Recommendations

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fwiw
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Recommendations

Post by fwiw » Fri Jan 18, 2019 8:49 pm

I thought I'd start a thread about recommendations from the members about various works, fiction or not, on any medium, with a brief explanation about how it can be interesting for Buddhists
... in my opinion

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fwiw
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Re: Recommendations

Post by fwiw » Fri Jan 18, 2019 8:51 pm

I'll start with a book many have probably already read, but I think it's worth mentioning because in my opinion every human being (including Buddhists) should be knowledgeable in the matters exposed in this work:

Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel: A short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guns,_Germs,_and_Steel
The prologue opens with an account of Diamond's conversation with Yali, a New Guinean politician. The conversation turned to the obvious differences in power and technology between Yali's people and the Europeans who dominated the land for 200 years, differences that neither of them considered due to any genetic superiority of Europeans. Yali asked, using the local term "cargo" for inventions and manufactured goods, "Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own?" (p. 14)

Diamond realized the same question seemed to apply elsewhere: "People of Eurasian origin ... dominate ... the world in wealth and power." Other peoples, after having thrown off colonial domination, still lag in wealth and power. Still others, he says, "have been decimated, subjugated, and in some cases even exterminated by European colonialists." (p. 15)

The peoples of other continents (sub-Saharan Africans, Native Americans, Aboriginal Australians and New Guineans, and the original inhabitants of tropical Southeast Asia) have been largely conquered, displaced and in some extreme cases – referring to Native Americans, Aboriginal Australians, and South Africa's indigenous Khoisan peoples – largely exterminated by farm-based societies such as Eurasians and Bantu. He believes this is due to these societies' technologic and immunologic advantages, stemming from the early rise of agriculture after the last Ice Age.


Then a couple of movies:

The first is a Peter Weir movie (known for Dead Poets Society and The Truman Show) about people who escape from a Siberian gulag in the early 1940s and walk all the way to India. It's a man vs insanity of humans vs nature kind of story and makes us dive into what human life can be in extremely dire situations.




And The East, a nuanced story (as far as I remember) about environmental activists/terrorists being infiltrated by the FBI, with a beautiful character arc. It's an interesting reflection for Engaged Buddhists about meaningful and ethical activism. As far as I remember, it's actually much more nuanced than what the trailer makes it look like (it presents only the starting point:)

... in my opinion

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Recommendations

Post by Kim O'Hara » Sat Jan 19, 2019 5:42 am

Good topic - thanks.

Re your recommendations:
1. Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel ... yes, but what about his Collapse? Incredibly relevant in the age of climate catastrophe.

2. The Way Back - I haven't seen the movie but it looks like it's based on The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz which I read years ago and liked very much.

3. One I don't know at all. :smile:

My first recommendations:

1. Just about any book by Ursula LeGuin. Her fantasy is thoroughly grounded in anthropology and taoism, and is beautifully written. If I had to pick one title for this discussion it would be Always Coming Home.

2. Aldous Huxley's Island, his later and much more positive counterpoint to Brave New World.

:namaste:
Kim

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fwiw
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Re: Recommendations

Post by fwiw » Sat Jan 19, 2019 6:32 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 5:42 am
what about his Collapse? Incredibly relevant in the age of climate catastrophe.
I have that one with me but I haven't read it yet, although I heard it may be even better than GGS


2. The Way Back - I haven't seen the movie but it looks like it's based on The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz which I read years ago and liked very much.
I think it's indeed inspired by the long walk, but it's actually a mash up of separate true stories that happened to different people.
... in my opinion

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Recommendations

Post by Kim O'Hara » Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:52 am

fwiw wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 6:32 am
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 5:42 am
what about his Collapse? Incredibly relevant in the age of climate catastrophe.
I have that one with me but I haven't read it yet, although I heard it may be even better than GGS
I think it is, although it's a long time since I read either of them and I may think differently if I re-read them now.

Another non-fic recommendation which belongs up near the top of any list is Merchants of Doubt: How a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming, reviewed here - https://theecologist.org/2010/sep/10/merchants-doubt - and updated (sort of) here on Think Progress - https://thinkprogress.org/tag/climate-change-deniers/.

:reading:

If anyone prefers movies, the unsubtly-titled Greedy Lying Bastards deals with the disinformers pretty well, too.
https://www.greedylyingbastards.com

:jedi:
Kim

justsit
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Re: Recommendations

Post by justsit » Mon Jan 21, 2019 11:03 pm

In a *much* lighter -but very subtle - vein:



Why a Buddhist might enjoy this movie: http://www.chzc.org/wenger2.htm

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Recommendations

Post by Kim O'Hara » Tue Jan 22, 2019 1:32 am

justsit wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 11:03 pm
In a *much* lighter -but very subtle - vein:

...Why a Buddhist might enjoy this movie: http://www.chzc.org/wenger2.htm
In a somewhat similar vein, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (2004) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0338013/ explores the ways in which memory is identity. It's a far better movie than I thought it might have been.
And "The Time Traveller's Wife", as a novel, is a similarly-surprisingly-good exploration of determinism. I suspect that 90% of that was lost in the recent movie of it, but I don't really know.

:namaste:
Kim

justsit
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Re: Recommendations

Post by justsit » Wed Jan 23, 2019 6:35 pm

Just remembered a very interesting movie with heavy Buddhist influence: Cloud Atlas, "An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future." https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1371111/



A lengthy yet fascinating film with amazing scope, hard to do it justice on paper.

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fwiw
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Re: Recommendations

Post by fwiw » Thu Jan 24, 2019 2:16 am

justsit wrote:
Wed Jan 23, 2019 6:35 pm
Just remembered a very interesting movie with heavy Buddhist influence: Cloud Atlas, "An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future." https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1371111/



A lengthy yet fascinating film with amazing scope, hard to do it justice on paper.
:thumb:


This movie would also make it to the top of my list


In a similar vein, there was a few years prior The Fountain (both were huge box office bombs, yet both visually stunning with incredibly well written narratives and characters):






In the series of good movies that were box office bombs, let me throw in Children of Men, a rather bleak critique of society, yet with glimmers of hope


... in my opinion

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fwiw
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Re: Recommendations

Post by fwiw » Thu Jan 31, 2019 7:55 pm

Fabulous documentary by Adam Curtis about the origins of consumer society in the 20th century and the prominent role played in it by Edward Bernays, the father of Public Relations (or Public Manipulations) and nephew of Sigmund Freud.


... in my opinion

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fwiw
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Re: Recommendations

Post by fwiw » Tue Sep 24, 2019 9:52 pm

The Great Hack is an interesting documentary produced by Netflix




One of the most powerful parts of this documentary is in the following extract:

... in my opinion

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Recommendations

Post by Kim O'Hara » Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:14 am

fwiw wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 9:52 pm
The Great Hack is an interesting documentary produced by Netflix
...
On a similar topic, The Cleaners investigates the shadowy people who remove "bad" content from Facebook, Twitter, etc.
It's a bit longer than its content warrants but worth a look.

:reading: https://www.metacritic.com/movie/the-cleaners

...although I'm struggling to find a Buddhist connection in either of these. :thinking:

:popcorn:
Kim

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Dhammanando
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Re: Recommendations

Post by Dhammanando » Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:07 am

For Buddhist fans of Scandinavian crime fiction (are there any besides me?) I recommend Karin Alvtegen's Shadow (or Skugga if you read Swedish). Though I've no reason to think the author intended any such thing, her dark and haunting story might serve as a fine allegory of Dhammapada 71 ("An evil deed does not immediately bear fruit, just as the newly-drawn milk does not curdle at once; but it follows the fool burning him like live coal covered with ashes") or of the English saying "What a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive."

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Here's Maxine Clarke's review in the Euro Crime journal:
SHADOW opens in 1975 with the discovery of a four-year old boy who has been abandoned in a park. The boy, Kristoffer, is bought up by foster parents, and when an adult becomes an addict and drifter. The only thing that connects him with his forgotten childhood is his receipt of money every month until he is 18 – a small amount but sufficient to fund his dissolute lifestyle. When the money dries up, he realises that this is a chance for a fresh start. He's obsessed and intensely ashamed by his past, but he determines to clean himself up and become a writer. He befriends another struggling young author, Jesper, and the two provide each other with some mutual support. Kristoffer, however, is too repressed to tell anyone that he was abandoned and rejected, and that he has no idea who he is.

A 92-year-old woman, Gerda, dies in her flat. As she seems to have no relatives or friends, Marianne from the social services department is put in charge of sorting out Gerda's affairs and organising her funeral. During the course of this process, she discovers that Gerda lived for most of her adult life as the maid of Axel Ragnerfeldt, a Nobel laureate for literature, and his family. Axel is now an old man, paralysed by a stroke and unable to communicate except by moving his little finger. Marianne therefore contacts Axel's son, Jan-Erik, who has made a profession of setting up a foundation in his father's name, and who goes around giving lectures and readings from his books. Jan-Erik is trapped in a loveless marriage, which he does not leave because of the terms of his father's will.

As this compelling book progresses, we learn more of the history of four generations of the Ragnerfeldt family, the dynamics and secrets between husbands, wives, parents and children, as well as the professional rivalries between friends. The connection between the Ragnerfeldts and Kristoffer becomes slightly less obscure when we learn of a literary evening in which a younger Axel and his friend and fellow-author Torgny meet a beautiful young woman called Halina. She is a survivor of the Holocaust who has a terrible past. In her first scene, she tells Axel a fable, and asks him which of the five characters in it is the "least wrong". Axel's answer is prophetic; subsequent events play out the fable, with each character in SHADOW taking the role of the people in Halina's story.

One often reads the word "unputdownable" to describe a book – it is certainly a true description of this one. As the novel reaches its climax, I was on the edge of my seat, my heart was pounding, and by the end I felt wrecked. It has strong parallels with Wuthering Heights, in which two "normal" people (Gerda as Nelly Dean and Marianne as Lockwood) are the filter through which the reader experiences elemental, horrifically tragic and passionate events that are beyond the witness-narrators' comprehension.

This superb novel has so many layers and depths, concerning the biological and societal adaptations of consciousness; the experiences and consequences of the process of creative writing, its "success" and "failure"; an empathy and confidence in describing historical events; and the emotions of friendship, betrayal, passion and rage, simmering and erupting in a seemingly placid environment. The characters, whether central or subsidiary, are all rounded, and even the unsympathetic ones are given full opportunity to present their point of view. I was particularly impressed with the depictions of Kristoffer, whose desperate search for the meaning of his life through his past is unbearably tragic; the brave Halina, who struggles to transcend the ineradicable scars of her horrific past life, overcoming one terrible setback but encountering another awful one once she meets Axel; and Jan-Erik's sad wife Louise. The icing on the cake is that the plot is complete, clever, convoluted and convincing - the author does not flinch from following it through to the bitter end.

SHADOW is a brilliant and rich book, which has had a tremendous impact on me. I urge you to read it as soon as you can.

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Recommendations

Post by Kim O'Hara » Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:21 am

Dhammanando wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:07 am
For Buddhist fans of Scandinavian crime fiction (are there any besides me?)
:hello:
:smile:

...mostly Henning Mankell, but some others too.
I recommend Karin Alvtegen's Shadow ...
:thanks:
Kim

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