Sunday, January 7, 2018

Dan Brown's Origin

The year started well for me. I finally finished reading a few books that were on my reading list. "Origin" by Dan Brown was one of them. I bought the British version of the book while in Europe in December and started reading it right away, but was interrupted for a few days. Christmas, New Year... Things can get very busy at the end of the year, and you do not even notice how time flies. 

"Origin" is Brown's fifth book in the Robert Langdon series and you cannot help, but visualize Tom Hanks and Penelope Cruz or Selma Hayek while reading it.  If you are a clever reader you will figure out the plot before you get to chapter fifty, and even if you do, the book is still fun to read.

I do not want to spoil it for you and reveal too much, but if you like the genre, modern art, Spain, AI, quantum computers, and Dan Brown's writing, you will enjoy reading this book and forgive the author minor issues you might have with the text. If you know Gaugin's art, for instance, you might find the explanation redundant, but a reader not so familiar with Modernism might be grateful for the introduction. Etc. etc. etc.

The "big" issue that his protagonist Mr. Kirsch is trying to solve is for you to ponder. Where do we come from? Where are we going? Religion, science, technology, transhumanism... think between the lines. The never ending intellectual war between the atheist proponents of evolution and the religious creationist zealots cannot be resolved no matter how many books are written on the subject. The divide is fundamental. The battle for God continues while the search for the first cause is an ongoing scientific project. 

Some critics called the book moronic forgetting that it is just a fantasy set up in familiar places. For a more profound approach you will have to resolve to reading works of philosophy.

I think, Brown does a nice job in popularizing certain issues that are still neglected by vast sectors of society. But maybe I am mistaken. Maybe gender and social justice is all that counts. As you advance into the future, cellphone in hand, your intellectual horizon may become very narrow, indeed.

The Reader

Copyright Dominique Allmon©2018


Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Christmas gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect on the important things around us - a time when we can look back on the year that has passed and prepare for the year ahead. - David Cameron

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A Fortune Teller Told Me

It must be thirteen or fourteen years since a friend told me about a book he was reading at that time. He said that it was one of the most remarkable stories he ever read, an absolute must. Intrigued by his account I bought the book and could not stop reading until I found out what happened in the end. It was, indeed, a remarkable book, probably most amazing travelogue I remembered reading.

Now, years later, A Fortune Teller Told Me still remains one of my favorite books. It is a perfect book for the spring when the nature renews herself; and a perfect book for anyone who wishes to reflect upon his good or bad fortune. 

Warned by a Hong Kong fortune-teller not to risk flying for an entire year, the author Tiziano Terzani (1938-2004) - a very experienced Asia correspondent for the German magazine Der Spiegel - took what he called “the first step into an unknown world." He followed the advice and experienced the most extraordinary time of his life. He was marked for death, but instead experienced an incredible personal transformation which he is not shy to call rebirth.

Traveling by foot, boat, bus, car, and train, he visited Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Mongolia, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia. The journey itself was a multidimensional experience. Obsessed with the foretold truth, he consulted soothsayers, sorcerers, and shamans everywhere he went. He received much advice about his future - some of it wise, some not so.

With enough time on his hands, he learned to understand, respect, and fear for older ways of life and belief systems in Asia that were threatened by the extreme forms of Western modernity. Asian traditions seemed to be on the verge of total extinction, an observation most travelers to Asia share.

During his remarkable sojourn in Asia he rediscovered a place he had been reporting on for decades and  managed to become a different man in the process.

Tiziano Terzani was an experienced journalist and as such had a very sharp eye. At the same time, his writing is full of passion, tenderness, and love. His journey was a remarkable one and I am convinced that his story will touch your heart, in one way or another.

By Dominique Allmon

Dominique Allmon©2017