Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (Part I)

I spent almost all of today reading Hermann Hesse’s novel Siddhartha, which is a brilliant and imaginitive retelling of the life of Siddhartha and Gotama. My only break today was a film viewing of Layer Cake with my Swedish friend Micael (more on Layer Cake in the later morning).

I will throw some more quotes and thoughts from Siddhartha up tomorrow, but wanted to get something down before the power of immediacy from the experience leaves my lazy mind to ponder the amorphous landscapes of my dreams.

On Listening and Rivers:

“He was pleased with everything that he did and learned that the days and months passed quickly. But he learned more from the river than Vasudeva could trach him. He learned from it continually. Above all, he learned from it how to listen, to listen with a still heart, with a waiting, open soul, without passion, without desire, without judgement, without opinions.

He Lived Happily with Vasu deva and occasionally they exchenged words, few and long considered words. Vasudeva was no friend of words. Siddhartha was rarely successful in moving him to speak.

He once asked him, ‘Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?’

A bright smile spread over Vasudeva’s face.

‘Yes, Siddhartha,’ he said. ‘Is this what you mean? That the river is everywhere are the same time, and the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere, and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past, nor the shadow of the future?’

‘That is it,’ said Siddhartha, ‘ and when I learned that, I reviewed my life and it was also a river, and Siddharthat the boy, Siddhartha the mature man and Siddhartha the old man, were only seperated by shadows, not through reality. Siddhartha’s previous lives were also in the past, and his death and his return to Brahma are not in the future. Nothing was, nothing will be, everything has reality and presence’ (p. 87 Siddhartha).”

On Knowledge and Wisdom:

“‘Yes, I have had thoughts and knowledge here and there. Sometimes, for an hour or for a day, I have become aware of knowledge just as one feels life in one’s heart. I have had many thoughts, but it would be difficult for me to tell you about them. But this is one thought that has impressed me, Govinda. Wisdom is not communicable. The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish.’
‘Are you jesting?’ asked Govinda?

‘No, I am telling you what I have discovered. Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, be fortified by it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it. I suspected this when I was still a youth and it was this that drove me away from teachers. There is one thought I have had, Govinda, which you will again think is a jest of folly: that is, in every truth the opposite is equally true. For example, a truth can only be expressed and enveloped in words if it is one-sided. Everything that is thought and expressed in words is one-sided, only half the truth; it lacks totality, completeness, unity […] But the world itself, being in and around us, is never one-sided […] This only seems so because we suffer the illusion that time is something real. Time is not real, Govinda. I have realized this repeatedly. And if time is not real, than the dividing line that seems to lie between this world and eternity, between suffering and bliss, between good and evil, is also an illusion'” (p. 115 Siddhartha).

Cold War Kids

I met this really friendly Englishman named John in my Existentialism class. We got along quite well, so we decided to go for a round of drinks with his friends at the Speakeasy bar in the student union right after our class. Turns out I met some of the only self-proclaimed Indie-Kids in Belfast, and was convinced into seeing Cold War Kids on Monday night with them at Limelight.

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It was quite a good show, they played quite a tight set on their kickoff show to promote their new album Robbers & Cowards. Too bad it was “Free Jack Night” and my friends bought me two additional beers, because towards the end of the set my mind was not on what was going on infront of me, and instead was on what was going on inside me that would be going on, on me if they didn’t finish the set quickly.

When I was finally able to part the crowd like Moses would have a pit of venomous snakes, I found I was far from alone in the bathroom. Apparently a kind Black man (probably the only in the venue, and I say this not to raise eyebrows, but to put this whole new “cultural world” I am living in) was given the duty of collecting every horrible male deoderant and cologne in one room to spray you with your favored scent and wipe your filthy wet hands. He only had 2 one pound coins in his tip basket. I felt bad, afterall, the man did just watch me take a leak and then proceeded to hold the faucet on and wipe my dirty hands for me. I reached into my pocket, and his eyes lite up like the eyes of Ralphy in A Christmas Story. As I hoisted out the 20 pence coin, the only coin left in my pocket, and placed it into his palm open to the heaven, he stared down in Shock and Awe at the Queen herself as if she by some Dumbledorian incantation had come alive and said “Hey, Fuck you Buddy!” Seeing that he has a dirty towel in one hand and alms bowl in the next, I decided I was clearly outmatched carrying only my fully loaded fists-of-fury, Liberty and Justice, and booked it out of there.

That’s my Cold War Kids Story. Here are some thumbnail pictures.



Why I Miss Home

So over the last six weeks of traveling though Europe, and now living in Belfast, people have commonly asked me what I miss most about not being home.

Sure I miss family and friends, how could I not, and the truth is that I can just about get everything in Belfast that I could in New England, USA. However, the one thing I can’t get over here is movies when they are released in the USA. Here are a couple (in addition to Pan’s Labyrinth) that have me itching to see them like scrotum covered in crabs.

Letters From Iwo Jima by Clint Eastwood (The follow-up to Flags of Our Fathers, featuring my friend Joseph Cross (check out Running With Scissors too!)).

Half Nelson: “Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling) is a young inner-city junior high school teacher whose ideals wither and die in the face of reality. Day after day in his shabby Brooklyn classroom, he somehow finds the energy to inspire his 13 and 14-year-olds to examine everything from civil rights to the Civil War with a new enthusiasm.” Plus it should be mentioned that it features a soundtrack by Broken Social Scene and Dan Dunne is up for an Academy Award for best performance by an actor in a leading role.

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Children of Men: Starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Michael Caine.”Envisages a world one generation from now that has fallen into anarchy on the heels of an infertility defect in the population. The world’s youngest citizen has just died at 18, and humankind is facing the likelihood of its own extinction.”

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This trailer makes me miss my monthly fix of Y-The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn.

If you liked the first trailer of Children of Men, check this out:

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Fantastic Four is Forgiven

The first Fantastic Four film that was released 2005 was absolute shit. Even with an unhealthy comics addiction I could barely stomach the junk that was the Fantastic Four film. However, it has come to my attention that such mistakes must be forgiven (even if the Thing costume is the greatest disgrace to Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and every costume and make-up designer ever in existance).

The reason the sin’s of the father of Fantastic Four 2: The Rise of Silver Surfer must be forgiven are the general kick-assness of the Teaser trailer that was just released.

Maybe it is just me, but seeing the Silver Surfer flying around like the way he did was like mainlining all the adrenaline my body has ever produced while reading Marvel comics as a kid, in one smooth plunge of liquid ecstacy.

Try some for yourself. The best part is, its legal!

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Or try this link here for the HD quality (recommended).

Pan’s Labyrinth

This film looks like Alice In Wonderland meets The Neverending Story, in the style of a Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean graphic novel. I hope it comes to Belfast soon!

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Donnie Darko: or How Every Living Creature Dies Alone

Last week I had the fortune of catching Donnie Darko: Director’s Cut at the Queen’s Film Theatre on Queen’s University campus in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

I remember the first time I saw this film in Kristian’s basement in Oxford, MA circa fall 2000. Sure, I enjoyed the film, but for me my experience seeing Donnie Darko is the prime example of why I hate going to see a film that I have really high expectations for. It is much better going to see a film knowing almost nothing about it, and having very little expectations (this lesson applies to all facets of life, and not just film, expectations=unhappiness).

However, everytime I see this film I enjoy it more than my previous viewing. I understand it more, and can relate to the eccentricies and mischief of the character Donnie Darko. Since my main interests these days are the exploration of theories relating to time, space, reality, and consciousness, I was wearing quite the shivering suit of goosebumps for the majority of film.

As I was walking out of the theatre one of my favorite songs, Green Arrow by Yo La Tengo was playing in the lobby. It was the perfect end to my theatre experience, but only the beginning of my evening.

(Here is Green Arrow by Yo La Tengo🙂

Green Arrow by Yo La Tengo
After the film some friendly local first time Donnie Darko viewer asked me what I thought of the film. He liked the film, but did not really understand it, and asked me to explain it. I don’t think he expected the conversation I provided about worm holes, primary and tangent universes, time, space, consciousness and relativity. Good thing he had a full pack of smokes.

Later in the evening I met up with my Swedish friends Michael, Staffan, and Marijn, my French friend Mahtilde, and my German friend Vera. We were also packing quite a bit of other Frenchies, and with the bars as packed as they can be on a Monday Night here, we finally found a place just amongst friends and drunk patron saints of some empty bar/night club where the average age was 35. We stuck out like a Jew in Belfast.

Days passed, but Donnie Darko was stuck in my minds-eye. I had to go deeper. I amused myself with some video’s of Mad World by Gary Jules (one of my favorite songs).

The first is a creepy pedaphile music video of Gary Jules performing Mad World while watching children play outside a school. I include it only because I found it to be pretty trippy.

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The next video is a great trippy music video cutting together scenes from Donnie Darko to Gary Jules’s Mad World.

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Here is a homemade video cutting together scenes from Donnie Darko played to Radiohead’s song Exit Music (for a film). If you don’t like Radiohead or this song, please stop reading this page, because you are not going to like anything I put on this page.

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One of the coolest interactive sites I have visited is the Donnie Darko Homepage.

Although it is very outdated it was very interesting and updates you to the happenings of the community arround Donnie in the years following the film, as well as giving you a chance to read Grandma Death’s The Philosophy of Time Travel (click here to a link where you can just read the chapters shown in the director’s cut, without having to navigate and play around with the homepage).

There you have the Donnie Darko rant.

Remember to live with no expectations, and that all living creatures die alone.

That is all.

Network (Does anyone else smell a Fox?)

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I saw this video the other day, and it reminded me of why I don’t watch television, and instead pollute my mind with the internet, music, books, and comics.

Hell, to be honest I have spent the past three days playing around with WordPress to figure out how to insert this plugin. Hope it was all worth it!



Salutations and greetings friends,

David Slatkin

It has been quite some time. I apologize for not getting this up and running sooner, but I have been quite busy. Between traveling from Amsterdam to Paris, to Cologne, to Brussels, to Antwerp, to Amsterdam, to Prague, to Amsterdam, to Antwerp, to Paris, to Belfast, I have also become a bit exausted.

My trip was amazing, and I will be writing stories here and there of vignettes from my adventures over the next couple of months, along with stories of my experiences at Queen’s University in Belfast. I will also be adding a dash of interesting stories and pages I run across on the internet.

Overall I am hoping that this page becomes a live forum to relay my adventures and interests while abroad, as well as a place of discussion for relevent and meaningful dialogue of past, present, and future events, stories, and ideas.

Please stick with me while I try to figure out this whole WordPress webpage stuff.

You are most encouraged to comment, discuss, and give suggestions on how to make this a better site, but please do so in a respectful and tactful demeanor to others.

All my best wishes for health and happiness,

-David Slatkin