on Forever-ness and Short-ness


And in those five characters of hello lay all that mankind has discovered in the last 10,000 years, as this young-middle-aged male homo sapien sits in a giant flying aluminium potato chip container jiggling uncontrollably through air at 10,000 feet (I think that’s what the french accented pilot announced – I wasn’t paying attention). In my brown loafers, skinny uniqlo jeans, black topman tee with fake buttons, black uniqlo cardigan, brown leather watch, black ring and macbook-that’s-so-out-of-place-on-silkair, I am feeling quite myself!

Why am I writing? I haven’t written like this in ages. Or what would seem like ages to me. The books. The books have incited my brain again. After weeks of incessant coding, I have lost some steam and drifted off for the moment. I returned my textbooks and picked up four science-fiction books from the library. I am on the third. Yes I am a voracious speed reader. Neil Gaiman – Anani’s boys; and another one called Forever War; right now on Jostein Gaarder’s Castle in the Pyrenees. It brings thoughts to my mind and smiles to my lips. Let’s start from the beginning (or does the start maketh the beginning. how peculiar).

Anani’s Boys. A largely ridiculous and silly book. I was not impressed with Neil Gaiman. Just his luck to be well received. I think even Harry Potter sticks to his themes better, and is more immersive. (pardon for using one author name and one character name. J.K. Rowling it oughta be, unpleasant a person as she might be.)

Forever War. How impressive a title. If one could write such a title, surely one ought to have a marvelous story. The Forever War. Lame as it sounds, true it might be. I couldn’t see why the book/author could win Hugo and Nebula awards. Reminds me greatly of Ender’s Game though. The book, the author, the setting, the characters. Interstellar war. Training. Fleeting battles. Time dilation. Instantaneity. Disassociation with Earth. Maladjustment on return. Leaving again. Way too similar. I was very very intrigued at the end, or the later bits, with the realisation that the Forever War seemed quite realistic. Yes intergalactic travel takes a large amount of time, to go and return. Yes when one leaves, the ‘enemy’ will change, things change, time is different, years pass. Wow. An old warship will be antiquated by the time it arrives. The soldiers will fight only a few wars before returning to find that things have changed. Meaningless battles will be fought far away when the outcome has already concluded. It takes forever because it is simply so far. It’s insane. It’s mind boggling. It is impossibly difficult to twist our brains around space and time. I am much disappointed that our sad little lives might be so irrelevant in the grand history of things. But every little action probably adds up somewhere. For there could not be so much change without the existence of little actions by many people. Thus.

Castle in the Pyrenees. I have not finished this book, but it is intriguing enough. Classic Jostein Gaarder of course. It speaks of two persons, who used to be in love/soul mates 30 years ago, but who have moved on now, and the two of them have a long discussion about the past and their beliefs and what do they believe now. The lady believes in the supernatural, telepathy, divine beings, etc. The man doesn’t. They both used to be agnostics. And then she changed, and they couldn’t live together again. How sad. It was like something just switched and then everyone knew it would never be the same again. They speak, discuss, debate. It reminds me of what I used to think more about. When I was reading, when I wasn’t running around taking photos or coding. Here’s one nice passage from the book which the lady poses to the man:

“‘Can you still feel boundless sorrow for the fact that life is so short, so short? Can your eyes still feel with tears at the thought of words like old age and lifetime?’ And I can now answer with an liberated no. I don’t cry any more. In relation to what lies ahead of me, I now live in a state of … tranquility.”

Gaarder writes more about his prehistory animals and big bang evolution ideas, which isn’t that interesting anymore. I, I was particularly struck by the shortness of life topic. I suppose that’s one of Gaarder’s pet peeves – he who wrote Vita Brevis (life is short). On occassion I feel it. I can feel it in my bones when I am happy – how short life is, how unbearably short 50 years might be. How if I live to 100, I might have aching bones and failing kidneys. I have always rather feared being incapacitated, mentally and/or physically, me being the hyperactive sprightly young man that I am right now. I have not yet settled down in my mind, I am still impatient and curious, still full of questions and awe and criticisms and impetuousness. I still proffer too many unkind opinions that perhaps not everyone relishes, I still forget to remember the world isn’t just me, I still wonder. Wonder.

And this is the me that I hope doesn’t disappear into a 9-to-5 mon-to-fri void of monotony.

There are amazing treasures in books out there. I only worry that they are going to be swamped and extinguish in the tsunami of ebooks, young adult fiction, $1 games and 140 character messages. Life, and thought, is more than that. Do not spend your life reading just one book, even if that may be the Bible, for even vampiric fantasies are an incredibly mark of our current epoch.


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on Forever-ness and Short-ness

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