On Reading and Writing

I think that when I once began this version of my thoughts in the shape of words and paragraphs, I said that I would take pleasure in commenting upon a few authors and their pieces of writing, that I consider excelling in all manners or some.

Now, to begin, I’d first say a few thoughts on writing instead of reading. Writing demands time and passion, also skill. Without skill and style, one may put an infinite amount of words into a sentence, but it will mean nothing and it will be valued as nothing. The song that I have selected as the ‘Current Music’ somehow reflects this complication that I feel about writing, and, more to the point, writing well. Writing well means that there are already concepts that can be developed — I would take the historical backgrounds that Ryotaro Shiba and Robert Graves present us, and compare them to the nationalistic passions that Henryk Sienkiewicz so well materialises… the eloquent style and form of Hermann Hesse, or the grandiose descriptions of John Tolkien and Arthur Clarke, utilized very differently, but still enhancing the bigger picture.

‘And I will start again… Make a wish…’
— Conjure One, ‘Make a Wish’

Writing also demands much other resources — firstly, one cannot simple write since it demands a special mood of sorts that I am at a loss to describe though I am sure that people who do write (occasionally) know what I hereby mean; secondly, the concept should not merely be stating what thousands have already stated, but to try (and to succeed) in putting to paper something new, or, at the very least, something that few others have done well.

Today, I managed to reflect that I have likely not read any non-English or Japanese author in the past two or three months. Oh, sure, I have read Eliot, Clarke, Kawabata, Shiba, Graves, Maugham, Tolkien, and some others. But not a single non-English/Japanese writer in this time-span. Possibly, the last one from other sources that I read was Hemingway whose ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’ was, simply put, excellent. To specify, this does not exclude various foreign newspapers (American, Australian, British) and magazines that I happen to read or skim in what detail I can, but a newspaper or a magazine is far different from a decent novel. In any case, I happened to read Plato’s ‘Apology’ today, and I found it compelling. Compelling to think, compelling to be. But, just to further prove my earlier words, I did happen to the library a few days ago (might have been yesterday… but I lose track of such details since they are of no consequence), and who did I lend..? Kawabata (The Master of Go), Graves (Count Belisarius), Maugham (Razor’s Edge), and Clavell (Tai-pan).

Anyways, I think that I wished to say a few words about reading as well. Reading demands attention, even more so than writing, mainly because of the little details or stylistic nuances that writers like to add into their works. Reading books of good style is easy — reading those which are said to be ‘classic’ or ‘superb’ is however a different thing. Indeed, many of these so-proclaimed grand works amount to very little in my eyes. A true good book can be sensed when looked upon, when read. One should not have to exert more than the usual concentration to remain fixed in a book. If that happens, then the book is simply over-worked. The young writer’s (Paolini, might have been) series of a dragon-boy and whatnot come to mind which simply have the English-English dictionary written into themselves.

As a final thought, I’d like to say that what makes for a good read should also make for a good quote. Both Plato’s ‘Apology’, and Robert Graves’ ‘Count Belisarius’ offer for many such instances. I am sure that I need not be disappointed with any other of the books that I lent. Nor in any of the authors I mentioned in the lists before. What about others though?

Edit: 27-11-2010. Fixed an error: I attributed the lyrics present in this text to Enigma instead of Conjure One.

On…

I couldn’t even give a title to what I’d write today. Yet, I had the feeling it was time to write something not-school-related. *sigh*

The future is a brilliant star. But even the most brilliant of stars can fade, and collapse, and though the collapse of a star is one of the grandest events that nature has ever created, the collapse of a person (and his future) is seldom as great. I can’t even think of a good example to say that there has been a really good collapse of this sort though I’m rather confident that someone must have done it well, somewhere before.

I was in such good moods yesterday that I even considered writing on thalassocracy. I suppose that will remain some sort of a dream though — something as good as thalassocracy cannot simply be put to words in anything less than the state of eternal victory, and though yesterday was a day which shone through the darkness of the winter with its perfection, I am afraid it still wasn’t enough. For now. The aftershock might do it though. At least, I hope so.

To listen to the biggest mistakes being made, and yet knowing that I can do nothing to make people avoid them… it is interesting, the feeling. A distant sadness.

I took it up yesterday and watched R. Emmerich’s ‘2010’. I wouldn’t consider it that good a movie (I mean the sheer Hollywoodness of the piece was awful), but I did like it. The scenery was good, the arks were epic… And it led me to think — if the (human) world was destroyed now (without the mistake of leaving people alive so that they can reproduce and begin again, refer to the well-known ‘All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again… again… again…’) then I would find nothing ill in it. The world today is nothing more or less than the garbage pit of history with the worst of things being likely done today. We thrive on hypocrisy. But, I suppose, that’s how the world runs. For now. These jungles of concrete that we see and experience daily are just one of the many reasons why the destruction of the world would be interesting (and beneficial). I wonder, if no human walked in New York ever again, how much time it would take for nature to reclaim the city? And what would it look like?

Controlled or not controlled?
The same dice shows two faces.
Not controlled or controlled,
Both are a grievous error.

On Truth

As two sayings go, ‘War is full of false alarms!’ and ‘In war, truth is the first casualty!’. I believe the two can be combined somehow, but I will leave that to the thoughtful reader who has nothing better to do. Indeed, I believe that truth is an important element. But then, always, without question, the second point arises that if we look upon truth, we must decide whose take on truth we want. Do we want mine? Do we want his? Do we want their? With every change in this aspect, truth changes, and it still remains truth. Interesting, isn’t it?

I can’t really point what is the matter with truth. Why the modern world is so afraid of it; why ‘modern people’ seldom decide in favour of lies or half-truths… Indeed, this question might become more important somewhen in our future where we finally need to hold a long dialogue with ourselves.

The song I’ve chosen as the ‘Music of the Entry’ or whatever it is named… is a perfect representation of what I’m trying to write in these words which do not excel in passing my meaning on. ‘Caprica’ is a story of intense tragedy – the quest of wanting more, yet ending up destroying everything. 50 billion dead, Ron D. Moore said in some entry. 50 billion. And all because man wanted to be more powerful, to do less but achieve more. Did anyone there ask themselves if it was really worth doing? Did anyone confront themselves about the truth of their actions and their words? I wish someone had though, regrettably, the story would lose half of its meaning. I do suppose that’s worth 50 billion lives saved though.

So, back to truth. Truth is interesting. From my point of view, I always have several things to say. They are all truthful; for I believe in so many things which sometimes conflict themselves (some of you might know a few examples). The plethora of truths that I have at my disposal will, in some distant day, no doubt destroy me. Why? They marched out to the desert, where the wind blew and covered them in sand. That is why. And yet, I have the feeling that I can accomplish the greatest victory that a man can achieve even when destroyed. It remains to be seen. It is the brave man’s part to live with glory, or with glory die.

Managing to achieve such gloominess from such a topic? A new achievement, even for me. Assuming, i.e. that it was gloomy. I suppose it depends on the person reading… Depends on his or her point of view… His or her truth(s)…

I have the feeling that one comment will be (presented either here or through some other medium) telling me that I’ve again presented a piece of writing instead of anything else. Perhaps I have. This I leave to the reader to decide. For now.

The picture that I will add below, will, I hope, illustrate to some extent what I wished to say (and perhaps managed to convey, perhaps did not). Vivat Ted Nasmith!

The Argonath (Ted Nasmith)

Let the two kings guard their truths. For the eternity if such is the need.

Now, I will take some time for myself. Will be back in a few days. The time will be well spent — thinking, mostly. And in what pleasant surroundings…

A Fragment of a Fragment

Recently, I’m quite pleased to say that the Finnsburg Fragment has sprung to my mind on several occasions. Or, well, if not the entire fragment, then at least the first few lines which represent many things for me. The first time I saw these lines, I think I might have been some eleven or twelve. They had this fitting image already then… even more so now.

So, ‘The gables are not burning’…

‘the gables are not burning.’
Then the king, a novice in battle, said:
‘This is no dawn from the east, no dragon
flies here, the gables of the hall are not burning,
but men are making an attack. Birds of battle screech,
the grey wolf howls, spears rattle,
shield answers shaft. The wandering moon gleams
under the clouds; evil deeds will now
be done, bringing grief to this people.
But rouse yourself now, my warriors!
Grasp your shields, steel yourselves,
fight at the front and be brave!’

Determination! Strength! Power! No dragon flies here!

On Questions

Largely, I find that there are two types of questions, or at least that most questions can be divided by these types. You might now wonder what I suggest these types to be.

Firstly, before mentioning them, I will need to bring up one interesting thing: After reading Eliot’s ‘Wasteland’, I almost want to try other high modernist pieces. Perhaps even get down to writing one up myself. Though, I suppose that I’m too into my own style for imitating another to ever work. Then again, one can always try.

Now, to the questions; to the types that I have noticed for myself:

  • Type 1: There are always more answers to questions than there are questions. This is because there are always several ways in which one can answer a question, even leaving aside the differences of negative-positive answers (if not through direct facts then by connotation which always swings from one side to another).
  • Type 2: There are also questions which are unanswerable. I don’t mean the questions to which one does not know the answer, but those that by their very nature are unanswerable… You might say that a question can belong here when the answer is known before asking which makes responding unnecessary. Then again, that is not a clear definition for one to fall under this category. A better one would be including only the questions which have answers which cannot be safely worded without misunderstanding them. ——- Okay, just disregard this. I did have a meaning sometime, I suppose it was lost on the way. 😛

Nothing more to add at this moment. I did manage to think this entry out, but just as this night’s dream, I’ve forgotten it.

‘Shall we ever remember what we wished to forget?’
‘Shall we ever forget what we wished to remember?’
– ‘RSVP!’

On Winter

I have the distinct feeling that this winter that I am presently seeing outside of my window shall be my last one… for a very long time. And I cannot say that I regret these decisions — they are all for the better. For indeed, I dare say that this will not be my last winter at all, for I have planned to experience another one, though in another time, in another place.

But… what if the winter shall follow me? What if it will change everything, the fact that I will not see it, feel it? It would be a cruel game by winter to do so, even though I suppose nature has the right to be cruel.

These questions are all very interesting, but I should rather look at it from another side: Do I want this to be the last winter (for the sake of simplicity, I will not refer to that one in the distant future as one for now), or do I want winter to follow me? For, even though there are many things to be said about winter, one must add that it is beautiful, it adds perspective to summer. How would I ever be able to fully rejoice in the pleasures of summer without once feeling the cold winds of winter?

I read yesterday that Mongolia had had minus 50 degrees (Celsius), and its vast grasslands covered in meters-thick snow. I wonder what an experience it would be to see a season similar in its depth. I cannot possibly imagine. Not yet. But someday, I will. Or, so at least I hope.

On Saigyo, I

Saigyo seems to have been a master of his own genre, a poet with skills unrivalled by others. I do not really have a wish to write much about him — just wanted to post one of his poems.

When facing crises,
what will be gone completely are
thoughts of their perfect beauty —
that of blossoms known intimately
in the sage emperor’s palace.

Quite nice, in my opinion. Also, seems to fit my general tone at this moment… Exactly that thoughts of perfection are gone… completely…

‘And what are they replaced by?
 — ‘RSVP!

A Poem by Saigyo

[Disclaimer: The original post can be found here with minor edits in this version.]

Saigyo seems to have been a master of his own genre, a poet with skills unrivalled by others. I do not really have a wish to write much about him — just wanted to post one of his poems.

When facing crises,
what will be gone completely are
thoughts of their perfect beauty —
that of blossoms known intimately
in the sage emperor’s palace.

 

Quite nice, in my opinion… Also, it seems to fit the general tone of my being at the present moment. Although those thoughts of perfection are near-completely gone…

‘And what are they replaced by?
— ‘RSVP!

On Willingness

‘Willingness’
1.
Disposed or inclined; prepared.
2. Acting or ready to act gladly; eagerly compliant.
3. Done, given, accepted, or borne voluntarily or ungrudgingly.
4. Of or relating to exercise of the will; volitional.

The four definitions of willingness all relate it to being prepared. I find that the most important part of being willing to do anything is related to the mental aspect – even if one does not have the physical capabilities of achieving something, he (or she) will go a longer way if he (or she) is mentally prepared. If one isn’t, however, then there is nothing to achieve with any sort of physical shape that might be a precondition under other terms.

Therefore, if one objects to something subconsciously it can never be accomplished. Such is the way in which our world is run, and we can do nothing to counter it.

The question here rather lies in whether we can build willingness if it does not exist in the first place. I find that there are several likely answers for this:
 

  •  We cannot build willingness if it is not there in the first place. This results from a mental block towards this one thing (be it whatever, completely irrelevant what for the purposes of this discussion) which cannot be overcome lest the block be completely destroyed. However, if we destroy an aspect of our mind, do we not destroy the mind itself? Can we destroy a part of our own mind, leaving everything else intact? I’m afraid that this can’t be done, as perhaps demonstrated to us by Orwell in ‘1984’s third part (if I remember the location right).
  • It can be overcome, but only through careful application of time. The willingness is there at times, or the willingness is created over time. Yet, it is not there now — therefore, time is needed to build this willingness. To overcome the lack of willingness without time would likely result in a smaller problem than the one mentioned above, but it would still create a problem of some degree. Still, this approach will result in reducing the lack of willingness, and transforming it into willingness itself.
  • The willingness itself is indescribable, and solely depending on some arbitrary criterion which cannot be properly defined. As such, the willingness can’t be created over time, nor is it un-creatable. Willingness, by the approach that this option suggests, creates itself at the right time. This would likely be connected with a specific mood, or some similar option.

Why this question ever became relevant at this moment is connected to the fact that I had this specific mood that ‘I can write, I want to write!’ a few days ago, but I didn’t use it for anything. Now, I need to hand in an essay tomorrow (‘How Tolerance for Diversity Decreases in a Time of Need’), and I have written the introduction in some… three hours? *sigh* How feeble the plans of men… to plan something for tomorrow, and yet never know what will be the providence of tomorrow.

"Will there be fairies, or things to fear?"

Also, for anyone interested, if I have the time I might come up with a TQ-style question on the origins of the seven first letters of the blog address. Might be interesting to see who scores first (and what other options come up).

On Cities

Someone told me I should write on naval matters… can’t connect my thought-line to anything naval as of now though, just can’t. Seems to be an entirely different course to take me to the naval issues, though I would very much like to voice an opinion in favour of global thalassocrasy. 

Now, on to the topic I have chosen to write a few words about… cities. For some reason, it seems to me that cities are taken very light-heartedly. Yet, I cannot imagine myself living in most of the cities that I visit, simply because I cannot find the spirit and emotion that I require in them. 

I mean that a city can be gloomy and it can be happy, it can be green or a jungle of concrete. A city can govern the skies, or spread on scores of square kilometers. The varieties that a city can take are immense; there are basically no limits to where or how a city can go and develop. The only limits here are presented to us by the borders of the human mind (ie, infinity in all directions), the advancements of technology in engineering, and the will to terraform in order to get a more stable ground structure-work. Therefore, in all practical matters when we take that we have the eternity in which to develop, the varieties of cities we will see will also be infinite. This matter is however quite insignificant, and I am unsure why I stopped on it for such a period of time.

The Life. I don’t think that the city is its people. I’d rather believe that the people add to the tones and colours of the city, and not shape it. The city itself is the structures, the geometrical shapes that are formed by the districts and street networks. Therefore, I’d also say that the spirit of a city remains the same if it has one inhabitant, a million inhabitants, or no inhabitants then the city itself is the same, it just has taken on a different aspect of the same thing. Turn a rock upside down, and you see the same thing. This said I believe that you can understand why I generally do not care how many people a city has since that does not change the city itself. Also, it makes little difference when you see the city — at daytime when it is packed with people, or at night when it has none… it all still adds up to the one single city, which you see whenever you look at it.

What I actually wished to address was however, that you can only see the entirety of a city when you have seen it in all seasons. Then you know it, then you know what to expect and what to not expect from the city. I think I have seen only four cities during all of the four different seasons (might be five, but I can’t remember the specifics on Stockholm). Anyways, the four would be Tallinn, Pärnu, Helsinki and Nõmme. Truth be said, Nõmme isn’t a city anymore, but in the dreams of Freiherr N. von Glehn it was a city, and it held it’s city rights proudly for nearly fourteen years before it was united with Tallinn (*cough*Soviets*cough*). I suppose I should address them all separately, but I don’t really feel like it. To make a long story short, only Nõmme, Pärnu and Helsinki deserve credit. Tallinn itself is nothing worthwhile for me, and the city seems to have forgotten something… perhaps itself, its reasons, its motives. It should find them again, or it will never be as grand as it once was. Anyways, Nõmme, Pärnu and Helsinki… Nõmme and Pärnu are quite the same here, with both being very green and friendly, comfortable places for a comfortable person. Helsinki is more of this metropolian center which has forever been cast into my memory due to its… scope — the statue of Ratsuväenkenraali Mannerheim, the central alleys, tram-routes, centuries’ old houses, and yet it feels friendly: it does not give off the same aura as Tallinn (excluding Nõmme, be it city or district).

So yes, to know a city, you need to see it during all seasons, and embrace it. Then you will know it, and understand what it wants. Moreover, I believe, that a crucial part of the founder lives on in the modern city, in the modern city’s planning and development. And I believe that it can be seen, what fits the dream of the founder, and what does not.

Below, you will find Ted Nasmith’s drawing of Tirion. Beautiful.