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Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks – Friedrich Nietzsche

Not TragicFor Nietzsche the Age of Greek Tragedy was indeed a tragic age. He saw in it the rise and climax of values so dear to him that their subsequent drop into catastrophe (in the person of Socrates – Plato) was clearly foreshadowed as though these were events taking place in the theater. And so in this work, unpublished in his own day but written at the same time that his The Birth of Tragedy had so outraged the German professorate as to imperil his own academic career, his most deeply felt task was one of education. He wanted to present the culture of the Greeks as a paradigm to his young German contemporaries who might thus be persuaded to work toward a state of culture of their own; a state where Nietzsche found sorely missing.

Stumbling across a second-hand book in pristine condition is always pleasing but it’s an added bonus when said book is a work I had not previous come heard of.  It seems that philosophy books are generally  kept in decent nick compared to other genres which I find interesting, I wonder if there is a book on the subject…

This unfinished work, written in the 1870’s which Nietzsche planned to complete but moved onto other projects, wasn’t published in his lifetime but was and is intended to show the early Greek philosophers and the culture they helped create as a paradigm.  The metaphysical ideas and their belief in empiricism was key to the great leaps these thinkers made and the influence they had on later theorists.

The pre-Platonic philosophers began to diverge from the belief in myths of the Gods and look at the world in a logical manner based on experience and analytical thinking which was the beginning of Western philosophy.  The five philosophers explored here are Thales, Anaximander, Heraclitus, Parmenides and Anaxagoras and each has a few of their key concepts and analysis of existence discussed.  The hunting for rational explanations with which to better understand and quantify the order of nature and its patterns are the essential postulations with which later thinkers would build the ideas that have fashioned the basis of which much of modern thought. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 30/04/2016 in Philosophy

 

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Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader – Anne Fadiman

Ex-asperatingAnne Fadiman is the sort of person who learned about sex from her father’s copy of Fanny Hill, and who once found herself poring over a 1974 Toyota Corolla manual because it was the only thing in her apartment that she had not read at least twice. EX LIBRIS wittily recounts a lifelong obsession with books. Writing with humour and erudition she moves easily from anecdotes about Coleridge and Orwell to tales of her own pathologically literary family.

Books about books should be a win/win situation, the cyclical obsession of our love should be empowered by such literature and  to have somebody share the love and to be nodding along all the while is great and inspiring,

The passion for words bound between delightful covers is a wonderful thing, being both endearing and encouraging, filled with knowing anecdotes to have recognise ourselves and our habits. As I was to find out though, it turns out that other people’s habits can actually be really annoying, I wanted to love this book, sadly that hope was scuppered a short way in.

Not that there isn’t much to savour in this slim tome, on the contrary there are some cosy and mildly amusing anecdotes and the enthusiasm shines through, I suspect some of her opinions will split her readers though.  On the plus side it is obvious that Fadiman clearly has a romance with the English language and its playful nature and the discovering and collecting/hoarding of books with the subsequent joys and stresses of arranging them.

These sections are then jarringly placed with such superior opinions as – when mentioning about her dad’s library – she says ‘the only junk, relatively speaking, was science fiction’  now I’m not overly well versed in my limited travels through the Sci-Fi department but I know the worth of the genre, not just for the imagination and inspiring nature of its themes but for sheer delight in escapism as well.  Solaris and 2001: A Space Odyssey for example may not be as technically brilliant as the author’s collection of classic and obscure literature from around the world but are no less valid in their ability to move the reader and allow them to venture beyond the bounds of their world with little more than stimulation of the mind.

Little niggles aside, there was one major sticking point to me and that was the chapter on how people treat their books.  I am apparently a ‘courtly ‘lover’ of books, I read them and try to keep them pristine, because they are an investment to me and I tend to like them looking nice.  I can cope with spine breaking if I happen to do it, which I rarely do and marginalia is fine as well, as it can be an interesting source and adds to the book.  Fadiman is a ‘carnal’ lover, she will read the books to bits, she is happy to annotate them and even tear pages out to make notes on, this is apparently the most rewarding way to enjoy books and we others that don’t have family tales of parents ripping out of previously read chapters of a paperback to save weight at the airport are obviously doing it wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 27/04/2016 in Essays

 

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A Bend in the River – V.S. Naipaul

BendySet in an unnamed African country, the book is narrated by Salim, a young man from an Indian family of traders long resident on the coast. He believes The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it. So he has taken the initiative; left the coast; acquired his own shop in a small, growing city in the continent’s remote interior and is selling sundries – little more than this and that, really – to the natives. This spot, this ‘bend in the river’, is a microcosm of post-colonial Africa at the time of Independence: a scene of chaos, violent change, warring tribes, ignorance, isolation and poverty. And from this rich landscape emerges one of the author’s most potent works – a truly moving story of historical upheaval and social breakdown.

No matter what upheavals happen between nations and cultures or how much it changes hands and identity, there is always a human habitation remaining at the strategic bend in the river.  That anchor is the setting for this book of observance which is a feel of a story for and of all ages.

Salim’s unnamed post colonial country exists in a vacuum in a confusion of radical thoughts and ideas, it struggles to find a new identity melded from its ancient roots and recent history, yet is in reactionary turmoil and mistrust over everything.  The beliefs of the population in themselves, their history, religions and collective citizenship have been replaced by vulnerability and a loss of the perceived identity they have had for years.

This is the backdrop for the story so it is unsurprising that it’s crammed full of perspectives on the basic situations of each character and also explores the wider global place of Africans.  What makes this situation so intriguing is that everybody is seeking an identity, hunting for some peace of mind despite the dangerous and bloody games of power and corruption played out by the rebels and government – the spiritual successor to the conquests by both Eastern and Western powers.

Naipaul questions what it means to be a ‘new African’, how much each person is influenced through their ideas and upbringing and what it means to be truly free.  The writing is languid, it’s a book that’s elaborate and complex, it takes its time and is played out slowly with emphasis on thought rather than action and conveys well the inner conflict of a people set free yet still firmly ties to the horrors of oppressing forces. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 23/04/2016 in Fiction

 

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The Whisper

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The Whisper

A rustle, displacing anticipatory silence
Words barely made out, hinting at enticing possibilities
The gentle breeze of impassioned words, sighed
Coated with sweet passionate pledges

The gentle purr of promises
Seductive susurration
Raising goosebumps
Tempestuous images flow

A sweet and swirling murmur
Conjuring intimate images, crashing through the mind
The frenzied beating of a heart in ecstatic turmoil
The aural effect setting aflame desires

Silence settles, ripples subside,
The calm before the eager storm…

~~~

*Have no clue to the source of this photo just came up on a pinterest, sorry.

 
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Posted by on 20/04/2016 in My Writings, Poetry

 

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Literary Love Liaison

Wandering around over the last couple of months, it’s become clear that this obsession with giving the economy a boost has reached ridiculous proportions.  This combined haul of treats that has accumulated has left me anxious to keep piling through the books so I can get to the next literary intrigue, the challenge is which of these beauties do I begin my next literary love affair with?  That’s ignoring the hundreds of other books whose collective presence is bearing down upon me.

WP_20160414_002Nothing makes a reader happier than many possibilities, yet it’s perplexing that with so much to choose from, the list of books I wish to read is usually whittled down to five within minutes and from there to the eventual in about an hour, thereafter. Austerlitz, Ex Libris and Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks are the forerunners at the moment but that could all change by the time I finish V.S. Naipaul’s A Bend in the River.

WP_20160417_001Having said that, any author who doesn’t use a first name and prefers to go by ‘Mrs’ instead has to be worth a punt and that was precisely why that book found its way into my bag, that and that economy excuse of course.   As the old Amazon wish list (which is there purely for when I shop in the traditional way) is too fiddly to get at on my phone, I tend to browse through my blogging contacts sites for recommendations, so more time is spent actually looking at the phone than the books themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 17/04/2016 in Blogging, Life, Lists/Ephemera

 

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Free HTTPS Everywhere!

OnlyTheGretestActorEverA couple of posts ago you may remember that a reblog from Resa’s site came back as being an insecure connection.  It turns out it was a breach in WordPress security and as a result of Resa’s emails and my technical buffoonery skills we managed to come up with a coherent reason for what we thought was wrong so the technical boffins could sort it.

As a result, WP has rolled out a feature that they have had in the pipeline for a time but wasn’t due to be released so soon and that is free HTTPS for all custom domains hosted on WordPress.com. This brings the security and performance of modern encryption to every blog and website we host. You can read the whole announcement here if you’re interested and haven’t come across it already you can find the details here.  Save your thanks people, we only accept money, books or exotic food.

If you would like us to fix your problem drop a comment below, be it the Middle East Peace Process or a Rubik’s Cube, no problem is too…problemy.  Now that blogs everywhere are safe, our work here is done and it’s time to enigmatically abseil down the side of a handily placed building which we just happened to be on top of but I didn’t mention before.

You’re welcome WordPress, you’re welcome.

 
31 Comments

Posted by on 13/04/2016 in Blogging

 

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Leaf – Daishu Ma

LeafHow much power does a single man, let alone a single leaf, have in the industrial world? In this wordless, all-ages graphic novel, our protagonist discovers a leaf that radiates a vibrant light. He returns to a detailed metropolis – depicted in somber grays and blues – and searches for answers. During his quest, he stumbles upon a man who knows what’s really happening in the city’s labyrinthine ducts; a woman who spends her life studying and classifying obsolete flora; and the truth about the ever-dwindling environment. Leaf is a graphically stunning story that unfolds with a dream-like pace.  Shaded in pencil and punctuated by spot colors, drawn in a delicate but concretely realized tonal approach reminiscent of Shaun Tan’s The Arrival and Chris Van Allsburg’s Jumanji, Chinese cartoonist Daishu Ma’s first foray onto American shelves is ultimately a hopeful vision of the coexistence of the urban and natural worlds. Full-color illustrations throughout.

Wandering around Page 45 – Nottingham’s best comic book shop – I came across this intriguing effort and typically curiosity got the better of me and my wallet.  The best bit about this cover (unless you have a foliage fetish) is that there is a leaf-shaped hole allowing us to see the title on the page behind.  I mention this because it made me feel like a kid again being fascinated by a hole in the cover and on the strength of that and my natural curiosity like the man in the book, the sale was already a done deal.

Stories with no words are always thought-provoking beasts, body and facial expressions become more of an art than just an accompanying depiction to underline words.  Whether subtle or blatant each person will, according to their own experiences and thoughts open the story up to unique interpretations of the nuances within the main framework of the tale.

The pencil drawings are wonderfully realised, mixing different sizes and detailing throughout its pages.  The limited use of colour really brings out the features in each illustration and creates a vivid feel of something magical that is taken for granted in real life.  The imagined world is both grounded in reality but also has a distinct fantastical influence so the reader is both familiar but also intrigued by the setting. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 09/04/2016 in Graphic Novels

 

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