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12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson (Penguin Random House, 2018)

"Chaos is the domain of ignorance itself. It’s unexplored territory" - Jordan B. Peterson.
"Chaos is order yet undeciphered" - José Saramago (The Double)

jordanThe book ambitiously seeks to find common ground between a series of dichotomies such as crime vs punishment, Christianity vs Atheism, sacrifice vs impulsiveness, constraint vs liberty, fidelity vs promiscuity and, most important of all, order vs chaos.

It is the work of Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, a clinical psychologist  and professor of psychology who has taught at Harvard and Toronto universities.

More by design than accident, Peterson has become a key social media influencer thanks to numerous TV appearances plus a series of university and public lectures posted on You Tube. The book summarizes his core beliefs and advocates rules which he maintains will help us become better citizens with the added advantage of helping to fulfill our ambitions.

He states that “making your life better means adopting a lot of responsibility, and that takes more effort and care than living stupidly in pain and remaining arrogant, deceitful and resentful.” Central to his argument is that the weak are lured by the promise of unfettered freedom which only leads to chaotic, self destructive habits. View full article »

Burning down the house

LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng (Penguin Press, 2017)

220px-little_fires_everywhereWhen I first saw the cover of this book, it brought to mind the artwork for ‘Everything That Happens Will happen Today’ , an album by David Byrne and Brian Eno released in 2008. This association proved to be not so wide of the mark. David Byrne’s work with Talking Heads often cast a sardonic eye on suburban living. In ‘The Big Country’, for instance, he gazed down from an airplane at the neat houses and comfortable urban amenities below and concluded “I wouldn’t live there if you paid me to”.

Celeste Ng is not quite so scathing in the way she presents Shaker Heights in Cleveland, Ohio but, equally, she is not blind to the faults of a community that smugly prides itself on having a plan for anything and doesn’t see race.

This is “a town built for cars and for people who had cars” and a place where “an un-mowed lawn would result in a polite but stern letter from the city”. Anything regarded as a flaw to the domestic perfection is regarded as a threat. View full article »

Screen shot 2019-12-31 at 18.08.08Since 2013 I have set myself a challenge of reading 50 books a year and then I track my progress on Good Reads.

I fell three short in the first year but have hit my target ever since. This year I gave the maximum five star rating to six titles: View full article »

Music highs of 2019

weird-banjo-pic-copyFor me 2019 was not a particularly memorable year for music. I found pleasure in some old favorites but made no significant new discoveries.
Mostly, female artists struck the strongest chords with me. Billie Eilish’s debut ‘When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go’ and Lana Del Ray’s ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’ were rightly rated highly in many ‘best of’ lists.
I wrote around 10 reviews a month for Whisperin’ & Hollerin’ , about half of my output from the previous year. View full article »

I am re-blogging this appreciation of ‘Lanark’ in honor of Alasdair Gray who has sadly passed away at the age of 85. He was a genuine original who will be sorely missed.

ANIMAL MY SOUL

LANARK by Alasdair Gray (Canongate, 1981)

lanark1

If anybody denies that Lanark is a work of genius, that man or woman is not be trusted. If that same person says that it is a work of madness, you might concede that he or she has a point.

It is, by now,  common knowledge that the line between the two concepts – genius and madness – is a fine one. Navigating life can be defined in terms of such a fine line. Imagine a tightrope walker moving between two points without the security or consolation of a safety net. On false step could prove fatal and the safest option of all is not to start the walk from point A to point B in the first place.

Fortunately, enough humans have an inbuilt drive to do things that  have not been done before.  Convention tends to stifle such urges but the risk takers…

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