I shall read…

for what else to do now?


This mournful and restless sound was a fit accompaniment to my meditations.


— Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim

Oh 2 be b’side the c-side with u write now! Can you hear it, can you hear me, can you hear the sonorous, no searing, sounds of the redolent, no relentless, sea.

Read The NYT Book review

Download a PDF copy here:
BooksNYT Book Review (Jan. 2020).

There is an ocean of silence between us. . . and I am drowning in it.
“No one compares to you, but there’s no you, except in my dreams tonight.”
— Lana Del Rey


Though lovers be lost, love shall not /
And death shall have no dominion.


— Dylan Thomas

There is an ocean of silence between us. . . and I am drowning in it 013
“It hurts to breathe. It hurts to live. I hate him, yet I do not think I can exist without him.”
― Charlotte Featherstone


There is an ocean of silence between us… and I am drowning in it.


— Ranata Suzuki

There is an ocean of silence between us. . . and I am drowning in it 012
“You can love someone so much… But you can never love people as much as you can miss them.”
― John Green


Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.


— Kahlil Gibran

There is an ocean of silence between us. . . and I am drowning in it 010
“When the sun has set, no candle can replace it.”
― George R. Martin


It’s painful, loving someone from afar /
Watching them – from the outside.


— Ranata Suzuki


“Your smile and your laughter lit my whole world.”

Edward Saïd

& “Orientalism”

“Humanism is the only resistance we have against the inhuman practices and injustices that disfigure human history.”

Read “Orientalism”

Read the full review (& download a PDF copy) here:
BooksOrientalism.


Edward Saïd’s seminal work, Orientalism, has, according to one academic, “redefined our understanding of colonialism and empire.” If you come across the term post-colonial studies whilst u r reading or delving off on an internet-based, whimsical knowledge building journey, soon enough you’ll encounter Saïd. In Orienrltalism, Saïd surveys the history and nature of Western attitudes towards the East, and contends that “orientalism” is a powerful European ideological creation – a way for writers, philosophers and Western political powers (alongside their think tanks) to deal with the ‘otherness’ of eastern culture, customs and beliefs. Drawing on his own experiences as an Arab Palestinian living in the West, Said examines how these ideas can be a reflection of European imperialism and racism. He traces this view through the writings of Homer, Flaubert, Disraeli and Kipling, whose imaginative depictions have greatly contributed to the West’s romantic and exotic picture of the Orient.

Paraphrasing from the book’s introduction, orientalism is the amplification of difference, the presumption of Western superiority, and, “the application of clichéd analytical models for perceiving the Oriental world,” from the perspectives of Western thinkers and scholars. According to Said, orientalism is the key source of the inaccuracy in cultural representations that form the foundations of Western thought and perception of the Eastern world {نحن نعيش ، نموت}. The theoretical framework that orientalism covers has three tenets:

(1)
— an academic tradition or field [see, maybe my posts on: Wilfred Thesiger and Sir Richard Burton];

(2)
— a worldview, representation, and canon / discourse which bases itself upon an, “ontological and epistemological distinction made between “the Orient” and the West;

(3)
— as a powerful political instrument of Western domination over Eastern countries {عاشت فلسطين}.

Praise for the book

“Beautifully patterned and passionately argued.”

New Statesman

“Very exciting … his case is not merely persuasive, but conclusive.”

— John Leonard, New York Times

Them ‘n’ Us

“who knows which is which and who is who”

— Dark Side of the Moon

It’s an ‘Us & Them’ thing (I’m one of the ‘them,’ dear reader). The West may objectify us…

But, they do themselves too:

Le Sommeil (Sleep) by Gustave Courbet (1866).
Le Sommeil (Sleep) by Gustave Courbet (1866).

Jupiter in the Guise of Diana, and the Nymph Callisto, by François Boucher (1759).
Jupiter in the Guise of Diana, and the Nymph Callisto, by François Boucher (1759).
Et nous aussi nous serons meres, by Jean-Jacques Lequeu (1794).
Et nous aussi nous serons meres; car……!, by Jean-Jacques Lequeu (1794).


p.s.

Epistemology
Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that focuses on ‘knowledge.’ It is the study of the nature of knowledge, justification, and the rationality of belief. It relates to the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope, and the distinction between justified belief and opinion.


Humanism
[1]  A rationalist outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters.   [2]  A Renaissance cultural movement which turned away from medieval scholasticism and revived interest in ancient Greek and Roman thought.   [3]  (among some contemporary writers) A system of thought criticised as being centred on the notion of the rational, autonomous self and ignoring the conditioned nature of the individual.
— From Latin “homo” – a person, “humanitas” – human nature.


Ontology
[1]  Ontology is the branch of philosophy that focuses on ‘the nature of being.’ It focuses on concepts that directly relate to being (in particular: becoming, existence and, reality.)   [2]  A way of showing the relations between the concepts and categories in a subject area or field of study.


Orientalism
[1]  Style, artefacts, or traits considered characteristic of the peoples and cultures of Asia.   [2]  The representation of Asia in a stereotyped way that is regarded as embodying a colonialist attitude.   [3]  “Orientalism,” as defined by Edward Said, is “the Western attitude that views Eastern societies as exotic, primitive, and inferior. Basically, an Orientalist mindset centers the Western (European/American) world and views the Eastern world as ‘the Other.'”

📙 The Devil Drives

: A Life of Sir Richard Burton

— biography by Fawn Brodie (1967)

Burton
Sir Richard Burton (1821–1890), a man of distinction.

Sir Richard Burton was a British explorer, writer, orientalist, cartographer, spy, poet and diplomat. According to the publishing house, Eland:


Richard Burton was one of the greatest Victorian explorers as well as being an innovative translator, a pioneer in the fields of anthropology and sexual psychology and a publisher of erotica.

The Devil That Drives, is an excellent biography, first published in 1967, which covers comprehensively the life of Sir Richard Burton. Fawn Brodie, the talented writer of this biography, creates — in my own opinion — a really vivid and captivating portrait of Burton. By way of her pen, he emerges vividly from the richly textured fabric of his time. His travels to Mecca and Medina dressed as a Muslim pilgrim, his witnessing of the human sacrifices at Dahomey and his unlikely but loving partnership with his pious Catholic bride are all treated with warmth, scholarship and understanding.

Praise for the book

“A first class biography of an exceptional man … Buy it, steal it, read it.”

— J.H. Plumb, New York Times

“The latest, far the best and surely the final biography of Sir Richard Burton, one of the most bizarre characters whom England has ever produced.”

— Graham Greene, The Observer


Burton’s passion was not only for geographical discovery but also for the darker and more deviant side of humankind. His enormous erudition on the sexual customs of the East and Africa, long confined by the prudishness of the Victorian era, are now publicly available. His translations include:

1. Arabian Nights

Read the full review (& download a PDF copy) here:
BooksArabian Nights.

2. The Perfumed Garden

Read the full review (& download a PDF copy) here:
BooksThe Perfumed Garden.

3. Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana

Read the full review (& download a PDF copy) here:
BooksKama Sutra of Vatsyayana.


p.s.

autobiography
An account of a person’s life written by that person.


biography
An account of someone’s life written by someone else.

📙 Guns & Germs

: A Short History of Everybody for the Last 13,000 Years

Jared Diamond
Jared Diamond, an American geographer, anthropologist and author.
Guns, Germs, and Steel is the widely read and well received book by Jared Diamond. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction In 1988. In summary, it sets out an explanation for why Eurasian civilizations have survived and conquered others, while critically, arguing against the idea that Eurasian hegemony is due to any form of Eurasian intellectual, moral, or inherent genetic superiority.

In supporting his thesis, Diamond argues that the gaps in power and technology between human societies originate primarily in environmental differences, which are amplified by various positive feedback loops. When cultural or genetic differences have favored Eurasians — e.g., written language or the development among Eurasians of resistance to endemic diseases — these advantages occurred because of the influence of geography on societies and cultures; not because of genomes.

Read the full review (& download an editable PDF copy) here:
BooksGuns, Germs, and Steel.

📙 Sapiens

: A Brief History of Humankind

Sapiens, the 2014 book by Yuval Noah Harari, is written in a very readable way. It provides a very well thought out survey of the history of humankind from the evolution of our species of human in the Stone Age up to the 21st c. This is how the book begins:

About 13.5 billion years ago, matter, energy, time and space came into being in what is known as the Big Bang. — The story of these fundamental features of our universe is called physics.
 
About 300,000 years after their appearance, matter and energy started to coalesce into complex structures, called atoms, which then combined into molecules. — The story of atoms, molecules and their interactions is called chemistry.
 
About 3.8 billion years ago, on a planet called Earth, certain molecules combined to form particularly large and intricate structures called organisms. — The story of organisms is called biology.
 
About 70,000 years ago, organisms belonging to the species Homo sapiens started to form even more elaborate structures called cultures. — The subsequent development of these human cultures is called history.

Read the full review (& download an editable PDF copy) here:
BooksSapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.

Sapiens
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2014)

📙 Future Shock

“Choice overload” etc.

— The cognitive process in which people have a difficult time making a decision when faced with too many options. These terms and the underlying concept were introduced by Alvin Toffler in his 1970 book, Future Shock.

In the book, Toffler wrote:

The illiterate of the 21st c. will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

The concept of ‘future shock’ — recall that this book was written half a century ago — is described as the shattering stress and disorientation that technological change induces to individuals and society at large by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time. To underscore, this was written at the end of the 1960 — the era before Google, iPhones, Tinder and Snapchat — with 5G, uber, the zero hour gig economy and the AI revolution now upon us, these changes are occurring more frequently, far more frequently, than they were a quarter of a century ago let alone 50 years ago. As Future Shock basically states, while humankind’s technological powers increase, the side effects and potential hazards also escalate.

Change is not merely necessary to life — it is life.

Prophetically Toffler wrote that, one of the definitions of sanity is the ability to tell real from unreal. Soon we’ll need a new definition. I’d say soon became now when Trump et al. introduced fake news and alternative facts. Think: Deepfake. Read: Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

I say:

Too much choice is a curse.

Eric Hobsbawm

[English | 1917–2012]

Eric John Ernest Hobsbawm was a well known British historian who focused on the rise of industrial capitalism, socialism and nationalism. Hobsbawm was born in Egypt but spent his childhood mostly in Vienna and Berlin. Following the death of his parents and the rise to power of Adolf Hitler, Hobsbawm moved to London with his adoptive family, then obtained his PhD in history at the University of Cambridge. His best-known works include his trilogy about what he called the “long 19th century” (The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789–1848, The Age of Capital: 1848–1875 and The Age of Empire: 1875–1914) and, The Age of Extremes on the short 20th century.

In these works, Eric Hobsbawm traces with brilliant anlytical clarity the transformation brought about in every sphere of European life by the Dual revolution – the 1789 French revolution and the Industrial Revolution that originated in Britain. This enthralling and original account highlights the significant sixty years when industrial capitalism established itself in Western Europe and when Europe established the domination over the rest of the world it was to hold for half a century.

Read more:
PeopleWriters ❱❱ Eric Hobsbawm