Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sonata For a Good Man

There has only been one book that I remember, whose last page I turned and thought, 'I will read this book again'. The book was Atlas Shrugged. As I was reading it, I was folding pages to keep track of paragraphs that I had read and re-read, but wanted to come back to.

I read user comments about it on amazon later on. People either found it depressing or inspiring. In both cases, most people loved the book. I am in the depressing-book camp - it paints a very grim picture of society without much sense of hope. I wish, really wish I had found it inspiring.

I wonder what psychologists have to say about the discongruent congruency of readers' opinions.

Every so often I've paid my dues as a movie junkie - good ones and bad ones. Unless due to extenuating circumstances, I always finish watching them. Tonight's movie is the only one I can recall that I finished and couldn't wait to see it again. It's called Lives of Others.

Funny. It views like 'Our Lives'. I could almost hear the movie in Amharic, eventhough I was too young at the peak of Dergue and Dehnenet. If I spoke the language, I could hear the movie in Mandarin too. And Polish. And Bulgarian, and Russian ... and all those other languages in which people were too afriad to admit that they were afriad.

Georg Dreyman reminded me of Abe Gubegna. And Bealu Girma. I can't find the exact quote now Nelson Mandela is quoted to have said, 'If you don't have something to die for, then you've no reason to live'. How few those who lived for a reason. How extraordinarily rare those who who lived to say they lived for a reason.

HGW XX/7 reminded me of a conversation I recently had. It was one of those nothing-really-matters-distress topics. The question was if, as we grow older, we are giving up on our dreams and our sense of purpose, or desire to look for a purpose to replace them by "maturity" - a state of resignation and apathy. How many generations of dinner parties have discussed that exact topic? Perhaps the saying, 'if you're not a liberal at 25, you've no heart. if you're not a conservative at 40, you've no brain' is telling. Years pass, ideals break, responsibilities rise, children grow, time crawls onto the next cylce. But not to despair - somebody pulled an Oprah line, that you don't have to impact a whole nation or half the world - you can make a difference in the life of one person . We laughed it off, saying that that is one of the worst and most common excuses for having children.

Except now it doesn't seem so funny.

I thought the 'Good morning, sun' joke was very funny.

Talking of Abe Gubegna:

Every day in Africa a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows that it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.
When the sun comes up, you better be running.

Abe Gubegna
Ethiopia, circa 1974

As recited to me by a cab driver in Washington DC

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