News for April 2012

The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton

I was watching 500 Days of Summer (again) and I suddenly saw that the book that Tom gives to Summer is this one: The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton. I have only read one of his books before and it gave me a sort of surreal feeling. Simply because the way he writes about these kind of, mundane events and things, it’s as if he’s looking down at them from a larger vantage point. I don’t know if that makes sense or not…

This book mostly deals with architecture, literally architecture, and how it can shape and affect our lives without our realization of it. What a home represents, and the architecture of a home. It also talks a lot about gothic and classical styles and how trends are formed and then are broken.

I enjoyed it but I am not really specialized in any knowledge of architecture at all so I would say that it probably would’ve been more interesting to someone how actually knew about all those landmarks.

Although I would have to disagree with what he wrote about Japanese architecture and the lack-of-style of it. Or rather, it’s been mostly westernized. I think Japanese suburbia is distinctively Japanese. When you drive on a highway in Japan and look down at the houses, I would never mistaken it for any other part of Asia. But if you were in Hong Kong and you saw a skyscraper, it could be very Singaporean or Malaysian. So it would be hard to say I think. The environment of the buildings and houses create a distinctively local flavor.


Architecture may well possess moral messages; it simply as no power to enforce them. It offers suggestions instead of making laws. It invites, rather than orders, us to emulate its spirit and cannot prevent its own abuse.

The only problem with unrestricted choice, however, is that it tends not to lie so far from outright chaos.

Governed by an ethos conceived by engineers, Modernism claimed to have supplied a definitive answer to the question of beauty in architecture: the point of a house was not to be beautiful but to function well.

The notion of buildings that speak helps us to place at the very centre of our architectural conundrums the question of the values we want to live by – rather than merely of how we want things to look.

why are we so vulnerable, so inconveniently vulnerable, to what the spaces we inhabit are saying?

our love of home is in turn an acknowledgement of the degree to which our identity is not self-determined. We need a home in the psychological sense as much as we need one in the physical: to compensate for a vulnerability. We need a refuge to shore up our states of mind, because so much of the world is opposed to our allegiances. We need our rooms to align us to desirable versions of ourselves and to keep alive the important, evanescent sides of us.

Posted: April 19th, 2012
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On the Road by Jack Kerouac

ah woe is me.
i haven’t been reading anything lately and i’ve picked up and put down a lot of books.
i wasn’t able to finish Hemingway’s The Old Man And the sea! Even though it was rather thin and the font was big…
i suppose that i am not in much of a reading mood.

Weird, so unproductive lately. I know that counting the number of books that i’ve read isn’t much of … in terms of doing actual work but it’s a lot more than what i normally do, which is nothing.

i must say that i’m quite depressed because of it.
anyways, it’ll get better…

so what did i think?
i read the introduction of the On The Road a long time ago (on the Penguin Classics edition with the intro by Ann Charters). And the introduction was fascinating, especially the part about that he wrote the novel in 3 weeks on an continuous scroll.

I guess these days you really don’t have to think about things like, oh crap, do i have enough paper for my kickass novel? Because the word document can never end….

I think I could have enjoyed the book a lot more if I weren’t in this directionless phase myself. It really takes the punch out of the book because I am constantly thinking too, okay, when are they going to settle down? Simply because I want to settle down so much (not that I’m traveling at all, but that I want to find a normal job and just stop living the life that I have right now). Dean Moriarty (teehee, Moriarty) ‘s character didn’t fascinate me as much as it apparently fascinated people when the book was published. For one thing, he just seemed like someone that couldn’t make up his mind about anything, and he took to traveling like an addict takes to a zip lock bag of cocaine. This is just my take on it, but traveling represents freedom, because on the road means being in limbo. You have no responsibilities while on the road other than to get to the destination. And hence he’s constantly moving in between New York and San Francisco (or as they call it, Frisco), and dragging our narrator, Sal with him.

I’m envying a lot of people’s lives right now, fictional or non-fictional. But I am not envying the life on the road, somehow it didn’t appeal to me at all, even though I sometimes enjoy spur of the moment adventures… (though less and less as I get older).

And as usual, a few quotes~~

page 70:

Remi was just like a little boy. Somewhere in his past, in his lonely schooldays in France, they’d taken everything from him; his stepparents just stuck him in schools and left him there; he was browbeaten and thrown out of one school after another; he walked the French roads at night devising curses out of his innocent stock of words. He was out to get back everything he’d lost; there was no end to his loss; this thing would drag on forever.

wow look at that use of semi-colons!

page 82:

I was so lonely, so sad, so tired, so quivering, so broken, so beat, that I got up my courage, the courage necessary to approach a strange girl, and acted. Even though I spent five minutes beating my thighs in the dark as the bus rolled down the road.

You gotta, you gotta or you’ll die! Damn fool, talk to her! What’s wrong with you? Aren’t you tired enough of yourself by now? And before I knew what I was doing I leaned across the aisle to her (she was trying to sleep on the seat) and said, “Miss, would you like to use my raincoat for a pillow?”

page 86:

I never felt sadder in my life. LA is the loneliest and most brutal of american cities; New York gets god-awful cold in the winter but there’s a feeling of wacky comradeship somewhere in some streets. LA is a jungle.

page 106

Isn’t it true that you start your life a sweet child believing in everything under your father’s roof? then comes the day of the Laodiceans, when you know you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, and with the visage of a gruesome grieving ghost you go shuddering through nightmare life.

page 156: What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-by. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.

page 213: And suddenly Dean’s eyes grew tearful and he got up and left his food steaming there and walked out of the restaurant. I wondered if he was just wandering off forever. I didn’t care, I was so mad – had flipped momentarily and turned it down on Dean. But the sight of his uneaten food made me sadder than anything in years. I shouldn’t have said that … he likes to eat so much … He’s never left his food like this … What the hell. That’s showing him, anyway.

Posted: April 9th, 2012
Categories: BOOKS, QUOTES
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