Pincher Martin by William Golding: A Book Review

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I included British writer William Golding in my favorite –writer list on Goodreads , along with one of America’s best novelists Toni Morrison andE. L. Doctorow , Dutch writer Ian McEwan, famous American educator Frank McCourt, one of America’s best essayists Richard Rodriguez ,one of the best Black American revolutionary writers Richard Wright, atheists Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens , and Filipino children writer Genaro Gojo Cruz.

His classic novel Lord of the Flies demonized me to ostentatiously display him up there. I don’t know how I ended up considering him as one of them. I just remember that the novel ‘s main characters broke my heart. I won’t forget Ralph, the boy who led the group but was outplayed and outwitted by the domineering Jack along with his adherents; Piggy, Ralph’s loyalist, the hero of the story who died of his principle for pacifism and unity; and Simon, the boy who was mistaken for a monster and eventually killed by Jack’s group. But I came to understand that I did not make a mistake after discovering that there is a deeper way of how to understand it in the context of politics. Thus, there is a reason why William Golding deserves to be celebrated as one of the best writers in the world of literature, and Pincher Martin is another testimony to this claim.

Pincher Martin bears little resemblance to his immortal and classic Lord of the Flies. Both novels bear on how to survive being a castaway on a far-off island. The only differences are that the former one focuses on one character while the latter one is on a group of children, young students in effect. Besides, the deeper lowdown on the former one on the one hand is on existentialism, individualism, objectivism- steeped in philosophical and psychological questions. The latter one, on the other hand, is on politics aptly portrayed by young characters.

Pincher Martin is a just a taciturn novel for me since it involves one character, apart from the other ones flashed back in the character’s memory. Reading it is like being a castaway, silent, putting yourself in his shoes, musing over the possible approaches to surviving the island. At first, I would feel the trauma and confusion about ending up in that uncivilized place until I woke up to the grim reality. However, as time passed by, I would come to the end of my wits that everything imaginable would fail, so all I would have to do is to beat my head against a stone and realize that the best way to survive is to use my intelligence, education , and training. At the same time, using the three necessary traits to survive, I would suffer from philosophical crisis in that I would doubt my existence on this planet. By the same token, out of physical and mental pains, I would be subject to psychological conditions like mirage or any forms of delusions.

Pincher Martin is another revelation for me that William Golding was such a skilled writer. In this novel, he showed the real quality of a gifted writer that writing a novel not only focuses on the characters’ papers they embody but also on the other perspectives. In this novel, Golding tried to paint another portray of being a castaway. He perfectly described what a castaway could be, being alone on an island. It is not just about how to survive but also how to help oneself get over the possible philosophical realizations one must face since no one is an island. However, Golding’s intention is not as conspicuous as his Lord of the Flies which I thought that I was just reading an adventure. The novel turns out to be deeper than its story. In other words, Pincher Martin, to put it bluntly, is like a brochure handed out by a flight attendant which will give you tips on what the possible things you might experience and do when you are a sole survivor. To make the brochure worth reading, it is inserted with beautiful quotes.

Admittedly, I had a hard time reading it despite that it is said to be lightly written. I guess what the book reviewers are referring to is its narration centering around Pinch Martin’s surviving scenes. But in terms of philosophical realizations, they are not at all. I am sorry. I am not that really smart. I am just a smart ass. Enough said, Joey!

Rating: 5/ 5 stars ( It’s amazing.)

The Adulterous Woman by Albert Camus: A Book Review

adulterous“ She was waiting, but she didn’t know for what. She was aware only of her solitude, and of the penetrating cold, and of the greater weight in the region of her heart.”

Suddenly I was bothered by the title when I reached the climax of the story. I had expected that the story would center around the scenes that a woman would commit a “crime”, getting into an amorous affair, that she would rat out on her faithful  husband in an abject misery, that there would be a passion-of-crime scene. However, it turned out to be the other way around; the title itself could be understood  in different perspectives. What do you mean by the word “adulterous”? When can you say that a woman is adulterous?

All my dictionary references are in accord with the definition of  adultery  as a sexual affair between a married person with someone who is not his/ her spouse. The word is synonymous with infidelity,unfaithfulness,disloyalty,cuckoldry,extramarital sex-you name it. So,in law,a woman is said to commit adultery when she does so ; a man,concubinage.

On the other hand, when the word inflects into “adulterous”, the word can be  misleading. Since the suffix –ous means having a particular quality, therefore, you can describe someone adulterous that it is the character of that  person to engage in a sex  affair with someone who is not  his/ her spouse. Thus, I found out  that the title has no relevance to the story. I do not find any crime committed by the main character , Janine unless you may call it a prima facie manifestation.

Janine is married but childless to a man who is so preoccupied about his business. Taken along by her husband to an Arabian land on business, she was attracted to an Arabian soldier   who offered her some  lozenges on the bus.  She realized then that despite her mid-life-look age, she is still physically attractive. However, it occurred to her that the man was not interested in her after all  upon meeting him in the market; the man just ignored her. And there was an instance that she was even engulfed   by a group of men when she decided to air out in the middle of the night, leaving her husband asleep.

Therefore, Janine did not have sex with any men, but she had the idea of doing so. Rather, we can put it mildly  that she has committed mental adultery. Besides , could we opine  that Janine is an adulterous woman? The definition of adultery is too broad to conclude that someone like Janine is said to be so unless you define sex as an act, which is different from the idea. Nevertheless, Janine realized her guilt upon   her momentous reflection:

“After a moment…it seemed to her that the sky above her was moving in a sort of slow gyration. In the vast reaches of the dry, cold night, thousands of stars were constantly appearing, and their sparkling icicles, loosened at once, began to slip gradually toward the horizon. Janine could not tear herself away from contemplating those drifting flares. She was turning with them, and the apparently stationary progress little by little identified her with the core of her being, where cold and desire were now vying with each other. Before her the stars were falling one by one and being snuffed out among the stones of the desert, and each time Janine opened a little more to the night. Breathing deeply, she forgot the cold, the dead weight of others, the craziness or stuffiness of life, the long anguish of living and dying. After so many years of mad, aimless fleeing from fear, she had come to a stop at last. At the same time, she seemed to recover her roots and the sap again rose in her body, which had ceased trembling. Her whole belly pressed against the parapet as she strained toward the moving sky; she was merely waiting for her fluttering heart to calm down and establish silence within her. The last stars of the constellations dropped their clusters a little lower on the desert horizon and became still. Then, with unbearable gentleness, the water of night began to fill Janine, drowned the cold, rose gradually from the hidden core of her being and overflowed in wave after wave, rising up even to her mouth full of moans….”

Based on my psychological but hypothetical   observations from the general situation among couples, Janine is looking for the real meaning of happiness or connubial bliss as what a typical wife should be. Her husband is a busy businessman. She does not even have a child to bear. I do not have the slightest idea of what the reasons are since the story does not mention anything. As a matter of fact, it suggests that both do not love each other. May be they just need each other. May be Marcel, her husband, depends on her sexually or for the sake of social status while she , emotionally. However, it appears that Janine is not emotionally satisfied. Therefore, she tends to feel as dreary as the dry desert in an Arabian land. What an overacting moment!

As what I had expected, Albert Camus wanted to indicate his philosophy on Absurdism in the story.

Now, should I subjectively conclude that someone is likely to be adulterous when she is childless and not given much emotional attention by her husband? Well, you have the right to pooh-pooh me. ^^

This is now my third Camus book.  I am still impressed by his   ability   to put his philosophical ideas into a story with his exceptional   writing skills, particularly  by his way of associating them with the mystical world. Much more if I read it in French. I wonder.

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it.)

The Stranger by Albert Camus:A Book Review

albertThis novel  is subject to differently  literary  perspectives and interpretations.  One of the perspectives  that  made  my toes curl  is the interpretation that this story is on  the importance of believing in God as the  “one” who  gives  right direction in your life.  When I read  this opinion as in opinion with a  capital O , my hair stood on end as if those who claim so are holier -than –thou. Now , why do those people think so? What parts of the story that make them draw the conclusion?

Meursault is  an enigmatic character in the story. You may describe him weird or idiosyncratic because he tends to be apathetic   toward society.  Perhaps, the holier-than-thou understood him  based on their religious beliefs and teachings. For examples:  first, he showed no interest in the funeral. He did not cry over her mother’s death. Rather, he was found   insincere ; he was  found  impolite , for  he slept through the funeral  vigil. In fact, in the story, you might as well revolt at what he responded to his employer upon his  request for leave of absence, “Sorry, sir, but it’s not my fault, you know.”  Second, he does  not care much about the people around. For him, they are merely observers.  Fourth, he is not sure of his marriage or relationship. Fifth, he is content with his life.  Finally, he is an agnostic.

I hate to say this   but those arguments above, notably the last one, are arguments of stupidity. They have nothing to do with God. We can just conclude that  Meusault, the protagonist, is just a subject of scientific and philosophical studies. Scientifically, we  can jump to the conclusion that the  arguments from one to 5 are psychological. Turn to a behavioral psychologist and psychiatrist or more than a scientist  if you want to get at what I am driving  at here. On the other hand, philosophically, the concept of the story, particularly signifying  Meusault’s life crisis  is an example of absurdism. Review your philosophy.

To remonstrate  aginst the holier-than-thou’s opinion  that this story is on  the importance of believing in God as the  “one” who  gives right  direction in your life, atheists along with their other word  families have been living in the right direction without the teachings or  the ridiculously so-called “divine guidance or intervention” .  To confirm my point, I suggest that you read the anthropological life of  some countries in the world.  A library of information is accessible in the internet. If you are a Luddite, enter the   huge libraries  in your place and be a scholar in an Ivory Tower.  Besides, don’t dare that I have no any   ideas of what atheist life is like because I bear witness to that.

How about you, fellas? What are your perspectives on it?

My Review

Ideally, I wanted to give it 1 star for the inconsistencies of the story. I believe that convicting someone on the grounds  for the six arguments above  is misleading and jurisprudentially illogical  in order to make the story a hit among readers. Furthermore, among the people the main character, Meursault, got along with, only  his employee was not included  in standing as a witness  in the court. I wonder why?   Nevertheless,  there is no difference if I still gave it 4 or 5 stars  on the grounds  that Albert  Camus intended to write such a novel to apply  his philosophy on Absurdism  drawing from the criminal incident he may have known of. In other perspective, since writing is an art, the other significant parts such as when Meusault   was asked to ask forgiveness   from God for all the sins he had committed, particularly his unusual agnosticism , and when he was  prejudiced against his unconventional attitude  could have been how hegemonic the religious atmosphere  in his generation  to minor groups was .  In other words, as a result, Camus’s trick did the justice to this novel; it is a beautiful story. I felt what Camus must have intended to trickle  off- feeling of emptiness. Besides, I liked the fact that he used the first person since it signifies  the reader himself/herself.  Also, the prose and the structure of the sentences, I believe,  are well –translated. So , I would say that the translator is competent. I wish I could understand French so I could know the real feelings in Camus’ books.

I want to consider this novel as one of my  favorite books as well as Albert Camus as one of my favorite writers. I was moved. I was bothered until I was reduced to tears. I guess I have found someone who could possibly penetrate through my   uncharted   universe. And please, do not invoke God, for I am done with this theological business. So far, his other books are now on my list  like and I hope to read them some time. ^^

Rating: 4/ 5 stars ( I really liked it. )

 

 

The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth by M. Scott Peck: A Book Review

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This best –selling book of Dr. Peck is a must –read for those loners who have niggling questions such as:
(a) Why don’t I have a boyfriend or a girlfriend?
(b) Do I need someone whom I will love, or someone who will love me?

On the other hand, this book can throw light on common problems among couples in terms of:

(a) A peaceful, stable, and long-lasting relationship
(b) Role of a woman and a man in a relationship

This book, in addition, can somehow answer the apologetic and philosophical questions about LOVE such as:

(a) Is love innate?
(b) Where does it come from?
(c) How does it develop?
(d) Is love indispensable in our lives? Could we live without love?

At the end, I concluded that we need to love and to be loved to be healthy people; and likewise, we can be good people by loving ourselves rather than by choosing to love others.

Thus, this book is peppered with soothing and enlightening advice which is a favorite reference among counselors whenever someone turns to them for advice . So here are the lines that shattered all my illusions on LIFE, notably on LOVE :

“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

“Human beings are poor examiners, subject to superstition, bias, prejudice, and a PROFOUND tendency to see what they want to see rather than what is really there.”

“Once we truly know that life is difficult — once we truly understand and accept it — then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

“Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and wisdom.”

“When we love someone our love becomes demonstrable or real only through our exertion – through the fact that for that someone (or for ourselves) we take an extra step or walk an extra mile. Love is not effortless. To the contrary, love is effortful.”

“Problems do not go away. They must be worked through or else they remain, forever a barrier to the growth and development of the spirit.”

“Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there. If the map is false and inaccurate, we generally will be lost. While this is obvious, it is something that most people to a greater or lesser degree choose to ignore. They ignore it because our route to reality is not easy. First of all, we are not born with maps; we have to make them, and the making requires effort. The more effort we make to appreciate and perceive reality, the larger and more accurate our maps will be. But many do not want to make this effort. Some stop making it by the end of adolescence. Their maps are small and sketchy, their views of the world narrow and misleading. By the end of middle age most people have given up the effort. They feel certain that their maps are complete and their Weltanschauung is correct (indeed, even sacrosanct), and they are no longer interested in new information. It is as if they are tired. Only a relative and fortunate few continue until the moment of death exploring the mystery of reality, ever enlarging and refining and redefining their understanding of the world and what is true.”

“Another characteristic of human nature—perhaps the one that makes us most human—is our capacity to do the unnatural, to transcend and hence transform our own nature.”

“The best decision-makers are those who are willing to suffer the most over their decisions but still retain their ability to be decisive. One”

“My time was my responsibility. It was up to me and me alone to decide how I wanted to use and order my time.”

“Genuine love is volitional rather than emotional.

“Dependency may appear to be love because it is a force that causes people to fiercely attach themselves to one another. But in actuality it is not love; it is a form of antilove. It has its genesis in a parental failure to love and it perpetuates the failure. It seeks to receive rather than to give. It nourishes infantilism rather than growth. It works to trap and constrict rather than to liberate. Ultimately it destroys rather than builds relationships, and it destroys rather than builds people.”

“Love always requires courage and involves risk.”

Note: For more quotes, you can click this site: https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2747475-the-road-less-traveled-a-new-psychology-of-love-traditional-values-a

Dr. Peck focused on anatomizing LOVE. He used his experiences in supporting his propositions. However, there are instances that he should not have overlooked the holistic approach to understanding the psychological problems among his patients. I guess he knew what I meant.

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it. )

The Little Zen Companion by David Schiller: A Book Review

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“A monk brought two potted plants to his Master. “Drop it,” ordered the Master. The monk dropped one pot. “Drop it,” again ordered the Master. The monk let the second pot go. “Drop it,” now roared the Master. The monk stammered: “But I have nothing to drop.” The Master nodded. “Then take it away.”

My beloved cousin lent me this book, for he knows how much I am fond of reading quotes coming from the powerful lips of famous historical figures . I want to be moved and inspired by their philosophical insights and thoughts.

To be honest, I still don’t have the completely clear ideas of what ZEN is all about. Before, I just knew of that it was some kind of spiritual practices to gain ENLIGHTENMENT and PEACE OF MIND. No wonder I tend to get fascinated to read more on this dogma. In fact, the only book I have ever read that gives me more ideas of this kind of spiritual dogma is Instinct for Freedom: A Maverick’s Guide to Spiritual Revolution by Alan Clements ( 4 stars ). I learned from this book that in order to have spiritual freedom, you have to empty your mind and feelings.

ZEN, as the name suggests, is a type of Buddhism that emphasizes MEDITATION rather than faith or reading religious books. MEDITATION is the practice of emptying your mind of thoughts and feelings, in order to relax completely, or for religious reasons. Thus, reading The Little Zen Companion as a little compendium of wisdom in the form of quotes, phrases, stories, koan, haiku, or poems from Lao-tzu, The Little Prince, D. T. Suzuki, Basho, Walker Percy, the Buddha, the Bible, Einstein, to name a few GUIDES you to empty your mind and feelings.

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Well, LIFE may be a total mess.

To get the hang of it, read and read and read. ^^

Rating : 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it.)

By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho: A Book Review

by-the-river-piedra-i-sat-down-and-wept-book-cover“All love stories are the same.”
Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

If I were an idyllic reader, I would give it 5 stars. Paulo Coelho wrote something unique about the twists and turns of the common story.

If I were a dreamer, I would give it 5 stars. I would dream and work. ^^
If I were a deeply religious reader, I would give it 5 stars. Paulo Coelho inspired people to be more faithful.

If I were a Creative Writing and World Literature teacher, I might give it 5 stars. Paulo Coelho is such a genius; he writes a book peppered with beautifully and poetically written passages. But if I were an absolute atheist reader, I would give it 2 stars. Luckily, to some extent, Paulo Coelho put some emphasis on the traditional customs of Christendom beyond human logic and reason.

Also, if I were some kind of bookworm with taste for horrors, thrillers, or cliffhangers, I would give it 1 star. I would find it boring.

The story is about a woman who has “forbidden love” for her childhood friend who later on sought his life by leading a monastic life. A story that is very common in TV dramas and films. Thanks to Paulo Coelho’s writing skills. He is indeed a wizard; he can make readers fix their eyes on it IN TRANCE. No doubt he is one of the most beloved writers of our time.

Writer wannabes have difficulties in putting their ideas in a sentence, particularly how they begin with their first draft, so in doing so takes a lot of time. One needs to draw a deep inspiration from one’s experiences. So you might wonder how the writer of this book forms such inspirational passages, enough to convert a wisdom of atheists to a mosque of Muslims, to a church of Catholics, to a temple of Buddhists, or to a mandir of Hinduists.

The remarkable thing is that Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian. Kudos to the translator.

The book, on the other hand, might cause the skeptical to raise some questions:

(a) Does love originate in religion?
(b) God is found in everything since one can never find God in any books of religions. Therefore, this kind of ideology is an example of New Age.

For the satisfaction rating, I found this book pretty good. I want to try his other books more, especially the Alchemist

Rating : 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it. )

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder: A Book Review

SophiePhilosophy is a complete no-brainer for some who have this highfalutin IQ level. Not at all! It is not more or less chicken feed than they had expected. Even luminaries from different fields of studies may have a dickens of a time philosophizing. In my case, I have read it several times, but even now the philosophical arguments are still boggling my mind. (It only bespeaks that I am suffering from low IQ.) So Sophie’s World could somehow cut the Gordian knot.

Jostein Gaarder may have intended to lecture on the History of Philosophy since the suggestion of teaching Philosophy is heavily stressed in the story. He may have had the bee in his bonnet that incorporating this field into a novel might turn out to be something unique. So he used Sophie as the instrument in studying the subject; Albert Knox, the Philosophy teacher. He may have instructed Albert Knox in teaching strategies for captivating imagination by trying some instruments before the lessons are discussed. To be more realistic and insightful, Jostein asked the cameos of Disney and literary characters such as Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, Winnie the Pooh, Alice in the Wonderland, and what not- not to mention of the biblical figures such as Adam and Eve and Noah of Arc. Cool! Why not? He’s got a clever idea. The class seems as interesting as best-selling it became , doesn’t it?

If so, naïve students, like Sophie, might, likewise, manage to answer the first questions given to her. Who are you? Where are you from? But at the end, after having been instilled in all the philosophical arguments, they might be left hanging with a question. To believe in God or not to, it is a question.

I read it as though I boned up on Philo 101 for a comprehensive test. But I did not find the class high-flown- let alone boring. The deeper the class, the more engrossing it is and the clearer I am on the points. In fact, like Sophie, I have not hung it together yet since I scratched the surface in university. But I would love to read it again and again. If I were cast away on a remote island, this would be one of the books I would ponder over. Why not? I need not to be hard upon myself. This book is no less a big help to me. No need to take my time to mull over the arguments among the philosophers. But for sure ingrained religious believers might raise their brows, for they might suggest the Bible be one of them a la Robinson Crusoe or Rodion Raskolnikof when he was sent to a jail in Siberia. As Albert Knox puts it, it is a bagatelle. (laughs)

The book appears to be a synopsis; it should have been a compendium. But it would doubtless fail to be a big hit. …. Jostein Gaarder knows his stuff.

It’s a bagatelle.It gave my mind pleasure. ^^

Rating: 5/ 5 stars