Dear Cecil

I’m so sorry for humans. Our intelligence has given us power to do wonderful things but at the same time it is the source of atrocities beyond belief.

Hunting is not a sport. Hunting WAS a means to survive. Thousands of years ago it was the only way to preserve humanity. However, we no longer live in hunter-gatherer society. We live in a society where the only hunted and gathered things are money and resources.

Hunting in 21st century is a mirror of the sickness of this era. It is a mirror of greed, indifference and self-centeredness that rule our world today.

Whenever I hear a story like this I feel sorry for us. The moment a human thinks he’s won over nature, he becomes a loser. There’s no way we can ever win. There’s not even reason we should want to win. A human who pretends to be above nature is a joke.

There’s no excuse for this. There’s no explanation. It is pure evil. It is a confirmation of our weakness.

This was also an act of cowardice. It’s like shooting someone in the back. There’s no heroism in killing an animal with a gun, while the shooter is seated in a car at a safe distance.

I hope this case will serve as a memento to all hunters and that it will compel authorities to act. Hunting for a sport should be banned, as should import of such “trophies”.

What gives us the right to do this? Who has ever appointed us as kings of the jungle?

I had to say this. The case of Cecil the lion is sad and infuriating. But it’s good that people talk about it. Everyone should know.

Back in Southampton

Last week was special. It was my graduation at the Uni of Southampton. After almost 8 months I was back in my beloved Soton. You know how it is, you don’t know what you have until you lose it. And this was exactly the case.

I found it really weird booking a hotel in a place I once called home. I went from being a (temporary) Sotonian to a tourist.

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Despite knowing it so well, Southampton surprised me. Eight months is not a long period of time but many things changed. When we, me and my parents, were on the bus U1A going from the Central Station to Highfield I kept pointing at several places shouting: ” Whaaat this wasn’t here before”, “This must be something new”, or “Where has that pub gone?” See, eight months is enough for change to happen.

Other than that, Southampton was still the same. Businesses come and go but the important things stay. The town quay and the docks still looked and felt like they did before. It was still windy and a bit colder there than inside the city. The Red Funnel ferry operating between Southampton and Isle of Wight was full of tourists, sea gulls and pigeons flying above our heads, boys playing basketball in Mayflower park.

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Being back on campus was amazing. A year ago when I was writing my dissertation and learned that we’ll have our graduation in a year (!!!!) I couldn’t help laughing, it seemed like ages away. Now, obviously, writing dissertation feels like two weeks ago.

What I said at the beginning – the thing with not appreciating things until you lose them – I fully grasped here at the campus. I walked around and suddenly felt jealous of all the current students and especially the freshers, who still have many wonderful university years ahead of them. I was thinking how many wasted days and pointless hours I spent doing nothing. I was often at home, too lazy to go out. Stupid me. Anyway, I enjoyed it the way I wanted at that time, so I guess it’s okay.

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I’ve always loved the greenery of our campus. It’s like one huge garden. And the real one (we called it a secret garden) – Valley Gardens – leaves you speechless. When I took these photos, there were ceremonies happening at that very moment and there was not a soul inside (not that there ever were many people). I was walking around or sitting on a bench and the whole place was mine. It was bliss.

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Our house, number 17, was only a couple of meters away from campus. During my three day stay in Southampton I went there twice. To my surprise I found the house abandoned. The grass and the weeds in the front yard indicated nobody’s cut it for a long time. I tried to knock on the door hoping someone will answer so that I can have a quick look inside. But there was no sight nor feel of anyone living there. I knew it from the very beginning. What I found was a sad and empty house.

The second time I went there was an hour and a half before our train was departing from central station for London – I needed to see it again.

Standing in front of it, touching the door knob and peeping through windows was like saying goodbye to it all.  Before I had to go I stood motionless by the front gate for like 10 minutes, trying to capture the picture of it into a visual memory bank in my head. But it was more than that. If in the future I want to recall how the house looked like I can look at the photos. What I really wanted was to capture the moment, the feeling of standing in front of it. Who knows if I’m ever going to see it again.

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This time, even though it didn’t feel like it did before, I felt somehow connected to Southampton because I was a graduant – I still felt a part of the university. But from now on, whenever I make a visit, there’ll be nothing waiting for me there. I’m an alumni now, me and 200,000 other people. My old house is abandoned. Friends are gone, spread all around the globe. I’ll be staying in a hotel.

An official tourist in the second home. That’s right.

A busy bee

I was playing with macro the other day and this little bee caught my attention flying from one beautiful flower to another.

*Photos taken in Valley Gardens in the University of Southampton Highfield campus.

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“Liebster Award” nomination post

Thank you bookloverbabbles for nominating me for the Liebster Award. 

Until now I didn’t quite know what this award is about but now that I looked into it a bit I think it’s a nice idea to bring recognition to newer blogs.

The rules of this award are as follows:

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11 QUESTIONS BY BOOKLOVERBABBLES:

1. Booktubers or Book bloggers? 

Until now I didn’t know “Booktubers” existed, so I guess I’d go for Book bloggers.

2. What’s your favorite stand alone?

This is a bit awkward but I have no idea what stand alone is. Once I find out, I’ll decide which one’s my favourite 🙂

3. The longest you’ve gone without reading?

Not sure… If I’m not reading a book, at least I go through some blogs, news and such, so I guess I can say I read every day.

4. Who’s your favorite fictional villain?

Tom Marvolo Riddle a.k.a. Lord “nosey” Voldemort.

5. What’s a genre you’re beginning to like?

A “virtual literature”. By that I mean blog posts and all other beautiful short pieces I sometimes find online.

6. What novel would you most like a film adaption on?

It doesn’t really matter. It will end up a movie anyway. I’m sure of it 😉

7. Your favorite book as a child?

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

8. Which book are you always recommending to others?

Haruki Murakami – South of the Border, West of the Sun, or Richard Yates – Revolutionary Road.

9. A book/series you think is underrated?

Young Hearts Crying by Richard Yates.

10. Do you prefer reading a book with just one POV or multiple?

Multiple most definitely.

11. Do you write?

Yes. I’m writing a novel which I’m gonna finish maybe in like 10 years (judging from the pace of my progress).

ELEVEN RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ME:

  1. I frown a lot which is why I’ve recently discovered a wrinkle in between my eyebrows.
  2. Talking about eyebrows, I’m pretty proud of mine.
  3. My favourite colour is black (and white).
  4. I love British accent.
  5. I’m a huge collector. Or you call me a hoarder. I collect/hoard everything.
  6. My favourite english words are rain, river and willow. I love how they sound and what they represent.
  7. I admit I sometimes buy a book only because I like the title.
  8. I fell in love with the Lord of the Rings when I was 12 – year 2000 (before it was cool). I started reading it only because I liked the title.
  9. I am a huge Potter fan too. My mum bought me Baby Jesus got me the first book for Christmas which I regard as an important milestone in my life.
  10. I sometimes like to refer to myself in third person.
  11. I like putting stickers on everything. Look what I’ve done to my poor old laptop.

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I NOMINATE THESE BLOGGERS:

I was going through the list of those who follow my blog and those who I follow and I genuinely thought I’m easily going to pick 11 of them. But it wasn’t that easy. Why? Because I’m kinda weird, I don’t know. I couldn’t pick anyone because I have this block inside of me that doesn’t allow me to ask or to suggest anything to people I don’t know personally. I don’t want them to feel obliged to answer my questions or whatever. Hard to explain.

So I therefore nominate anyone who:

1. Reads this post.
2. Has ever read anything on my blog and it’s obvious I know of his/hers blog – meaning that I’ve liked or commented on his/hers posts.
3. Wants to answer my questions and keep this Liebster Award going by nominating other people.

So go ahead and think of this as if I’m nominating you 🙂

MY 11 QUESTIONS TO YOU: 

  1. If you could have one superpower what would it be?
  2. If you were to describe yourself via any literary character, who would it be?
  3. If you could invite your favourite author or any other artist for a coffee or tea, who would it be and what would you ask him/her?
  4. If you caught a goldfish, what would be your three wishes?
  5. Who’s your favourite poet?
  6. Do you have a passion for collecting something (like, say, postcards, clippings, dvds, vinyl records…)?
  7. If you had a time machine, what place or time from the past or future would you like to visit?
  8. What in your life are you most proud of?
  9. What’s your favourite quote?
  10. What’s your favourite book?
  11. Has any book ever made you cry? If so, what book was it?

Street poetry

Dear anonymous poet, whose poem I found scribbled on the glass wall in the streets of Bratislava,

I don’t know who you are but please keep writing on walls of this town. It desperately needs some more poetry. You could maybe start a new genre: a street poetry. It would be a perfect way to get poems closer to people. I’m your huge fan already.

Now, this is probably what I’d say to him/her if I knew who it was. But seriously, when I bumped into this poem randomly scrawled on a glass wall as if in a rush, I thought: what a wonderful and selfless intention, whose ever it was, to brighten up this gloomy street with a beautiful piece of poetry. And make the passers by stop for a moment, read it and think about it. (Too bad that all the people I saw passing the place didn’t even pay attention to it.)

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I tried to translate it, although it doesn’t sound half as good as the original:

Through the glass wall

He’s looking through glass,
has no faith in coincidences,
Those trees must have grown
for a certain purpose.
He wants to touch them,
In other way than before,
He’s looking through glass,
silently watching their silhouettes.

He’d love to walk on the grass
barefoot again,
Breathe its scent in
when it’s freshly mowed
He has no faith in coincidences,
And the sky is pale,
A windless day,
And the grass is dead still.

He dreams of a storm,
that makes his heart pound
And when the rain comes,
He wants to go out
But he can’t fight with the glass wall.

He doesn’t feel pain, nor relief
Speechlessly
He’s looking at the trees, at the grass
He wants to believe, but the world
Makes no sense today.

 

*That’s the kind of vandalism I heartily support!*

A few comments on John Green’s TFIOS

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This is not meant to be a review of The Fault in our Stars by John Green because, really, how can you review something that’s already been reviewed so many times and yet bring something new? You can’t, I assume. It’s the fault in my system that I got to read this book only now – more than three years after it was published when everything about this book has already been said.

BUT, as it happens, I still have something to say!

I didn’t want to read this book at first because it’s a total bestseller of all the bestsellers in the world, which means a lot of money. Movie’s been made out of it, which means even more money and I don’t like literature turned into a business. I call these kinds of books “a book meant to be successful” – a book that is written with a purpose of becoming a bestseller. A good example is “The Shack” by… (I don’t remember the name of the author and I can’t be bothered to google it), which was totally meant to be a hit and “surprisingly” it was! So TFIOS is exactly that kind of book. After the success of his previous novels Green was already a hit-maker when writing this one. But I told myself, “it’s a good story to begin with and it’s meant to be funny and sad at the same time, which is something I like so: why not try?

And it was worth reading. It was a good story. Here are some of my comments:

1. It is not common that a male author makes a female character narrate the story. Men writers usually choose to tell stories via a male character or a third person narrative. Why? Because men normally don’t understand women that well and they know that if they attempted to think like a woman they would fail. BUT not John Green. I say he either must understand women very well (lucky the wife of his), or he must have cooperated with some girls when creating Hazel as a character and writing her lines. It’s almost as if he could see into Hazel’s imaginary head and described her thoughts as a woman would. Thumbs up JG for that.

2. I loved how Hazel reread the book “An Imperial Affliction” all over again. The book, I think, represented her own life and that’s why she’s been so desperate for the sequel. She reread it as if she were to find her answers in it. She identified with Anna, the main character, and that’s why the ending of the book so impressed Hazel because that’s how she thought her life would end – mid-sentence, missing a proper ending. She knew she will leave many people behind after she’s gone and that made her desperately wanting to know what happens after the book/her death. She was especially interested in what happens to Anna’s mum because she kept worrying about her own mum. (Partially because she knew her dad won’t be too great a support to her given he was quite a softie – see the third comment.)

3. Hazel’s dad was quite an ambivalent figure in this story. On the one hand, he was described like a very emotionally unstable and weak man but at the same time, by the end of the book after Augustus is gone, he seems most collected and wise. I don’t know, the way he cried all the time annoyed me. I thought: If I had such a dad who’s so soppy and mushy all the time, I’d definitely go mad.

4. I really liked how after Augustus got sick and things became really serious with him Hazel started calling him Gus instead of Augustus. I noticed it right away and then on the page 240 he really said it: “you used to call me Augustus”. It was nicely depicted how a person changes when they’re sick. It’s as if they were two different people: Augustus – a still relatively healthy and a gorgeous, self-confident guy, and Gus – a sick, late-stage cancer patient, who no longer resembles his true self. Cancer takes its toll.

5. One thing that I really didn’t like was Green’s reference to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs on pages 212/213. Maslow identified six types of human needs and arranged them according to their importance, the most basic of needs being at the bottom of the “pyramid”, the most advanced need – self-actualization – at the top. Maslow’s theory works with a “universal” human nature – human as a universal variable. A person’s individualities, such as one’s health condition, social status, profession, intelligence are not taken into account. Only the one who satisfied their basic physiological needs may think about satisfying the needs upper in the hierarchy. Hazel calls this theory an “utter horseshit”. She thinks that the fact of her being insecure in her health makes her locked in the second level of the pyramid – “the need of security” – and that the theory suggests she cannot possibly have upper needs. However, that is an “utter horseshit” because “security” in Maslow’s theory is in no way connected to health, it means security as such: safety, living in peace, freedom… Hazel, apart from being sick, is perfectly suitable for reaching the top of the pyramid – she lives in wealth, has loving parents, is educated, well taken care of…

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JG either (a) has an alarming lack of knowledge of the theory (then why not research it better before writing about it?), or (b) researched it thoroughly but misinterpreted it, or (c) deliberately misinterpreted it so as to match the context of the book and to make Hazel kind of criticising the classical account of human behaviour, or (d) he researched it thoroughly but thought he has found a flaw in the theory and perceived his account as a sort of triumph over Abraham Maslow. One way or another, it really was terribly misinterpreted and it would be quite rude and too ambitious from John Green if it was (d).

6. I think that one of the most important messages the book carries is the one that’s summed up in the sentence on page 312: “We’re as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it, and we’re not likely to do either.” Who lives, who dies, who makes a difference in this world, who is remembered – the universe doesn’t care. From greater perspective, our lives don’t matter as much as we think they do. Hazel knew this and that’s why she was so fed up with Gus whenever he talked about his fear of oblivion. You only get this life and this given number of years spent on this planet. Oblivion is inevitable and that’s why you should be grateful for what you have, for the good, for the bad – and take it as it is. Make the most of what you have been given.

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Isle of Wight

South of Southampton and Portsmouth there lies a little island, a refuge of city people who seek some peace and quiet. Rich people like to buy their summer houses there and the others, like me, go there on holidays 🙂