Musings

All of us have favourite books we re-read time and again. These books are places where one can hide, rest and imagine different lives, different times. They have a familiar feel to them, they smellĀ  just right and as soon as the words scroll by one is displaced and captivated.

They allow us to return to times in our lives long thought lost by recapturing vivid memories and associations we had at the time of reading them for the first, the second, the tenth time.

I, myself, have five such books. I will re-read them from time to time. I am drawn to the stories they reveal, the emotions they conjure deep within me. I am happy when I read them, content. I am transported, changed, as each reading will reveal a new detail or a forgotten connection, triggering dormant sections of my mind.

These books are, in no particular order, Healer by F. Paul Wilson, Tuf Voyaging by George R R Martin (written well before his GoT fame), What Mad Universe by Frederic Brown, Hurra, wir leben noch and Es muss nicht immer Kaviar sein, both by Johannes Mario Simmel, and, I fear, not translated into English.

The books by Simmel have the added advantage of purportedly being true stories. Simmel chronicled the events of both books, taking the point of view of the respective protagonists, Jakob Formann (not his real name), a self-made industrialist in post-war Europe, and Thomas Lieven (not his real name), whose story is too unbelievable not to be true.

The other three works are all Science Fiction, but Science Fiction with a decidedly human bend. A man displaced into an alternate reality, similar but maddeningly different from his. It is all he can do to stay alive. Another man unwittingly sharing his body with a second, invading mind, whose consciousness reaches down to the cellular level, leading to inevitable immortality and all its trappings. The final man, not so much a man, but a stylised symbol of a man, stilted, exceedingly well-spoken, philanthropic, fragile and omnipotent – an itinerant merchant without a sense for business in the possession of one of the most powerful weapons ever dreamed up by Science Fiction.

I am not entirely sure what these books say about me, but they are my favourites such as they are. I would take them on a one-way-trip to Mars, pack them in my steamer trunk as I set out to the Paleolithic and strap them to my chest as I tumble down the Einstein-Rosen bridge.

I have learned (and still am), upon reflection, much and more from those books. Mostly how to deal with the unexpected, the shocking, the new and frightening. All the protagonists are anti-heroes, they are all flawed, they are all, in the end, completely dependent upon their own wits and ingenuity to survive and carry on another day.

Maybe you can look at your favourite books anew and ask yourself what they say about you.

Really?

Once again, we find ourselves the butt of political jokes and general international disbelief. Yes, I am talking about the unfolding (unfolded by now) antipodean drama that is the Labour Party.

Really? They think it is a good idea to do this? Before an election?

Colour me cynic, but did the Labour Party bring back Rudd just to win the election and dump him again unceremoniously 6 months hence, because nobody in the caucus likes him?

I am one of those sad sobs that listens to parliamentary radio on 630 AM, almost daily. It is depressing enough most days but this comedy of errors takes the cake. Our lives are determined by people engaged in school yard popularity contests and individual opportunism.

In the immortal words of Kent Brockmann (TM):” I have said it before and I’ll say it again…democracy just doesn’t work.”

I rest my case.

On the topic of movies…

Movies – literally projected pictures that move – changed the scape of entertainment as well the shape of our civilisation. They elevated a hitherto obscure and much maligned art form to an almost godlike status and presence.

In times of traveling performers and small, underpaid troupes of actors, acting itself was not seen as a decent occupation for respectable folks. Indeed, one could watch a performance and then pay a little extra afterwards for a private performance, if you know what I mean.

Not so today. Far removed and aloof actors and actresses move in realms inaccessible to ordinary mortals.

And this is where my gripe lies. I do love movies and the entertainment they bring. But the people in the movies are actors and actresses, not gods. These people are not curing cancer or busy solving the world food crisis. They act. Period.

And get paid unbelievable amounts of money.

This tiny point is just another signpost of our civilisations steady decline into irrelevance and obscurity.

“You are putting the wrong em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LA-ble.”

Indeed, we are.

Anachronisms

What do we really know? Not much it appears. Mysteries surround us and trip us up at every turn. Most of the knowledge we assume to be solid is in fact only theory. Not proven. Not fact. Not truth.

We must guard against those that claim to have the truth.

In fact, there is a beautiful saying:

Trust nobody who says they have the truth, trust everybody who is seeking for the truth.

I concur. To go a step further we must get away from an anthropocentric view of the world and accompanying truth(s) and widen our faculties to include all life in our quest for the ultimate answers.

I suspect that will lead us down a very difficult path, but the high road is always the hardest way to travel.

There have been attempts in the past. I call them anachronisms because they do not fit within the time and place, any time and place really, of their occurrence.

My hope is that one day these thoughts will not be anachronistic.

Off the grid

I just spent a week off the grid.

No access to my blog, email, social media, SMS or any of the other trappings of our connected lives. It felt good.

I grew up in a world without computers and it is nice to remember that people can live without them. Naturally, that proposition is becoming more difficult each day in the developed world.

Do take the time to disconnect once in a while. It will refresh you and might even allow you to reconnect with yourself and your fellow travelers on this, our adventure.

Ruminations

Life is not just.

Nobody should ever think that it is. Life is naked and brutal and beautiful and breath taking and surprising.

ButĀ  not just.

Justice is a concept, even though coined by us humans, which is poorly understood at best. Who is the authority of arbitration when it comes to justice. Who has the wisdom, insight, neutrality and ultimately power to mete out justice?

The answer, unfortunately, is, nobody. At least nobody mortal. We seek out God, the Gods, Fate and Karma to be the ultimate arbiters of justice. We thus recognised long ago that justice is something that cannot be left in human hands.

So, what good is it? Must we wait to be judged by a higher authority? An ultimate power? And whose justice will it be? Who, in the final analysis is just? Justified in having taken the action that was taken?

Not an answer to be found in a blog – that much is certain.

How about this then? Let us treat each other with respect and dignity. Let us treat each other in a way that encourages smiles and hugs and giving way and getting up to offer one’s seat and helping the weak with the heavy loads and the strong to realise the value of humility.

After all, justice will be a long time coming.