On The Ning Nang Nong

Discussion in 'Education & Personal Growth' started by Iravati, Apr 5, 2017.

  1. Iravati

    Iravati Platinum IL'ite

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    I read Princess Bride too often but it never ceases to be any less fun than the last read. And I laugh out loud when I read this passage in The Princess Bride by William Goldman.

    There are several ways to revile the other gender but only Buttercup can burst in a wordy vehemence, in the most imaginative way, when the village girls accuse her of stealing the boys.

    The boys.
    The village boys.
    The beef-witted featherbrained rattleskulled clodplated dim-domed noodle-noggined sapheaded lunk-knobbed boys
    How could anyone accuse her of stealing them? Why would anyone want them anyone? What good were they?
     
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  2. Iravati

    Iravati Platinum IL'ite

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    I occasionally indulge in reading book reviews on amazon and goodreads. Some of the smartest, truculent and funniest reviews are found in these nooks rather than NYT reviews. When I was reading the review on “The Closing of the Western Mind”, I came across this funny line which I have used in my discussions to refer to books collecting dust on my cupboard.

    Link: The Closing of the Western Mind

    Review: This book had been languishing on my shelf ever since I bought it in 2005. I think it was one of those broccoli books (which is really a misnomer since I freaking love broccoli)...books that you buy because they look like they'd be good for you rather than hedonistic romps. The Western Mind! Faith, Reason! It sounds like a mini-education!

    I got rid of a lot of physical “broccoli” books in the recent years by adapting to ebooks. Now I have “cabbage” books languishing in my digital vault. Books that are healthy for intellectual growth but lack aromatic taste.
     
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  3. Iravati

    Iravati Platinum IL'ite

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    Last week I read Sadegh Hedayat’s The Blind owl. A mix of symbolism and surrealism. Sadegh Hedayat is an Iranian writer whose works were banned in Iran up until recently. I read the English translation by Iraj Bashiri as the original was written in Persian. Though it didn't matter to me whose translation I was reading, I was amused that Bashri claimed that his translation was more faithful over D.P. Costello's because Costello translated a snake that features in the novel as “cobra” whereas Iraj Bashiri's casted that serpent as in situ “nag”.

    Passages that piqued me:

    (Tags: atoms! aureole! coitus of midriff! that is one surreal love-making lost in translation)

    (Moral: there is no free-will, only determinism, flies destined to die will irreversibly die, don't try too hard to stay alive)

    (Doubt: what is a hemistich?)
     
  4. Iravati

    Iravati Platinum IL'ite

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    I found both these trivia nuggets related to passport a day apart in my feed (from unrelated sources)

    On Ramesses,

    In 1974 Egyptologists visiting his tomb noticed that the mummy's condition was rapidly deteriorating and flew it to Paris for examination. Ramesses II was issued an Egyptian passport that listed his occupation as "King (deceased)". The mummy was received at Le Bourget airport, just outside Paris, with the full military honours befitting a king.

    On married women from 1920s who revolted for their own passports,

    Fleischman’s passport was the first legal document issued by a federal agency to a woman under the name she preferred and the first U.S. passport issued to a married woman that didn’t designate her as the “wife of” her husband. However, though other women could request passports with similar wording as Fleischman’s, the State Department continued to issue passports referring to most women as “the wife of Mr. John Doe” until the late 1930s.

    John Doe's wife and King as occupation! What would I not do for such fancy print in my passport.
     
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  5. Iravati

    Iravati Platinum IL'ite

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    I found this story while reading about Holy Roman Empire, how do I put it, very cute

    The Women of Weinsberg

    When King Conrad III defeated the Duke of Welf (in the year 1140) and placed Weinsberg under siege, the wives of the besieged castle negotiated a surrender which granted them the right to leave with whatever they could carry on their shoulders. The king allowed them that much. Leaving everything else aside, each woman took her own husband on her shoulders and carried him out. When the king's people saw what was happening, many of them said that that was not what had been meant and wanted to put a stop to it. But the king laughed and accepted the women's clever trick. "A king" he said, "should always stand by his word."

    Main entry: Siege of Weinsberg - Wikipedia
     
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  6. Iravati

    Iravati Platinum IL'ite

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    This New Yorker essay by Siddhartha Mukherjee is one of the most beautiful introductory articles to demystify epigenetics for a lay person. I love the wit and detail in his narratives, like the one below introducing a geneticist.

    Reinberg's lab is at New York University’s School of Medicine. His office— by the East River around Thirty-first Street—is like Allis’s: another nest of books and offprints, a wide river view, and another model of DNA twisted around histones, although this room is filled with Reinberg’s private botanical obsession: huge, overgrown succulents from other climes that assert themselves with a defiant muscularity. Intense, articulate, with a cultivated stubble, Reinberg resembles an athlete—a gymnast, or a wrestler—whose skill depends on compaction and repetition. He grew up in Santiago, Chile, the child of parents who ran a jewelry business. He scored an A-minus in his first biochemistry class in college, in Valparaiso, but felt that he hadn’t really mastered the material, so he applied to take the class again. The professor looked at him as if he were mad before relenting.
     
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  7. Iravati

    Iravati Platinum IL'ite

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    My top favourite quotes from Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut.
    1. Kilgore Trout once wrote a short story which was a dialogue between two pieces of yeast. They were discussing the possible purposes of life as they ate sugar and suffocated in their own excrement. Because of their limited intelligence, they never came close to guessing that they were making champagne.
    2. And here, according to Trout, was the reason human beings could not reject ideas because they were bad: "Ideas on Earth were badges of friendship or enmity. Their content did not matter. Friends agreed with friends, in order to express friendliness. Enemies disagreed with enemies, in order to express enmity.
    I am reading his essay collection 'A man without a country' these days. Will post my highlights from that collection later in the week.
     
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  8. Iravati

    Iravati Platinum IL'ite

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    Thomas Szasz has widely written about psychiatry, psychoanalysis and mental illnesses. I don't subscribe to all his theories but this illustration on how language dominates the reality struck me.

    Szasz consistently paid attention to the power of language in the establishment and maintenance of the social order, both in small interpersonal and in wider social, economic, and/or political spheres:

    The struggle for definition is veritably the struggle for life itself. In the typical Western two men fight desperately for the possession of a gun that has been thrown to the ground: whoever reaches the weapon first shoots and lives; his adversary is shot and dies. In ordinary life, the struggle is not for guns but for words; whoever first defines the situation is the victor; his adversary, the victim. For example, in the family, husband and wife, mother and child do not get along; who defines whom as troublesome or mentally sick?... [the one] who first seizes the word imposes reality on the other; [the one] who defines thus dominates and lives; and [the one] who is defined is subjugated and may be killed.

    How true! There are always two sides of the story but who gets to narrate first has a weighted advantage to alter the represented fact.
     
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  9. Iravati

    Iravati Platinum IL'ite

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    I have earlier mentioned Edge 2017 annual question. This is one of my highlighted entries. I love the idea of negative capability. Wait, resist the temptation to fill gaps with half-knowledge till you can access fact with certainty. The entry talks of opposing terms. I want to prefer 'negative capability' to 'need for closure'.

    Dylan Evans quotes:

    The poet John Keats coined the term negative capability to refer to the ability to remain content with half-knowledge “without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” The opposite of negative capability is known by psychologists as the need for closure (NFC). NFC refers to an aversion toward ambiguity and uncertainty, and the desire for a firm answer to a question. When NFC becomes overwhelming, any answer, even a wrong one, is preferable to remaining in a state of confusion and doubt.

    If we could represent the knowledge in any given brain as dry land, and ignorance as water, then even Einstein’s brain would contain just a few tiny islands scattered around in a vast ocean of ignorance. Yet most of us find it hard to admit how little we really know. How often, in the course of our everyday conversations, do we make assertions for which we have no evidence, or cite statistics that are really nothing but guesses? Behind all these apparently innocuous confabulations lies NFC.

    There is nothing wrong with wanting to know the answer to a question, or feeling disturbed by the extent of our ignorance. It is not the reaching after fact and reason that Keats condemns, but the irritable reaching after fact and reason. However great our desire for an answer may be, we must make sure that our desire for truth is even greater, with the result that we prefer to remain in a state of uncertainty rather than filling in the gaps in our knowledge with something we have made up.

    Greater awareness of the dangers of NFC would lead to more people saying, “I don’t know” much more often. In fact, everyday conversation would overflow with admissions of ignorance. This would represent a huge leap forward towards the goal of greater rationality in everyday life.
     
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  10. Gauri03

    Gauri03 Staff Member Finest Post Winner

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    You mention The Princess Bride and don't anticipate a quote-off! Inconceivable!

    Starting from the 'story within a story' literary device, to unforgettable characters that have lived on in our imaginations, the book is a classic and personal favorite. Goldman mentioned in the preface of one the editions that the framing story plot-device was an homage to Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote, which is written as a translation of the original work by Cide Hamete Benengeli, a moorish chronicler. He is said to have done it to add realism to the tale of the fictitious Don Quixote. I read somewhere that in pre-Internet days, many an unsuspecting fan walked into a bookstore seeking an 'original and unabridged' copy of S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure! : )

    "Anybody want a peanut?" :wink:
     

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