Books worth reading #5

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Sophie’s World is a 1991 novel by Norwegian writer Jostein Gaarder. It follows the events of Sophie Amundsen, a teenage girl living in Norway, and Alberto Knox, a middle-aged philosopher who introduces her to philosophical thinking and the history of philosophy.

 

“Life is both sad and solemn. We are led into a wonderful world, we meet one another here, greet each other – and wander together for a brief moment. Then we lose each other and disappear as suddenly and unreasonably as we arrived.”
Jostein Gaarder, Sophie’s World

 

“A philosopher knows that in reality he knows very little. That is why he constantly strives to achieve true insight. Socrates was one of these rare people. He knew that he knew nothing about life and about the world. And now comes the important part: it troubled him that he knew so little.”
Jostein Gaarder, Sophie’s World

books worth reading #4

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The Little Prince went to look at the roses again.

“You’re not at all like my rose.  You’re nothing at all yet,” he told them.  “No one has tamed you and you haven’t tamed anyone.  You’re the way my fox was.  He was just a fox like a hundred thousand others.  But I’ve made him my friend, and now he’s the only fox in all the world.”

And the roses were humbled.

You’re lovely, but you’re empty,” he went on.  One couldn’t die for you.  Of course, an ordinary passerby would think my rose looked just like you.  But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together, since she’s the one I’ve watered.  Since she’s the one I put under glass.  Since she’s the one I sheltered behind a screen.  Since she’s the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except the two or three for butterflies).  Since she’s the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all.  Since she’s my rose.”

And he went back to the fox.

“Good-bye,” he said.

“Goodbye,” said the fox.  Here is my secret.  It’s quite simple: One sees clearly only with the heart.  Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”

“Anything essential is invisible to the eyes,” the little prince repeated, in order to remember.

“It’s the time you spend on your rose that makes your rose so important.”

“It’s the time I spent on my rose…,” the little prince repeated, in order to remember.

“People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said.  “But you mustn’t forget it.  You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed.  You’re responsible for your rose…”

“I’m responsible for my rose…,” the little prince repeated, in order to remember.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,  in The Little Prince

The tell-tale Heart

True! –nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses –not destroyed –not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily –how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees –very gradually –I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever. Continue reading

Books worth reading #3

“I’ve always been an ironic dreamer, unfaithful to my inner promises.

Like a complete outsider, a casual observer of whom I thought I was,

I’ve always enjoyed watching my daydreams go down in defeat.

I was never convinced of what I believed in.

I filled my hands with sand, called it gold, and opened them up to let it slide through.

Words were my only truth.

When the right words were said, all was done; the rest was the sand that had always been.”

Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

“Today, suddenly, I reached an absurd but unerring conclusion. In a moment of enlightenment, I realized that I’m nobody, absolutely nobody. When the lightning flashed, I saw that what I had thought to be a city was in fact a deserted plain and, in the same sinister light that revealed me to myself, there seemed to be no sky above it. I was robbed of any possibility of having existed before the world. If I was ever reincarnated, I must have done so without myself, without a self to reincarnate.

I am the outskirts of some non-existent town, the long-winded prologue to an unwritten book. I’m nobody, nobody. I don’t know how to feel or think or love. I’m a character in a novel as yet unwritten, hovering in the air and undone before I’ve even existed, amongst the dreams of someone who never quite managed to breathe life into me. Continue reading

Books worth reading #2

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“As if this great outburst of anger had purged all my ills, killed all my hopes, I looked up at the mass of signs and stars in the night sky and laid myself open for the first time to the benign indifference of the world- and finding it so much like myself, in fact so fraternal, I realized that I’d been happy, and that I was still happy. For the final consummation and for me to feel less lonely, my last wish was that there should be a crowd of spectators at my execution and that they should greet me with cries of hatred.”

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it say that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better pushing right back.”

Albert Camus, The Stranger (or The Outsider) – L’étranger

Blank Gaze

I’d really like to give you an excerpt of this amazing book, but I couldn’t find anything good enough and I can’t really work up a translation right this moment, so here goes a “The Independent” review. Continue reading