Of course, after experiencing Mr. Chabon's prose for the first time in Kavalier and Clay, such an adjective seems entirely trite. This is the...moreRiveting.
Of course, after experiencing Mr. Chabon's prose for the first time in Kavalier and Clay, such an adjective seems entirely trite. This is the work of a master wordsmith, one who has made me feel slightly self-conscious in having to choose words to describe my thorough elation in reading this work. While this might be old news to more erudite readers, there can't be more than a few writers whose penchant for meticulous precision compares to Chabon's; as though his sentences were made of threads of silk, the narrative of Kavalier and Clay is woven in intricate yet classically identifiable patterns, enmeshing youth and the weight of history to produce one of the finest tapestries depicting the American dream.
Few novels have played out so vividly in my imagination, which I take to be a testament of the profound achievements of this novel.(less)
The value of this book lies entirely in its ability to put in words the general malaise that has taken over the Obama nation. Most likely, anyone inte...moreThe value of this book lies entirely in its ability to put in words the general malaise that has taken over the Obama nation. Most likely, anyone interested in reading this will already have a general idea of what has been so disappointing in Obama's administration; what Suskind's account does is color in the traced out discontent.
There is always something profoundly heartbreaking in the de-mythification of an idol, despite being ultimately a necessary procedure. If you are or were an Obama supporter, it is quite likely you'll find yourself sighing in disappointment throughout most of your reading. Moreover, if you had ever thought it proper to lay Hope upon the hands of the best and the brightest, what you may read is an absolute tragedy.
The kindle edition had many typos and the whole thing seemed very rushed. It's a breezy read, definitely worth it. Read it and go Occupy Wall St.!
AS someone (oftentimes) resolutely committed to the arts & letters, I've grown keen to the meta-meta-meta process of examination and creation of m...moreAS someone (oftentimes) resolutely committed to the arts & letters, I've grown keen to the meta-meta-meta process of examination and creation of method upon recognition of the different levels of existence within which my experience takes place...what I call "a living" and what artists of all sorts will have crafted to sort out through their very being. Some artists will not content themselves with anything less than the forefront of this ebullient tracing of the spirit upon the landscape of the world; such is the case of Mr. Gospodinov.
Plus he was going through a divorce.
Alas, Gospodinov, author, protagonist and critic of his work, set out to write a truthful emanation of his being, given the times (his and the literary world's).
Perhaps that's not the best way to phrase it, I realize, as what artistic effort does not contain the imprint of its creator? What Gospodinov does is concoct a sort of pure drug, a dynamic of art as identity mostly unadulterated by the constraints of a story to tell. Startling and unbeautiful, his pages are roughly intimate, haphazardly purposeful despite the chaos inherent in the freestyle stream-of-consciousness that move the novel along.
Al ver este libro no pude dejar de comprarlo. Me he propuesto releer el quijote desde hace ya algún tiempo y lo haré, más yo me confieso un ignorante...moreAl ver este libro no pude dejar de comprarlo. Me he propuesto releer el quijote desde hace ya algún tiempo y lo haré, más yo me confieso un ignorante absoluto en cuanto a la obra de Cervantes. Algo de esto quise remediar al hacer esta lectura.
Recuerdo mi fascinación, a pesar de mi escuálida educación literaria, al darme cuenta que leía a un gigante cuando en el colegio se nos requirió que leamos una versión abreviada del Quijote. Recuerdo el asombro al absorber su meta-narrativa, nunca habiéndome imaginado que este tipo de escritura hubiera sido posible en aquellos tiempos. Lo que Cervantes parió para el mundo solo se puede comparar con aquello de Shakespeare u Homero, es decir, fue una explosión creativa como de las que se da en el comienzo de los tiempos, y creo que todavía vivímos en la ola expansiva de este gigante.
Entonces, que podría decir de estos textos provenientes de la mano del autor del Quijote? Esencialmente, son un destello de una de las mentes más vastas que haya caminado esta tierra. Una novia que engaña a su novio, como lo haría cualquier enamoramiento con una filosofía, y dos perros que son la dialéctica que enlaza los tiempos y la consciencia. Se habla de una serie de picardías que me sabe a metal y arena, a lo que nunca cambia y lo que siempre al mundo forjaría.
En fin, leer a Cervantes es disfrutar de la humanidad, de lo humanista y de lo humano. Sus letras pertenecen al canon de la civilización y nunca más podrá faltar en la que sea mi educación.(less)
I love the fact that a book like this exists, one written by a renaissance man of sorts. I've often read reports of eclectic journeys from journalists...moreI love the fact that a book like this exists, one written by a renaissance man of sorts. I've often read reports of eclectic journeys from journalists and highly specialized treatises from academics: this book is both and neither and more.
The very erudite Raymond Tallis might have well written this book by merely staring at the mirror (and having cultivated himself throughout the preceding 50 or 60 years before this occurred). By academic standards, this book is not a scientific reference, nor does the journey depicted in it travel beyond the musings of one man.
But what a pleasure to read this man's journey! What a remarkable achievement in scholarship is to be found in the pages of this book! It's a series of digressions, musings and explorations worded in a way that rings truer than what one may derive from a biology textbook if looking to understand the head, for they are inevitably personal, inevitably private, which brings them to life. To a great degree, this is the elegant rephrasing of a man's conversation with his own consciousness; it is philosophy, in other words, or a wander through its prime inquiry by a man long a philosophical wanderer.
This is a book highly recommended to have a conversation with, to learn about having a voice, having a head, today, in a world of de-personalization and ultra-specialization.(less)
I was very much transported by this book. I didn't see the movie and I didn't know I was about to read an incredible piece of journalism (as opposed t...moreI was very much transported by this book. I didn't see the movie and I didn't know I was about to read an incredible piece of journalism (as opposed to fiction) before I cracked this paperback open. As far as journalism goes, this account is crafted with heart and soul and a mesmerizing dramatic flair. It is a story about spirit, and in tracing Chris McCandless journey, John Krakauer sets himself to ponder the ineffable in the wild, within and without a wanderer on this earth.(less)
I've been meaning to thoroughly destroy economics for some time now and after finishing this book, I'm saying to myself "Heck, maybe I will if only fo...moreI've been meaning to thoroughly destroy economics for some time now and after finishing this book, I'm saying to myself "Heck, maybe I will if only for its necessary rebirth."
I studied econ back in college and the more I learned, the more painfully I experienced the disparity between reality and the "science" most powerfully endowed to observe and prescribe the measures for our understanding of human and societal interaction. Let me clear up the "": economics became over a hundred years a powerful form of mathematical masturbation in the hope of becoming a science.
Let's put it this way: What the fuck was that in 2008?
It is too bad this book was written before the 2008 meltdown, as there are various fine ideological points espoused within which would stand reexamination given the newest of crises, but the value of the fundamental aspects of this book remains unchanged.
In short, this books describes the understanding and the undertaking of economics as an enterprise in complex dynamic systems, and what a breath of air it is to know of anyone in economics looking beyond the equilibrium paradigm! It's already well past the time when neoclassical economics gave its fruits and soured, yet, unlike all other fields which deem themselves sciences, economics has managed to stagnate incredibly in a web of power and sink in a swamp of scientific backwaters.
I hope the studies described in this book bear more and more fruit and are granted the recognition they deserve; I hope these economics dethrone the orthodoxy in the search for truth, as we strive for in any scientific pursuit.
I like to think Joseph Schumpeter would be proud of academic destruction of this magnitude.(less)
Remembering myself at my absolute worst, at my aggrandizing-most, I cringed as I read of Ignatius J. Reilly's meandering existence: I am an intellectu...moreRemembering myself at my absolute worst, at my aggrandizing-most, I cringed as I read of Ignatius J. Reilly's meandering existence: I am an intellectual, I know better than most, I am not recognized for my brilliance, mine are Attic virtues and mine are the eyes that see the world.
I'm thankful to get over myself most of the time, if only because I can see myself making a monster out of me if not.
Ignatius is monster and hero as Fortuna spins her wheel, as he stumbles along New Orleans intertwining the lives of those he encounters in a genuinely funny and original story of the absurd. Although essentially American in many of its aspects, this novel is the unfolding of a unique American mind, a classic by way of the errant adventures of an overweight egotist in a world all-together too different from the medieval fantasy in his mind.
As I was reading the first chapter, I kept thinking I was embarking on something written by a geek giggling at the word "sex"; I don't think I was ent...moreAs I was reading the first chapter, I kept thinking I was embarking on something written by a geek giggling at the word "sex"; I don't think I was entirely wrong, but if there was any giggling from the author at the mention of sex, it was for truly fascinating reasons.
I disliked the first chapter: anything titled "Human Nature" in this day and age seems preposterous. I kept on reading, nevertheless, hoping I'd find salvageable bits from this.
I was absolutely enraptured by chapter three, at which point Ridley was on his way in the dissection of one of the most fascinating concepts I've ever encountered. The first chapter was an overture, I'll stick to saying not particularly well written, but should just be understood as such; the opera begins in chapter two.
Mental experiment: Say you have four people, two of them a couple, male and female, who reproduce sexually, and the other two asexually reproducing females (it's called parthenogenesis, bear with me). They reproduce, what do you have? The couple has one offspring, the asexuals have one each for a total of two offspring. Asexual reproduction seems to be twice as efficient as sexual reproduction, so, why sex?
Because it's fun, some might say, but this book, which kicks off with the sex enigma, provides far more informative analysis of the matter, which has been a mainstay in evolutionary biology. Turns out parasites have a lot to do with this evolutionary device...
Remember the Red Queen from Lewis Carroll's wonderland? She runs around but never gets anywhere because the world moves along with her. Well, that's where the title of the book and the name of a fascinating concept come from. A host and a parasite are entangled in a Red Queen situation, where the faster evolving parasite succeeds as he breaks the host's defenses and the host succeeds when he prevents the parasite from doing so, thus running but never getting anywhere because of the changing situation. This may be referred to as an arms race as well in military imagery, but I feel the absurdity of Carroll's character makes Red Queen preferable.
This Red Queen concept, and I'm sure wikipedia will do a much better job of explaining it than me, holds sway in many of evolution's questions and beyond. Ridley is witty and entertaining in his exposition, creating a truly eye-opening experience in this book for anyone with an interest in the ideas that shape our understanding of the world around us and ourselves. The book explores evolution via sexual selection, never missing illustrative examples along the way, and does a fair job at presenting the different views that have historically shaped how science understands sex and its consequences.
Ridley used to be science editor at The Economist, which leads me to believe adds to the conciseness and clarity in his writing. Throughout the final chapters of the book, he delves into human nature, having gained much credibility from the writing that preceded them. His treatment of such a debated subject is incredibly illustrative of the many forces usually ignored by the disciplines that usually deal with such a subject, and provides us with an extensive look at how evolution and the Red Queen can inform.
I think I'll be coming back to this book many times from now on in my thought and in my understanding of everything around me.(less)
There are some very important concepts within the plastic pages of this book. The authors are really on to something here, which they are very well aw...moreThere are some very important concepts within the plastic pages of this book. The authors are really on to something here, which they are very well aware of, which makes this an occasionally annoying read, which I wanted to ignore, which was made harder because of the self-conscious writing, which aimed to downplay the grandeur of their great idea, and so on...
Nonetheless, despite the effeminacy, what is espoused in this text is thought provoking and a valuable contribution to the solutions to this day and age's primordial problematic. The main call from this book is for design to emulate the cyclic patterns occurring in nature, doing away with linear concepts of consumption and waste, in general. It is a productive philosophy the authors have engaged in their professional life, from which they draw most of their examples (one of the authors is an architect and the other a chemist). Surrounding the main concept of a shift in the design paradigm, which becomes repetitive, are many vague concepts and celebrations of the authors' insights, making for a lesser read in terms of style.
It's worth a read because of how pressing the issues this book addresses should be to us all; it does lack balls and specificity, less repetition and more applications, in my opinion.
In any case, it's a great addition to the library of "change".(less)
It's odd to look at myself at this very moment, as I write these words on my computer, having just finished "A Long Way Go...moreI'm quite lucky to be alive.
It's odd to look at myself at this very moment, as I write these words on my computer, having just finished "A Long Way Gone" by Ishmael Beah...I find myself at a complete loss of words as I reflect on my life and the author's; after all, I'd like to believe that Beah and I belong to the same humanity, but the concept I held of humanity is quite difficult to reconcile with what I now know after reading this profoundly compelling account of a boy soldier in Sierra Leone.
It's so much easier to ignore what may or may not go on in Sierra Leone, or in the countless war-torn regions of the world. What is written in the pages of this book was written in blood beforehand, almost literally. Beah's first hand account of a young life displaced, ravaged and defined by the brutality of war is meticulously well written. The narrative flow gripped me and transported me quite elegantly through the horror that dilapidated the fabric of a people; it was a story I couldn't put down, despite the despair and utter disbelief that this is our current human condition.
Read this, it is a record of our times. It is a historical document of what we routinely keep away from sight and inevitably accept by means of omission as our humanity. Read this, if for no other reason than to add poignancy to the concept of life itself.
Knives, knives, knives...I had forgotten how important they were. In fact, I've faced life until now without one (whether it has been a life at all mi...moreKnives, knives, knives...I had forgotten how important they were. In fact, I've faced life until now without one (whether it has been a life at all might be the most poignant question).
Borges is a master of realism. The clarity of his prose strikes deeper within me than most of what I have read recently; I happily lose myself in his short stories, expectant of the next word I'll read and, despite the themes common across the entire collection (knives) and the linearity of his accounts, he manages to end each with a breathtaking bang!
I can honestly state that "El Evangelio Según Marcos" (read the trans. here) changed my perspective on life: no work has ever sneaked up on me like this one and then (quite physically) transformed my conscious being. What I felt must be what people would like to refer to when they say they were 'blown away' by something; I had to stop, breathe, let my mind travel and enjoy the most sublime encounter with art I've had in years.
I should mention the stories, although they stand by themselves quite well, are all interrelated, and I wouldn't be surprised if upon another reading of this exquisite volume I'd be able to dissect the threads running through them all. They're about Argentina, Argentinianess and Borges's interpretation and construction of the context that surrounded him, but that goes without saying. They're about those moments of immensity when, wide-eyed and tachycardic, one is able to say 'I am', knowing the next moment will determine who one, from then on, will be (somewhere between always and never, blood-letting and eternal).
Read this in spanish if you can (I don't know how these are in english, but is seems to me this prose would lend itself well for translation), the writing is elegant through its educated simplicity. By the time this volume was published it was late in Borges's career. By then, he seems to have mastered his miniaturist style, evoking poetry in his strokes, and was entirely comfortable with his stature as a writer. Borges himself is written in most of the stories, well aware of his being Borges, many times telling something someone might have told Borges and going into the layers of memory, history and identity that this narrative framework allows. It's all quite surreal and magical in its straightforward realism, meaning it's not gritty but somewhat romantic and sparked by fantasy, like the knife fights oft depicted in his stories.
Quite honestly, I can't wait to read pretty much all this man wrote.(less)