Within The Den

DSC_1449I am reading Lack London’s arctic novels right now. The Call Of The Wild at first, and it’s companion, White Fang, right now. When I read these books first, many years ago as a teenager, I didn’t understand much beyond the adventure, but I now appreciate the superb story-telling and writing Jack’s done. He wrote this stuff around 1900, give or take a few years.

There was no David Attenborough to explain it all, and neither Heinz Sielmann or Professor Grzimek were born at the time (Professor Grzimek was close, being born in 1909, but he wasn’t born as a professor or a natural world TV presenter). There were no tiny or remote controlled cameras to be send inside a wolf’s den in Jack’s days. Watching modern wildlife documentaries makes us think that all this knowledge is only just emerging thanks to modern technology and brave cameramen, but if you think this is so, you should read Jack’s books.

The description of events inside the den and the details of the wolves’ awareness show a great deal of knowledge, imagination and “educated guessing” on Jack’s part. It’s quite something.

The most revolutionary part, in my opinion, is the fact that he never humanizes the animals. He describes them as beings aware of their surroundings, as beings with intelligence, decision-making facility, the capability to learn and that of a consciousness, but he never presents a dog’s or wolves’ thoughts in human terms. There is no trivializing here at all, and a great deal more of realism, and a great deal less of adventure than what I remembered from my youth.

I got Jack London’s Complete Works on my Kindle now. The biggest e-Book I have, cause he was a short-lived yet prolific writer, and I am in love with his work.

 

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The Wheel

japanese-garden-sfAs some of you may know, I’ve been busy reading Robert Jordan’s fantasy epic Wheel of Time for a while, which comes at approximately 11000 pages in print (or a few Megabytes in Kindle). I am now half way into volume 10 of 14, Crossroads of Twilight. I haven’t read much else in quite a while, and I am ready for a break.

These are fine fantasy novels, and I applaud anyone capable of writing a tale of enormous proportions well enough that I, after finishing each of the previous nine volumes, immediately wanted to continue reading with the next one. Since the Wheel of Time is often compared to the other fantasy epic, George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, praise should be given to Wheel of Time for coming closest to Song of Ice and Fire. Closest, mind you, but not close.

The trouble with Wheel of Time is that each volume follows the same pattern: a necessary but tedious prologue is followed some building-up of action and conflict. The centre 65% of the book tell the tale without much significant progress, and events spiral to high speed and conclusions in the last 20%.

I find the central tedium increasingly hard to get through, especially since a friend made me aware of Haruki Murakami’s latest offering, 1Q84. I have now put the Wheel of Time aside and started on 1Q84. I’m still in the first of three books, but already love it. Haruki Murakami is the master of the modern surreal, and the translation is beautiful as far as I may be able to judge beauty in a foreign language.

All I need now is those extra 4 hours per day, and the skill not to fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.

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Ending a Week

Drive SlowlyReaching the end of a week is always a good thing, but this week in particular ended much better than it started, so I am mighty pleased with it.

Highlights include:

· Good progress with some long-standing difficult (technical) problems at work. Work can be such a pain!

· A letter from the taxman, tentatively approving my tax declaration, hurray! I was almost certain that they wouldn’t quite agree with my calculations, but they did, to the penny. Maybe they gave up understanding my multi-page argument half way through, or maybe it wasn’t too far off the mark. In any case, I am pleased with the outcome, as it means not being hit by some unexpected additional payment.

· Started reading Mark Twain again (The Bible according to Mark Twain, and his Speeches). What a joy! Must find more time for more reading.

P.S. Fascinating to see how Zemanta struggles with this post. Easy to understand since there is no single distinct subject, but I find it fascinating to see how their engine also becomes unsure of itself. All it can do is cling to Mark Twain. Excellent!

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