Modern Art and Old Titles

Modern art is really not my thing, however I will turn my hand to anything, and the result is about as on par with the other nonsense that graces popular galleries, so I will be accepting bids for this one starting at £20,000.

The one armed doll is a metaphor, please add appropriate £ value.

In other news, I have been gathering up the books of late and am now looking forward to reading some more eclectic and obscurer works to go with the madern titles that are more familiar.

In the future expect to see reviews for such travel books as Lord Dufferin‘s Letters from High Latitudes, more Indian works including, A History if Indian Literature, and A History of Indian Railways, thanks to our respective countries’ ties. And I’ll throw in The History of Chess for good measure.

Another geographic area that fascinates is Polynesia, so I’m pleased to have my grubby hands on Legends of Ma-ui: A Demi God of Polynesia.  And finally, to round off the southern hemisphere jaunts, and perhaps unsurprisingly I have also procured, Barangay: Sixteenth Century Philippine Culture and Society, and Looking for the Prehispanic Filipino.

My quest to vary my reading matter, and to push myself ever onward to new, fascinating, and perhaps undeservedly forgotten books will continue constantly, and I hope you will join me in these ventures, and perhaps suggest any fascinating titles you come across on your own reading journey.  The stranger, the better.

The Chronicles of Narnia – C. S. Lewis

The-Chronicles-of-NarniaHaving spent a ridiculous amount of time watching Moondial (the last post explains that, if you are a bit lost),  I restumbled upon a another classic from the archives,  The Chronicles of Narnia.

This is from way back when the BBC made great kids stuff all the time with seemingly no effort.  Part of the charm of the series is how extremely dated it now looks.   I’m amazed how enthralled I was at the time but it’s still a lovely romp through hilarious special effects and some wonderfully overdramatic acting.

Of the four books they made (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Prince Caspian,The Voyage of the Dawntreader and The Silver Chair), it was Dawntreader that had the most effect on me and still does.  Those silent windswept islands with their secrets and mournful solitude.  They are still endlessly fascinating to this day, like a ghostly Polynesia if you will.

when rereading the books years later, I found that they are so much more wonderfully effective.  Imagine everyone who has ever picked up The Magician’s Nephew seeing in their mind Narnia being created from the same words but with millions of different versions floating around the cosmos of collective imagination.  Great stuff, not only that but each of these hundreds of thousands of Narnia’s grows ever more complex and old throughout the books, giving you the pleasure of your own ages old world to explore. Continue reading “The Chronicles of Narnia – C. S. Lewis”

The Perils of Shopping

I went to Nottingham again last Thursday and as my local city I think it does a good job. I like the mix of colours and cultures and all that diversity malarkey but why oh why do the people and by expansion the city, want me to get involved.

Perhaps (definitely), it is my cantankerous nature starting up again but as a fellow who likes his own company whilst shopping, I really don’t want to play with the Nottingham people, so after a few hours of fruitless wandering I ran away to a second hand bookshop and spent around two hours going through single every book.

By that I mean reading the title on every spine in the place, apart from the cookery, angling, hunting and foreign language books, four departments of which I understand nothing and am happy to stand firm in my ignorance.  The nature of book shopping means crawling around on all fours across the length of each wall looking for that elusive hidden gem and then realising that there are books behind the books to the depth of the shelves, so another trip around the entire room was in order.

Add into that the ladder I had to get in order to reach the roof (the books are stacked to the rafters) and by doing so completely blocked the entrance, then I deprived a woman of her seat by placing books on it and then topping it all off by accidentally claiming to be an alcoholic

It was a tough challenge but I finally managed to satiate my appetite for all things book, with this huge haul. The day got better though, by meeting Tom and Lorraine playing a hefty dose of newly rebooted XCOM and an amusing time watching decent comedy Spaced.

So anyway onto the books and a brief overview on each; Continue reading “The Perils of Shopping”

Aku-Aku – Thor Heyerdahl

Everyone has seen the statues on Easter Island and had a bit of a wonder about the who, how and why, but what of the rest of the secrets that the island holds?  There is a lot more to Easter Island than meets the eye.

Aku-Aku sees intrepid Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl hunting out the secrets, history, legends and myths surrounding Rapa Nui (the inhabitants name for Easter Island). For a book written in the mid fifties, it doesn’t particularly feel like it has aged.

Some of Heyerdahl’s conjectures have been disproved and some of the language is though, inevitably dated.The photos too, show their age, yet strangely, this just adds to the time warp sensation the book exudes on every page. Reading this you really do feel like you are on an island at the edge of the world.

So that’s the negative points out of the way, if indeed they are of any significance in the first place. This is a book very much of its time and yet has lasting appeal in any age.

A key element of all Heyerdahl’s books, is the way he is quite happy to risk life and limb for the sake of knowledge, this curiosity leads him to describe what is the most harrowing cave expedition I have ever read. Although sitting in a big airy room, I was nauseated by the sheer claustrophobia he was describing. Continue reading “Aku-Aku – Thor Heyerdahl”

The Kon-Tiki Expedition – Thor Heyerdahl

 ‘In 1947, Thor Heyerdahl and five companions attempt to cross the Pacific ocean on a balsa-wood raft in a bid to prove Heyerdahl’s theory that the Polynesians undertook the same feat on similar craft over a thousand years ago from South America’.

Every so often a book about an extraordinary yet mind bogglingly mental feat of human ingenuity comes along and you feel compelled to stop and read about it. Written in the forties this book still holds up well today, but then again sailing the Pacific in a raft is always going to be a timeless pursuit.

First of all this is very inspiring stuff, it has all the qualities of an adventure story (with photos) and really captures the imagination. The reader is always aware that they may be following a route used +1000 years ago and that the time gap coupled with the actual physical gap the team are hoping to bridge makes their endeavour all the more magical.

What makes this enterprise more fascinating is the sheer guts that it must take to go into the Pacific without GPS or satellite phones (it is 1947 remember), just a radio and the knowledge that if the raft falls apart or anyone gets badly injured they are on their own.  The feeling of mortality and real risk makes itself felt more forcefully than the safety first exploits of todays adventurers. Continue reading “The Kon-Tiki Expedition – Thor Heyerdahl”

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