The Beautiful and the Damned Review

beautiful and the damned

 

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s second novel is a great read. It follows through the course of their relationship, from the joys of infatuation to the committed stages’ hardships. It uses the early 1900s cafe culture as an interesting backdrop and really allows the reader to see the complexity that exist with each character. Before I get rolling too deeply into this, one comparison must be made. This book is everything Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises wasn’t. As much as I love Hemingway, this story told a similar tale in a much more enjoyable and captivating way. Horrible to say, as I know these two authors had a deep dislike for one another.

This is my first exposure to Fitzgerald’s writings. He is much more well known for his masterwork, The Great Gatsby. While that novel does seem interesting, I found this recommendation on a list of most underrated books and I feel that is a fair estimate. If you are looking for a romantic comedy style story that could easily be adapted to a Meg Ryan movie, this isn’t what you want. If you are looking for a cynical and realistic portrayal of flawed and selfish people whose love for one another has to endure trials and upheaval, this is your book.

The author’s writing style is simple and beautiful.There are multiple quotable lines spread through the text I had a difficult time nailing down one. The tone is a strange poetic elegance I haven’t really encountered anywhere else. The way in which he so clearly and cleanly becomes the vessel through which his character’s speak is incredible. The effect that their environment of decadence and the social structure in which they reside becomes ever clearer as the novel progresses, but not distractingly so. The author balances the line of a morality tale and an enjoyable narrative in a way that is rarely seen, especially amongst current literature.

The major downside to this book is it really comes to a screeching halt near the middle, I actually took a few weeks to finish this one. I cared enough to return to it, something I rarely do when I abandon a book in the middle. I was grateful I finished it, because I got closure on the characters within. The committed reader could knock this out in a few days, but I think this is best kept as a bedside book. Something to enjoy a few chapters at a time over a longer duration otherwise it does become somewhat ponderous. Overall, I got a lot of entertainment out of this story. I really enjoyed Fitzgerald’s style of writing and think this is a good entry point into the man’s work. This was definitely worth the time spent.

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Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here  or download his e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

 

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Carl Sagan Day!! w00t!

Happy Carl Sagan Day Everyone!!!

In honor of this most important holiday here are some good words from the good man’s good books.

Also here is a link to last year’s post for Carl Sagan day where he raps.

 

“Cosmos is a Greek word for the order of the universe. It is, in a way, the opposite of
Chaos. It implies the deep interconnectedness of all things. It conveys awe for the intricate and
subtle way in which the universe is put together.”

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It is simply too painful to acknowledge — even to ourselves — that we’ve been so credulous. (So the old bamboozles tend to persist as the new bamboozles rise.)”

“You are worth about 3 dollars worth in chemicals.”

“Every star may be a sun to someone.”

“intellectual capacity is no guarantee against being dead wrong.”

“Knowing a great deal is not the same as being smart; intelligence is not information alone but also judgement, the manner in which information is coordinated and used.”

“We wish to pursue the truth no matter where it leads. But to find the truth, we need imagination and skepticism both. We will not be afraid to speculate, but we will be careful to distinguish speculation from fact. The cosmos is full beyond measure of elegant truths; of exquisite interrelationships; of the awesome machinery of nature.

“Since, in the long run, every planetary society will be endangered by impacts from space, every surviving civilization is obliged to become spacefaring — not because of exploratory or romantic zeal, but for the most practical reason imaginable: staying alive.”

“This vast number of worlds, the enormous scale of the universe… has not been taken into account, even superficially, in virtually no religion, and especially in no Western religions.”

“In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed”? Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.”

“In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time someting like that happened in politics or religion.

“The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us—there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.

“Our loyalties are to the species and the planet. We speak for Earth. Our obligation to survive and flourish is owed not just to ourselves, but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring.”

“In every country, we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit. In the demon-haunted world that we inhabit by virtue of being human, this may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness.”

There are many hypotheses in science that are wrong. That’s perfectly alright; it’s the aperture to finding out what’s right. Science is a self-correcting process. To be accepted, new ideas must survive the most rigorous standards of evidence and scrutiny…The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge and there is no place for it in the endeavor of science. We do not know beforehand where fundamental insights will arise from about our mysterious and lovely solar system, and the history of our study of the solar system shows clearly that accepted and conventional ideas are often wrong and that fundamental insights can arise from the most unexpected sources.”

“Those worlds in space are as countless as all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the earth. Each of those worlds is as real as ours and every one of them is a succession of incidents, events, occurrences which influence its future. Countless worlds, numberless moments, an immensity of space and time. And our small planet at this moment, here we face a critical branch point in history, what we do with our world, right now, will propagate down through the centuries and powerfully affect the destiny of our descendants, it is well within our power to destroy our civilization and perhaps our species as well. If we capitulate to superstition or greed or stupidity we could plunge our world into a time of darkness deeper than the time between the collapse of classical civilization and the Italian Renaissance. But we are also capable of using our compassion and our intelligence, our technology and our wealth to make an abundant and meaningful life for every inhabitant of this planet.”

Seven Quotes to Live By

This world has been filled beyond the brim with more intelligent people than myself. If it magically became necessary to use other’s words to construct a primer to live by, these are the ones that I would chose. The following quotes are meant to distill things down to the core fundamentals necessary to thrive. So, Rank This Proudly Presents

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Quotes to Live By

7) “The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.” -James Madison

This is imperative. One must think for themselves and do whatever they can to educate themselves and see past what construct of governing sovereignty is presented.  Following without question is dangerous, so always ask some questions.

6) “Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” – Jack Kerouac

Life is filled with too much wonder and mystery to not experience it. Grasping life and experiencing them is why we are all here. Seeing new places, tasting new foods, meeting new people and emerging yourself into other cultures can offer a revived perspective, but can also foster a lifelong memory. It it too short to not seize the moments.

5) “A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.” –Jim Morrison

Friendship is a wonderful occurrence. Being able to drop your guard in front of another person and just enjoy each other’s company is a rarity. When you can connect with someone on a level of enjoying a common interest or doing absolutely nothing, don’t let that slip away.

4) “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway

Shut the fuck up and listen to what others are saying. Other’s opinions, thoughts, beliefs, or fears can be a phenomenal learning experience. Just don’t talk to hear your own voice, listen to what else is around you and pay attention. It is often worth it.

3) “Hope Is The Last Thing To Die” -Japanese proverb

Hope only gives up when you do. As long as you hold out that things will be okay after something difficult arises, they will. Giving up on hope is your choice, when hope is let go things truly are lost. Don’t lose heart. Hang on, it will all work out in the finish.

2) “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.” -George Burns

Family is the tie that binds us. Whether it be your spouse, your child or your mother, that thread is almost indefinably important. That bond that draws family together instantly in the face of crisis, that bond that is shared among siblings, those memorable vacations and those famous recipes.  This is the core nucleus of who we are that defines us as a person. No other group can drive us as crazy or make us feel as important.

1) “Life grants nothing to us mortals without hard work.”            –Horace

This is the one, this is what it all comes down to. Work hard and you will get somewhere. Work hard and you will achieve whatever your goal is. Work can go along way that talent does not. Step up, stand up, fight and take that dream by the horns. Lackadaisical attitudes do not garner success, diligent work is the key to success. 

 

 

 

 Cody Jemes is the Literary Engineer behind both the Rank This and the Articulations sections @Bored Shenanigans. Stay tuned weekly for new articles, new pod-casts and all kinds of free funny. Fill your need for sports at Texas Fandom or fill that poetry void at Abuse Through Poetry.