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“Bibliomania, the Dark Desire For Books That Infected Europe in the 1800s.”

“Book lovers and collectors feared becoming a victim of the pseudo-illness.”

While not a real psychological illness, book collectors and bibliophiles described “bibliomania” as a medical condition.”.  Read here:


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Intermezzo 1

by Marc Romyjos

There was something neither funny nor clever with the way he said it, but I took it to mean I should man up and piss my emotions uprightly astride a bowl. There was an option to shave my head — which wasn’t really an option; I was much too vain,— or hobble home drunk, which wouldn’t amount to any resolution, just a dreadful whitewash of death wishes, injured pride and maybe a few unconscious moments of homage to the ‘Ol Failed One that invariably leads to hiccupping hopelessness.

But what I did in the ensuing occasions, and I was smarter for it and credited by my own silly triumphant grin, was to tell my perpetually annoying colleague to bug off one day at work, and to finally refuse the offhanded propositions that prey on the sordid vulnerabilities of my situation, and to get messed up over trifles with everyone. Being generally angsty for a week was eventful, and succeeded in segregating the characters of my immediate environment into good egg vs bad egg baskets, to the end that i’ve inadvertently established a scheme of human relations that I found easy. It was a matter of deleting a friend or ignoring a friend request, as the commonplace dismissal of tact in facebook goes, and in its stead, an internal uprising over the lack of feeling with which people engage with each other these days.

Then someone would wake me up in time for lunch, and i would crawl astir in curious recollection of the morning I bolted by shutting off the alarm. Someone would feed me an omelette sandwich, or a similar normalized novelty that could pique my interest little by little until I get to the point of hearty laughs. Those things — and then you find that you could be cruel and negative in your description of the ‘Ol Failed One, like a bitter rock star who wasted most of his intellectual moments eking out an idea that occurred to him while he was inebriated. And give or take a few crow’s feet, it’s how you move on and become decent again.


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by Marc Romyjos

It’s horrid, and there’s substantial gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair involved. It’s the first circle of hell  after you’ve gone through an entire purgatorio of coursework and much haggling among social life, full-time employment and other self-improvement projects (such as exercise). As a social science graduate student I am starting to feel myself a more compelling study for issues on oppression and poverty. However, I have a sister who swallowed the myriad opportunity costs of attending law school for four years, and the bar review for six months, only to subject herself to bar exam torture for a month. I’m sure she still has scars and stress-fat deposits, as my medical school friends are still treating eyebags. I’m officially an insufferable whiner.

I don’t suffer intellectual labors, but the inverse of it. After going part-time, corporate and freelance, I sure as hell won’t be screaming for depth. And having gotten used to air-conditioning, I daresay I’ve grown disproportionate disgust for the fetid swamps of fieldwork (Actually I exaggerate), and I’ve been eerily perfecting the skills of the white shoe worker. Why? Because I’ve been told future employers love order, and who am I to make a fuss, really? I’ll pretty much end up a sales agent for the neo-liberal afterlife everywhere I go, even without pretending to take palliatives with the consumerist gruel I’m fed everyday. I’m basically made. And I hate poverty.

So a desire to be relevant, in pursuit of a masters’ degree in anthropology, is actually superfluous for several reasons. One, on empirical basis, people, except perhaps academics and authentic intellectuals, resent discursive language, apparently because the framing of practical concerns should be sacred and cannot be messed up, or tumbled down, by vocabularies that exceed their own. Anti-intellectual intellectuals like Nick Hornby, Helen Fielding and Francis Wheen shed some tears of hilarity for the language they understand but will never use, because their splendid literary pieces make people laugh — and making people laugh is an impressive industry — so success in writing really all boils down to speaking lionish for lions, and basically just keeping to the taxonomy between who the author is and and for which species the intellectual fodder goes to.

Also, humans find sick titillation for the deprived, depraved and deviant, so tackling ordinary lives might just be a little too unproblematic to be propounded as a cause for research deserving sweet grants. I think this problem might not be so irreversible for people who can slap covers on inane writing and package it into a book. But for the rest of us who are grilled, skewered and, waaaaaah, omitted for the teensiest crash in logic, the bestselling book dream is bust.

As for the thesis…well, how can it exceed its functional role in my life, really? I can’t even represent myself well in it. If I bump out the poker faces and straight laces and philosophy I’d literally be left with nothing to write about but facial tattoos, entertaining books and visual arts. And YES! I liked The Elegance of a Hedgehog but hated it for my bittersweet bristling for ideas I can not grasp, and can only rebuke, if only to make myself feel more…relevant.


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Legitimising the illegitimate rants

by Marc Romyjos

You’re partly toeing the poverty line because immediate spending is painfully deferred (and you have shame, so you don’t run to mum and dad), but you’re still middle class because you can afford to have savings, which you’re not supposed to touch because…you’re middle class, and the future is middle ground of lucky stars and black holes. The liminality of being middle class is a dizzying situation of shuttling these poles.

Personally, such sentiment is not necessarily borne on a tendency towards conspicuous consumption (see Thorstein Veblen, pls.), and the perpetual dissatisfaction it brings about. It’s a forward-looking conditioning that’s convenient to invoke when you’re (sorry for being such a nag) middle class with confusing prospects and questionable assets, whichever mood you’re coming from. To illustrate, the liminality approximates the feeling of disenfranchisement at being broke until the next paycheck (which further confuses your already confused state). Yeah, life’s not fair but you’re the whiner. (and why do you whine? etc. etc.)

Now, in the spirit of being schooled in the social sciences, one has to take to heart the social and psychological costs of being grease droplet for the GDP. This task should not have to call forth scholarly traditions anymore; one feels the economic squeeze right down to the soul if one ever had so much as a concern for not dying young and haplessly unaccomplished, or if one indulges in existentialist crises with materialist framings, always with the luxury of the project of self-fashioning. And yet one can not curse one’s lucky stars.

So, due to the (seemingly unjustified) disaffected constructs of that state of being, the contradictions of being middle class need to be addressed for posterity’s sake, just as scores of clueless college graduates are being carted off to the workplace without the good measure of raising their heads to the how and the why of stressful employment. I don’t have to guess that economic independence had been built up among them as the next logical step to education. There’s always the option to be financially parasitic, but that won’t transmit well in the next alumni homecoming, for one, and the crying need for consumption and full control.

This leads me to conclude thus, in careless metaphors: middle class education is the wraith-like thingie (downsizing intended, for lack of word and feeling) that stalks your worker bee conscience. It is simultaneously the seat of pride and obligation, of ethics and excessive self-interest. It is your passport to grander horizons, but it roots you to a single paradigm, and worse comes to worst, to overzealous one-track aspirations. I am led to believe that (quality) education is the comeuppance of being middle class, but education as we know and have it in this demographic region could be both so interesting and illusory.

Consider the attendant exposures and socializations in the full availment of this costly fundamental right. As lucky stars would have it, responsible parentage and a growing preference for retail transactions in the market for education, at the very least, give the middle class student real chances to study in what they call “exclusive schools”.

By definition these are usually privately owned and run institutions that automatically target the financially capable market. But aside from being magnets for the affluent, these institutions, propelled by profit and expansion, adjust their payment schemes to accommodate the large midsection of the economic landscape. Regular employees of government and private companies, through the good graces of educational plans, can now afford to send their children to exclusive schools, even without making a killing with the sale of office supplies. As tuition payments also come in tranches, spending space for mid-income families expands, and the household budget need not be so strangulated all the time. But my hypothesis is that these installments do not really sweeten the costs of sending children to school, especially if one thinks of the number of payments made in the stretch of thirteen years or more, excluding allowance and other miscellaneous expenses. The lapse of time further adds to anxiety over the investment; and I suppose middle-income spenders are more prone to lose sleep over the returns.

That the class and financial questions set up the disconnect between cultivated aspirations and possibilities with regard to future lifestyle choices and more relevantly, self-images is the basic premise. For what does exclusive schooling give a middle class student but the romanticized view of a future easily conquerable, at the least, by skill, talent and industry? “Exclusive schools” are self-groomed to be elitist without an outright declaration of their class-ist orientations. By connotation they’re quite solemn about demographic filters such as sex and religion, but all these ideological exclusions could very well be transmuted to performance. The student is constantly made to believe, by unabashed declaration of the school’s well-dispersed marketeers, that he/she is studying in one of the best institutions of the land. Moreover, her socializations within hardly help in the grounding to austerity — she is likely to stare economic disparities in the face with well-heeled schoolmates.

Alas, pride built up on educational background impacts most tragically after all requisites for future formal employment have been turned in. Self-misplacement is the deferred cost of betting on “elite” education. There is harshness in the “real world” cliche that only its banality can subdue. The middle class graduate from “one of the best” is more likely to meet this shattering reality more spot on than her affluent schoolmates, and she is also less likely to be accepting of obstructions to self-improvement than her underprivileged counterparts. She has the unsure confidence of being furnished with some bankable knowledge, but is tethered to her going rates in the job market. Such is a result of the messy dovetails of the obligations to deliver decent returns on a costly education by ensuring lifelong security, and what i presume to be an aversion to boredom, regiment and self-commodification in the desire for leisure and the absence of chances to feel so deprived — without reasonable cause.

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Books of the Year 2016: High fliers


 “The best books of 2016 are about China, language, microbes, hereditary power, inequality and medieval manuscripts”

Continue reading here:

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Misunderstanding “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle”

by Cygne Sauvage

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Why is Haruki Murakami the best-selling author in Japan?  For a long time this intriguing question has been relegated in my subconscious. It pops up into my head every time I visit a bookstore, whether in the writer’s home country or  mine, and behold the ubiquitous display of his published works.    In one of these sojourns when the shelves ran out of interesting novels, I decided to find the answer and selected at random a Murakami book from the huge array of his collection. That is how I ended up with The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, not a mystical incidence  of destiny nor clairvoyance.

The novel is very much unlike bestsellers I’ve read set in Japan. In this Murakami trilogy explained to have happened in the heart of Tokyo,  one would never feel the capital city’s aura, except the Japanese-sounding names of the lead characters. In my travel to Japan I have sensed the depth of the citizens’  immersion into their country’s culture. Seldom did I run into a  joint or a product that have originated from the West. On the other hand, Murakami’s protagonists and antagonists are so un-Japanese in their lifestyles as well as demeanor. Reading on, it was more like traversing a European city locale.

I consumed the book in three days in between deadlines from work, not because it is compelling but due to the well-written prose. Straightforward sentences, precise words punctuated with wee bit of humor.  I fail to grasp the main story line, though, as sub-plots come and go leaving me confused as to their interconnections, if ever there are. The relevance of the  war survivor’s gory tales  to Toru Okada’s search for his missing cat and eventually the disappearance of his wife, as well as his platonic relationship with sixteen-year old May Kashara, escapes me.  Often, I am left disoriented whether the events are narrated from dreams or from reality that seems like dreams. Am I lost in a metaphorical tale that appears magical, such as the well that leads Toru Okada to the shopping center? Is there a hidden profound meaning to the return of the cat muddied?

Perhaps I am not ready or up to a Murakami novel.

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The Need to Read

“Reading books remains one of the best ways to engage with the world, become a better person and understand life’s questions, big and small”

“We all ask each other a lot of questions. But we should all ask one question a lot more often: “What are you reading?”

It’s a simple question but a powerful one, and it can change lives.

Here’s one example: I met, at a bookstore, a woman who told me that she had fallen sadly out of touch with her beloved grandson. She lived in Florida. He and his parents lived elsewhere. She would call him and ask him about school or about his day. He would respond in one-word answers: Fine. Nothing. Nope.”

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