Archive for February, 2015

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Money and the Modern Mind: Georg Simmel’s Philosophy of Money

February 27, 2015

Money and the Modern Mind: Georg Simmel's Philosophy of MoneyAt first, I approached this book because I am looking for an easier introduction before I tackle The Philosophy of Money (believe me, it is a difficult book to read). But, it didn’t turned out as I expected. I want to read Philosophy of Money because I am interested in, well, “money”. What Poggi offered is a bit different…

Poggi only discussed about money thoroughly in this book in ONE CHAPTER. The rests are the historical context of the book, the philosophical genealogy, and the impact of money to the modernity, as suggested in the title. Poggi is trying to put Simmel in a proper place among other sociological thinker, and he is doing it quite well. It is just that is not what I am looking for.

So, if you are looking for a genealogy of Simmel’s thought in Philosophy of Money, this book is perfect for you. But, if you are looking for a companion to read Philosophy of Money, like what I am trying to do, you would be disappointed.

My suggestion, if you want to read Philosophy of Money, read it right away. You can skip Poggi’s work. You are not going to miss much.

three star

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The Egg

February 11, 2015

17563539This is a short story, that you can read for free from the Internet (http://www.galactanet.com/oneoff/theegg_mod.html). It is written by the new sci-fi sensation, Andy Weir. Although he is a sci-fi writer, I am not going to categorize this short story as a sci-fi. It is more a made up spiritualist story like a Coelho’s one.

The short story is really really short, using a common short story standard. Being a short one, there are not much to tell, and the author hit the sweet spot right away, with a twist in the end.

I cannot really discuss this short story without spoiling it, actually, so here we go…

WARNING, DO NOT READ THIS SPOILER IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE SHORT STORY, IT WILL SPOIL EVERYTHING SINCE THE STORY IS VERY SHORT.

SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER
In the beginning it thought it is going to be a common after-life story, plus the meeting Your Creator, but not quite the ever-judging Abrahamaic God, but the indifference Hindu-Buddhist God (if you can call it “a God”). But in the end, it quite shocked me: the entire UNIVERSE is actually is just AN EGG, with me as the center.

Well, if you are not surprised enough, let me rephrase it. The entire universe is created ENTIRELY for me, as a playground for me to evolve until I reach my Godhood, which will let me to bring about another EGG UNIVERSE for another being to evolve within. This is quite a solipsistic philosophy with a twist.

So, everything that is good or bad in this universe, is created by me, only me. So I am Hitler, Caligula, Jesus, Martin Luther, the Playboy Bunnies, a no-one sitting next to me at the bus stop. They are all: “I”. If I did something good, I did it to myself, I I did something bad, I did it to myself. This is also quite a twist from the Christian teaching: “Everything that you did to my humblest servants, you did it to me,” said Jesus.

In the end this kind of story is the kind of story that provokes thought, not that you read for the plot. I actually want to give it FOUR, but being to short for any literary merit, I can give it only a THREE.

three star

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Half A King

February 4, 2015

23016966Half a King definitely set a new high bar in YA fantasy, that is going to be difficult for other works to follow, maybe including himself.

The story starts with a monarchy crisis following the dead of the king, and the heir, leaving the unexpected in line, Yarvi, a prince with crooked hand, to be raised as the new king, the Half a King.

The world building is Nordic, Viking type. But the socio-religion is a mix of Mediterannean and Northern Europe. The life is full with raiding party, but the trade is also lucrative. Slavery exists, if not rampant. All the region in Shattered Sea submitted to one High King, with several vassal as subject. Some regions are ruled by barbarians and do not bow to anyone (maybe with a price).

Despite aimed for YA, this novel did not follow the common trait of YA fantastic fiction. It is not tuned down for the half-a-wit readers, despite the title. It does not have the uber-romantic-love-triangle. It does not have Mary-Sue character. It does not have the typical teenage angst. In short, it is just as good as the First Law series, only shorter. And since it is shorter, the level of complexity is also reduced, but still to an acceptable level. The only thing that is tuned down is the violence.

The main power of this novel is its plot. Despite using just one POV, the main character POV, the novel is quite enjoyable. Using just one POV also provides an advantage; the main character is oblivious to the development of the story beyond him, which makes him vulnerable. Of course, it has several disadvantages also; the level of complexity is reduced, we have only one character scheming while the other characters waits.

It looks like that Abercrombie has a tender spot for cripples and bastards and broken things, to quote Tyrion Lannister. Yarvi is physically flawed, just like Sand dan Glokta in the First Law series. But the mind is the weapon, and he is wielding his weapon with expertise. And of course we love a smart and cunning character. But even with all the brain in the world, we are all under the spell of fate, which gives us no escape from it.

One additional praise to Abercrombie, I like that he reversed the common role of deity in this novel. The warlike is depicted as a female trait, while the peaceful to male. Sun is also a male, and moon is a male. Interesting!

I actually wants to give this novel only a four star, but the last chapter really hooked me as a bitter sweet ending, and I finally upgraded it to FOUR AND A HALF STAR, rounded down to FOUR STAR. Well, there is still room for improvement…

four star