Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

Publisher: Signet Books; 1952

Price: RM43.90
Local distributor: MPH

"My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."
—Ayn Rand

After struggling for several years at various non-writing jobs, Ayn Rand began writing The Fountainhead in 1935. In the iconoclastic character of the architect Howard Roark, she presented for the first time the kind of hero whose depiction was the chief goal of her writing: the ideal man, man as "he could be and ought to be."

"The Fountainhead" tells the story of Howard Roark, a young architect who is a self-contained human being, living entirely for himself-by his own definition of himself. Roark's architectural design of buildings are considered extremely radical and are considered by many fellow professionals as offensive because he fails to pay homage to the artistry of the period, and his stubbornness to collaborate with anyone on any part of his designs. As Roark states at one point, he believes that buildings, like people, have one central theme or idea, and that idea cannot be compromised. Howard Roark struggles as an architect in the face of a successful rival, Peter Keating, and a newspaper columnist, Ellsworth Toohey.

Peter Keating, another architect, who achieve greatness by copying others, while giving the illusion of originality and creativity. In order to achieve his ambition to be a successful architect, Peter Keating was willing to sell his soul, including his wife, when necessary. Thus despite gaining wealth and apparent achievement, Keating's life was filled with emptiness.

Ayn Rand then formulated the common perception that altruism, the fundamental human value, is seen as an evil because the part of society that seeks to achieve this can only do so at someone else expense. In the person of Ellsworth Toohey, a flamboyant newspaper columnist, Rand illustrated how a power hungry personality can manipulate the masses by setting a standard of mediocrity which fosters collectivism.

The story also include a complex romantic affair between the recalcitrant architect Howard Roarke and socialite Dominique Francon. Their relationship develops from one in which they each seek to assert power over the other while achieving sexual release to one of true love between genuine soul mates. Roarke has always shown to be passionate with his work and is totally uncompromising in his creativity in his desire to accomplish his idealism. He will not ever compromise these goals despite enormous pressures to do so. Roarke was not a man to sell out himself as he is totally obsessed with his idealistic convictions.

The Fountainhead was rejected by twelve publishers. It was finally accepted by the Bobbs-Merrill Company. When published in 1943, it made history by becoming a best seller through word-of-mouth two years later, and gained for its author lasting recognition as a champion of individualism.

Ayn Rand returned to Hollywood in late 1943 to write the screenplay for The Fountainhead, but wartime restrictions delayed production until 1948.

This classical book is a novel about a hero, his individual crusade fighting a violent battle against convention, facing of the threat of fascism, and at the same time, having an explosive love affair with a beautiful woman who struggles to defeat him. The confrontation of those themes, along with the amazing stroke of Rand's writing, combine to give this book its long lasting enduring influence. This book is entertaining and thought inspiring.

A must read. 5 Star!

Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho

Eleven Minutes

by Paulo Coelho

HarperCollins Publishers; 2003

Price: RM49.90
Local distributor: MPH

"On 29th May 2002, just hours before I put the finishing touches to this book, I visited the Grotto in Lourdes, in France, to fill up a few bottles with miraculous water from the spring. Inside the Basilica, a gentleman in his seventies said to me: 'You know, you look like Paulo Coelho.' I said that I was Paulo Coelho. The man embraced me and introduced me to his wife and grand-daughter. He spoke of the importance of my books in his life, concluding: 'They make me dream.'"

Those are the words from Paulo Coelho in the preface of 'Eleven Minutes', the life-enhancing book that have cause great impact to millions of readers.

'Eleven Minutes' tells a story of Maria, a young girl from a Brazilian village whose first innocent brushes with love leave her heart-broken. At a tender age, she becomes convinced that she will never find true love, instead believing that 'love is a terrible thing that make you suffer...'

That set the stage of her journey to discover love, fame and fortune which leads her into the world of prostitution. Maria drifts further and further away from love while at the same time developing a fascination with sex.

Eventually, Maria meets a handsome young painter and she has to consider which way she wants her life to be, that is, either to continue to pursue a path of darkness and sexual pleasures, or to risk everything to find her own inner self and the possibility of sex in the context of love.

In this novel, Paulo Coelho explores the sacred nature of sex and love and prejudices.

I began fascinated with Paulo's writing after reading his book, 'The Alchemist'. I used to dislike novels about fictional romance and have always prefered management books. My friend Mohd Adib drag me into the world of Paulo Coelho when he persuaded me to try read The Alchemist. To nurse my curiosity, I pick up that book and drag myself to read it. Thereafter, I have never turn back on any Paulo's book. I was totally intrigued by the beauty of Paulo's writing and no words can describe this discovery of profound knowledge.

The Alchemist established Paulo's worldwide fame. The book has already achieved the status of a modern classic, universally admired. Considered a timeless story, it will enchant and inspire a whole new readers from generations to come.

'Eleven Minutes', was no.1 in the 2003 annual list of Publishing Trends, which every year establishes which fiction works sell more copies worldwide.

Coelho was born in 1947 in Rio de Janeiro. He grew up in a deeply religious household and was educated by Jesuits. Paulo Coelho has led an extreme rebellious during his youth.

Paulo was determined to be a writer from his early years. When Coelho was 17, his parent sent him to an asylum because they thought he was psychotic. "My parent thought I was psychotic because I read a lot. I was very shy and I didn't socialise very easily. My parent were desperate. They didn't want to hurt me, but they didn't know what to do," Paulo relates.

Coelho escaped from the asylum three times and was eventually released in 1967. He then enrolled in Law School, only to drop out to become a hippy. He also wrote popular song lyrics for some of Brazil's famous pop music stars, including Elis Regina and Raul Seixas. Shortly after, he worked as a journalist.

Then, in 1974, Coelho was arrested for 'subversive' activities by the authorities (the authorities saw Coelho's lyrics as leftwing and dangerous).

In 1986 Paulo Coelho walked the Road to Santiago, a medieval pilgrim's route between France and Spain. He would later describe this experience in his book, The Pilgrimage, published in 1987. The following year, his second book The Alchemist established his worldwide fame.

Paulo Coelho have the Guinness World Record for most translations (53) of a single title (The Alchemist) signed in one sitting (45 minutes). The record has been attained as a result of an international book signing hold at the Frankfurt Book Fair (2003).

Coelho's books tend to feature some sort of spiritual quest.

In his words: "I write from my soul. This is the reason that critics don't hurt me, because it is me. If it was not me, if I was pretending to be someone else, then this could unbalance my world, but I know who I am."

"Many people love my work, some hate it, but I've never stopped to think about it, and I'll go on without giving a thought - what really matters to me is to know that I can share my soul with those who understand me."

"I'm a human being, in its full condition, with its positive and negative sides. But I keep my ethics and when I break it, I'm not ashamed to apologize. I think that people waste a lot of time trying to improve themselves - and they do it by following other people's patterns. What's the meaning of being better? In my opinion, it is the constant daily struggle in search of my own dream. Man improves himself as he follows his path; if he stands still, waiting to improve before he makes a decision, he'll never move."

Paulo Coelho Posted by Hello

Other titles by Coelho include Brida (1990), The Valkyries (1992), Maktub (1994) - a compilation of his daily columns, By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept (1994), The Fifth Mountain (1996), The Manual of the Warrior of Light (1997), Veronika Decides to Die (1998) and The Devil and Miss Prym (2000).

Coelho’s latest novel 'O Zahir' reaches the Brazilian bookstores on April 2nd 2005. It is already the number one in the bestseller lists of all 83 countries in which it has been released; the only exception is in Germany, where it is number two, behind Da Vinci Code (another great novel). O Zahir was published in 83 countries and in 42 languages throughout the globe.

Paulo Coelho's enchanting novel has inspired millions of delighted readers around the world. His story is told in dazzling simplicity and wisdom. His writings is a must read! For those who have not yet read any of his bestsellers, you should start reading his first charting novel - The Pilgrimage and The Alchemist. Eleven Minutes is also a must read.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Atlas Shrugged

by Ayn Rand

A Signet Book; 1957

Price: RM 37.95


"I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."

— John Galt, Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged is Ayn Rand's magnum opus and It is her most philosophical novel.

When it was published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged created great controversy because of Ayn Rand’s uncompromising defense of capitalism and the state of the mind of individual. Denounced by many critics and intellectuals, the book nevertheless reaches world wide audiences. The book sold millions of copies and have tremendously influenced the lives of countless readers. Since 1957, Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism has gradually taken hold in the civil society. Today, her books and ideas are becoming widely taught in colleges and universities in Europe and America.

Atlas Shrugged is a mystery story which pondered on why so many of the world's productive minds are gradually disappearing; the other being about the invention of a revolutionary new kind of motor.

The main character in the story are:

Dagny Taggart -- She is the vice-president for operations of Taggart Transcontinental railroad and the book's main protagonist.

Henry "Hank" Rearden -- As the founder and president of Rearden Steel, he is America's greatest industrialist.

John Galt -- Galt is a mysterious figure involved in the disappearance of the world's great thinkers and business leaders.

Francisco d'Anconia -- This heir to an enormous copper-mining fortune appears to be squandering his wealth and talent. He is Dagny's childhood friend and former lover.

The central theme of Atlas Shrugged is the role of the human mind in life and society they belong to. Rand argues that independent creative and innovative thinking is the engine that runs the world. In Atlas Shrugged she illustrated what would happen to the world if the "men of the mind" went on strike: the engine of the world would shut down and civilization crushed. The primary philosophy of the book has its roots entirely in Objectivism, the philosophical system propounded by Rand.

Atlas Shrugged is a novel about a strike. Ayn Rand sets out to show the fate that befalls the world when the thinkers and doers should go on strike. The author raises an intriguing question: What would happen if the scientists, medical researchers, inventors, industrialists, writers, artists, and so on withheld their minds and their achievements from the world?

The story of Atlas Shrugged takes place at an unspecified future time. Dagny Taggart, vice president in charge of operations for Taggart Transcontinental Railroad, seeks to rebuild the crumbling track of the Rio Norte Line that serves Ellis Wyatt’s oil fields and the booming industrial areas of Colorado. The country is in a downward economic spiral with businesses closing and men out of work. Other countries in the world have become socialist Peoples’ States and are destitute. Colorado, based on Wyatt’s innovative method of extracting oil from shale, is the last great industrial center on earth. Dagny intends to provide Colorado the train service it requires, but her brother James Taggart, president of Taggart Transcontinental, tries to block her from getting new rails from Rearden Steel, the last reliable steel manufacturer. James wants to do business with the inefficient Associated Steel, which is run by his friend Orren Boyle. Dagny wants the new rail to be made of Rearden Metal, a new alloy that Hank Rearden developed after ten years of experiment. Because the metal has never been tried and has been denounced by metallurgists, James won’t accept responsibility for using it. Dagny, who studied engineering in college, has seen the results of Rearden’s tests. She accepts the responsibility and orders the rails made of Rearden Metal.

Worsening the economic depression in the U.S. is the unexplained phenomenon of talented men retiring and disappearing.

James Taggart, in an attempt to recover the railroad’s losses on the San Sebastian Line, uses his political friendships to influence the vote of the National Alliance of Railroads. The Alliance passes what’s known as the “Anti-dog-eat-dog rule,” prohibiting “cutthroat” competition. The rule puts the superb Phoenix-Durango Railroad, Taggart Transcontinental’s competitor for the Colorado freight traffic, out of business. With the Phoenix-Durango line gone, Dagny must rebuild the Rio Norte Line quickly.

In this novel, Rand argues that all human progress and prosperity depend on rational thinking. Human have invented aeroplanes, telephones, computers, and televisions. Human had erect skyscrapers, and grow an abundant food supply. Humans have been to the moon and mars and had developed abundant technologies. Human beings have found cures for many diseases that had plagued the society. All of these achievements result from the human application of a rational mind. If intellectuals responsible for such advances would chose to abandon the world, then the world would turned into a regressive and primitive state.

The thinkers had gone on strike in Atlas Shrugged to protest the oppression of their intellect and creativity. The thinkers in Atlas Shrugged strike on behalf of individual rights and political freedom. They strike against an enforced moral code of self-sacrifice — the creed that human life must be devoted to serving the needs of others. Above all, the thinkers strike to prove that reason is the only means by which man can understand reality and make proper decisions; emotions should not guide human behavior. In short, the creative minds are on strike in support of a person’s right to think and live independently.

The focus of Atlas Shrugged is the role that the human mind plays in human existence. Atlas Shrugged shows that rational thinking is mankind’s survival instrument.

In the novel, the withdrawal of the great thinkers can cause the collapse of the nation’s economy. The strike proves the role that the rational mind plays in the attainment of progress and prosperity.

When Ayn Rand was writing Atlas Shrugged, many Americans strongly believed that the government should have the power to coercively redistribute income and to regulate private industry. The capitalist system of political and economic freedom was consistently attacked by socialists and welfare statists. The belief that an individual has a right to live his own life was replaced, to a significant extent, by the collectivist idea that individuals must work and live in service to other people. Individual rights and political freedom were threatened in American politics, education, and culture.

Rand argues in Atlas Shrugged that the freedom of society is responsible for its greatest achievements and that economic freedom would liberated the great creative thinkers, permitting them to put into practice new ideas and methods. But what would happen if economic freedom were lost?

In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand projects the culmination of a twentieth-century socialist nation. The government portrayed in the story has significant control over the domestic economy. The rest of the world has been swallowed up by Marxist States and subsists in abject poverty. A limited degree of economic freedom still exists in a democratic nation, but it’s prosperity is steadily declining. The successful are heavily taxed to support the poor, and the poor are similarly levied to finance the even poorer people in foreign Marxist States. The government subsidizes inefficient businesses at the expense of the more efficient. With the state controlling large portions of the economy, the result is the rise of corrupt businessmen who seek profit by manipulating crooked politicians rather than by doing productive work. The government forces inventors to give up their patents so that all manufacturers may benefit equally from new products. Similarly, the government breaks up productive companies, compelling them to share the market with weaker (less efficient) competitors.

In short, the fictionalized universe of Atlas Shrugged presents a future in which nation states which are treading toward socialism had been accelerated. Twentieth-century realities such as heavy taxation, massive social welfare programs, tight governmental regulation of industry, and antitrust action against successful companies are heightened in the universe of this story. The government annuls the rights of citizens, and freedom is steadily eroded, rapidly becoming a fascist dictatorship.

The result, in Rand’s fictional universe, is a collapse of a nation’s prosperity. Great minds are shackled by government policies, and their innovations are either rejected or expropriated by the state. Thinkers lack the freedom necessary to create new products, to start their own companies, to compete openly, and to earn wealth. Under the increasing yoke of tyranny, the most independent minds in a free society choose to defend their liberty in the most effective manner possible: They withdraw from society.

Atlas Shrugged shows that intellect is necessary to promote man’s prosperity on earth. But intellectual ability isn’t within a man’s volitional control. The ability of his brain is something that a man is born with, but he chooses whether he uses it. An individual can be judged only by what is subject to his control.

Rand suggests that a society will stagnate to the extent that independence and individual achievement are discouraged or demonized. Inversely, a society will become more prosperous as it allows, encourages, and rewards independence and individual achievement. Rand believed that independence flourishes to the extent that people are free, and that achievement is most fairly rewarded when private property is strictly observed. She advocated laissez-faire capitalism as the political system that is most consistent with these beliefs. These considerations make Atlas Shrugged a highly political book, especially in its portrayal of socialism and communism as fundamentally flawed.

Rand also argues that traits like independence and individual achievement, which currently drive the world, are actually virtues, and in her worldview are central to a "rational" moral code.

Atlas Shrugged is the astounding story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world--and did. Tremendous in scope, breathtaking in its suspense, Atlas Shrugged stretches the boundaries further than any book you have ever read. It is a mystery, not about the murder of a man's body, but about the murder--and rebirth--of man's spirit.
Good book and worthe the time and money spent.



The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist

Author: Paulo Coelho

Publisher: HarperCollins Publisher; 1993

Price: RM32.90

Local distributor: Kinokuniya

Some interesting abstracts:

"People from all over the world have passed through this village. They come in search of new things, but when they leave, they are basically the same people they were when they arrived. They climb the mountain to see the castle, and they wind up thinking that the past was better than now. They have blond hair, or dark skin, but basically, they're the same as the people who live right here."

"Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his own."

At certain point in our lives, we lose control of what's happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That's the world's greatest lie."

"Everybody, when they are young, knows what their personal legend is. They yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them. But as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realise their personal legend. The mysterious force is a force that appears to be negative, but actually shows you how to realise your personal legend. It prepares your spirit and your will - It's your mission on earth. To realise it is a person's only real obligation. And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."

"Treasure is uncovered by the force of flowing water, and it is buried by the same currents."

"Everything in life has its price. If you start out by promising what you don't even have yet, you'll lose your desire to work towards getting it."

"In order to find the treasure, you will have to follow the omens. God has prepared a path for everyone to follow. You just have to read the omens that he left for you."

"We see the world in terms of what we would like to see happen, not what actually does."

"I don't want to change anything because I don't know how to deal with change. I'm used to the way I am."

"Every blessing ignored becomes a curse."

"We made a lot of detours, but we're always heading for the same destination."

"How do you guess about your future? The secret is in the present. If you pay attention on the present, you can improve upon it. And if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better. Forget about the future and live each day according to the teachings, confident that God loves his creation. Each day in itself brings with it an eternity. God rarely reveals the future. When He does so, it is for only one reason: It's a future that was written so as to be altered."

"You must love the desert, but never trust it completely. Because the desert tests all men; it challenges every steps, and kills those who become distracted."

"Its not what enters men's mouth that's evil. It's what comes out of their mouth that is."

"Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure."

The Alchemist is a book that was first published in Brazil in 1988 and is the most famous work of author Paulo Coelho. It is a symbolic story that urges its readers to follow their dreams.

As of 2004, had been translated into over 40 languages and sold over 50 million copies in more than 150 countries.

The story is about a shepherd boy name Santiago who had a dream of being taken to the Egyptian pyramids. He then ventured from his homeland in Spain to North Africa in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a beautiful young gypsy woman and an old man named Melchizedek, and who claim to be the king of Salem. The old man requested that Santiago give him a tenth of his sheep in return he will tell him where to find the hidden treasure.

Later, he was cheated of all his sheeps by a stranger boy whom he had just befriended. He then realised that he had to choose between thinking of himself as the poor victim of a thief and as an adventurer in quest of his treasure. " I'm an adventurer, looking for treasure," he said to himself.

Santiago found a job at a crystal shop so that he can earn some money to continue in pursuit of his dream. Working for eleven months and nine days, he then decided that he had saved enough to continue his travel to Egypt.

Along the journey he meets many spiritual messengers, who come in unassuming forms such as a camel driver and a well-read Englishman. In one of the Englishman's books, Santiago first learns about the alchemists - men who believed that if a metal were heated for many years, it would free itself of all its individual properties, and what was left would be the "Soul of the World." He did eventually meet with an alchemist, and the ensuing student-teacher relationship clarifies much of the boy's misguided agenda, while also emboldening him to stay true to his dreams. "My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer," the boy confides to the alchemist one night as they look up at a moonless night.

"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself," the alchemist replies. "And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity."

When he finally reached the destination of his dream, the pyramid. he found nothing - no treasure. He struggled and continue digging until his hands were abraded and exhausted. As he was attempting to pull out the gravels, several tribal refugees approached him, beat him up and took all his belongings, ridiculed him and then disappeared.

Santiago stood up shakily and look once more at the pyramids and laughed because he knew where his treasure was.

He went back, to where he came from, and finally found the treasure that he was looking for; at his very own backyard.

The moral of this story speaks of the "Soul of the World" and that the Earth itself wants us to be happy. This story tells how each of us have a single mission or goal in life, a Personal Legend, though most of us don't realize it. But most importantly it speaks of how doing good deeds for others is eventually rewarded and though we don't know what our treasure will be, or where and how we will receive it, if we do follow our heart, we will find it.
Excellent presentation and worth the money. To all those who thinks the grass is greener on the other continent, they should read this book.

The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho

The Pilgrimage

Author: Paulo Coelho

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers; 1995

Price: RM39.90

Distributor: Kinokuniya, KLCC

In 1986, Paulo Coelho sets out for The Pilgrimage towards Santiago de Compostela. "In those days' Paulo's spiritual quest was linked to the idea that there were secrets, mysterious ways, and people who are capable of understanding and controlling things, which would be unavailable to mortals. His journey gave him great insights and experience, to which Paulo was transformed as he learns to understand the nature of truth through the simplicity of life.

The Pilgrimage details Paulo Coelho's journey along the legendary road of San Tiago across Spain. In The Pilgrimage, Coelho recounts the spectacular trials that lead him to discover personal power, wisdom, and a miraculous sword that seals his initiation into the secret society of the Tradition. With his enigmatic mentor, Petrus, he follows a legendary road travelled by pilgrims of San Tiago since the Middle Ages, encountering a Chaucerian variety of mysterious guides and devilish opponents. Coelho's experiences and his mentor's teachings impart the spiritual wisdom that reveals itself as the true purpose of their exciting journey.

The story shows that love can make us stronger and it is this strength that allows us to make the right decision at the right time. The search of truth is assimilated to a personal search for meaning, for the things that we need in life such as truth, agape, enthusiasm, and spirituality.

Some interesting abstracts:

"Don't lose sight of your objective. Don't forget that you still have a great deal to learn before you find your sword."

"Almost always that people who are fascinated by details forget what they are after."

"When you are moving towards an objective, it is very important to pay attention to the road. It is the road that teaches us the best way to get there, and the road enriches us as we walk its length. You can compare it to a sexual relationship: the caresses of foreplay determine the intensity of the orgasm."

"Time isn't something that always proceeds at the same pace. It is we who determine how quickly time passes."

"Changing the way you do routine things allows a new person to grow inside you."

"Wherever your treasure is, there will be your heart."

"We must not stop dreaming. Dreaming nourishes the soul. Many times in our lives we see our dreams shattered and our desire frustrated, but we have to continue dreaming. If we don't, our soul dies, and agape cannot reach it."

"The first symptom of the process of killing our dreams is the lack of time. The busiest people always have time enough to do everything. Those who do nothing are always tired and pay no attention to what they are required to do. The second symptom is our uncertainties. Because we don't want to see life as a grand adventure, we begin to think of ourselves as wise and fair and correct in asking so little of life. We never see the delight, the immense delight in the hearts of warriors. For them, neither victory nor defeat is important; what's important is only that they are fighting the good fight. The third symptom is peace. Life becomes a sunday afternoon; we ask for nothing grand, and we cease to demand anything more than we are willing to pay. In this state, we think of ourself as mature; we put aside the fantasies of our youth, and we seek personal and professional achievement. But deep down in our hearts, we know that what has happened is that we have renounced the battle for our dreams. When we renounced our dreams and find peace, we go through a short period of tranquility. But the dead dreams begin to rot within us and to infect our entire being. We become cruel to those around us, and then we begin to direct this cruelty against ourselves. That's when illness and psychoses arise. And the dead spoit dreams make us difficult to breathe, and we actually seek death. We need to learn to fight the good fight. We need to accept adventures and challenges that life provides, but we still want to deny anything that is extraordinary. The only way to rescue our dreams is by being generous with ourselves. Any attempt to inflict self-punishment - no matter how subtle it may be - should be dealt with rigorously. In order to know when we are being cruel to ourselves, we have to transform any attmpt at causing spiritual pain - such as guilt, remorse, indecision, and cowardice - into physical pain. By transforming a spiritual pain into a physical pain, we can learn what harm it can cause us."

"We are only able to be kind to ourselves when we need severity."

"We are always trying to convert people to a belief in our own expectation. We think that the more people there are who believe as we do, the more certain it will be that what we believe is the truth. This is mistaken behavior."

"There is no religion that is capable of bringing all of the stars together, because if this happen, the universe would become a gigantic empty space, and would lose its reason for existence."

"What appears from down here to be a huge number of bodies that are similar to each other are really a million different things, spread over a space that is beyond human comprehension."

"Fans who lack faith can make a winning team lose a game."

"It appears that a newlywed do really love each other. And they believe that their love will grow. But shortly, they will be alone with each other, struggling to earn a living, build a house, and share their misadventure. For he will begin to feel that he's not free enough to express all of the eros; (the feeling of love for another) all of the love that he has for other women. She will begin to feel that she had gave up brilliant career in order to be her husband. So, instead of creating something together, each would begin to feel robbed of the means to express eros and the spirit that unites them would begin to reveal only its negative side. And what God had provided to humans as their noblest sentiment would become a source of hatred and destructiveness. Eros therefore makes us feel apart from the world, trapped in our solitude."

"Philos is love in the form of friendship. It is what we feel towards others. When the flame of eros stops burning, it is philos that keeps a couple together.

"Agape is both eros and philos. Agape is total love that consumes. The love that consumes makes everything else - absolutely everything - lose its importance. It is the love that consumes the person who experience it. Agape is much more than liking. It is a feeling that suffuses, that fills every spaces in us, and turns our aggression to dust. Whoever knows and experience agape learns that nothing else in the world is important - just love. This is the kind of love that can shook the stars and change the course of history and enables us to accomplish things that kings, armies, and empires could not."

"Enthusiasm is another form of agape Enthusiasm is agape directed at a particular idea or thing. Enthusiasm carries us toward our goal.

"We blame the world for our boredom and for our losses, and we forget that it was we ourselves who allowed this enchanting power, which justifies everything, to diminish - the manifestation of agape in the form of enthuisiasm."

"The messenger helps you, but there is one thing that is beyond the messenger's control, beyond his desires, and beyond you, as well. It is the divine spark, what we call LUCK!"

"A threat leads to nothing if it is not accepted."

"When we sense the presense of something positive, your imagination, concluded that someone had arrived to help you. And this, your faith save you even though it was based on an assumption that was absolutely false."

"When I asked if you wanted to, I was not testing your courage. I was testing your wisdom. But you wanted to be brave, when it is enough to have been intelligent. Wisom is only valuable if it helps us to overcome obstacles."

"Good teachers only are able to demonstrate how you can deal with problem, and how to win. Teaching only demonstrate what is possible. Learning is making it possible for yourself."

"Once a problem is solved, it's simplicity is amazing."

"Death is inevitable. Death is our constant companion, and it is death that gives each person's life its true meaning. Actually, we should be more frightened by the way in which we would die than by death itself."
Philosophical and eruditing. A must read!

The Zahir by Paulo Coelho

The Zahir

By Paulo Coelho

HarperCollinsPublishers; 2005


Coelho’s latest novel 'O Zahir' reaches the Brazilian bookstores on April 2nd 2005. It is already the number one in the bestseller lists of all 83 countries in which it has been released; the only exception is in Germany, where it is number two, behind Da Vinci Code (another great novel). O Zahir was published in 83 countries and in 42 languages throughout the globe.

The story is about a renowned author who discovers that his wife, a war correspondent, has disappeared, leaving no trace. Was she kidnapped, blackmailed, or simply bored with their marriage? The unrest she causes is as strong as the attraction she exerts.

Though time brings more success and new love, he remains mystified – and increasingly fascinated – by her absence.

According to writer Jorge Luis Borges, the idea of Zahir comes from the Islamic tradition. Zahir, in Arabic means visibility, present, incapable of going unnoticed. It is someone or something which, once we have come into contact with them, gradually occupies our every thought, until we can think of nothing else.

When Coelho was young, his parent thought I was psychotic and sent him to an asylum.
Paulo Coelho has led an extreme rebellious during his youth. Coelho escaped from the asylum three times and was eventually released in 1967. He then enrolled in Law School, only to drop out to become a hippy. He also wrote popular song lyrics for some of Brazil's famous pop music stars, including Elis Regina and Raul Seixas. Shortly after, he worked as a journalist.

Before realising that writing was his "destiny", he enrolled in law school, dropped out to become a hippy, and for several years wrote lyrics for Raul Seixas, the Brazilian rock star. Then, in 1974, Coelho was arrested for "subversive" activities by the ruling militia (the authorities saw Coelho's lyrics - some of them influenced by the teaching of the satanist Aleister Crowley - as left-wing and dangerous). He was bundled into a car, taken to a secret headquarters and tortured with electric shocks to his genitals.

Coelho's books all tend to feature some sort of spiritual quest, written in accessibly pared-down language which leads the reader inexorably towards a thumping great moral climax.

His search for her – and for the truth of his own life – takes him from France to Spain, Croatia and, eventually, the bleakly beautiful landscape of Central Asia. More than that, it takes him from the safety of his world to a totally unknown path, searching for a new understanding of the nature of love and the power of destiny.

With The Zahir, Paulo Coelho demonstrates not just his powerful and captivating storytelling, but also his extraordinary insight into what it is to be a human being in a world full of possibility.

The story is basically non-fiction as it truly reflects the journey of life of Coelho himself.

My opinion: not of the same quality as Alchemist and The Pilgrimage, or even Eleven Minutes.

The Rule of Four

The Rule of Four

Author: Ian Caldwell & Dustin Thomason

Publisher: Arrow Books; 2004

Price: RM35.90

Local distributor: MPH

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Book Review

I had just created this blog and will post the book pictures to be stored and will gradually write the reviews.

Anyone with similar passion can contribute to the review and even those willing to provide objective comments would be much appreciated.

The blogger hopes to share his passion and fascination for literacy.