MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “book”

Blink or Think

blinkThe real purpose of books is to trap the mind into doing its own thinking” (Christopher Morley). Some books excel at it. And it is not just the ones that engage you into travelling away from reality, but rather those that make you think more of it.

In Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell manages to do exactly that. He makes you consider how those first thoughts you have are the ones that matter the most and are often more correct than if you think thoroughly through something.

The book points out that “the key to good decision-making is not knowledge. It is understanding”. That is why, for instance, when people talk, we listen to their words and watch their eyes in order to pick up the expressive nuances that reveal if what they’re saying is true.

Through a series of stories and case studies, Gladwell attempts to “understand this mysterious thing called judgement – the kind of wisdom someone acquires after a lifetime of learning and watching and doing”. “From experience, we gain a powerful gift, the ability to act instinctively, in the moment. But it is easy to disrupt this gift”, because we live in a world saturated with information and sometimes that works against our judgement. Those subtle influences from our surroundings, our background, our experiences, our network, often very much affect the bias of our unconscious. As such, we are already prejudiced in our decisions, particularly if we dwell hard on them.

These are the “unexpected costs of knowing too much”. That you allow your judgement to be clouded by too many things – often stereotypes. “We are inundated with information and we have come to confuse information with understanding.” That is why, as the book very eloquently explains, “sometimes we can make better judgement with less information”.

The impression you form in a blink – in milliseconds – is in fact more truthful than the one you allow yourself to form after thinking a situation through and permitting the stereotypes in your head to barge through. The point is not to listen with your eyes, but with what your instinct tells you. It is the power of first impressions, of rapid cognition.

It is true of course that “there are some situations where the human mind needs a little help” – where more information is required to form a proper decision. After all, “truly successful decision-making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking”.

But, in the issues that matter most, perhaps the decisions that stem from the unconscious are the ones that will in the end make us happier.

Think about it. Maybe next time just trust that ‘blink’ you get as a first thought and see what happens.

Coffee in the park

https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/t/paper-coffee-cup-book-grass-green-summer-sunlight-park-55085045.jpgHe was waiting for her with a book in hand outside the small coffee shop where they had agreed to meet at 6pm sharp. She was ten minutes (fashionably) late. On purpose, of course. His eyes lit up when he saw her approaching. She tried to hide the glow of her own eyes through the dark sunglasses she still wore even though the sun had already began to set.

He greeted her and told her he would like to go sit on the green hill opposite the café where people went to gaze at the world as it went by a few feet away from them. She agreed without hesitation. It was an alternative offer to a mere coffee appointment and she was curious to see where it would lead.

He ordered the coffee and took her hand. She couldn’t help but blush, even after all this time.

The last time she had seen him a week ago she had left in a rush to hide her tears. He was as cold as an iceberg. But both their pride made them stubborn enough to remain apart even though they wanted to be together.

For minutes, they discussed the people that walked past, the streetlights, the current events, everything other than what was truly on their minds.

Then she dared ask, “what is this book you have?” She was a bookworm and he knew it. She could get lost in books as though she was drowning in an ocean.

He didn’t look at her, but a faint smile formed on his face. “There are some things I can’t say. It’s what you complain to me about. That I don’t speak enough. Or, rather, I don’t tell you how I feel enough. So I found another way to do so. I want to read you something. It’s exactly what I want you to know. What I wish I could say to you. What I want you to understand about me.

She gazed at him as he took the book – a blue one with yellow pages – and opened it to the marked page. He cleared his throat and began to read, gently as though in a lullaby, with emotion emanating from every word he pronounced.

I love you even when I hate you. Even when I want to be angry at you, I can’t. Because I’ve fallen so deep, I can’t get out. And I don’t want to. I become silent because I fear of you knowing this. Because it scares me that I am so vulnerable at your hands. That I lose all control when I’m with you, when I simply lay eyes on you. You awaken in me everything I want to be. That better person I would like to be, the one I strive to become. I say nothing because I want to say a lot. Because I fear you’ll realise you deserve so much better than me. That I am not worthy of someone like you. Whatever adjectives I find to describe you will never be enough. And I fall silent because I fear that you will realise you deserve better and walk away. I know I become overly jealous and possessive. It is the fear in me coming out. And that turns into anger because I am afraid I won’t be able to keep you. I love you even when I say I don’t. Because you have awakened in me an emotion that I never knew existed. And I love you for being you. For being here with me. For loving me.”

He closed the book and she swallowed with difficulty. She turned her head quickly away because she didn’t want him to see the tears forming in her eyes. She managed to keep them from trickling down.

That’s beautiful,” she told him. “Who wrote it?

He opened the book again to the marked page.

I did,” he said and revealed the yellow post-it he had written it all on.

The book on the shelf

http://onlinesalesstepbystep.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/book-on-a-shelf.jpgIt stood there longing to be read. But instead its pages crinkled with time as they gathered dust. If it was ever opened now, the reader would be able to see the passing of time imprinted on the yellowing of the paper. Yet it remained on the shelf, unopened, unread.

Potential readers passed by its location daily. Their eyes always passed over it but none focused on it for more than a second. And that was never enough to grab their attention.

Books on either side of it were removed and returned frequently, but that persisted always firmly in place.

The book had now aged. But its content was always timely. If only someone chose to pick it up and open it, they would experience the wisdom in its pages diffuse into their mind. A closed book is hardly of any use. Just like a parachute, it works better when opened. When read. When understood. When applied.

You never know the inspiration and the knowledge you may find, unless you actually fall upon it, by choice or by chance.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Shelf

Interviewing a person you want to be like

DSC_8267 (2)Every young writer has a longing to meet the authors s/he looks up to, either for advice, or to find traits in their writing process that fit into their own, thus granting them a sense that they are doing something right, and if they keep working hard enough, just maybe they too will become bestselling authors. It’s an amazing sensation to be able to sit down and chat with a writer you admire. Even more so when that person is not just a writer, but also an actor, a radio producer, a dancer and so much more. And he inspires you too, to just “get out there and fight hard for what you want”.

Kostas Krommydas is a well-known Greek actor having participated in many TV series, theatre performances and movies. He is the author of four books (and more to come). For the past two years, he selects music for a three-hour programme on popular Love Radio, while he has also participated in the Greek version of Dancing with the Stars.

I first met him at a book exhibition where I was lucky enough to convince him to sign his book for me, and was won over by a chocolate he was handing out, like a host at a party. He is slender and tall, yet emits a warmth and generosity that is rare in people who have so much of the spotlight turned onto them. Active on social media, he will respond almost instantly, and I was genuinely surprised at how approachable and cheerful he is. As soon as I finished his book – based on a true story, weaving together seemingly independent tales with a fascinating and fast-paced cinematographic script – I contacted him to ask for an interview. It is always wonderful to meet the person behind the pen. You always learn something, even if it is just the fact that they are quick-witted and love to multitask. But they do it all so well, and that is truly encouraging for someone who is also involved in so many things they need to make lists simply to keep up with themselves.

“Ever since I can remember I always wanted to be an actor and had begun searching for how to become one from a very young age,” he recounts. “But I also wrote from a young age. In an organized manner, though, I officially began to write the last six years. I began with a biographical book of how I raised my daughter, then followed three novels”.

20151202_120354Can an actor and a writer be combined? Kostas says “One hundred percent yes. Each helps the other, because of all the skills, experiences, and images gained from the one, you can use for the other, and by combining the two you can create something great”.

Like every writer, Kostas too says he is influenced by many other authors, naming for example, Milan Kundera’s early works, the Ancient Greek Tragedians (Aeschylos, Sophocles, Evripides), as well as Alexandros Papadiamantis, and Herman Hesse, as just a few. As for his favourite book, he chooses Oedipus Rex, which he says “even today, it is as if it was written yesterday. It’s structure is simply astonishing”.

Currently working on another book, Kostas says he would like to write a genuine crime novel. All of his novels, however, contain an element of crime, and the last two in particular are based on true stories. “If you look out there, there are amazing stories that life has written, so you don’t have to imagine them; on its own, life hands you a lot of material to take and develop.” Yet, he recognizes the huge responsibility that lies in this, “in basing your novel on a true story and developing it, making it into a version of what the reality could have been”.

Do his books entail something personal? “One hundred percent, yes. All my books have something mine in them. I really like to include a piece of my life, of the images and feelings I have; I think it makes the text more lively that way”.

And what about where inspiration comes from? “From everything. Music, nature, people around you. A lot of things inspire me. I may see something in the street, I may hear music, and be inspired. I think that generally, if you let yourself go and observe what is going on around you, inspiration will arrive on its own”.

IMG_4301That moment when you see your views converge with that of an acclaimed writer is priceless and fills you with a sense of satisfaction. And then he goes and inspires you even further, because how easy is it really to decide what you want to do and simply go and do it? “It is both easy and difficult at the same time. Sometimes it’s simply about deciding what you want to do. But on the other hand, taking that decision is the hardest thing in the world. It all depends on the person, on where in life s/he is when that decisive moment arrives, and whether you take or not those decisions”.

In his latest book, Kostas beautifully writes, «Grab every minute of all the life that is given to you and add value to it. You live life today, in every second that passes by with no return, and not in future desires that never become actions”.

So what advice would he give today? “To do what I did – to go out and fight hard for what you want; to chase after the things you want to achieve. Success rarely comes and finds you on its own.

His words come out flowing, like a strong current full of knowledge, experience and passion for the life he lives. And this is exactly what he both motivates and encourages others to do. After all, he even writes it in his books: “it is better to do something wrong, than to never live it at all…”.

A little shameless self-promotion…

toxamenofws-cover-510x760The most exciting moment for any writer – or even wannabe writer – is the time when they see the realization of their dream. That time when they receive the printed version of what had previously only been imprinted in their minds. The publication of their first book.

I have been lucky and privileged enough to see this dream come true. My collection of ten short stories, following the adventures, thoughts and daily happenings of a bunch of characters that could easily form a part of our own social group, our friends and family. They are stories that aim to bring light into our busy and often stressful lives. To make you think of your problems in a different glow, to view life in a different perspective, to cause a smile to form on your pretty face.

It is a book that encompasses stories that have moved from the fantasy realm of my mind into the printed wonder of the published word. And I would love to share them all with you. Just like you share a good book, movie or wine with friends, unleashing all the while an inner secret that would otherwise never be heard. Because a good book always reveals an unknown inner part of its author. And in this way you gain both an entertainment and a new friend!

The book is in Greek (for now) and is available here.

A World of Shock

disaster_capitalismYou know that old woman who shoved you while hurrying to get off the bus this morning? She was running to get to the hospital, as her husband suffered a heart attack while she was at the market. And remember that young man getting sunburnt on the side of the pavement where he was rooted, who even offered his blessing when you stopped to hand him some change? Two hours later, his cousin dropped by in a fancy car, picked him up and went to the beach.

Things are not always what they seem. Nor can we even imagine what the reality is truly like. In a world marred by constant talk of crisis, sensationalist media reports, and the looming pessimism of disasters – be they natural, financial, political or even moral – we live in a constant state of instability and shock. We are fighting nervous breakdowns by pretending we’re OK, by keeping on moving, by refusing to even consider what would happen if we stopped and breathed it all in.

People all around us seem so different, even though we share common ground. Nonetheless, all we mostly see – or chose to acknowledge – is the extent to which we vary from each other. And this usually always means that “the others” are most often luckier, more privileged, and “have it easy”. Or even that those who have managed to travel beyond the continent, somehow have returned deeming themselves over and above their compatriots, as if now they are somehow better than everyone else, as if they no longer belong to this world. There are people like that. Who managed to rise up from the slums into a life of riches, and all of a sudden, they have become too important to deal with “petty commoners”, or even “locals”. Those who rise from their ashes remembering their past and helping others survive it too are, unfortunately, a rarity in this world.

In one of the most enthralling, shocking, riveting, and illuminating books of modern times, Naomi Klein describes exactly this. How we live in a world of shock. How certain capitalists pursue a “Shock Doctrine” in order to impose Milton Friedman’s Chicago School model of deregulation, privatization, and cut of public spending. It reveals our world as it truly is, one run by capitalism that has no interest for its human impact. She dubs this “Disaster Capitalism”, because it concerns big private companies profiting at the expense of the poorer and lower down on the social scale, whenever disaster (in any form) strikes. It is the implementation of a shock and awe policy. Simply considering the world we live in today – this constant state of “crisis” – it is not hard to see that certain international institutions (the International Monetary Fund, for example) are doing exactly this – demanding that their terms be implemented if money is to be disbursed; terms that include drastic spending cuts, VAT increases, privatisations, cuts in the public sector, no matter what that may mean to the levels of unemployment, poverty and a break in the social chasm. According to this powerful book, the only thing that shines some optimism among us, is the fact that memory is the strongest shock absorber of all, and the only one capable of providing resistance to the repeating of such events.

No matter what you read, or if you don’t read at all, Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine” is an eye-opening book that everyone – every politician who is not an idiot, every citizen who wants to make a difference, every person who refuses to be a lemming – should read. You will never view the world in the same way ever again.

Turn to page 82

82The thing with bookworms (people who love books, not worms who live in them) is that they are deeply attracted by the writing on them, particularly that on the cover. And especially the back cover. So, when you grab a book with a huge “82” drawn on the front on a blueish background and with all sorts of creatures and objects flying, crawling or even drilling their way out of the number itself, it does catch your attention. So, you turn it over to read the summary on the back. All it says is “This book has a significant focus on the number 82. It tells a story like no other, which will remain with you long after you read it. Now, you want to find out what the number 82 has anything to do with it, don’t you? Well, you’ll just have to read the book then…” You think it is silly. But it already has you gripped. And the next thing you know, you’re comfortable in your relaxing armchair, with your soft, fleece blanket at your knees, and a steaming hot cup of tea at the table beside you, and you turn the first page of this new book.

It had a fascinating start. It was a story about a young man who had learned to read from a shepherd who took refuge in his barn one night. And he inadvertently found his first book one morning when he went to offer the shepherd-guest some food but discovered he was gone. All he left behind was a book. Intrigued, the young man began to read it, as he believed it would solve the mystery of the shepherd’s presence.

That is when it first appeared.

“Turn to page 82”.

Was this a Fighting Fantasy book? It couldn’t be. But the man tried to find page 82 to turn to anyway. (So did you). Page 82 was nowhere to be found. (It was nowhere in this book either). It was not between pages 81 or 83, nor misplaced in any other part of the book. Nor were there any signs whatsoever that it had been ripped out. Page 82 had simply never been a part of that book. (Nor in this one – clever, huh?).

But drowning in curiosity, the man continued to read on from where he left off. A few pages later, it appeared again.

“Turn to page 82”.

The same process was wearingly repeated. The man continued to read on. It was a story that seemed incoherent. With weird animals, imaginary creatures and ghosts appearing out of nowhere, with the story taking place on earth, in the ocean, on different planets, in different universes, at different times even. It was utterly confusing, but for some reason it kept you wanting more. That’s the other thing with bookworms – they must finish the books they start reading; it’s a matter of principle.

So whenever the prompt to turn to page 82 appeared – and it appeared quite often – the man simply ignored it and continued to read on. (So did you). He had still not understood the storyline or purpose of the book, but was profoundly drawn into it by now. (And coincidentally, so were you).

Alas, he reached the final page. He thought that finally he might understand what all this “turn to page 82” was about. It turns out, however, that the book would eventually end in a cliché: this was all a dream. The young man had apparently imagined it all – the strange paradoxes, the hen fighting with an elephant, the appearance of a yoku (a beast which was half eagle, half something that resembled a lion-snake) and its defeat using rat’s poison that was taken from a far away planet that could only be reached by planting a specific type of bean that grew from tomato plants watered with coke. It was so confusing that you were surprised you had managed to last until the end. So, although you were deeply disappointed that all this time you were reading something that was in essence never there, a smile did form on your face when you read the last sentence explaining that the man had fallen asleep in his quest to find page 82 in a book that simply did not have it because a publisher had been distracted when numbering the pages.

And that is when you closed the cover and put the book down. “Well, that was ingenious”, you thought.

 

Inspired by Daily Prompt: Connect the Dots

Gladstone’s alter ego

unluckyRoy never thought he was lucky. He had bought a lottery ticket more times than he could remember but never won. Ever. He would always be off by one or two numbers. But despite the absence of Lady Luck, he got along in life pretty well.

Well, until one rainy day. That’s when he realized he wasn’t lucky at all.

He was already late for work that morning because his alarm clock had stopped working in the middle of the night. So he had to rush out the door, stepping into a huge puddle, getting sprayed on by two cars that sped past him, and missing the bus to work. As he waited at the bus stop for the next one, he got struck by lightning the minute he opened his umbrella. Luckily, he suffered no harm. The hospital was nearby.

By the time he got to work it was nearly midday. His boss was not understanding at all, due to a meeting that had gone terribly wrong and budget cuts being introduced. Roy was simply the wrong person at the wrong time. He was placed on probation for a week and had to return home.

This time he managed to catch the bus that had just pulled over at the stop. He jumped in, but only a few stops later a conductor boarded and fined him sixty times the price of the ticket he did not have for rushing to catch the bus.

As he arrived back home, he turned on the TV to get his mind off this terrible day. The TV caused a power outage, which blew the fuse and burnt all the light bulbs. Upset (and a little scared about what else might happen), Roy curled into bed and fell asleep.

The next day, however, wasn’t much better. Roy woke up with a huge zit on his forehead, as if attacked by a giant mutated mosquito. He ordered in food and was delivered the wrong order by mistake, which of course was much less than what he wanted. When he called to complain, they told him no refunds could be made because he had already accepted it.

When he went out to the nearest ATM to withdraw cash to order food that he actually liked and could eat, the machine ate up his credit card and would not give it back. The bank told him it was his fault for not pulling it out. His card was cancelled and he would receive a new one in three working days. It was Friday.

Roy crept back into his apartment, feeling as if Lady Luck had cast a curse on him. He wondered if he was Gladstone Gander’s unlucky alter ego, and if his town was in a parallel universe to Duckburg. Maybe that would explain all these misfortunes.

During the weekend, Roy slept in and decided to not even attempt to exit the house. Who knows what catastrophe loomed out there?

Instead, he took his computer and started writing. By the end of the week, he had written a complete novel. On how an unlucky person can survive and thrive. He sent it to a friend of his who was a publisher. He was almost certain he would be laughed at, but it was worth a shot. Everyone else gets published with worse ideas, why not him?

Within three months, the book was published and became a best seller. Maybe Roy’s luck was finally changing…

The Hidden Book

2_bookArchaeology was her passion. Digging out things you never even knew existed. And discovering ancient civilisations and evidence that would change everything you knew until today. History was hidden deep beneath the very ground we walk on. That’s what Susan Archer believed. She was passionate about her job. She found it thrilling. And she was great at it.

Her current mission had to do with an ancient tribe from Latin America. Their name was too difficult to pronounce and no-one knew exactly neither how it was spelled nor how it was written. There was hardly any record of them in any history books or any book in history for that matter. Except for one. And she was on a quest to find it.

This hidden book had become her latest obsession. It would shine light on where this tribe had existed, where they lived, perhaps even how and more importantly why they never survived. It would let mankind know what went wrong. Perhaps it would tell of what they failed to accomplish. Something that we could pay attention to and ensure the survival of the human race instead. Perhaps it would even finally spell out their name.

Her team had reached the insides of the cave where they all suspected the book to be. They had found a path leading up to it. Hidden from sight and as if it simply appeared out of nowhere. The torches were lit and Susan headed the team. They pushed the rocks aside and silence swept across the room. Then a breeze rushed in and blew out her torch. She could feel her heart pounding but somehow knew they were close. The answer lay ahead. All it took was a few more steps. And she was determined to take them. Peter handed her another lit torch. They all raised their torches high and light spread before them, to the edges of the cave room, revealing the sand and stones that lay ahead. But there was something more….

At the other end of the room there was a raised upside-down cone that sparkled in the light. And on it there balanced a square. A blue square that seemed very much like…

Susan inclined her head to the side.

It was the book! They had found it. Cautiously the five-member team quickly paced towards it. They had found it and the mystery would soon be solved. They surrounded the book like aliens trying to understand the riddle of human form. They had to make sure there were no traps when the book would be touched. It seemed like hours had passed before Susan finally caressed the hard blue cover and opened the book.

So many thoughts, questions, expectations whizzed through her mind during those nanoseconds.

The book was finally there. Before them. And they would now know all they so longed for.

She turned the page.

It was empty.

So was the next.

And the next.

Was this a joke?

She flicked through the creased pages.

One page before the end. She found a word spelled out in English. Just one word. And nothing else.

P-E-A-C-E.

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