Film Review: Catch-22

Denial. Deep down most men are embarrassed at themselves and their condition, they know that they are unhappy, ashamed of the bad decisions that they have made that instead of admitting and changing, they continue, prolong, persevere until finally their efforts to convince others that they are happy makes them believe that they must be doing the right thing. He finally succumbs to madness.

Those of us who cling onto life, who value the goodness of justice and of righteousness, we see this madness everywhere, in everyone, the lies and falseness, the pretending, and despite the attempt to escape from the jaws of its hopelessness, the existential abyss is always ready to consume our every effort to channel moral goodness and what is right.

“Me: happy happy happy. Dead. You: worry worry worry. Dead. Don’t drag me into your shit.”

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Book Review: Metamorphosis

One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff sections. The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready to slide off any moment. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he looked.”

Franz Kafka is an incredible writer and one of my favourite novellas, Metamorphosis, stands out as a masterpiece in twentieth century literature. The emotional response that I felt when I completed it was similar to the anime film Grave of the Fireflies where for several days I felt a heavy melancholy, a deep ache within me at the highly imaginative manner in which Kafka was able to portray his existential pain, his isolation and the longing that he felt to connect with his loved ones. The bug both conveys the grotesque image of the impotence he felt together with how his family came to see him as vermin for failing to live up to their expectations. Read More

Book Review: Ethical Writings of Maimonides

For centuries, from Aristotle to Confucius, Aquinas and Thoreau, moral philosophers have endorsed the idea that a balanced, moderate regularity of character is an important step towards genuine happiness, that excess or deficiency of any sort and the failure to attain a principled attitude toward guiding and cultivating the self toward this mean will lead to the reverse. Thus, one who leads a life attempting to walk down this dutiful path toward a balanced and constant frame of mind is demonstrative of a noble and even a superior person. As said by Socrates, “with his eyes fixed on the nature of his soul, naming the worse life that which will tend to make it more unjust and the better that which will make it more just… all other considerations he will dismiss, for we have seen that this is the best choice.”[i] This choice to lead a life of virtue and justice and abandoning all that is vulgar, vulgarity being interpreted as “the masses and the most vulgar seem – not unreasonably – to believe that the good or happiness is pleasure. Accordingly they ask for nothing better than the life of enjoyment,”[ii] will allow one to adopt a standard that will link them closer to what is beautiful, namely love and honesty.

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I Shall Not Hate

Book Review
Izzeldin Abuelaish
I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey On The Road To Peace And Human Dignity
ISBN: 978-1-4088-2209-8

I found myself in a fairly difficult situation when I initially encountered this book. That staunch determinism in the face of such horrendous circumstances came to me as being both admirable and inspirational in as much as it was frustrating and almost agitating. Could there possibly be any logic or reason that could make a man who experienced continuous mistreatment under Israeli occupation, who lost several of his daughters to indiscriminate bombings by the Israeli army and yet who remained dedicated to the concept of peaceful relations between the Palestinian and Israeli people? Surely something is wrong with him, something that has deluded him into occupying a mindset that makes no sense, that his idealism and optimism is an exposure of a failing psychological condition? Read More

Book Review: The Master and Margarita

I believe that genuine love between two people is possible. Any attempt I make to express this always appears inadequate and yet, images of a breathtaking dance as two melt through and into one another, magnetic lips fastening as a voltaic current sweeps through the body until it ends as both whisper to one another face to face deep into the night, her fingers intertwined through his as she draws her nose towards his neck, her hair gliding down over his chest as she slips away into a long and safe sleep. But they are dreams that cause me nothing but anguish as I can never truly explain the authenticity, the existential aesthetic, the timelessness and whether it is merely me and only me that can love as deeply as I know I can feel. But to reach that authenticity, one needs to truly understand themselves and to understand God or that we are in a universe much greater than we can ever comprehend. When I read the following by Mikhail Bulgakov in his novel The Master and Margarita it almost clearly explained how I felt about the eternal and the indestructable that is expressed between two genuine people who meet one another: Read More