Book: “Good Omens” (Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman)

[This post originally appeared in Dullicious, where I blogged as Barbie-dull for several years.]

Amy lent me “Good Omens” by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. An excellent book; very funny, from the foreword to the “about the author by the other author and vice versa”.

They write in the foreword that the authors

“didn’t know they were going to write the most repaired book in the world.”

and that they have

“signed a delightfully large number of paperbacks that have been dropped in the bath, gone a worrying brown color, got repaired with sticky tape and string, and, in one case, consisted entirely of loose pages in a plastic bag.”

And also that

“the books are often well read to the point of physical disintegration; if we run across a shiny new copy, it’s usually because the owner’s previous five have been stolen by friends, struck by lightning or eaten by giant termites in Sumatra.”

I purchased of copy of this book in the San Jose airport last February on my way to Boston via Las Vegas. And then flights were delayed and I was stuck in Las Vegas for 9 hours. That gave me ample time to walk to the Strip, with my book in a plastic bag, purchase a few gifts from Vegas, place them in the plastic bag and go get my next flight. Unfortunately, I left the plastic bag somewhere in the Boston airport after landing.

Amy, I’m done with your book, thanks so much for lending it. As soon as I’m done writing this entry, I’ll be upstairs to give it back to you.

Book: On love (Alain de Botton) (continued)

[This post originally appeared in Dullicious, where I blogged as Barbie-dull for several years.]

I have finished the excellent novel “on love” by Alain de Botton. I will read the last three chapters again in a little while. Maybe then will I get the author’s philosophical message and or life advice.

Intermittences of the heart:

[[Language flatters our indecisions with its stability. It allows us to hide under an illusory permanence and fixity while the world changes minute by minute.]]

[[However happy we may be with our partner, our love for them necessarily prevents us [unless we live in a polygamous society] from starting other romantic liaisons. But why should this constrain us if we truly loved them? Why should we feel this as a loss unless our love for them has already begun to wane? The answer perhaps lies in the uncomfortable thought that in resolving our need to love, we may not always succeed in resolving our need to long.]]

[[Romantic nostalgia descends when we are faced with those who might have been our lovers, but whome chance has decreed we will never know. The possibility of an alternative love life is a reminder that the life we are leading is only one of a myria of possible lives, and it is perhaps the impossibiliity of leading them all that plunges us into sadness.]]

[[The unknown carries with it a mirror of all our deepest, most inexpressible wishes.]]

[[Longing cannot indefinitely direct itself at those we know, for their qualities are charted and therefore lack the mystery longing demands.]]

The fear of happiness:

[[Though the pursuit of happiness was an avowed central goal, it was accompanied by an implicit belief that the realization of this Aristotelianism lay somewhere in the very distant future.]]

Romantic terrorism:

[[And so at this point, desperate to woo the partner back at any cost, the lover turns to romantic terrorism, the product of irredeemable situations, a gamut of tricks [sulking, jealousy, guilt] that attempts to force the partner to return love, by blowing up [in fits of tears, rage, or otherwise] in front of the loved one. The terroristic partner knows he or she cannot realistically hope to see his or her love reciprocated, but the futility of something is not always [in love or in politics] a sufficient argument against it. Certain things are said not because they will be heard, but because it is important to speak.]]

[[The sulker is a complicated creature, giving off messages of deep ambivalence, crying out for help and attention while at the same time rejecting it should it be offered, wanting to be understood without needing to speak.]]

[[Romantic terrorism is a demand that negates itself in the process of its resolution, it brings the terrorist up against an uncomfortable reality –that love’s death cannot be arrested.]]

Book: On love (Alain de Botton)

[This post originally appeared in Dullicious, where I blogged as Barbie-dull for several years.]

You know how some authors have the nerve to know exactly what words resonate with you? How some words are exactly those you were looking for as you feel an emotion or you want to describe your feelings? Alain de Botton is that, for me.

I’ve been reading “on love”, a novel in which he describes his romance with Chloe and analyses it step by step, catergorising each stage and wonderfully and very funnily illustrating it.

Here’s a collection of quotes that I relate to particularly:

Marxism. Unrequited love until we are loved back:

[[how can they be as wonderful as we had hoped when they had the bad taste to approve of someone like us?]]

Marxism. Reciprocated love, the battle of self-love and self-hatred:

[[There is usually a Marxist moment in most relationships [the moment when it becomes clear that love is reciprocated] and the way it is resolved depends on the balance between self-love and self-hatred. If self-hatred gains the upper hand, then the one who has received love will declare the the beloved [on some excuse or other] is not good enough for them [not good enough by virtue of association with no-goods]. But if self-love gains the upper hand, both partners may accept that seeing their love reciprocated is not proof of how low the beloved is, but of how lovable they have themselves turned out to be.]]

About falling in love:

[[Falling comes only when one knows how deep the waters are into which to plunge]]

False Notes. One must understand before being ready to love:

[[Only after much exchange […] should two people decide they are ready to love one another, a decision made on the basis of mutual understanding and confirmed rather than imagined affinity. In the mature account of love, it is only when one truly knows one’s partner that love is given a chance to grow.]]

False Notes. About the other existing in their own right:

[[ […] I became aware of a fleeting desire not to get to know certain things about her, lest they jar with the beautiful image that, almost from the moment I had first laid eyes on her, I had built up in my imagination.]]

False Notes. Between inner fantasy and outer reality:

[[ Living day to day with her was like acclimatizing myself to a foreign country and prey therefore to accasional xenophobia at departures from my own traditions and history.]]

Love or Liberalism. Trenscend the differences with the will to joke:

[[It is a sign that two people have stopped loving one another [or at least stopped wishing to make the effort that constitutes 90 percent of love] when they are no longer able to spin differences into jokes. Humor lined the walls of irritation between our ideals and the reality: Behind each joke, there was a difference that had been defused –and could therefore be passed over without the need for a pogrom.]]

Speaking love:

[[The thought was a lonely one: of the error one may find over a single word, an argument not for pedants but of desperated importance to lovers who are sick of talking throught interpreters. We could both speak of being in love, and yet this love might mean wholly different things within each of us.]]

Skepticism and Faith:

[[Doubt is easy when it is not a matter of survival: We are as skeptical as we can afford to be, and it is easiest to be skeptical about things that do not fundamentally sustain us. It is easy to doubt the existence of a table; it is hell to doubt the legitimacy of one’s love.]]

[[Even though the odds were in favor of God’s not existing, Pascale argued that our faith in God could still be amply justified because the joys of the slimmer probability so far outweighed the horrors of the larger probability. And so it should perharps be with love.]]


[[To love someone is to take a deep interest in them and hence by that concern, to bring them to a sense of what they are doing and saying.]]

[[It takes the intimacy of a lover to point out facets of character others simply do not bother with, sides that it may be difficul to confront.]]

[[It is what makes others so indispensable, that they are able to give us something we are unable to grasp alone, the elusive sense of our borders, the sense of our own character.]]

I’m sure I’ll find more as I keep reading it and thoroughly enjoy it.

Book: “Odd Thomas” (Dean Koontz)

[This post originally appeared in Dullicious, where I blogged as Barbie-dull for several years.]

Dean Koontz is one of my favourite authors for fiction. I just finished “Odd Thomas” and enjoyed it very much.

It is the story of Odd Thomas, a twenty year old boy who is blessed with two special gifts. He sees the dead and has a sixth sense that gives him some psychic magnetism. He is also blessed to love and by the love of Stormy, his soul mate.

Throughout the book, we learn about the very unfortunate childhood and teenagehood of Odd. We learn of his encounters, past and present, with ghosts that want justice or tip him to help prevent crimes.

He tells us that Stormy’s destiny is to be with him forever. They have a card from a fortune-telling machine as proof; Gypsy Mummy had given it to them for a single quarter. They also have matching birthmarks. They are to be married in less than a week.

The last chapters were particularly gripping as I realised at the same time that Odd did, that Stormy had become one of the lingering ghosts. Odd must let her go.

“The dead cannot speak, but Stormy spoke three words silently, allowing me to read her lips. I love you.
I kissed her, my dead love, so tenderly, so chastely. I held her in my arms, my face buried in her hair, her throat.
After a while, she put a hand under my chin. I raised my head.
Three more words. Be happy. Persevere.
“I’ll see you in service,” I promised, which is what she calls the life that comes after boot camp.
Her eyes. Her smile. Now mine only in memory.
I let her go. She turned away and took three steps, fading. She looked over her shoulder, and I reached out to her, and she was gone.”

— Dean Koontz, “Odd Thomas”