vineri, 17 decembrie 2010

You shall know your velocity

The story of how two friends plan to see the world in a week, well, not the entire world, only the "relevant" (to them) parts. Their adventures are full of the plans and dreams they made when they were kids, and now they want to run from their ordinary lives and make them happen.

It was a tragic year for them. Their friend, Jack, died in a car accident and they seem lost without the only good piece in their trio. Will got beaten by some guys, because they had mistaken them for Hand(who in a way was guilty of something). Will got an astounding amount of money for some picture with him changing a light bolt, and now he felt like giving them all away in an impulse of catharsis. He convinces Hand to take a leave from work and to travel with him for a week.

They go to Senegal, and then Morocco, London and Estonia and New York and then Will finishes his journey to a wedding in Mexico City. They start in Senegal where they have different plans on how and to whom they should give money, the same in Morocco and other places where they venture. They seem to be drawn in adventures where they are at the edge of death and living, and come triumphant. This gives them the feeling that they could accomplish anything. But Will cannot forgive his friend Hand for leaving them to get the beating and in the end of the journey he realizes that the only friend that wouldn't have let him alone has Jack, but that Jack is dead and he couldn't do anything to save him, or to avenge his death. He only tries to live with a disfigured face and to come on top of his depressing thoughts. In the end he does seem to realize the things important to him and how he would like to be, but like a complete circle of events, this epiphany is the mark of an approaching death. He dies, two months after attending his friend wedding in Mexico.

The journey, the monologues that Will has, the way that Hand seems to take life as a big joke, are only aspects of different approaches to what seems important in this life. Money do make a difference, the characters know and feel that, but the friendship they had also made a difference. Unfortunately their friendship cannot be the same as a part of what made it special is gone(Jack their friend was the rational part, the one that seem to take confort in the little things). Sometimes, friendships can be ruined by the lack of understanding of the perspectives that the people in it have. Every person has different approaches to life, to important things and sometimes is easy to mistake them for being irrelevant, and then hurt each other.

Maybe all friends should have a journey during which they could make a clear stance on what the important things are to them, but it might seem hard and sometimes unattainable.

The Mummy at the dinning room table

This book is excellent for those thinking about a career as a psychologist, counselor or for those which want to know that sometimes people behave in different and unexpected ways because they weren't taught otherwise or the conditions were extreme.

Jeffrey Kottler and Jon Carlson, two of the most prolific therapist started to gather the most unusual cases that great therapists had during their practice. The most memorable, the most challenging for themselves are included in this book. It's a though reading sometimes, because you are put directly in contact with someone else's pain and you must read it with your mind open and judgement free attitude.

I enjoyed reading it and it gave me a deeper understanding of the techniques and methods taught during my masters years, and now I am eager to start my own private practice. The reason for that is that I have come to realize that people are much more engaged in the therapeutic process when they start by giving money/paying for the help they want rather than receiving that help in a public setting, where it is free, and only those who are really committed or know the value of the service can make the change last. I see it in my school office, where I am responsible of speech therapy, and sadly the parents rarely come to make sure that their chid is making progress or how to make the therapy more productive by doing a "homework" at home with their child.

The book is filled with examples of the human power to make changes in their life/environment and by doing this to achieve the goal of happiness or at least the goal of being able to live your life in a peaceful manner. All the therapist had different approaches to their patients problems, but the line that connected all their efforts was that of respect for the power of their patient /client to make a change and their attitude of acceptance towards the person in front of them. That is an attitude we can rarely enjoy from strangers, only the close ones can really accept for what we are and to keep in mind that we have the power to change and to make our dreams/plans come true(though it is a great burden sometimes for our closest not to judge us or to give solutions that they think are helpful for us).

miercuri, 8 decembrie 2010

Procesul/ The Trial

I’ve heard about this novel, and finally I got the time and was intrigued enough to read it. I must confess, it is a bit confusing at parts, but the overall confusion sticks to it like fruit flies to apples.

When I read the name of the main character Josef K. I immediately thought it is going to be a novel in which I could feel an autobiographical account, but it might be just my imagination that has led me to think that. Anyway, as I read it I started to see the character as having a weird shizoidal attitude to all of people around him. He is being accused or even going through a trial without knowing the crime of which he is being accused of. Here is where I sense the metaphors kick in. To justify myself: first-the jury and all the judicial system is working in areas and locations viewed by the people in that time as expressing lack of financial resources (the offices are situated in attics); second – he never sees any judge and all the hearings are done without mentioning of the crime, and without possibility to defend or justify anything; and third- K. himself goes through different stages regarding the trial itself(ignoring it, and then trying desperately to find out how the system works and then to create a defense against the crime accused of).

All this point me to the idea that maybe the trial was something that the character has imposed itself upon, like something subjective that he accused himself of and then trying to convince himself that is being accused and trialed, but he is the judge and he is the one accused. The fact that he renounces to seek help from outsiders (lawyers, family members, friends) and he renounces slowly to all thoughts of an advancing career leads to the end of the trial and the serving of the punishment. He is the one that gives him that punishment, and although he is being executed by two men, in reality it seems more like a suicidal action, one that he has planned as a consequence of his imaginary trial.

This view is the one that makes sense the most, and for me it is the key to understanding this tangled novel.

duminică, 28 noiembrie 2010

Generation X: Tales for an accelerated culture

Andy, Claire and Dag are three friends chosen to be the exponents for their generation. Maybe they aren’t everyone’s prototype of a young generation that used to be between 20 and 30 about two decades ago. The book was written in 1991 and it’s composed of a series of stories that these three friends tell to each other in their quest for an existence which could offer a perfect balance between their needs (mostly to discover what they want to do with their life) and a convenient way of living.

They choose to work and live in a region of Florida, Palm Springs, where they feel free to judge others for their life choices. Of course, the author presents them with a perfect human need to accomplish something of their life, but in the end they do manage to evade falling in the category that they genuinely despise: that of the yuppies. I mean, they evade to a different world only to be sure that they can forever evade their need for a secure job, a house and a family that could fall into the prototype of some realization, and they seem to think that their evasion might just help them achieve that (I think it’s a great solution to their existential problem).

Some critics consider the book to be written in a way that resembles The Decameron and I can certainly see the resemblance there, but, to me it seemed more like the life story that these characters where creating in order to voyage to a different stage of self realization. Maybe it’s just a way of clearing the past and emerging ones true values in life and the beliefs by which that persons stands but it seemed a lot more plausible than to think that they were telling stories just to cushion themselves from the outside world.

I like the way that the three characters choose to stick to some values, even though I might not entirely agree to all of them.

I enjoyed the book and felt that I might begin to understand other people, but it might well be just an illusion given be the writing style. Anyway, I can hardly wait to read a book about my generation, which some call Generation Y(although X sounded better and had an feminist appeal – chromosome X).

joi, 25 noiembrie 2010

All families are psychotic

To those of you thinking that I could read so fast a book, you're wrong, the first book(The Inflationary Universe) had to be reviewed almost a week ago, but I kept postponing it due to all sorts of factors. Even this book had to be reviewed yesterday, but I’m doing it just now.

So about the book: It’s great! Although at some points it seemed far fetched, I mean the adventures of the Drummond family seemed to be put at random, like creating a puzzle, but it was a nice style kept throughout the whole book, so I think it was a brilliant idea from the author. I enjoyed the fact that the characters were so typical and so sincerely described by the author, that I almost felt like I knew the persons, like I could have been, under the circumstances one of the family. This, to my opinion, is what made the book great. I’ve heard about it and finally read it to make my mind about it.

I hope to get to the honest way of telling my mind without a “veil” (the one we sometimes put when we don’t want others to know that some of the things we say are really cardinal to us, and the way in which they could react might alter our relationship with them).

It really felt like a picture of a family, a cute, puzzle –like family and the fact that they accepted each others faults and differences made the novel seem like a good thing to start a conversation around family dinners or around the holidays.

The events seem to succeed at a speed that can certainly make you want something more in your life, a kind of adventure movie. But I guess all lives are in their one pace, and sometimes moments can seem very full and excited, even if as a whole life seems to have an almost uniform feel. When those moments arrive I think that it might be best just to enjoy them and to be sincere with us about our reactions and feeling to them.

The Inflationary Universe

Alan Guth's story of how a community of scientists is working a problem so complex as to know what happened at <1 second after the universe appeared is astonishing.

I always thought that it takes a lot of determination, patience and perseverance to tackle big questions and reading this account of how the theory on an inflating universe appeared, only validated my assumptions. The remarkable thing, alongside with the explanation for the universe, was the fact that a community of physicists were so actively involved in disseminating the knowledge, and in trying to think of explanations for how things appeared to be. Only in a community which solves a "puzzle problem"(main characteristic of a puzzle type problem is that a big number of scientists are involved in solving it) could the spreading of ideas be so fast. Another important characteristic is the fact that the culture was ready to accommodate with a new theory for explaining the universe. This, I come to think, after reflecting at big discoveries, is an important factor which contributes to the general public's acceptance of an explanatory theory.

To make the most of what I understood of the inflationary theory, or the new inflationary theory, I'll try to summarize it in a few words: At a point in which matter was in quasiequilibrium state(false vacuum) the energy density was so big and yet the matter acted in a stable form until some nonuniformities appeared, which set the motion of the inflation. An inflaton field was created so quickly near a false vacuum bubble, that once some energy got separated it went on to expand at a rate of unimaginable speed. Due to the nonuniformities, it appears that the universe is expanding but the speed with which it is doing this is mostly constant, but slowing. The data in cosmic radiation support this slowing of the expansion. Of course the numbers are so big, that even to try to imagine the zero's was a huge task, but I understood something about the physics and its laws, and my curiosity grew bigger.

I mean to find out that there are many universes, and that the one in which we live is a pocket of universe, and even our observable universe is a speck in the universe in which we reside, not to say that the Milky Way is just a galaxy amongst other galaxies, not even at the center of the universe (this pocket universe). And to think that our sun is just a medium size star in a galaxy at the outskirts of the Milky Way, and that our planet is inhabited by more than six billion people, it really makes you think about the uniqueness of each other. And coming to speak about humans, which have a tiny amount of time on this planet, and in this solar system, and in this galaxy, and in this universe, it really sets me to think that maybe the only “durable” change, and the most impact I’ll ever have is on my life and the people around me so I have to really make the change count, don’t I?

So in my on small, peculiar “universe life” I’ll try to make good things inflate and dwell on a bigger space, try to accommodate the potential “black holes”(for the purpose of accommodating psychology I’ll call them irrational belief), maybe revert them into “white holes”(rational coping mechanisms), and hope that I will have more “matter”(realistic optimism and confidence in setting goals) than “antimatter”(things to annihilate my optimism).

I still hope to see some new news on the universe and the cosmos, because now, after finishing high school, when I gave a last shoot into understanding physics, I’m ready to understand more about everything, and know that my quest to knowledge will take me further.

vineri, 12 noiembrie 2010

"Marele singuratic"

Marin Preda's style is unique in a way that manages to comprise both the rural world at the beginning of the 20th century and the new modern world- seen in fast developing Romanian cities. The novel, which would mean "The Great Solitarian" is the story of a young man trying to construct a life after he has been rejected from his political activity in the communist party. It tell the story of Niculae Moromete, the son of Ilie Moromete the main character in Morometii. It actually is an account for the years spent by Niculae Moromete from his childhood in Morometii volume 1 and Morometii volume 2. We see Niculae as a grown man, working at the royal castle, taking care of the garden(a gardener on the course of taking his final exams to become an horticulture engineer).

Niculae is portrayed as an egocentric individual which sees his seclusion from the outside world as a form of clarifying his view of the world around him. Of course solitude cannot teach about how you could prescribe a great life for yourself or others, and he is trapped in the course of his life events, falls in love with an painter and finally after she dies he resumes his desire to create a new religion for all men.

He finds out, in the course of the book that sometimes people are unpredictable and can do unexpected things just out of sheer fear of not wanting something bad to happen to them(the case of the murder done by Pecingine Ioan). The author tries to put a mini crime story in a Dostoievskian style, but to me it seems to much polished, like he has put to much effort in it, and by doing that he lost some expression of the facts, only to gain some small clarification on the mobile of the crime.

The novel is a complex one, combining different narrative styles, the one in which the characters present their thought and the one in which the author is only the observer in presenting the facts. Its a different novel, and maybe the others will manage to achieve a greater deepness in one perspective. I think that this might be what I seemed to miss from the book: a complete deepness of the facts.

But, because this comment is posted after two days have passed since I finished it, I can realize now that maybe this is the new style in which the author wanted to present the facts. In a manner which might resemble most to an extensive reportage on the brief sequence of two years in the lifetime of a person. If my hunch is correct that these technique might be fruitful, but nonetheless it seems to leave me with a sense of wonder, like something is missing from the book, like the author created something at a time and then decided not to speak about it for the rest of the book. Maybe it's just me..

Anyway, it's an interesting account of how one can lose sight of the important things which gave him/her a purpose to grow/create, and then after some unfortunate events he/she can return to a new state of considering things. After all, in the end Niculae did went back to be a political activist, but now he had his diploma as an engineer in horticulture.

vineri, 5 noiembrie 2010


Re-reading a book?! A thought that never have crossed my mind until I thought that I can remember well the story of the book I really like. So, then, the normal course of action was to read it again.

And what a delight!

Ioan Slavici has managed to surprised me again. What I could make of the book almost 11 years ago when I first read it, was now nicely transformed, it was like my mind was now ready to fully encompass all that the author wanted to potray. A powerful heroine, a widow which goes through life with the thought and determination to create a better future for her children: Persida and Trica(Petrica).
Because of the new light that my now grown-up perspective cand shed, I can see the true value and hardships that she has gone true. And I was surprised in a good way to see that an author wanted to describe a powerful romanian woman in the XIX-th century.
The way in which tha life of Persida unfolds is like the life that the young Mara never had a chence to live, or the author didn't feel like reiterate it. It's almost like Mara's character is the "attractor" for all the events which unfold. And hergreat love for her children keeps her going strong and makes her optimistic of the future that awaits them.

Life is really something that we can have once and it is trully wonderful, but wonderful in a way that encompass the good, the bads, happiness and sorrow.

marți, 2 noiembrie 2010

The Anomalies

A novel about some characters which seek to conquer acceptance from the world that rejects them for being original. Although the characters are trying to stick to their true nature it seems that in the end society manages to make them fall into some stereotypes.
The black philosopher, Luster seems to be the one that suffers the most, as he is the victim of a racist stereotype and because his brothers had a bad reputation as drug dealers. The other characters seem to find their calm way in society, being in one way or another trapped in their own shel of human thought and desires.

I liked the connection between the five characters: Luster, Opal, Ember, Aurora and Ray. They seem to have a synergy together and once that is broken none can be the same as they were before. They have lost the piece of the puzzle that made them unique in their time and period of existence.

It seems that you don't have to be black, Iraqi-an, a pyromanic child, a nymphomaniac old woman or an teenager blessed with good looks to feel out of place in society. As a matter of fact you can be that just by wanting to express yourself freely. You are put to you place if you try to much to make others accept you just the way you are. in the end, or at lest in Joey Goebel's book end, everyone is nicely put in their stereotype and it seems that none of them will ever get a chance to express the way they did when they sang on stage.

vineri, 29 octombrie 2010

Astonishing Splashes of Colour

It's almost unreal when you feel you can understand and relate to the main character in a book. Although we don't seem to share the same characteristics or to have gone through the same experiences, I feel as if Kitty is someone I deeply understand. Of course, it might be just because it is written in a way which seems to pierce through the important things, details, evidence of sanity and insanity. All the great ingredients which seem to blend perfectly in a Dostoievskian way but seen through modern lenses. I like that about the book: that it's so intense, it grips you until you want to know everything, understand how all of those events happened and the causes which led to them.

Kittty, a young wife without the prospect of being a mother again(-a result of a miscarriage) tries to fin her new identity and live through her loss. The support that her family gives her is great and you can see the different characters building up into unique and powerful persons. The father who took care of his family, the faithful husband which take care of her and tries to make her acknowledge a new perspective for their married life, and the other brothers with their interests and their family. Kitty does seem to make an awfully large amount of mistakes, but they do seem to be explained by her condition: the denial of loosing a son, the hard truth that she can never have children, and the depression which seems to take such a hold on her that she's not capable of thinking strait. That's the course of her condition.

It all seems to make sense that an accident(a fire) causes the loss of a brother and a glimpse of new start for Kitty and her husband. It's as if someone has to sacrifice himself/herself to make room for others to try and seize a chance at being happy. This is the price the author sets for a glimpse of normality/or happiness for the main character.

A great novel, perhaps a bit too edgy at times, but it is worth reading.

vineri, 22 octombrie 2010

Wild Minds- What animals really think

The fascination with different intelligent beings is something that grasps the imagination and attention of scientists all over. but who are we to say how intelligent beings must look or behave like?

Marc Hauser's book is an intriguing way of asserting this question. First it surprised me that we have such an anthropomorphic way in which to explain animal behavior. Apart from saying that animals can be jolly or sad I haven't attributed them with many emotions, but apparently other scientist have tried to explain animal behavior using terminology and concepts applicable only to humans. Like the author says, maybe some of the modalities by which we think we test animal intelligence aren't fit for what pressures nature has put on the evolution of those animals. For instance chimpanzees and orangutans seem to recognize themselves in the mirror, but gorillas seem not to care. We tend to take this as an sign of self-awareness, but maybe the animals don't obtain an advantage by recognizing themselves in the mirror, in the arms race of evolution. So then, it seems that our methods are the ones that aren't measuring the right concepts, the ones that would appear in our mind eye as signs of intelligent thought, or processing.

The author provides an array of examples when experimental work has shed light on processing or feelings we tend to see as landmarks of the human race. For example, problem solving and the capacity to inhibit an initial impulse in order to get to the right solution seem to be present in humans, rhesus macaques and in some chimpanzees. It is interesting to see the experimental conditions and the research questions addressed in order to test some hypothesis. It i in a way a limitation of our human way of reasoning, or so it seemed to me. For instance we put the question of altruism to the test, but we must exclude the potentianlity that the anmswer given by the tested animals represented an response to something totally different.

Marc Hauser carefully brings the attention to all of these details and addresses new questions for those which search understanding in the way animals process information or react to the environment and the question natural selection puts on them.

I Enjoyed having a glimpse into the field of comparative psychology, animal ethology and bioethics, the main fields which seem to draw knowledge from experimental work done on animals.

I can't wait to have a pet to try to entail some experiments on it...

marți, 12 octombrie 2010


I've been curious about this play for so long and now I can finally be glad that I've read it.
What is to say about Goethe's masterpiece? That it represents the human nature and the endeavors which can impede a soul in it's quest for knowledge and the purpose in life.
All the distractions are metaphorically embedded in Mefistofel(the devil) which devises a plan to conquer Faust's soul for all eternity. In the course of sealing the deal, the Devil offer his services to Faust and says that he can make any wish come true.

The path of wanting and having and then wanting anything else consumes the human nature of Faust, and in the end of his life he realizes that by having what he wanted he only managed to want more still and his desires were never making him truly happy. He couldn't have an relationship with a loved one because he managed to seduce them by using the enchantments set by Mefistofel(he wasn't showing his true self and that's the reason why the persons he loved, first Margareta and then Elena, felt that the love brought them great sorrow and chose to end their life).

In a final act of his life he commands a couple of old people, which symbolize the harmony in a married life, to move from their old house into another place, and because they refuse they are murdered and then their house set on fire by soldiers who got the order from Faust. Knowing the result that his command had brought he is sorrowful and realizes that al his life he hasn't gained anything from his companionship with Mefistofel, that he has only impoverished his soul and being of an old age he dies. His soul escapes the grasp of the devil and in the end he regains his place in the heavens alongside the angels and his first love.

marți, 5 octombrie 2010

The Well-Beloved

Every person has her/his own opinion about what drives them through life. Thomas Hardy chooses to describe the idea which might drive a person to seek love.

When a sculptor's idea about perfection is driving him to love women in which this perfection resides temporary his whole life is marked by that. It seemed to me like an egocentric way of seeing the beauty in the women which he loved. It was only through the action of his jade "the well-beloved" which he seeks, that any of his romantic interests gained any beauty, and after he considered that the spirit of his well-beloved had passed from that body to another, he only viewed it like a carcass, not able to generate any feelings of attraction.

His pursuit leads him to hurt the first woman which he asked to marry him(Avice), and after meeting the woman's girl(Avice the second) he realizes that what he thought he was searching(the well-beloved), was something that others might search for to, but not under the same name. As fate will have it, he falls in love with Avice the second(her mother dies before) and want to marry her also, but she is wed to another man. He assumes the role of a protector and continues his life, until, after some 20 years he hears again from Avice and goes to see her. Then he sees her girl, a beautiful woman of 21 which resembles most his youth love. She's also an Avice,the third, and he tries to marry her also, but being sixty years old doesn't manage to do that, in spite of the support Avice, the mother, has shown. This intricate plot resumes itself by the death of Avice(the second) after she finds out that her daughter elopes to wed secretly with her sweetheart.

One to many tries for the character, and he falls ill, an illness which has the effect of aging him severely and depleting him of his muse/curse(the search of a well-beloved).

It shows once more that an ideal of something cannot be retain permanently into someone's mind, as the mind is set to age; and that being to trapped in the pursuit of perfection can make somebody alienate from society.

Ultimately he never got a chance to love for a longer time the person in which he thought his Well-Beloved resided. His curse was broken by old age, when he didn't feel any feeling of art, beauty and physical attraction to anybody.

vineri, 17 septembrie 2010


Imagined by Thomas More as a place situated on the southen hemisphere, this Utopia(Not-place) is a model of a republic conducted by people for the service of community. Surely such an administrative organization could have only be put on a far away realm, for the action and time of More's writing of Utopia is in the XVI-th century (1516). Especially if one's to think that England in which he lived was confronted with a tyranny, and most of the people faced poverty and starvation.

A character arrives from far away, called Raphael Nonsenso,with the knowledge of this system of organization that offers a relief for poverty and manages to include every member of society to work for the community, thus ensuring that all have something to do, a trade, and that everybody gets his/her share of food and whatever things they found necessary. This republic doens't care much for individual interest, money have no intrinsic value, they're kept only to be used in time of war-to hire mercenaries from other countries. The social life seems one to encourage intellectual growth and continuous learning. But if one's to look deeper it will find that all this learning and growing isn't done for the individual, because the individual is merely an instrument of society. Although there is a community which seem to act as a regulator for behavior, ensuring that everyone behaves properly, it seem that in their world too this proper behavior is dictated by the King, Mayor, District controller, House responsible and so on, until everybody is fitted into the mould of a good Utopian.

It seems no place in which women are regarded as equal to men, or in which they regard the ill or mentally deficient more humanly(for they amuse themselves at their behavior). There's no place for individuality, for private thought, private time, everything has to be done with the purpose of making some good to the community. They have a justice system that seems to be efficient: if one does any wrong it is sent to slavery and has to put up with the toughest jobs and if that person shows signs of repent he/she can be granted a pardon and receive their freedom back. Although a freedom is used to express a stat in which you are free to do any good from which the community might benefit, it isn't actually a freedom of action as we might consider it, it is merely a way in which the person fits the mould.

An idea of happiness is used there that encompass a state of health, psychological well being and a continuous use for one's intelligence. The community might seem willing to take care of everyone, but when people get old or they are very ill, the priest offers them an alternative- euthanasia- to relieve their suffering. If one chooses this alternative that person is viewed with great esteem by others, because he/she knew when to part with this world. Considering that all behavior is done under the eye of everyone else, I think that this practice might have been a common norm rather than an actual choice.

Although this imaginary republic might have solved many problems which seem unsolvable-like poverty, starvation, unemployment- the sense of no private life compels me to think it might not be the perfect society for me, or one in which I'd feel happy or free. In a way even in Utopia important issue are taken care of by a handful of people, just like in our days. It might appear at a first glance that there might be more transparency there than here, because the leaders can't retain fortunes for their private interest, I'm well too aware that even if fortune might seem a good incentive to loose morality in order to obtain it, when you can dictate a way of behavior for an entire society- that to me seems to surpass the power fortune might give- you have the incentive to propagate a certain code which cannot be attacked because everyone presumes it's for the good of community.

The ideas which can be debated are numerous, and I might make some mistakes trying to put them out here without a proper consideration, but they do need to be discussed. Hopefully I'll get the chance to do that.

miercuri, 15 septembrie 2010

"Intoarcerea din rai"/The return from heaven

There must be indeed some law, a great attractor which pulls all the information towards the user. Or so it seems for me, judging by the books I read.

Mircea Eliade's novel is just a piece of the information my strange attractor brings me(according to my view of the chaos theory).

A society in change is usually a theme meant to reiterate itself, always new and yet in a different light. That's the way I perceived the society presented in the book. The intellectuals of the 1933-1934 period in Romania. The problems might be different, the communist riots were on the verge of breaking out(and one did happen) and now after almost 80 years we are struggling to change communist mentalities and to bring back a new sense of morality and perhaps to renew some lost values. The characters present their philosophical interrogations regarding their life purpose, and even if the social context might be change, the question still remain.

What is one's goal, ideal for his/her life? Is there a superior way in which to live, create, work? All these are themes that are present in every character's mind. The way the monologues are written reveal this pursuit of a meaning to life throughout the book.

One might think that these intellectuals are all selfish, each and everyone trying to realize goals of their one,trying to make a new start disregarding their families, their roots, only to discover in the end that you cannot live life on an intellectual realm, that you must transcend to life by embracing some concrete responsibilities. Each character becomes entrapped in a mesh of everyday problems and change occurs with or without them noticing. They change their ideals, seeing things more nuanced.

Only one character Paul Anicet chooses to suicide being thorn between a love for two women, realizing that he could not make himself be free, in the sense of freedom of thought and action that he wants. It's an selfish act, and one that betrays an pursuit for a unity that he thinks can only be found in death.

All in all it is a book about the meaning on creating a life, an pursuit for superior ideals, and the confront with the reality. It is indeed a book that can be found relevant for everyone who wants to create a path of development and growth that could best construct an individual's purpose, meaning to all it's actions.

Perhaps if there is a meaning which can be used to justify one's actions a sense of congruence is achieved(a congruence with one's goal, purpose).

vineri, 10 septembrie 2010

Fire in the Mind- Science, Faith and the Search for Order

George Johnson provides a stimulating book that has given me some stimulating ideas to think of. A complex and intelligible way in which theories from physics, computational theory, biology and evolution are mixed together to form a part of something that is a trademark for the scientist working in the 90's.

It was a great way for me to finally get a hold of some concepts from string theory in physics and quantum mechanics. Hoping that my understanding got deeper than before it did shift my perception of what I knew about the world around me. Theories evolve and develop themselves through the work of scientist, and scientist are in a way form by the theories they work with so it might seem hard to try to shift the view the theory gives you just to try to make better sense of things using a different "looking glass". But this is exactly what the book is all about(as it seemed to my Iguse- information gatherer and using system).

The try to make sense and predict the events happening is a endeavor that has kept our human minds busy since the dawn of consciousness. Maybe it's only an artifact of human culture and the anthropic environment in which humans engulf themselves, but it's obvious from the work in fields like anthropology,history and psychology, that the drive for knowledge and a sense of meaning to the world is what defines our species. In order to make sense we construct laws which help explain most of the events, and we try to make predictions using the knowledge we gain through using these laws. But events often seem random and sense if given to subjective state, or random condition so the meaning is in a way superstitious, attributed to things or behaviors particular to every individual.

What happens when somebody doesn't seem to see through this intricate web of everyday events? An answer is that that certain person might choose to use system of navigating through the mesh of events designed by other. Some of the most basic forms of ensuring an order is by using superstitious rituals, and afterwards using some more elaborate rituals, like those performed at religious gatherings. But whatever the form in which these systems are used they too represent compressions of the knowledge of the world.

And so it appears that there are more ways in which compressions about the world can be made and the understanding of the events can be achieved. The part in which science as a system of beliefs is superior to religion is that it always try to improve it's theories, testing them using instruments, whereas religion, as a system of beliefs works more on personal revelations alongside with those of other more illustrious people.

My favorite quote of the book is actually an reiteration of Murray Gell-Mann's words about compressions of the world around us: "when you don't see compressions that are there, that is denial; when you see compressions that don't exist, that is superstition." I strive to achieve understanding of the theories regarding life so that my personal area of compression that don't exist and are perceived by me is narrowed.

Then again, who knows what is the definition of existence? It's up to the community of scientists to define a standard of what can be seen as a part of the realm of existence and what is not.

Let's hope that we don't just invent machines that measure what are intent to measure and we will be able to shift the perspective every so often as it is needed to expand the knowledge and not to disregard things and events which might actually be happening but outside the reach of our designed instruments of perception and recording.

miercuri, 11 august 2010

In search of lost time- Swan

It feels like a novel of impressions gathered trough a lifetime.

Proust's novel gave me the impression of a world discovered through the eyes of a synesthesist: images described with a tint of color, a hint of smell and a lot of emotions.

I enjoyed reading it a lot, especially since it gave me a perspective of the nineteen century France, but because some of the ideas presented in the book where similar to those used by me when attempting to describe a place where I felt comfortable, but without the true power of words to convey it properly to others (sometimes I wanted to share my reflections, but wasn't able to do that satisfyingly).

A remembrance of the times when life was much more pure and when eyes were more willing to discover more and the mind wasn't too eager to jump to notions, concepts to describe what it was perceiving through the senses. Lecturing the book, it brought back memories when I was discovering feelings, I was, in a way, completing perspectives I had on certain events which happened the way they did and which made me, in a way, what I became today.

Knowing when to be nostalgic and when to extract from the past the power to change your present state it's an ability worth practicing, if one wants to evolve and to have a sense of one's evolution.

Maybe friends can give a history of your becoming alongside them, but only if you nurture properly the relation with them. If you have that luck you can have an account of what you were like when you were growing up and what were the things, events, people which had influenced you in a way. But if you aren't that lucky, don't worry, you can still rely on yourself and your memory to fill the gaps(but beware of the retrospective perspective which can/make events seem more mild than they were).

An in all, a great book, the kind of book which can help you think of your upbringing or your past in general.

vineri, 30 iulie 2010

The Life as a Prey

Marin Preda's journey into becoming a great romanian writer couldn't be any more vivid that it is presented in this novel. Maybe the author didn't want to write it as a novel, but the way in which the character evolves and grows reminds anyone who reads it of a bildungsroman.

It was a revelation to read of a writer which seemed in his youth more fascinated by the bits of reality heard or lived, than by the radical social and political movements happening in his days. Maybe that's what saved his style, the style of a romanian literary Picasso, that can take bits and pieces of reality to create and explain a purpose for some actions, a mobil for the thoughts of his characters.

"For a young writer life is like a prey and you need to know where to attack it from." Perhaps my translation fails to encompass the meaning but it portrays a reality that not only artists have to encompass(the first bite, attack of life) but we all, anyone who wishes to accomplish something in her/his life.

Setting my sight on my prey, I choose to try and see which attack,or bite, will open the route to my dreams...

miercuri, 28 iulie 2010

The Mammoth Book of Seriously Comic Fantasy

This is a book I read for almost three weeks.

It made me laugh and it made me think much more than before not to stop a thought in its infancy. I think I had a history with killing good thoughts, but this great anthology gave me a hope and a purpose not to do that anymore. Some thoughts are valuable enough just because they make you laugh, because they are so inconsistent with the reality we know that only by laugh we can make them more approachable.

The book made me laugh. The stories I liked the most were: Neander-tale by James P. Hagan; Dances with elves by Cynthia Ward; A slow day in hell by Julia S. Mandala; The Aliens who knew, I mean, everything by George Alec Effinger; The Dragon Doctor's Apprentice by Molly Brown; The Top 50 Things I'd do if I ever became an Evil Overlord by Peter Anspach; Escape from The Planet of Bears by Tom Holt and Quest by Sue Anderson. I enjoyed the whole book and I'm glad that I loaned it. If I ever come across a volume I think I would like to buy it, because I feel like reading it again, especially since it seems more like a book from which to read when you feel like it, unlike a novel that can hold you captive for days.

Laughter is a serious matter and it needs to be payed attention to. I will do just that and hope to treasure my paradoxical thought better from now on.

marți, 22 iunie 2010

In the Heart of the Country

J. M. Coetzee's novel is a captivating description of desolation, of dreams which belong to a maiden wanting only love an acceptance, but which can never be fulfilled.

The way in which sane thoughts are mixed with delusion made a strong impression for me. The mixed feelings about the world in which the main character lives(Magda) are only resolved in the end, when we see clearly that she loved the way in which day pass languorously on the farm, and not much seems to happen.

Only by creating a chaos, an event to change her life does she fully acknowledge the fact that she loved her ways of life because they were the only ones known to her. The idea of patricide appears in the book in the form of a delirium, but after her father, the master of a farm, in the middle of a vast territory barely populated, commits adultery with the wife(Anna) of his worker( Hendrik- they are both brown) the idea takes form. In a gesture of protest to what was happening around her she takes the riffle and without aiming she fires in the house and she badly injures him.
Afterwards the chaos begins.

In a few days her father dies, she must bury him, and Anna and Hendrik, their only remained workers take control aver the house, Magda living in humiliations of all sorts. When the neighbors get alarmed that the master of the farm does not appear the two workers flee and Magda remains by herself, losing the grip of reality and entering a world of delirium and short moments of clarity.

A book which has a hard subject, making one think that it is better to have people around,if only to maintain a grip on reality, than to remain lonely and captive of your desires of love and being understood.

marți, 11 mai 2010

"Diary of a Bad Year" by J.M. Coetzee

Sometimes books speak to you in a way that permeates matter.
I mean, I thought I would like this book since I saw it on the shelf and my expectations were accomplished.

The book present opinions, essays of an author who is aging and approaching death, and the story of his "typist"(a neighbor who is helping him to write the book).The main character, is Senior C and his help is a beautiful young lady Anya, who lives in the same building, but at the penthouse with her boyfriend Alan.

What is so new about this book is that it separates the stories in 2. First you have the essays, opinions wrote by Senior C, and then you have the story between Senior C and Anya, and in the last section the story between Anya and Alan. It is so well intertwined that you feel that the whole book has a consistency which can be felt through all 3 sections of the novel.

It is interesting to find opinions and reaction on the same novel, but with an air or different characters, although for me, Senior C and Alan kind of resemble, in a way which two point on a continuum could. I liked the vivid description of rivalry between these two characters for Anya's attention, but in the end,Senior C, with his wide life experience, and more clearly define opinions grabs more attention from Anya, and as a result Alan, in a desperate way, tries to make them feel awkward at the celebration of the book's publishing.

The publishing of the books signifies a moment of endings. The author(Senior C) realizes his life is getting closer to its final end, and Anya decides to leave Alan and start a new life.

I enjoyed the book and thought a bit about my own ending, it's hard not to think of when you're reading about someone's else. I guess in the end we all go alone in death but we can have a companion on the last minutes of life if we know how to appreciate and maintain relationships.

I just hope I'll not end up alone watching the birds in a park.

luni, 26 aprilie 2010

The Philosopher's Diet - How to Lose Weight and Change the World

I came across this book when I was feeling very sad and decided to buy it because it seemed like an interesting subject. Now that I have finished reading it I can only take a time and enjoy the great pleasure it has provided me.

Richard Watson takes on food and on the image people tend to make regarding their body. In a drastic move, he challenges beliefs about body image and what it means to be beautiful for each and every one of us. From this point everything starts to unfold.

We are presented with a new way of seeing life, which is basically to try and do what makes us feel good, without harming anyone. The point is to try to stick to a program(if we choose so) and to be in complete control over your life. It is worth being in control.

Although I don't have experience in life, and in life's matters, the arguments sounded convincing. After all I want to take my fate into my own hands and to put my mark on my life. I must confess, I do not want to lose 9 kilograms, like the author suggests in order to be sure that we are dedicated to ourselves and to our decisions,but I do feel like I could be in control of what I choose to eat, and by doing that to change the world.

Maybe you will find the book and the message convincing, maybe not, nonetheless it is a very stimulating reading.

Have a tasty meal!

marți, 20 aprilie 2010

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

Two days ago I finished The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes/The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I enjoyed it very much, and although I have seen some of the oldest movies with Sherlock Holmes and the new one I found the book very intriguing.

It sets the character in a perspective from which you wished you could have known him better. Holmes is the prototype of the modern detective, with an eye for keen observations and the fine intellectual equipment for astounding deductions. I must admit that since I started reading this novel I tried to see more with my eyes and to understand the small clues all around me.

The elegance and the parsimony of actions really makes him unique. His energy and sense of action make him a great helper of those in need. Mycroft(his brother)could indeed say that Sherlock has inherited all the energy in the family, because Holmes not only makes hypothesis about the facts, he also tries to test them in various ways, often implying the art of metamorphosis and acting to make his impersonations plausible.

Although his archenemy only comes to light in his memoirs in the last adventure it only sets a comparison to the mind and intelligence of this brilliant character. Prof. Moriarty is the renown mathematician who runs the criminal world in London. It would only seem fair that they would find their end together in their last meeting. Two great minds, one in the service of good and the other one in the service of crime, two complementary parts that could only be reduced by one another. For this reason Holmes chooses to remain in the service of good and to sacrifice his life for it.

A great ending to a great man. It almost leaves me with a feeling of sadness and yet with a feeling of universal harmony in things. Maybe that was just Sir Conan Doyle's literary style, but nonetheless a truly enjoyable book.

joi, 8 aprilie 2010

The Selfish Gene

Last night I finished reading The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. It was very revealing and it changed a bit my perspective on life, only just a bit(one of the revolutionary moments was when I read On the origin of the species, by you know who: Ch. Darwin).

Ok, so the perspective that got changed was: I always expected that people were good in their nature, not stained by some primeval sin(as some religions might tell you ).

As I was reading it appeared that some of the strategies employed by people to live in this world might seem nice, and they are beautiful behaviors sometimes, but put in the perspective of a replicator which only tends to multiply in the gene pool and we can see ourselves only as vehicles. Now, all our behaviors are designed, and selected to maximize the replicators success in multiplying. So, in our time it might seem that being nice to one another gives us some advantages, but only think of the advantages it gives to the replicator. We all know the examples of altruism between kin or people sharing the same environment. Dawkins reintroduces the idea of an Evolutionary Stable Strategy(ESS- Maynard-Smith) to exemplify those strategies which are best adapted to the environment and give the more advantages to the replicator. After all, being nice is advantageous to us, because we can build trust to obtain benefits which in turn can be put as an opportunity to have better conditions for life, or at least to the point of the biggest importance to the replicator: our reproductive period when we pass on the replicator.

Of course human nature is more complex and sometimes it might seem a bit brutal to try to think of some altruistic behaviors only as a product of our selfish gene, but other times it might shed some understanding on other behaviors like, we do we sometimes not help those not around us. After all, it seems to me we do process some kind of discrimination regarding altruistic behavior between our in-group, kin, and the out-grup - “the others”.

In a more optimistic view I think if we only could use the information available to us to think, and view all the other people as some kind of relative with which we share a certain amount of genes we could see a lot more altruistic behaviors.

That’s only a hope for the nearest future. After all, although those who know me might not consider me an optimist I think optimistically about the future if we choose to use the knowledge and not let ourselves be used by it(as opposed to all the information of dubious provenience which circles around).

marți, 6 aprilie 2010

Questions regarding life

Well, as you all know we tend to live and not think of death in many of our days. It's a great thing because we are more aware of living than the terminus that expects us all.

These days I started thinking more about life and death, although it appears that not a day goes by without these sort of thought. Anyway in the life category of thoughts are some questions which I would like to address you.

1. Why do they say that when you have flatulence you weigh more? Isn't gas suppose to make you lighter?
I'm still trying to find this out so if you come by a relevant article or piece of information let me know.

2. Why do we all assume that we will live a long healthy life, and forget that we might have to endure a long death(for example suffering from a debilitating disease)?
A possible answer for this might be the optimism we have regarding life, that it won't happen to us, and I believe that the reasoning might use the same principle that we apply everyday: not thinking about our ephemera nature and instead we choose an illusion as if we are suppose to live indefinitely.

Other questions might arise and I will pose them then.

If you have theories, hypothesis or anything related to this topic let me know.

luni, 5 aprilie 2010

Tree of Life

If you happen to come across a nice poster with 2009's BBC Tree of Life please send me one. I've tried for so long to find a copy of it, being all interested in science and evolution.

Thank you!