Monthly Archives: February 2009

Books as usual

For the past few weeks, I have been quite busy watching a lot of DVDs that I have accumulated since last year. There are far too many and it is time to watch all of them before I go away to a far flung place where I will spend time resting in an area of scenic beauty. It sounds ridiculously sad that I am up to my eyes in watching movies. I do not have time to blog or even read the mass of books that I have been buying every month, let alone enough time to rest. But this is just the way I prioritise what I want to do in life.

Talking about buying books, I have obtained two books that I think will stimulate the interest of anybody who does not already know about them. The first one is 2666, a novel written by Roberto Bolano, a Chilean novelist and poet, who sadly passed away five years ago. I bought the book in January when it was first published in English in the UK and straight away transferred it to my bookshelf. I do not suppose I will have time to read it for a while. I have been hearing about this book since last year. What drew my attention to it was the comparison between this author and Gabriel García Márquez, the author of “One Hundred Years of Solitude”. Some have even suggested that readers who like Haruki Murakami’s books will also enjoy this Chilean author’s works.You can read about him and the book via the links: Guardian.co.uk|TheObserver and NYtimes.

Another book that I received yesterday, which is also inspiring, is a political history book. It is the much talked about book that inspired Barack Obama: “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln”, written by Doris Kearns Goodwin, winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Personally, I am not paticularly keen on this genre, but having said that, I do not mind venturing into new, unknown territory, even though I know this will be very tough going for me seeing as I know nothing about the fundamentals of American politics and President Lincoln. Every politician or anyone interested in politics should read this book as some commenters have said. If I had the chance to meet ObaMark – Mark is the nickname of the current Thai Prime Minister – I would certainly recommend that he reads this book. Though I doubt that he would agree with the idea of bringing some of his fiercest rivals into his Cabinet.  You may already know what Thai politicians are like. But if, by any chance, Khun Abhisit fancies the notion of inviting the opposition to work in his administration like the American president did, he would certainly need to watch his back. Otherwise, he might feel an unexpectedly sharp pain between the shoulder blades!

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Filed under Book, Politics

I am so happy and sleepy, but this is not relevant to this entry

I have plenty of things to say and they have been weighing on my mind.  I will try my best to get some of them out of my head in an organised way, at least I am trying, despite being rather sleepy.

I have just finished reading Underground, one of Murakami’s books. Which means I have read all of his current work until his new book comes out in the near future. I bought this book some years ago but could not get round to reading it; the reason for this is that I could not cope with the very small font. It drove me nuts and because of this, it was extremely difficult for me to concentrate on the story. Eventually, I managed to give it a go again, although it took me ages to finish it. After a lot of effort, especially with my hands sweating profusely every time I picked up the book,  I thought of it as a very interesting read.

Underground is a journalistic piece of work, in which the author interviewed the victims affected by the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. Murakami also interviewed members and former members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, the leader of which, Shoko Asahara, ordered some of his close followers to perpetrate this senseless act of terrorism. The story provides an insight into the lives of the innocent people who were caught off guard by the horror of the event.  Not only does it reveal how they felt about the incident, the book also provides some background information on these people – who they were, what they did and where they came from – so as to establish their characteristics. As sorry as I felt for the victims, I found the interviews a little bit repetitive. Understandably, the author wanted to give a precise account of what really happened on the underground on that particular Monday.

The second part of the book both irritates and intrigues me at the same time. In this section, the interviews allow us to go inside the minds of those who seek refuge – or as they call it “searching for enlightenment” –  in a religious cult. What I gathered from the interviewees was their sense of alienation, loneliness and isolation. They were disillusioned with the hard realities of life and were trying their best to look for something more meaningful in their existence. Some, with a background of good education and respected jobs, decided to abandon their lives and promising careers to  join this doomsday cult, pinning all their hopes on the the leader of Aum to cast light on the questions that they had been asking themselves. They gave up their own identities and ways of thinking and instead, replaced them with the guru’s ego and his flawed, warped ideologies, deserting a human’s basic common sense of what is right and wrong.  Because of this, to me, they  were just weaklings who were exploited by their master.

What I gleaned from reading this book was a personal understanding of my own imperfect Self. No matter how hard I try, I will never be completely fulfilled in life, but nevertheless shouldn’t I make the most of it? It does not matter who I am and what I do as long as I cause no trouble to anybody and have the ability to make my own decisions on how to live my life. I think I am satisfied with myself. At least, I would never dream of hurting other people like some of the Aum people did in the Underground.

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Filed under Belief, Book, Japan