Thursday, 28 July 2011

The Lord of the Flies Or Where Did the Series Lost Came From

We all know that the idea for the popular TV Show Big Brother came from Orwell's famous dystopia 1984. While we shamelessly enter the most personal lives of other people, while we watch them talk, communicate, fight, bath, go to the toilette, even have sex, we without any doubt don't realize the extremity of control in Orwell's world and the devastating effects of this control onto the human mind. But, as the Romans said it, people want bread and circuses.

Similarly, the TV series Lost, which last seasons I watched simply because I started to (otherwise they were complete bullshit) were inspired by a book. Not many people know it, but The Lord of the Flies by William Golding has strikingly similar plot to the popular TV show, and even one of the characters is named Jack. As always the original, the book, is far better than TV. But that is common sense of course.

The Noble-prize winner Golding tells about a group of British boys stuck on a deserted island. We don't know how and why they came her and frankly this is not important. The kids are left to what appears to be heaven. Without parental control and supervision, they should be free to play games, to enjoy the island, to hunt, to have fun, and in fact never to want to leave. Unfortunately, as life constantly shows us in the most painful way, sometimes the things we crave for are rarely the things we really need. The characters of the boys portray a wide picture of the human qualities and defaults. In that way Golding discusses the painful subject of human nature and individual welfare versus the common good. It is never stated but it is mostly implied that the story takes place during a possible Nuclear war. "The Reds" are mentioned several times, which of course points the mind to the Cold War.

The story is simple, the plot is trivial, but the impression and the intimation of the book are shocking and powerful. Three of the boys stand out among the huge crowd deserted on the island. Ralph represents the democratically elected leader. He is chosen not through coercion or persuasion but through the common democratic way - he wins the most votes in the beginning. Thus, the kids try to create their own mini-world where tasks are divided among people and the leader supervises and observes all. Unfortunately, their attempts are doomed to failure. The bifurcated human nature is predestined to rebellions, doubts, and conflicts. Ralph is a good leader but he lacks the most important leadership qualities - he is not forward-looking, inspiring, and convincing. At the beginning of the story he realized the importance of keeping a fire so that ships can see it and rescue them. As the boys spend more and more time on the deserted island, Ralph starts forgetting why they need the fire and most importantly, he forgets how to inspire and control the other boys. The result is anarchy.

Opposing Ralph is Jack. Jack, the hunter-boy, represents all the flaws in human nature. He is arrogant, impulsive, cruel, and selfish. Just like Ralph, he is born a leader, but when he loses the power, he starts an uprising to usurp it. The clash between the two boys shakes the stability and the peace on the island. Without cooperation, the salvation is impossible; the two opposing forces spend more time fighting each other than working together for the common good. Golding here is pessimistic about human nature. He realized that people will always strive to be on top for their own interests, disregarding what is best for the masses. Jack lurs the boys with promises of meat, fun, and freedom and is soon transformed into a form of semi-God. Ralph falls into exile slowly losing his supporters.

The most interesting character for me is undoubtedly Piggy. He is the most vulnerable to the ridicule of the other boys - with poor eyesight, astma, and weight problem. Piggy represents all those people in contemporary society who exist so that the insecure and powerless can have someone to exert their complexes on. Yet, Piggy is the most intellectual and wit of all the boys. Ralph's right hand, the boy represents the rational world and the adult figure. Unfortunately, he lacks leadership qualities and his advice to Ralph are not enough.

The world in The Lord of the Flies is not perfect; it is the conflict between the group and the individual, between morality and immorality, between the rational and the emotional thinking. Golding shows the strive of the civilization to live according to rules and the inevitable will for power and control from the strongest ones. This is not a story about kids; this is a story about adults and I see examples of it daily. How to ensure democracy and stability, how to obey the rules yet protecting our individuality, how to live as one, yet in a group, I still don't know the answers to these questions. After the terrible terrorist act in Norway a few days ago, I am even more pessimistic about human nature. There were, there are, and unfortunately there will be people, who see themselves as warriors for the world, who will attempt to change it through terror. Human nature is closer to the animals than we let ourselves to think; we are just not programmed to live in harmony and peace; we are doomed to self-destruction. It is our inherent trait, just like the original sin.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Life Can Be a Miracle, says Bulgarian Psychologist Ivinela Samuilova

You must have heard a million times Albert Einstein’s famous thought: There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. I don’t like it. Probably because miracles haven’t happened to me, or I was too busy being negative to notice them. But I feel that throughout my whole life I have always worked for what I achieved and I have never received anything for granted. Let alone a miracle. Miracles have this unfortunate characteristic of not happening when you most need them. And when (if) they indeed happen, you realize it was a miracle very quite later on. Like the time I met a guy accidentally on the street while reading a book and several months later I had some (un) fortunate relationship with him. But at the time when he asked me whether I liked A Clockwork Orange I didn’t even expect this would turn into some kind of relationship. You may call this a miracle but I realized it might be so quite after that.

Secondly, Einstein’s thought is quite banal and trivial. These quotations never work for me. In my notebook for exquisite thoughts I only write down original, unpopular, unconventional sentences. I never do write the trivial ones because I’ve just heard them way too many times to even notice them. Still, there is one unarguable argument for banal phrases – they are banal because they are sometimes painfully true. So when I received Ivinela Samuilova’s novel Life Can Be a Miracle and I saw Mr. Einstein’s words on it, I felt something boring and trivial was ahead of me, in the style of Bucay or Andrews. However, it was not as bad as expected. Indeed, some parts were worth reading and reflecting upon.

The story is simple. Adi, the heroine (who astonishingly resembles the author herself) has everything in her life – a good job, a loving fiancée, honest friends, and a stable family. She hasn’t experienced any trauma or suffering and she hasn’t endured any sufferings. Her only problem is that she doesn’t know what her vocation is. Similarly, the author has studied religion, economics, administration, PR, journalism, and finally psychologie. Looks like we are dealing here with a confession of how difficult it must be to find a job that suits you. Adi feels something vital and essential for life is missing; her mind is filled with saudade. This is Adi’s favourite Portuguese word, which doesn’t have an equivalent in any language she knows of. It mainly refers to an inexplicable void, to a longing to something that is not there or may not exist, a feeling that something vital is missing. I loved that word. I identified with it. In fact, I read something similar in Nothombs’ The Life of Hunger and ever since this particular expression has become my explanation about what is wrong with me. One red point for Ms. Samuilova.

In order to find her vocation, Adi joins a psychological group with the weird and unconventional Alexei. These psychologists disprove the conventional methods of treatment and insist that Froid was a fool. In other words, you might have had the perfect childhood, the ideal parents, the best friends, and the coolest boyfriend, and still you might be unable to deal with your life. Adi enjoys this explanation and excitedly joins the group to try and find what she is supposed to do.

More or less the novel is predictable and simply written. There are rarely profound and deep investigations, conclusions, or ideas. Most of them we have read in one form or another or we have personally tried and found out they don’t work. The aspect I disliked the most was the concept about miracles. To say it plainly, you can transform anything in your life by writing a letter to the given problem (illness, love issue, work problems, etc) and release it. Adi used this technique upon some of her best friends and it worked immediately. Call me sceptic or cynical but this is never the way the world works. I need a positive book but mostly I need a REALISTICALLY positive book. Not some science-fiction about how happiness is just around the corner and all you need to do is write one f*cking letter.

On the contrary, the idea about “No” is great. We all know (or we should know) that “no” doesn’t work. All psychological books say that you should construct your positive statements avoiding the word “no” because the human mind is constructed in such a way as to avoid it. For example, you shouldn’t say ‘I will not drink beer today’ but instead ‘I will drink only juice today’. The words send positive waves to your brain, which it understands. Samuilova explains this amazingly using the simple example with the squirrel ‘If I tell you not to think about an orange squirrel, what did you just think about? An orange squirrel of course’. This ‘no’ concept also explains why the best way to seduce a woman is to ignore her. Women most of all simply do not get the word ‘NO’!

Samuilova scores another point by explaining with an original metaphor how the way we see the world shapes our life. Basically, she compares our mind to a map. We have a mental map and the world is one big territory. Depending on our map, the territory that will fill it is different. If we offer a positive card we will see that only good things happen to us and vice versa. A more original and interesting way to say that if you expect happiness, that is what you will get and if you only see the worst, the worst will happen to you.

In conclusion, most of Life Can Be a Miracle you have heard a billion times and you will find boring and predictable. However, the books is worth reading for these several passages I mentioned (and maybe a couple more), which offer a different perspective to conventional psychology.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

The Loneliness of the Individual in the Collective Society - Doctor Zhivago and The Russian Revolution and Civil War

Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago is an epic in the style of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoi. It encompasses a difficult and controversial moment in Russian history - the Russian revolution of the 1917 and the subsequent Russian Civil War - and most importantly how this period affects the individual. In the center of the story is Doctor Yury Zhivago - an orphan, whose father kills himself when he is just a boy. Yury grows up in a friendly family, where he meets his future wife-to-be, he starts a family, and he becomes a successful and respected doctor. However, he has the unfortunate chance of living in one of the most turbulent years in Russia.

In this period of changes it is of extreme importance to whom you are loyal - to the Red Army (the leftish pro-revolutionary groups) or to the White Army (the anti-bolshevik forces). Russia is devastated by war and fighting, blood and terror, torture and betrayal. People are starving, the son kills the father, the servant betrays his master, families are separated, children are left orphans. In this brutality the character of Yury Zhivago vividly stands out. Zhivago is sensitive, poetic, and idealistic. His principles contrast the brutality and the terror of the Russian uprisings. In his mind, Zhivago understands and supports the ideas of the Bolsheviks although he comes from the upper classes. Nevertheless, he condemns their methods of acting and eventually becomes disappointed with the whole ideology of marxism, which uses power, control, and coercion to artificially create a new world order.

Despite his will, Zhivago becomes embroiled in the war as a doctor in the Red Army. He spends several years apart from his family, fighting for a cause he doesn't believe in. He is not part of neither party - the Bolsheviks condemn him because he is royalty and the royals don't accept him because he fought (involuntarily) on the side of the communists. In his love life Zhivago is also bifurcated. Married to his child friend Tonia, his great love remains Lara. They meet numerous times in their early days, but eventually the war and the subsequent revolution glues them strongly together. One of the greatest love stories ever told, their life together is impossible in the new world order. Zhivago is not accepted by neither political party and Lara is also persecuted because of her husband, the infamous fearsome Red Army general, who later is considered to be a traitor to the communist idea.

In this unstable political situation individual choice and thought are suppressed, loneliness is common, and control over one's personal life is impossible. Zhivago and Lara's husband are both in love with the same woman and they long for a stable and secure family life. Unfortunately, they are embroiled in a civil war, which ideas soon become corrupted and misguided. Pasternak's epic novel is about the honorable Russian man faced with impossible choices, which contradict his ethics and beliefs. In such a situation even the sensible Zhivago is forced to kill other people, to abandon his family, and to even leave Lara behind. This is a period of great suffering, of personal sacrifices, and of unbearable terror. A novel that must be read not only because of Pasternak's unmistakable talent to depict the conflicts in the human mind, the suffering of doing something that largely contradicts your personal ethical norms, and the great love between two souls, but also because it questions the validity of the communist revolution. At first it was a struggle for social equality and justice. Politically, this became a perverse struggle for power and control over the body, mind, and soul.

Monday, 11 July 2011

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - The Mad Man Against the System

Vintery, mintery, cutery, corn,
Apple seed and apple thorn,
Wire, briar, limber lock
Three geese in a flock
One flew East
One flew West
And one flew over the cuckoo's nest

Nursery rhyme

The man against the system or the society - a conflict as old as the world itself. So many authors have devoted novels, non-fictional works, articles, investigations, etc on the subject that more or less we are familiar with the problem. The system strives for conformity; it hates the different because it fears them. The unconventional are the only ones who can shake the stable postulates of society and to invoke a rebellion. This is pretty much common sense. However, what about other non-conformists. The ones that are isolated from the world because they are harmful to themselves and to others. The ones that society voluntarily placed in the hands of the system to be transformed and returned as "normal" people, or in other words "people that fit". These are the mad men, the patients in the asylums, the ones that see a different world but are told this world doesn't exist because they are crazy. They are dangerous to society and they have been placed under the system - to be changed whatever the means.

This subject is explored in Ken Kesey's most famous novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Told through the perspective of the enormous but mentally disabled Native American Bromden, the book follows the rebellious Randel McMurphy, who after entering the asylum prompts the other patients to start questioning the system. McMurphy is an outcast, a man who pretends to be crazy to escape the hard labour. When he arrives in the asylum, the power belongs to Ms. Ratched - the tyrannical head nurse. She controls the hospital through the means of power, coercion, and fear. She doesn't hesitate to restrict the patients' access to basic needs such as medicine, amenities, television, etc. Whatever serves her goals, that is to transform these men into boneless brainless individuals, she is ready to do. Before McMurphy she didn't encounter any rebellion but with the appearance of this strange, fun-loving, rebellious worker, her power is about to be shaken.

McMurphy changes the atmosphere in the asylum. He prompts the other patients to doubt the status quo, to oppose the head nurse, to ask for amenities, and to see the limitations of the society order. Through little rebellions, mischiefs and jokes, soon he becomes the role model for the others, the one person who opens their eyes to the unfairness and cruelty that prevails under Ms. Ratched's rule. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest follows the inhuman methods used in asylums to supposedly "cure the patients". Electroshock, lobotomy, drugs, etc are used to suppress individuality, to control rebellions, to turn people into rabbits, and to safely release them in society. These mad men are not real men; they are emasculated by the system; their soul is destroyed by society. In this hopeless situation McMurphy organizes and performs his rebellion against the subtle and coercion methods used upon people, against conformity, against cruelty and power.

In that sense McMurphy and the other patients fly over the cuckoo's nest. They go beyond themselves, they enter into trouble, and some of them indeed are beaten by the system. But some are not. Some survive and escape Ms. Ratched, the electroshock, the asylum, the control, the madness. Others are defeated and lobotomized so that they stand as a manifest to all those, who dare fight.

Ken Kesey himself visits a mental institution, spends time with the patients, takes psychoactive drugs, and eventually starts sympathizing to this mad men. His knowledge of mental facilities, the way they operate, and the feelings of the patients and the staff are believable and convincing. I still must mention that it is a strange book, at times very difficult to read. Kesey takes us on a trip through the mind of the narrator, Bromden, who pretends to be deaf-mute. His visions are blurry, unrealistic, fantastical. Through them, though, a clear and witty mind is scarcely visible; however a mind that slowly rots under the shadow of The Combine.

McMurphy is one of the greatest characters in world literature. I cannot wait to see Jack Nicholson in the role of the ironic rebellious young man, who becomes the patron of a whole bunch of mad men.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Lady Chatterley's Lover - A Forbidden Pleasure

Our generation is doomed. We don't know the feeling of reading a forbidden book. A book that society deems unacceptable, a book that publishers do not want to publish, a book that people secretly and in fear of condemnation pass on one to another, a book that you read late at night so that your parents won't catch you. We can't have that book now. Freedom of speech. Freedom of love and sex. Freedom of choice. Freedom. Freedom is good, guys. But what about the feeling that you are reading something that you shouldn't be, something revolutionary and forward looking? Something so scandalous for its time that you cannot dare say it out loud but you constantly think about. And finally something that makes you doubt the rules and regulations of society, making you think that even if many people do it, this doesn't make it right.

Such a rebellion was D.H.Lawrence's novel about forbidden love Lady Chatterley's Lover. It was first published in Florence in 1928 and in UK in 1960. It took so many years for the English audience to accept and openly read it because of its notorious character. For us, the themes of the book are not revolutionary. Contemporary society accepts love in (almost) all of its forms; social class, religion, origin, and even sex differences are no longer determinants of love. Not such was the case in the beginning of the 20th century in England.

In the novel Lawrence argues that individual regeneration can only be found through a honest and passionate love and relationship between a man and a woman. He insists on the cohesion between mind and body; a feeling of impropriety is born only when the mind despises the body and is afraid of it, and when the body detests the mind and opposes it. Such was the situation in English society, where people suppressed their natural body needs for passion and love in return for a sublime spiritual life. Women and men are obsessed with money and success; they have left the purely animal desires behind, deeming them inappropriate and shameful. In such a conservative society the sin of Lady Chatterley and her lover, the gamekeeper is born.

Lady Chatterley is married to a paralyzed baronet, who doesn't care about sexual pleasure and is unable to provide her with it. Mellors, the gamekeeper, is also unsatisfied with his marriage, where his wife refused to give him pleasure. These two souls live in deprivation and unhappiness, in a world where their most basic need of human touch and sexuality is forbidden and refused. Their love is revolutionary on so many levels. They protect the importance of the true sexual act, which unites body and soul. They fight for social equality in love, as she stands way above him in the social hierarchy. They refuse to obey a purely spiritual life without sexual pleasure. They want to experience their love in every possible way; union of their bodies, minds, and souls.

Understandably, Lawrence was deemed controversial and unacceptable. In Lady Chatterley's Lover he depicts the nature of the sexual act with extreme detail using forbidden vocabulary. The passion that streams from the book, the logic with which it shakes the puncheons of English society, and the ardour with which it protects the right of a personal moral choice makes it a classics of 20th century. I almost feel sorry that I wasn't among those women secretly passing it on one to another, reading it through the night, and realizing that something vital for life is missing in their relationship with their husbands.

In that sense, Lawrence was an awakener. He anticipated the sexual revolution, which no longer positioned men and women as purely spiritual human beings but instead as flawed individuals, who understand the power of their body and the means to satisfy its growing needs. Spirituality is only attainable when the body and the ming coexist in perfect unison.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Edgar Allan Poe - A Mystical Grotesque Prose I Didn't Quite Enjoy

I didn't quite get Poe, to be honest. So far I had heard a lot about the American author but mostly I connected his name to the genre of the detective story. Reading a collection of his best prose, I was quite shocked by his style and most importantly by his themes. Horror, fantasy, neurosis, and excesses - this is Poe's imaginary world of fear.

Poe was the first well-known American author, who tried to earn a living by writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life. To say it plainly, he was very poor and this constant struggle for money certainly affected his mood. He was known to be largely depressed and gloomy and so is his prose. Most of the short stories I read in this collection focused on death, its physical signs, premature burial, decomposition, living dead, dead alive, etc. Yes, the guy was spiritually and philosophically interested with the one concept most living and happy people tend to ignore. Yet, Poe goes deeply into the subject, becoming one of the most prominent authors of the dark Romanticism. These sinister stories, filled with puzzles and questions should not be read late at nate because even if you have very stable nerves, you will be still very tempted to look behind some dark corner.

Poe's prose put the beginning of the detective fiction and later the science-fiction. Out of the prose I read, I must admit I enjoyed the detective stories more. The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Gold Bug were mysterious, suspenseful, and quite interesting. They kept me reading until the end and I was sincerely impressed by the author's logic and imagination.

The science-fiction ones, or should I say the ones obsessed with all forms of death, I didn't quite like or get for that matter. In Poe's world people are buried prematurely, the living are dead, the dead are living and walking among us, people reincarnate into their children or other people. Death is not certain in that world. Death is something to be doubted, examined, and thought about. Poe's obsession with this dark theme makes his short stories gloomy, depressing, and at times largely non-understandable. Mostly, I was quite confused by the following short story. In Loss of Breath, the main character loses his breath and starts searching for it. In the mean time he is killed and in the tomb he finds a man with two breaths, who in fact has stolen our protagonist's breath in the first place. Hm...either I am too shallow or this is totally incomprehensible.

Poe's pale mystical girls and ghostly creatures, his obsession with mysticism and after-death life, the burlesque and the satire create a world of constant fear and doubt. The American author's prose maybe on some level reflects his difficult and depressing life. Or on other level, it signals for a confused human being, who searches for the primordial questions in the field of death. Whatever the truth, I certainly didn't enjoy Poe's science-fiction. His mysterious short stories were quite fantastic, but the moment he starts talking and analyzing death and its numerous forms, I would say: "No, thank you".

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Matched - Condie's Dystopia Where the Society Decides How You Live, What You Work, Whom You Marry, and When You Die

I finished another dystopia in the style of the famous Zamyatin, Huxley, Orwell, Bradbury, and Burgess. Matched by the still young and inexperienced author Ally Condie learns from the best; yet the novel lacks the power, strength, gloominess, and total desperation of the famous predecessors. Still, a rather good read proving that dystopia is not dead and even more important now in the light of our technology-dominated world.

In Condie's world society controls everything - the way you live, whom you marry, what you eat, where you work, and even how you die. People live a life pre-determined by the Officials. Freedom seems a small price to pay in exchange for a well-regulated, healthy, and successful life. Cassia is a girl, who strongly believes in the Society and its means of guiding life. At the age of 17th she is to be assigned a life-partner based on thorough investigations about her character. She is to be "matched". In her lucky case, to her best friend Xander. His friendly face appears on the screen as the best match for a husband, securing a long happy life and healthy offspring. For a moment, though, another face flashes, the fase of the strange Ky. This sets Cassia to doubt the matching, to mistrust the society, and the oppose the choice that has been forced upon her.

Matched is a novel mostly about freedom of choice. Are we ready to abandon this luxury for a comfortable life? Indeed, through technological investigations society has established a perfect world. People are assigned jobs that match their character. All of them are specialists in their field knowing nothing about other fields though. They follow a carefully prepared personal diet that provides the exact amount of calories needed. They are matched to the most suitable member of the opposite sex and their children have the perfect genes. And exactly at the age of 80 people have to die. Society has decided that this is the perfect age to live the world and in a sort of way help people do so. In this obvious perfection, Cassia falls in love with Ky, who is a deviation. He is not "right" and "perfect" according to the norms of society. He is different. And the different are not to be tolerated or let to live according to their rules. In Matched, we see the imperfections of a perfect world, who limits the individuals. The only thing that sets them free is love.

The previous examples of dystopian novels also used love as a trigger for change. The characters in 1984, Brave New World, and We started doubting the status quo the moment they fell in love with the wrong person. In Matched, love is the central theme. The lack of freedom in love suffocates Cassia and prompts her to fight the Officials, to abandon the security, and to isolate from society in order to find Ky. This is a really wonderful love story in the light of dystopia. Although it doesn't have the literary qualities of the other dystopian novels and in times it is largely predictable, Matched should be read. At least, it leaves you with a good taste in your mouth and with a hope that may be totalitarian regimes could be overcome with the power of love. Something that Orwell, Huxley, and Zamyatin certainly don't believe.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Useful Tips on How to Seduce a Woman from Danish Philosopher Kierkegaard - Diary of a Seducer Is As Applicable Today As It Was in the 19th Century

Diary of a Seducer - definitely an eye catching title. It suggests eroticism, persecution, and satisfaction. I had never heard of the book nor of the author, the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard but I was largely captured by the title and the back cover information - tips on how to successfully to seduce a woman, which are even applicable to contemporary situations. Hm, in the light of my recent (largely unsuccessful) experience with a similar character I was convinced it would be useful to read this and elaborate on it. I was not wrong.

People either love or hate Johannes, the seducer in the story. But they can never be indifferent to him, to his wits, to his imagination, and most importantly to his great knowledge of the human soul and how to manipulate it effectively. Throughout reading at times I almost felt the physical urge to find this Johannes and smash him in the face as hard as I can. And then I stopped to think about it - the woman was as guilty as the man for letting herself fall into his trap. Of course, his methods were extremely intelligent and backed up by a serious amount of experience. And unfortunately for all women that will be reading this, Cordelia fell in the trap exactly as her seducer had predicted.

Johannes is the Kierkegaard's version of Don Juan or Casanova. He is a charming, intelligent, and interesting man, who is obsessed with women. Johannes loves their individuality, their innocence, their tenderness. He regards each woman as a different person and realizes that every one of them requires a different approach towards seduction. Because this is what Johannes does - he seduces women and when they are desperately in love, he abandons them. Because they have become predictable, because there is nothing interesting anymore, because the hung is over. Yes, Johannes finds some perverse satisfaction in the action of hunt. He studies every girl, he prepares a strategy, and he carefully executes it. You have no other choice to admire him for the persistence and patience with which he deals with every project in front of him. Women for Johannes are indeed projects, which are completed at the moment they are in love.

Diary of a Seducer presents just one such story (although the author hints there are many more) with the young and naive Cordelia, who falls in love with Johannes only to see herself abandoned and hurt afterwards. Still, we feel admiration for the protagonist because he always speaks extremely fondly of women, he is gentle, considerate, and civilized. The diary indeed can be read as a modern guide for any man who wants to become a seducer, and a very successful one for that matter. First throw the bait at the woman. Appear passionately in love, be obsessive, attentive, anticipate her needs, and then meet them. When you feel she has caught the rod, slowly pull back. Just like a fish, she will follow. And she is yours. End of story. Seems simple but it actually requires a lot of patience and knowledge about the complex creature, who says "Yes" and means "No" and vice versa.

Who is Soren Kierkegaard and how come he knows so much about seduction. The author is a Danish philosopher, theologian, and religious author. Most of his philosophical work deals with how an individual lives and acts as a "single creature", highlighting the importance of personal choice and commitment. The personage of Johannes the Seducer illustrates "interesting" as the greatest human virtue. Until women are conquered, they are interesting. They are a new territory to be explored and then subordinated. After that they become boring and predictable. And hedonism is over. Johannes uses irony, artifice, caprice, imagination and arbitrariness to engineer poetically satisfying possibilities; he is not so much interested in the act of seduction as in willfully creating its interesting possibility. The diary is partly based on the author's personal experiences. He was deeply in love and to be married to Regine, when he began having second thoughts about marriage and commitment. Later, he broke over the engagement.

Diary of a Seducer is a controversial novel, which is at times difficult to read and understand due to the highly philosophical voice of the author. Still, it offers some very good (and relevant) tips on successful seduction. It indeed shows what seducers do right and what the seduced do wrong. However, not every woman can be seduced. Johannes understands this and carefully picks up his victims. The quote I liked the most (I paraphrase here) sounded something like: "You can learn how to cheat a woman only by the woman itself". Straight to the point and one more poisonous arrow in my heart.