Mini Review – Our Oriental Heritage by Will Durant (Part 2) – The Near East

The second part of this tome (1200+ pages) is focused on the Ancient civilizations of the Near East; Egypt, Persia, Babylonia, Judea etc..

πŸ“ β€œIt is in the nature of an empire to disintegrate soon, for the energy that created it disappears from those who inherits it.”

πŸ“ Persia was founded by a stoic people, but within a century it was destroyed by people binge-drinking and eating all day; β€œspending their geniuses on sauces and deserts” 🍰. What state is our current civilization in? πŸ€”

πŸ“ Egypt: β€œMachinery was rare because muscle was cheap.”

πŸ“ The hanging gardens of Babylon was considered considered one of the Wonders of the World. Legend has it that Nebuchadnezzar II had it build for his wife who was not used to the desert and longed for her lush homeland.

πŸ“ There where thousands of Gods. With time minor deities merged and became mere aspects of major ones.

πŸ“ In Judean prophets talked about the need to be moral rebirth. Jeremaya asked for circumcision of spirit as well as the flesh in his strange phrase: β€œCircumstance yourself to the lord, take away the foreskins of your heart.” πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

One theme that stood out to me is how civilizations raise from hard labour and sacrifice, just so that future generation can have it go down the toilet by forgetting these hardships and fall victim to hedonism. πŸ’© 🚽

⭐️ TAKEAWAY 2:

The accounts of the religious believes in the different civilizations fascinates me to no end. How similar their stories are to ours and how much we still can find intact or reshaped in today’s religions.

βš–οΈ VERDICT:

Now we get into the meat of the book and it has taken on another rhythm. I have mixed feelings about this second part of book. It’s is still brilliant but it’s getting hard to retain the information. The problem might lie in the way the book is structured, using the same template to describe each civilization, one after the other, making it overwhelming.

Check out Part 1 for more in this review series.

What are you reading these days? πŸ€”

Instagram Photo credit: @cinefile_25 , @eruchdah

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It’s Out of Control! What The Laws of Human Nature will do to your To-Read-List

Is your To-Read-List (TRL) growing faster the more effort you put into working your way through it? I know the feeling – and I feel it might be especially true for non-fiction readers.

Every good book opens up your eyes for new topics and bombards you with new exciting ideas of what to read up on next (as illustrated above πŸ€ͺ), filling your TBR to the brink.

Today I’m presenting some new additions to my TRL, courtisey of the book The Laws Of Human Nature by Robert Greene.

πŸ“– The Tigress of Forli by E. Lev πŸ“–

Caterina Sforza, she seems to be such a bad ass warrior countess! Greene uses her as an example of how masculine/feminine aspects of one’s personality, when well integrated, leads to more authenticity. β€œIn the theater of life, expand the roles you play.”

πŸ“– Born Red by Gao Yuan πŸ“–

Gao’s account of the Cultural revolution in China and how he and his fellow students β€œmade revolution”. Greene uses this story as an example of how our personalities changes in a group context.

πŸ“– Chekhov by Henri Troyat πŸ“–

Chekhov, Russian play-write, is brought up by Greene as an example of how you can change your circumstances by changing you attitude. β€œHe made a vow to himself: No more bowing and apologizing to people; no more complaining and blaming; no more disorderly living and wasted time.” Now I just want to know more about this exciting fellow!

What are you reading and what additions is that book adding to your To-Read-Lists? πŸ€”

Thoughts on: β€œMutants” by Armand Marie Leroi

Spontaneous sex change, cyclops and mermaid syndrome and conjoined twins. The tall and the very short. Albinism and rapid aging. No stone is left unturned when Armand Marie Leroi’s takes us on a journey though the biology of the bizarre – and beautiful.

This book β€œ..is not only about the human body as we might wish it to be, but as it is – replete with variety and error”.


πŸ“ Mutation arise from errors made by the machinery that copies or repair DNA.

πŸ“ β€œWe are all mutants, but some of us are more mutant than others.”

πŸ“ Clitoris = Penis

πŸ“: β€˜I do not want to be embarrassed by your black body at Daddy’s grave’ said her mother. Rita Hoefling was a white girl in the apartheid society of South Africa who suddenly turning black. At first she got subtle racist remarks and by the end of her transformation she was denied attending her own fathers funeral.. racism is dumb.

πŸ“ Preformationists= They believed the egg contained the entire embryo (complete with limbs) and that embryo had itself it owns sperm or egg which in turn contained embryos ad infinitum.

πŸ“ In conjoined twins the skew toward femininity is overwhelming: about 77 percent are girls. No one know why this is.

πŸ“ Boys who are castrated before puberty grow up to be unusually tall.

πŸ“ β€œWomen of all cultures seem to prefer men who are on average five centimeters (about two inches) taller than themselves.”


The human body is amazing. This book feels like it celebration of the most haunting, weird and wonderful shapes the human body can take. It leaves me in awe.

4/5

What are you reading these days? πŸ€”πŸ“š

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Thoughts on: β€œLong Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela

This book was really really hard for me to get into. I had a hard time to relating to the his story, and the politics and courtroom drama was a snooze for me. The only thing keeping me going with this book was that I felt is was important for me to familiarize with Nelson Mandela’s achievements in the lifelong struggle against apartheid. He was an extraordinarily man to say the least.

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πŸ“ β€œHabit makes everything look bland; it is sleep-inducing. Jumping to a different perspective is a way of waking oneself up again.” This quote reminds me of Montaigne, who loved this perspective switching trick all the time in his writing.

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πŸ“ β€œA freedom fighter learns the hard way that it is the oppressor that defines the nature of the struggle.” After using all the tools of non-violent resistance – only to be beaten down hard – the AMC had to turn to violence and fight fire with fire.

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πŸ“ After a successful term as president, he declined not to run again, this was to set an example of power being turned over to the next generation.

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

Resilience, Forgiveness and Perseverance. These are the traits I associate with Mandela. β€œWe should forget the past and concentrating on building a better future for all”. His focus on the future and forgiveness – rather than revenge – hastened the abolition of apartheid, I think.

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I’m not regretting pushing myself through this tome of a book, quite the opposite, I feel like another missing puzzle piece in my history education is found and put in place.

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What booked bored you, but you felt reading it was important enough to keep going? πŸ€”

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3/5

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Photo credit: @ildarabbit (Instagram)

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Are you Man Enough? Thoughts on: KING WARRIOR MAGICIAN LOVER

Do we face a crisis in masculine identity? This books claims that’s the case. The disintegration of traditional family systems being one reason – but it’s not whole story.

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There are two other factors:

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Lack of initiation into manhood leaves modern society to a dominance of Boy psychology.

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The other factor is patriarchy which is the expression of the immature masculine. What today is called patriarchy is really β€œpuerarcy” (I.e the rule of boys) – like Lord of the flies! An expression of boy psychology and the shadow (crazy) side of mature masculinity. The authors see patriarchy as an attack on both masculinity and femininity in its fullest. Boys fear women and boys fear real men.

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So how do we deal with this? In lack of rituals we have to each find our own way to Man psychology and that’s the purpose of the book. To help us on our way by showing how to access the mature masculine energies.

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πŸ“ For initiation rituals to work there needs to be a death. Effective, transformative initiation slays the ego. This is not the case for our modern initiations (I.e military, criminal gangs).

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πŸ“ The Patriarchal male does not welcome full masculine and feminine development. The more beauty, maturity, creativity and generativity we display the more envy, and hate we generate in superiors and peers.

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πŸ“ King, Warrior, Magician, Lover being the dominant masculine archetypes. We have all archetypes within us. Like board members we need to make all of them heard.

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πŸ“ We can only admire others if we have a sense of our own worthiness.

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πŸ“ Kings in the ancient world was often ritually killed when their ability to live out the King archetype began to fail.

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πŸ“ If we are not secure enough in our inner structure, we will rely on our performance in the outer world to bolster our self confidence.

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TAKEAWAY:

By learning about the archetypes and their shadow versions we can assess them in ourself. I have a hard time imagining anyone reading this book without getting an aha- moment for sudden insights, whether it’s about yourself or people around you. Loved it!

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I posted my full notes on my site. (LINK IN BIO.)

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5/5

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Archetype are you most aligned with?

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Thoughts on: β€œHillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance

I was not the only one that woke up confused with Donald Trump installed as president of the United States.

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This book has helped me understand how this could happen and why it came a such a surprise for a lot of people.

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The book is part memoir and part sociocultural analysis. J. D Vance tells the true story of what it like to live in community in decline. He grew up in a rust belt town in a family that struggled with addiction and abuse but escaped it. Seeing his own community from from an outside perspective made him write this book.

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The white working class is the one social group in America that has the darkest outlook on life. Learned helplessness, believing that ones choices don’t have any impact on ones life, is widespread and belief in upward mobility and opportunities to come is fading.

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I don’t have a certain key takeaway from this book, but it help understand where the messaging of Trumps presidential campaign was aimed at and how in some circles it came as such a surprise that he won.

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This is not a book about politics, but a very honest and personal story that attempts to understand reasons behind the recent decline in the “hillbilly” way of life. It doesn’t mention Trump but it makes it clear that there are a lot of desperate people in the US that feel overlooked and want to end the status quo no matter the price.

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4/5

β€œHillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance

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Thoughts on: Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton

Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton

We all lie like hell to ourselves and others, and it’s stresses us to death.

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It’s to the point, unapologetic and without sugar coating. The honesty Dr Blanton is talking about is not just “truth is the best policy”, but to tell the truth as you experience it, in great detail and no matter how it portraits you identity.

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What he suggests is shock program, but don’t worry, because 99.99% of you won’t have the ball (or tits?!) to do the exercises described in this book. Your ego won’t let you. And you don’t need to, you will still get massive value from reading it.

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πŸ“ Nietzsche: “A mans maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child at play.”

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πŸ“ “The stress that kills or cripple most of us come from people being too hard on themselves when they don’t live up to their own imaginings about how other people think they should behave.”

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πŸ“ How long it takes to build a ego identity depends on culture and tech level. For a bushman to go from child to starting to making babies, take on an adult role and choose vocation takes about a year. In our culture adolescent last from 12 to 40 y/o.

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πŸ“ “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.”

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πŸ“ “Getting drunk & stoned works! being sad & being fat works! Especially in a world where being angry, horny or being expressly joyful is tabu.”

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πŸ“ “The key to happiness is the willingness to take care of oneself. Problem is that most people are willing to take care of anything and anyone else, but themselves.”

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⭐️ The author walks his talk when describing his intention with this book; to show off what he learned during his career, but also to show that he is smarter than most people. To be rich and famous and to create a legacy that lives on after his death.
Thing we all think but never say explicitly.

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I end this review by quoting my notes: “Mind-blowing book!”

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Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton – 5/5

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Frozen balls, New Book and the Run of my Life


It was freezing, raining and windy but it was my last opportunity for a long run before Kullamannen 25k. So I took it!

The biggest hurdle was not the weather, though, it was finding clothes to protect me from it. I’m moving houses this weekend and finding anything among all the boxes is almost impossible.

I found what I assessed to be the bare minimum clothing-wise for 2.5 hour run and then I was on my way!

I also treated myself with a new audio book“Apollo 8: The thrilling story of the first Mission to the Moon” by Jeffrey Kluger – to accompany me in the trail.


After 7k I notice I was freezing my balls off, literarily. My packages was colder than a piece of space debris in shade.

I’d know I had to abort the mission if this problem was not adressed. I was less than a third into the run and continuing would mean this cold might turn into real damage.

 

I proceeded to orbit the lake I was running around, like a satellite, when I got the splendid idea to sacrificing my hat to isolate my boxers. Temperature started to stabilize and the mission was saved. And I got really confused looks from passing people that tried to figure out if I was really well hung or if I had a really bad tumor growth.

 


All in all, Good run though!

Thoughts on: “The Stranger in the Woods”

Christopher Knight was 20 years old when he one day walked into the woods, never to return to society again. It took 27 years for him to reemerge, not by his own choosing, but because he got captured by the police for stealing food.

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He spent a third of a century alone in the woods. He never lit a fire to keep warm during the horrid Maine winters. He didn’t speak to anyone, not even himself. This book tell the incredible story of last true hermit.

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πŸ“ Lack of preparation: “It was like he planned to go out camping for the weekend and didn’t come home in a quarter century”

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πŸ“ “Those with less becomes content, those with more becomes confused” Lao Tsu, “Tao Te Ching”.

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πŸ“ He was confounded by the ideas of passing the prime of your life in a cubical,spending hours a day in front of the computer in exchange for money, was considered acceptable – While relaxing in a tent in the woods was disturbed.

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πŸ“ He never got sick – “You need to be around people for that to happen.” – But he had problems with his teeth. Probably because he had a child’s dream diet of junk food, candy and sodas.

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πŸ“ He was guilty of over 1000 burglaries.40 a year on average.

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

We tend to want to extract the wisdom we think comes from choosing a path so different from most people. So, What was Knights advice after 27 in by himself? “Get enough sleep.” I think that is as sagely an advise as any. 😎

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Love the book! The story is absolutely fascinating, but it leaves you wondering if there is not more to the story. His family never reported him missing, and the author shrugs he whole thing off with the comment; “The Knights are very private people”.

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4/5

“Stranger in the Woods” by Michael Finkel

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Thoughts on: “Light for Visual Artists”


There are two areas into which I want to spend more of my reading time going forward; classic fiction and textbook learning materials.

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This one falls in the latter category – which is the harder of the two to write interesting post about – and as reading material these types of books can be pretty dry & boring, but the purpose here is not primarily to be entertained but to learn a new skill or expand your expertise within a certain field.

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πŸ“ Most diffuse surfaces, such as wood and rock, become darker when they become wet. This is because the water is reflecting off the light in a specular fashion, and so less light reaches the underlying surface.

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πŸ“ Different skin colours react differently to light. Caucasian skin has the greatest color variation due to its lack of pigment, so that blood has more influence on the color of the skin.

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πŸ“ Direct reflection is the kind of reflection associated with mirrors: rays of light hitting the surface are reflected back at the same angle relative to the surface, thereby creating a recognizable image.

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πŸ“ The limited range of color a device like an computer screen can display is know as it’s gamut.

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A must have for the visual artist, whether you are a painter, photographer or digital artist. The text is clear and every phenomenon imaginable is illustrated in great detail with photos and examples.

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Especially the first part of the book stood out to me – The Fundamentals of light – it’s hard to see the world in the same way after gaining full understanding of light, shadow and color.

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What really niche subject did you read up on this year?! πŸ€”

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4/5

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