Review: This Sceptred Isle: The Dynasties, Christopher Lee

Rating: 5 out of 5

It was very easy for me to pick up another volume of ‘This Sceptred Isle’ as I absolutely adored the general historical collections I went through earlier this year. The one doubt I had was to do with this one’s name: “Dynasties”. I thought that though the Plantagenets and Windsors have their charms, it might not be that interesting. Firstly, I was mistaken — this deals with the common(er) dynasties (and the people who have actually been influential), and secondly, it was very interesting indeed to go through the stories of so many families. Continue reading “Review: This Sceptred Isle: The Dynasties, Christopher Lee”

Review: ‘Anansi Boys’, Neil Gaiman

Anansi Boys (American Gods)Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found this a perfect enjoyable story, a good part of it humours with the rest revealing the author’s good grasp of humanity. It is not a terribly witty book, but it is funny it its simple description of life and its annoyances. Similarly, it is not terribly good in any specific part but what it does very well is storytelling. Anansi was a storyteller and so is Mr Gaiman. Continue reading “Review: ‘Anansi Boys’, Neil Gaiman”

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.”

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”

I wish to write more…

And I don’t. I even have posts that I manage to plan out in my mind whilst out and about. There is just the small and slightly relevant problem that I almost never manage to write them out once I get back home.

I have tried to think of ideas to make me more consistent in my writing, but I will have to see how that works out.

Right now, while watching ‘A Few Good Men’ once again, I thought that I would at least try putting some sort of a note down here that I can try writing more. A friend of mine recently started blogging, and I was hoping that her consistency would make me fall in line as well. Alas, that particular engine seemed to slow down so now I am wondering what would work best for me.

Until I work that one out, I will point out that I have had in mind to write a few words on British imperialism in the modern day, or at least my impressions on something that might be called as such. [And now that I have written it out, I will have to try doing it in least time possible. And maybe comment on ‘A Few Good Men’ as well. I do like that movie.]

Collecting Data

Data are the basis of life. We need more data and we need ways to use these data. Data as information are power.

I have thus far recorded only some data: mostly my expenditures and incomes on a daily basis. Some time ago I decided that this, by far, is not enough to be aware of myself so I decided to find a way to record more things and in greater detail. Since my previous record was daily, I summarized it monthly — this meant I had to wait until the first of the next month which is today to bring my new datasheet into action. I worked that sheet out a few days ago although it is still a work in progress since I’m trying to figure out more things I should record.

Thus far I’ve added in greater detail the same expenditures/incomes options as before although with a subcategory and a subsubcategory while I previously used just a single subcategory. I’ve also added options for keeping track of the distance I travel (since I think it to be quite an interesting thing to know), and I will be shortly adding an option to keep track of how many words I’ve written that day as well.

In other words, as a work in progress I’ll be using this datasheet for June but I expect it will really come into its own next month or the month after when I know more. But, I also expect that everything I record from now on will be quite interesting to look at when I have more than a few months’ data gathered.

Of Forgiveness

Forgiveness — the ability to forgive anything (or near enough anything) — is quite an important part of everyday life as I see it. I guess, the question is why we need this emotion and why it could be useful, assuming it is so.

I would say that the main quality of being able to forgive lies in oneself: it removes any shackles that we might have to the present or the past, and it allows us to look into the future. A mistake will not make us downtrodden for we know that it was meant to happen — and as soon as it did, it was gone, it could keep us back for no longer. There are new heights to be conquered, and we may not allow ourselves to think that yesterday’s hill-top was as high as our heads could see.

I am not sure if these words make as much sense as I would like them to, but that is the main impression I have. If I position myself into a situation that someone else has been in, I can imagine making that mistake — a mistake that would require forgiveness from someone else. And by that same logic, if I can see myself stepping into it, I can also forgive myself for failing to avoid it. And if I am to forgive myself, I will also forgive others.

Indeed, I think it this empathy that makes me forgive nearly everything (forgive, yes, but not forget — there is a marked difference between the two). The fact that I am more or less able to position myself into a similar situation and go through the very same motions also means that I understand the steps which led to it (as much as someone else can). And it is this understanding that gives the ability to comprehend a situation entirely. Once that has been achieved, could a grudge or a complaint really be kept?

And, I guess, in the end that makes me slightly too understanding, too forgiving: for I see other people who try not to put themselves into the shoes of their compatriots and yet they decry others’ attempts at life. I could not do that, and that counts as strength and weakness both: strength for I try to know the struggle within other people, and weakness for allowing conflicting points of view in one mind.

But as there are no bounds, there are no limits. It is all a question of “If I was there, would I have been wise enough?” And always the answer is the same: “Maybe.”

A pointer on happiness…

I have been writing on rather serious topics lately, or at least that is how it seems to me. In a way, I like writing more serious things because I feel there is more reason to that. In any case, there are plenty of topics that I think about quite regularly and a number of them fall into the more serious category. One of these is “happiness” and how to maintain it.

This stems from me thinking that one of the main goals of life in general is for a person to remain happy. Therefore, it is very important to establish how exactly that can happen and what are the limitations we set upon our happiness. Because, in the end, it is only us who allow our happiness to be limited by other factors.

One way I tend to maintain my own happiness is by ignoring things that make me unhappier. Or, rather, that is an odd way of putting it when I mean is that I try to ensure that everything I do would add to the sum of how contented I am at any given moment. If I deem something to subtract from that, I avoid that action as much as humanly possible.

And, yet, even though that is what I do, I also avoid avoiding things for the sake of not liking them. There is a very important moment that comes by daily which asks how exactly can I make “this” beneficial for myself — how can I make sure that even if I don’t really enjoy this action that it would work for me, and by that how it would contribute to my day.

The second very important method could be summed up as “avoiding bullshit”. By this I mean that I have no wish or patience for things that take up my time and effort while only causing me grievance. Indeed, why should I waste myself on things that don’t give anything noteworthy back?

And I guess that’s the distinction that needs to be made: the border between what helps one be more positive in some way and what doesn’t. And when that distinction is made, let’s stay on that better side of that border!

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