gamiila: (a good read)
01) Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
- although it started off well, I soon found myself paralysed with not caring about any of it...the main characters seem to me to lack any kind of depth and the plot relies on too many improbable coincidences, and the whole is steeped in far too much of the Victorian bathos for my liking.

02) Jean Auel, The Land of Painted Caves
- the concluding part of her Earth's Children-series, and one that she would have done better not to publish. A sad disappointment for the conclusion to a story I'd been following for three decades.

03) Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey - Austen spoofs the gothic novel while exposing the Bath season as a meat market. Light-hearted in tone and funny in places, this is probably her fluffiest book.

45 more titles )
gamiila: (book)
It seems like everyone on my flist is participating in the FIRST meme, making me want to meme, too; but unfortunately, the questions in that particular meme seem to refer to a strictly American setting. Proms, sleep-overs, first grade teachers, first alcoholic beverage as some sort of rite of passage...none of these hold any particular meaning to someone living this side of the Atlantic (OK: my primary school teacher was called Mrs. McGillivray and she was 100 if she was a day, or looked it; and I tasted my very first (watered-down) glass of red wine with my 6th birthday dinner - but I don't see how I can make a post out of that). So instead, I decided to look for a meme that I could find answers to, and found

15 Question Book Meme )

There, I've memed.
gamiila: (book worm)
A little over a week ago, the 365 project on which I'd just started ground to a halt, when I picked up the third of the Harry Potter-novels and two days later found I had to keep reading right through to the end of the seventh book. I just couldn't stop; I had to know what happened next, and so I finished those five books in just under eight days. I did finish my first week of taking photographs before I became too engrossed in Harry Potter's adventures to care about very much else, though none of these pictures are anything to write home about.

365: days 5, 6 and 7 )

I lost another contact lens today. I only noticed I'd lost it when I closed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the last time at 3:15pm, probably through crying and blowing my nose repeatedly while reading the chapter entitled 'The Prince's Tale'. I've been looking for it everywhere since then, but it seems to have well and truly vanished from the place where I sat reading all that time. If only Accio contact! would work in real life...
gamiila: (book worm)
One of the reasons I've been so quiet lately, apart from being in a black funk over my current no-job situation, is that I have been struggling to finish with the last instalment in Jean Auel's Earth's Children-series, which I started to read 30 years ago. It tells the story of an epic journey (in more ways than one) undertaken by a European Early Modern Human woman, raised by Neanderthals, who 30,000 years ago travels from the Russian steppes to the French southwest, taming animals and inventing things along the way. I loved the first novel, called The Clan of the Cave Bear, and quite enjoyed the next three, but this last one, the final part of the series published 9 years after the fifth, has proved a sore disappointment. It's entitled The Land of Painted Caves, and it certainly holds a lot of descriptions of painted caves within its pages. For roughly 2/3rds of the book, Ayla, the heroine, when she's not making tea, or introducing herself and her tame wolf to new characters who appear and disappear from the narrative with bewildering speed, is looking at cave paintings as part of her training to become her adopted people's holy woman. Repetitive and boring...and so is the last part, in which the plot of one of the earlier books in the series is rehashed: Ayla and her mate Jondalar fail to communicate, but in the end he's the only one who can reach her when she lies in a drug-induced coma and brings her back to the world of the living by the power of his tearful pleading. I wonder how this book ever got past an editor. It's as if the author just couldn't be bothered to bring any kind of structure to the mountain of research that went into the background of it, let alone shape any kind of story to play out in the foreground from it. Utterly disappointing; a sad and unworthy ending to an otherwise mainly enjoyable series.

And now I've set myself the challenge of reading another series of novels this year, ages after everyone else has already done so: I'll be starting on Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in a day or two. First though, Jane Austen and Northanger Abbey, which has been sitting on my nightstand for far too long.
gamiila: (a good read)
I agree that the changes to LJ that have upset half my flist, i.e. the disappearance of the subject line and the Userpics drop-down menu on Comments, have not made things easier for communities or individual users with basic, S1 style accounts. As a paid, S2 style user, I'm not directly affected; but I do think it's shameful how LJ has gone about implementing these changes and has so far failed to respond to the uproar it's created. But my biggest bug bear is the sudden increase in the amount of spam I seem to be receiving lately, all of it Russian, requiring me to go back to entries posted as far back as 2004 and delete these 'comments' from my journal. It wouldn't be so bad if, in the process of cleaning up, I could stop reading these old entries and losing valuable time that I would do better to spend job hunting.

Not that I'll have time to devote myself to that endeavour today, either; as I've arranged to meet a friend in town later on, and go see L'Artiste/The Artist at the art house cinema. I expect this will be the last new release I'll watch in the cinema this year, bringing my total up to 7 (after The King's Speech, Sonny Boy, Black Butterflies, Beginners, Jane Eyre, and Puss in Boots), which considering most years I don't get to see more than 1 or 2 is quite a lot for me. OTOH, it's been a very bad year for gigs, as I've only been to 1 (Mark Knopfler & Bob Dylan), in October.

And I'm behind my pace on my reading this year, too, or so Shelfari informs me every time I log in. Whereas last year, I read over 50 books; in 2011, I didn't manage more than 46.

My year in books )

Again, history and historical fiction made up the bulk of my reading. I can't help it, it's my favourite genre. Sometimes, it works, and works brilliantly (Bernard Cornwell, Glyn Iliffe), and sometimes, it doesn't (Stephanie Dray, Douglas Jackson). A few bargain basement books have been outright disappointments, while others have been real finds; and as for the classics...well, re: Lady Chatterley's Lover, I can't see what all the fuss was about; it's one of the most boring books I've ever had the misfortune to read. Three: Stalking Richard and Judy, Mini Shopaholic, and Good Omens, have been laugh-out-loud; but only one, Egyptian Dawn, has been put-away-in-disgust. The blurb was misleading, stating it dealt with the problem of dating the earliest dynasties (a genuine egyptological subject I have a particular interest in)...in reality, it was another crackpot theorist trying to persuade his readers to believe in Atlanteans and possibly, aliens, as the progenitors of the ancient Egyptian race. It never ceases to amaze me how many people are willing to credit that our ancestors were cretins who couldn't count to ten, let alone work out how to build a pyramid; and then write a book about it.

baa

Mar. 6th, 2011 12:20 pm
gamiila: (a good read)
Book meme, via [livejournal.com profile] dalmeny:

Books I am currently reading: after finishing Valentine Honeyman's Stalking Richard & Judy, an uproariously funny story about a writer obsessed with getting his latest novel onto the R & J booklist, but hardly great literature, I'm now three chapters in to D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover (and yes, it struck me as odd that I hadn't read it before, too). Unless it's for research purposes, I tend to read books sequentially, not simultaneously.

Book I am currently writing: I'm a reader, not a writer.

Books I love most: these would include The Rainbow (D.H. Lawrence), Brideshead Revisited (Evelyn Waugh), The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien), Memoirs of Hadrian (Marguerite Yourcenar), Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Robert M. Pirsig) and God Knows (Joseph Heller); but there are many, many more.

The last book I received as a gift: for some reason people rarely give me books; which is weird as everyone knows I like them. The last time I can recall receiving a book as a gift was for my 40th birthday, Donna Tartt's The Little Friend, in hardcover.

The last book I gave as a gift: not sure. I used to give nothing but books as gifts, but then my family complained, so I stopped doing that. In the last year of his life though, my father asked to bring him something to read and so, knowing the sort of books he'd previously liked, I'd buy him war novels and biographies of generals. We donated them to the home's little in-house library after he died.

The nearest book on my desk: my desk is situated in the study right next to my bookcases full of books on art, architecture, archaeology, history, philosophy, theology, palaeoanthropology and astronomy -- and also my cookery books, travelogues and museum catalogues; so that's hard to answer. There are no books on the desk itself.

Last book I bought for myself: the afore-mentioned Lady Chatterley's Lover, plus Aristocrats. Power, Grace & Decadence (non-fiction) by Lawrence James and Stonehenge (prehistorical fiction) by Bernard Cornwell were all bought yesterday afternoon.
gamiila: (a good read)
What follows is a list of the books I have read, and my review of them, in 2010. Eventhough the year isn't quite finished yet, and I may add one or two more books in the next fortnight, I thought now is as good a time as any to cast my mind back over the reading material I have added to my library this year.

In compiling the list, I was surprised to find that, despite the recent increase in my leisure time and contrary to my intention at the start of 2010, I haven't actually read more than I have in previous years. I blame my general despondency of the last few months for that failure.

To read a book for the first time is to make an acquaintance with a new friend; to read it for a second time is to meet an old one. ~Chinese Saying )

Bookmeme

Aug. 28th, 2010 07:19 pm
gamiila: (Default)
Gakked from [livejournal.com profile] pfeifferpack, who gakked it from someone else: 27 questions and answers re: books.

Read more... )
gamiila: (Default)
Got a letter saying my application for unemployment benefit has been approved, and I can look forward to receiving a monthly pay-out equal to 70% of my previous income over the next 6 months, after which it will be brought down to 60%. But weekends are not included in the calculations so the actual amount will in fact be less than that. Still, it means I won't have to worry about meeting my mortgage payments, while I'll just have to economise on everything else. I've already started on reducing my spending by cancelling all standing orders for donations (sorry, Red Cross/World Wildlife Fund/Brooks Hospital/Greenpeace, but I just can't afford to give money away now), shopping for groceries more sensibly, and walking the 2 miles into town instead of taking the bus. We'll see if it's made a difference by the end of next month, as this month I received my severance and vacation money, and I'm still waiting on news of a small but under the circumstances very welcome tax refund.

One thing I won't be able to economise on though, is books. Those, I can't do without, so this morning I walked into town and got two, which I hope I won't read in one sitting or I'll have to go and get some more by Friday. I suppose I could take out a public library card again (haven't had one since my schooldays), but I prefer owning books to borrowing them, so for now I'll just keep on buying. And of course, I won't be spending any money on shoes before I'm gainfully employed again, or that's the plan. Whether or not I'll stick to it, remains to be seen.

I'm slightly ahead on my reading this year, thanks to the events of four weeks ago. Here we are in week 21, and I'll be starting on my 25th book as soon as I'm done typing this. So far I've read... )
gamiila: (Default)
quoted from Logan Pearsall Smith, Afterthoughts (1931) "Myself"

Gakked from [livejournal.com profile] diachrony, another book meme:

1. A favorite book!
2. A book that affected you in your YA years.
3. A favorite fantasy novel.
4. A favorite sci fi novel.
5. An awesome book (possibly a favorite) you think not many people around you have heard of/read.
6. A book you own more than one copy of.
7. An author whose every single book you own/will buy.
8. The worst book you've ever read.
9. A book you dislike that lots of other people you know like.
10. The most difficult book you've ever read.
11. Tell me what kind of books your mom reads/read.
12. What have you read so far this year?
13. What are you reading now?
14. What are you reading next? (list! list! You know you want to)

Oh for a book and a shady nook...  )
gamiila: (Default)
I should be doing the dishes, but instead I'm following in the majority of my flist's footsteps by filling out this meme:


The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed. Well let's see.

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Put an asterisk next to the books you'd rather shove hot pokers in your eyes than read
5) Reprint this list in your own LJ so we can try and track down these people who've read 6 and force books upon them ;-)

Read more... )
gamiila: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] enigmaticblues asked to know about 5 of my favourite books.

Let me start by saying that I am always reading, and I always carry a book with me, wherever I go. If you are curious to see what kind of books I tend to buy and read, you are welcome to click the link to my Shelfari-page either in this journal's left-hand margin, or here.

When it comes to listing my favourite books, I must admit though that they haven't changed for a great many years. Even though I rarely come across a book I don't like and enjoy most of what I read, the number of books that stand out in my memory and have made it onto my list of absolute favourites remains small...though a little bit bigger than 5.

However, 5 were requested and so 5 I will list (in no particular order of preference, mind you):

1) The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien

When I was a little girl learning to read, I started by reading fairytales. From there I progressed to myths, legends, sagas and epics, and throughout my life, have retained a certain fondness for the genre. Small wonder then, that The Lord of the Rings, with its pages full of fantastical folk and its heroes that seem to have come straight out of Northern European legends appealed to me from the first. I was 16 when I first read the trilogy; I have re-read it many times since then.

2) Ka - Roberto Calasso

Given my predilection for myths and legends and the retelling of them, it's not surprising that the blurb on the jacket of this book, "The very best book about Hindu mythology that anyone has ever written", immediately induced me to buy it. It is a beautifully written compendium of classical Indian literature and sacred Sanskrit texts, presented in the form of a novel of ideas, which tells the story of the creation of the world to the life of the Buddha, and I can recommend it to anyone.

3) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values - Robert M. Pirsig

A friend of mine recommended me this book, way back in the early 80s. Published in 1974, it's a kind of philosophical novel that explores the Metaphysics of Quality, a theory of reality incorporating facets of East Asian philosophy, Pragmatism, the work of F. S. C. Northrop and Indigenous American philosophy. It also describes a motorcycle roadtrip the author took in North Dakota with his 9-year old son and a couple of friends in 1968. I don't claim to understand or agree with all it says, but I still think it's a riveting good read.

4) Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

Also back in the 80s, it was the television adaptation starring Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews that made me want to read this book, and when I did, I understood the story so much better. In effect, it's a romantic tale of how a lonely young man falls in and out of love with a family and their way of life, which is steeped in Catholicism. Himself an agnostic, the young man finds himself both attracted and repelled, and for the most part fails to understand, but years later finally comes to experience the operation of Grace for himself.
As someone who, like Waugh, converted to Catholicism in adulthood, a number of the themes and ideas in this book strike a spark of recognition with me.

5) God Knows - Joseph Heller

To my mind, this is the funniest book I have ever read. In it, the biblical King David looks back on his life and tells it as he thinks it ought to be told -- brutally honest, and with a great deal of humour.

Perhaps it's strange that Dutch books are conspicously absent from my list of favourites. This is not to say that -in my opinion- there aren't any good works of literature in the Dutch language, because nothing could be further from the truth. But it is a sad fact of life that since leaving school, I have had very little occasion or inclination to read any new Dutch books (nor French or German, for that matter). For one thing, Dutch books are prohibitively expensive, and I gave up membership to the public library aeons ago, as I was constantly late returning books to them. For another, it's rather difficult to find anything a little light-hearted and fun; on the whole, Dutch literary works are pretty bleak and pessimistic in tone and setting. Most of the contemporary stuff deals with the war and its immediate aftermath, and as for the books that were written before 1940 -- you only have to take a look at their titles to know they're not exactly what you would call a bundle of laughs. E.g., there's Van de koele meren des doods ('Of the cool lakes of death'; about a society lady's fall from grace and eventual suicide in the last decades of 19th century); or Van oude mensen, de dingen die voorbijgaan ('Of old people, the things that pass'; in which a deep dark family secret casts a blight on the lives of all family members, even those not directly involved); Klaaglied om Agnes ('Lament for Agnes'; in which a young man mourns the passing of his fiancée, who died of tuberculosis...and in one memorable scene in the book, drinks down the sputum she's brought up as a token of his...what -- love? devotion? obsession? or despair?); or even Max Havelaar, of De koffieveilingen der Nederlandse Handelmaatschappij ('Max Havelaar, or The Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company'; which is an indictment of the corruption and abuse of power by the Dutch colonial administration and the indigenous elite in the East Indies of the 1850s, written by a disillusioned and disgraced clerk of that selfsame administration under the pseudonym of Multatuli, or 'I have suffered much').

Having said that, I am now poised to re-read Heere Heeresma's Een dagje naar het strand (i.e., 'A Day at the Beach'), which I found in a bargain basement book sale today. If I remember correctly, it's the sad tale of an alcoholic who takes his handicapped child on an outing to the beach, but then wastes the day in the pub forgetting all about the little girl as he drinks himself into a stupor. In the 30 years since I've last read it, I've forgotten how it ends, so...

So far this year, I've read 11 books...or 10, if you discount Emmanuel Barceló's The Pyramids of Egypt which I didn't take the time to take a closer look at in the bookshop, and then found when I started reading it that it was one of those crackpot theory books about how the pyramids were built by aliens from outer space. I put it away as soon as I realised that was the premise it was going to pursue...I really haven't got time for that sort of thing.

The others are:

Antoinette May, Pilate's Wife - meh;
Anne Enright, The Gathering - equally meh -- why it should have won the Man Booker prize 2007 I honestly couldn't tell you;
Ethel Johnston Phelps, The Maid of the North: Feminist Folk Tales from Around the World - an entertaining read;
Beryl Bainbridge, According to Queeney - much more to my liking;
David Grossman, Lion's Honey. The Myth of Samson - interesting;
Nathaniel Lachenmeyer, 13: The Story of the World's Most Notorious Superstition - which started off okay but became a bit repetitive towards the end;
Louise Welsh, Tamburlaine Must Die - another pleasurable read, dealing with the last 72 hours of the life of the poet/playwright/spy Kit Marlowe;
Nuala O'Faolain, The Story of Chicago May - a biography of sorts of a small-time Irish crook in late 19th century America;
Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad - in which Penelope, in Hades, breaks her silence and gives her version of events told in the Iliad and Odyssey; and
Sophie Kinsella, Shopaholic & Baby - I love the Shopaholic-series, and this one didn't disappoint: Becky Bloomwood is back, and as outrageously funny as in the first 3 books (I didn't like the 4th, Shopaholic And Sister, as much).

Still to be read are:

Orhan Pamuk, The White Castle
Su Tong, Binu and the Great Wall
Roberto Calasso, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmonia
Karen Armstrong, A History of Jerusalem. One City, Three Faiths
gamiila: (Default)
During the last week, I've seen a lot of posts on the Boldthrough 07-debacle on my flist, with many saying they're seriously considering leaving LJ, and setting up accounts at other blogsites just in case.

Me, I'd already set up back-up accounts for myself at both GreatestJournal (at the time of the Infamous Breastfeed Icon Issue) and InsaneJournal (during Strikethrough 07), where my username is the same as it is here, and to which links can be found in my Links List to the right of this entry. However, I must warn you that neither of these boltholes gets updated very much.

Because however bad 6A's communication skills and customer service, which they say is really all this latest ruckus is about, may get, it is as nothing to the enjoyment I get out of my LJ, and I for one will continue to support the site by remaining here as a Paid Member.

And while we're on the subject of elsewheres to be: [livejournal.com profile] hesadevil's shown me the way to a nifty Internet bookshelf on which you can proudly display, debate and discuss ALL your books, however many you may have or wish to show, AT NO COST AT ALL! That's right, it's an absolutely free service!

It's taken me about 4 days to put my books up on their virtual shelf...those that it would recognise from its US\UK database, and that are still in print, that is. My Dutch, French, and German novels will have to remain unlisted for the most part, as will the really specialist works on art, architecture, and archaeology, which I think is a shame, but can't be helped.
gamiila: (Default)
I've been fiddling around with my layout again. The one that looked like it might do late last night, this morning proves completely user-unfriendly, and shan't survive the rest of the day. However, during all my messing about with colours and fonts and backgrounds, I have found out that LJ apparently has a memory for previous layouts; as soon as I select '3-column layout' as default style, it reverts back to my somewhat mournful-looking Ninth Doctor theme and header, complete with custom colour scheme! If all else fails, I could go back to that...but the whole point in me discarding it earlier this month was that I felt it was no longer appropriate -- I haven't really been involved with any particular fandom this year. I do miss it sometimes, the excitement of finding a new fic or fanvid, the looking forward to personal appearances and meeting up with other fans, the sheer indulgence of spending money on it...

Speaking of which, did you know Robin of Sherwood will finally be released on DVD in the US on March 13th, 2007? Just thought I'd mention it.

Of course, looking back on it now, 2006 hasn't been totally devoid of fannish activity on my part: in March and June I saw Depeche Mode on their Playing the Angel Tour (and bought a bag I never use from their official merchandise stand); and in October I followed Common Rotation on their mini-tour of the UK again. All in the company of my very best LJ-friends, too -- what more could anyone wish for?

2006 has also been the Year of the mp3-Player for me: from the moment I acquired it in May till the moment it went and died on me 2 weeks ago, it's not only been my favourite toy, but the one thing that helped keep me sane and keep my spirits up when the daily commute would otherwise have worn me down to nothing. I sent it off to Creative last Friday and they've promised to send me a replacement within the next 10 days, so hopefully I won't have to go back to work with nothing but my book to keep me company on the trains and busses on the way there and back again.

Actually, probably as a direct result of having my Zen with me every day, I haven't read as much as I did before. A mere 27 books have been stored in my bookcase and in my brain this year (or 26, as there was one I found totally unreadable among them):

2006 booklist )
gamiila: (Default)
I'm leaving for Brussels early tomorrow, to spend the weekend there and see what it's like. Possibly also, to practise my French; which I was told the other day, and by a real Frenchman I might add, is very good indeed. He even went so far as to say that my accent sounded genuinely French, and his remarks have boosted my confidence. Maybe I will put in a little more effort this time, and not fall back on English as soon as I can't think of the proper word to use.

This week has been utterly exhausting, but I managed to complete all my tasks a day ahead of schedule, proving once again to myself that I'm really more of the short sharp burst of energy and creativity person than the carefully methodic planner who's got it all worked out before they begin and therefore don't have to run themselves ragged trying to finish on time.

In the chaos of the new product introduction, however, I did find the time to read a novel. This is hardly surprising, as I'm always reading; I'm one of those girls who always carry a book with them wherever they go, but this one was slightly different from the majority of the books I read in that I literally couldn't put it down and therefore finished it in no time, or just a little over 5 hours. The story was a what-if, an imagined exploration of what Peter van Pels's life might have been, could have been like if he'd survived the war and the concentration camp and emigrated to America. Peter van Pels, of course, is the boy who in Anne Frank's diary is referred to as Peter van Daan, the boy who with his parents and one other man went into hiding with the Franks. If you ever get the chance to pick up a copy of The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank by Ellen Feldman, pick it up and read it.

I also managed to see A History Of Violence, which all the critics raved about and which sounded like a good film a little while ago. And it was a good film, although at the end of it, I had to admit that really, the plot raises more questions than it answers.

Of course, with me being in Belgium for the next two days means I won't see Doctor Who tomorrow, but I'm strangely okay with that. Somehow, this present series, and the present Doctor, can't get me as excited as the last one, and not even the promise of ASH and Sarah Jane Smith can alter that.
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It's taken me the better part of two days to put the contents of only four of my bookshelves into the cataloguing system of LibraryThing, and to what end? I don't know. I was bored! But now I've hit my limit of 200 free entries, and I've got so many more books, all clamouring for the same attention. Do I fork out $10 to keep going, or do I leave it?

Also, I feel strangely put out that of the 200 titles I've just entered, only 7 are shared with other 'librarians'. Perhaps I should have started on my collection of literature and pulp, then I wouldn't have felt like such a geek...I hope.
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I don't mind books becoming best-sellers, and I don't mind best-sellers becoming a hype. I do mind when the hype becomes so prevalent that everyone in my immediate vicinity starts not only to read the best-seller in question, but to believe implicitly in the veracity of it (simply because the author claims that it is based on all kind of historical fact), and recommends that I should read it, too -- their ulterior motive that I may come to see the error of my way in originally rejecting it.

And so, against my better judgment, I've started on Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. I seriously doubt I'll ever finish it. I'll not contest that the book has merit -- as a murder mystery, it may even be good (although I wouldn't know, as I'm not normally drawn to murder mysteries and don't have much experience of them). What makes the book unreadable to me is the representation of the 'facts' on which its whole premise is based, which are anything but.

Perhaps I should explain: at university where I majored in both History of Art and (Classical) Archaeology, I minored in such disciplines as philosophy, theology, byzantinology and judaica. The history of the early church and indeed, of Christianity, has always been a particular interest of mine. I read Greek and some Hebrew...or I used to, 20 years ago. I have studied many an ancient text dealing with the question of how Jesus was divine, exactly. I'm familiar with the controversy between (the followers of) Arius and Athanasius, between the question whether his divinity was to be understood as homoiousios or homoousios, and about the Council of Nicaea called by Constantine the Great, that established the orthodox view to be the homoousios-one: Jesus Christ was/is both God and Man in equal, yet separate, measure.

This is all included as the historical background to The Da Vinci Code -- but in a very twisted and in some cases, demonstrably incorrect, way. Dan Brown makes his characters believe, (and through them, some of his readership as well), that Constantine was an evil genius who gave us our present-day Bible, suppressing certain gospels that weren't to his taste and calling the Council of Nicaea to proclaim Jesus's divinity; that he was a lifelong pagan who only promoted Christianity for opportunistic reasons ('backing the winning horse') -- ignoring the fact that the Christians made up only a tiny, and moreover, persecuted minority of the Roman Empire's population at the time of his conversion, which took place on the eve of the battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 AD. And I know he's also wrong when he claims that the Dead Sea scrolls hold gospels and the story of the Grail. They're not Christian, but Jewish documents containing all the books of the Old Testament except for Esther, and other, apocalyptic-messianic texts -- but none of them mention Jesus or his ministry. And he's wrong when he refers to the Nag Hammadi library as having been written on scrolls, too -- those books, in fact, are codices.

From what I've read of this book, it reminds me of nothing so much as of that BBC documentary which was broadcast sometime in the 80s, and the book that was somehow tied in with that (in my mind at least), Holy Blood & Holy Grail, I think it was called. In it, it was claimed that a bloodline had been preserved from JC, via the Merovingian kings of the early Middle Ages, to the present day. What a nonsense! Anyone tracing their family tree back more than 16 generations ends up with over a million forebears already. Tracing it back to one particular Jew who lived and died 2000 years ago is a complete impossibility. I remember I put that book away in disgust, too -- and had a quiet chuckle when, some years later, I read in the papers that the person claiming to be that 'direct descendant' had since been sent to prison for fraud.

Throughout the 90s, a lot of other books were published that tied in Leonardo da Vinci with secret societies and/or the Priory of Sion. As far as I know, there's never been any real proof for this association. It seems to me that whenever someone wants to launch another crackpot theory, and get it talked about, they claim Leonardo had something to do with it.

::re-reads post from the beginning::

I think I'd better stop this pointless critique here -- I'm sure I stand revealed as a total geek enough already...and besides, I haven't finished the book yet. I may be premature and unnecessarily harsh in my criticism. What do I know of anything, anyway? Maybe I misinterpretated the documents I was studying all those years ago, or was told lies in order to perpetuate the myth of Christianity's beginnings.
gamiila: (Default)
Yesterday, one of my colleagues asked if she could borrow my CoRo-CDs. Today, after my having handed them over, she blithely informs me that she's taking a short break and won't be able to give them back to me until the end of next week!

I hate lending stuff. Past experience has taught me that you can never be sure if and when you'll get it back, or in what state. The number of books I've lost! But when someone asks me to allow them to use my most prized possessions, I'm too bloody polite to say no.

I'm a push-over. A doormat. A mouse -- so how come this isn't reflected in the outcome of this supposedly ultimate personality quiz?

20 Questions to a Better Personality )

Hmmm. I read Ayn Rand years ago, back in my uni days. The Fountainhead -- saw the movie as well. It's a story about an architect swimming against the current, sticking his neck out, risking ruin yet persevering in his ideal: to build a modern highrise. I was young and impressionable, so on my first reading of the novel, I thought it was terrifically inspiring. Then I came across the book again some time ago, had nothing better to do, opened it...and couldn't finish it. Really, it's the most utter tripe.
gamiila: (Default)
The next morning, Arina came to pick us up and drive us to the airport -- we made good time and got there around noon. The place was swamped with security and police armed with some serious looking guns. All to do with Bush's visit, although I wasn't aware that he'd chosen to land at Luton ;-)...We checked in and then spent the next 40 minutes duty free shopping. Apart from the usual cosmetics and perfumes, I picked up a floppy hat from Accessorize and a book detailing the medical history/pathology of the British kings and queens from Harold Godwinsson to George VI...nice and morbid! Of course, I already knew that Edward II died from the insertion of a red-hot poker up his bum, but I hadn't really thought about the method required to get that poker there, and what it did to his rectum.

At Schiphol, Anneke and I went our separate ways. The cats were beside themselves with joy when I crossed my own threshold again, and I soon felt right at home.

Went back to work the next day, and from that moment on it was the same old, same old...Holland beat Scotland 6-0 in the play-offs, which means football mania will hit again next summer, Wednesday's anti-Bush rally brought a record 70,000 protesters to London on a weekday, and two more bombs exploded in Istanbul. Saturday's bombings had left us reeling when we were informed that they had claimed the life of a friend of one of Bobby's business partners' sister; this just made everything worse. I spent some time in Istanbul back in 1986; I can't imagine what devastation the bombings have created.

On a cheerier note, if there's one film you're going to see this Christmas, make it Love Actually. I went to see it yesterday and I have never laughed so loud. It's the ultimate feel good-movie this year, and the cast is awesome. When I woke up this morning, I was still smiling...

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