The Reading of Books #4

Though I’ve been busy beyond busy, I’ve also tried to keep to reading one hour a day. Mainly because time spend reading is never time lost. Here’s what I read lately.

Chris Guillebeau – The Happiness of Pursuit

Source: Chrisguillebeau.com


I am particularly excited to tell you about this book. You might have read my blogpost ‘Ashley‘, which was my action inspired by reading this book. Also, this book inspired me to start my dream of interviewing a band from every country in the world. So, what is this book actually about and why am I so wildly excited about its content?

Chris Guillebeau travelled the whole world, looking to visit every single country. So he did and met along the way a lot of other people chasing dreams. He also blogged about it and started looking for other fanatics. The book describes the motivations and sense of purpose that are part of chasing some big idea. Some crazy dream that others find totally insane and mad. Without ever saying: Hey, here’s the definition of that ‘Happiness of Persuit’., Chris Guillebeau describes it. He makes the love and passion behind dreams tangible and relatable. I talked to people around me about this book and I noticed some people just didn’t get it. They thought a guy running 40 marathons in one year was just sick. I don’t, I get it and I’m eagerly looking for my true, big goal in this life.

Plutarch – The Age of Alexander
I’ve always had a love for history books. If you like to read those, the classics are always a great vantage point. I’ve started reading Herodotes once before, but that book unfortunately started falling apart slowly so I never finished it past a certain amount of chapters. I did however listen to the book at some point in my life so that was interesting. When I started getting into the Roman Empire again a short while ago, Plutarch turned out to be the obvious choice for the job. I enjoyed reading this book, though its dence writing is slow to get through.

Source: rugusavay.com

If you take your time however, this collection of biographic stories is a treasure of information and knowledge about our ancient past. Plutarch decided to write about combinations of figures., like Julius Ceasar and Alexander The Great, to legitimize the Greek era in the light of the Roman.  Penguin publishers decided to cut them up due to time areas. Which might seem like an odd choice, given it kinda takes apart the integrity of the original work. Still, the decision seems to be legit. This way the publisher was able to release the works in a chronological order. Ever tried to read Conan The Barbarian? That can teach you something about the value of chronology…  Wise lessons and vanity, the work is full of it. This is definitely worth the time of someone who loves history and the epic quality of some people in our past.

Seneca – On The Shortness of Life

Source: Wikipedia


After reading the Penguin Great Ideas book by Hannah Arendt about Eichmann, I got particularly interested in this series and ordered the first three books. Seneca was number one. Now obviously Seneca was not unknown to me obviously, having read about him and his place in history many times. This book however, never really relies on the cultural components of its time. The ideas about life that Seneca puts forward in his writing are easy to relate to. For example, he suggests one should not waste time on meaningless activities and that time spend studying philosophy is time used best.

The book contains two other essays, both are to be read like you read a very long letter. It is as if Seneca wishes to speak to us as readers, through this long letter, as if he is speaking to you like a teacher speaking to a student. It feels very much like being absorbed into an intriguing lesson and that is why this book is so good. I probably will try to read it again. I was very tired when reading it and I could not fully appreciate the long lessons about life, the universe and everything in both their elaborate description as well as their beautifull form.

Flowers & Moynihan – The Secret King: The Myth and Reality of Nazi Occultism

Source: Amazon

Boy, what a topic to write a book about. I was sceptical about this book at first because Moynihan is not the most clear cut figure. In fact, I consider him highly dubious in both his ‘academic’ way, but also in his personal politics. Though for the actual ‘reading’ part a lot of this book is simply useless, it offers a wealth of information on a topic that is very often shrouded in nothing but myth and obscure references to Guido Von List. The writers explain why most of those stories are bogus and end up with one figure that actually could be the source of most of these mythical accounts of what may have happened in Himmlers castle.

The figure in question is Karl Maria Wiligut. A peculiar soul who never wrote much and what he wrote was hard to obtain. The book is in that sense more a resource for these writings. The introduction tells more about what is actually the basis for focussing on Willigut and in the apendix one can find notable interviews. For those fascinated with the topic, this is,  next to Goodricke Clarke’s ‘The Occult Roots of Nazism’, an essential read.

Sounds of the Underground #7

In this little segment I review sounds of the underground, music you might not find unless you really go dig for it. From Nerdcore hiphop to depressive black metal, I love music. So check it out and maybe check the albums I checked out for you.

The Wolves of Avalon – Carrion Crows Over Camlan

Source: metal archives

So why pick their 2011 album over the 2014 release ‘Boudica’s Last Stand’? Well, I simply couldn’t get my hands on it. I’m sure this band of Britons had worries about becoming a laughing stock in the whole pagan genre. There’s a lot of things ‘off’ on this record, things that just don’t fit in with the regular sound of pagan black metal bands (under what banner they are apparently labelled). Firstly, the band is making more folk and epic orchestrated music than black metal. Secondly, vocalist Metatron (what???) has a bark that is more a raspy death grunt, like Skyforgers’ Peteris Kvetkovskis. It’s a bit not there.

Still the total package makes the band sound epic and daring. The vocals fit in with the different, folky sound. True, the bombastic sound is inevetably cheesy. The roaring orchestral sound reminds me of the records where Finntroll liked to use that as an intro (not as something to liven up their music).  Metal is the one genre however, where cheesy is not a problem. These guys seem genuine, not a bunch of Paganfest wannabees. That makes their cheesy alright and interesting.
PS: There’s a hint of national prideand historical inaccuracy, so steer clear if these things make you edgy.

Ides of Gemini – Old World New Wave 

Source: The Obelisk

I don’t know how to call the style of music that this the product of this LA trio. What tripped my sensors is participation of music journalist Jason Bennett in this and. It always is intriguing when elements meet and as a music journalist myself (I AM OPEN FOR YOUR PAYED JOBS! CALL ME!) I know how different my look at music is, compared to the one musicians themselves have. The sound is clearly occult, metal infused but also gently rubbing itself agains the cold wave bands of the 80’s, think Siouxi & The Banshees, Dead Can Dance and The Cure?

The slow pace and captivating vocals by Sera Timms are the red line throughout the hazy sounds of Ides of Gemini. Long flowing riffs and dreamy sounds. This is an intriguing record, but it might bore the metal fan who likes some sharper edges to his music a bit. The dreamy sounds for me do start being a bit difficult to stay focussed on after five or six songs. It has a certain static feeling to it, without much energetic moments. There is plenty of stuff happening in their music though, like the steady riffing with the wild drums on ‘May 22, 1453’ or the majestic opening of ‘The Adversary’. Oh, the song is not from the album but represents them well.

T.S. Eliot Appreciation Society – A New History

Source: website band

Seldom I have been so touched by music I picked up on Bandcamp, just because it has one of my favorite writers/thinkers in its name. The T.S. Eliot Appreciation Society is a one man singer-songwriter formation as it’s called. Organic, not entirely in tune, a bit too loud and a rough mix, together these elements make up for what is a warm and pleasant record with a melancholic feeling. It feels like the road, the traveller weary of walking and the heart tired of hurt.

Songs like ‘The Wicked Messenger’ and ‘Heydrich’ are my absolute favorites. I’ve been listening to the preceding EP’s ever since I first heard the music of Tom Gerritsen. Live they were delivered with the same passion that is tangible on the record. There’s a love and sincerity to the music that you can not fake or buy. I would really recommend this record to anyone who loves the guitar playing wanderer and authentic sounds.

Solstafir – Ótta

Source: Napalm Records

Sometimes it just takes a little more time for me to grasp the beauty of music that I hear. Solstafir is definitely one of those cases. I saw the band live a couple of years ago at Fortarock, which was a dreadful show. Every subtle element was blown away by the wind, the atmosphere was missing and the band never really connected with the audience. Their music on Ótta is made for autumn, to be listened to in a dark room, with the right lights and intimate atmosphere. Solstafir is a club band, not a outdoor fest group.

The music is not even that fierce and metal-like. There’s a subtlety ot it, a bit of mystery even. It’s as if the band sings about their land and has translated its unique qualities into song. Dreamy, organic and somtimes a little folky even, it’s as if the band has blended pagan metal with shoegaze or postrock, replaced the vocals and created a whole different beast. The more I listen to Ótta, the more lovely I find it. The Icelandic vocals I do not understand, but it is as if you feel them. The piano, the eerie sounds and misty clouds  of sound, with Solstafir you enter a different world entirely and it is brilliant.

Bolt Thrower, Morgoth, Vallenfyre @Muziekodroom, Hasselt

Source: Metalblade

It is a dreary sunday evening when we get in the car to drive down to Hasselt for an evening of old school death metal with Bolt Thrower. One long, straight road from Eindoven and then we cross a bridge, end up right next to a channel and there is the Muziekodroom. An awesome venue with the old feeling of excitement and danger attached to the experience for us as first time visitors. We get in and start enjoying the noise.

Vallenfyre
Having ex-members in their ranks from bands like At The Gates, Paradise Lost, The Haunted and what not, it must be clear that this band definitely has plenty of experience under their belts. The set is filled with quick jokes by vocalist Greg Mackintosh, about his ex-wife and other silly topics like religion. The death metal of them has an old school quality to it, but feels sludgy as if infused with the gothic and doom inflluences the bandmembers draw from their other groups.

Its interesting how they also pull of a grindcore track in the same vein as Napalm Death in the time of scum. The set is strong and convincing, but with a band fully aware of the sonic violence that is still to come. Taking it easy on the crowd seems to have been the mission, but that doesn’t mean not having fun.

Morgoth
The German band Morgoth has had many names, split up a bit and got together again because they just can not give it up. Well, why should they? The Tolkien inspired group is clearly in the mood to get the audience pumped with their bulky no nonsense sound, pounding and spitting out song after song, giving of a slight punkrock/oi! vibe while at it. Playing songs from over two decades of metal, the band surely has not lost its energy.

Funny element is the well ment enthousiasm of vocalist Marc Grewe, who is obviously of the generation that didn’t fully master the English language, which leads to some funny moments. He never stops firing up the stage with songs dedicated to the other bands, to oppose racism and such and just by jumping up and down and shouting. The music sounds less complex and dense, but is entertaining for sure.

source: Muziekodroom

Bolt Thrower
With an epic melody playing, the band enters the stage. The Warhammer 40k inspired banner decorates the back of the stage, where the band members position themselves, all smiles and cheerfull. Though the band hasn’t released an album in almost ten years, the name remains one of the house hold names for the death metal genre. Starting the set quickly, mainly frontman Karl Willets stands out for his endless smiles and joy. Pictures with fans, hugs and all, everyone is having a ball.

The real kick-off for the set is the obvious ‘World Eater’, pounding ever onwards like a huge all-crushing siege tank. The wide choice of songs from their back catalogue gives the band plenty of liberty to bring a bit from everything. The steady rhythmic guitar play brings a tranquil vibe over the stage, even when heavy songs like ‘Anti-Tank’ make the Muziekodroom shake on its foundations. The steady rumble of the drums makes heads bop and fists rise.

From the epic ‘The IVth Crusade’, to the brawling ‘No Guts, No Glory’, Bolt Thrower could just do whatever they’d do in the rehearsal space and still conquer the venue with their war inspired songs. The tight playing and energetic performance make fan favorites like ‘Warmaster’ (another Warhammer song!) and ‘The Killchain’ to a great experience. This batallion still conquers, wherever they go.

This review was published on Inlog.org

Much Busy, Such Happenings

I’ve been busy, so much lately
That every time I get some time to spend
I end up drunk or sleeping in
And I miss you, you’re busy too
We call each other up, when we’re messed up
And say we’ll meet in the New Year.

– Frank Turner, ‘St. Christopher Is Coming Home’

Wow, so yeah that was a long silence. I’m dreadfully sorry for that, but life sometimes just catches up on you. I’ve stuffed the free time I had with playing some WoW and reading books. There was not much I have to say, so that explains a lot.

Source: The Sleeping Shaman

So what is new? I finally purchased tickets for the one and only Roadburn festival. That was a pretty hefty purchase. As most people know, I usually visit shows and festivals as a journalist and thus my only expense is drinks and food (and merch, lets be honest, I love myself some merch). Roadburn is however something special and I need to witness it. I got to chat with Walter for a moment, might get to do something for their blog if he’s keen on it, so that would be pretty awesome. So much awesome!

The bad stuff is that I also had some costs for the car this month and a fine for parking, while standing a few meters past the sign that basically explains why I shouldn’t be fined. Like, what? Yes. Something like that.

On good matters, I did write my first PhD proposal. Not that I reckon to have huge chances, but I personally feel that actually applying was already a victory for me. A lot of oppertunities seem to present themselves, my girlfriend found a job and more might come. It’s a matter of staying on top and riding the waves.

I’ve also found out I’m rather closed as a person. I thought I overcame that years ago, but I don’t open up, am super defensive and not ablet o make proper connections with other people. This is something to work on. Well, time to start doing that in the next few months.

Should we be moral relativists?

Source: Sytereitz.com

When we answer this question on moral relativism, even there we could be right or wrong based on from where it would be answered. At the core of this lies the idea that truth has two faces. The first would be facts, facts we can all perceive and describe as real and part of the world we live in. The second would be the relative truth, which is related to how one believes the world ‘ticks’. By this I mean, that the views inherent to how we perceive the world, are relative to the beholder. With this argument I’ll proceed to look at morality.

Morality can also be described as something double in the sense how we perceive it. We see morality from our point of view as something that should be universal, but we know it is not. Still we’d be hard pressed to accept the idea that murder would be agreeable in different cultures or situations, sitting in the comfortable position we are in and reading this. So we are aware that our moral views are not universal, however we are not able to accept this fully. In this, relativism poses a problem in itself. But this is not the core problem when speaking of morality, but a problem of the ‘I’ which always mediates between us and the ‘world’.

So basically, assuming relativism is the way to go, this moral idea leaves a big problem in an organized world and society: there is no way to uphold any law. However, this may be the way to fit in relativism with a general morality. Earlier I posed the idea that murder could be ok in different cultures or situations, but at the core everyone believes certain acts, like murder, are bad. We also believe that stealing is bad, but it’s ok in certain situations. From this we may deduce that there is a general view on things that are bad, simply because they are harmful to others. More harmful in fact, than the good it brings. For example, if I’m starving and I’d steal a bread, my life would be saved, but the shopkeeper would loose 1 euro. There’s no question about the balance here.

So this leaves us with basic ideas, about what is wrong and what is right. Murder and theft are bad, but when I’m starving, theft might be excusable. Exactly there is the place we find for relativism, right outside the core moral judgements. Stealing remains bad, but the parameters we uphold to decide on a measure how bad it is exactly can vary between cultures, situations and moral visions. To an extent this is how national law systems already function and what seems plausible as a way of combinining a rigid and objective law system with the relativity of moral judgements.

Now, why would we not let the moral relativism reign? There’s the simple reason of it’s randomness, there would be no general law possible if we let go of the idea that some things are just wrong and unacceptable. If this would be a more fair and better way to go, then we would feel the central authorities on justice are repressing us.

I can’t remember what this was for. 

Writing pleasures

If you must write prose and poems
The words you use should be your own

– The Smiths, ‘Cemetary Gates’

Recently I wrote this article, in which I apply for a job at the Fontys high school, since they seem to be short on people and hire disputable figures. I’m not really angry or anything here, I just felt like I had something good to say about the topic, so I did.

Funny thing happens then, I was contacted about my earlier tattoo article by Dutch TV, this time I was contacted by someone from Fontys who wanted to give me a ring. It made me a bit cautious, maybe some threats of sueing me or trying to clear the situation? Maybe they decided to hire me, you never know.

So, the most miraculous thing was, that this person (I’ve chosen to be discreet on my blog about others) was just very impressed by the article and my writing, wanting to praise me on it. I must admit, I was a little bit stunned by that. I was told that many people appreciated the article and read it. That I wrote this article with a sharp pen, but was not vindictive in it. I’m very happy to receive such praise, these words mean a lot to me in this struggle to rise above my own insecurities.

So if I have a chest for confidence, a bunch of chunks of solid gold concerning my writing have filled it up after that conversation, for which I’d like to express my sincere thanks.

Feels like #winning. Oh, I’m still for hire.

source: http://williamlevybuzz.blogspot.nl/

 

Ashley

This post is dedicated to Ashley, who assists Chris Guillebeau in his work. Chris Guillebeau wrote the book ‘The Happiness of Pursuit’, a nice play on ‘In Pursuit of Happyness’. A book that talks about setting big goals for yourself and then finding the joy in chasing those. A book I recommend to anyone who wants to give some direction to their lives. Really, the book is inspirational, funny and full of wisdom that you can use. Funny enough, when I told some people about the stories in there, the response was exactly like the people in the book said: They thought they were crazy.

Source: lifehack.org

Well I didn’t think so. I believe that things like visiting all countries in the world, cooking a dish from every country or taking a university course in one year instead of four is amazing. It shows dedication, passion and the right amount of crazy. I decided to write a message to Chris Guillebeau. He seemed to me like an approachable person who would like to hear positive responses to his book. I wrote an e-mail, saying how I felt inspired in this phase of my life, where I am trying to get things sorted and find my own purpose in life. I also wrote that I didn’t expect a reply, so that it was ok. I just wanted to share.

Big surprise, assistant Ashley M. wrote back to me. Now, I know that this is a person who doesn’t know me or my stupid problems, but the reply was kind and warm. About me not expecting a reply, she wrote: “Your statement about not sending messages because you don’t believe you’ll hear back? I totally relate to that. I used to believe that, too. But you’d be surprised what you’ll get back if you send it anyways. What have you got to lose? ” She also suggested I could try to write something myself for their website. I did, I hope they’ll post it because I believe it was a good piece.

I wrote a thank you e-mail to Ashley. Explaining I was going down this path of self-development and growth, how it wasn’t easy but messages like this give me that glimmer of hope. I got back another friendly e-mail: “It sounds like you’re moving in the right direction and I have no doubt that good things are in your near future. Life is so full of possibilities! You never know what amazing thing is going to come your way tomorrow. Keep the faith, Guido!” All Ashley really did was doing her job, but also being friendly and encouraging. It’s such an amazingly small gesture. It can mean so much.

Now, why am I writing a blogpost about this? Well, because Ashley, who doesn’t know me, was kind enough to look at my message in a positive way. I couldn’t do that for a long time and still struggle to look at myself and others in a positive way. The fact that someone across the ocean took a moment to send this kindness my way, is well inspirational and cool. For some reason I feel a bit stronger now. Better things are coming my way, as long as I keep working and believing.

Thanks Ashley. Sometimes something so little can mean so much to someone. I’ll start trying to do this more often. Do little nice things for others, just because it should be done more.

I also learned that if you want, you can reach out and get in touch with those you admire. I got replies from Karl Spracklen (metal scientist dude) and from Frank Turner (my favorite punkrock bard) in the past. Just be determined (and follow the link)

 

Source: mactoons

Sounds of the Underground #6

In this little segment I review sounds of the underground, music you might not find unless you really go dig for it. From Nerdcore hiphop to depressive black metal, I love music. So check it out and maybe check the albums I checked out for you.

HOD – Book of the Worm 

source: Hod bandcamp

Violent, intense riffs open up the new album by black death band HOD on ‘When The Ghouls Feed’. The daring sound of the Texas is definitely not for the feeble listeners and gnaws away at your eardrums. Unrelenting the band slashes and burns through their songs like ‘I Am Destroyer’ and ‘Death Whores’. Musically this is the black coffee I need around 11.30 in the morning when the lunch break begins to sound very attractive and motivation is low.

There’s a specific raucous and energetic feeling to the combination of Death and black metal that comes close to a clean sounding grindcore record, without the attempt to mask bad instrumental prowess by layers and layers of distortion. Not that these guys need that, they sound tight as a chokehold on ‘Beneath the Mountains Of The Scorpion’. What their whole message is eludes me, the titles seem to be pissed off and angry, but also a bit weird. No matter, the record is awesome.

Home is Gone – Triptych

Source: Home Is Gone bandcamp

Nothing like some bleak, minimalist black metal to shake up your day. I’ve enjoyed my listening experiment around 11.30, so I continue by checking out Home Is Gone from New York. The cover alone is amazingly minimalist. Like the three panel painting the title refers to, it has 3 songs of uncompromising metal. Windy distortion and almost blown away screams make up an almost comforting melody. That is however hidden in the mist.

The end result feels very minimal, very little is actually happening apart from the careful weaving of a tapestry of sonic force, that makes up something totally different. I feel it’s as those huge parades where everyone holds up a coloured square to form an image. That’s how the seperate sonic endeavours compile the warm sound that is the end result of this beautiful, but brief record.

MC Frontalot – Question Bedtime

Source: wikipedia

What? No Metal? Yes, it’s time for some nerdcore hiphop with the new release from my favorite MC. Rocking some highly intelligent lyrics, complex rhymes and corky homebrew beats, MC Frontalot has invented the genre and put himself at the forefront of it for years. So we have a quirky list of songs that critisize a lot of things, like disagreeing with your bedtime as an expression of the democratic concept of disagreeing with authority and justice. It’s funny, but there’s always a validity, relating to the real world.

There’s a bit more soul to this record, compared to previous straight up flows it seems. Frontalot always focusses on great rhymes and very, very catchy chorusses. I mean, they are sometimes so wrong that they’re awesome. Some skits are in between, to raise the fun level even further. MC Frontalot makes a lot of fun about himself too. So why would you check out this CD? Well, I love hiphop, I’ve said so before and written about it. I do however, not have a gun or deal drugs, nor do I have a lot of  bitches hanging around. I do play WoW, love Star Trek, enjoy watching hockey, reading books and feeling Irish in the Irish pub. Most importantly, I’m a full on geek who reads science for fun. So I love hiphop that speaks to that. This is just the latest album, where the Front reaches a whole new level of weird.

The Scintilla Project – The Hybrid
I’ve always had a weakness for Saxon and their vocalist Biff Byford. His epic style was always quite an attraction to me. The band he started on the side, inspired by a sci-fi flick titled Scintilla, was interesting to me for that reason. However, it is not really something I’ll advise you to check out. It really was not a good idea.

The old voice of Biff gives everything an epic edge, but the cheesy piano’s and extra singers just make this a drowsy Disney soundtrack with very little balls and power. Let me put it to understandable words. Why did no one like the albums Maiden did with Blaze? Well, this is it. The overproduced sound makes the riffs into ready made candy bars of artificially flavoured goods. Nothing good comes of this record, trust me.

If you don’t like metal, then probably this is your album though. I’m sorry, perhaps for those who really dig the most mellow songs of Therion?

Gone

Now you’re gone
I realize my love for you was strong
And I miss you here,
Now you’re gone
I keep waiting here by the phone
With your pictures hanging on the wall

– Basshunter, ‘Now You’re Gone’

Yes, it’s the first night in a long time when I’m alone again. An excersise for what might be the future if everything goes as planned. My girl is in Brussels for an internship and I hope fully that she’ll get it. Still it is a bit frightening, to be alone with Lenny the cat. It is the warmth next to me in the bed, the little things I notice when I get home, the pack of coffee milk that should have been put back into the fridge…. Those are the things I miss now.

It’s only for three days now, for a training that may get her an internship. Maybe she’ll come home on friday and nothing will happen. If she gets it, what would be awesome, she’ll be moving to Brussels for atleast the weekdays and for a year. Now, there is one way out of my canundrum. That would be a job in Brussels, moving there and living our life there from now on. I wouldn’t mind I think.

Source: Quoteswave

I’m so proud she got there. I will try to not let my fears get in the way of that. We’ll be fine, change is always a great thing because it shakes up the status quo you’ve started growing accustomed to. If they actually come, I’ll be sure to post about it when this becomes an option.

Probably with a better bit of lyrics. I do actually like Basshunter, sorry, guilty pleasure.

The Reading of Books #3

It’s been holiday times, so I had time to read some more than normally. I always love to see the pile I’ve gotten through afterwards. Currently enough other things to read and listen fill my shelves, so time to get on it.

Charlotte Brönte – The Professor

source: amazon

There is something specifically cozy about reading books by the likes of Charlotte Brönte. It feels like this book requires you to have a cup of tea or coffee with it and really get cozy with a blanket and some nice singer-songwriter (preferably British) playing on the radio. The story is the inner thoughts and experiences of a man, devout of real heritage, who flaunts his unwanted families offers to make his own fortune in the world. It’s a story that takes us from the grimy industrial towns of 18th century Britain to the warm city of Brussels where he finds occupation as a teacher.

It is a story of character building and growth, of love and loneliness and in the end of  a righteous set of affairs happening. While I wouldn’t recommend this as a very complex work that completely blows you away, it is nice to just feel cozy and homely once in a while.

Ryszard Kapuscinski – The emperor 

Source: Rastafari.homepage.eu

Many people might know Haile Selassie as a figure that is much revered in reggae music by the rastafarians. He was also the last emperor of a 1000 year dynasty in Ethiopia. A reformer and totalitarian in one, the man could not read or write, but ran a country as effective as possible in the limited time that was given to him as a ruler.

I bought this book in Poland, due to it having  a Polish author and also a topic of interest to me. It gathers up stories of the courtiers from Haile Selassie after the revolution. It was quite a dangerous undertaking to gather these stories in a country ravaged by internal strife, corruption and crime. Still it paints a clear image of an impossible empire that lasted much longer than it would have, it not for the smart rule of an emperor who wanted to bring together tradition and progress in an impossible marriage.

We speak of a man who dreamed of a united Africa, while maintaining an underfed population and an ever expanding nobility. A man who built palaces in the desert, while drinking water was not obtainable. He built highways and universities, but ruled without pen and paper. An amazing journey to the past.

Hannah Arendt – Eichmann and the Holocaust: It was sheer thoughtlessness that predisposed him to become one of the greatest criminals of the period.

It is hard to say something about this book. Let’s start by saying I purchased it at the Jewish History Museum in Warsaw. Tight security and still not fully open for the public, it is a book about the aftermath, about Eichmann who was considered responsible for what we now know as the Holocaust. Arendt describes a man who is a true bureaucrat, a man who loves procedures and papers and has little to no actual intellect to guide him. Stuttering and muttering his way through life, only being understandable when uttering movie one-liners, all the way to the gallows in Jerusalem.

Arendt analyses the stupid and sometimes unconscious and silly kind of evil, committed by people who just don’t think. She also discusses if it was right what happened to Eichmann. Did Israel have the right to just execute the man on their own ground? No, they did not and they knew it. If he should be executed in the end? Maybe he was the neck that had to carry the weight for all those thousands of bureaucrats who ‘just did their job’. I find it hard to judge, but so does Arendt, who leaves the reader to form an own verdict. Was this right? Was Eichmann guilty or was he just a victim of the zeitgeist? Did he ever fully understand why he was walking to the gallows? We can ask ourselves this and maybe become slightly better people ourselves in the process.

Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities

source: Ecenglish.com

I guess this might be the most important work of Dickens apart from the fairy tales. Maybe it is not, I found that it was very poignant. Dickens shows the other side of the Revolution in France as an event that created an upheaval in society even though it might have rational and righteous causes. Dickens makes the common people picturesque and the nobility sensitive and full of class, but also gives a distinct charm to both. He doesn’t judge I feel, in his book, about the situations in France and England and whatever he may think of it.

The tale of Two cities juxtaposes the city of Paris and London with one another to the effect of showing the differences and also the effect. In truth, the English royalty reformed and reshaped with the social changes. France missed the ball on that and got itself into a nasty revolution that ended it’s royal family. Not that much changed. After the terror new tyrants arose and spend fortunes on war.

Still, the book deals with the small people. It has the romance and sacrifice of the times, but also stupidity, rigid rebellion and vengeance. Everything is in there, except lazers. I think this is a book that everyone should read and try to learn something about opposing views. Mostly that making enemies only brings grief.