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A Little History Of Discovery

Discussion in 'Book Lovers' started by Ouroboros, Sep 24, 2018.

  1. Ouroboros

    Ouroboros Silver IL'ite

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    Prologue: A Little History Of Discovery

    Poorni stared bewildered at her laptop.

    "You will not conquer the blind spot in your human eye despite that intense gaze. What is that tell-you-not whim bouncing in your brain. Speak up", Adi inquired.

    Poorni shook her head. "This is idiotic! This is hog's spill. A very nasty and noxious hog's spill. Look at it. It is fluffy. It is mouthful of vulgar lard. It is straggly. It is so jejune".

    "Jejune ...you reserve that word for utterly annoying writing. Whose writing are you reading?"

    "Mine ..look at this sentence here seemingly battered with utmost disregard to any sense or common sense or public sense or any sensuous sense of sensory sensorium. Why did I write it like that? Must be a reason. But it is ugly. Full of warts and pus and .."

    "Hold on ..what did Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel say? He quoted that 'the owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk'. If you think you can do better then stop beating around and start building around. Do something. Well, not that sentence but the entire initiative is, indeed, stinky. Poorni, you can be as much whimsical but also strive for order. You gallop from one topic to another with no connect. Glutton, silly non-fiction, book reviews, movie reviews, what the heck is this toothy creature, a crayon sketch out of nowhere. There is no order or objective. This is Royal Jejune form of writing ..."

    "What am I to do, Adi?

    "Pooh, start afresh. Keep it timed. 100 posts in 15 days or 20 days. Don't overrun. Hard stop. Fold it up. Connect your writing. Connect the dots of your ink ...dit dot dit dot dit dot ..Be coherent ..connect connect .." He pinched his brows. "Don't be that runaway engine. Organize a through-line in your meanderings. Keep it fluid but control the direction. A sense of beginning in your ending".

    "You mean like an Ouroboros eating its tail?"

    "For you, yes, a hungry Ouroboros. Write about the books you have been reading or the movies you have been watching or the Madeleine cakes you have been eating but don't clobber everything up in a hotchpotch."

    "But I was only being eclectic."

    "No, you were a careless jumble."

    "OK, books it is then."

    "Good."

    "What should I name it? Shall I call it Tractatus Illogico-Philosophicus". She smiled knowingly.

    "Shut up. What is the last book you read?"

    "A little history of philosophy by Nigel Warburton."

    "Then have it as 'a little history' of something". Adi pondered.

    "Little history of the principle of sufficient reason to read books and embark on a trajectory with .."

    "Poorni, A Little History of Discovery." He shushed her.

    "Why not A little history of reading?"

    "Because I know you. You will start with books and end with oyster cakes."

    "I swear, it is only what I read and no tapas and topiary this time." Poorni crossed her heart.

    "Just in case, leave it at 'discovery'. Keep in mind that only 100 posts in two or three weeks only on literature and books and authors and fold it up. Don't be a soapbox."

    "Aye". She nodded.

    "By the way, your fiction is steamy flirty and racy sexy though incongruous —" Poorni knows that she hit the target aback even from the blind spot as she heard the ouch from behind on hurling the pen, she was holding, at him, which deactivated his further analysis of her juvenile fiction.
     
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  2. Ouroboros

    Ouroboros Silver IL'ite

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    Late Bloomers

    Before I hurtle into my book musings, one more, eh, the last digression on my so-called literary discovery.

    Back in the day it was fashionable to claim oneself as a "voracious" reader after indulging in a spree of popular books. I am guilty as charged to have crowned myself with that glorious epithet just with a few inconsequential books. I would read Dickens and Austen and Rowling and claim myself to be a 'voracious' reader. I would further grub about RK Narayan and Chetan Bhagat and claim again to be a 'voracious' reader. I could be forgiven for being that naive and swayed by that self-aggrandizing coinage in my adolescence.

    Then I fraternized with other kindred 'voracious' readers and realized the error of my ways.

    These enthusiastic readers are hurriedly sighting the text in the books. They are still reading but not necessarily assimilating the ideas and originality in the work. Two people would have read the same book but one is more discerning of the content which is reflected in their retelling of the work. The other simply states: I am a voracious reader. Neither their mannerism nor their diction reflects the grasp and sensibility of the subject matter.

    Late bloomers have the advantage to sharpen their intent having witnessed all forms of voracious readers. I am proud to be a late bloomer when it comes to reading to avoid the pitfalls of numerous enthusiasts who claim but could never demonstrate their voracious swoop in reading books. No, I am not voracious. I would rather not be one. I have abandoned that identifier long ago. I would rather be a "curious", "languid", "random" reader who is not obsessed to invest in only one type of genre or one type of ethnicity. I would like to explore wanton who these thinkers are ...what made them write ...why are they writing what they are writing ...finally ...what have they written.

    I would like to commune with that author and assure him of my goodwill in him.

    "Sometimes it feels as if Nietzsche is shouting at you, sometimes that he is whispering something profound in your ear. Often he wants the reader to collude with him, as if he is saying that you and I know how things are, but those foolish people over there are all suffering from delusions."

    -- A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton

    I would like to nod to Nietzsche while flipping those stained pages that I am aware of those foolish people with delusions but he can trust me. Finally, I am conscious, having met many "voracious" readers whose enthrallment with hyped books is fleeting and flimsy with no sense of discovery but only accomplishment on completing a book, to be indiscriminate but not irresponsible in the selection of books as I realized that you are the books you read. With that, though I wish I playfully colluded with Nietzsche in my childhood, I am satisfied as a late bloomer to have grasped that he expects me to collude and not simply eyeball his text.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2018
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  3. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    I know only one person in IL who talks casually of Nietzsche
     
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  4. Ouroboros

    Ouroboros Silver IL'ite

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    What about the alter-ego? Both speak casually of Nietzsche while chewing on the breakfast cereal though Nietzsche is a whirlpool to be reckoned with and not to be taken lightly with a cup of stilled milk.

    Like Ignatius Jacques Reilly, the eccentric character from the "Confederacy of Dunces", who totes a copy of Boethius's "Consolation of Philosophy", I have chosen Nietzsche to be my lodestar. Nietzsche should be in the academic curriculum as early as nursery to be read by those nose-picking tiddlers in kindergarten to enable them to understand the human follies in advanced humans. Alas, no one listens to me and thinks I am as rabid eccentric as my mascot of wisdom.

    After Nietzsche, I love Arthur Schopenhauer. I am torn between them both if I should love dearly the bushy mustache (of Nietzsche) or the spiked hair (of Schopenhauer).

    "On one occasion, an old woman chatting outside his door made him so angry that he pushed her down the stairs. She was injured, and a court ordered Schopenhauer to pay compensation to her for the rest of her life. When she died some years later, Schopenhauer showed no compassion: instead he scribbled the joke-rhyme ‘obit anus, abit onus’ (Latin for ‘the old woman dies, the burden goes’) on her death certificate." -- A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton

    How can I not be fascinated by him and his gallows humour in ‘obit anus, abit onus’.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2018
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  5. Ouroboros

    Ouroboros Silver IL'ite

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    @Cheeniya I just noticed your signature -- "As I get increasingly balder, a friend consoles me saying that nothing grows on clay!"

    Clay feet is a norm but clay scalp is an unknown human ailment. Why did your friend proclaim that scalp hardens to clay as we age? I would have surmised that scalp softens to mulch as we age which means it is too robustly fertile for hair to thrive and the hair falls off not from lack of strength but overwhelming vigor. Is that not the case?
     
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  6. Ouroboros

    Ouroboros Silver IL'ite

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    1: A Little History of Philosophy, by Nigel Warburton

    I have already cited lines from this book, which is a part of the "little history" series of books, in my preceding posts. There are broadly two types of books: joyful and rueful. But there's a third hybrid category: royful which is not a painful regret but a pleasurable regret of having read the book but wishful to have read it as a kid. The book is aimed at children and young adults curious to learn the history of philosophy from ancient to modern times. However, like comics and graphic novels marketed for kids but relished by adults, this is one such book for any dilettante willing to discover the underpinnings of philosophical movements. The chapters are terse with catchphrases and titles and funny anecdotes. This is definitely a work of accessible style which on reading I felt like travelling back in time to my pig-tailed days and had found out about it under someone's tutelage. Back then I didn't have delightful teachers who could cast the attention of wide-eyed pupils onto non-curriculum works. I wish, I had. If you are a parent or a teacher or a even curious mind, then ensure that kids grow up amidst delightful reads rather than staid and unimaginative tropes. A good introduction to theodicy, manichaeism, pantheism, 'esse est percipi' of Berkeley and 'cogito ergo sum' of Descartes.

    upload_2018-9-24_15-47-58.png

    On that Bishop Berkeley, a slice of Nigel's writing:

    "Berkeley hatched an ambitious plan to set up a college on the island of Bermuda and managed to raise quite a lot of money to do this. Unfortunately the plan failed, partly because he hadn't realized how far from the mainland Bermuda was and how difficult it was to get supplies there. He did, however, after his death, have a West Coast university named after him –Berkeley in California. That came from a poem he wrote about America which included the line ‘Westward the course of empire takes its way’, a line that appealed to one of the university's founders. Perhaps even stranger than Berkeley's immaterialism was his passion in later life for promoting tar water, an American folk medicine made from pine tar and water. This was supposed to cure just about every illness. He even went so far as to write a long poem about how amazing it was. Although tar water was popular for a time, and may even have worked as a cure for minor ailments since it does have mild antiseptic properties, it is, rightly, not a popular cure now. Berkeley's idealism hasn't caught on either."

    What if the founder had read a different poem and named the college after a different thinker. But who cares about what-ifs when all there is to truth and reality is just a sensory experience of it, hmm, that's Berkeley in a piquant nutshell.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2018
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  7. Ouroboros

    Ouroboros Silver IL'ite

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    2: The Art of Being Right

    My library app inquires: Would you like to curate this book into a list?

    I have not yet organised my books into lists. But if I did, I would dump them all into a single list: books I wish I had read earlier in my life. The next book is also that royful read with insights on the argumentativeness of unruly voices. Who else but our 'abit onus' Schopenhauer could have come up with this reckoning.

    When Schopenhauer is not getting into scrapes with old crones in his building, he composed good, witty, and satirical works on reasoning. One such pocket guide to refer to for any disputation is "The Art Of Being Right." This is not your platitudinous book on ideals and integrity in a just world. But it is about how to best your unscrupulous opponent who plays by no rules. If you are impugned by baseless allegations and retarded logic, then, rather than hang your face return the wicked taste of their own medicine. Illogical beliefs are cured by illogical devilry. Though he warns at the end of his book that such ill-disposed arsenal of fallacious barbs to counter falsified reasoning should be unleashed only when you have somehow gotten yourself into an unforeseen argument with an ignoramus. Else, avoid the rumblings of such hostile altercation brought on by the impetuosity of your opponent and withdraw before it blows up into a ridiculous allegation.

    upload_2018-9-24_16-59-29.png

    Know thy enemy!

    As a sharpening of wits, controversy is often, indeed, of mutual advantage, in order to correct one's thoughts and awaken new views. But in learning and in mental power both disputants must be tolerably equal: If one of them lacks learning, he will fail to understand the other, as he is not on the same level with his antagonist. If he lacks mental power, he will be embittered, and led into dishonest tricks, and end by being rude.

    Remember ..'will be embittered and end by being rude'.

    The only safe rule, therefore, is that which Aristotle mentions in the last chapter of his Topica: not to dispute with the first person you meet, but only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to cherish truth, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong, should truth lie with him.

    From this it follows that scarcely one man in a hundred is worth your disputing with him. You may let the remainder say what they please, for every one is at liberty to be a fool - desipere est jus gentium. Remember what Voltaire says: La paix vaut encore mieux que la verite. Remember also an Arabian proverb which tells us that on the tree of silence there hangs its fruit, which is peace.

    Hence this book should be cataloged under "I wish I had read earlier in my life". Many a time I met blinkered folks who cry foul for disabusing them that Earth is not flat and Santa Claus does not exist. But don't accept the gauntlet of every beguiling challenge. Remember that Arabian proverb or Voltaire's prudence 'which tells us that on the tree of silence there hangs its fruit, which is peace'. Choose peace over truth in wrong-headed arguments.
     
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  8. Ouroboros

    Ouroboros Silver IL'ite

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    3: The Mystery of things

    In my previous post, if you had closely observed the book image, you would have noticed the line "Introduced by AC Grayling".

    AC Grayling!

    He is the last in the constellation of royful reads where I felt like weeping for not having known such a writer while growing up. I went to the library to borrow his "The Meaning of things". As the book was on loan, I was referred to his other work "The Mystery of things." I was even more delighted at this elevated 'mystery' over 'meaning'.

    upload_2018-9-24_17-50-26.png

    The book begins with the introduction:

    Knowledge is a great treasure, but there is one thing higher than knowledge, and that is understanding.

    I was devoted to read the book in one sitting with that cherishable introduction.

    The introduction was followed by assorted essays divided into three parts namely:
    1. Miscellany of Arts
    2. Aspects of History
    3. Speculating Science

    Hmm, I don't know what to write further on this book. Each essay is a monumental insight for me on how to write, what to write and why to write at all. Why write and share? Because I am excited to have discovered AC Grayling as he was excited to have discovered the Women of Salon like Louise d'Epinay and Madame du Deffand.

    Don't miss out on him. His collection of essays is an imperative read whether you grab the "meaning" or "mystery" of his works.

    He talks about "life in the universe" . In that continuation, let's approach death as well. Whose? Vishnu's.
     
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  9. Ouroboros

    Ouroboros Silver IL'ite

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    4: The Death of Vishnu

    In the first of his trilogy vaguely patterned on the Indian mythological trinity, Manil Suri frames a rousing and comical narrative about a dying and impoverished man on the "third step above the landing". The narrative replete with transliterated Indianisms swings back and forth into the past and current psyche of the fictional characters hovering around the debased body of Vishnu with veiled disgust than compassion whilst their questionable intents culminate into a day of mayhem with a delirious man plummeting from a balcony and his wife lapsing into a coma. And the death of Vishnu!

    upload_2018-9-24_17-52-8.png

    The book is a humorous spin on neighborly feuds over water consumption, pride decked in kohl-colored dyes, samosas fried in decomposing shapes, bickering wives, unsympathetic husbands, snappy lovers, shy suitors, paanwala, cigarettewala, fun-sized gangas, religious prejudice, Kantian ethics and Freudian theories, Bollywood vibes, Bombay walks, and Vishnu.

    The story begins with the titular Vishnu, a menial and homeless worker, found declining in health on his territorial landing of a three-storied walk-up apartment whose residents had grudgingly allowed him refuge for his odd work. One day, to the annoyance of the Pathaks and Asranis who share a kitchen on the first floor, Vishnu is found stinky and motionless on the landing to the hisses of the passing residents, and to the flake-dry chapatis of Mrs Pathak , also to the cardamom and clove tea of Mrs Asrani, his routine alms. While the womenfolk argue over the expenses incurred on calling an ambulance to cart away the withered and unresponsive man, the men struggle to ally and resolve the predicament sensibly. Amidst this clamour on how to dispose off the listless body, Vishnu still barely alive flickers through his underprivileged past, his childhood, the tales of God Vishnu he grew up listening to from his mother, his ardour for a whore named Padmini, and his dormant lust for Kavita, the daughter of the Asranis planning to elope with the Jalal boy from upstairs.

    The characters are known only through their family names like the Pathaks, the Asranis, the Jalals, and the Tanejas, until their first names are revealed in the intimacy of their own reflective past. Glimpses of their juvenile aspirations from the hardship with the Tru-tone dye of Mrs Pathak to the pretense of Russian-styled mayonnaise samomas of Mrs Asrani to age-worn estrangement in marital homes riffs in parallel arcs interwoven with the worsening condition of Vishnu.

    In the longings and escapades of these varied characters, Suri indulges us with the sights and sounds of the city of Mumbai, set in the times when it was still called Bombay. Neither the precise year nor the location of the building is revealed to us, therein, Suri teases our imagination to hang in the times and premises that are set in the past but not more than a generational remote. The most lively character in the novel is Mr Jalal whose woeful transformation from a rationalist to a religious convert is farcical. By the end of the novel, he enters into a Freudian crisis unable to rationalize his own failing rationality.

    Suri has affinity for certain words that are strewn more than the others. He uses "coaxes", "inky", "sea", "dapple" , "hawk" repetitively. He embellishes too much at times:

    • Her breasts rise from the surface, like moons emerging from a pool.
    • Face so red it could have been a traffic light.
    • lips flaring around a stream of cruel words, eyes darkening with derision.
    • exposed his body to the insalubrity of the day outside.
    • A naked bulb swelters at at the end of the wire.
    • Salim smiles, and the walls of the landing light up. Kavita waiting for darkness to fall so she can be close to its luminance.
    • Waiting for the dawn to paints its first strokes of pink

    One more, below passage obscures the act of slap with a garrulous expression of the before and the after of the act but not of the act.

    "His mother’s sobs rose to a wail, and Vinod found himself striding to where Sheetal stood. He felt a sting in the fingers of his right hand, saw a flash of disbelief light up his wife’s eyes. Then, head lowered, hand pressed against her reddening cheek, Sheetal left the room. Behind him, his mother blew her nose into a handkerchief."

    How do we know he slapped? Not sure why such Hitchcockian ascension in suspense. Did he slap or was the sting in his fingers caused by a flea's bite?
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2018
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  10. Rihana

    Rihana IL Hall of Fame

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    Nice. A finer form of "let's agree to disagree."
     
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