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The Consolations of Philosophy - Alain de Botton.

The book introduced me to Montain and Schopenhauer - as well as talking about Socrates, Palto and Seneca.

But for anyone beset by such problems as
lack of money, anxiety, the pain of unrequited love, feelings of inadequacy or a sense of failure, this book introduces us to what the forementioned chaps had to say on those issues, as well as giving us the benifit of quite a few others.

And yet de botton is not just quoting from long dead masters, he tries to construct a narritaive showing how each of these addressed a particular problem and presents a synthesis, where one philosopher raises a question that another answers fully or partially.

he aslo plays devils advocate sometimes and presents his own solutions where he feels appropriate.

Typical of the work as a whole is his own reasonings on wealth and education. Many among the greeks and romans averred that it was impossible to be happy and yet poor. Yet De Botton disagrees.

and what is it to be educated? Bottontells us that it means not so much as knowing how to translate Latin and greek, but to be able to function usefully and be happy in ones own setting.
hence a train driver who cannot speal Latin or Greek, but can enjoy his work is better educated that a struggling and miserable poet by this yardstick. I really like this guy!

Botton also talks about love and what makes a person , and even a couple happy. He lays out Schopenhauer's theory that there is an impulse called the ' will to life' - an unconcious urge , not just to reproduce children, but to have children that will be better than ourselves. he argues that we select a mate on the basis of choosing someone who will balance out our own deficiencies - hence we tend to fall in love with whome we ourselves are unsuitable , but because the child that is born will bring our most positive traits together in one person , we fall in love with someone totally unsuitable, then hate them when that child is born.

I don't see this working out in real life to be honest, but there we are.

I thought that there may be some mileage on this in the main antifem community, but then decided not to post - I don't need 300 eejits jamming my inbox with spam, and the real intellectuals over there hang out here anyway. So, what do you guys make of De Botton?

Testament by Romer

Yup, the same guy who did the TV program 'Romer's Egypt' is now looking at the Archeology of the Bible.

there are some surprises here - for the book reveals that the Egyptians knew of a people called 'the Habiru', who were nomads living th the north, and yet the archeology reveals that even if the Hebrews had fled into Sinai and then conquered the land of Canaan in the Bronze Age, there would still be a problem for them - Egypt occupied the whole land right up to the present day Lebanese border.

And yet there was a cluster of small tribes who lived up in the hills who were welded into a confederation, and this confederation was held together by the worship of a common God. By adopting a distinctive god adhering to his cult, they not only prevented themselves being absorbed into the surrounding tribes and culture, but they even began to influence their neighbours.

It is a fascinating story, taking us through the very early civilisations of Mesopotamia, right through to the time of Christ and the Apostles. it also talks about the history of the early explorers and excavators in the Levant. a really fascinating book for anyone with an interest in antiquity.


Hello friends. I was just wondering what you are currently reading and/or what you have lined up to read!!

I am currently reading Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and it is my first time reading it. So far I agree with the hype that it is quite beautifully written. I've only seen the Jeremy Irons adaptation but I noticed that the film gave a more romanticized view of Humbert and Lolita. Of course it was still totally sketchy but I was surprised at what a disgustinggg individual he is in the book. Also licking someone's eyeball seems very unsanitary imo.

I also have checked out from the library:
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka - I just finished a great book by Kobo Abe who is supposed to be the Japanese Kafka so I decided to check out the ~original~

The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

& The Places In Between by Rory Stewart - hortensio or someone suggested this to ke^7 forever ago but I am always watching.


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The Eagle of the Ninth - Rosemary Sutcliff

I have just finished this book. my wife bought me a special edition as a present.
rosemary herself suffered a disability as a child, and most of the heroes in her historical novels are handicapped in some way.

She wrote fiction for children , but with an excellent grasp of the culture of the times she wrote of. Most of her works are regarded as classics, enjoyed by adults as well as children.

In this work, a young centurion is determined to find out what happened to his father, who disappeared on active service while serving with the ill fated 9th Legion, which went on an expedition and never returned.

Sutcliff tries to explain how it may have been for the conquered and the conquerors in Roman Britain - that the new culture was a new slip grafted onto an older stock , and it had not taken yet.

The Britons lived in circular huts that were usually inside circular earthworks for protection.
Yet the romans build in straight lines, with squares and rectangles everywhere. the clash of cultures and personal loyalties arising out of this is one of the themes she explores.
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well, now...

Three whole days and nuthin' happenin'.
I do recall Bertro whinging to the effect that I would be posting more than other people - I can't help it if you guys never read any good books or watch any decent films.

I hereby challenge Bertro to write a reveiw of 'Flowers for Algernon', or something else if he can think of a book/film /play he likes.
failure to come up with the goods will result in an OP from yrs truly.
U hav bin warrnd!
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Hobson's Choice

This was a very interesting story.
A stage play at first, then made into a film starring John Mills.

In it, we meet Will Mossop, a young bootmaker who works for an old and tyrannical boss called Hobson in Manchester, England. Mr. Hobson has 3 daughters, the eldest being Maggie. Collapse )
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Collapse - Jared Diamond.

Ok - this book tells the story of some ancient societies that collapsed, and some that did not.

There are several case histories - the most poignant of which was to story of the Norse settlement at Greenland. The real problem here was that European people had moved to a place that was superficially similar to home, but the soil and other conditions had notable differences.

The Greenland Norse folks saw themselves as Christians, as well as Europeans, and were determined to cling onto that heritage instead of adopting the ways of the native Inuit in response to the situation they were in.

There was a choice before them as to what parts of their heritage to cling to and which to simply abandon. Sadly they clung to the wrong bits, Diamond asserts.

Today, as individuals, and as nations , we face change and uncertainty. how do we see ourselves? what do we consider worth keeping and what do we think we need to let go?

our society has gotten used to thinking in terms of 'we are what we own' . ask someone who they are and they reply with their occupation, most likely. "I'm a teacher" they reply, or some other job is mentioned. No one says "I'm a Methodist", or a Conservative, or an optimist, in answer to the question 'who are you?', it seems.

I think that a lot of things have changed for men in society. "I am a man because..." is harder for this generation to answer. Diamond does not talk about gender identity in the book, but the whole idea of identity and culture as a driving force behind social survival or social collapse is an interesting concept.

In the book, Diamond does stress the adaptability and ingenuity of humanity, and is confident that humanity will continue to survive changes and setbacks in the coming decades..

What it means to be human -- by Anne Rice

Anne Rice has written a whole genre of books on the supernatural -- Vampires, Witches, Mummies and even a Genie.
What makes he stories interesting to me is she takes mundane people and puts them into extraordinary situations.

Interview With a Vampire:
  This book (greatly reduced) explored the question:  What would it be like to live forever if that meant killing people constantly??

Queen of the Damned:
  This book in-part discussed whether or not Eternal Life was the "dream" people imagine.    Family grows old and dies on you... political groups you supported are swept sway... music and clothes you liked go out of style...    essentially WHAT in life beyond the immediate gives your life value??

Memnoch the Devil:
  Anne delves into the origins of humankind, as told by the Devil.  In this tale, mankind is basically an experiment by God to discover his/her own origins.  God always existed, according to the story, but wondered if He had come about from something else...or if such a thing was possible -- thus mankind was the experiment to answer the question.

Good and Bad things are allowed to happen because chaos is part of nature (according to the story).   The question is -- what part of your life do you feel has "Value" in a spiritual sense?  

Rames the Mummy:
  This book studied eternal life from a different angle.  Ramses, in life 6000 years ago, drank a potion that granted Eternal Life -- meaning he never died.  His body would hibernate and wither (the tomb in Egypt was an attempt to *die*) until it was hit by light.

The downside of this was Ramses body regenerated totally ... including his brain cells... which meant that he felt EVERY emotion and memory with the full intensity he originally experienced.  Nothing faded for him...which became horrendous after years of having friends die off.   

The moral:  Human existance is *meant* to end at some point... 

and so on.
Anne Ramses examines the human condition in her stories over and over again... making her one of my favorite authors.