My rating is 3.5 stars. Weighed down by hüzün, the melancholy under which the ancient Istanbul crumbles on itself after the end of the Ottoman empireMy rating is 3.5 stars. Weighed down by hüzün, the melancholy under which the ancient Istanbul crumbles on itself after the end of the Ottoman empire while trying to acquire the alien identity of a western city, this memoire drags on slowly and often boring. There are many interesting episodes about the city history and its more or less prominent people, but they often go out of focus in the wordy narrative, drifting away as the account loses rhythm. In the pages about his childhood, the author remembers how, after learning how to read, he used to read any signboards in the streets of Istanbul, just for the pleasure of giving sounds to the letters that he could now distinguish, without any interest in the words they formed and in their meaning. In the same way, I often have the impression that he writes long pages only for his own pleasure of putting down chains of words that flow away smoothly, without bothering much about making the story catchy and keeping his readers involved. The pages I enjoyed more are the ones in which the author describes his wanderings in the alleys, poor backstreets, and among the ancient ruins of Istanbul where he finds the authentic soul of the city. Here he can also take a distance from the conventional reality that should direct and shape his professional and social future and, while taking in his city, he searches for his own identity. The hüzün that impregnates the city and the writer himself apparently leaving no hopes of regeneration seems to lift at least for a moment only when Pamuk catches glimpses of the Bosphorus, the only part of Istanbul that remains lively and resplendent in its beauty. Also the portrait of his mother that the author depicts throughout the book and especially in one of the last chapters is tender and very well defined. She appears as a strong, practical, and sad woman, all qualities that transpire along with her beauty from her photos scattered in the book. ...more
A striking book. Straightforward, irreverent, intimate and elegant, as wild nature, which never dissimulates, is. Sometimes too wordy like an intricatA striking book. Straightforward, irreverent, intimate and elegant, as wild nature, which never dissimulates, is. Sometimes too wordy like an intricate wild forest, other times profound and wise like the silent and perceptive mind of the ocean, or perspicacious and playful like a bird flight high in the sky. Life is meant to be free and self-willed, a joyful comedy, but too often it is coercively constricted into an oppressive, unnatural tragedy. A denounce of how greed and the thirst for power and control annihilate free natural expressions in the name of false and despicable values. A celebration of free, wild life that with passionate spontaneity keeps renewing and transforming....more
After an unconvincing start, a bit slow and sometimes emphatic, this book becomes very engaging. Wade Davis tells about the diversity of humanity, itsAfter an unconvincing start, a bit slow and sometimes emphatic, this book becomes very engaging. Wade Davis tells about the diversity of humanity, its multiple cultures with their values, traditions and original interpretations of reality all striving to imagine a meaning for life. A variety of visions that seriously risks to disappear, overcome by the western culture, predominant because strong of its technical achievements too often greedily employed for materialistic purposes. Diversity, the ability to implement different strategies and adapt to different environments and situations is the base of evolution, both biological and cultural. The loss of cultural diversity would thus represent not only an impoverishment for our mind and spirit but also a danger for our survival. Touching and fascinating....more
I enjoyed the essay that lends its title to the book, about the hippie movement in San Francisco in the ‘60s. It’s a sequence of sharp images that togI enjoyed the essay that lends its title to the book, about the hippie movement in San Francisco in the ‘60s. It’s a sequence of sharp images that together portrait the need of freedom and of breaking with traditional views of a generation, and its sense of loss when it comes to acting and making the change. What one feels when reading depends largely on the prospective that is chosen by the writer, and in this case Didion mostly interviewed kids, who were ready to embrace an ideal however vague it was to them just as they were ready to run from home.
But also Joan Baez’s school that is described in another chapter and that wants to be innovative, seems to remain on an abstract plan, unable to translate ideas into anything practical.
The essays about home and family sound melancholic, but it’s an emphatic melancholy, when it should just surface silently and almost against will to touch one’s heart. I liked nonetheless reading of Sacramento’s transformation over the years.
The few pages about Pearl Harbor are instead suffused with real, deep sadness. The other essays in the book are then generally interesting but written in a plain, journalistic style that leaves no room to passion or to any quieter motion of the spirit. 3.5 stars....more
A journey to the heart of the world, a hidden land where everything makes sense, and inner and outer world finally coincide. An exploration through foA journey to the heart of the world, a hidden land where everything makes sense, and inner and outer world finally coincide. An exploration through forests and mountains in the depths of the Tsangpo gorge to find the legendary waterfalls that symbolize the force of nature and the impermanence of life. A journey –or a pilgrimage – may reveal a new way of seeing, and its geographical destination is just a mean to disclose a new vision. A very interesting book that takes you through the Tibetan culture and wild nature always keeping your mind and heart engaged in the account, without stirring intense emotions but helping transform your vision....more
Folly moves the world, in good and bad. Since Folly is intrinsic to human nature, this book is very modern in its description of the human society. FoFolly moves the world, in good and bad. Since Folly is intrinsic to human nature, this book is very modern in its description of the human society. Folly is at the base of any power, from politics to religion, but also of the aware -though denied- self-deception, so often chosen because it’s the easier way, better pretend than put up with the reality. But Folly also as the spark of life that makes ideas spring, dreams flourish, happiness unfold, and youth live on. Seriousness and irony intermingle in every phrase, as it has to be since the praise of Folly is an act of Folly. Or… maybe it is not?!...more
Interesting and captivating in style, but not so exciting and intense as the experiences of the opium eater, the book's hero. But while artificial parInteresting and captivating in style, but not so exciting and intense as the experiences of the opium eater, the book's hero. But while artificial paradises -that can easily turn upside down into artificial hells- can allow one to re-live with an exalted sensitivity past experiences and don't reveal in fact anything new, natural paradises are ground of exploration and discovery. So only natural paradises can reveal more beauty beyond the known beauty, and become an experience of growth and real transformation. A complex subject, not enough space, won't say more......more