Review: The Dhammapada

The Dhammapada
The Dhammapada by Anonymous
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An intriguing introduction.

Elements of patriarchy, a male-dominated philosophy, are evident. Abstract concepts such as rebirth, heaven, hell, and the various gods mentioned have no obvious synthesis within, and originate from ancient Hinduism, perhaps. An emphasis on letting go of desires, on a passionless life.

A poetic style, an easy read, appreciable by initiates into the eightfold path…

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Review: Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Journey to the Centre of the Earth
Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Where there is life, there is hope.”

True!

Perhaps the only thing true about this highly imaginative, fantastical narrative. An engaging adventure, replete with marvelous descriptions of exotic places, and people, Jules Verne holds a reader’s attention and entertains the wandering, wondering mind. Deeper into the work, one encounters incredible scenes and adventures…

Yet exactly that is where I felt the work loosen its hold on me. The incredible lends disbelief, which the work, regrettably, does not suspend.

The center of the Earth? The CENTER? The adventurers barely penetrate…granted that is just a fanciful title, and this is a journey into the interior of the Earth. But a compass needle pointing upwards? The Earth would’ve to be smaller than the Moon for that to make sense. Light in the interior sometimes casting clear shadows, and sometimes not…

And what’s with the phlegmatic eider-down hunter? He seemed as flat a character as can be, while others are developed well, albeit not altogether rounded. The interesting bits of language foreign to most readers was catchy.

Boredom with over-dramatization and with an overactive imagination sped up my reading as well. Perhaps, as a writer myself, I am overly critical!

A good read, one that the very young or casual science-fiction aficionados may enjoy.

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Review: The Mysterious Island

The Mysterious Island
The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Imaginative, and engaging, filled with engineering details, but not altogether convincing as science fiction. Jules Verne connects this work to his Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea through the inimitable character of Captain Nemo, and offers a version of judgment on his actions. Nevertheless, the story appears somewhat contrived.

Yet, science fiction lovers will surely enjoy a Jules Verne work!

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Review: Learning to Silence the Mind: Wellness Through Meditation

Learning to Silence the Mind: Wellness Through Meditation
Learning to Silence the Mind: Wellness Through Meditation by Osho
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

“God is a constant search for more and more happiness, joy, and ecstasy.” – Rajneesh (Osho)

If that be true, it seems to me, God must be a process of indulgence in endless materialism. Rather contradictory, but this godman’s definitions have a tendency to be opposed to traditional thought and religion. He is quite clever in his thought and speech, which are recorded in the book, but he caters to his doting audience (American, in this instance) with observations that resonate with their beliefs – for very material reasons. Clearly, if the ‘pursuit of happiness’ be God, Americans must be a very godly people.

“Emptiness is Self.” Another one of his curious observations, presumably equating stillness of the mind, through meditation, to realization of the ‘self.’ Unsupported and unworthy, for it borrows from Buddhism (Tibetan, specifically) while seemingly contradicting that group’s belief that there is no ‘self.’

I read no further. Not recommended at all.

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Review: The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Enchanting…masterful, and deeply moving.

The sure sign of a great master – of the arts – is that he can evoke powerful emotions through his illustration. Monseuir Dumas does so brilliantly in The Count of Monte Cristo. He paints most imaginative visions, and yet suspends disbelief. He tells… like the ancient storytellers who enraptured audiences through their refined narration.

Oh, how I crave to be an apprentice to this great artist!

The translation does have its flaws…some words, such as ‘toilet,’ appear ludicrously employed. Perhaps the usage of the times then. The linearity of the narration is noticeable, as is a penchant for the religious and the supernatural. Cultural aspects of the times, too, perhaps, or what readers appreciated then. A tendency to engage a reader solely in conversation gives way to lengthy reflection in latter parts of the work. Yet, from a master, these are but his distinction.

Bravo, M. Dumas!

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Review: George Washington: A Life From Beginning to End

George Washington: A Life From Beginning to End
George Washington: A Life From Beginning to End by Hourly History
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

George Washington: The man who united thirteen states and built a nation

A brief but excellent account of the man, the military leader, and the father of the nation. Born as a younger Washington, he learned to survey and know the land he moved in, trained in the British military and rose to overcome them as leader of the Continental Army, and was chosen, unanimously, to unite and lead a new nation. He proved to be a man of impeccable honor and integrity, fully worthy of the title popularly bestowed.

The book is a pleasure to read. Replete with anecdotes and little-known details, it enlivens a true historical account.

Highly recommended.

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Another ‘Swing of the Pendulum’

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Prophetic. Arrogant, offensive, but prescient. He said it, and did it. Take a deep breath…the name calling, nasty, divisive, financially irresponsible outsider did it. But just how did he do it?

Friends call me up to commiserate. ┬áSome are very clear in their analysis…’tis naught but a return to the ways of the deep south, they say. Deep rooted racism. A rejection of a wonderful gumbo of immigrants, and a swing back to having the good old boys in charge. I wonder.

A swing of the pendulum.

Could it be so? What did Trump offer America? To be selected to lead the nation? Political acumen and experience? Eloquence and a calming philosophy that unifies a fractured nation? A credible approach to global trade and foreign relations? And if not, what else?

Perhaps, the art of the deal? But what deals was he planning? Building a wall to keep immigrants out? Profiling people entering the country? Or playing the game as he said in his quote above?

I cannot help but think that he wins and America loses. I think he played to the basest instincts, to the deep rooted fears of a large segment of Americans, and he won. He says it like it is! Common sense be damned.

The pendulum has indeed swung over to the crazy side.

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