Time Capsule #11

On the value of good fiction, British museums, and Japanese novels.

Spring is the time of plans and intentions.

~ Leo Tolstoy

With springtime just around the corner and vaccines threatening to send us all back to the office, now is a good time to think about what we want from 2021 and how we can accomplish it. Personally, I have found the pandemic to be a good time for growth and reflection. I have tried to make the most of the quarantine by creating healthy, sustainable systems, and clearing out the deadwood, so-to-speak. That being said, life is not meant to be lived on one’s own, and eventually, I will have to adapt my comfortable, efficient, and [moderately] productive lifestyle to something better-suited to a world where we aren’t literally avoiding each other like the plague.

Change is good though. So when things go back to “normal”, I will try to make the most of it.

✏️ On the Value of Good Fiction

Once upon a time, I thought fiction was a waste of time. If I was going to read, I wanted to read non-fiction — to learn facts about things that actually happened: things from real-life that can be applied to real-life. I have since changed my naive and limiting opinion on fiction, and it has become not only a large proportion of my reading diet but a genre that I find the hardest to put down.

You don't read Gatsby... to learn whether adultery is good or bad but to learn about how complicated issues such as adultery and fidelity and marriage are. A great novel heightens your senses and sensitivity to the complexities of life and of individuals, and prevents you from the self-righteousness that sees morality in fixed formulas about good and evil.

—Azar Nafisi

Good fiction is more real than real-life. Reality is in many ways not reflective of that lively, volatile inner world that brews within us all. A good fiction writer can bring alive the most uninteresting event — a train ride, a trip to the grocery store — by simply allowing us to see the inner world of the characters in the story. Reading Anna Karenina for the second time has opened my eyes to the power of good fiction writing. Family life, society, ageing, and the like are complex topics that we all see from a different perspective, informed by our own unique experiences and upbringing. Like most things in life, there is no right and wrong, and the lines between good and evil are not so easily distinguished.

Moreover, I have come to realize how important yet fleeting emotions are. They fuel life and make it worth living in a sense, but we need not put so much importance on them. Things that upset us now can be seen in a different light next week or forgotten in an instant once a new stimulus drags our attention away from it.

Life’s too complicated to make sense, especially at 24. One must just keep rowing and try to make sense of it all at the end of the journey.

📸 Photo of the Week

How on earth did I miss this when I was in London?! (I did go to the Imperial War Museum though, which was excellent)

📖 Book of the Week — Norweigan Wood by Haruki Murakami

This 1987 Japanese novel was one I found on the recommended list of a lot of readers, and it did not disappoint. When a book really resonates with me I know it right away because I don’t want to put it down, and that was the case with Norweigan Wood.

A love story of sorts, Norweigan Wood is written from the vantage point of the main character, Toru Watanabe, who is looking back at his days as a university student in Tokyo in the 1960s. His life is embroiled in two complicated yet passionate relationships with two very different women who are grappling with their own life struggles at the same time. It’s a great fictional romance story that gets quite steamy at times, but such is life. Would definitely recommend it to those interested in the genre.

💭 Quote of the Week

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

🔭 Sunday Best

Don’t Kill Time — An Essay by David Perell

Urban Warfare — How to Kill a City and How to Protect it

How to Write Your Own Playbook in Life — A personal story from Cullin McGrath (I used his quote of the week for this week)

That concludes this Sunday’s edition. I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, share it with a friend and maybe they will too.