Sunday, September 25, 2011

Stockpile, stockpile of un-reviewed books grows...

I owe you (and to myself) the reviews of:

  1. „The Name of The Rose” by Umberto Eco (read third time in my life)
  2. „Foucault's Pendulum” by the same author (read second time in my life)
  3. „Infinite Reality: Avatars, Eternal Life, New Worlds, and the Dawn of the Virtual Revolution” by Jim Blascovich and Jeremy Bailenson
  4. „Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe” by Bill Bryson.
  5. „Always On” by Brian Chen
  6. „The Estate” by Isaac Beshevis Singer
  7. Rabbi Jehoshua Ozjasz Thon — „Sermons”
  8. Carlos Ruiz Zafón first novel „The Prince of Mist”
  9. John Ratey's „Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”
  10. Michael M. Lewis's „The New New Thing”
  11. Amir D. Aczel's: „The Mystery of the Aleph: Mathematics, the Kabbalah, and the Search for Infinity”
  12. „Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions” by Dan Ariely
  13. „The Essential Talmud” by Adin Steinsaltz
Wow !

I probably made this post not to boast about my long list of books read, but to remind me how bad I'm when it comes to writing these days. Shame on me :-)

Recalled in Zurich, in a beautiful Sunday morning, just before the trip to the foot of Matterhorn ...

Salome in Opera National de Paris ...

During my last stay in Paris I went to Opera National de Paris at Bastille to watch the performance of Richard StraussSalome”. It was very interesting experience for many reasons.


Richard's Strauss music is that specific kind of music to which one could attach a label „German” — however, unlike for some other composers of the late romantic period and the tragic first half of XX century, Strauss's Germanic style is not frightening... Maybe it is reflection of his attitude do Nazism....

The another reason was in, let me express it so, „lingual” aspect of the performance. It was played in the heart of France by mostly French singers ... in German !!!
As I humbly admit to know not both these beautiful languages :-) I decided to focus completely on the music, dance and specific body language of the Opera. The result was astonishing!
First and foremost, is was very easy for me to follow the action and the turns of the plot (I did not read the libretto before). Second, the interpretation of the Opera without clear perception of its libretto is surprising!

Contrary to almost all typical interpretations — I did not find Salome (beautifully played by beautiful German Angela Denoke) as an epitome of a kind of „femme fatale”! Of course, she was depicted as strange and almost perverse women, but what Denoke tried, and to me, succeeded in, was to show that her perverseness was somehow provoked by her step-father, Herod, who driven by his lust and desire to her body, somehow accepts her demands, when is satisfied by her sensual dance (and, needless to say, the Dance of Seven Veils was danced fantastic by Denoke). Herod was depicted as a cowardly, perverse old man, who, on the surface tries to dissuade her daughter from the crime, but in fact does what she wants — just because he first got what he wanted ...

So in some sense, not understanding the words, I found this performance of Salome quite different in its meaning. Less focused on the proverbial fatality of a woman, more on false meekness and cowardliness and lust of a man... When I read libretto of the Opera the day after - I was surprised by the text painting a bit different picture of the story ...

Written in Zurich, Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My favorite bookstore in Woody Allen's movie „Midnight in Paris”

No No, I won't switch to writing movies reviews... First, I very rarely visit cinemas, second, books will remain my specialty :-)

But „Midnight in Paris” is exceptional movie. (See a very good review in New York Times). Maybe it deserves being mentioned here — because it is all about literature and ... about nostalgia.

But for me one, short scene, almost a cameo was worth more — The hero couple of seconds long walk out from „Shakespeare & Company” bookstore at La Bucherie street just on the left bank in Paris...
For me it is primary place for literature in Europe, unmatched in climate, selection of books (new and old), activities (Literary Festivals, meetings with writers etc).



Thanks Woody !

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

"Foucault's Pendulum" & "The Name of the Rose" revisited...

Parallel to my life and other books I went through Foucault's Pendulum and The_Name_of_the_Rose again. I guess it was at least my third reading of each of them, and again and again a lot of new discoveries, new senses, new colors....

The reviews will come soon ...

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Finding a great book by fluke :-)

That happened in Edinburgh, during my first trip to Scotland and its beautiful capital...

I was passing by a street full of little bookstores - mostly antiquarian, when I dropped into this one:


And there among mostly old books of Philosophy, I found this very recent one: „Apocalyptic AI” by Robert M. Geraci. Minutes later I read a couple of chapters while sitting in a little French restaurant....

And I must say, I'm deeply and positively surprised. The author, who is a professor of religious studies at Manhattan College, wrote an extremely interesting account about the parallels between certain "hard" AI theories and predictions and ... religious experiences and attitudes. In the conclusion to the first chapter he writes:

„Apocalyptic AI is a technological faith that directly borrows its sacred worldview from apocalyptic Judaism and Christianity”

Sounds interesting ...

I started to think  a bit, and when I recalled my first encounter with Ray Kurzweil thought (despite my criticism there) I came quickly to a realization that there indeed must be a deeper link between highly technological belief in the possibility of uploading our mind with our consciousness to a computer and the beliefs in human immaterial soul. What at the first glimpse looks like the strong anti-religious argument (i.e. the mind can be „run" by a machine) is paradoxically just the argument for the opposite view. If one, indeed could upload our mind - that means this mind is completely different from the brain and indeed is the soul sought by religious people through our history....

Well, don't take me wrong. As the author in the introduction, I'm not a strong AI faithful..
However, the argument and the whole idea — and The Book — seems to be extremely interesting ...

The review will come ... :-)

Written in Edinburgh ...