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url 2017-05-12 11:38
Ama Alchemy of Love by Nataša Pantović Nuit Book Quotes
A-Ma Alchemy of Love - Nataša Pantović Nuit
A-Ma: Alchemy of Love - Nataša Pantović Nuit

Ama Alchemy of Love by Nataša Pantović Nuit Book Quotes

 

"The formula of our Universe is governed by Will. Venus symbolizes the highest with the lowest material qualities: Love materialised on Earth. Born in water, from mud, she bears the lotus. In the process of creation, the Black King is marrying the White Queen, the male and the female principle in Nature merge. The result of the marriage is the Orphic Egg that is the essence of Life – the colour of egg is grey. It is capable of taking any possible form. 
Any Thought merging from Life becomes a Separation and it can be balanced if it is married with its Contradiction. The formula of continued life is death. The formula of ascending above the Abyss is resurrection."

 

Ama Book Quotes

Source: artof4elements.com/entry/191/ama-book-quotes
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review 2017-05-07 21:43
Toni FGMAMTC's Reviews > The Good Earth
The Good Earth - Pearl S. Buck

Oh man, this story. It's a doozy. Some parts are just so very sad. The family just keeps trying and trying and trying. Their life is such a struggle. The woman, OMG, her entire life is heartbreaking. Thinking of her makes me feel overwhelmed. The Good Earth is about a family trying to live off the land and better themselves. Each decision affects their entire future. It's a humbling story for sure. This is a hard book for me to rate. I love a book that makes me emotional, and this did that very much. Some parts made me upset in a bad way though, but I guess it really was just staying true to how life was. If you're looking for a story to take you away, this did that for me. It totally took over my mind while I was reading it. If you're looking for a upbeat tale, this probably isn't it. It's not all sad like my review is making it sound though. I do recommend it very much.
4+ stars

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review 2017-04-25 19:36
An extraordinary adventure that can help us see the world in a different way
The Kingdom of Women: Life, Love and Death in China’s Hidden Mountains - Choo Wai Hong

Thanks to NetGalley and I.B. Tauris for providing me with a copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

This book and its author, Choo Waihong, introduce us to a fascinating tribe, the Mosuo, from the province of Yunnan in China, in the region of the lakes, where a matrilineal society has survived in an almost untouched fashion for centuries. The author, a corporate lawyer working in a big law firm in Singapore, left her job and went searching for a different life. She toured China, first visiting the village where her father was born, and during her travels read an article about the Mosuo that aroused her curiosity and she decided to investigate personally.

The book narrates her adventures with the Mosuo, how she ended up becoming the godmother (personally, I think she became a fairy godmother, as she invested her own funds to help keep the Festival of the Mountain Goddess alive, and also sponsored a number of students, helping them carry on with their educations) of an entire village, and built a home there, where she spends 6 months a year.

The book is divided into twelve chapters (from ‘Arriving in the Kingdom of Women’ to ‘On the Knife-Edge of Extinction’) and it does not follow the author’s adventure chronologically (it is neither a memoir, nor an anthropological treatise) but rather discusses large topics, using first-hand observations of the author, her conversations with the inhabitants, and the insights the writer can offer when she compares this society to the one she had grown up and lived all her life in. She acknowledges she had always subscribed to feminist ideas, but nothing had prepared her for what she saw there, and the experience helped her redefine her feminism. She has difficulty fully understanding the social mores and the organisation and inner workings of Mosuo societies (the nuclear family is unknown there, the family relations are complex and difficult to understand for an outsider and they are becoming even more complicated when the population try to adapt them to a standard patriarchal model), she cannot get used to the concept of communal property (she likes the theory of people sharing farm work and living as a community, but not so much when her SUV is used by everybody for things not covered by her insurance when she is not there), she needs indoor toilet facilities (I couldn’t empathise more), and she is dismayed at the way modernity and tourism are encroaching on the traditional lifestyle. Of course, it is not the same to be able to come and go and feel empowered in a society so different to ours whilst still being able to access and/or return to our usual lifestyle than to be born into such circumstances without any other option.

The Kingdom of Women is a fascinating read. It gives us an idea about how other women-centric societies might have functioned and it introduces concepts completely alien but quite attractive and intriguing. I might hasten to say that although, as a woman, I could not help but smile at the thought of many of the practices and the different order of things, I am sure quite a few men would be more than happy with the lifestyle of the men of the tribe (no family ties as such, dedicated to cultivating their physical strength and good looks, invested on manly pursuits, like hunting, fishing … and not having to worry about endless courting or complex dating rules).

Choo Waihong is devoted to the tribe and their traditional way of life, and she has adopted it as much as they have adopted her (the relationships is mutually beneficial, as it becomes amply clear when we read the book). She explores and observes, but always trying to be respectful of tradition and social conventions, never being too curious or interfering unless she is invited in. Her love for the place and the people is clear, and she has little negative to say (she does mention STDs with its possible sequela of congenital defects and the issue of prostitution, which is not openly acknowledged or discussed), although when she talks about her attempts at keeping the Mountain Goddess Festival alive, it is clear hers is not the scientific model of observing without personally interfering (we are all familiar with the theory behind the observer effect but this is not what this book or the author’s experience is about ). The last chapter makes clear that things are quickly changing: most of the younger generation, who have had access to education, do not seem inclined to carry on upholding the same lifestyle. They are leaving the area to study and plan on getting married and starting a nuclear family rather than moving back to their grandmother’s house and having a walk-in marriage. Young men, that as she acknowledges do not have access to varied male role models, leave their studies to become waiters and dream of opening restaurants. Many of the older generation of Mosuo men and women are still illiterate but, they have mobile phones and take advantage of the touristic interest in the area, selling their lands and leaving the rural tradition behind. As the author notes, she was lucky to have access to the Mosuo people at a time of quick social change, but before the old way of life had disappeared completely. Others might not be so lucky.

This is a great book for people interested in alternative societal models and ethnological studies, written in a compelling way, a first person narration that brings to life the characters, the place and the narrator. It might not satisfy the requirements of somebody looking for a scientific study but it injects immediacy and vibrancy into the subject.

As a side note, I had access to an e-version of the book and therefore cannot comment on the pictures that I understand are included in the hardback copy. I would recommend obtaining that version if possible as I’m sure the pictures and the glossary would greatly enhance the reading experience.

 

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review 2017-04-22 00:50
Review: The City & the City
The City and the City - China Miéville

The City & the City is essentially a police procedural in a strange and interesting setting.  The book opens up with our main character, Inspector Tyador Borlú, arriving onto the scene where a dead woman has been found.  The story follows him as he attempts to solve the mystery. 

 

The setting intrigued me from the moment we were given the first hint of it at the end of the first chapter.  The story itself was ok.  It held my interest, but I wasn’t completely absorbed by it.  What made the story interesting to me was its setting and the way the setting affected the murder investigation.  The problem for me was that the story wasn’t about the setting, and that was the part I was most interested in reading about.  There was very little background given about it, and very few tangible explanations.  It still played a huge role in the story, and was still fun to read about, but I wanted more meat.

 

I had a heck of a time deciding how to shelve this.  I don’t like to get too complicated with my shelving.  If a book crosses genres, I try to pick whichever general genre seems to fit it the best.  If a book tells a mystery story in a science fiction or fantasy setting, then I’ll shelve it as either science fiction or fantasy.  But this book?  I don’t know.  On Goodreads, the majority of members have shelved it as fantasy.  That surprises me, but maybe most people took certain aspects of this story a lot more literally than I did.  Science fiction doesn’t really fit either, although I’d buy into that more readily than I’d buy into the fantasy label.  In the end, I decided to just stick with the one thing I was sure of and shelve it as “mystery”.  :)

 

I have some more comments about the setting, but I’ll have to put them behind spoiler tags:

 

I really, really wanted to know the history of how the city came to be fractured the way it was.  We were given some very vague and generic theories, but nothing tangible.  I guess the explanation wouldn’t really have fit properly in the story, since none of the characters knew the answer themselves.  

 

As I read, I was constantly trying to decide whether or not the city was actually, physically divided in some way or if it was all psychological and cultural.  In the end, I decided it was psychological/cultural since people and objects could easily pass between the cities as if they had just walked across a normal street.  The people in Breach also didn’t seem, once we saw them in action, to have any special abilities beyond training to help them blend in and access to technology to help them keep tabs on what was going on.  I think each country at some point in the past, for some reason nobody knows, took possession of different parts of the city and built those parts up with their own architectural style.  But I wanted to know how it got that way.  It seems like there’s interesting story potential there.

 

We also weren’t really told why breach was such a big taboo either, although it’s a little easier to speculate why two different countries with tense relations would want to maintain (or simulate, anyway) strict borders.  The concept of “unseeing” was a fun one, and it added an interesting element to the murder investigation.  I could completely buy into the idea that people who grew up in this setting would find it natural to unsee the “foreign” people and their city even though they were really sharing the same city.  People in the real world also learn to unsee things they don’t want to see, although maybe not quite on this scale.

(spoiler show)

 

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review 2017-03-07 15:35
My thirty-seventh podcast is up!
Britain's Imperial Retreat from China, 1900-1931 (Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia) - Phoebe Chow

My latest podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it I interview Phoebe Chow bout her new book about the beginnings of the British withdrawal form their empire in China (which I reviewed here). Enjoy!

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