Author Topic: What are you currently reading?  (Read 942204 times)

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Offline Florestan

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10000 on: July 12, 2020, 04:15:42 AM »
Yes, more true perhaps. You must be far less tolerant that I am  ;D

I don't know how tolerant you are, but I am very much so --- precisely because I think that human nature hasn't changed much over the millennia.  ;)

What I am indeed intolerant about, is grand, universal and rational schemes and plans for making the world a paradise on earth --- they invariably end up turning it into hell.  ;D

"Melody is the essence of music." --- Mozart

Offline Florestan

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10001 on: July 12, 2020, 04:22:20 AM »
Ah, ok. You also never got to the part about Levin which I didn't like, which is that at the end he ceases to be witty, becomes preachy, and gives up his power to become a farmer with the peasants, and then there's a whole long section about how to operate a farm which is rather boring. We are meant to take the moral that rich people should give up their wealth and return to the earth, but Tolstoy doesn't really consider whether this idea actually makes the world better, or whether it simply allows people like Levin to escape their own guilt feelings.

I think Levin and Kitty are the most humane, likeable and interesting characters of the novel, far more so than the main ones. I mean, really: a shallow, womanizing officer seducing and abandoning the bored wife of a bore? They are both a dime a dozen, but how many Kittys and Levins do you know?
"Melody is the essence of music." --- Mozart

Offline aligreto

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10002 on: July 12, 2020, 04:36:48 AM »
I don't know how tolerant you are, but I am very much so --- precisely because I think that human nature hasn't changed much over the millennia.  ;)

What I am indeed intolerant about, is grand, universal and rational schemes and plans for making the world a paradise on earth --- they invariably end up turning it into hell.  ;D


I would like to think that I have mellowed with age but you would really have to ask my wife about that  ;D
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.

Offline AlberichUndHagen

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10003 on: July 12, 2020, 04:47:38 AM »
Didn't Tolstoy base the character of Levin on himself?

Another character I really enjoyed was Stiva Oblonsky. I know that he's not particularly a good man (he's a faithless womanizer after all) but somehow his joviality kind of wins me over.

Offline Florestan

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10004 on: July 12, 2020, 04:51:51 AM »
Didn't Tolstoy base the character of Levin on himself?

Most probably.
"Melody is the essence of music." --- Mozart

Offline Florestan

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10005 on: July 12, 2020, 04:54:01 AM »

I would like to think that I have mellowed with age but you would really have to ask my wife about that ;D

Never a good move that, deferring one's appreciation, or lack thereof, to one's wife.  ;D
"Melody is the essence of music." --- Mozart

Offline Florestan

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10006 on: July 12, 2020, 05:27:29 AM »
Now that I think of it, I associate Tchaikovsky with Turgenev and Chekhov, Mussorgsky with Dostoyevsky and Balakirev with Tolstoy. What do you guys think?
"Melody is the essence of music." --- Mozart

Offline aligreto

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10007 on: July 12, 2020, 06:29:20 AM »
Never a good move that, deferring one's appreciation, or lack thereof, to one's wife.  ;D

Too true, my friend. A bad move really. One does not know the level of retort that one will receive  ;D
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.

Offline Florestan

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10008 on: July 12, 2020, 06:36:01 AM »
Too true, my friend. A bad move really. One does not know the level of retort that one will receive  ;D

There's a Romanian joke.

Two old friends who had not met for a very long time meet in a bar. After a few drinks, one of them says:

"You know, my friend, I got married! I tell you, my wife is an angel!"

To which the other one replies:

"Yeah, I can see where you're coming from! My wife is no human being either!"


 ;D ;D ;D

(I'm being unfair here, my wife is really a wonderful human being.  ;) )
"Melody is the essence of music." --- Mozart

Offline aligreto

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10009 on: July 12, 2020, 08:18:21 AM »
There's a Romanian joke.

Two old friends who had not met for a very long time meet in a bar. After a few drinks, one of them says:

"You know, my friend, I got married! I tell you, my wife is an angel!"

To which the other one replies:

"Yeah, I can see where you're coming from! My wife is no human being either!"


 ;D ;D ;D

(I'm being unfair here, my wife is really a wonderful human being.  ;) )

Wonderful; I enjoyed the subtlety of that.  ;D

I would also unreservedly publicly confess that my wife is definitely the better half.  ;)
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.

Offline Florestan

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10010 on: July 12, 2020, 08:38:30 AM »
Wonderful; I enjoyed the subtlety of that.  ;D

I would also unreservedly publicly confess that my wife is definitely the better half.  ;)

Given that the Celts inhabited a good part of present day Romania back then, there's no wonder!  ;)

b’fhéidir gur deartháireacha muid:-*
"Melody is the essence of music." --- Mozart

Offline Brian

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10011 on: July 12, 2020, 09:04:49 AM »
They are both a dime a dozen, but how many Kittys and Levins do you know?
The American educated left (of which I am a member lol) has a great many Levins, rich people who think they know how to help the poor, and develop elaborate theories to do so, without actually asking the poor themselves about it.

Offline Florestan

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10012 on: July 12, 2020, 09:23:01 AM »
The American educated left (of which I am a member lol) has a great many Levins, rich people who think they know how to help the poor, and develop elaborate theories to do so, without actually asking the poor themselves about it.

Oh, I am absolutely sure about it and I take your word for it, but they are no Levin at all, at all! --- how many of them really do quit their well paid jobs as professors, journalists, psychologists, government clerks etc etc etc whatever, and take to the fields as mere farmers? You see, Tolstoy / Levin was sincere, he eventually practiced what he preached and died in the process. The American educated left on the contrary is as insincere as it gets, not a single one of them would take the Tolstoy/ Levin route; they talk the talk ad nauseam but they never walk the walk. They are all a bunch of hypocrites. If you, Brian, are any different, then kudos to you and my apologies.  ;D

I am reminded of Solzhenitsyn's commentary upon Chekhov's Three Sisters: We want to work, work, work! --- okay, just go working, damn you, who the hell  hinders you from working, damn you?  ;D ;D ;D
« Last Edit: July 12, 2020, 10:01:27 AM by Florestan »
"Melody is the essence of music." --- Mozart

Offline aligreto

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10013 on: July 12, 2020, 01:08:40 PM »

b’fhéidir gur deartháireacha muid:-*

b’fhéidir gur bhfuil sin ceart, a chara  ;)
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.

Offline Brian

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10014 on: July 12, 2020, 01:33:43 PM »
Oh, I am absolutely sure about it and I take your word for it, but they are no Levin at all, at all! --- how many of them really do quit their well paid jobs as professors, journalists, psychologists, government clerks etc etc etc whatever, and take to the fields as mere farmers? You see, Tolstoy / Levin was sincere, he eventually practiced what he preached and died in the process. The American educated left on the contrary is as insincere as it gets, not a single one of them would take the Tolstoy/ Levin route; they talk the talk ad nauseam but they never walk the walk. They are all a bunch of hypocrites. If you, Brian, are any different, then kudos to you and my apologies.  ;D
I don't follow Levin because I don't see that it actually helps society. It makes him personally feel better, but it doesn't bring about systemic change.

(A modern Levin might be the philosopher Peter Singer, who argues that nobody should accumulate wealth while other people are poor.)

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10015 on: July 13, 2020, 01:06:13 AM »
Why don't you go for Turgenev? His novels are not intimidating bricks, his insights are just as interesting as Dostoyevsky's and Tolstoy's and imho he's more delicate, warm, humane and fun to read than both. Ditto for Chekhov's short stories and novellas.

I read both Turgenev (Fathers & Sons) and Chekhov (a bunch of plays), and some stories by Gogol for that matter, back in college. I took a great Russian lit class that was one of the highlights of my time there, as far as classes go. But I would love to reread some of that stuff. Thanks for the suggestions.

I just finished Becket's Waiting for Godot for the first time. Very silly stuff.

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10016 on: July 13, 2020, 01:21:31 AM »
This site  has free online versions of both books along with every analysis that has ever been published, although it may take a while to find

Hahaha  ;D My brother sent this to me too when he saw I was reading Borges.

Offline Florestan

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10017 on: July 13, 2020, 02:51:54 AM »
I don't follow Levin because I don't see that it actually helps society. It makes him personally feel better, but it doesn't bring about systemic change.

I think the main reason you don't follow Levin is that you have no interest in, or calling for, being a farmer to begin with.  :)

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(A modern Levin might be the philosopher Peter Singer, who argues that nobody should accumulate wealth while other people are poor.)

He argues, but does he apply the theory to himself? I'm sure that compared to the poor in Subsaharan Africa Singer is super-rich. Is he willing to renounce his wealth? Why of course not, let others more rich than him begin. You see, Singer is that kind of guy who knows exactly what everybody else should do but he won't do it himself unless everybody else really does it. He talks the talk (and the talk is quite lucrative, actually) but he doesn't walk the walk. This is the hypocrisy I was alluding to. Levin, on the other hand, naive and idealist as he is, practices what he preaches and does himself what he would like others to do without waiting for everybody else to do it. He is honest and sincere. Fiurthermore, Singer is quite totalitarian with his universal prescriptions (which he doesn't follow himself), while Levin wishes to persuade by personal example and acts according to his own theory.They couldn't be more different.
"Melody is the essence of music." --- Mozart

Offline Brian

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10018 on: July 13, 2020, 03:57:29 AM »
Do you actually know all of that about Singer, or are you just guessing?

Offline Florestan

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10019 on: July 13, 2020, 04:57:29 AM »
Do you actually know all of that about Singer, or are you just guessing?

I'm guessing that the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and a Laureate Professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne and a former chair of the philosophy department at Monash University and the aiuthor of numerous books and articles has a standard of living which, in comparison to, say, the poor of Uganda or Burundi, can be described as rich and accumulated wealth.

Look, I'm not faulting him for that, it would be the top of absurdity. What I take issues with is this:

Quote
Peter Singer [...] argues that nobody should accumulate wealth while other people are poor.

This is never going to happen, ever, period. It's just unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky rhetoric. Arguing it might make Singer feel better (just as Levin felt better working the fields) but it won't bring about any systemic change, to use your own words.  :)

(We've drifted way off topic, we should actually stop.)

"Melody is the essence of music." --- Mozart