Catch-Up Reading: The Economist, 14 September 2013

Patrick Leigh Fermor’s A Time of Gifts is an account of how, at 18, he walked from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople.  This was in the 1930s.  Self finally got to it just a few years ago.

Fermor documented a time and place that, several years later, would be destroyed forever.  A Time of Gifts is a wonderful book.  Self will never, ever forget it.

Now, she is trying to catch up on her Economist reading, and she ends up lingering in the Books section, where there is a review of a posthumously published volume (Fermor died two years ago, at age 96).

Reading the review, self learns that Fermor wrote a second book, Between the Woods and the Water, which “covered his 1934 walk through Hungary and Transylvania, where he was as much at home in hayricks as in the hovels of gypsies.”  Oh, joy!  Self immediately added this book to her reading list.

But the third book, the posthumously published The Broken Road:  From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos, is also fascinating.  It is “the full contemporary account of his time at Mount Athos,” and while it lacks some of the “magic” of the earlier books, it “has an elegiac tone.  None of the people described survives and the countries visited have undergone wars and revolutions, leaving them virtually unrecognisable.”

In other words, the various “tribes” of the Balkans and central Europe were every bit as endangered as the Native American tribes who ruled from sea to sea, or the native tribes of New Guinea and other parts less traveled.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Been So Long: Law 13 of Robert Greene’s THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

When people choose between talk about the past and talk about the future, a pragmatic person will always opt for the future and forget the past . . .  it is always best to speak pragmatically to a pragmatic person.  And in the end, most people ARE in fact pragmatic — they will rarely act against their own self-interest. (p. 98)

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In your quest for power, you will constantly find yourself in the position of asking for help from those more powerful than you.  There is an art to asking for help, an art that depends on your ability to understand the person you are dealing with, and not to confuse your needs with theirs.

Most people never succeed at this, because they are completely trapped in their own wants and desires.  They start from the assumption that the people they are appealing to have a selfless interest in helping them.  They talk as if their needs mattered to these people —  who probably couldn’t care less.  Sometimes they refer to larger issues:  a great cause, or grand emotions such as love and gratitude.  They go for the big picture when simple, everyday realities would have much more appeal (Obama, are you listening?) (p. 98)

*          *          *

“Most men are so thoroughly subjective that nothing really interests them but themselves.  They always think of their own case as soon as ever any remark is made, and their whole attention is engrossed and absorbed by the merest chance reference to anything which affects them personally, be it never so remote.” —  Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), quoted in a p. 97 sidebar

Very Good Ideas for the Merry, Merry

Anchorman 2 is coming out soon! Love Ron Burgundy.

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Sad about Paul Walker.  Self has seen all six Fast and Furious movies.  She loved Paul Walker’s laid-back cool, with those Converse sneakers especially.

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Self will just come out and say it:  She loves the way so many reviewers come together to keep the Roger Ebert website alive.

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Signing off to watch “Sleepy Hollow.”  How dare that Headless Horseman brandish weaponry at the adorably tall, thin Ichabod Crane!  A pox on you, oh Headless Horseman!  May pustules erupt all over your skin!  May you grow a new head like a serpent! And may the Bog of Sleepy Hollow swallow you up — forevermore!

And please, “Sleepy Hollow” producers, stop showing flashbacks of John Cho with his head hanging off his shoulders — backwards.  It is a most hideous, nightmare-inducing image.

She loves the way Mison calls Abbie Mills “Lef-te-nant”!  She saw a picture of him in People Magazine — a very teensy picture.  She thinks he possibly looks better in extreme close-up.  Like, on an HD television screen.

*     *     *     *

Self loves the huge pink-tinted glasses Sheila O’Malley wore on her latest blog post.  Sheila says:  “No way around it. These glasses help elevate the mood.  I like to wear them in a blasé manner out in public . . . “!

Oooh, self wants!  She wants!

If one cannot have pink-tinted glasses like Sheila O'Malley, one can still don Christmas headgear:  guaranteed mood-lifter!

If one cannot have pink-tinted glasses like Sheila O’Malley, one can still don Christmas headgear: guaranteed mood-lifter!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


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