Category: Books


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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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: Continue reading

THE IRISHMAN directed by Martin Scorsese (USA, 2019)
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Will there be mobster movies in heaven? If so, Martin Scorsese is sure to be the director. Of course, he’d insist on there being an afterlife ban on watching his work on mobile phones and would personally see to it that any films based on Marvel comics were cast into the fiery pits of hell. Netflix would be allowed through the pearly gates as a reward for stumping up the cash for his latest movie.

I find it ironic that Scorsese is now keen to dictate what and how we should be consuming movies in the 21st century.  He is quick to mount his moral high horse even though the charge of glamorizing unscrupulous criminals and cold-blooded killers is one he would be hard pressed to dismiss. I’m sure Mafia members are among his biggest fans.

‘The Irishman’ is a true crime caper in a similar vein to ‘Goodfellas’ (1990) .  Like that movie, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci have starring roles and the same narrative technique of a start to finish voiceover is deployed. This is a device I usually find irritating and this film is no exception. I believe a story should speak for itself in cinematic terms rather than relying on a constant running commentary. Continue reading

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