Links from the past weeks

📖 Narcissus and Goldmund

“One knew nothing. One lived and walked about on the earth or rode through the forests, and so many things looked at one with such challenge and promise, rousing such longing: an evening star, a bluebell, a lake green with reeds, the eye of a human being or of a cow, and at times it seemed as if the very next moment something never seen but long yearned for must happen, as if a veil must drop from everything. But then it passed, and nothing happened, and the riddle was not solved, nor was the secret spell lifted, and finally one became old and looked as shrewd as Father Anselm or as wise as Abbot Daniel, and perhaps one still knew nothing, would still be waiting and listening.”

Hermann Hesse
Narcissus and Goldmund


I love the writing and for the first few chapters, I was absorbed. There was a sense of not wanting to move forward, because the story may move such that I don’t get to enjoy the writing anymore. This not wanting to let it go, is a form of relishing.

Then, I went to other books, and came back again. Into the book I went; suddenly the story sped up and I was caught up in Goldmund’s travels, and Hesse manages to use this young man as a foil, teasing out the deeper questions of life, and yet, there is never an answer. Because life carries on, and meaning may or may not arrive.

It is clear that Hesse has insight into the human condition, and the way he described the natural world, it conveys a zest for life, an understanding of the importance of the simpler things in life. I read and re-read the first paragraph of the book. Goldmund is such a character – an aimless wayfarer – and Narcissus is so intellectual, perhaps overly so, but I love them both, and their differences perhaps reflect the different extremes one may struggle with, within oneself.

I am reading this in my 40s. I wonder if I would have loved this book as much if I had read it as a younger human. Would I have tasted the same sense of wisdom?

Highly recommended.

Links from the past weeks 

  • We started watching Girls5eva and “New York Lonely Boy” is an awesome song.

  • Quirky slides from Softbank’s 2020 earnings call

    Slides in my industry are umm, more academic but I am always up for inspiration.

  • I almost bought Marcin Wichary’s book on keyboards, but instead, I soothed myself with a 2018 article he wrote: Bigger in Japan.

    (The Kickstarter page is here.)

  • After reading this MacStories piece about how there is a remake of the classic version of Angry Birds, I went and paid my $0.99.

    It is a simple game and very enjoyable, but it was made stupid in later years, when it became saddled with mechanisms aimed to get you to make recurring in-app purchases.

  • Reading The Art of War, and bemoaning the lack of the Chinese text in my copy. Not that being able to read the characters mean you understand the text, but well, I would like to refer to it and pretend my education hasn’t been wasted.

  • Dow said it was recycling our shoes. We found them at an Indonesian flea market

    I really love this piece of journalism. Not so great for those involved in the Singaporean project.

  • This is a little against my desire to stop using music as background, but I read somewhere about slow radio and went looking for the BBC Radio podcast.

  • Apparently, Chinese youths are referring to themselves as rats. It is a self-deprecating way to refer to themselves while describing their struggles. The article also touches on other memes, and includes the Chinese characters and Hanyuan pinyin to help one understand the wordplay.

  • Another day, another artificial sweetener to be careful about.