Monday, March 19, 2007

Shelf Life

Finding my self in a hardware store yesterday, I was surprised at the variety of TV antennas available nowadays. Some had rotating discs that supposedly boost the signal and of course there's the famous (and over-stretched) Baron antenna. Those things really caught my fancy because I have been dying to watch TV, especially with the new seasons of The Amazing Race, Survivor, and even Philippines Next Top Model (which Sarah said is purely despicable, but I'm still curious). I was about to pull out my almost maxed-out credit card when I went through a cost-benefit analysis of the purchase - a nasty habit whenever I weigh purchases or almost-purchases.

Ultimately, what swayed me from running off with an antenna yesterday was its effect on my book-reading. As it is, the DVDs I'm watching have been taking so much from my reading time. I'm down to a single book per two weeks, which is totally odious in my standard.

So the past weekend I consciously avoided the DVD player and chose to sit and read a book with endless cups of coffee. Currently, I'm reading The Line of Beauty, which won Alan Holinghurst a Booker Prize in 2004. I've read two of his books previously (The Folding Star and The Swimming Pool Library), which were both about gay characters. The Line of Beauty follows yet another gay character as he hobnobs with London's millionaires and the politically powerful. Typical of British authors, Holinghurst's sentences are long and copious with nuances. The language is an experience itself, thus compensating for the dragging story.

It took me three fucking weeks to finish Future Shock by Alvin Toffler. After reading the book I had quite a headache from the information overload, an experience that Toffler himself particularly said would plague people in the future largely due to the accelerated rate of technological change. Written in the 1970s (or thereabout), it was interesting how Toffler forecast some of the technological innovations and consequent social re-arrangements needed to accommodate these changes. Some of these assumptions we have long been experiencing (which are just too numerous to mention), while he still missed a few. The book has staggering assertions that should be taken with a more critical eye.

Finally, I read something about Myanmar through Finding George Orwell in Burma, written by Emma Larkin (a pseudonym). I knew Myanmar through Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi and its infamous military junta. Thanks to the said junta, Myanmar is currently the most reclusive country in Southeast Asia and definitely the poorest (way below Laos and Cambodia). Political repression has resulted to the country living in a virtual state of 1984 and Animal Farm, the famous Orwell novels. Orwell himself worked under the British police during Myanmar's imperial times. Larkin asserts that the seeds of the book were planted during Orwell's stay in the country. Part travelogue and part political analysis, the book is an enlightening glimpse of what it is to live in the horrors of a totalitarian state.

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