Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

mpw-115634Last week, I raved about how much I enjoyed the 2009 Star Trek reboot. Not only did the movie live up to my expectations, but it also led me to fall deeper in love with the series. So when the 2011 sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness came out, I was so excited. However, my excitement soon faded into disappointment and anger once it was revealed that Khan, a prominent person-of-colour, was to be played by a white man, Benedict Cumberbatch. As you probably know by now, diversity is an issue close to my heart and hence having one of my favourite series end up white-washing such an iconic character was a pretty big blow. My disappointment furthered when I watched the movie and Khan’s character was kinda butchered (he’s supposed to be this insanely scary sort of fellow who poses a real threat, but Cumberbatch’s character was a mystery midway and then ends up being evil but with no real threat so you’re kinda just watching the movie bored). As a result, I kinda grew disillusioned with the series reboot. So when the 2016 sequel, Star Trek Beyond, was released, I actually didn’t care that much. I watched a trailer or two, and that was it. However, my friend convinced me to come along and watch the movie with her, and ladies and gentlemen, my love affair with Star Trek has rekindled.

One of my favourite things about the Star Trek series, alongside its space focus (I adoreeee anything to do with space, it’s so fascinating!), has always been the teamwork. Each member of the Enterprise works in tandem with the others. No one is the one, main star player, not even Captain Kirk. Before some of your Trekkies come at me with pitchforks, lemme explain. Captain Kirk functions as the leader of the Enterprise. He makes most executive decisions and the team relies on him to direct them. However, despite Kirk’s starring role, he’s not the only one who ‘fixes’ every situation. Kirk comes up with the plans, but their execution and even the planning stage, requires action and input from the other members. Their missions always end up being full-on group work; each Enterprise member plays a key role. Take the 2009 reboot movie, Kirk actually gets kicked off the ship and marooned on some distant planet. If it wasn’t for Scotty (and Spock), then Kirk would’ve never made it onto the ship again. Similarly, when Kirk and Sulu destroy the Romulan beam, it’s Chekov who manages to save them from certain death and beams them back to the ship. And even in the very beginning of the movie, its Uhura’s extra-credit work that spots the future Romulan ship in the first place! If any one of these members had missed their jobs/ hadn’t done them, then the entire outcome of the adventure would’ve ended up differently. That’s what I mean by it being a group effort. And my point was further illustrated in the recent film. Hence, onto the review:

The movie begins where the last one left off, with the Enterprise crew on their 5 year mission in space. Getting tired of the monotony and feeling disillusioned, Kirk contemplates quitting being Captain and instead becoming Admiral. However, a situation arises in which he and his team get attacked. It takes the entire teamwork of the team to escape the situation and save the day (much like the 2009 film). Without Uhura’s bravery in detaching the ship’s disc (no idea what it’s called) from the other part of the ship, Kirk probably wouldn’t have had time to escape Krall and escape the crashing ship. Without Spock to distract the aliens, McCoy probably wouldn’t have taken control of the alien ship and learnt how to control it. Without McCoy’s medical knowledge, Spock probably wouldn’t have survived long with his wound. Without Sulu and Uhura’s leadership capabilities, the team would’ve never discovered that Krall was tracking them or what his end plan was. Without Chekov, Kirk probably wouldn’t have been able to trap Kalara or get Krall’s location. Without Scotty, Jaylah wouldn’t (or perhaps would’ve taken a much longer time that needed) agree to give up her home and help the crew escape. Hell, without Jaylah and her knowledge and gadgets, the Enterprise crew would’ve had a much more difficult time rescuing everyone. Without Sulu’s determination, the ship probably would not have flown into space (everyone doubted that they’d reach terminal velocity except him!). Without Uhura’s linguistic skills, no one would’ve discovered that Krall was actually Balthazar Edison. And without McCoy and Spock, Kirk probably would’ve died.

Yet, unlike the 2009 film in which the sense of adventure was present but still subtle, this movie all but exclaims that it’s your run-of-the-mill adventure heist film (although they aren’t really the criminals here). It literally follows the sequential system that heist films operate upon. There’s a planning stage, the actual heist, and then a denouement. Although, this heist appears midway through the film, I think it still counts.

On that note, as you can probably guess (if you’re particularly good at reading between the lines!) that this film isn’t really about the general Star Trek universe. Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely a lot of discussion about the starfleet and the role played by the federation. However, there’s also a lot of focus upon the characters themselves and the heist plot doesn’t really explicitly need the Star Trek universe. In other words, you could totally imagine the heist happening in some other science-y movie.

That said, I still really enjoyed the film, just for the sheer amount of teamwork in the film and the little looks into each individual Enterprise team member and their personal life. Spock and Uhura are still in love with each other, with Spock still struggling between following his passion and doing his alleged duty. Uhura is still a badass who will do anything to save her crew. Sulu is married and has a daughter and remains a true dependable leader. Bones still dislikes Spock but comes to understand him better. Spock does the same with Bones and comes to express his respect for him (LOL). Chekov remains smart but has also begun thinking about leadership roles. Scotty develops a mentor bond with a young woman and delves into what being in a team means to him. And Kirk comes to grips with combating space weariness and being older than his dad ever was.

I also quite liked the character of Jaylah introduced in this film. Played by the wonderful Sofia Boutella, Jaylah is a young alien woman who had survived the hardship Kirk and his crew were going through. It is through her help and ingenuity that the team is able to reunite and save the day. I just thought it was quite nice to have another female character in the film who played a prominent role and was so smart and quick on her feet. I also enjoyed the villain Krall, played by Idris Elba. Although I think his story could’ve been more impactful, I still enjoyed what he represented, i.e. the other side of the federation and how not everyone could be a fan of it. And of course, as this film was directed by a different director, I think it’s also worth to address that. If you’ve read by 2009 reboot movie review, then you probably know that I was pretty annoyed with the constant lens flares. Thankfully, this movie doesn’t have those! The movie was directed by Justin Lin. I’m already pretty familiar with his work (through the Fast and Furious franchise and Community), so I kinda already knew that I would enjoy his work. Lin, in my opinion, is particularly good at doing action scenes (although he does have the tendency to do too many), and it definitely showed in this movie. But I think it also kind of played up the entire adventure heist element of the film, so it worked out. My only criticism, would perhaps be that sometimes, things fell into place too conveniently. Some intense suspense or thrill was lacking in certain scenes because you already knew what would happen. Nonetheless, I think this film was a solid entry into the franchise and is still a pretty enjoyable movie.

My rating: watch it to enjoy some cool space action and awesome team work!

Star Trek (2009) Movie Review

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So I feel like I’ve been lacking when it comes to movie reviews. To be honest, I’m not much of a movie person. Or rather, I do watch movies, but just don’t watch them that often or watch them right when they release. Hence, when it comes to doing movie reviews, sometimes I feel like I’m beating a dead horse because by the time my reviews come out, the movies have lost publicity and faded into the deep interior of people’s minds. But, I really do enjoy watching and writing about movies, so I continue to do it anyway.  Anywho, today’s topic is the 2009 reboot movie Star Trek.

Firstly, I’m not the biggest trekkie, but I do have a soft spot for this particular series. The original Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation were shows that my grandfather really enjoyed watching. As a kid, I would sometimes join him and watch them. Now most of the stuff went over my head (I was quite young!) but I do have some good memories of the series. However, my affinity for the series mostly comes from the fact that it was something my grandfather and I did together and something that he enjoyed. So I always associate Star Trek with my grandfather and good memories. Hence when I heard about the 2009 reboot, I was fully on board. And to my absolute delight, when I saw the movie, I fell further in love with the series.

The movie plot, for those of you who’d like some refreshers, basically serves as a prequel/ origin to the eventual Star Trek series. However, it also isn’t quite a *prequel* to the actual series, as the movie sets up an alternate timeline. So while the characters remain quite similar and some plot-lines are recycled, the character origins and development are actually different. So for example, in this film, Captain Kirk actually grew up fatherless and his motivation for joining starfleet was to win a bet, vs. in the original series where he grew up with his father and joined because he was genuinely interested. Similarly Kirk and Spock don’t start out as good friends, but have a rather antagonistic beginning.

Which brings us the the general story in the movie. Since it’s been some time since the movie released, I’m not going to write out a detailed, scene-for-scene description. I’ll basically just summarize the gist. In essence, the origin stories for both Kirk and Spock are laid out (Kirk being a fatherless rebel needing direction and Spock dealing with bullying over his human mother), with the two beginning an antagonistic relationship. It’s through a dangerous situation (rogue Romulan ship from an alternative-timeline future bent on destroying the planets Vulcan and Earth), with a little help from the alternative-timeline Spock (who reveals the backstory of the dangerous situation and the subsequent alternative-timeline that has been created), that the two become friends. Their friendship, and relationship with what would become the original Star Trek crew, is what finally defeats the dangerous situation (pretty cool, climactic scene wherein everyone participates). The movie ends with their formation and Spock’s famous dialogue to venture into space “where no one has gone before.”

As you can tell (hopefully LOL), it’s a super fun movie to watch. It’s basically an adventure film in which the good guys go through some tense and bonding moments before eventually winning over the bad guys. Pretty typical in its plot-line. And yet, the cast, character development, script, and humour elevate it. It actually reminds me a bit of the later Marvel movies, where the fun quotient adds another layer to the movie. And I think this also relates back to the original essence of the Star Trek movies/ shows. From what I’ve been able to glean from observing my grandfather, watching parts of the series, and reading online, one of the biggest draws to Star Trek, has been the sense of discovery the series promotes (along with the science). In each episode, Captain Kirk and his crew discover something new and experience new adventures. It’s fun. Things are always happening. And the film does exactly that. The crew experiences a new situation/ adventure and bond over it. I think this film functioned really well as a starting point for the series. Not only could new fans get into the series, but older fans were also serviced with the idea of an alternative-timeline (giving the writers some leeway with situations, which also serve to conciliate head-strong fans who demand 100% accuracy).

On another note, I think the casting was also really great. I was initially a little hesitant over Chris Pine’s  selection, because prior to this movie, I had only seen him in The Princess Diaries 2. I wasn’t too sure as to how he’d take to Kirk. However, I was also a little scared that he would try to emulate William Shatner’s extremely over-exaggerated acting in an effort to pay homage. Shatner is a good actor (I’m guessing b/c I’ve only ever seen him in Star Trek), but my god, his Captain Kirk, while smooth with the ladies, was also ridiculously zealous in his reactions. To my thankfulness, Pine declined to follow Shatner’s acting style for Kirk and instead did his own thing, which translated wonderfully onscreen. I really enjoyed Pine’s take on Kirk, as being this rebellious kid who needed direction. He really shined in this role and captained the movie wonderfully. All the other characters were great as well, Zachary Quinto as Spock, John Cho as Hikaru Sulu, Karl Urban as Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy, Zoe Saldana as Nyota Uhura, Simon Pegg as Montgomery Scotty, Anton Yelchin as Pavel Chekov, and even Eric Bana as Nero.

Which also brings me to another issue: diversity. Growing up in an extremely multicultural country, diversity (and to another extent representation), has always been important to me. And one of my favourite things about this movie and of Star Trek in general, was how diverse it was. You had people of different races all playing an important role. As a woman of colour, this is a message that brings me great joy. Your talents aren’t determined by your skin colour or anything; it’s who you are. And Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov really represented that for me. It doesn’t matter that you’re a person of colour, or a woman, or have an accent; as long as you can get the job done, you’re good to go. In today’s climate, as much as we’d like to celebrate our diversity and sing kumbaya while sitting in a multicultural circle, the truth is, racism is still quite rampant in our society. I mean, in the United States alone, Black Lives Matter is a glaring example. Even in other parts of the world, Islamophobia is widespread. And these issues are also represented on-screen, wherein people of colour significantly feature less in films and if they do, they are often reduced to being caricatures or reinforcing stereotypes. Yet, Star Trek goes against the grain and represents a more hopeful future/ reality. Not only are people of colour/ minorities represented on-screen, but their roles are significant, regardless of race. Of course, the diversity ratio can be improved, but considering how the series was created way back in the 1960’s and still managed to be so diverse is incredible. Especially when you compare to how we face issues with diversity today.

However, with all my positives for the film, I will say that it is not perfect. The one thing that really annoyed me, was the constant use of lens flare to make scenes dramatic (?). I mean, cinamatography on the whole was decent. The movie was lit brightly which, in my opinion, added to the light, fun feel of the movie. However, there were also constant lens flare. At some point, it just became too much. This may in fact be a critique of the director because apparently he has done it often? And from previous movie watching experiences, I know that you do not always need lens flare to display dramatic moments. There are different ways to shoot scenes, angle your camera, etc. to achieve a dramatic flare. Yet, in this film, I counted over twenty different lens flare scenes, before I stopped counting. I mean, come on. And I was also a little peeved at Uhura’s costume. I mean, not only does the mini skirt uniform she wears look uncomfortable, but it also begs the question of practicality. From prior skirt-wearing experience, I can tell you with 100% guarantee, that pants are much more versatile and facilitate movement in an easier fashion than skirts. I just, I found it ridiculous that everyone was wearing pants except her. I also wasn’t quite a big fan of the gratuitous semi-nude shot of Uhura undressing. I just, it felt so unnecessary and almost like it was servicing fan-boys. Ick. But on the whole, it was definitely an enjoyable movie and a great starting point for new fans to get sucked into!

My rating: watch it to be sucked into an awesome space-y and science-y adventure!

The Winter Palace Book Review

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The Winter Palace, for those of you unaware, used to be the official winter residence of Russian monarchs. Of course when the monarchy was abolished in 1917, it stopped being used as a royal residence and instead became a tourist attraction. Nonetheless, when I saw this book titled The Winter Palace, I was intrigued. And when the book claimed to be about Catherine the Great, I was further intrigued and hence picked up the book to read. While the description of the book isn’t explicitly accurate, it was still an enjoyable read and I intend on reviewing it. So let’s get into it.

The Winter Palace is written by Eva Stachniak and claims to tell the story of Catherine the Great’s rise to power, beginning from when she was just Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst. However, our lens for this story is not Princess Sophie, rather it is a Polish royal maidservant, Barbara (or Varvara as she’s known in Russia). And so the story actually begins with a history of Barbara’s life and how she came to be so close to the monarchs.

Barbara has a semi-uninteresting beginning. She was originally the daughter of a bookbinder who managed to repair a book for Empress Elizabeth of Russia and impress her in the process. He manages to ensure that Barbara is taken in by the royal court after his death. In other words, Elizabeth used to take in young orphan girls and have them work as her servants. Hence Barbara initially begins as a seamstress in the court, but finds the work tedious (she sucks at it) and hence begins covertly listening to others instead. Her ability catches the eye of Elizabeth’s chancellor, Bestuzhev, who then becomes a mentor of sorts for he and teaches her advanced spying methods. From his teachings, she comes a ‘tongue’ for him and Elizabeth. She spies on all servants and reports on their sayings/ activities to them. Eventually, she advances to the point of becoming a ‘reader’ for the next-in-line for the Russian Throne, Prince Peter (eventually Peter III of Russia).

It is through this line of work that she first meets the young Princess Sophie and becomes familiar with her. Despite being told to be suspicious of Sophie and given the duty of spying on her (Bestuzhev severely disliked Sophie), Barbara finds herself taken with the young Sophie. Sophie gifts Barbara an amber necklace and forges a pact with her, based on the fact that the two of them are ‘foreigners’ in the court (Sophie was German/ Prussian). Barbara then switches sides and covertly becomes Sophie’s tongue, protecting her and warning her about potential conspiracies.Barbara is eventually found out by Bestuzhev and he persuades Elizabeth to get Barbara married off and thus forced out of the palace.

During this time, a lot of stuff happens in Barbara’s life. And through bits and pieces, we’re also given some happenings with Sophie. Turns out, she suffers from a horrible marriage as her husband dislikes her and doesn’t like consummating with her. Desperate for an heir, Elizabeth sends one of her Romanov cousins, Sergei Saltykov, to seduce and impregnate Sophie. Unfortunately, once Sophie becomes pregnant, Sergei is ordered to leave her (Sophie loves him by this time) and once she gives birth, her son is snatched from her womb by Elizabeth. Elizabeth takes the newborn, future Paul I of Russia, and raises him on her own, refusing Sophie even a glimpse of her son.

By this time, Barbara is able to come back to the palace and support Sophie. She also becomes Elizabeth’s main room-servant. Sophie, meanwhile, hardens herself and continues to live life. During this time, she also grows braver, sneaking out to meet friends in the middle of the night dressed as men, having her lovers come into her room without bothering to hide the signs, etc. Barbara continually does her best to protect Sophie from Elizabeth (who really dislikes both Peter and Sophie and only loves Paul) and lies to her. Alongside Sophie’s life, Barbara’s life also changes as her husband eventually dies in war. She is left alone with their seven year old daughter and a loyal female servant. It is at this point that Barbara realizes how badly she treated her husband and how she had happiness within her grasp as a young newly married woman/mother but failed to see it.

Eventually, the book talks of how Elizabeth’s health fails, how Peter’s reign is disliked, and how Sophie gains the support of the soldiers. Once Sophie becomes Catherine the Great, Barbara becomes Chief Steward and her friendship with Catherine is at an all time high. Things are running smoothly and everything is going as it should. However, through certain circumstances, Barbara discovers that Catherine employs other ‘tongues’ beside her and also uses her daughter to keep tabs on Barbara’s life. She is furious, seeing these things as a betrayal and unwilling to have her daughter involved in court life. She confronts Catherine who looks at her with pity and tell her that it’s no big deal. Barbara is still really angry, so she decides to take some time off and takes her daughter and servant travelling with her. They first visit Paris and then go to Poland, Barbara’s homeland. The novel ends with her deciding to stay in Poland and leaving the court behind.

As you can tell from the review, the book doesn’t really talk about Catherine the Great that much, it’s more about Barbara and her life and how it relates to the royal court. And actually, that’s one of my critiques of the book. It’s misleading in its title and cover blurb. It doesn’t really tell the story of Sophie’s rise to becoming Catherine the Great. We’re only given side hints as to what type of character Sophie possesses. Hence, our view of Sophie/ Catherine depends on our own individual interpretation. However, even then, it’s difficult to feel too connected to Sophie, because she just doesn’t feature predominantly. If anything, I felt like we got more of a glimpse into Empress Elizabeth and her court. We learn more about Elizabeth’s lifestyle and feelings and motivations, then we do about Sophie. And more than that, we learn extensively about Barbara. At times, it felt like this book was about Barbara who accidentally fell into the royal court and her life that followed, vs. Barbara as a proxy for readers to experience Sophie’s rise to power. On that note, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, because on her own, Barbara is a decent character. She’s definitely flawed and does unlikeable things at times, but she’s also quite engaging, or at least I thought so. I enjoyed reading about her life outside the palace and her various thought processes. I just wish that the author/ publishers had been more honest in their descriptions about this book.

Which brings me to my second point, I actually quite enjoyed the writing in the novel. It was clear and understandable. I also found the descriptions of the Russian Royal court to be quite apt and well done. It didn’t feel too overly-descriptive and I quite enjoyed the little touches Ms. Stachniak added, like when talking about how the characters would drink kvass vs just using the english translation of the word (beer-like drink). They helped the book have an authentic, historical feel. All in all, a pretty enjoyable historical fiction read. Albeit more geared toward a specific era in time vs. a specific person in history.

My rating: read this if you’re curious about what the Russian Royal Court was like, but you can skip it if you want to read about Catherine the Great and her rise to power.

Siddhartha Book Review

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So there’s two main reasons as to why I picked up this book. Firstly, it was placed in the ‘classics’ section in my library and as someone who has made it a goal to read as many classics she can, I felt compelled to read it. Secondly, it talked about Siddhartha and Buddha. I’m not particularly religious, but I find myself really digging Buddhism a lot of the time so I figured this book was a safe bet. So basically, it was a book that I assumed I would probably enjoy because I enjoy classics and Buddhism. Unfortunately, my logic did not turn out as I’d assumed it would.

Siddhartha purports to tell the story of a Brahim named Siddhartha. As a young boy, in an effort to discover atman (enlightenment), he leaves home. He ends up joining some ascetics and begins to adapt to their lifestyle, believing that once you strip away everything, you’ll be able to finally find enlightenment. Once he realizes that he won’t find nirvana with the ascetics, he gets drawn to one who has been assumed to already been enlightened, Gautama Buddha. He meets Buddha and is taken aback by his holiness. However, he discovers that Buddha’s teachings don’t exactly gel with him, so he declines to serve him and be a part of his group. Siddhartha believes in the unity of the world, which contrasts with Buddha’s teachings to transcend the world. Similarly, Siddhartha argues that teachings of any nature, including those of Buddha’s, while worthwhile, cannot really take the place of individual experience. Teachings can only teach you, they do not lead you to the experiences that really *change/ broaden your understanding/ enlighten* you. And those experiences are necessary in order for one to achieve enlightenment.

At this point, he comes to a stand still, not sure of what to do. He decides to go across a river to meet people on the other side/ see what life is like there. In his journey, he meets a curious ferryman who prophesies that Siddhartha will return to him and repay him in some way. Anyways, Siddhartha comes to the other side of the river. It’s a city filled with merchants, barbers, courtesans, etc. As he went to one extreme to find enlightenment and failed to find it, he decides to go to the other extreme. Hence, he meets a courtesan, named Kamala, and learns how to love (i.e. sex/ seduction techniques). On her insistence, he also becomes involved with a local merchant becomes a merchant himself. He remains in the city for a long time, continually taking part in life’s pleasures and slowly forgetting his teachings from the ascetics. Instead of stripping himself of everything, he gives in to everything. However, through time, he realizes that despite going to the other extreme, he still hasn’t obtained enlightenment. The guilty, materialistic, lustful life was a farce, a game, to cover the emptiness inside.

Taken aback and overwhelmed, Siddhartha leaves the city and contemplates committing suicide. However, after a spiritual moment with the word “om” and a chance meeting with an old friend, he decides to live and instead devote himself to the river. So he reunites with the ferryman and attempt to learn from the river’s spirituality. He and the ferryman become quite famous as sages as the two are content to detach themselves from the world and just listen to people and convey the messages of the river.

A few years later, it turns out that Kamala had given birth to Siddhartha’s son after he left the city, and had become Buddha’s devotee. She comes to the river to ferry across to meet the Buddha and chances upon Siddhartha. However, this reunion is short-lived as she is fatally bitten by a snake and dies. Siddhartha then assumes responsibility for his young son, who is himself bitterly opposed to this. The son refuses to listen to Siddhartha and adapt to his simplistic ways. Siddhartha tries to kill him with kindness (figuratively!) because he loves him so much, but the boy refuses and runs away after stealing all his money. Siddhartha attempts to go after his son but is persuaded by the ferryman to let his son find his own path; just like how Siddhartha found his own as a young boy. Peering into to the river with the ferryman, Siddhartha realizes that all things are connected in unity and that time is immaterial. So happiness and sadness, sufferings and pleasure, good and evil, are all together and part of the oneness of the world. In other words, he attains enlightenment.

Many years later, his friend having heard of a great enlightened man living near the river (Siddhartha) comes to meet him. When he recognizes Siddhartha, he asks Siddhartha to teach him or at least impart some of his wisdom. Siddhartha initially refuses but then relents, telling his friend of how time doesn’t exist and how for each true statement there is an equally opposite true one. His friend thinks of Siddhartha as a mad man and gets ready to leave. Before he leaves, he kisses Siddartha’s forehead, on Siddhartha’s request, and immediately experiences the same timelessness Siddhartha had seen in the river. Hence, the book ends.

To be completely honest, I did not find the book to be as enlightening (LOL) as I hoped it would be. I just, I felt bored. A lot of the ideas and themes discussed in this book were things that I had already looked into/ heard about. So there wasn’t anything extremely new in it for me to learn about. I think I expected too much.

That said, this doesn’t mean that the book is a bad book. I mean, I could see how this book has attained its ‘classic’ status. It does grapple with some really interesting themes and the final idea about how everything is connected and how each experiences matters is a really great one. One that I actually believe in as well. So in terms of message, it’s really solid. In terms of presentation, it’s pretty solid as well. The idea of someone going from one extreme to another in an attempt to find something is one that has been done before but always remains enjoyable to read. Siddhartha’s journey was indeed nice to read about. And there were some incredibly insightful sentences and paragraphs in the book that I really, really enjoyed. To illustrate my point, I’m going to actually copy down a portion of the book:

Siddhartha said: “What could I say to you, Venerable One? Perhaps that you are seeking too hard? That you seek so hard that you do not find?

“What do you mean?” asked Govinda. 

“When someone seeks,” said Siddhartha, “then it easily happens that his eyes see only the thing that he seeks, and he is able to find nothing, to take in nothing because he always thinks only about the thing he is seeking, because he has one goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal. You, Venerable One, may truly be a seeker, for in striving toward your goal, you fail to see certain thing that are right under your nose.”              p 121-122 

Like I said, it is pretty insightful and quite profound. The passage also illustrates another feature of the book, it’s simple writing style. I think that’s actually the one thing that made me struggle with the book the most. I just, I was not a big fan of the writing, or perhaps I should say translation. It was written in german and then translated into english. I think I would’ve probably enjoyed the german version more, if I could read german. I enjoyed what was being said but my enjoyment was often brought down by the writing style. I found it difficult to keep up and found myself just reading over passages rather than reading through them. Perhaps I’m quite challenged when it comes to reading philosophical content. In sum, I think it’s a good book and worthwhile, but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations and left me a little puzzled in my feelings about it. Good message, but not quite delivered the way I hoped it would be.

My rating read it to learn about what enlightenment could be, but don’t expect to have your life changed by it.

Quote of the Week

We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and – in spite of True Romance magazines – we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely – at least, not all the time – but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.”     — Hunter S. Thompson