Monthly Archives: September 2006

My Maternal Grandparents

Charlie and Evelyn

Because I know how much my mother misses her father, especially today, I am posting this picture of my maternal grandparents.

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International Organizations

Dilbert: The United Nations

Just how ridiculously inefficient and disfunctional are International Organizations like the United Nations and the World Bank? You can either read Albert Cohen’s novel Belle du Seigneur (which is about 1000 pages) to find out, or you can simply read this comic strip. Thanks to Fadi for the heads up.

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Noruwei no Mori

Klimt: Beethoven Frieze

After having just finished reading Catch-22 on Sunday and two other excellent books this summer, I was desparately in search of something new to read. Last year, I finally got myself around to reading Stendhal’s The Red and the Black and absolutely loved it. Thus, on Sunday evening, I pulled out my copy of The Charterhouse of Parma. Twenty pages later, it just wasn’t happening for me, so I decided to leave it for some future date. I then turned to one of my alltime favorites, Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (of whom I have written about previously). Norwegian Wood gets its name from the Beatles’ song of the same title, and is one of those stories that I wish I could re-read a hundred times for the very first time. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Curiously enough, the novel tends to be better received by my male friends than my female ones . . .

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Zizou, Zizou, Zizou

It seems no one is talking about the polemics that centered around Zizou in this summer’s World Cup Final any more. Nevertheless, his absence is definitely noticed in the Bernabeu. Let’s remember Zizou with these videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Saf_1xOr12o

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCl3U1baqxU&mode=related&search=

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Catch 22

Wythe: Winter 1946

I am finally reading Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. I love this dialogue between the overzealous and immature Nately and the elderly Italian man in a brothel as it puts many contemporary issues into perspective:

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Walter Kaufmann: The Faith of the Heretic

Bosch: The Seven Deadly Sins

I was introduced to Walter Kaufmann by my friend Julio while majoring in Philosophy at university (I believe I also majored in International Relations or some other useless field). Kaufmann was a top Nietzsche scholar and philosopher of religion, and I recall having read his following works: Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist; From Shakespeare to Existentialism; Critique of Philosophy and Religion; and the trilogy Discovering the Mind (Goethe, Kant, and Hegel; Nietzsche, Hiedegger, and Buber; and Freud versus Adler and Jung). Kaufmann was born a Chrisitan in Germany (later emigrating to the US) and rejected Christianity at the age of 12 to become a Jew (only later to discover that all four of his grandparents had been Jewish).

At the risk of being totally ignored by either of the two people who occassionally (or accidentally) read this blog, I recommend that those interested in Philosophy or Religion read Kaufmann’s 1959 article “The Faith of the Heretic” published in Harper’s Magazine. Kaufmann explains his repudiation of Christianity (and basis therefor), and although he finds that the only two compelling religions are Judaism and Buddhism, he ultimately rejects those as well.

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A Debilitating Weakness for Beauty

Ingres: Turkish Bath

While writing a recent post, Beauty on the Beach (one of my poorest digressions to date), I was searching for interesting quotes on the nature of beauty as captions to the photos that would adorn the post. In the process, I realized that most commentators defined beauty as something that is relative, eternal, idealistic, and often fleeting. Interestingly, those are not the important things that I find in beauty. What I find as the quality, the attraction or attribute that merits the term “beauty” is something that is simply unattainable or not completely accessible. At least I think that is what I mean . . .

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Fiction, Non-Fiction, and the Eternal Return

Bookshelf

As mentioned in a previous post, I have just finished reading one book and am in search of a new one. Since I began to work in FON, I have not had much time at all to read, but this summer I have read two very good books: “Another Country” by James Baldwin and “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow. What I have noticed is that there is a big difference between reading fiction and non-fiction, and the difference reminds me of Neitzsche’s concept of the Eternal Return. Basically, fiction is always alive, while non-fiction dies upon completing the book. Ironic, but here is what I mean:

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I have seen life in life, I have seen life in death, and I have seen death in life

 Egon Schiele: Conversion
Exactly one year ago, I received a phone call early in the morning. The caller was a friend of a friend telling me that he had bad news. He had never called me before, and yet I was not surprised nor did I panic. I simply listened. The news was that one of my closest friend’s brother had just died in a traffic accident. In the following two weeks, my grandfather and another friend had both passed away. Earlier in the year, my friend, Jorge, had died of a brain tumor. Nevertheless, 2005 was not a total loss of a year due to the deaths of loved ones. In May alone, four friends of mine brought healthy babies into this world. When I look back at 2005, I reflect upon what I experienced with these deaths and births.

I have seen life in life, I have seen life in death, and I have seen death in life . . .

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September

Picasso: Life 

It is September and I am a little sad. Well, I am not quite sure how I would define this sadness. It could be melancoly or end of summer-beginning-of-fall-nostalgic reflection (which gives the impression of sadness) or a strange sense of sorrow. I have always had a special relationship with fall, and after an exceptionally warm weekend, today’s change in tempature made me feel the oncoming autumn, the most beautiful season in my home town. I also had close friends come visit for the weekend, and we had not all been together in seven years, each of us with our own personal lists of changes, moves, wrinkles, and losses. Nevertheless, we had also all lived in very close corners years ago and shared important joys and growing pains. The complicity was intact and we all enjoyed our reveries. Literally minutes prior to their arrival, I had finished a book I had been reading every evening for the past month. Religously, I would get home from work, open the book, and read for at least one hour or until it was bed time. But when my old friends all finally left and I finally had regained my free space, I had no idea what to do with myself. I looked around my apartment and tried to remember what it was exactly that I do, or at least what I had been doing here for the past months (or for the last seven years for that matter). I then realized that the problem was that I had finished my book, and would have to find a new one to read. There is a line of books on deck in my bookshelf, none in any special order. Once you start a book and get into it, it is becomes part of your life. The problem is starting all over again and knowing which book to choose, and then picking it up and starting life anew.

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