Incredibly short, but very interesting read. It might not make you rethink your life, but it might make you look at your fellow men in a different lig Incredibly short, but very interesting read. It might not make you rethink your life, but it might make you look at your fellow men in a different light.
It definitely made me feel a little better....more
“Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the myster“Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.”
It’s not a book about tea, in the sense that it’s not about how to drink your tea, what sorts you can get and what fancy properties they have and should you put milk in it or not. However, it does explain why this golden beverage might hold such sway over us, even today:
“There is a subtle charm in the taste of tea which makes it irresistible and capable of idealisation. Western humourists were not slow to mingle the fragrance of their thought with its aroma. It has not the arrogance of wine, the self- consciousness of coffee, nor the simpering innocence of cocoa.”
Having been written in 1906 you’d think it’d be a bit dated, but it could just as well have been written today. What Okakura has to say about art, philosophy, nature, and the gap between Eastern and Western civilizations, and how to bridge it, is as relevant and as spot on today as it was a hundred years ago. It’s a bit scary really, but goes to show, perhaps, how delicate a thing it is to understand a different culture, and how delicate and slow you have to go in order not to ruin it. He simply does it all by talking about tea, and how it can help you understand all these things.
A few teasers on some of the things he has to say about art;
“We must remember, however, that art is of value only to the extent that it speaks to us. It might be a universal language if we ourselves were universal in our sympathies. Our finite nature, the power of tradition and conventionality, as well as our hereditary instincts, restrict the scope of our capacity for artistic enjoyment. Our very individuality establishes in one sense a limit to our understanding; and our aesthetic personality seeks its own affinities in the creations of the past. It is true that with cultivation our sense of art appreciation broadens, and we become able to enjoy many hitherto unrecognised expressions of beauty. But, after all, we see only our own image in the universe,—our particular idiosyncracies dictate the mode of our perceptions. The tea- masters collected only objects which fell strictly within the measure of their individual appreciation.”
human nature, our culture and nature itself;
“Scratch the sheepskin and the wolf within us will soon show his teeth. It has been said that a man at ten is an animal, at twenty a lunatic, at thirty a failure, at forty a fraud, and at fifty a criminal. Perhaps he becomes a criminal because he has never ceased to be an animal. Nothing is real to us but hunger, nothing sacred except our own desires. Shrine after shrine has crumbled before our eyes; but one altar is forever preserved, that whereon we burn incense to the supreme idol,—ourselves. Our god is great, and money is his Prophet! We devastate nature in order to make sacrifice to him. We boast that we have conquered Matter and forget that it is Matter that has enslaved us. What atrocities do we not perpetrate in the name of culture and refinement!”
“The usefulness of a water pitcher dwelt in the emptiness where water might be put, not in the form of the pitcher or the material of which it was made. Vacuum is all potent because all containing. In vacuum alone motion becomes possible. One who could make of himself a vacuum into which others might freely enter would become master of all situations. The whole can always dominate the part.”
and so on, and so on. It is on the whole a very enlightening read on many subjects, all of them centered around tea and its many abilities.
“The Philosophy of Tea is not mere aestheticism in the ordinary acceptance of the term, for it expresses conjointly with ethics and religion our whole point of view about man and nature. It is hygiene, for it enforces cleanliness; it is economics, for it shows comfort in simplicity rather than in the complex and costly; it is moral geometry, inasmuch as it defines our sense of proportion to the universe.”
So if you want to know about the history of tea, the cultural significance it had and still has, and the philosophy that surrounds it and that it’s cultivated through the ages, then this is what you need to read.
Even if you are an avid coffee drinker and would never dare look upon a cup of tea, then you will learn a thing or two from this....more
A brief, but rather interesting look into why monsters and monster-movies remain so popular. It dwells particularly on vampires, zombies and werewolveA brief, but rather interesting look into why monsters and monster-movies remain so popular. It dwells particularly on vampires, zombies and werewolves. It's not as objective as I'd have liked - buying into the general opinion that Twilight is very much not good -, but it's a simple and thorough read, and once it's done you'll understand the subject a little better.
It didn't tell me a whole lot I didn't already know, but I'm not new to the subject. If it lacks anything, it's more information on other types of monsters, and is ultimately perhaps more a study in fear, than in monsters, but be that as it may. It's still interesting.
This is a very neat little book about lying. It's not out to flesh out the subject in all its glory, but instead to give you enough information and inThis is a very neat little book about lying. It's not out to flesh out the subject in all its glory, but instead to give you enough information and insight that you can make an informed decision on the subject and feel you know what it's about (and that's in 58 pages, *slow clap*).
It can also work as a bit of an eye opener. We're quite used to lying in our every day life - so much so it becomes habit, we don't even think about it. The great thing about Sam Harris is that he doesn't just tell you to stop it, he tries to tell you how to stop. It's the equivalent of a tiny angel on your should going "you can do it, come on". I guess that makes it a self-help book in a way.
But it's the good kind of self-help book, because not lying will actually improve your life. Truth rocks, guys. So go throw it at people (gently). ...more
I wasn't planning on reviewing this book. Actually I intended to read it and keep it from you all, because, come on, who reads introductions? 20-somet
I wasn't planning on reviewing this book. Actually I intended to read it and keep it from you all, because, come on, who reads introductions? 20-something students who have a presentation in history of philosophy in 3 days, that's who.
Anyway, I wasn't gonna review it, but then suddenly it was funny.
Yes, it's a very good introduction to Nietzsche, and an excellent guide on how to read his various books. It's not for the masses though, well, maybe the educated masses (do they exist?), it will expand both your mind and your vocabulary - at least it did mine (I'm probably not educated enough).
That's not why I'm reviewing it or encouraging you to read it, even if you are a Nietzsche master. I'm doing this because the guy who wrote it? He's awesome.
I imagine him sitting in a room with other Nietzsche scholars/fans/commentators/haters. Everyone's in the middle of a heady, passionate discussion - except Mr. Michael Tanner. Tanner is in the corner side-eyeing everyone with a look of bafflement and faint amusement, muttering "the fuck are you on about, you bastards?".
Why? Because in this book he doesn't just offer up insight into and understanding of Nietzsche's philosophy and works, but also of the commentators and critics that have worked with his philosophy over the years. And he doesn't mind stating his, sometimes less than favourable but witty, opinion of them. He also doesn't mind taking a bit of a swap at the human race.
Here, let me give you my favourites:
About his unpublished writing having survived and been published; "It would not be unfortunate if there were a universally accepted methodological principle that what he did not publish should under all circumstances be clearly demarcated from what he did, but almost no one observes that elementary rule."
- In other words; GREAT JOB COMMENTATING, ASSHOLES.
"but no larger than the ones awarded may times over to such worthless work as Kant's Critique of Practical Reason, surely the most shattering disappointment in the history of philosophy, coming after the Critique of Pure Reason, one of its greatest glories."
- Well, you can't succeed EVERY time.
This is a comment on the hypothesis of "Eternal Recurrence", "My initial reaction was to say that I would not give a damn, thus surprisingly qualifying me for übermensch status"
- It is taken for granted you know what is meant by "Eternal Recurrence" in the book, but I didn't so I looked it up and had the exact same reaction - übermensch here I come.
And a strikingly accurate portrayal of the human race, "He wants us to be the kind of people who only need hints because we are so fine-tuned, but he knows that we will be deaf to anything less than apocalyptic thunder - and then accuse him of making too much noise."
I like you, Michael Tanner. This book was great, and I will read it again. Both because it is insightful, but also because it is amusing as hell. ...more
A very interesting book/essay. It definitely gives food for thought. It's very short, but still manages to answer its own questions in a satisfactoryA very interesting book/essay. It definitely gives food for thought. It's very short, but still manages to answer its own questions in a satisfactory manner. It's a bit difficult to understand at times, and it sort of presumes a knowledge of a few philosophers/psychologists - a knowledge that probably heightens the reading experience, but alas, it is also knowledge I don't yet (and might never) posses.
Still, it is interesting and well written. Sometimes this translation comes up a bit short or gets a bit messy, but it's intelligible, and all in all a good piece of work. ...more
Okay, so... Wow. I got this book on a booksale, I read the back of it and thought that I, as a philosophy student, couldn't, mustn't, pass it up. AndOkay, so... Wow. I got this book on a booksale, I read the back of it and thought that I, as a philosophy student, couldn't, mustn't, pass it up. And for a philosophy student, or for anyone with even the slightest interest in philosophy this book is gold.
It's basically one long conversation (or examination), exactly like most of Plato's works, and it works extremely well. It's kind of a case of "What if we took ancient philosophy and put it in a dystopian (utopian?) future?". I love it.
It's also a fantastic look into the debate about artificial intelligence and whether robots should be considered 'human' or of equal worth to humans. It raises a lot of well-known and much pondered questions, and manages to answer them in a very satisfactory manner. You might not agree with the arguments, but this book will still make you consider them, and that's a success in itself. It's also worth noting that nothing is ever concluded straight out in the book. The rather shocking ending leaves room for much ambivalence, and whether it speaks in favour of or against the society we're presented to is up to the reader to decide. I'll need a little more time to think about it.
If you're not into philosophy some of this book might strike you as odd, and there are things you'll most likely not notice or think about, but it's told in an easy, interesting and dynamic fashion, that keeps you guessing and marvelling. If you're even the least bit interested in the debate surrounding A.I. or questions such as "what makes a human human?" then you should pick up this book, and you should do it now.
It shattered many of my previous opinions about the human-robot debate. I used to think I was pretty settled on the matter, but now I realise what a fool I've been. And ah, yes, that's what a good book must do. Definitely recommendable....more