Between Generals: A Newly Translated Short Story by Antonio Tabucchi

Between Generals: A Newly Translated Short Story by Antonio Tabucchi

A wonderful story. Happy to reblog.

Longreads

Antonio Tabucchi | from the collection Time Ages in a Hurry | Archipelago Books | May 2015 | 13 minutes (3,194 words)

Our latest Longreads Exclusive is a newly translated short story from Time Ages in a Hurry, a collection by Antonio Tabucchi, as recommended by Longreads contributor A. N. Devers

“A result of living in a place as inescapably public as New York City is that its people are deeply private in public spaces — eye contact on the street and subways is actively discouraged and conversation between strangers is kept to a minimum — making it easy to forget that its greatest asset is the stories of its people. We’re reminded of this in “Between Generals” a quiet and nuanced portrait of a man by the late Italian writer Antonio Tabucchi, in which we learn about the complicated history of one of New York City’s immigrants, a former Hungarian General who realizes he spent…

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Book Clubs!

Rich experience of a book clubber

The Room of Requirement

I had been longing for a book club experience. I first read about book clubs in reader’s digest a few years ago, it was an article about housewives meeting in their spare time. At first I thought maybe it’s a club for housewives. I searched on the internet for book clubs around Secunderabad, the best I could find were online forums where most of the discussions were mere disagreements of each other’s opinion or simply put, fighting!

About a year ago I started working, to my delight my firm had book clubs that we could enroll for as a part of the Communication Excellence program. Navigating through work during the early days and being overwhelmed by the magnitude of work during busy seasons kept me away from registering for one of the clubs.

It was last month that I finally enrolled for “The Namesake”. The whole experience was exhilarating. Reading…

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All about Procrastination- From Oliver

This is one of the most brilliant articles I have come across in the internet about procrastination and the art of managing the urge.

Humans like to think we’re a clever lot. Yet those magnificent, mighty brains that allow us to split the atom and touch the moon are the same stupid brains that can’t start an assignment until the day before it’s due.

We evolved from primitive creatures, but we never quite shed ourselves of their legacy. You know the clever, rational part of your brain you think of as your human consciousness? Let’s call him Albert. He lives in your brain alongside an impulsive baby reptile called Rex:

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You know how you can’t help but notice if a stranger is tongue-wettingly gorgeous? That’s Rex, and no matter how hard you try, you can never turn him off. He’s your instinct, your impulse, your love and your fear.

We like to think of Albert as “our true self” – the conscious part of our brain. He’s the talking, reasoning part. When we decide to go to the gym or write that term paper, Albert made that decision. But Albert is old, easily exhausted, and switches off all the time.

Your brain is locked in a battle of wills between a sleepy professor and an impulsive reptile with unlimited energy. You may as well hand Rex the steering wheel.

Rex does listen to Albert. Like a child, he will do a lot of what he’s told, as long as he doesn’t disagree too much. But if Rex desperately yearns to crash on the sofa to watch Survivor and eat Cheetos, that’s what you’re going to do.

The incredible ascension of mankind that surrounds us is largely possible because we’ve developed systems to nurture the Rex’s in our brains, to subdue, soothe and subvert them.

Much of this system we call “civilisation”. Widely available food and shelter take care of a lot. So does a system of law, and justice. Mandatory education. Entertainment. Monogamy. All of it calms Rex down for long enough for Albert to do something useful – like discover penicillin, or invent Cheetos.

Now let’s look at your procrastination.

You’re making a decision with your conscious mind and wondering why you’re not  carrying it out. The truth is your daily decision maker – Rex – is not nearly so mature.

Imagine you had to constantly convince a young child to do what you wanted. For simple actions, asserting your authority might be enough. “It’s time for dinner”. But if that child doesn’t want to do something, it won’t listen. You need to cajole it:

  • Forget logic. Once you’ve decided to do something, logic and rationale won’t help you. Your inner reptile can be placated, scared and excited. But it doesn’t speak with language and cannot be reasoned with.
  • Comfort matters. If you’re hungry, tired or depressed your baby reptile will rebel. Fail to take care of yourself, and he’ll wail and scream and refuse to do a damn thing you say. That’s what he’s for. Eat, sleep and make time for fun.
  • Nurture discipline. Build a routine of positive and negative reinforcement. If you want a child to eat their vegetables, don’t give them dessert first. Reward yourself for successes, and set up assured punishments for your failure. Classic examples include committing to a public goal, or working in a team – social pressure can influence Rex.
  • Incite emotion. Your reptile brain responds to emotion. That is its language. So get yourself pumped, or terrified. Motivational talks, movies and articles can work, for a while. I use dramatic music (one of my favourite playlists is called Music to conquer worlds by). Picture the bliss associated with getting something done, or the horrors of failing. Make your imagination vivid enough that it shakes you. We use similar tricks on children for a reason: “brush your teeth or they’ll fall out”.
  • Force a start. The most important thing you can do is start. Much of Rex’s instincts are to avoid change, and once you begin something those instincts start to tip into your favour. With enough time, you can even convince Rex to love doing the things he hated. There’s a reason we force kids to go to school or to try piano lessons.
  • Bias your environment. Rex is short sighted and not terribly bright. If he sees a Facebook icon, he’ll want it. It’s like showing a child the start of a cool TV program immediately before bedtime. Design your environment to be free from such distractions: sign out of instant messenger, turn off notifications, turn off email. Have separate places for work and fun, and ideally separate computers (or at least accounts).

Once you know what to look for, you’ll start to recognise the patterns and control them.

There’s an impulsive baby reptile in your brain, and unfortunately he has the steering wheel. If you can be a good parent to him he’ll mostly do what you say, and serve you well. Just remember who’s in charge.

Source: www.oliveremberton.com

Illusion

What is the biggest misconception people have about their lives?

That there is something externally you have to do in order to experience happiness.

You say to yourself that once you are done with your education, you can be happy – no more exams, hurrah! Or once you have found the love of your life, got the job of your dreams, the perfect body or a big house at the beach, then you can allow yourself to be happy.

In other words – you attach happiness to an external event.

The reason may not be obvious but every time you reach a goal, new car or a new and better job, you merely move the goalpost of what success looks like, making it impossible to reach happiness, hunting for external goals.

In the bigger scheme of things, happiness and sadness are mere distortions of mind and has nothing to do with external events that you think are important to make or keep you happy.

There is no prize in the end and nobody has figured it out completely. Everyone is struggling, just at varied scales. It is not about your achievements, neither the imaginary staircase you keep climbing everyday.

Happiness is also not a function of ownership, neither money. You keep collecting things to show people how happy you are while in reality, the pursuit of happiness is meaningless.

In reality, happiness is all about the journey and not specific destinations.

Courtesy: lonelyphilosopher.com

There is no path to happiness, Happiness is the path. ~ Buddha

A Short Story- the final part

A great story !!!!!!!!!!!!

Pinkjumpers

I focussed too much attention towards his premature attempts of family décor to listen entirely to the fodder flowing from his mouth. My wife, on the other hand, appeared to be entirely enthralled by the vaunts of his career. At the time my disgust was targeted exclusively at photographs of grinning toddlers and not my wife’s lewdness. Her lips were a darker shade of red that night.

The following Autumn I was struck by my wife’s infidelity. It was no cause for concern that she had spent a great deal of time helping the Merriweathers move in. Yet, before long she became their reliable babysitter, an occasional dinner guest and a mandatory cog for the family Bridge games. With every one of these frequent jaunts, my wife’s face grew less recognisable as she became more generous with her powders and lipsticks. She was hiding; covering herself and her wrongdoings.

It…

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self-portrait

Inspirational and elegant.

something to tell

Self-Portrait
David Whyte

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
Or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
Abandoned.

If you know despair or can feel it in others.
I want to know
If you are prepared to live in the world
With its harsh need
To change you. If you can look back
With firm eyes
Saying this is where I stand. I want to know
If you know
How to melt into that fierce heat of living
Falling toward
The center of your longing. I want to know
If you are willing
To live, day by day, with the consequence of love
And the bitter
Unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
The gods speak of God.

I came across this poem by David Whyte this morning. The poem speaks of a steadfastness within. Something…

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