Review: ‘Notes on Nationalism’, George Orwell

Notes on NationalismNotes on Nationalism by George Orwell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am, normally, not in the habit of posting quotes specifically from a work I am reviewing, however, Mr Orwell managed to succinctly summarise the very point he is making in this essay and therefore I do allow myself an exception to the rule: “The point is that as soon as fear, hatred, jealousy and power worship are involved, the sense of reality becomes unhinged.” Continue reading “Review: ‘Notes on Nationalism’, George Orwell”

Quoting Steven Erikson

For myself, of course, I cannot even tell you if I believe in anything–anything at all. Why should I? What would such beliefs grant me? Peace of mind? My mind is at peace. A secure future? Since when is the future ever secure? Worthy goals? Who decides what’s worthy? What’s “worth” all about anyway? Highness, believe me, I’m not the one for this discussion.

Continue reading “Quoting Steven Erikson”

Abdication of Justin II

One of the strengths of Mr Gibbon (Chapter 45) is his propensity to draw up images from the very moment the original events happened. The abdication of Justin II is exactly one such event.

What makes it so wonderful for me to hear the lamentation of the abdicating monarch is his realisation of all he could have done better in his responsibilities for the people. Hence, the speech with which he greets his successor, Tiberius, is colourful in both wisdom and elegance.

This, I feel, is one of the moments where one realises how fully absolute power corrupts. Justin failed to avoid it and he fell into darkness. He, however, also realised the full extent of the troubles with the people swinging behind a new person, and he managed to extricate himself from that situation. For all that he has experienced, he does not wish Tiberius to go down the same route…

“You behold the ensigns of supreme power. You are about to receive them, not from my hand, but from the hand of God. Honour them, and from them you will derive honour. Respect the empress your mother: you are now her son; before, you were her servant. Delight not in blood; abstain from revenge; avoid those actions by which I have incurred the public hatred; and consult the experience, rather than the example, of your predecessor. As a man, I have sinned; as a sinner, even in this life, I have been severely punished: but these servants, [and he pointed to his ministers,] who have abused my confidence, and inflamed my passions, will appear with me before the tribunal of Christ. I have been dazzled by the splendour of the diadem: be thou wise and modest; remember what you have been, remember what you are. You see around us your slaves, and your children: with the authority, assume the tenderness, of a parent. Love your people like yourself; cultivate the affections, maintain the discipline, of the army; protect the fortunes of the rich, relieve the necessities of the poor.”

‘Wrapped Up in Death’, ‘Castle’

There’s no upside to screwing with things you can’t explain.

That’s very much the takeaway from the ‘Castle’ episode ‘Wrapped Up in Death’. A very good and meaningful phrase uttered by the Captain Roy Montgomery after relating a story from his early detective years, it’s hard to argue with.

Things you can explain with, go ahead. Things you can’t, be aware…

Quoting Ancient Egyptians

I’ve come to consider again two quotes which relate to Ancient Egypt. I learned about these from an anthology of Ancient Egypt I read recently, and noticed these again when I thought about the post I made earlier today on continuing to write (actively).

Without further ado:

Study writings and commit them to memory; then all your words will be effective.

— ‘The Teaching of Ani’

 

Man perishes; his corpse turns to dust; all his relatives pass
away. But writings make him remembered. . .

— ‘Be a Writer’

Dreamworld

It is an odd coincidence that lately I have been able to remember my dreams far more than I used to. Coincidence I say because it would also seem that my dreams have become more interesting than in the past. Obviously though, this could only be a reflection of the fact that I remember, by which I also appropriate more importance to these dreams. Continue reading “Dreamworld”

Quoting John Gray (Quoting J.G. Ballard)

“I think Ballard was on to something important when he talked about how things that humans have constructed can be beautiful in ways that they don’t understand. What I like about his writing is the lyricism: his novels are full of the most beautiful images. He always said he wanted to be a painter, but didn’t have the talent. But when you read his books you see they are galleries of images.”

This quote is taken from a recent interview with the author John Gray that can be found at this address. Why this remained in my mind after I’d read through the sentence was the eloquent imagery: and potentially the simplest of truths.

Do we ever know when something we do/have/see is beautiful? And if that is ever the case, would it not be that it would be our human understanding of beauty — that is, our fancy at any given moment and not something that could be considered universally beautiful?

I would think our bias in every moment is enough to disturb our minds — but that means I am even more prone to letting my mind continue to work without understanding it perfectly.

It is the image in our mind that will be important in the end.

 

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