Resident Moron

Bringing it.

A late-night philosophical examination of God by an atheist

I’m studying the token chapter on continental philosophy like in both degrees before, but this time it reads differently. This time, I think I can say that my new lifestyle and attitude have turned me [at least in part] existentialist.

If there’s a God, I hope it’s Martin Buber‘s “partner in dialogue…with whom individuals communicate in an I-Thou relation.” Deeear Diary.

Or Paul Tillich‘s God, close to the “ultimate concern” that guides your life and gives it integrity, vital because responsibility accompanies freedom.

After all, aren’t self-reflection and passionate duty two main tenets of many Western religions?

I don’t think religion should be awe of higher power; it needs to be the transfer of guiding principles to a life free from guilt and regret. Then it can take some of the burden off the public education system! (Har har.)

Of course, I’m not one to make a point of avoiding guilt and regret.

October 3, 2011 Posted by | Reading, Time to Kill, Writing | , , , , | 1 Comment

Poetry Review: “I Cut My Finger” by Stuart Ross

Whimsical and surreal, I Cut My Finger plucks images from different ends of the brain to recreate our concepts of everyday objects in an absurd and original, yet accessible, fashion. From the quirky front cover, where scratchy penmanship and minimalist sketches depict the feature poems, to opening works “The Door” and “I Cut My Finger,” the reader is introduced to a world where up is not necessarily up, and where word play and philosophical observation of material things reveal poetry in unexpected places.

The title poem for this collection sets the lyrical tone to one of constantly restructuring or re-imagining ‘the world as we know it':

… I thought that for me
mountains are big solid things poking into the air,
like at god,
but for people for whom solid
is the absence of solid,
then they’ve got upside-down mountains
pointing towards earth. (I Cut My Finger)

For Stuart Ross, this process entails the deliberate examination of language, which he accomplishes in a true tongue-in-cheek manner. For example, in “I Cut My Finger” he flirts with the literal meaning of the word ‘recount': “Oh the adventures I had climbing, / let me recount them (in case I counted / wrong the first time).” Similarly, he draws attention to the peculiarities of the English language:

I let Misery have one
right in the stomach. (Not
the actual organ itself,
but the place on his body
where the stomach is under.) (How I Became Exquisite)

Not only is the composition and function of words confronted frequently, but also that of material, everyday objects, as in “I Cut My Finger” (“I tried calling Dana but there wasn’t any phone / and I cut my finger / dialing a rock”) and “50 O’Clock” (“Everything was made of something else”). Furthermore, Ross makes no assumptions about the reader’s familiarity with the mundane–he defines everyday forms as though explaining them to an extraterrestrial creature:

He racked his brains to recall
what “don’t” meant and meanwhile
he bumped his head on a building.
A building’s a square thing with a hole inside
where people live or maybe work. (A Guy, Some Flippers, A Building)

In doing so, he effectively demonstrates that words are just symbols of our experience as human beings, symbols that we take for granted in their consistency and meaning until otherwise challenged. Therefore, while the point of view employed by Ross may be uniquely obscure, his mode consistently investigates images from new perspectives to create a patterned art.

In a further exercise of word play, Ross seems at times to write–or organize–according to a stream of consciousness. At the end of “How I Became Exquisite” he writes about “approaching stray orphans,” and the next poem is titled “An Orphan.” This in turn ends with “beside an empty ocean,” and the next poem is titled “The Ocean.” Further along, “The Bed” ends with the attempted burial of a mother; the next poem, “Song,” describes the event of visiting his family members’ graves. This creates a flow within the collection itself, tying together poems and prose which otherwise explore a wide range of topics and experiences.

Another brief exercise of stream of consciousness can be found in “Mary is the Merry One,” where scattered images seem at first randomly organized, except that some association is found to exist among the words (though rarely behind the concepts they conjure or represent). Take the first stanza, for example:

Do you go to many parties?
We joined a party of hunters.
It pays to be particular in choosing a friend.
Sally is my particular friend.

The first line, a straightforward conversation-starter, is followed by a phrase that is unrelated other than employing [a novel exploration of] the word ‘party’. The third line, words of advice, follow semantically from the first (you go to a party with friends, generally). The fourth line restructures the grammatical role of the word ‘particular’ from the third line, accompanied by a repetition of ‘friend’. The remainder of the poem follows in somewhat the same pattern, though at times the method and message are harder to decipher.

Ross expresses throughout his collection some political and media influence, specifically within his piece “What’s Important Now,” thus dating himself to his particular culture and responding appropriately. Ross’s social and sometimes political observations are mirrored by  sharp self-explorations and questioning. In “The Bed” we encounter one philosophical exploration of consciousness and self-existence when Ross states that “A lighting fixture on the ceiling contained several dead flies, but only when it was on.” “Others Like Me” describes the actions we sometimes take or the rationalizations we provide to confirm that we are, in fact, alive, while “I Step Off The Plane” apologizes for the uncertainty and implications of consciousness:

A kitten is curled up, its eyes closed: I cannot tell whether it is sleeping or dead. Oh no, sorry – I cannot tell whether I am sleeping or dead.

Not only does Ross succeed in expressing his thoughts and observations in a concrete fashion, but he also forces the reader to cogitate often odd images and sentiments to find a meaning that speaks to their experiences and understanding. “The Surface” is riddled with oddities of speech, from the self-awareness of the poem itself (“The words agonized over their own inertia”; similarly, in “Sediment,” “…a poet better than me / would insert a really good sediment / metaphor right here. (Or, more poignantly, / here.)”) to phrases that seem to express a sort of nostalgia for past ambitions and ideals. There is also a dreamlike quality and depth to these phrases, which emphasizes the irony of the title. For instance, “she slept urgently amid the words” may evoke a feeling of unease, because our experience of ‘sleep’ and ‘urgency’ are intuitively in conflict. Similarly, later, “I recognized / my eyelids. I could pick them out / in a lineup” seems an impossible phrase because the very act of exposing our eyelids is to give up sight, and so the reader shakes their head and tries again.

The dissonance with which the reader responds to the mixed images generation from Stuart’s mind will give cause to a double-take effect, so to speak, whereby the reader is forced to take better care in pondering their interpretation. This is because, while the descriptive qualities of Ross’s poems paint quite a picture for the reader, the scene is not familiar. In this sense, I would argue that Ross is imparting his imaginative abilities and successfully broadening the horizons of creative thought among his readers.

February 8, 2009 Posted by | Reading, Writing | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The biology of romantic relationships

I’m into psychology; I’m into evolutionary theory; I’m into self-improvement. Since my mother is a few months away from an empty nest, I bought her a book combining my interests and beliefs, but decided to breeze through it myself, first (if occasionally taking notes and marking sections of interest through 400 pages in a few hours can be considered “breezing”). It’s part of a group of “the owner’s manual to you” series by M.D.s Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz, my pick of which was You: Being Beautiful.

The book focuses on three main concepts of beauty: looking beautiful (i.e. attaining healthier-looking skin and hair), feeling beautiful (i.e. overcoming chronic pain, depression, or fatigue), and being beautiful (i.e. strategies for finding and embracing happiness through quality of life). The following is an excerpt from the third section, “Being Beautiful”:

You need to look beautiful – at least if you hope to continue the species – because it’s used to attract a mate. You need to feel beautiful to signal that you are healthy and worthy of parenting a potential mate’s offspring. And when someone indicates that he or she is attracted to you and interested in what it takes to perpetuate the species, it naturally gives you the joy and confidence you need to be beautiful. On every level, love, not to mention the intimate/exciting/body-melting sexual relationship that goes with it, is the biggest beauty boost of them all.

Great, now I feel unattractive and lonely. Time to go find myself a relationship self-help book.

December 1, 2008 Posted by | Educational, Reading | , , , , , | 1 Comment

I Like These People

Sometimes I need a good push to continue to strive to be the person I could be. Here are six quotes that mean something to me, and why:

“Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you’ve never been hurt and live like it’s heaven on Earth.” — Mark Twain

    I’ve let bad past relationship experiences haunt current and future ones. Wouldn’t it be glorious to start fresh with each new person?

    “I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” — Marilyn Monroe 

      I should stop worrying about my half-and-half friends. If they can’t lend a hand or stand by my side when I’m down, I’m only feeding their selfish interests by giving them my best.

      “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” — Robert Frost 

        Que sera, sera. O-bla-di, o-bla-da. Tomorrow is a new day. Just follow each breath with another.

        “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” — Anaïs Nin 

          Having a degree in psychology, I know all about projection and bias and self-concept. When I love myself and I am happy, life will be all that much better. I will trust again.

          “It is better to be hated for what you are than loved for what you are not.” — André Gide 

            I’ve spent the better part of my life trying to please everyone, and compromising my own happiness to ensure that of others. It is hard for those close to me to accept just how unhappy I have been for a long time, because I did not burden them with the knowledge. I shave off bits of myself that I feel might offend certain people. No more. No more sacrifices. I will be me, and be proud, and love the people who choose to love me then.

            Besides, no one great and successful can be loved by everyone, because making a bold statement intrinsically involves the risk of disagreement.

            “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” — Lewis Carroll

              While there is a fun, carefree aspect to this quote, I see this point instead: without a goal, I am liable to drift onto any path – perhaps a good one, but, equally likely, one of self-destruction. I need to provide myself with enough guidance to make the right decisions when I reach these forks in the road.

              What or whose words do you choose to live by?

              November 7, 2008 Posted by | Reading, Writing | , , , | 1 Comment

              Writing Tidbit for the Day

              You cannot teach anyone to write. You can help them open up what they have inside, help shape the story, and teach them devices. Open up meanings – see how literature is layered. The ideas have to come from the WRITER.

              Normal dialogue is filled with interruptions and boring topics. It is also typically fragmented because there is an understanding between those conversing.

              Mind your personal setting – your personal universe – for ideas.

              Use adverbs sparingly. While “said” might be boring, it creates clarity and leaves room for the important images.

              Your story won’t take shape until you know where it is going. Do you know your characters? Walk around with them. See how they get up in the morning, how they react to situation, how they drink their coffee – live with them. Know them from the inside-out. Who are your characters? Do they form a group? Do they each have their own motivation? Do you know the conflict between them?

              Choose a character that will take you somewhere, is capable of transformation. Discover a character’s motivation and let the story write itself.

              Make sure your story is fully realized. Readers don’t like to guess facts. There should be no questions left except the philosophical ones. Remember: a COMPLETE dramatic action. Ask yourself: have I probed the human condition?

              Stories are not written; they are re-written.

              Getting black on white is the hardest part. The only way to revise is to put the first draft aside and then start from scratch. Write the more complex story that is hidden beneath the first draft.

              As a future exercise, follow Alistair MacLoed’s advice. After deciding what the story is, decide on a narrator. All our other decisions come naturally from this first choice. Who will tell the tale you want to tell? Try rewriting the story from a different point of view, or even from a different character.

              How should we use real people in our stories? What is our ethical responsibility?

              We should pick out certain traits (the basis of the psychological entity) from the person we have in mind, but otherwise let your character take over in their own direction. They will develop accordingly, but they should not become a print version of the real person. Definitely change the physical description (or else it might be slightly suspicious!). You can also take different parts (traits, interests) of different people, like a mosaic. Above everything, respect your characters.

              November 2, 2008 Posted by | Educational, Reading, Writing | , , , | Leave a comment

              Phantoms in the Brain

              When I was reading one of my favourite books to date, “Phantoms in the Brain” by V.S. Ramachandran, I kept note of some facts that I found useful or particularly interesting. 

              Fun Facts:

              • In multiple personality disorders, eye structures and blood chemistry can change with different personas
              • You can identify certain diseases by a person’s smell, for instance: diabetic ketosis – sweetish nail polish breath, typhoid fever – freshly baked bread odor, scrofula – stale-beer stench, rubella – newly plucked chicken feathers, lung abscess – foul smell, liver failure – ammonia-like windex odor, pseudomonas infection – grape juice, isovaleric acidemia – sweaty feet smell (yum yum)
              • Poetry is processed in the right temporal lobe
              • A distressed person who experiences a stroke in the corpus collosum might experience her left hand trying to strangle her – this is because the suicidal tendencies of the right hemisphere are no longer inhibited by the rational left hemisphere
              • A stroke in the left brain might result in a patient who is anxious, depressed, and worried about prospect for recovery; a stroke in the right brain, however, might result in a patient who is blissfully indifferent
              • There are two different smile circuits: (1) spontaneous smile – basal ganglia (no thought), (2) conscious smile (brain giving direction) – auditory to motor cortex. Therefore, a stroke in the right motor cortex means the instruction to smile results in right-side only, while a spontaneous smile is normal. A stroke in the basal ganglia results in a patient being incapable of a normal spontaneous smile, but an actual attempt at smiling works out alright
              • A paralyzed person may still lift their arms when yawning, because a different brain pathway is used than a conscious attempt to lift the arms (unconscious lifting linked to respiratory centers in the brain stem)
              • The Penfield homunculus is the name for the “little man in the brain,” whereby the body is mapped on the cerebral cortex. Brain circuitry can be remapped because the brain is flexible to change even in adulthood, which is why phantom limbs appear. These phantoms limbs can often experience sensation when the area mapped closest on the brain is stimulated on the body (see map below):

              • There are two visual pathways: (1) old – goes to superior colliculus in brain stem, then to parietal lobes, used for orienting behaviour and nicknamed ‘the zombie in the brain’, (2) new – travels to lateral geniculate nucleus (a relay station for primary visual cortex), used for identifying objects. Damage to the new pathway is what we know as blindness in the conventional sense. Damage to the old pathway is known as “blindsight,” whereby patients can be somewhat oriented toward an object or target without consciously knowing how or what it is. 
              • Charles Bonnet syndrome affects people whose vision has become compromised by glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, or diabetic retinopathy. Many people develop hallucinations though they are either completely or partially blind (as if to replace reality) – it goes unreported for fear of being labeled senile or insane
              • Everyone has a natural blind spot, called ‘scotoma’, but the region is automatically filled in by other visual areas of other brain

              His distortions are due to the fact that the homunculus is proportioned according to the amount of cortex devoted to each body part (more devotion = more sensation)

              October 30, 2008 Posted by | Educational, Reading | , , , , , | Leave a comment

              75 Books Every Woman Should Read

              A list of books that are essential for the heart and soul of every woman. Jezebel called on everyday readers to help with its compilation and came up with the following, in no particular order (books I’ve read in italics):

              1. The Lottery (and Other Stories)’ by Shirley Jackson
              2. ‘To the Lighthouse’ by Virginia Woolf
              3. ‘The House of Mirth’ by Edith Wharton
              4. ‘White Teeth’ by Zadie Smith
              5. ‘The House of the Spirits’ by Isabel Allende
              6. ‘Slouching Towards Bethlehem’ by Joan Didion
              7. ‘Excellent Women’ by Barbara Pym
              8. ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath
              9. ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ by Jean Rhys
              10. ‘The Namesake’ by Jhumpa Lahiri
              11. ‘Beloved’ by Toni Morrison
              12. ‘Madame Bovary’ by Gustave Flaubert
              13. ‘Like Life’ by Lorrie Moore
              14. ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen
              15. ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Brontë
              16. ‘The Delta’ of Venus by Anais Nin
              17. ‘A Thousand Acres’ by Jane Smiley
              18. ‘A Good Man Is Hard To Find (and Other Stories)’ by Flannery O’Connor
              19. ‘The Shipping News’ by E. Annie Proulx
              20. ‘You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down’ by Alice Walker
              21. ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’ by Zora Neale Hurston
              22. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee
              23. ‘Fear of Flying’ by Erica Jong
              24. ‘Earthly Paradise’ by Colette
              25. ‘Angela’s Ashes’ by Frank McCourt
              26. ‘Property’ by Valerie Martin
              27. ‘Middlemarch’ by George Eliot
              28. ‘Annie John’ by Jamaica Kincaid
              29. ‘The Second Sex’ by Simone de Beauvoir
              30. ‘Runaway’ by Alice Munro
              31. ‘The Heart is A Lonely Hunter’ by Carson McCullers
              32. ‘The Woman Warrior’ by Maxine Hong Kingston
              33. ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Brontë
              34. ‘You Must Remember This’ by Joyce Carol Oates
              35. ‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott (I knooow, how have I not read this yet?)
              36. ‘Bad Behavior’ by Mary Gaitskill
              37. ‘The Liars’ Club’ by Mary Karr
              38. ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’ by Maya Angelou
              39. ‘A Tree Grows In Brooklyn’ by Betty Smith
              40. ‘And Then There Were None’ by Agatha Christie (one of my all-time favourites!!)
              41. ‘Bastard out of Carolina’ by Dorothy Allison
              42. ‘The Secret History’ by Donna Tartt
              43. ‘The Little Disturbances of Man’ by Grace Paley
              44. ‘The Portable Dorothy Parker’ by Dorothy Parker
              45. ‘The Group’ by Mary McCarthy
              46. ‘Persepolis’ by Marjane Satrapi
              47. ‘The Golden Notebook’ by Doris Lessing
              48. ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ by Anne Frank
              49. ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley
              50. ‘Against Interpretation’ by Susan Sontag
              51. ‘In the Time of the Butterflies’ by Julia Alvarez
              52. ‘The Good Earth’ by Pearl S. Buck
              53. ‘Fun Home’ by Alison Bechdel
              54. ‘Three Junes’ by Julia Glass
              55. ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ by Mary Wollstonecraft
              56. ‘Sophie’s Choice’ by William Styron
              57. ‘Valley of the Dolls’ by Jacqueline Susann
              58. ‘Love in a Cold Climate’ by Nancy Mitford
              59. ‘Gone with the Wind’ by Margaret Mitchell
              60. ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ by Ursula K. LeGuin
              61. ‘The Red Tent’ by Anita Diamant
              62. ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ by Milan Kundera
              63. ‘The Face of War’ by Martha Gellhorn
              64. ‘My Antonia’ by Willa Cather
              65. ‘Love In The Time of Cholera’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
              66. ‘The Harsh Voice’ by Rebecca West
              67. ‘Spending’ by Mary Gordon
              68. ‘The Lover’ by Marguerite Duras
              69. ‘The God of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy
              70. ‘Tell Me a Riddle’ by Tillie Olsen
              71. ‘Nightwood’ by Djuna Barnes
              72. ‘Three Lives’ by Gertrude Stein
              73. ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ by Stella Gibbons
              74. ‘I Capture the Castle’ by Dodie Smith
              75. ‘Possession’ by A.S. Byatt 

              Perhaps good gifts for the important women in your life. Many of these titles are unfamiliar – do any happen to hold a fond/significant place in your reading history? (List via Jezebel.)

              October 7, 2008 Posted by | Educational, Reading | , , , | 1 Comment

              30 Books to Read Before You’re 30

              From Marc Chernoff at Brazen Careerist:

              The 30 books listed here are of unparalleled prose, packed with wisdom capable of igniting a new understanding of the world.  Everyone should read these books before their 30th birthday.

              The ones I’ve knocked off my list are italicized. :)

              1. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse – A powerful story about the importance of life experiences as they relate to approaching an understanding of reality and attaining enlightenment.
              2. 1984 by George Orwell – 1984 still holds chief significance nearly 60 years after it was written in 1949.  It is widely acclaimed for its haunting vision of an all-knowing government which uses pervasive, 24/7 surveillance tactics to manipulate all citizens of the populace.
              3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – The story surveys the controversial issues of race and economic class in the 1930’s Deep South via a court case of a black man charged with the rape and abuse of a young white girl.  It’s a moving tale that delivers a profound message about fighting for justice and against prejudice.
              4. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess – A nightmarish vision of insane youth culture that depicts heart wrenching insight into the life of a disturbed adolescent.  This novel will blow you away… leaving you breathless, livid, thrilled, and concerned.
              5. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway – A short, powerful contemplation on death, ideology and the incredible brutality of war.
              6. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – This masterpiece is so enormous even Tolstoy said it couldn’t be described as a standard novel.  The storyline takes place in Russian society during the Napoleonic Era, following the characters of Andrei, Pierre and Natasha… and the tragic and unanticipated way in which their lives interconnect.
              7. The Rights of Man by Tom Paine – Written during the era of the French Revolution, this book was one of the first to introduce the concept of human rights from the standpoint of democracy.
              8. The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau – A famous quote from the book states that “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”  This accurately summarizes the book’s prime position on the importance of individual human rights within society.
              9. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez – This novel does not have a plot in the conventional sense, but instead uses various narratives to portray a clear message about the general importance of remembering our cultural history.
              10. The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin – Few books have had as significant an impact on the way society views the natural world and the genesis of humankind.
              11. The Wisdom of the Desert by Thomas Merton – A collection of thoughts, meditations and reflections that give insight into what life is like to live simply and purely, dedicated to a greater power than ourselves.
              12. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell – Gladwell looks at how a small idea, or product concept, can spread like a virus and spark global sociological changes.  Specifically, he analyzes “the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable.”
              13. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham – Arguably one of the best children’s books ever written; this short novel will help you appreciate the simple pleasures in life.  It’s most notable for its playful mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality, and camaraderie.
              14. The Art of War by Sun Tzu – One of the oldest books on military strategy in the world.  It’s easily the most successful written work on the mechanics of general strategy and business tactics.
              15. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – One of the greatest fictional stories ever told, and by far one of the most popular and influential written works in 20th-century literature.  Once you pick up the first book, you’ll read them all.
              16. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens – This is a tale that lingers on the topic of attaining and maintaining a disciplined heart as it relates to one’s emotional and moral life.  Dickens states that we must learn to go against “the first mistaken impulse of the undisciplined heart.”
              17. Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot – Probably the wisest poetic prose of modern times.  It was written during World War II, and is still entirely relevant today… here’s an excerpt: “The dove descending breaks the air/With flame of incandescent terror/Of which the tongues declare/The only discharge from sin and error/The only hope, or the despair/Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre–/To be redeemed from fire by fire./Who then devised this torment?/Love/Love is the unfamiliar Name/Behind the hands that wave/The intolerable shirt of flame/Which human power cannot remove./We only live, only suspire/Consumed by either fire or fire.”
              18. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller – This book coined the self-titled term “catch-22” that is widely used in modern-day dialogue.  As for the story, its message is clear: What’s commonly held to be good, may be bad… what is sensible, is nonsense.  Its one of the greatest literary works of the 20th century.  Read it.
              19. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – Set in the Jazz Age of the roaring 20’s, this book unravels a cautionary tale of the American dream.  Specifically, the reader learns that a few good friends are far more important that a zillion acquaintances, and the drive created from the desire to have something is more valuable than actually having it.
              20. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – This novel firmly stands as an icon for accurately representing the ups and downs of teen angst, defiance and rebellion.  If nothing else, it serves as a reminder of the unpredictable teenage mindset.
              21. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky – A smooth-flowing, captivating novel of a young man living in poverty who criminally succumbs to the desire for money, and the hefty phychological impact this has on him and the people closest to him.
              22. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli – This book does a great job at describing situations of power and statesmanship.  From political and corporate power struggles to attaining advancement, influence and authority over others, Machiavelli’s observations apply.
              23. Walden by Henry David Thoreau – Thoreau spent two years, two months and two days writing this book in a secluded cabin near the banks of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts.  This is a story about being truly free from the pressures of society.  The book can speak for itself:  “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
              24. The Republic by Plato – A gripping and enduring work of philosophy on how life should be lived, justice should be served, and leaders should lead.  It also gives the reader a fundamental understanding of western political theory.
              25. Lolita – This is the kind of book that blows your mind wide open to conflicting feelings of life, love and corruption… and at times makes you deeply question your own perceptions of each.  The story is as devious as it is beautiful.
              26. Getting Things Done by David Allen – The quintessential guide to organizing your life and getting things done.  Nuff said.
              27. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – This is the granddaddy of all self-improvement books.  It is a comprehensive, easy to read guide for winning people over to your way of thinking in both business and personal relationships.
              28. Lord of the Flies by William Golding – A powerful and alarming look at the possibilities for savagery in a lawless environment, where compassionate human reasoning is replaced by anarchistic, animal instinct.
              29. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – Steinbeck’s deeply touching tale about the survival of displaced families desperately searching for work in a nation stuck by depression will never cease to be relevant.
              30. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov – This anticommunist masterpiece is a multifaceted novel about the clash between good and evil.  It dives head first into the topics of greed, corruption and deception as they relate to human nature.
              I’ve got 7 years left to set the tone for the rest of my life. (Link.)

              October 3, 2008 Posted by | Reading | , | Leave a comment

              Feel-Good Quotes

              Ah, these give me the warm fuzzies. Asterisks (**) next to my personal favourites.

              On Friends & Family

              Every murderer is probably somebody’s old friend. -Agatha Christie

              **Apparently, 1 in 5 people in the world are Chinese. And there are 5 people in my family, so it must be one of them. It’s either my mum or my dad. Or my older brother Colin. Or my younger brother Ho-Chan-Chu. But I think it’s Colin. -Tim Vine

              On Alcohol

              I drink to make other people interesting. -George Jean Nathan 

              I work until beer o’clock. -Steven King 

              Actually, it only takes one drink to get me loaded. Trouble is, I can’t remember if it’s the thirteenth or fourteenth. -George Burns

              Time is never wasted when you’re wasted all the time. -Catherina Zandonella

              Catty

              Old aunts used to come up to me at weddings, poking me in the ribs and cackling, telling me, “You’re next.” They stopped after I started doing the same thing to them at funerals.

              I am free of all prejudices. I hate everyone equally. -W.C. Fields

              A woman’s mind is cleaner than a man’s. She changes it more often. -Oliver Herford

              I’d love to kiss you, but I just washed my hair. -Bette Davis

              It’s too bad that stupidity isn’t painful -Anton Szandor LaVey 

              On Sex

              Sex is like bridge: If you don’t have a good partner, you better have a good hand. -Charles Pierce

              I practice safe sex – I use an airbag. -Garry Shandling

              When I’m good I’m very, very good but when I’m bad I’m better. -Mae West

              On Insanity

              Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m schizophrenic, and so am I. -Oscar Levant

              Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most. -Mark Twain

              Some mornings it just doesn’t seem worth it to gnaw through the leather straps. -Emo Philips

              **The dumber people think you are, the more surprised they’re going to be when you kill them. -William Clayton

              On Work

              I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. -Jerome K. Jerome

              October 1, 2008 Posted by | Funny, Reading | , | Leave a comment

              Sense and Sensibility

              While reading the novel ‘Sense and Sensibility‘ by Jane Austen (author of a personal favourite of mine, ‘Pride and Prejudice‘), I jotted down a couple of quotes that caught my attention.

              On stubbornness

              Elinor thought it wisest to touch that point no more. She knew her sister’s temper. Opposition on so tender a subject would only attach her the more to her own opinion. (Chapter 12)

              Ha! Tell me about it. Could be talking about my mom here.

              On rain:

              “How horrid all this is!” said [Mr. Palmer]. “Such weather makes everything and everybody disgusting. Dulness is as much produced within doors as without by rain. It makes one detest all one’s acquaintance. What the devil does Sir John mean by not having a billiard-room in his house? How few people know what comfort is! Sir John is as stupid as the weather.” (Chapter 20)

              Well, good sir, your face is stupid.

              (For more scholastic-oriented quotes from ‘Sense and Sensibility’, see this link.)

              September 25, 2008 Posted by | Reading | , | Leave a comment

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