Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man And The Sea is a great book. It is small in terms of text but comprehensive in terms of the emotions and thought processes of a solitary man fighting his seemingly invincible bad luck.

I had not read fiction in a long time. On reading somewhere that research proves reading fiction helps in improving brain connectivity and empathy, I decided to give it a try.

This is the story of a fisherman down on his luck, who decides to not come back from a trip without a fish. And his thoughts, his emotions, his memories along with the constant struggle.

Having one's own pride take over safety and sanity is something we all do at one point or the other. The old man did the same, and his pride was all he had at the end. That he had to gain a lot and then lose a lot and fight all through it made for a very motivational reading.

Here are a few execepts:

Positivity in the face of pessimism.

Fiction in daily life: something I was not aware of.

"You'll not fish without eating while I'm alive."

Fiction seems to be the antitode to misery.
Guilt seems to be the domain of the kind hearted.

Imagination does not need big words or clever phrases.

And the journey begins!

This guy generates fiction in his own life.
He talks to himself.
But seems very sane to me.

The part where you suspect all won't go the old man's way.

I loved the love-hate relationship the man's mind had with the fish.

Being a strange old badass.

"All I must do is keep the head clear."

A man can be destroyed but not defeated.

Here comes the realisation of ego, and the complexity of thought.

"..from his pain he knew he was not dead."
-- I wonder if Hemingway was
the first to use this theme.
This is the kind of book where everyone reading it will come up with different thoughts. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Ever since revelations about PRISM came out in 2013, I saw references to George Orwell's writing. Two works of fiction: Animal Farm and 1984 have been mentioned several times in media and on Reddit.

I personally liked Animal Farm very much. It gave a new meaning to words like satire, politics, manipulation, memory and most of all perception. No amount of description on my part can substitute a reading of the book. You can read the whole book on Project Gutenberg here.

In short, a group of animals living on a farm rebel against the owner. Manor Farm is now Animal Farm, out of respect to the new philosophy called Animalism. Out of the animals, the pigs take a leadership role. Slowly but surely, the pigs start to gain privileges over others, playing power games amongst themselves. One of the pigs wins the power games and starts a dynasty of his own. Slowly the commandments are altered to suit the rulers, animals are being killed in the spirit of the farm, and the situation of most of the animals remains more or less the same. Only the oppression by humans is now replaced by the discipline and development undertaken by the animals. In the end, the farm is renamed to Manor Farm and the head of the pigs is seen partying with a human farmer.

If I had the power to do it, I would make it compulsory reading in schools. That this goes against the spirit of the book is another matter :-)

Here are some excerpts:

Now that we are in power, no more rebellions are required. Oh yeah!

Executions of animals by animals, when one of
the commandments was to reduce killing by humans.

Serves you right.

To paraphrase a Punjabi saying, this is eating a fly with one's eyes wide open!

Weber would be proud of this bureaucracy!

And now pigs walk on two legs!

And the more equal than others meme was born.

Here it became apparent that Mr. Pilkington was about to spring some carefully prepared witticism on the company, but for a moment he was too overcome by amusement to be able to utter it. After much choking, during which his various chins turned purple, he managed to get it out: "If you have your lower animals to contend with," he said, "we have our lower classes!" This bon mot set the table in a roar; and Mr. Pilkington once again congratulated the pigs on the low rations, the long working hours, and the general absence of pampering which he had observed on Animal Farm.

Inspirational to say the least

Rats are comrades now!

Only the pigs would end up wearing ribbons later on.

In summary,
Humans: Bad!
Animals: Good?

The cat is the most entertaining cameo character.

Of course the leaders need privileges.

To use the words of a song, this is Killing In The Name

Elections as an integral part of the political process :-)

Tactics, comrades, tactics!

Just playing with the commandment against beds.

If comrade Napolean says it, it must be right.

Most of all, I think I now understand the concept of symbolism.