Demian,The Trial & The Samurai

Here's a brief update on what I've been reading:

- On the plane ride back to the U.S. in September I finished Demian by Herman Hesse.  I'd never read anything by Hesse and it fit in well with our recent trip to Munich (Hesse is German).  I liked Demian a lot: very perceptive, thoughtful writing and he had some intriguing views on how humans may have evolutionary super-powers.  The end was interesting too and involved a kind of "super-commune" very similar to the one in Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

- A couple days ago I finished The Trial by Kafka.  My friend Cameron F encouraged a group of old college buddies to read through some good classics.  I'm glad I got through it but it was challenging. Kafka seemed to mainly want to create an oppressive mood by detailing a frustrating situation where you feel extremely helpless.  He was very good at that (e.g. "another 80 pages to go!..")  My view is that these types of books that primarily want to create an impression on the reader should be short.  Kind of like modern art where you can look at it and be puzzled, maybe intrigued, but then move on.  You shouldn't have to look at the art for hours and hours and hours.

- I've started up a book called "The Book of Five Rings."  It was written by a 16th century samurai who was the greatest swordfighter of his era.  Japanese businessmen study the book to learn strategy.  It's been excellent and makes me want to read more about Japan. What's also cool is that the author wrote the book in a cave, shunning all luxury, after he had spend a lifetime of defeating every single one of his adversaries (he faced and defeated--and killed--60 different men).  He's also the Japanese credited with the developing the the two-sword technique.

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