25 May 2010

Mostly books

Ages, I know, since I posted last.


Still reading a lot generally. I was totally enthralled by the Millennium Trilogy. I read all three books in under a week. Afterwards, to maintain my intake of Swedish crime fiction, I read most of the Inspector Wallander books by Henning Mankell, but I went off them after a month.

Non-fiction and history books have gained appeal for me lately. I read Hell's Cartel about IG Farben and their role in World War II. This inspired me to obtain Shirer's renowned The Rise and Fall of The Third Reich, but I have not started it yet. I can use it to press flowers in the meantime.

I like Twitter because it makes it easy to keep up with my favourite political commentators, find links to interesting articles and decide if Lateline will be worth watching. After a year of membership, I did five tweets in a pique of creativity, but with one follower, there is no reason to bother. Nevertheless, I feel other forms of social media are execrably asinine.

Shockingly, my naturopath has avowed that I must avoid sugar. Chiefly, chocolate. I'm coping. Honestly. I went to Adelaide recently and did not even visit Haigh's.

I read most of Lost Japan by Alex Kerr. Recommended by a friend, I read the first two chapters months ago and was bored. After taking it for company on a plane, I was deeply absorbed by it. Perchance my temporary temporal confinement sharpened my concentration, as a few weeks later I don't feel the need to finish it. It does make me want to read Mushashi again. Best book ever.

Just finished Imperium by Robert Harris. This is the first part of the life of Marcus Tullius Cicero. It is a fine mix between non-fiction and fiction. I don't know my history well enough to tell exactly where the author has used imagination to fill in the gaps, but I trust he has been faithful to possibility's reality. It has inspired me to browse some of the many books I have on Cicero but have never opened. His life now seems approachable and credible. The next book in the series is on order.

I was most struck on reading how closely our political institutions originate in the Roman Republic. To a great degree this politcal epoch was marked by theatre. (The Latin for actor is histrio which gives us the word histrionics, which are not usually a good thing.) Evident today is just how degraded our politcial debate has become by the superficial engagement of the media with issues. Meretricious arguments, supported by rampant syllogisms, shine as exemplars of vision. Check out the origins of the word meretricious. Use it on your enemy and perchance they will decide they have been complimented, when without merit they decidely are.

Upon finishing, I was inspired to buy a bunch of books on the art of rhetoric. It is a fascinating idea - training for oratorical excellence. The art of speaking well is really a synthesis of so many things...erudition and the sweet vibrating miracle of my diction, what wonders you bring to the dumb (as Walt would probably say). Before those books arrive, a whole bunch of strategy-themed books are due. One afternoon, by some oblique reasoning, I decided to obtain the major works of B.H. Liddell Hart. So I may talk about Rommel, Sherman, T.E. Lawrence and Scipio Africanus in the near or distant future.

I read David Marr's Quarterly Essay on Kevin Rudd. Very short - just two hours reading. Lavartus Prodeo has really interesting comments about the piece. Obviously I don't know who will win the next election, but know it is worth remembering the following piece of advice:

Be kind, be all sympathy,
For each and every human being
Is forced to fight against himself.

by Sri Chinmoy.

How's this for fascinating?

The word cynosure indicates a person or thing that is the centre of attention or admiration.

Latin, cynosura, from the Greek kunosoura ‘dog's tail’ (also ‘Ursa Minor’ ), from ku┼Źn, kun- ‘dog’ + oura ‘tail.’ The term originally denoted the constellation Ursa Minor, or the star Polaris that it contains, long used as a guide by navigators.


Thanks for reading.