Ivan klima – Love and garbage

Klima wrote this sensuously romantic novel on the timeless theme of the clandestine love affair in response to the misogyny and cynicism he perceived in his countryman Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

The narrator – a banned Czech writer, sweeps the Prague streets with a group of the society’s other outcasts-an old sailor given to drink, a sickly teenager, a foul-mouthed former beauty, a failed inventor, and an ex-pilot. As they go about their mindless job, the narrator learns of the dreams and sorrows of his coworkers and meditates on the life and work of Franz Kafka, the power of literature, and his relationship with his dying father. He agonizes over his passionate, tempestuous love affair with a talented sculptor, Daria, but in the end chooses his wife of many years for whom he feels great tenderness. A meditation on death, the nature of love and freedom, commitment and guilt, this poetic and gently sad autobiographical novel by a major Czech writer belongs in all libraries collecting modern European literature.

For readers willing to be moved more by insight than titillation, this is a fine place to begin your introduction to Klima’s world.

Ivan klima - Love and garbage


On Ugliness – Umberto Eco

Beauty may be well attractive, but ugliness is much more fun…

Eco gives us an encyclopedic, vividly illustrated. With a collection of passages of historical and philosophical commentary among hundreds of examples of ugliness found in Western art and literature, starting from ancient Greece to the popular and avant-garde cultures of today.

Do not expect a theory about repulsion over here.

The Idea of justice – Amartya Sen

An exploration of what justice means and should be vs our current model. The reader is cajoled to critically look at the current judicial and social system. In Sen’s ideal state justice and perfect order should be free from the domination of the will of the majority and one that is inclusive, non-parochial and humane therefore taking a world view into account.

Reference is given to Gautama’s exposure to “mortality, morbidity and disability, which agitated him greatly.” and the traditional Indian perspective of “nyaya” (Justice) which is basically where his ideal state is based in contrast to ‘niti” (rules).

Reference is given to Hobbes showing where the lives of people are “nasty brutish and short” and Dickens “In this little world in which children have their existence there is nothing so finely perceived and finely felt as injustice.”

Sen says, “What moves us, reasonably enough, is not the realisation that the world falls short of being completely just, which few of us expect, but that there are clearly remediable injustices around us which we want to eliminate.”

The book is in four segments – The Demands of Justice, Forms of Reasoning, Materials of Justice and Public Reasoning and Democracy.

This major philosophical work not based on abstract ideals or notions of what perfect institutions and rules might be, but from what the results of a system are practically, in the world. The importance of public reasoning and argues that a system of justice should require the agreement not just of the community which is making laws, but of outsiders who might be affected, or who might have valuable perspectives to offer. The methods and conclusions of the book can be used for many levels of intellectual activity not only those connected with justice. Probably the most ambitious work of Sen to date.

The Idea of justice - Amartya Sen

The Choice of Hercules, A.C. Grayling.

Hercules faced with a choice of Duty or Pleasure in the form of attractive women each enticing him to follow her into the life she represented. Inspiring painters, poets and composers from the renaissance with the the fundamental choice of moral orientation on how one should live and therefore the destiny of their immortal souls. Recommended for reflection and consideration so that the best can be made of it.

Duty “as an end in itself is no goal at all”

“If anything, the example of humourless, disapproving, repressive moralisers whose pointing fingers have blighted enough lives to fill armies many times over, ought to be enough to remind us that the phrase ‘the good life’ genuinely merits its double meaning: for the valuable life (the life truly worth living for the one living it) and the pleasurable life (of which affection, laughter, achievement and beauty are integral characteristics) are one and the same.”

And yet people complain that society is too permissive, yearning for a time a hundred years back, of child labour and child prostitution, when, as Grayling says, ‘if a man’s wife were pregnant or menstruating he might turn to his eldest daughter’ – the Victorian age. Before discussing the petty morality of the twenty-first century, though, Grayling says this:

The great moral questions – the most moral and urgent ones – are not about sex, drugs and unmarried mothers. They are, instead, about human rights, war and genocide, the arms trade, poverty in the Third World, the continuance of slavery under many guises and names, interreligious antipathies and conflicts, and inequality and injustice everywhere. These areas of concern involve truly staggering horrors and human suffering. In comparison to them, the parochial and largely misguided anxieties over sex, drugs, gay marriage and the other matters that fill newspapers and agitate the ‘Moral Majority’ in America and Britain, pale into triviality. It is itself a moral scandal that these questions preoccupy debate in comfortable corners of the world, while real atrocity and oppression exist elsewhere.

The choice of Duty or Pleasure should be more a choice of brining the world to a state where pleasure is at least possible.

A.C. Grayling - The choice of Hercules.

Talks with Sri.Nisargadatta Maharaj “I AM THAT”

Quite possibly the last book you would need to read in the realm of “spirituality”…

All are mere words, of what use are they to you? You are entangled in the web of verbal definitions and formulations. Go beyond your concepts and ideas; in the silence of desire and thought the truth is found.

(With self-awareness) you grow more intelligent. In awareness you learn, in self-awareness you learn about yourself. Of course, you can only learn what you are not. To know what you are, you must go beyond the mind. Awareness is the point at which the mind reaches out beyond itself into reality. In awareness you seek not what pleases, but what is true.

Stop making use of your mind and see what happens. Do this one thing thoroughly. That is all.

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