Thoughts on: The Life of Greece by Will Durant

When I first posted my goal of making Ancient Greece the focus of my studies this year, I someone cautioned me that it might be too much to deal with in such a short time.

It was only after getting a few hours into this book that I understood what she/he meant: it’s impossible to take all this in within a year. It would take a decade to cover only one aspect of Greek civilization fully; lifetimes to cover it all! Ramming everything into my head was like trying to catching a waterfall with a bucket.

I changed my approach to the book and saw it as a buffet. I got a small taste of everything and noted down where I wanted to explore more.

Now I’m looking for further reading on:


📖 Pericles, “the most complete man Greece ever produced.” Big words. I want to know more.

📖 Diogenes, he lived the cynic lifestyle to the fullest. Fascinating man! Did you know that there is a condition known as Diogenes Syndrome? It’s characterized by extreme self-neglect, social withdrawal and lack of shame.

📖 Sparta: The crazy strict and tough lifestyle intrigues me. Is David Goggins actually the last Spartan?

📖 Archimedes: “Don’t disturb my circles!”. From Levers, to Pi, to the formula for calculating the surface area of a sphere, but also: war machines! I need to know more about this genius.

📖 The March of the Ten Thousand: Durant calls it “one of the great adventures in human history”. 🧐


📝 Schliemann: A crazy archeologist, obsessed with The Iliad, and determined to uncover Troy. Which he did!


💭 🤷‍♂️ Checking one book of the Reading List and you end up with an even longer list…


⚖️ VERDICT:

“Greek civilization is alive. it moves in every breath of mind that we breath. So much of it remains that none of us in one lifetime could absorb it all.”

As I reach the summary and conclusion of this book I’m in awe and my eyes tearing up in gratitude for this beautiful account of life in Greece.

4/5


Whose your favorite among the ancient Greeks? ⁉️🤔

For more great Non Fiction– check out my Reading Lists

Thoughts on: The True Story of Kaspar Hauser

It was really late one evening back when I studied in the dark and cold north of Sweden, when I turned on the TV to see a curiously strange scene from a German movie. I simple man was standing perfectly still, hand raised in the air holing a small paper note (a plead to the major to take him under his wings) in the middle of a city square.

The movie really made an impression on me, but I never got to know the name of the film or the strange man it portrayed.

The strange movie came to mind now and then during the coming 15 years, until I finally got the name of it. It was Werner Herzogs dramatization of the story of Kaspar Hauser.

Realizing it was based on true events I decided read a book about it.


📝 Kaspar Hauser was a German youth who claimed to have grown up in the total isolation, in a cage, in total darkness.

📝 “He could see in the dark as well as by day, but could not endure the light of the sun.”

📝 “His sense of smell was extraordinary.”

📝 He had magnetic qualities. “Iron attracted him; he declared that in riding, the iron saddle kept him in his seat, while his feet were held fast by the stirrups.”

📝 Chameleon-like. “The every-day face, which he wore to those immediately about him, Was neutral and commonplace enough, but instantly vanished if he was in company. “

📝 He was stabbed to death. Most likely by accident in an attempt to fake an assassination in order to be placed in the care of another protector.

📝 Many argued, both during and after Hauser’s life, that he was most likely just a fraud.


💭 THOUGHTS:

Was he just a liar and sociopathic narcissist all along! Or was his behavior was the result of year of assault and absence of parental love. Maybe a mix of both?!


⚖️ VERDICT:

Stories like these keep kindles a sense childlike wonder in me. The story is just fascinating, but the book is dry and dull at times; even painfully so towards the end with its court witness accounts and endless dissing of other written accounts of the Kaspar Hauser story.

3/5


What’s your favorite movie adaption of a non-fiction book?

For more books of great caliber, check out my Reading Lists!

Thoughts on: “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” by Joe Dispenza

“Your thoughts have consequences so great that they create your reality.”

How did that quote make you feel? Did you throw up a little in your mouth, or did you get intrigued to know more? That feeling is probably a good indicator for how you feel about this book.

Reality creation and manifestation books comes in a lot of different flavors—the Secret, Transurfing, the Kybalion—this book is attempting scientific route to manifestation.

I have a paradoxical relationship with “reality creation”. I kinda cringe at the explanation of how it works, but at the same time I have seen it work over and over again in my own life and others. So I really don’t care how it works, just that it does. Your attitude and inner state matters.


📝 “When we are truly focused and singleminded the brain doesn’t know the difference between the internal world of the mind and what we experience in the external environment” 💭

📝 Mentally rehearsing an activity gives almost the same growth of neural connections as physical practice. This fact blows my mind every time I hear it. 🤯

📝 Eliminating the gap between who we are and who we present to the world is probably one of the biggest challenges we face in life.

📝 “To know thyself is to meditate.”


⭐️ TAKEAWAYS:

Not much that can withstand sustained focused human effort. Your attitude changes your reality. The placebo effect is real. You experience changes with you focus (Reticular Activating System).


⚖️ VERDICT:

I can imagine a reality where I have give a lower score, but to be honest, it was a great reminder of the importance of ones attitude towards life and that we don’t have to re-live the same emotions and experiences day after day. The power of one’s inner state is real, even if I’m not as sure as Dr Dispenza about the specifics.

4/5


What is your favorite books in the genre and what’s you thoughts on manifestation?⁉️

Photo credit: @whitneyalamb

For more great books check out my Reading Lists.

Thoughts on: “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race” by Reni Eddo-Lodge

I don’t think much about race, why would I? Im a white man. I’m the norm. Have you ever played a video game with a character selection screen? I’m the default character.

The book was an emotional rollercoaster of self-reflection. It left my head spinning and I realized how little time I’ve spent contemplating the question of race.


📝 “How can I define white privilege? It’s so difficult to describe an absence. And white privilege is an absence of the consequences of racism.”…“Absence of structural discrimination. Absence of ‘less likely to succeed because of my race’.”

📝 Reflection: I get suspicious when Twitterstorms are used to prove a point in books. Twitter is usually not a good representation of society as a whole.

📝 Reflection: Dividing people into groups has a purpose, I guess, especially when you want to highlight problems like structural racism. But where does it end? Reni talks about white feminists vs. black feminists vs mixed feminist etc etc. If the goal is to unite, then why this obsession with division?

📝 Reflection: What about evolutionary psychology? “Us” vs. “Them”-dichotomies has existed for millions of years. And we tend to like people who are like us. Evolutionary it makes sense; Similar individuals are more likely to share copies of each other’s genes. It would be interesting see this perspective in a book like this one. But then maybe I should look for books written by professors rather than journalists.


⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

My main takeaways was to learning more about what Eddo-Lodge calls “white privilege”, and also getting a rather overdue reminder that structural racism is still going strong today.


⚖️ VERDICT:

I didn’t enjoy the book; maybe it was the angry tone, the stereotyping or what felt like generalizations (or maybe it’s my ‘whiteness’ that put me in a defensive mode). It left me with a lot to think about. I appreciate that. The book is at its best when it catches you off-guard and challenge your assumptions and beliefs!


3/5

What book challenged you recently?

Check out my Reading Lists for more great books!

Thoughts on: ‘Richard Nixon: A Life’ John A. Farrell

Some reading projects are more ambitious than others. On my journey to reading a biography of every American president the time has come for Nixon (I’m on 3 of 45).

This is an excellent biography of a powerful, yet insecure and anxious man, in period of great turmoil historical. Corruption and paranoia; this dense biography really has it all.

Todays notes highlights attitudes have changed since the Nixon days (or have they?! 😉)


📝 Abortion: Abortion encourage permissiveness, Nixon thought, but, “there are times when abortions are necessary…” “..you know, between a black and a white.” he told Colson.

“Or rape.” Colson said.

“Or rape..”, Nixon said, “..you know what I mean.”

📝 Nixon had theories of black inferiority and black prospects: “Most of them are basically out of the threes. I have the greatest affection for them but I know they won’t make it for next 500 years.”

📝 Stress and Self medication: “In the evening, if I have 2-3 drinks I feel good. Do you think that should be knocked off or reduced?” Nixon said to his doctor. Alcohol is a great stress reducer. I have tried it myself haha 😂

📝 “You know one of the reasons fashion has made women look so terrible is that the god damn designers hate women.” Nixon theorized, “Though now they are trying to get some more sexy things going again.”

“Hot pants.” Erlichman added.

“Jesus Christ.” Said Nixon.


⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

I can see where the American publics distrust of government comes from. What a mess this period was! Watergate, the Pentagon papers and projects Moongoose 🤦‍♂️

My next president will probably be Kennedy or Lincoln.


Do you have any ambition reading projects?

Score: 4/5

For more fantastic reads make sure to check out my Reading Lists!

Thoughts on: ‘Southeast Asia: A Very Short Introduction’

After my fast I got sick with the flue. This was by the time I finished the Death of Expertise and I wanted to fill my time with something short, sweet and different before continuing through my To-Read-Pile.

Southeast Asia: A Very Short Introduction is delivers on its name. It’s a concise history of the cultural hotpot of countries that we all call Southeast Asia.

The books takes us from the time of kingdoms, to the era of colonization, onward to today’s nation states.


Nations:

– Brunei 🇧🇳

– Burma 🇲🇲

– Cambodia 🇰🇭

– East Timor 🇹🇱

– Indonesia 🇮🇩

– Laos 🇱🇦

– Malaysia 🇲🇾

– the Philippines 🇵🇭

– Singapore 🇸🇬

– Thailand 🇹🇭

-Vietnam 🇻🇳


Religions:

* Buddhism

* Islam

* Christianity

* Confucianism


💥 ACTION: Read up on the Thmer Rouge If Cambodia. Any book recommendations?


I don’t think you could do a better job at condensing the history of an area as vast and dynamic as Southeast Asia. It’s bigger than Europe for Europe for one. The problem is that the text can get very dense with names, year and places. But just chill, and you’ll come out of this one with a better understanding of the world.


⁉️ What Southeast Asian countries have your visited?

Now I want to go travelling! 😊

4/5

For more great reading material you should check out my reading lists!

Book Notes on Aging and Dying

Nothing last forever. Here are a few great notes on aging from my reading the last couple of years. Memento Mori.


📝 “By becoming deeply aware of our mortality, we intensify our experience of every aspect of life.” – Robert Greene, The Laws of Human Nature

📝 “No one set value on time. All use it lavishly as if it cost nothing. But see how these same people clasp to the knees of physicians when they fall ill and the danger of death draws nearer” – Seneca, On the Shortness of life.

📝 People have different sensitivity to caffeine. Older people are more sensitive in general.

Notes from Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker.

📝 A deadly gene could survive in the gene pool by inflicting its damage only after a person reaches an old age, where the victim already produced it’s offspring. Like Cancer.

Notes from The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins

📝 John D. Rockefeller was obsessed with his health and set a goal for himself to live until he was 100 years old. He died at 97.

Notes from Titan, Ron Chernow

📝 “Whatever the cause of the inverse association between body size and aging, it seems to be found in all mammals” Bigger animals live longer.

Notes from Mutants, Armand Marie Leroi

📝We know intellectually that we are going to die. But we don’t really feel it. We repress the affects of death to be able to function normally. – The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker


What are your favorite quote on the subject?

Thoughts on: Inner Engineering by Sadhguru

Sadhguru book is unsatisfying for the rational mind. Even the part that is suppose to be pragmatic are often fussy and vague. In exercises he asks the reader to do all kinds of experiments; watching a dripping crane for an hour, observe nature, bow to objects and “just see what happens”.

Of couse the rational mind doesn’t have the leading role here. Sadhguru points out the unbalanced focus on the mind in society. What about the body, energies? Aligning all these components is the highest aim of yoga.


📝 “Don’t simply believe what you are reading. The only way to find out whether something is true or untrue is to experiment with it.”

📝 “It’s only people who think too much who cannot eat and sleep properly!”

📝 “Resentment, anger, jealousy, pain, hurt, and depression are poison that YOU drink but expect someone else to die.”

📝 “To reduce a sophisticated science, like yoga, to a mere doctrine is just as tragic as turning it into a cardiovascular workout.” BUT “Even if you get into yoga for the wrong reasons, it still works!”. Haha, This is how it was for me. I started going to the lunch yoga at work for gaining flexibility, now the practice itself is the goal.

📝 “If you still believe that everything will be okay the moment you find a new girlfriend or boyfriend, get a raise, buy a new house or car, then it’s not time for yoga. Once you’ve tried all those things and more, and clearly know that none of it will be enough—then you are ready. So now, yoga.”


⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

This book really hammered home the energy and body connection and got me looking into fixing my body. After years and running and lifting (and tons of injuries) I’ve realized the monumental importance of a solid foundation. I’m so stiff I can’t even reach my toes or sit in a squat. “You can’t inject blood in a frozen steak.” to quote @davidgoggins . I’m fixing that now with a daily stretching routine (32 consecutive days so far!)


⚖️ VERDICT:

The book didn’t grab the way I expected, and often exceeded my limits for open mindedness, but there is still more gems in there than can fit an Insta post. My favorite book in the genre is still A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle 👌🏻👌🏻

3/5

For more great reading check out my Reading Lists!

Notes From a Year of Reading – Addiction

I have had a few days in a row where I didn’t experience any cravings or took any addictive substances (excessive sugar, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol etc..) It was pretty cool. I don’t think I’ve experienced something like this since I my early teens.


Quotes and Notes on drugs and addiction from my recent reading:

📝 We Habituate..

Understand: Artificial pleasures (designer food, drugs, VR porn etc..) throws our systems of the scale, making us unable to appreciate the natural. – BEHAVE by Robert Sapolsky

📝 “We mix up reality with our interpretation of reality. We invent some fundamental lies of how life should and shouldn’t be. Then we use food and drugs to temporarily escape the lie we invented.” – Radical Honesty, Brad Blanton

📝 Civilized Man: He can do what he sets out to do without chanting and drumming. Even daily prayer and divine aid is unnecessary. “His gods and demons have not disappeared at all; they have merely got new names. They keep him on the run with relentless, vague apprehension, psychological complications, an insatiable need for pills, alcohol, tobacco, food-and, above all, a large array of neuroses.”

⁃ Notes from Man and His symbols, Carl Jung

📝 “Pleasure from the senses seems like nectar at first but is bitter as poison in the end.” “That which seems like poison at first, but tastes like nectar in the end – this is the joy of sattva, born of a mind at peace with itself.” – Bhagavad Gita

📝 The Amateur replaces ambition with addiction. Drugs, alcohol and other distractions; like drama, social media, porn, the news, and food. This keeps the amateur from doing the actual work required.

⁃ Notes from ‘Turning Pro’ by Steven Pressfield.

📝 “You stop growing when you start drinking alcoholicly… prevents you from walking through the painful life experiences that take you from point A to point B on the maturity scale.”

– Drinking: A Love Story, Caroline Knapp


What’s your history with addiction? Emotional, physical, psychological, and/or chemical?

Notes from a Year of Reading – Psychology

📝 “It takes a lot of courage to take the unconscious seriously and to tackle the problems it raises.”

– Carl Jung, Man and his Symbols.

📝 “As a rule, whatever we don’t deal with in our lives we pass on to our children.”

– Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts.

📝 “Sometime educated guesses can be made about the wounds of childhood by closely inspecting what matters adults irrationally lose their tempers over”

– Clarissa Estes Pinkola, Women Who Run with the Wolves.

📝 “Those with a negative attitude tend to operate from a basic position of fear towards life.They unconsciously want to limit what they see and experience to give them more control.”

– Robert Greene, The Laws of Human Nature.

📝 “In other words, the final terror of self-consciousness is the knowledge of one’s own death, which is the peculiar sentence on man alone in the animal

kingdom.”

– Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death.


I’m working my way through my notes from the last 12 months. I thought it would be interesting to share my notes by subject rather than per book.

What’s your next read on human psychology?

(If you don’t have one. Pick any of the books above and you’ll be good!👌🏻😉)