Friday, March 25, 2022

Hard boiled wonderland and the end of the world - Murakami Haruki

Murakami, buy-one-get-one-free option. Two stories told through alternating chapters. The first one is based, as usual in Murakami's novels, in a slightly dystopian version of modern day Japan, where two powerful organizations are fighting an all-out cyber-war, and a band of invisible mutants roam around a web of tunnels connected to Tokyo's subway system. The second one takes place in a totally fictional world, a walled city inhabited by unicorns and people deprived of both heart and shadow. At the end of the book Murakami unveils the connection between the two plots, and the fictional world turns out to be a product of the mind of the first story’s protagonist. A bit confusing sometimes, still an intriguing and creative novel though.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

A history of Western philosophy - Bertrand Russel, Sophie's world - Jostein Gaarder

These books offer two different approaches to anyone who wants to be introduced to western philosophy. They both range from the Greek Pre-Socratics to contemporary German, French and English speaking thinkers. One of them even gets to talk about the Big Bang Theory.
“Sophie’s world” is genius, no wonder it’s been a worldwide success among readers of all ages and walks of life, although it deals with such a tough topic. Jostein Gaarder decided that the best way to introduce new people to philosophy is by telling them a fictional story. It is a marvelous and instructive voyage through western philosophy that also deals with tangent topics such as reality and illusion, wonder and indifference, compassion and suffering.
Bertrand Russel’s work, on the other hand, is a classic, a traditional overview of western philosophy written by one of the greatest contemporary thinkers. Yet, it’s not just a didactic and detached textbook. Russel is original and bold, unafraid to tell us that a great master has made a gross mistake or inspired tyrants and warmongers. Plus, even though it is much more challenging than Gaarder’s book, it’s not inaccessible to people who are not familiar with the subject.
Philosophy is one of the best topic I know. If you’re new to it take your pick. Or, better even, read them both!