An inspiring and a hilarious story of how an entrepreneur unleashed his dreams and turned it to reality. The author's criticisms and observations on t...moreAn inspiring and a hilarious story of how an entrepreneur unleashed his dreams and turned it to reality. The author's criticisms and observations on the plight of Indian society which hardly supports entrepreneurs, or for that matter anyone who choose their own path, with doses of adequate humor is the gross reality told with delectability. I especially enjoyed that chapter named "Mother Swear"(I was rolling on floor laughing, literally). Its a story with characters we see in our daily life, yet with a hero as its central theme. If I do not become as great as Steve Jobs, I wish I end up as enterprising as Varun. Remarkable, entertaining and relatable.
As I read through this book, I was imagining, which followed me as a motif until the end, the figure of Dostoevsky laughing heartily, with his heart f...more
As I read through this book, I was imagining, which followed me as a motif until the end, the figure of Dostoevsky laughing heartily, with his heart filled with infuriation, and his eyes studying me, steadily and gracefully, at the way I got transfixed with his ideas and prose; the way I was shuddering and smattering to pieces, yet remaining hapless; the way he has made me go naked by telling the truth about myself(and everyone of us); and above all, how in spite of all his attacks and concrete blows, I am reeling inside under intense pain, yet finding pleasure in my own despair proving him once again true. If true liberation means not to be ashamed in front of oneself, then it is this book which liberated me.
'Notes from the Underground' is a thorough and a convincing argument against 'Rational egoism'. To be simple, it is against the philosophy of holding reason as the only absolute without taking into question the various other active forces like the fundamental individuality of human soul, complexity of human personality and the power of free will. To be simpler, it's a champion of Individualism, and is against all utopias, totalitarianism, any kind of dogmatism, and the evaluation of human beings on the basis of their intelligence alone(History says that Dostoevsky wrote this book as a response to the revolutionary novel titled 'What is to be done?' which was read by Lenin five times in one summer, and which eventually formed the emotional support of Russian Revolution and every blood shed that followed).
The Underground man is an extremely intelligent one, conscious and has a sense of "beautiful and lofty"(a term borrowed from Edmund Burke and Immanuel Kant)and considers himself a 'developed man'. Because of this exalted sense of his own self he considers the rest of the men around him with contempt, feeling of hatred although at the same time, paradoxically, he is also afraid of them and thinks that people around him are better than him. Throughout his life he remains in the dark cellar, day dreaming, spiteful, shameful, lazy, paranoiac and detached from every other human being around him. He tells us that, in his youth, he tried rather earnestly to live by the ideals he found in European literature and philosophy. He talks to us, or rather write to himself, after 40 years of underground life.
Full of monologues, confessions and ramblings he writes about the effects of the philosophy he chose in his early life. His problems are the problems of every thinking man; every intellectual; every individual who takes pride in his intelligence - his pettiness, his contempt for the people around him, his arrogance, his yearning for a recognition for his intelligence and moral goodness, his weakness, his doubts, ridiculousness, inaction, indecision. Is he a hero? Yes. Is he above ordinary folks? Definitely Yes. He is more self-aware, conscious, has literary merits in his writings and more articulate......Then why did he choose to stay in a corner, spiteful and contemptuous? Was he afraid? Yes. But afraid of what? His spite is a veil; a cover to protect himself; to protect his inner sanctity, purity, jaded innocence - above all his individuality, one of the few things he possess.
An individuality which he has grown around a philosophy(of course, its none other than but that of Kant) which takes reason as the only parameter to choose one's actions, and consequently led to him live a life of inaction. By holding reason alone as his standard he swept himself off to endless reflection for he came up with multiple motives to act and the sheer multiplicity drowned him in self-doubts. Action became impossible to him because he was unable to choose the best course of action. If reason alone be applied to the reality, what remains to us is just absurdity, vagueness and death.
I have never really realized the true meaning of these words of Bertrand Russell until I came to know of our underground man:
"Is not faith in reason alone a dangerous creed? No sensible man, however agnostic, has "faith in reason alone." Reason is concerned with matters of fact, some observed, some inferred. The question whether there is a future life and the question whether there is a God concern matters of fact, and the agnostic will hold that they should be investigated in the same way as the question, "Will there be an eclipse of the moon tomorrow?"
But matters of fact alone are not sufficient to determine action, since they do not tell us what ends we ought to pursue. In the realm of ends, we need something other than reason.....a realm which is not that of reason, though it should be in no degree contrary to it. The realm I mean is that of emotion and feeling and desire."
Man rebels as long as he remains conscious. Even our underground man is a rebel. He rebelled by staying in a corner protecting his individuality although it is already ruined by his philosophy he accepted long back."If you pretend, your whole body rebels", they say. Is that not true of him? Although he pretended himself a hero in front of the innocent whore giving long sermons on love, he later felt ashamed, trembled, agonized for them in his loneliness. And Is that not what we do? To think of ourselves as a hero, just because...just because we read books; not because we have understood life, but we understood books.
"...for we are all divorced from life, we are all cripples, every one of us, more or less. We are so divorced from it that we feel at once a sort of loathing for real life, and so cannot bear to be reminded of it. Why, we have come almost to looking upon real life as an effort, almost as hard work, and we are all privately agreed that it is better in books. And why do we fuss and fume sometimes? Why are we perverse and ask for something else? We don’t know what ourselves. It would be the worse for us if our petulant prayers were answered."
To act; to become a hero, man requires not only intelligence but something more - something more like courage, character, insight, sympathy. Not only to act but also to love. He could have fallen in love for the redeemed harlot but for his reasons; reasons he learnt from books alone. Reason is all enough to call a whore, a whore. But it requires something more to call a whore, a human.
Next time, when we choose our philosophy and ideals, lets remember our underground man. Lets remember that we are all human beings with a mind made of conscious, subconscious and unconscious layers. And that our consciousness is just one-third of our mind and the faculty of reason is just one-third of our consciousness.
Let us always remember these lines of Shakespeare(Hamlet),
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio Than are dreamt of in your philosophy"(less)
This is yet another beautiful work by Voltaire. The story is weaved around the life of a virtuous, able, efficient, courageous man named Zadig. Throug...moreThis is yet another beautiful work by Voltaire. The story is weaved around the life of a virtuous, able, efficient, courageous man named Zadig. Throughout the story, Zadig undergoes both fortunes and misfortunes, blessings and curses, meets with both luck and ill-luck, not for what is worst in him; but rather for what is best in him. Tussled between life's highs and lows, which treats all men alike, he learns and unlearns aplenty which would help him to stay happy always, irrespective of his circumstances.
Although, at the out-sketch the story may appear to be another a fairy tale wherein the good men undergoes trial and disaster to be rewarded with the triumph at the end, the witty quotes of Voltaire(almost in every page)which throws a deeper meaning upon every aspect of life makes the reading thoroughly enjoyable and too worthy.
What a fine balance maintained between the theme, style and the plot!! Voltaire had never compromised one for the other. He just carries us off through the story providing pleasure, solace and peace.
Some of my favourite quotes from the book:
* "The most implacable hatreds often have no more important bases"
* "It is better to risk saving a guilty man than to condemn an innocent one"
* "Always pleasure is no pleasure"
* "The moment when we meet again and the moment when we part apart are the two greatest epochs in life"
* "All is dangerous here below, and all is necessary"
* "There is no evil out of which some good is not born"
* "He has created millions of world, not one of which can resemble another. This immense variety is an attribute of his immense power. There are no two leaves of a tree on earth, or two globes in the infinite fields of the heavens, that are alike; and everything you see on the little atom on which you were born had be, in its appointed place and time, according to the immutable orders of Him who embraces all"
* "There is no chance: all is test, or punishment, or reward, or forseeing"
* "nothing is slower for one who waits, nothing swifter for him who enjoys it"
Above all, this one is the best:
"What is the thing that we receive without giving thanks, enjoy without knowing how, give to others when we don't know where we are, and lose without noticing it?"
And Voltaire answers it as "Life"!
I will come back again to re-read this book whenever I need rest, warmth and hope.
Where the purpose of the book 'The Law' by Mr.Bastiat ends, the necessity of his 'Essays on Political Economy' begins.
Originally published as a pamphl...moreWhere the purpose of the book 'The Law' by Mr.Bastiat ends, the necessity of his 'Essays on Political Economy' begins.
Originally published as a pamphlet, 'The Law' was written to appeal the public at large. It flows with brilliant eloquence, with sentences constructed in active voice, instructing, revealing and lambasting the over-reach of the government in formation of law to use it as a tool of plunder, instead of employing the same to protect the liberty and property of man. He had further explained how the tariffs, subsidies, free public education, taxation etc, provided in the name of poor, is actually being utilized to plunder one group for promoting the interests of the other. However, 'The Law' does not provide any theoretical explanations for Bastiat's pronouncements.
Herein begins the purpose of economical substantiations provided through his essays.
'Essays on Political Economy'of Bastiat(and his other ones), provides the "science of economy which is necessary for the harmony of the free society". The essays "That which is seen and That which is not seen " explicates the detrimental effects of the social policies formulated without considering the effects of "That which is not seen", which is nothing but the 'Opportunity cost' widely applied today by every economist, accountant, business consultant in calculating the return on investment, public or private. What makes Bastiat a genius is not only that he propounds the concept of 'Opportunity cost' in the most accessible manner(for which we are forever indebted to him) but that he also applies the same to every possible governmental policy formulated in the name of the general goodness - be it taxation, public services, credit backed by state, war, and explains the undue consequences of the same which are apt and accurate to this every day.
Personally, I am more impressed by the essays under 'Capital and Interest' where he logically argues on the link between capital and social progress. I wonder how marxism, communism and socialism spread its shadow over this world even after economists like Bastiat proved brilliantly the undeniable role of capital or money for the very progress and harmony of the society.
It should be noted that Bastiat never denies the role of government, as noted by another reviewer in this space. He makes it clear that as long the government spending or policies meets its utility, its role is perfectly justified. But when there is a pilferage, plunder, extravagance or over-reach; when promises exceeds results, he warns of the consequences of higher opportunity cost lost.
As long as the world has the State and citizens; the rulers and the ruled; the government and the governed, Bastiat and his thoughts would stay alive, in rigour.
"THE MORE CORRUPT THE STATE, THE MORE NUMEROUS THE LAWS" - TACITUS
There are certain books which drastically change the way you look at the world. They...more"THE MORE CORRUPT THE STATE, THE MORE NUMEROUS THE LAWS" - TACITUS
There are certain books which drastically change the way you look at the world. They will shook you down, call you a fool at your face, pass a quiver through your spine and give you goose bumps.
This is one such book.
Although written in the 19th century, every word this book utters, holds good even today. It is a strong argument put forth to defend the 'Liberty' of man. The author chides away every attempt to apply the instrument of law to anything other than to promote justice and sharply details out how the law is increasingly "perverted" for the purposes of "legal plunder". He argues that the law, instead of protecting the "personality, liberty and propery" of man, is being framed and organized to promote the interests of few group of individuals or of the state itself by depriving the interests of other group of men, all in the disguise of philanthropy and common good.
What enthralled me more is that every argument, warning, consequence of "legal plunder" is more applicable to my country, India, in its present day. For example: We have the 'National Rural Employment Guarantee Act' which guarantees 100 days of work to every citizen. It is up-roared as a triumph by the media and the ruling party although it contradicts the very logic that more the citizens are dependent on the government for work, more true that the government has failed. We have the 'Right to Education Act' (passed on April 1) but nowhere quality education is provided. The ruling party is vehemently proposing to bring-in "Food Security Act", which could dent our fiscal bills and escalate our debts, to provide food at the lowest cost possible to nearly 65% of the population, when our very system of Public distribution system is itself full of loopholes. The greater the number of laws passed everyday, the bigger is the magnitude of corruption perpetuated by people occupying the higher offices, as it increases the sphere of authority of bureaucrats and parliamentarians.
What are the consequences of such legal plunder? Bastiat answers, "It would efface from everybody’s conscience the distinction between justice and injustice". This is once again true, especially among youngsters, and the number of people engaged in plunder,corruption is increasing day-by-day and the one who stands uncorrupted or holds truth is being constantly rebuked as 'stupid, impotent and unwise' instead of being saluted, honoured and followed.
Another remarkable quality of Bastiat is, unlike Rousseau and his counterparts, he envisions a government which is stable and a society which is progressive, self-correcting and peaceful as against the one which is ever-active to go for revolution to overthrow the administration.
With the extreme clarity of thought and simple language, Bastiat singularly questions everything which we leave unquestioned and take for granted. It certainly gripped me as a fever and made me to 'Think' and 'See'. Its no wonder that it has reached us today, enduring all the test of time.
This is a novella where some of its parts stand out in greatness than the sum total of its parts.
The quotability quotes(I was seriously taking down no...moreThis is a novella where some of its parts stand out in greatness than the sum total of its parts.
The quotability quotes(I was seriously taking down notes of the lines, when I read through the book) were exceedingly thought-provoking and complete, perfect on their own. I fell in love with them instantly.
However, as I read through the novel, I thought the writer has written a book just to present his quotes rather than to present a book where he would have written some quotes. The protagonists were all a supine-lot, cowardly, exceedingly selfish, impulsive and hasty, thorough loggerheads although they talk, think and perceive things like a genius. There in lies the problem with the book. The narrator and the narration does not go hand in hand. The wisdom of the quotes were not reflected in the character(or in the evolution of the character) and the action of the protagonists. The plot is either not there or it lacks seriousness and logic. And above all, the last climax, the revelation of the truth(the surprise, as called by many) was a real gimmick.
Into the whole assemblage or accumulation, what was the mistake of Tony except that one harsh letter, that one line, "If I were you, I’d check things out with Mum – ask her about damage a long way back", that too written down in dire anger and contempt and that too when he was an adolescent? Isn't adolescence is an age where one is not even sure of himself? If the mistakes done by a person has to haunt them until their death, then the concept of atonement, redemption, learning from one's mistakes, evolution of character and rebirth of one's self would be turned folly. Isn't it?
Is Adrian so much a stupid to take up the line told out by Tony at face value without ever giving a thought about the tone, context and words used up in the letter?!! Why should a man check out to know about the 'damage done long way back' by his girl? Which moral scruples say it out that to cross-verify a women's dignity as right? If he doesn't trust her, why not leave her out?!! Is Adrian really a clever one, a man of principles and dignity as the narrator hold out?!! Of all the characters, he was the weakest link and the worst, for he pretended to be a mind of modernity, intelligence and above all courage.
And My dear Veronica, you must be angry and feel contemptuous towards Adrian and your won mother - The Mother - and not towards Tony.
And the equation must be rewritten as, a1 + v + (a2*s)^n = b, where a1 is a very negligible value.
Well, this is how I would like to sum up my review, "I hate the way the English have of not being serious about being serious. I really hate it". (less)
This is just another Dan Brown's thriller with professor Langdon accompanied with a high IQ, attractive and a young lady doctor Sienna(its still intri...moreThis is just another Dan Brown's thriller with professor Langdon accompanied with a high IQ, attractive and a young lady doctor Sienna(its still intriguing how he always get one!!) gushing across places, countries and continents to unravel a puzzle build around Dante's Inferno to save the world in another 48 hrs.
More than the main plot(which every Dan Brown reader is sure to guess it just in the first 100 pages) its the en route dotted with various art, literature and the places(I scooped down about everything in this book thanks to Wiki, along with the story, something which I missed when I was reading Angels and Demons) which actually turns this book delightful and worth-reading.
Otherwise the thrill was not so much gripping(perhaps, because I got older), the repetition of WHO population reports was quite boring(denial!!), the run and run of Langdon for the first 200 pages solving nothing which gives one a faint feeling that the author is filling down pages with no point, and if not for the Dante's mask Langdon could have solved the whole mystery just with internet and Wiki(eg.,Google sunken palace. Case finished).
It would be better if Brown brings us much more thrillers based on art histories than Sci-fi for he is more good at the former than the latter. Worth a read, try accompanying Wiki and am sure one will find not only the book but even its cover filled with mystery and beauty.
P.S: I wish Brown writes a book on India, like on the controversy surrounding Taj Mahal, the connection between atomism and dance of Natraj, kinda fusing Langdon and Fritjof Capra. Come on, Why not?!! (less)