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Haven't been reading much this holidays. Something to do with a short-attention span and impatience. Attempted to finish Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and some introduction to Postmodernism of sorts but failed miserably for both. I have no patience for the pace of the first and no willpower nor functioning brain cells to think through the latter.

But I picked up Roger Zelazny's Lord Demon yesterday because he makes good reading. (The only exception was Donnerjack, which remains in the grey area as it wasn't completed by the man.)

I couldn't put it down )
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I know I promised to talk about zombies in the brain, foot fetishes, phantom erections and a woman who died laughing, but the more I read V.S. Ramachandran's Phantoms in the Brain : Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind, the more I realise it is impossible to even begin to explain such things without actually producing pages from the book.

The human mind is a very strange thing. Fascinating, but very strange. People who know me in RL will probably have been dragged into the debate over whether if Science is a waste of time as humans possess a limited capacity and flawed perception, hence the inability to understand the world as it is. If a person is built entirely out of hir memories, what happens when we find out that our memories are not to be trusted? (For that matter, I can tell you now that they are hardly reliable.) What happens if humans who are thought to be logical and rational are in fact, illogical and live in denial? (The latter is true.) And what happens when the "God(s)" who people claim to speak to them or see is(are) no more than misfiring neurons in the brain?

In his book, these are the questions Ramachandran faces. The cases he encounters are weirder than fiction. Patients who are downright deny the ownership of their limbs even they can clearly see said limbs attached to their body, patients who firmly believe their parents are imposters, patients who constantly see Disney characters at the lower range of their scope of sight and so forth. And he respectfully tries to come up with explanations for these cases, often injecting humour in the process. You have to respect the man. He writes with the aim to communicate and to connect rather, reducing as much technical jargon as possible*.

The man also quotes Shakespeare and Freud. The first is surprising enough since how often does one find the great bard in biopsych books. The latter was totally unexpected considering that Freud-bashing is rather popular nowadays. (But you have to give the him some credit. I think a lot of his ideas are nonsense and his findings hardly based on empirical evidence, but some of his ideas have their merits.)

Seriously. If you have some free time, pick up the damn book already.

science as another religion )


*I think scientists, lecturers and critics (especially the lit ones) should read Randy Olson's commentary on Carl Zimmer's blog. It doesn't hurt, that's all I can say.
helvetius: (Default)
Still reading Gibson. This time, Idoru. I think...I think I finally gotten the hang of how he works. I think. Still. A moment of déjà vu there with the noodles. I had to reread it twice to make sure I was reading what I was reading.

Anyway. As promised, a link to Dreamboat, where the Chinese fangirls sl0re everything and anything BL/yaoi/ghei/同志. Stumbled upon it when searching for Velevt Goldmine BT links. From obscure old gay flicks with Antonio Banderas to Leslie Cheung's first year death anniversary specials to the making of the French Rugby Team nude calender, you decide what you want to do with the link. I am not to be held responsible for anything.

I am rather tempted to go off on a sushi trip tomorrow though. The swordfish sashimi beckons.

I've forgotten how depressing Garbage can sometimes be.

PS: The Hours. Whoa.

**LATER

...

....

Mr Gibson is an ebil eeeeebil man. XD
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There was a burning plastic smell from my old NEC monitor when I flipped on the switch, so now I'm using a Philips and unable to shake off the feeling that something is not quite right. I'm guessing it's the size of the thing. The old NEC was one huge motherfooker. The Philips seems...dainty in comparison. Eh. I also have two laptops on the comp table. It would all feel very hackerish, but we know no self-respecting hacker would own a Dell.

Anyway. Popped by the library yesterday and grabbed a couple of William Gibson's novels. (Because I refuse to plonk down $75+ rent for Mary Renault's Alexander trilogy. Because, ow.) Just finished his Neuromancer. Up now typing my thoughts on the thing before I start forgetting. (I would have done this in my notebook, except it's somewhere in transit and I don't feel comfortable writing in things people give me.)

The book. I love the opening line. It's like watching GitS anime play in your read, except not really. (Then again, it reads like anime in my head.) Molly keeps reminding me of Batou. With the silver lens and habits (Batou feeds the Tachikomas natural oil, Molly buys Case black designer wear. And a shiny shuriken.), it's hard not to. Schwarz kept popping into mind as well, but I'll leave that one up to you. Gibson's style reminds me of Roger Zelazny as well. It's the the "I'll write what I want, you figure it out yourself" thing, but I think Zelazny took a little more effort in explaining the terms and what really means what. (Hellooooo, Ghostwheel! All paths lead to Amber! *ish shot*) Certain phrases are pretty like heck (street samurai, cyber cowboys, neuromancer *shakes head*), but at the end of the book, I'm still not quite sure what each really means. I'm left at the end of the novel seeing neon lights, reflections off wet street and all sorts of strange characters that would fit into the GitS settings and feeling mind-fucked while in a drugged haze.

...oh yes, I'm sure that was a useful review. Right. Never did say I was eloquent. I'll just head off to bed now.

PS: I don't understand why people don't think fuschia is a funny colour. Or at least, amusing. Hell, it cracks me up everytime. Most dictionaries can't even come up with a proper description for it.
helvetius: (Default)
Still up. And spamming LJs. XD I have to finish the structuralism bit before I can conk out. Still verri jittery now (I'm blaming my prof. After seeing his dummy exam paper, it was PANIC!ATTACK! again. Can no one write in simple english these days?), but I've found out what kills ciggarette cravings. Sprite Ice. Erm. Not that I have been smoking recently.

Rereading Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies and am suddenly faced with too many things I didn't see the first time round. Whereas I was thought the running theme was about letting go, now I think I don't know anything afterall. (Quote Socrates and die. I mean it.) The thing is that Lahiri never comes out straight to tell you exactly what it is that she wants to say. Which is the problem with Ondaatje's The English Patient as well. Well. At least for Lahiri, there are certain issues that are bloody obvious. But there're the other things that are subtle and niggle away at your brain. Why does she use the viewpoint of a child in so many of her short stories? And then why the sudden change to the "We"?

Eh. Never mind.

PS: ANYONE UP FOR FISHIES, DAMNIT?! youknowiwubyou~

PPS: Mother thinks I shouldn't keep neon tetras when I move out. "They're BITE-SIZED!!!" Damn. She knows me too well. XD

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