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.