson does a good job of building up suspense in the beginning, giving the reader only a little information at a time like bait. But once the deceptions, sword fights, and shipwreck are accomplished, the writing drags on while David Balfour, the protagonist, spends the rest of the book sloshing over the Scottish highlands. A reader knows the thrill of good adventure reading when he/she reads it- hence why this book was such a disappointment to me, because it had moments of enthralling adventure but became muted and dull as the pages turned. Sure it's written well, but that's not enough- it all has to come together. Too bad- Kidnapped is like going to Sonic for a Lemon-Lime Aid and getting an over carbonated Sprite.
A few fun quotes I enjoyed:
"I make bold to say that ye would keep your breath to cool your porridge" - hmmm dawg not that's a good diss.
"The whole world now heaved giddily up, and now rushed giddily downward; confounded, that it took me a long while, chasing my thoughts up and down, and ever stunned again by a fresh stab of pain, to realize that I must by lying somewhere bound in the belly of that unlucky ship" - a perfect rendering of sea-sickness!(less)
I read up to page 117 and stopped. I actually found a review that precisely says what I think about this book so i'm going to paste it below; because...moreI read up to page 117 and stopped. I actually found a review that precisely says what I think about this book so i'm going to paste it below; because honestly, it's not worth my time writing my own review.
"The point of the satire seems to be that these competitive reality shows are obviously highly engineered. The problem is, that point is so obvious that it's hard to be terribly interested in such an easy target, presented in such an easy fashion.
Chart Top is bloated with a variety of other subplots and contestants, who all fall into Calvin's categories of "Mingers, Clingers, and Blingers," and good lord do the characters ever repeat that phrase as if it were hilarious, every single time.
The contestants represent all the range of ego, delusion, anorexia, pathos, and questionable talent that you'd expect from the average reality show. The Prince of Wales is one of them, a pawn in a bet between Calvin and his soon-to-be-ex-wife to see if he can truly manipulate the audience into choosing his preferred winner.
The Prince is presumably a caricature of the current holder of that title, but while I'm no Brit, and no royal watcher, the portrait didn't resonate at all. Chart Throb's royal is a goofy, eager-to-please idealist devoid of any wit and intelligence who calls himself "muggins." If that's how Charles appears in the UK press, I'd join those wanting to vote to overthrow the monarchy.
Bloated and ultimately meaningless, Chart Throb is on par with the kind of entertainment it's attempting to skewer."
At 400 pages it's a light read, irritating and completely unenjoyable, completely obvious in its intentions and execution,lacking in true wit and humour.
This is the first book I've read that deals primarily with the inner workings of foreign policy. It has opened my eyes up to how media is used by poli...moreThis is the first book I've read that deals primarily with the inner workings of foreign policy. It has opened my eyes up to how media is used by politicians to shape public opinion and how clandestine our nation's leaders can be. As for our relationship with China, I think this is a book all should read because this is a relationship that will only become more important as the future unfolds. Below is my completely personally biased ranking on the presidents covered regarding their foreign policy with China:
1. Reagan (is #1 mostly for a few times he had the balls to do what he wanted, unlike any of the other presidents (excepting Nixon) who were controlled by previous policies and advisers.
2. Nixon (While I abhor his policies and rationale, he knew how to wield power and make things happen politically more than most of the later presidents that would deal with China. Somehow I admire this more than puppets who are blown about by whomever).
3. Ford (I don't remember much about him; he mostly just went along with what Nixon had been doing).
The Three Biggest Losers
4. Carter (the fact that he's hailed for his humanitarian efforts during his presidency throughout the world lands Carter in the bottom three. Per official documents, Carter dropped all of his ethical principles in dealing with China making him a big fat hypocrite. Don't flout your humanitarian ideals when you gave it up secretly in dealing with China please).
3. Bush (I don't like his presidential style for one- Bush places personal relationship as the foundation for his dealing with China. While not a bad quality; its not very balanced and doesn't yield effective results, especially when your "friends" are using you. Bush just kinda seemed like a putz to me).
4. Clinton (I didn't except to like Clinton's presidency the least but here he is. As a governor, he really didn't have enough experience, which I am now seeing as really important for future presidential candidates. He pretty much waxed eloquently about how our relationship with China should be; much like an idealistic college student. But when faced with challenges Clinton did not rise to the occasion rather became the king of political flip-flops and pulling them off by well timed and eloquent PR events and speeches).
Below are some important quotes and why I think they are important:
Regarding our relationship with China and policy reversals: "Procurement won out over idealism" (240).
On China's MFN status (Most Favored Nation - tied to abilitiy to trade with other nations): "The was one China issue in Washington that Triplett avoided. He steered clear of the annual campaigns to revoke or restrict China's most-favored-nation trade benefits. He often argued that for those opposed to the China's Communist regime, MFN was a losing issue, because the power of the U.S. corporations would always hold sway in Congress. (It is worth noting that in this respect, too, Triplett's position ran parallel to that of Taiwan. The Taipei government never sought to curb China's MFN benefits, because many Taiwan-based companies were running factories in mainland China, earning handsome profits by exporting their products to the United States" (244). This quote is interesting because it shows how tangled up foreign policy can get; there are many factors influencing it. It is important to understand this reality because presidents and people alike have often proposed policies that are too far reaching in their ideals and can never be enforced (Clinton's proposal of linking MFN status to China's advancement of human rights). While human rights are important (and should be advanced), it causes more damage when impossible standards are set and then reversed and lied about. We must understand the system within which we are working before we can best assess how to affect change.
Regarding China's offical view on Tinanmen Square: "The actions in Tiananmen Square were a good thing. We do not regard them as a tragedy...Chinese leaders had tirelessly pressed the theme that political liberalization leads to chaos (per Soviet Union collapse). Although Baker didn't realize it at the time, Chinese security officals had resorted to old-fashioned thuggery to make sure the secretary and his aides didn't see or talk with anyone in China who might give them a different point of view" (251). Living in Taiwan, close to China, has made the politics of our foreign policy hit much closer to home. For as much as China opens up economically and even liberalizes (perhaps), the mindset of the country is fundamentally different from ours. It is a country built on communist ideals; these ideals irrevocably change a people- whether they adhere to them or not. I would argue this for Eastern Europe as well even post Soviet collapse. Once again, this reality must be ever present as we deal with China and other nations. I don't believe in cutting China off internationally, but I do believe we must understand where they come from and who they are in order to effectively negotiate with them and not delude ourselves.
The human experience creates pain side by side with isolation. Our common experiences are tangled and singular, holding us together in one moment yet...moreThe human experience creates pain side by side with isolation. Our common experiences are tangled and singular, holding us together in one moment yet unfailingly tearing us apart the next.
"A Mercy" reads similar to the book cover's art of Frederic Edwin Church: Morning in the Tropics. Hot and hazy it's hard to distinguish where one story begins and the other ends. But probing the depths reveals a separateness in experience that reaffirms a united landscape tied together in the stifling indifference of man over land, man over man, and man over woman. I almost put in down the first chapter because, like Faulkner, at moments the stream of consciousness can be hard to follow. But the novel quickly weaves together the story of these lives who each become something quite different while living hand in hand.
My favorite quotes:
Perhaps they were blotting out, as she was, what they fled and what might await them. Wretched as was the space they crouched in, it was nevertheless blank where a past did not haunt nor a future beckon. Women of and for men, in those few moments they were neither. (100)
Why are you killing me I ask you. I want you to go. Let me explain. No.Now. Why? Why? Because you are a slave. What? You heard me. Sir makes me that. I don't mean him. Then who? You. What is your meaning? I am a slave beacause Sir trades for me. No. You have become one. ... I am adoring you. And a salve to that too. You alone own me. Own yourself. (166)
They once thought they were a kind of family because together they had carve companionship out of isolation. But the family they imagined they had become was false. Whatever each on loved, sought or escaped, their futures were separate and anyone's guess. on thing was certain, courage alone would not be enough. Minus bloodlines, he saw nothing yet on the horizon to unite them. Nevertheless, remembering how the curate described what existed before Creation, Scully saw dark matter out there, which, unknowable, aching to be made into a world. (182)
To be given dominion over another is a hard thing; to wrest dominion over another is a wrong thing; to give dominion of yourself to another is a wicked thing. (196) (less)