Humbert Humber is one twisted character. He is a master at teasing, manipulating, hiding and maneuvering to get his way. His obsession with young girlHumbert Humber is one twisted character. He is a master at teasing, manipulating, hiding and maneuvering to get his way. His obsession with young girls is both erotically maniacal and perverse. Nymphets, he calls them.
This is not just a piece of fiction, it is also a piece of ethnographic and anthropological values. It sets the mood andA Gone Bookserk Perspective
This is not just a piece of fiction, it is also a piece of ethnographic and anthropological values. It sets the mood and spirit of Africa so chillingly, almost to the point of frequent goosepumps as you read it. I have never been to Africa, but I felt as though I traveled to the Congo by reading this book. It is so alive, so real, and so humane. It brings into focus some topics the Western world more or less omits to discuss or even entertain. The most prominent, of course, being the theme of the American presence in Africa whether through the egocentric idealism of spreading Christianity, or whether it is through the domination of cobalt and diamond mines. But The Poisonwood Bible is much more than a political premise. It is the story of the lives of the individuals who come face to face with a foreign culture and community, how they fare in the face of something unlike their own, and best of all how their lives change so unexpectedly in the midst of a foreign environment. ...more
Fiercely simple, yet depthful. A book that you will zoom through with ease and warmth, but also suspense and gut-wrenching feeling of something horribFiercely simple, yet depthful. A book that you will zoom through with ease and warmth, but also suspense and gut-wrenching feeling of something horrible about to turn up by the time you end the book. A blurb by the New York Times says, "Elegantly alluring... A novel that begins with a kiss and absolutely deserves one." It is absolutely and fully representative of the book.
The book begins with three powerful components of music in the lives of people. The first perspective takes a look at the soprano, and her admirers; what she means to them. All those who hear the soprano become unequivocally mesmerized, possibly even obsessed, "taken by the beauty of her voice that they want to cover her mouth with their mouth, drink in." Then there is the introduction of music, as a passion, to people in general. "Maybe music could be transferred, devoured, owned." Lastly, and most important to the story-line, is the existential joyfulness someone can attain through the ultimate connection to true life. For some, that connection to true life is opera music. The businessman in the novel, find that his escape to the soprano's voice only brings him close to the real elements of what life is all about. This next quote exemplifies it eloquently. Read MORE Here...more
"Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later heA Gone Bookserk Perspective
"Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of iniquity and corruption."
Mickael Blomkvist started his career and his launch as a journalist by catching the famous Bear Gang of several big roberries. He runs Millenium paper with a femal partner, Erika Berger. He is soon taken to court for publishing material he has no substantial evindence for. His career is in shambles, as well as his newpaper in financial ruins.
Dragan Armansky, the head of Milton Security services, providing security consultations, counter-measures and personal protection, has hired Lisbeth Salander to do certain research projects for him. Her research is scientifically precise with footnotes, quotations, and source references. She is immensely meticulous paying attention to details that others most likely would over-look, but details that would turn out to be crucial to the tone and value of the investigation. She has a photographic memory photographic memory, as well as something along the lines of Asperger's syndrome, "a talent for seeing patterns and understanding abstract reasoning where other people perceive only white noise."
She is a peculiar anomaly in the eyes of almost everyone she sees, knows or meets, except for Mickael Blomkvist. "All attempts by a teacher or any authority figure to initiate a conversation with the girl about her feelings, emotional life, or the state of her health were met, to their great frustration, with a sullen silence and a great deal of intense staring at the floor, ceiling, and walls." She has a history of drinking, has been arrested several times and institutionalized into a psychiatric ward only to give her the following profile: "she must suffer from some kind of emotional disturbance, whose nature was of the sort that could not be left untreated." Her personal record reads heavy in negative representations: "grave risk of alcohol and drug abuse, and that she lacked self-awareness. By then her casebook was filled with terms such as introverted, socially inhibited, lacking in empathy, egofixated, psychopathic and asocial behaviour, difficulty in cooperating, and incapable of assimilating learning"
As a child, she has been bullied and has needed to take matters into her own hands. "They left her on the ground behind the gym. She stayed home for two days. On the morning of the third day she waited for her tormentor with a baseball bat, and she wacked him over the ear with it. For that prank she was sent to see the head teacher, who decided to report her to the police for assault, which resulted in a special welfare investigation." What happened to the boys that beat her up, almost pulverized her? Nothing. They were not even taken in for a police record. From an early age, she had decided for herself that she needed to take matters into her own hands and let her own fate be in her own hands. Just as well she wasn't going to consider herself a victim.
Her new guardian is an disgusting bastard, to say the least. "What she had gone through was very diffirent from the first rape in his office; it was no longer a matter of coercion and degradations. This was systematic brutality." She takes matters into her own hand as she had learned, having been taught by life until now. Lisbeth takes her control back, and blackmails Bjurman in the most ultimate fashion. She doesn't miss ONE single thing in the big picture; she covers all bases and makes sure all ends are tied in place.
After setting Bjurman straight, she takes the offer to join in on the investigation of Harriet Vanger's disappearance. While workin with Mickael Blomkvist, "she had never had an outsider to have this sort of conversation with, and she enjoyed the fact that he seemed impressed by her talents." Their relationship is one of the most endearing qualities of the book. It brings a warmth and an awe at the complementarity of the two characters when they find each other. Coming from such different backgrounds and storylines, it is fascinating how they link to one another with such ease and mutual understanding. They enter the Harriet Vanger project, together somewhere mid-way through the book. Who has murdered Harriet Vanger?
The character and story surrounding Harriet Vangers is absolutely fascinating. She is "introverted - like her brother - and as a teenager she became wrapped up in religion, unlike anyone else in the family. But she had a clear talen and she was tremendously intelligent." She comes from a antisemitic family, Nazi movement participants and members who support sterilisation of undesireable elements in population. Her father, Gottfried, was cowed and bullied when he was younger, an ousider, hiden away in his cabin and becoming a virtual alcoholic. Isabella, her mother, partied, and left the children constantly accepting no reponsibility for her life as a mother. Martin, her brother, grew up being abused by his father, latter in life accepting his 'duty' to touch and 'please' his father. Henrik Vanger, the man who hires Lisbeth and Mickael to solve the mistery of her death, has taken her on as his granddaughter earlier in life and ever since her disappearance he has been obsessed with finding out what has happened to her.
There are certain aspects of Harriet's character that are worth mentioning. A year before her disappearance, she undergoes certain psychological and behavioral changes that people notice are taking effect, and yet do nothing to reach her. "The girl who, two years earlier, was a lively teenager had begun to distance herself from everyone around her. In school she still spent time with her friends, but now she behaved in an 'impersonal' manner, as one of her friends described it." "In her last year she seemed to have become yet more religious." Later in the story she gives an explanation for why these things had occurred. "I was sixteen. I was scared. I was ashamed. I was desperate. I was all alone."
This thriller is about a serial rapist and murdere. What is the psychology behind that? In this book we have a peak at that. The murdere is being asked why he kills? His answer is,"it's a choice that I made. I could discuss the more and intellectual aspects of what I do; we could talk all night, but it wouldn't change anything. Try to look at it this way: a human being is a shell made of skin keeping the cells, blood, and chemical components in place. Very few end up in the history book." This murderer could just "kill women and clothe his actions in some sort of pseudo-religious clap-trap."
This book is focuses on several themes. Taking matters into your own hands and not being at the mercy of the government services to help you or protect you, chances are they probably wont in time when you really need them. We should never be too busy to listen to our loved ones when they reach out for us, and we need to reach out to those we think are slipping from us. Understand fringe elements in your society, and believe they could be hinding where you least expect it. Beware that you may fall prey to those who seemlingly allure you with 'goodies.' In Harriet's case it was "in the midst of this well-ordered, idyllic spot...The killing had been done so discreetly and was so well planned that no one was even aware that a serial killer was at work. How was that possible?"
Lastly, here are some statistics: (given in the book)
18% of the women in Sweden have at one time been threatened by a man
13% of the women in Sweden have been subjected to aggravated sexual assault outside of a sexual relationship
46% of the women in Sweden have been subjected to violence by a man
92% of the women in Sweden who have been subjected to sexual assault have not reported the most recent violent incident to the police
**spoiler alert** For such a short novel, 'Wuthering Heights' carries a lot of themes to think about: love, the human spirit, betrayal, jealousy, reve**spoiler alert** For such a short novel, 'Wuthering Heights' carries a lot of themes to think about: love, the human spirit, betrayal, jealousy, revenge, racism, and maybe even romance, if you can call it that- tragic obsessions of passion is probably more appropriate. The novel begins in mystery, continues in speculation, moves towards some clarity, but finalizes in a state of inquiry about what has just transpired in the novel alongside a sense of tragic sadness. For more click here...more
So I have decided to read another book by Khaled Hosseini, the same author who wrote the book I previously read, The KitA Gone Bookserk Perspective
So I have decided to read another book by Khaled Hosseini, the same author who wrote the book I previously read, The Kite Runner. I thought it would be a good opportunity to read him in consecutive turns. I did like The Kite Runner very much and I knew I was in for another good story, most likely. I just didn't expect the stories to be so alike in the story plot, again about Afghanistan. But I guess the author has taken it upon himself to write about Afghanistan and so this book, which was written two years after The Kite Runner. While it is similar, it does have a different outlook or perspective on the life there.
Whereas The Kite Runner is a story about the childhood of little boys and how it affects their life into adulthood; this story is about the childhood of little girls and how their lives change in the face of it in a place like Afghanistan. The struggles of little girls versus the struggles of little boys is clearly worlds apart in Afghanistan, in my opinion. You have to read both stories to know what I'm really talking about. And trust me, it would enrich you to read them both. They are tragically empowering stories.
If there is one big theme to talk about in the book, it's the theme of endurance. From the beginning of the book, we learn the lesson that a woman has to come to terms with the fact that she will endure all her life and everything life has to offer her. It is truly a man's world in both of these book. But in this story in particular, women endure everything from polygamy, to sexual exploitation by their husband, to births without anesthesia, to unexpected deaths of loved ones, to the loss of their beloved ones, to hunger, to orphanages, to being married at the age of fifteen,, to murder and imprisonment.... ecetera...
The whole book is just one enduring moment after another for every one of the female characters. There is only one admirable male character and that is Tariq, and I just loved seeing his story unfold to the end of the book. Such a man of character and courage. Truly happy to have traveled through the book and been with him at the end. The whole way through the story I kept wondering if it was going to end up in a happy ending... and I guess I'll leave it up to you to find out. What's fun if there's isn't some mystery? ...more
Herein concludes my two Jules Verne novels for the Book that made me Love Reading Challenge: the first was last month's TA Gone Bookserk Perspective
Herein concludes my two Jules Verne novels for the Book that made me Love Reading Challenge: the first was last month's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and this month's is Around the World in 80 Days.
Briefly, I want to say that I was slightly disappointed with re-reading Twenty Leagues Under the Sea. I felt as if the book was nothing like I had remembered it, whereas Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne is much more representative of my childhood memory. It's almost just like I remembered it, and more.
When I was younger I remember this book had an impact on me for the mere reason of its premise. Around the world in eighty days, I mean 'WOW!' I think I was a big dreamer when I was younger. I would have liked to travel everywhere. After all, my brother had traveled, my father had traveled, my sister had taken excursions with her classmates, so I figured I would some day travel, too. I do remember a vague memory of a ski-resort trip, but I think my dreams were more drawn out to be like the journey in Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days. London. Bombay. Hong Kong. Yokohama. San Francisco and New York.
I really believe there are no coincidences in life, just signs that you're on the right path. Although I didn't know it at the time, I think these two books (especially ARin80D's) by Jules Verne were a sign that I would end up doing one of my undergraduate degrees in Anthropology (the study of human culture). I believe, even further, it was a minutiae of my life that led me to where I am today. I am fascinated with learning about foreign places, cultures, and human relations in general. So it's no wonder I think that I was drawn towards this book from an early age.
At that age, though, how much did I really know of this book, and its impact on me? I have a very vivid recollection of the journey to different countries that Phileas Fogg embarks on. My father was the influential factor in me knowing this book and reading it. In fact, he read part of it to me at some point in time. He used to tell me that one day we would live in America, and I would go to school there. That's actually what happened, but I remember it so clearly because of the passion attached to this book, from both my father and I.
Now, that I have re-read this book again after more than a decade, I have to say it is just as I remember it. The tone, the setting, and the ambition of attaining something everyone else believes an impossibility (something my father said about how others thought it was impossible we would ever reach America) are the same elements I remember as a child. But to me now, this book is so much more, above and beyond what I remember as a child. I have a more depth-ful perspective of it. It is one of my favorite books of all time. I will be reading this again in my lifetime, definitely.
Some things I really want to mention about the book, that I feel need to be recorded. I want to say a few things about Philea Fogg's character. He is introduced in the following manner:
"exactitude personified... He was exact the he was never in hurry, was always ready, and was economical alike of his steps and his motions. He never took one step too many, and always went to his destination by the shortest cut; he made no superfluous gestures, and was never seen to be moved or agitated. He was the most deliberate person in the world, yet always reached his destination at the exact moment.
He lived alone, and so to speak, outside of every social relation; and as he knew that in this world account must be taken of friction, and that friction retards, he never rubbed against anybody."
To see his character unfold is one of the most wonderful experiences of this books, aside from his adventures and obstacles he is faced with as he travels. Much of his character stays true to these two statements, but there is one twist at the end that makes the ending all worth-while. Which brings me to my second point.
Another wonderful element to this book, is the splash of romance and love. Phileas Fogg "would not have attained as much from worldly accomplishments, as he does from finding lasting love with charming Aouda." It is through his relation with Aouda that we see the real Philea Fogg much more than words can say, and it makes you wonder as to the nature of the spirit and its tendency to reach out for love as much as it is unaccustomed to, even. When that occurs, if we allow ourselves to the experience, as foreign as it may be to us, and we find the will to embrace it and cherish it, chances are that it will reward us much more than any worldly treasures, adventures, or curiosities.
I'm so happy I decided to re-read this old childhood favorite. I want to say that you must read this. It is an easy, comfortable, pleasant, and entertaining read.
This has been a book long overdue to read. I have been meaning to read it for years, and finally the time is here, and IA Gone Bookserk Perspective
This has been a book long overdue to read. I have been meaning to read it for years, and finally the time is here, and I have read it. Actually, it's been quite a while since I have read a book lately. It's been some tough times lately, but reading hasn't failed me and so here I am again! 'Contact' has been an amazing journey.
This is a very dense and complex book, to say the least. It is DENSE. It's hard-writing as well. It sort of gave me the feeling that I sometimes get after reading 3-4 research scientific articles - a pounding headache from the overload of information at the top of my right temple. Nevertheless, nothing worth knowing or having comes easy, and so is the case with this book. It really covers a whole spectrum of topics - childhood, coming of age through wonderment and questioning, being a female in a male dominated science field, having a passion for the universe, battle between science and religion and whether we are alone or not in the Universe, and if we are not alone who else is out there with us, and topics of religions all over the world and the parallel stories they share between one another (this subject in particular flew over my head most of the time). Then there are the topics of physics and mathematics. Not only are there quite a large number of topics being covered, but all are of multidimentional aspect. They involve cultural notions, individual voices, the human soul, ancestry and the future, the planet and our universe...etc. And on top of everything this is not a short read, it is 448pages!
So what if it's dense, complex, and long? For me, this was one of the most enlightening but most challenging books - intellectually, spiritually, and scientifically. There's not doubt, I will have to revisit this book if I can take away even 25% of the whole message or even a small portion of the debates between science and religion. As a science fiction, it is an acquired taste, and more so because of the topics of universe and religious arguments and history, you have to be a little familiar with the two to get a good chunk of what's going on. Even against the fact that I am quite ignorant of many things, including religious beliefs around the world and even astronomy, this book was very fulfilling because it still maintained a consistent human element throughout the book. And that, THAT, is the key to any great book - a consistent human presence in the voice of the writing. Carl Sagan didn't get the Pulitzer Prize for the Cosmo out of thin air.
This book has changed me a little bit, and a book that can do that is a powerful book. I look up at the sky multiple times every day, and for the first time in my life I really look up at the sky and, one, remember very profoundly that I live on a very special planet, and two, realize that it's very likely that we are not alone. I believe we are not alone, but we have no proof of it, and as a scientist I have to hold a level of skepticism until the proof is confirmed, but as a spiritual person I believe we are not alone! This book has also opened up my eyes to our past and our future, our religious beliefs-where they come from-and where we are and where we are going in terms of religion, and most importantly ask 'WHY' just like the main character in the book did. For a while now, I have felt the urge to look at the interconnectedness of the world, and this book pushed me further to delve into different aspects of our existences and maybe link different things together form religion, to science, to the Universe, and most important to learn as much as I can about our own planet because there is enough on this planet, right in front of our eyes, to teach us all we need to now about ourselves, our ancestors, our future, and possibly our place in the Universe.
It's about that time in the world when 'Contact' is probably more relevant than ever before! Maybe this comment will make more sense in the near future, just mark my words. We are not alone! I say this not just from reading 'Contact,' but from other reputable sources, but since the topic here is about 'Contact' I'll stick to stating that the book did in fact have a part in it too. 'Contact' opens an avenue for discourse at least, and I have always believed that a platform for discussion is the first step toward getting closer to the truth.
This novel is one for every possible generation, and each generation should be dedicated to reading it. Orwell wasn't justA Gone Bookserk Perspective
This novel is one for every possible generation, and each generation should be dedicated to reading it. Orwell wasn't just a writer; he is a genius of his own category whether due to his psychological, philosophical or anthropological genius. "No one can deny the novel's hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions-a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time." I was often thinking, as I was reading this novel, how much it sounds like the world we live in today and then I wondered a little bit about whether that's always been the case. Has it always reflected the 'present,' regardless of which present we're talking about?
I was advised by someone really close to me to read this book BUT to read it in a certain setting because the book carries a tone to it, carries a spirit that has to be fully grabbed, and that can only be done with the right setting, or so I was told. Of course, that didn't really happen. I have my own method and process when it comes to reading. Nevertheless, what I was told is certainly true. There is a 'mood' to the novel. I didn't really quite put my finger on it until I began the forward at the end of the book, and it speaks of exactly what I was thinking about in terms of what the 'mood' is. "George Orwell's 1984 is the expression of a mood, and it is a warning. The mood it expresses is that of near despair about the future of man, and the warning is that unless the course of history changes, men all over the world will lose their most human qualities, will become soulless automatons, and will not even be aware of it."
1984 is levels upon levels of thinking. There is an immense collection of topics you can draw from it and talk about, but for me the most profound aspect of the novel is the "Obliteration of the Self." First of all, the setting of the novel is one in which everyone has a cautionary existence with no privacy or a sense of their own lives. They are constantly watched, spied on, and scrutinized in their every step, every word, and every action. If that doesn't make you angry just a little bit, maybe the thought of people being frightened by their own children might make the hairs on your back rise a little. How about if your memory doesn't have any significance at all? What if all your memories aren't real but manufactured? What about if people just 'vaporize' out of existence? There is no sense of tragedy. "Tragedy belonged to the ancient time, to a time when there were still privacy, love, and friendship, and when the members of a family stood by one another without needing to know the reason." There is no individualism or eccentricity. "It was assumed that when he was not working, eating, or sleeping he would be taking part in some kind of communal recreations; to do anything that suggested a taste for solitude, even to go for a walk by yourself, was always slightly dangerous. There was a word for it in Newspeak: ownlife, it was called, meaning individualism and eccentricity." And something else, something that at first seems to carry no significance, is the simple lack of appreciation for antiquities. "What appealed to him about it was not so much its beauty as the air it seemed to posses of belonging to an age quite different from the present one. The soft, rainwatery glass was not like any glass that he had ever seen." As well, the present, then, no longer has a standard or a reference to compare itself to, only the present mode exists and that's all there is to it.
People are so utterly confused and busy they no longer understand, question, or care. The feel no need to ask intelligent question, and as a matter of fact they even fear it. Why? Because intelligent men are 'vaporized.' Syme is one of those characters in the novel, who just disappears, he is 'vaporized,' with no signs of him ever having existed. No one cares and no one wonders what's happened to him. This is what the main character, Winston, says about him days before he disappears. It's an eerie feeling. "There was something subtly wrong with Syme. There was something that he lacked: discretion, aloofness, a sort of saving stupidity. You could not say that he was unorthodox. He believed in the principles of Ingsoc, he venerated Big Brother, he rejoiced over victories, he hated heretics, not merely with sincerity but with a sort of restless zeal, and up-to-dateness of information, which the ordinary Party member did not approach. Yet a faint air of disreputability always clung to him. He said things that would have been better unsaid, he had read too many books, he frequented the Chestnut Tree Cafe, haunt of painters and musicians." It is an eerie feeling to think that you could just disappear without a trace and without any one to care.
Why is the Obliteration of the Self so crucial? It's a means to an end, and the end is pure Power. The past is controlled, the records and information are controlled, your memories are controlled, your life is controlled, what you think and do is controlled. It all leads to a feeling of anger and helplessness to know that you have no hand in your own life. You fail to be humble and to self-discipline yourself? There are consequences, you will suffer greatly until you feel utter deadly helplessness that can only be relieved by giving in and giving 'them' what 'they' want. 'The act of submission is sanity." "When finally you surrender to us, it must be of your own free will. We do not destroy the heretic because he resists us; so long as he resists us we never destroy him. We convert him, we capture his inner mind, we reshape him. We burn all evil and all illusion out of him; we bring him over to our side, not in appearance, but genuinely, heart and soul. We make him one of ourselves before we kill him. It is intolerable to us that an erroneous thought should exist anywhere in the world, however secret and powerless it may be."
"Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves." It's all step-wise, first by learning, second by understanding, and lastly by acceptance. You have no choice, you're manipulated to believe you have a choice, the choice is to avoid suffering. Does God exist? You wonder as a last resort, because there must be a God - he will help you even when your will won't. And event that, 'they' will manipulate so that it is 'an unsolved riddle in your mind.' Ultimately, there is no hope, there is no help, there is nothing in you. You are hopeless, helpless, and empty. You are suffering. You are in pain and at their mercy. "We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?"
They cut links "between child and parent, between man and man, between man and woman. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer. Children will be taken from their mothers at birth.... The sex instinct will be eradicated. Procreation will be an annual formality like the renewal of a ration card...abolish the orgasm... no loyalty, except loyalty toward the Party....no love, except love of Big Brother....no laughter, except the laugh of triumph ver a defeated enemy...no art, no literature, no science....will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness...will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed.... If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face-forever." 1984 leaves a feeling of despair in your heart and spirit. Why? Maybe because it sounds so much like our world today, but we might still have time to do something about it. Maybe we've had so much more time and we have succumbed to the method and oppression that we've already begun the path to relinquish power to 'them.' Maybe so. The despair is real. The opportunity is real. The path? That's somewhat unclear.
1984 by George Orwell is one of those pieces of literature which will never cease to teach us about the human spirit, about the dictatorship, and those whose sole purpose in life is to gain pure Power. The eyes of every generation must be opened, or at least awakened by 1984.
Just like with many other books I have now read, this was one book I have been wanting to pick up and read many times befA Gone Bookserk Perspective.
Just like with many other books I have now read, this was one book I have been wanting to pick up and read many times before. I remember having started it a few times before, but I never had enough dedication to it to finish it. I'm beginning to see that with every book there is a particular timing, and the time for me to read 'Siddhartha' was now, or I should say a few days ago.
I really believe 'Siddhartha' is one of those literary novels with which you have to feel a sense of personal relationship to it order to really understand and even feel what Hermann Hesse was trying to translate through the words. 'Siddhartha' appealed to me because of the theme of the individual to find his or her inner peace through the Zen tradition. This is what the introduction to the book says about Zen tradition:
'Zen tradition, depicts the stages of the path to enlightenment. The process begins with a man searching for an ox, symbolizing the practitioner trying to get a hand on his awareness. After a long time the man finds the ox's footprints, next he glimpses the animal, finally catches it, tames it, and is able to ride it home. Since the practitioner has now at last become one with his awareness, in the seventh picture the ox disappears; in the eighth the man disappears (ego is gone), and the picture is empty. In the ninth, emptiness disappears-again there are phenomena, appearing brilliant and clear without the projections of ego. In the tenth picture, the man reappears, a nondescript old fellow heading for the market place on foot; he drinks at the sake shop, he bargains, he gossips, and whomever encounters him experiences awakening.'
I think the concept of zen, spiritual enlightening and awakening, has begun to be the center of some people lives just as for me. This book offers an optimistic, yet scrutinized, feel for the hope of liberation. I feel a connection to this book because it is pure artistry with depthful honesty about the human spirit and the individual's search for inner peace and self-realization amongst stormy confusion and doubt.
Siddhartha undergoes a series of transformative experiences and it is this journey through life, in his own fashion, that brings him to know who he truly is and what he truly needs to know for himself. He begins his journey with the acknowledgment that against all the wisdom he has been offered from his father and his teachers, he still finds his 'vessel was not full, his mind was not satisfied, his soul was not at peace, his heart was not content.' And he asks the FIRST, and MOST important question of the journey. 'But what good did it do to know all these things if one did not know the one and only, the most important thing, the only important thing?' He's referring to the inner self, his own self, who is 'Siddhartha?' His first realization, the reason why the question is so important, becomes really explicit when he says the following. 'This is what had to be found-the primordial spring into one's self; one had to become master of that! Anything else was a vain quest, false direction, a misunderstanding.' I really felt the words echo through me when I read this.
So he embarks on this journey, on his own, to experience and discover for himself, his own true self apart from his father's and his teacher's wisdom and knowledge. He enters into the 'other' world with fresh eyes but with a natural presumption of the 'other' world even before experiencing it. 'He saw merchants bargaining, princes going off to the hunt, grief-stricken people mourning their dead, prostitutes offering their bodies, doctors working over the sick, priests determining the day of sowing, lovers making love, mothers nursing their babies - and none of it was worthy of his glance. It was all a lie, it all stank, it was all putrid with lies. Everything pretended to meaning and happiness and beauty, but it was all only putrescence and decay. The taste of the world was bitter. Life was pain. Siddhartha had one single goal before him - to become empty, empty of thirst, empty of desire, empty of dreams, empty of joy and sorrow. To die away from himself, to no longer be 'I,' to find the peace of an empty heart, to open to wonder within the egoless mind-that was his goal. When every bit of ego was overcome and dead, when in his heart all cravings and compulsions had been stilled, then the ultimate must awaken, that innermost essence in one's being that is no longer ego, the great mystery.'
Only to later immerse himself into the 'other' world and discover he has become one of them in turn. 'Everything was hard, and in the end, hopeless, when I was shramana. Now everything is easy, easy like the kissing lesson that Kamala gave me. I need clothes and money, and that is all. Those are trivial, easily fulfilled goals, nothing worth losing sleep over.'
As time passes, as he is one of the 'other' people he finds himself going through a transformation from envy to sickness of the 'other' world. 'He envied them for the one thing he still lacked and they possessed-the sense of importance they were able to attach to their lives, the ardor of their joys and fears, the timorous but sweet happiness of their eternal passion. These people were perpetually in love with themselves, with women, with their children, with honor or money, with their plans and hopes.' 'He began even more often, on mornings following an event with people, to stay in bed for a long time feeling stupid and spent. He began to be irritable and impatient when Kamaswami bored him with his troubles. He began to laugh overload when he lost at dice. His face was still more intelligent and more spiritual than others, but it seldom laughed and it took on one after another those qualities one finds so often in the faces of the rich-discontent, petulance, ill temper, lethargy, lovelessness. Gradually the soul sickness of the rich was taking him over.'
He has now traveled full circle from his own world to the world of 'others;' he now has a comparison of what he had, what he attained in opposition, and what he no longer has a result. It's like that saying goes, 'light does not exist without dark.' 'Fasting, waiting, and thinking. This had been his wealth, his power and strength, his trusty staff; in the diligent, hardworking years of his youth he had learned these three skills-nothing else. And now they had abandoned him, none of them belonged to him anymore-neither fasting, nor waiting, nor thinking. He had given them away in exchange for the most miserable pittance, the most impermanent of things: sensual pleasure, comfort, and wealth!.'.... 'he had become one of the child people.... I stand once again under the sun as I stood as a child-I have nothing, I know nothing, I have no abilities, I have learned nothing. How strange!.'
It is at this point that he starts to understand the power of 'experience' over words and wisdom, only through this step in life is he able to begin his journey. 'I had to pass through so much ignorance, so much vice, such great misunderstanding, so much revulsion and dissapointment and misery-just to become a child again and start over.'
All through this journey of his life to attain some sort of inner peace and wisdom about his own self, Siddhartha teaches us also about the concept of learning. What is learning? Does learning really exist? Siddhartha says there is not such thing as learning, but life is more about coming to know what is already there in all of us, and we disguise that in the ego form of learning.
Siddhartha also talks about escapism. While talking with his friend Govinda, they have this intricate conversation about how the art of zen is just as much escapism as someone drinking their hearts and minds out of their world. But is there really a difference? Siddhartha says that even if the drunkard has not gained anything after he awakes from his escape, he as well through his 'practice of austerirites and meditative absorptions I find only a transitory numbness and remain just as far from wisdom and liberation.'
And as for nirvana? Siddhartha says 'O Govinda, I think of all the shramanas who exist, there is perhaps not one who will attain nirvana. We find consolation, we find a deadening, we learn skills that we use to deceive ourselves. Be we are not finding the essential, the paths of paths.'
It is only through his experiences that he truly finds some things to be sure of. Has he attained nirvana? Has he 'learned' anything? Does he know his true self? Has he reached a point of zen, a point of inner peace? I don't really know. He talks about three things he knows for sure, towards the end of the book. I felt his words resonate through me so maybe there is some universal truth to them.
'A truth can be expressed and cloaked in words only if it is one-sided. Everything that can thought in thoughts and expressed in words is one-sided, only a half. All such thoughts lack wholeness, fullness, unity. When the venerable Gotama taught and spoke of the world, he had to divide it into samsara and nirvana, deception and truth, suffering and liberation. There is no other possibility, no other way for those who would teach. But the world itself, existence around us and within us, is never one-sided. Never is a person or an act wholly samsara or wholly nirvana; never is a person entirely holy or sinful. That only appears to be the case because we are in the grips of the illusion that time is real. Time is not real, Govinda, I have experienced this many, many times. And if time is not real, the the gap that seems to exist between the world and eternity, between suffering and bliss, between good and evil, is also an illusion.'
'The sinner that I am and you are is indeed a sinner, but in time he will again be Brahma, in time he will attain nirvana, be a buddha. But see here, this 'in time' is an illusion, only a metaphor. The sinner is not on the path to buddha-hood, he is not caught up in a process, even though our intellect knows no other way of representing things. No, the future buddha is present here and now within the sinner, his future is entirely there already. You must venerate the developing, potential, hidden buddha in him, in yourself, in everyone. The world, my friend Govinda, is not imperfect or confined to a point somewhere along a gradual pathway towards perfection. No, it is perfect at every moment. Every sin already contains grace within it, all little children already have an old person in them, every infant has death within it, and all dying people have with them eternal life. It is not possible for any person to see in another how far along the way he is.'
'The only thing of importance to me is being able to love the world, without looking down on it, without hating it, and myself-being able to regard it and myself and all beings with love, admiration, and reverence.' 'but this is just what the Exalted One recognized as a deception. He advocated goodwill, consideration, compassion, and tolerance, but not love. He forbade us to bind our hearts to anything earthly through love.' This is where Siddhartha warns Govinda to beware of the territory where it begins to be a jungle of opinions rather than what our true self knows. Siddhartha implies, that one must know for themselves, for their own true self, where they stand.
This book is all about the ramifications and reprecussions of The Hunger Games. Life for the victorious tributes is not aA Gone Bookserk Perspective
This book is all about the ramifications and reprecussions of The Hunger Games. Life for the victorious tributes is not any better than when the first left their homes, nor is it back to normal. Katniss says something so powerful, it's worthy of giving it to you right away. "I mourn my old life here. We barely scraped by, but I knew where I fit in, I knew that my place was in the tightly interwoven fabric that was our life. I wish I could go back to it because, in retrospect, it seems so secure compared with now, when I am so rich and so famous and so hated by the authorities in the Capital." There are a lot of universal themes throughout the book, and this is one which you have to stop and think about. Things are relative in life and sometimes we may think they will get better but when we arrive there we find ourselves thinking life was much better before. Change is not always better. We also don't always appreciate what we have as we are living it. It takes loosing a piece of our life to know how much better off we were with it. ...more
'He tells of the history of Panem, the country that rose up out of the ashes of the place that was once called North AmeA Gone Bookserk Perspective.
'He tells of the history of Panem, the country that rose up out of the ashes of the place that was once called North America. He lists the disasters, the droughts, the storms, the fires, the enroaching seas that swallowed up so much of the land, the brutal war for what little sustenance remained. The result was Panem, a shining Capitol ringed by thirteen districts, which brought peace and prosperity to its citizens. Then came the Dark Days, the uprising of the districts against the Capitol. Twelve were defeated, the thirteenth obliterated. The Treaty of Treason gave us the new laws to guarantee peace and, as our yearly reminder that the Dark Days must never be repeated, it gave us the Hunger Games.'
'The rules of the Hunger Games are simple. In punishment for the uprising, each of the twelve districts must provide one girl and one boy, called tributes to participate. The twenty-four tributes will be imprisoned in a vast outdoor arena that could hold anything from a burning desert to a frozen wastelasnd. Over a period of several weeks, the competitors must fight to the death. The last tribute standing wins.'
'the real message is clear. 'Look how we take your children and sacrifice them and there's nothing you can do. If you lift a finger, we will destroy every last one of you. Just as we did in District Thirteen.' To make it humiliating as well as torturous, the Capital requires us to treat the Hunger Games as a festivity, a sporting event pitting every district against others. the last tribute alive receives a life of ease back home, and their district will be showered with prizes, largely consistening of food.'
In the process of establishing and laying out a plot of wild imagination, Suzanne Collins accomplishes in giving us a heroine of tremendous depth, a sixteen year old girl named Katniss. It's possible Katniss had luck on her side, or possible that her lifestyle might have prepared her for such a fortuitous event when she found herself volunteering for the Hunger Games in the place of her younger sister. Most likely the measure of her character and brave soul allowed her to remain alive and survive the tribulations of the Hunger Games. Something about Katniss reminds you of yourself; something maybe you even desire or aspire to be.
The story you find in this novel is consistently exciting, always changing and evolving as if it is truly alive. More so, it is saturated with the real human spirit. Reading a seemingly world of fiction, although possibly finding yourself closer to the subliminal interpretation of our unfolding present.
The nature of the games is for entertainment as much as it is political. The idea that violence and bloody killings are a form of sport the majority of our population craves to watch is not far-fetched. Take for example thrillers, violent video games, and movies surrounding murders. It doesn't excuse the fact that it's just plain twisted for the reasons it is established in this book. The Hunger Games are about giving the audience what they want, putting on a show, setting up the pretense and omitting the real lives behind it all, forcing the youth against one another to kill each other while the whole world is watching, applauding, and condoning it. It's setting the wealthy against the poor and putting to the test their intelligence and physical abilities while hiding the real struggles and causes of their existence that have to do more with those in power than themselves.
Katniss is smart enough to keep perspective and rationale in order to survive, in order to come back to her family, in order to make this bigger than she is. She is aware what she is part of and uses the knowledge she's been able to observe about the Hunger Games. She anticipates what is happening or might be likely to happen. Of course she has other tricks up her sleeve and some luck that keeps her alive.
To top it off, there's also a young love story at play. And for that you'll have to be riveted while reading the novel.... plus it has such a huge impact on the ending. The ending, by the way, is one that will stay with you - quite the effective finishing touch.
This novel reminds me of the feelings I had for '1984.'
It is, no doubt, a revolutionary novel, it WILL bring about a major change in how you see the world.
Someone told me lately 'read more than you write.' It has just occurred to me at the moment that I may be doing just thatA Gone Bookserk Perspective.
Someone told me lately 'read more than you write.' It has just occurred to me at the moment that I may be doing just that without realizing it. I read this book in mid-April, and I am just now getting around to posting it. That will be the case with a few more books. Anyway, this book is one of my all-time favorite books, along with 'Jane Eyre' and 'Frankenstein'. I read this book day in and day out for about three to four days until I finished it. It is one of the most capturing books I have read so far. I read part of it in high school, but I have a whole new level of appreciation for this book now.
I remember I was mesmerized by the flow of the book. There is not one dull moment through the entire novel, and every event and moment is fully seized in its capacity to offer insight and depth. The novel builds toward the end of the story in a profound manner that leaves you slightly breathless at the end. I also loved the detailed and representative descriptions of all the events and people throughout the book. I really enjoyed the waves of mystery alternated with unexpected moments of humor. Additionally, the characters carried with them an element of fear, and as the reader I was fully captured by the element of curiosity to know the cause of that fear.
This novel is one of the richest and most universally profound novels I have read so far. It made an impression on me in so many facets. This novel is a piece of writing for everyone, whether it's for the youth in elementary schools, or the high school-ers, or adults years after they have first encountered it. It will touch you, and it will enlighten you in ways you wouldn't expect to. It really made me an impact on me, it left me feeling in ways almost as if it offered me a sense of love, if that makes sense. It's one of those books that touches the human soul.
As a product of a generation who has progressed from an age when nature and the outdoors were a child's main avenue of enjoyment to a modern world where technology and gadgets rule our youth's minds and attention, the relationship Jem and Scout have with one another and their relationship to nature and their surroundings definitely made an impression on me. These are children who think about their environment, their circumstances, and the people around them. They wonder if they're being cheated somehow by going to school. They think about their neighbors and who they are and what they do. They feel passionate about reading and writing. They inquire about the Egyptians, on how society associates meaningless and mundane characteristics to really rich and intricate cultures, about how we masquerade their great existence to distract from the real truth of their contributions to the world. They are aware of the sounds surrounding them, the weather, the sky, and wonder about the knowledge of trees. They are children who think beyond themselves.
Conceptually, there are some really powerful and moving universal truths in this novel. Among the many, there are just a few I remember: understanding depends just as much on the listener as it depends on the person explaining; different but not deficient; boys will be boys and sometimes girls will be girls in a boyish manner; the concept of being cynical stems from how you say what you are saying not so much what you are saying; 'making a step-it's a baby-step, but it's a step;' the wonder and curiosity of coping with things we don't necessarily understand, the concept of integrity and truth, of compassion and acceptance even if you may not agree, also concepts of religion and spirituality also play out, and even conceptual emphasis on the collective mind introduced by Jem. I believe what makes a book timeless is exactly this, universal truths about humanity, the human spirit and soul. And then when you take this into account with the notion that it touches each generation from the youngest to the oldest, this book is twice as timeless.
Above all, though, this book is on a grand scale a book of compassion. There isn't a bigger theme than this, for me, in the book. The mystery of Boo Radley kept me glued to the book until the end at which point it touched me to my very core. He's the character who is described as the 'malevolent phantom.' Without giving too much away from the book, because I really think this is the heart of the novel, I would have to say that he turns out to be the most compassionate hero of the town. He's a character who stands on his own in the novel, and within the text of literature, I believe. He's almost completely silent. What we know of Boo Radley comes either from misconceptions and misunderstandings of him from other people, or from his own courageous and compassionate actions. And actions do peak louder than words. Truly one of my favorite silent characters in literature so far.
One of the greatest! Winner of the Pulitzer Prize! And this year is its 50th Anniversary!