News for December 2011

9: The Psychopathy test

by Jon ronson

interesting to say the least
easy and fast to read and it definitely revealed something about myself

i am definitely not a psychopath? but if i took the HARE test i’d probably score pretty high on a few subjects but i really hate blood and gore.

the second installment of the Ring movies scared me to death.

i didn’t take any notes during the reading but i read it fairly quickly and it’s really fascinating to learn about psychos and psychopaths and serial murders.

i wish i had more to say about this but read some..really lengthy amazon reviews? but i did learn a lot about how to determine if one is a psychopath or not and whether the current system installed is good enough to lock someone up for lengthy periods of time.

Posted: December 30th, 2011
Categories: 52 weeks, BOOKS
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10: The Cold War: A new History

by John Lewis Gaddis

I did my internal assessment on the historiography of The cold War. If you’re interested in this subject and doesnt know a lot about it and would like to in one volume or less. THIS IS THE ONE!

John Lewis Gaddis is a leading historian in the cold war and he recently published the biography of John F. Kennan, the author of the Long Telegram.

I read the first chapter of this book when I wrote my internal assessment then flipped through the rest to find supporting quotes. Ha, that’s how I write all my papers and essays but I do enjoy history so I’m glad that I had the chance to read this throughout. It’s easy to read, fun, and you learn a lot about the mentality during the cold war, if you weren’t alive then or had no memory of it.

I also started listening to podcasts! I love podcasts! This one especially called Dan Carlin’s hardcore history, and the newest podcast is about the red scare which briefly talks about the cold war, obviously, that’s a very important factor.

I can’t really review this book other than that it really is very easy to read and easy to follow. Sometimes when i read historical texts, your eyes sorta glaze over and it’s like, wait wait what who did what? that’s what happened several times when i was reading about napoleon, though i like him a lot too…

I did take some quotes….during this book, though i don’t really know why i did that..

page 32: this is to demonstrate the ease of understanding of this book Several premises shaped the Marshall plan: that the gravest threat to western interests in Europe was not the prospect of Soviet military intervention, but rather the risk that hunger, poverty, and despair might cause Europeans to vote their own communists into office, who would then obediently serve Moscow’s wishes; that american economic assistance would produce immediate psychological benefits and later material ones that would reverse this trend; that the Soviet Union would not itself accept such aid or allow its satellites to, thereby straining its relationship with them; and that the United States could then seize both the geopolitical and the moral initiate in the emerging Cold War.

page 33: The Yugoslav dictator might be a ‘son-of-a bitch’, the new American secretary of state, Dean Acheson, acknowledge astringently in 1949 but he was now our ‘son-of-a-bitch’.

page 46 – 47:

“The fact of the matter is that there is a little bit of the totalitarian buried somewhere, way down deep, in each and every one of us,” Kennan told students at the National War College in 1947. “It is only the cheerful light of confidence and security which keeps this evil genius down….If confidence and security were to disappear, don’t think that he would not be waiting to take their place.” This warning from the founder of containment – that the enemy to be contained might as easily lie within the beneficiaries of freedom as among its enemies – showed how pervasive fear had become in postwar international order for which there had been so much hope. It helps to explain why Orwell’s 1984, when it appeared in 1949, became and instant literary triumph.

page 51

If the object of war was to secure the state – how could it not be? – then wars had to be limited: that is what Clausewitz meant when he insisted that war is “a continuation of political activity by other means … the political object is the goal, war is the means of reaching it, and means can never be considered in isolation from their purposes.”

page 53

On the day the bomb was first tested in the New Mexico desert he wrote a note to himself speculating that “machines are ahead of morals by some centuries, and when morals catch up perhaps there’ll be no reason for any of it.”

Posted: December 28th, 2011
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11: The Myth of Sisyphus

you can actually read a summarized version of the novel on wikipedia that pretty much makes everything easier to read…

book 39 of the GREAT IDEAS SERIES

because there were many times that i had no idea what i was reading.

but at least i clearly know the difference between absurd ism, nihilism, and existentialism

Camus is a great writer and it clearly shows, that even though i am reading about philosophy, i am not all that bored, but sometimes i am confused.

these days, i try not to think too much so forcing myself to read something philosophical is in turn my homework for not killing all the brain cells that are still there…

some quotes as usual:

page 12:

Likewise and during every day of an unillustrious life, time carries us. but a moment always comes when we have to carry it. We live on the future: ‘tomorrow’, ‘later on’, ‘when you have made your way,’ ‘you will understand when you are old enough’. Such irrelevancies are wonderful, for, after all, it’s a matter of dying. Yet a time comes when a man notices or says that he is thirty. Thus he asserts his youth. But simultaneously he situates himself in relation to time. He takes his place in it. He admits that he stands at a certain point on a curve that he acknowledges having to travel to its end. He belongs to time and, by the horror that seizes him, he recognizes his worst enemy. Tomorrow, he was longing for tomorrow, whereas everything in him ought to reject it. the revolve of the flesh is the absurd.

page 41

Thinking is not unifying or making the appearance familiar under the guise of a great principle. thinking is learning all over again how to see, direction one’s consciousness, making of every image a privileged place.

page 51

It was a previously a question of finding out whether or not life had to have a meaning to be lived. It now becomes clear on the contrary that it will be lived all the better if it has no meaning.

page 52

Suicide, like the leap, is acceptance at is extreme. Everything is over and man returns to his essential history.

page 63

But it is bad to stop, hard to be satisfied with a single way of seeing, to go without contradiction, perhaps the most subtle of all spiritual forces. the preceding merely defines a way of thinking. But the point is to live.

page 114

All that remains is a fate whose outcome alone is fatal. Outside of that single fatality of death, everything, joy or happiness, is liberty. A world remains of which man is the sole master. what bound him was the illusion of another world. the outcome of his thought, ceasing to be renunciatory, flowers in images. It frolics – in myths to be sure – but myths with no other depth than that of human suffering and, like it, inexhaustible. Not the divine fable that amuses and blinds, but the terrestrial face, gesture, and drama in which are summed up a difficult wisdom and an ephemeral passion.

Posted: December 20th, 2011
Categories: 52 weeks, BOOKS, QUOTES
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12: the sweet life in Paris

by: David Lebovitz

David runs a very successful blog here. He often blogs about cooking, food, life in Paris and his traveling adventures.

This is one of his books, others being cook books, this one is more of a novel / cookbook. Unfortunately I can’t cook. I probably should try to learn but I really dont’ care for it. I love to eat and I savour anything and everything but cooking is a no-no… i am too lazy to even boil water at times.
Perhaps it’s a lazy thing…

anyways.

easy and fun read! especially for someone like me that has never been to Paris before. I’d love to go to Paris. It’ll just be eating and walking and museums and eating and eating and eating!

Paris life seems a bit haunting, especially by the few things that David describes in his book but like anything else, you give up something to get something…

and i cam adhere to the fact that north americans are probably living one of the most cushiest life on earth and not just because of wealth or the ease of products available to you. most people here don’t cut in line and they are polite. you usually are able to get good service no matter what.

in china, cutting in line is pretty obvious, and in paris apparently so too. but if you don’t have an asian face it’s hard to say if they’ll cut in front of you. service in china is either horrendous or smothering, only two kinds available, nothing in between.

when i was in japan, service is generally good, unless you are at a high end boutique then the service is basically non-existent. comme des garcons don’t give a shit if the tshirt fits your or not, and NBHD will double the price of a shirt if they think you aren’t worthy of it.

also, basically, can’t get anything done in japan ever…..! if it’s related to government or any sort of large corporation. but you just gota accept it…

anyways, it was a easy and fun read, lots of good recipes that i’d like to try out in my dreams…

alas, in my dreams i eat well

no quotes today

Posted: December 17th, 2011
Categories: 52 weeks, BOOKS
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13: The book of Disquiet

I have had this book in my possession for a while now. But the library wants it back because someone else wants it. I have been attempting to inhale this book at the fastest speed because I have to return it tomorrow. Alas, it is impossible to inhale something like this. I am on page 265, and rather that I finish this as quickly as possible, it is probably better if I continue this entry at another time when I read all of it carefully. And the next time I open this book, I’ll start on page 265.

It is my recommendation to read this book slowly, if possible, one entry at a time. There are 460 odd chapters each lasting as short as one line as long as 2 pages. It should be read like that because I felt like it was written like that. I posted all the quotes that fascinated below me. There are a lot and I haven’t even finished reading the whole thing yet!

Instead of page numbers, the quotes will be under the ‘section’ in which they are under, if you ever find the book in your hand, you’ll know what I mean

(1) I was born in a time when the majority of young people had lost faith in god, for the same reason their elders had had it – without knowing why.

(3) Walking on these streets, until the night falls, my life feels to me like the life they have. by day they’re full of meaningless activity; by night they’re full of a meaningless lack of it.

(4) And at this table in my absurd room, I, a pathetic and anonymous office clerk, write words as if they were the soul’s salvation, and I gild myself with the impossible sunset of high and vast hills in the distance, with the statue I received in exchange for life’s pleasures, and with the ring of renunciation on my evangelical finger, the stagnant jewel of my ecstatic disdain.

(6) I asked for very little from life, and even this little was denied me. A nearby field, a ray of sunlight, a little bit of calm along with a bit of bread, not to feel oppressed by the knowledge that I exist, not to demand anything from others, and not to have others demand anything from me – this was denied me, like the spare change we might deny a beggar not because we’re mean-hearted but because we don’t feel like unbuttoning our coat.

(10) My soul is impatient with itself, as with a bothersome child, its restlessness kepeps growing and is forever the same. Everything interests me, but nothing holds me.

(14) We may know that the work we continue to put off doing will be bad. Worse, however, is the work we never do. A work that’s finished is at least finished. It may be poor, but it exists.

(27) Literature – which is art married to thought, and realization untainted by reality – seems to me the end towards which all human effort would have to strive, if it were truly human and not just a welling up of our animal self. To express something is to conserve its virtue and take away its terror.

(29) It was an occasion to be happy. But something weight on me, some inscrutable yearning, an indefinable and perhaps even noble desire. Perhaps it was just taking me a long time to feel alive. And when I leaned out my high window, looking down at the street I couldn’t see, I suddenly felt like one of those damp rags used for house-cleaning that are taken to the window to dry but are forgotten, balled up, on the sill where they slowly leave a stain.

(35) My aversion to effort becomes an almost writhing horror before all forms of violent effort. War, energetic and productive labour, helping others – all strikes me as the product of an impertinence ….

(44) But the horror that’s destroying me today is less noble and more corrosive. It’s a longing to be free of wanting to have thoughts, a desire to never have been anything, a conscious despair in every cell of my body and soul. It’s the sudden feeling of being imprisoned in an infinite cell. Where can one think of feeling, if the cell is everything?

(48) To understand, I destroyed myself. To understand is to forget about loving. I know nothing more simultaneously false and telling than the statement by Leonardo da Vinci that we cannot love or hate something until we’ve understood it.

(49) When all by myself, I can think of all kinds of clever remarks, quick comebacks to what no one said, and flashes of witty sociability with nobody. But all of this vanishes when I face someone in the flesh: I lose my intelligence, I can no longer speak and after half an hour I just feel tired.

(61) Let’s not forget to hate those who enjoy, just because they enjoy, and to despise those who are happy, because we didn’t know how to be happy like them.

(70) I had the same sensation as when we watch someone sleep. when asleep we all become children again. Perhaps because in the state of slumber we can do no wrong and are unconscious of life, the greatest criminal and the most self-absorbed egotist are holy, by a natural magic, as long as they’re sleeping. For me, there’s no discernible difference between killing a child and killing a sleeping man.

(80) There are times when dreaming eludes even me, an obsessive dreamer, and then I see things in vivid detail. The mist in which I take refuse dissipates. And every visible edge cuts the skin of my soul. Every harsh thing I see wounds the part of me that recognizes its harshness. Everything object’s visible weight weighs heavy inside my soul.

It’s as if my life amounted to being thrashed by it.

(85) When I consider all the people I know or have heard of who write prolifically or who at least produce lengthy and finished works, I feel an ambivalent envy, a disdainful admiration, an incoherent mixture of mixed feelings.

(102) I throw an empty matchbox towards the abyss that’s the street beyond the sill of my high window without balcony. I sit up in my chair and listen. Distinctly, as if it meant something, the empty matchbox resounds on the street, declaring it to me its desertedness. Not another sound can be heard, except the sounds of the whole city. Yes the sound of the city on this long Sunday – so many, all at odds, and all of them right.

(103) I cultivate hatred of action like a greenhouse flower. I dissent from life and am proud of it.

(107) I am one of those souls women say they love but never recognize when they meet us – one of those souls that they would never recognize, even if they recognized us. I endure the sensitivity of my feelings with an attitude of disdain. I have all the qualities for which romantic poets are admire, and even the lack of those qualities, which makes one a true romantic poet. I find myself partially described in novels as the protagonist of various plots, but the essence of my life and soul is never to be a protagonist.

(116) To write is to forget. Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life. Music soothes, the visual arts exhilarate, and the performing arts (such as acting and dance) entertain. Literature, however, retreats from life by turning it into a slumber. The other arts make no such retreat – some because they use visible and hence vital formulas, others because they live from human life itself.

This isn’t the case with literature. Literature stimulates life. A novel is a story of what never was, and a play is a novel without narration. A poem is the expression of ideas or feelings in a language no one uses, because no one talks in verse.

(123) Eternal tourists of ourselves, there is no landscape but what we are. We possess nothing, for we don’t even possess ourselves. We have nothing because we are nothing. What hand will I reach out, and to what universe? This universe isn’t mine: it’s me.

(180) If one day I become financially secure, so that I can freely write and publish, I know I’ll miss this precarious life in which I hardly write and don’t publish at all. I’ll miss it not only because it will be a life, however mediocre, that I’ll never have again, but also because every sort of life has a special quality and a particular pleasure, and when we take up another life, even a better one, that particular pleasure isn’t as good, that special quality is less special, until they fade away, and there’s something missing.

(184) My tedium takes on an air of horror, and my boredom is a fear. My sweat isn’t cold, but my awareness of it is. I’m not physically ill, but my soul’s anxiety is so intense that it passes through my pores and chills my body.

(237) Notes for a Rule of Life

To need to dominate others is to need others. The commander is dependent.
Enlarge your personality without including anything from the outside – asking nothing from others and imposing nothing on others, but being others when you need them.
Reduce your necessities to a minimum, so as not to depend on anything for anything.
It’s true that such a life is impossible in the absolute. But it’s not impossible relatively.

Let’s consider a man who owns and runs an office. He should be able to do without his employees; he should be able to type, to balance the books, to sweep the office. He should depend on others because it saves him time, not become he’s incompetent.

(240) The day, like happiness, kept procrastinating – indefinitely, it seemed.

(243) I’m lost if I find myself; I doubt what I discover; I don’t have what I’ve obtained. I sleep as if I were taking a walk, but I’m awake. I wake up as if I’d been sleeping, and I don’t belong to me. Life, in its essence, is one big insomnia, and all that we think or do occurs in a lucid stupor.

(256) I don’t trust masters who can’t be down to earth. For me they’re like those eccentric poets who can’t write like everybody else. I accept that they are eccentric, but I’d like them to show me that it’s because they’re superior to the norm rather than incapable of it.

(258) If a man writes well only when he’s drunk, then I’ll tell him: Get drunk. And if he says that it’s bad for his liver, I’ll answer: What’s your liver? A dead thing that lives while you live, whereas the poems you write live without while.

Posted: December 15th, 2011
Categories: 52 weeks, BOOKS, QUOTES
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14: Why I Write

By George Orwell

A collection of essays from the book series: Penguins great Ideas, this is no. 20

There are four essays in this thin book

Why I write
The Lion and the Unicorn
A Hanging
Politics and the English Language

other than studying animal farm in highschool I HAVE NOT read anything else by George Orwell. Yeah I know I KnOW! I have not even read 1984.
To be honest, Ididn’t really like Animal Farm the first time I read it but I was young and naive, now I am seasoned and matured? I sound like chicken that’s ready to bake.

George Orwell’s style of writing is perfect for politics, as he extensively explains in the last essay what words are suitable and what words aren’t. Politics is something that could already be configured in any way without bad and incomprehensible language. So it is of utmost importance to not be a purple writer when writing about politics and if George Orwell had written all of my history books I would have had a really easy time then.

I normally dislike anything political but i love history. And more than often, history is just old school politics. It’s fine if it’s not right now is all i am saying.

a few quotes

page 10: (Why I write)

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one’s own personality.

page 71: (The Lion and the Unicorn- Socialism and the English genius)

War is the greatest of all agents of change. It speeds up all processes, wipes out minor distinctions, brings realities to the surface. Above all, war brings it home to the individual. That he is not altogether an individual. It is only because they are aware of this that men will die on the field of battle.

page 119: Politics and the English Language

I think this could be applied to all writing in some sense

1. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive when you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

So basically, he’s saying, keep it simple, stupid

Posted: December 14th, 2011
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15: zooey and Franny

by J.D. Salinger

here’s a fun fact about me. i have never read The Catcher in the Rye. I had a copy then someone took it then I don’t know what happened and here we are, not owning a copy of a book that everyone and their mom have read.

I was really interested in this book because I had found out that this book had a little plot, almost no plot and my book has been called plotless and i agree. The writing is nowhere as witty or smart as this one. And my characters are sad, i kind of hate sad people so I am mad at myself for making my characters that way.

But I think there needs to be more drag smoking, more alcohol drinking and more walking down the streets and not knowing where they are going.

Yep….

I kind of want to take up painting, but that’s another story.

So We start off with a short story about Franny, and then we get a longer much longer story about Zooey. Franny’s BROTHER. I don’t think it was only me that thought Zooey was a girl. … ?

I like Zooey so much, he’s so angry yet he doesn’t want to be. I like that, I like that he cares even though he’s sarcastic and sort of weird and kind of cruel but a lovely person over all. Yes, now you know my choice in friends.

I don’t know what else to say about this book, it took me longer to read than i had expected..which is never a good thing.
But nevertheless, I did enjoy it, and like I said, Zooey is lovely.

page 18:

“They’re not,” Franny said. “That’s partly what’s so awful. I mean they’re not real poets. They’re just people that write poems that get published and anthologized all over the place, but they’re not real poets.” She stopped, self-consciously, and put out her cigarette. For several minutes now, she had seemed to be losing color in her face.

page 27:

Lane waited till he had chewed and swallowed, then said, “Why, for God’s sake? I thought the goddamn theater was your passion. It’s about the only thing I’ve ever heard you -”
“I just quit, that’s all,” Franny said. “It started embarrassing me. I began to feel like such a nasty little egomaniac.” She reflected.

page 29:

“All I know is I’m losing my mind,” Franny said. “I’m just sick of ego, ego, ego. My own and everybody else’s. I’m sick of everybody that wants to get somewhere, do something distinguished and all, be somebody interesting. It’s disgusting – it is, it is. I don’t care what anybody says.”

page 85

“That’s the spirit! Make it chicken broth or nothing. That’s putting the ole foot down. If she’s determined to have a nervous break down, the least we can do is see that she doesn’t have it in peace.”

page 95

“You know, I’m the only one in this family who has no problems,” zooey said. “And you know why? Because any time I’m feeling blue, or puzzled, what I do, I just invite a few people to come visit me in the bathroom and – well, we iron things out together, that’s all.”

Posted: December 7th, 2011
Categories: 52 weeks, BOOKS, QUOTES
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