A few weeks ago, a friend of mine was giving me a lift home from work. On the way, she kept complaining that she was so hungry and really wanted to eat. Our plan, however, had been to go for a run, or at least do some exercise, and I generally don’t eat right before exercise (it’s just not a good idea), so I was basically trying to get her to stop complaining and get some control over her appetite.
There are a lot of recurring themes and messages in Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, and one that I’ve found myself thinking about quite a lot recently is his assertion that history is constantly repeating itself, and hence no problem is ever completely new.
What I find interesting about this is that I actually discounted this assertion when I first came across his remarks about it in the book. I mean, this book was written almost 2000 years ago, and a lot has changed since then, right? Continue reading
This year, I have read some very interesting, and very “different” books. I read New Earth which is sort of about spirituality and focuses a lot on focusing on the present moment; I read Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World which was a very bizarre story in which death – particularly the imminence of death – featured quite prominently; I read A Tale for the Time Being which dealt with suicide a lot; and, not too long ago, I finished reading Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations which is a philosophical text that addresses, among many things, the idea of transience.
All these books – which, let it be noted, I did not intentionally choose to read in that order, or consciously plan to read them all this year, but rather that it so happened that I came across them or otherwise felt compelled to pick them up when I did – all these books have got me thinking, subconsciously and consciously, from time to time, about how everything is transient and ephemeral and impermanent and all those beautiful words that mean more or less the same thing.
It seems that I’ve unknowingly developed quite a backlog of door photos, so I might actually manage to publish kind of regular Thursday Doors posts on top of my regular blogging.
This week’s location is Burnett Lane, located in the heart of Brisbane’s CBD. I read online that it’s Brisbane’s oldest laneway, and, back in the day, was a prison exercise yard. It was also the site of floggings and hangings. Back in the day.
These last two weeks, I’ve been reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I feel like people have been recommending Shadow to me for so long, it’s really about time I got around to it. But I’m only about 200 pages in, so no spoilers please.
Anyway, anyone who has read it, or knows anything about the work of Ruiz Zafón will know that Shadow is magnificently written, and full of beautifully poetic prose. If I spent all day trying to mark or note down every line I liked, it would take me forever to finish reading it. Since I haven’t been writing down notable quotes, I actually feel like I’m really powering through this. I mean, considering how slowly I usually read, this feels almost too fast; but it’s just such a page-turner, and maybe I’ve just been in more of a reading mindset lately (?)
All of that aside, there is one quote that I wanted to share:
“He would have liked to know that somebody wanted to keep him alive, that someone remembered him. He used to say that we exist as long as somebody remembers us.”
– Nuria Monfort, speaking of Julián Carax (Chapter 20)
When my friend lent me her copy of All Quiet on the Western Front (along with a couple of other books), she told me that it was pretty depressing. At the time, I was just finishing reading David Copperfield, so I was kind of keen to read something a bit shorter as my next book. But, taking her advice, I held off, and read other things while mentally preparing myself for AQWF (plus there were a lot of other things going on at the time).
All Quiet on the Western Front, written by Erich Maria Remarque, had been on my to-read list for quite some time (it was just lucky coincidence that this friend of mine had a copy to lend me). To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I actually knew what the novel was about when I put it on that list – I just knew that it was something about war, and that it’s a classic. Yeah, I never even bothered to Google it before adding it to my TBR list…
Well, anyway, as it turns out, AQWF is about World War I, and is told from the perspective of a young German soldier (Paul Bäumer). It is both gut-wrenching and heart-rending, and I kind of wonder if it wouldn’t be a bad idea to make this compulsory reading for high school students (except for all the graphic details…)