“Essays of Schopenhauer” by Arthur Schopenhauer

2013/04/20 § 3 Comments

“Those writers who construct difficult, obscure, involved, and ambiguous phrases most certainly do not rightly know what it is they wish to say: they have only a dull consciousness of it, which is still struggling to put itself into thought; they also often wish to conceal from themselves and other people that in reality they have nothing to say. Like Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, they wish to appear to know what they do not know, to think what they do not think, and to say what they do not say.”

(Arthur Schopenhauer)

Herr Schopenhauer knew how to write… what a shame that he was a pompous misogynist.

Schopenhauer

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“The Canterville Ghost” by Oscar Wilde

2013/04/18 § Leave a comment

This short story about a haunted old mansion in the English countryside is not your typical ghost tale. You can even call it “reversed horror”, as the ghost is the one who is being tormented here. Or, in the words of Dr. Montague from Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House”:

“Do you recall,” he asked with a little smile, “Oscar Wilde’s lovely story, ‘The Canterville Ghost’?” “The American twins who routed the fine old English ghost,” Theodora said. “Exactly. I have always liked the notion that the American twins were actually a poltergeist phenomenon; certainly poltergeists can overshadow any more interesting manifestation. Bad ghosts drive out good.”

However, it is a typical Wilde, and I’ll never get tired of his wit.

“Poor, poor ghost…” (illustrated by Wallace Goldsmith)

“Poor, poor ghost…” (illustrated by Wallace Goldsmith)

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“Naive. Super” by Erlend Loe, or What used to excite me when I was a child

2013/04/11 § 4 Comments

“I’ve written a new list. It shows what used to excite me when I was younger. It’s quite long. (…) My existence was full of these things. It was so nice and uncomplicated. When I wasn’t sleeping I ran around and was excited. I never walked. I ran. (…) I speculate about making a list of things that excite me today. I find pen and paper, but notice that I am hesitating. I am afraid the list will be a short one. I should never have stopped running.”

(Erlend Loe)

This was a quick, easy and enjoyable read. A lovely book. Naive. Super. I still haven’t written a proper review (and maybe never will), but thought I could share my own list of childhood memories, just in case Loe would like to see it.

What used to excite me when I was little

– animals, especially cats, birds and baby goats
– betting my life on everything – if this does/doesn’t happen, I die; racing against buses – if I lose, I die
– broken toys and old things, small parts of broken things
– building blocks / construction toys
– buttons
– cardboard boxes
– cartoons before evening news
– chewing/eating small parts of plastic toys
– chocolate and sweets, especially “čupavci” Mom used to make

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“We Have Always Lived in the Castle” by Shirley Jackson

2013/04/09 § Leave a comment

If you’re looking for a book that will make you feel agoraphobic, this is the one for you.

Told from the perspective of a girl whose strangeness and narratorial unreliability are evident from the start, this novel is a story about otherness and consequent isolation and anxiety.

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“Copenhagen” by Michael Frayn

2013/04/07 § 1 Comment

If you’re interested in history of science and WW2, especially physics and atomic bomb, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Of course, this is a work of fiction and Michael Frayn knows nothing about quantum mechanics, but still… it’s interesting, informative and cleverly written.

Why did Heisenberg go to Copenhagen in 1941?

Werner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr after the war
(click for the background story of their 1941 meeting)

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“The Elementary Particles” by Michel Houellebecq

2013/04/05 § 1 Comment

“The universe is merely a chance arrangement of elementary particles. A transitory image in the midst of chaos. Which will end with the inevitable: the human race will disappear. Other races will appear, and disappear in turn. The heavens are cold and empty, traversed by the faint light of half-dead stars. Which, also, will disappear. Everything disappears. And human actions are just as random and senseless as the movements of elementary particles. Good, evil, morality, fine sentiments? Pure ‘Victorian fictions’. There is only egotism. Cold, undiluted and dazzling,”

writes Houellebecq in his essay on H. P. Lovecraft, in which we find many elements of “The Elementary Particles”.

This novel reflects author’s cultural pessimism, his contempt for the atomized, egotistic, decadent Western civilization, its liberal democracy and capitalism. It is a bitter mixture of loneliness and misanthropy, desire, frustration and disappointment; philosophy, social critique and speculative science, and pornography, loveless and pleasureless.

Michel Houellebecq in “Le Cap d’ Agde” naturist club (2000)
[© Lise Sarfati / Magnum Photos]

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“Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions” by Edwin A. Abbott

2013/04/03 § 2 Comments

“Flatland” is a mathematical satire and religious allegory, written in the shape of the memoirs of A Square, an inhabitant of a two-dimensional world, who had visited other lands – Pointland, Lineland and Spaceland – and gained invaluable insights into the structure of the Universe.

Lineland (illustrated by the author)

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