What I’ve learned While Reading The ONE Thing (Book by Garry W. Keller & Jay Papasan)


The biggest challenge we face during our lifetimes, more than any other generation across history, is information overload. And if don’t take control of what’s coming at us, information and input coming from all the possible places (from TV to Netflix to Twitter to Instagram), it will take control of us. It will own us and it will run our lives and make us feel miserable.

This is a book that had been recommended to me by a fellow writer and blogger. The ONE thing focuses on the finding that one and only thing that matters the most in your journey towards your goals, and what you need to do to make reserved or “blocked” time for that thing and protect that block with all you got.

Here are the top X things and principles I learned while reading the book:

Go as Small as Possible:

No matter how big your goal or how success conscious are you, or where you want to be, you will have to start small (and often very small) if you really want to get there.

Many people think that going for a big target also means or implies starting to shoot for the moon fresh from the start. That is false, and can only get you to give up so soon. Reduce it to its childish terms/components and it becomes simple, measurable, and attainable.

Your job is to find ONE thing and one only such that by doing it, everything else becomes easier, unnecessary, or obsolete.

Then, you commit to al least 4 hours each day to doing that One thing.

Until my ONE thing is done—everything else is a distraction!

The ONE thing

The Domino Effect:

The Domino Effect, “Leveraged Action that Will Start a Domino Run”

By starting to do our ONE thing, we begin to line up your dominoes. We line up enough of them over the years, and we enjoy the benefits of The Domino Effect.

At its core, it is a geometric progression. And it very much resembles a very long train: “it starts out too slow to notice, until it’s moving too fast to stop”.

=> Success, by the domino logic, is built sequentially (one THING at a time)

Success Leaves Clues:

The misinformation, myths, and lies keeping us from embracing and accepting the fact we only need ONE THING. These are false claims thrown at us over and over again, start to become familiar and start to sound like they are true.

Beware of the six thrown lies that will be thrown at you time and time again. They will keep you poor, unfocused, and miserable.

Beware of the six thrown lies that will be thrown at you time and time again. They will keep you poor, unfocused, and miserable—here they are the six lies:

  • Everything Matters Equally
  • Multitasking
  • A Disciplined Life
  • Willpower is always on Will-Call
  • A Balanced Life
  • Big Is Bad

Don’t spread yourself too thin!

Someone may be telling you that everything matters equally, and that you never know what could turn out the thing that matters the most and that, that’s why, you should hedge your bets.

Well, if that’s the case and you still don’t know what your ONE thing is, then and as the author tells us, your ONE thing at the moment is to find that ONE thing.

Counter-attack tips from the author:

  • Have Time Blocked each day for your ONE thing
  • Build a Bunker
  • Never leave it (while working) except for the bathroom
  • Protect Your Time Blocks
  • Assign at least 4 hours each day to doing your ONE thing

The Three Commitments:

The Three Commitments

the journey of the successful lifelong learning is never over

  1. Follow the Path of Mastery:
    Try to perceive mastery as a path instead of a destination you’ll arrive at. Remember that ‘mastery’ is a way of thinking and a journey that has no end. It doesn’t matter what you are trying to master, whether it is mastering the guitar, or mastering the stock market, or even mastering mastery the science of learning itself, IT WILL TAKE TIME, IT IS A JOURNEY.
  2. Move from ‘E’ to ‘P’:
    E stands for Entrepreneurial, and P stands for Purposeful. E is doing thing with energy, curiosity, excitement and enthusiasm.

    ‘E’ will lead you to Disappointment => Resignation => Greener Pastures => The Cycle Continues

    P is doing whatever it takes to get to certain level or point.
    And it will lead you to Focus => Models =>Systems => Breakthroughs
    Do not accept plateaus just because it is something you think it is beyond your natural ability. That creates an artificial limit on your future potential & possibilities in life.
  3. Live the Accountability Cycle:
    The contrast here is: Accountable vs Victim
    This is the most important of among the three commitments.
    With this, you’ll absorb the ceilings you’ll encounter and you will keep going.

=> Don’t fight reality or ignore it. Work around it.

The Four Thieves:

The Four Thieves. ‘It’s not a relief, it’s a thief!’

Invitations and interruptions will come at you from everywhere imaginable.

  • Your Inability to day ‘NO’: This is why the author advises to build our own bunker, have blocked time, and protect it by never leaving the bunker or letting anyone or anything interrupt us while doing our ONE thing.
  • Fear of Chaos: Messes are inevitable on your way to success and big results.
  • Poor Health Habits: Your body is the vehicle that carries you through experiencing life. Don’t delude yourself by pretending you can go four days without sleep or one day on one meal and that you can get away with it. Your health is like a credit card: borrow now, pay later with interest. Take care of your health!
  • Environment Doesn’t Support Your Goals: This is the most challenging obstacle to overcome. I know really, because I come from such an environment. It works like a bucket of crabs, with you being the one crab that is about to escape, so everyone else down there starts to pull you back down.

Your environment is simply who you see and what you experience every day.

If you enjoyed reading this post, you can support my work by buying me a book (one time donation) or by becoming a patron.

 
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Addicted to Caffeine? Learn More About The Social Drug (5 Books to Read about Coffee)


Many people don’t know that the half-life of caffeine can get up to 12 hours. Most of us think that the half-life is only three or four hours. Well it depend on many factors, including: age, sex, metabolism, weight, and of course genetics. Coffee has also a bad reputation for being positively correlated with depression (sometimes even clinical depression).
Among the things that I hate about coffee, its effect on mood and sleep schedule are the most disturbing.

5 Things I hate about Coffee:

  • It dehydrates me
  • It affects my sleep (sleep schedule and depth)
  • It affects my mood (3 or fours hours after drinking it)
  • The more I consume of it, the less effect it has on my productivity, and the more I need to get the same ‘push’
  • Very addictive

Will Society Stop Relying On Caffeine One Day?

Enough of me whining about its bad effects. As a side note, I am not neglecting the positive side of consuming caffeine. As a matter of fact, without coffee, we would have the kind of development we have today in our world. Caffeine pushed the boundaries of what was possible for human productivity. If tomorrow morning we wake up to a decaffeinated world, I think that 90% of the population won’t be able to work. It is that addictive! It is that popular! And speaking about its popularity, it is the second most drunk beverage in America (after water).

Can You Imagine Our Society Being Decaffeinated? | Courtesy of Pixabay.com

Some people even say that, without coffee, we wouldn’t have had The Renaissance Age altogether.

Timeline of First European Interactions With Coffee:

  • When coffee was introduced to Europe through Turkish Muslim slaves (imprisoned by the Knights of Saint John in the Island of Malta, following the Ottoman’s Empire Trial to Capture Malta) back in 1565.
  • Venetian Merchants introduced the beverage to the wealthy of Venice in the late 1500s thanks to trade with North Africa & The East.
  • 1573: German Botanist/Physician Leonhard Rauwolf became the first European to mention Coffee as chaube, following his interaction with the plant while visiting Aleppo
  • 1591: Venetian Physician Prospero Alpini publishes the first pamphlet describing the plant in Europe
  • The first European coffee shop just opened in Venice circa 1645

Book One: The Science and Culture of the World’s Most Popular Drug by Bennett Alan Weinberg and Bonnie K. Bealer

An amazing read for those of us who are curious about the history, the literature, the science, and the culture specifics of drinking and consuming coffee.

This book dig deep into the details of the beverage. Readers with an appetite for historical account and facts will definitely enjoy it.

You may be surprised to learn that, at the time of their discovery and early use, both coffee and tea and, much later, cola elixirs, were regarded exclusively as medicines.

The World of Caffeine

From the discovery of caffeine, its historical and cultural roots, to its chemical properties and health effects, this book will be one of your most pleasant reads about drugs in general.

Note: The book contains a set of four curiosity stimulating appendices. One of them mentions important studies to read on the physical effects of caffeine. (for those who care even more about details)

Book Two: Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts and Hooks Us by Murray Carpenter

How is it like being hooked on caffeine? Murray Carpenter will make you enjoy reading about the substance. He first differentiate between “Traditional” and “Modern” Caffeine. Hen then goes on to explore the deeper effect of the drug on our minds and bodies.

My favorite part of this book is the last one, titled “Corralling Caffeine”. The author here at first takes us into a historical period when the substance were not red flagged or regulated by government agencies, and how that changed over time, when regulators decided to check on (and sometimes even force certain technical regulation on companies producing soda water and other kind of beverages) “caffeine’s safety as a food additive”.

Book Three: Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture By Taylor Clark

I like how Clark begins this book by introducing us to the man behind the engineering of “the perfect cup of coffee” Samuel Cate Prescott. This book is an enjoyable nonfiction read for those with a taste for well researched and kind of a journalistic narrative style.
There is a great coverage of history in this book as well. (Everything from 18th century style trials and errors to early 1920s revelations about the world’s most consumed beverage)

The part where the author presents his take on Starbucks is titled “Green-Apron Army”. The best and funniest part of it all is where Taylor takes us into the daily ritual of an average Starbucks barista.

Book Four: Caffeine Blues: Wake Up to the Hidden Dangers of America’s #1 Drug by Stephen Cherniske

Blues: a state or spell of low spirits (Merriam-Webster’s Online Thesaurus)

This is a warnings book about the negative implications of being addicted to a substance such as Caffeine. The book begin with the author’s take on the ideal dose, the excessive dose, and the dangerous dose. Then he takes us into a journey of discovery regarding what happens to the mind, body, and spirit when interacting with caffeine. All of the this is accompanied by an assessment to see whether or not you are really addicted to coffee and its demons.

The most interesting part of this book for me was the one where Stephen talks about the politics of the industry (titled Politics and Pushers):

Did you know that two of the most profitable companies in the world are the leading cola companies? And that some of the fastest-growing corporations today are the coffee bar chains? These companies produce mostly beverages with no nutritional value—and yet the explosion in the caffeine industry is unparalleled in the history of commerce. It has to do with the fact that caffeine is addictive, unregulated, and cheap.

Caffeine Blues

Book Five: Lessons on Caffeine, Cannabis & Co: Plant-derived Drugs and their Interaction with Human Receptors by Angelika Böttger, Ute Vothknecht, Cordelia Bolle, and Alexander Wolf

Even though this is a textbook, I wanted to include it on my list because it is such a wonderful read, especially for those who love technical details and detailed work with grounds on numerous scientific studies. For instance, you will learn how Adenosine (one of the four building blocks of our DNA & RNA) and Caffeine interact together. And how the latter binds to the same receptors as the former, thus acting as its “competitive antagonist”.

The best part of this textbook for me was the on where the authors introduced me to the history of the medical use of plants as Medicine.

The Final Word

The world relies on coffee to get work done. It is just a fact of our modern reality. It doesn’t mean it is a bad thing. But, if we are consuming a substance on a daily basis (and we are dependent on it to get things done) we should at least be aware its nature, its cons, and its long run ramifications on our bodies and overall health.


If you enjoyed reading this post, you can support my work by buying me a book (one time donation) or by becoming a patron.

 
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How To Heal Your Creative Soul (Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way Book Summary)


A redditor recommended Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way to me. I’d never heard of the book before this guy told me about it. And so I went on and grabbed a copy. And while reading, I took some notes and here is my little summary, review, and criticism. ( Buy The Book. )
Note: Each chapter in the book is a week, that’s how the author chose to organize the book.


No matter what your age or your life path, whether making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity.

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way

Spiritual Electricity/The Basic Principles

Julia believes we are creatives in one way or another. She really believes in that, and it shows (within the book). All we have to do, she points out, is “freeing people’s creativity”.

Her idea is to build some sort of “pathways” within our consciousness, and in turn, within these same “pathways” your creativity actually works.

The author refers to these basic principles as “Spiritual Electricity” through which the artist shall recover and discover his creativity.

Some of the principles mentioned:

  • Creativity is the natural order of life.
  • Open yourself to creativity and, you open yourself to the “creator’s creativity” within all of us.
  • You can refuse to be creative, but it is against “our true nature”.

The author introduces the concept of a “creative withdrawal”. And unlike Caffeine withdrawal, here she explains we are withdrawing “to” something instead of withdrawing “from” something like a substance. And the thing we are withdrawing to, in this case, is ourselves!

How do you know if you are creatively blocked? Jealousy is an excellent clue

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way

Well, I can relate to that somehow. And, if you find yourself when (when reading like a maniac like me) that most books in the market are like shit and that you probably could write a something better than 95% of published book out there, then that’s a sign!
And here, Julia Cameron offers us some tips, among them:

  • To stop telling ourselves that it is too late to pursue it
  • To stop using our financial situation as an excuse not to pursue it
  • To stop associating your creative side with your ego (even though it might be true in my opinion, George Orwell thought so in his essay WHY I WRITE)
  • To stop undervaluing dreams and to really believe that they matter
  • To not give a sh*t if you family and friends will think you are crazy (they probably will, in my estimation, but they don’t and will never matter)
  • Creativity is not a luxury (I agree that sometimes, it is an urge and a necessity)
Not a luxury!

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The Basic Tools

Julia Cameron presents two tools here: what she calls “the morning pages” and “the artist date”.

The morning pages:

You need to find your creativity. But, how? Cameron here suggests “the morning pages” method.

Put simply, the morning pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness:“Oh, god, another morning. I have NOTHING to say. I need to wash the curtains. Did I get my laundry yesterday? Blah, blah, blah …”

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way

The artist date:

This is when you set aside few hours each week to nurture and “date” your inner creative self, “your inner artist”.

The idea here, is that your inner creative needs to be taken care of, and taken out on a regular basis. And for that, the author is seriously telling us to set aside a block of time each week just to do that.

Recovering a Sense of Safety

  • All young artist yearn for acknowledgement, and they often don’t get it neither from family nor from friends, thus they are “shadow artists” (this kinds of reminds me of Saul Bellow when he once said “yes, I didn’t want to be ignored”)
  • Very often in our society, the artistic urge within a child is suppressed
  • Families usually discourage their children to pursue a career in Arts.
  • Usually, the child that has a creative energy within him and surrender to the environment pressure to go for a “real job, ” often later in life, when in his forties or fifties, go back and try to pursue that dream again
  • To make the jump, from obscurity to pursuing their artistic dreams, shadow artists must start taking themselves seriously
  • Your Artist is like a kid: nurture it
  • Take yourself seriously, but don’t take your early work very seriously or compare it unfavorably to the masters’
  • To recover go “gently and slowly”
  • Creative healing is like a “marathon”
  • To be a good artist, you must be willing to be a bad artist at first (and maybe even be bad a log period of time at first)
  • Your core negative beliefs are your worst enemies
  • Your affirmations are like your army,use them often
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Recovering a Sense of Identity

  • Self-definition is quite important in creative healing
  • Go sane! Unstuck yourself!
  • Believing your inner self-attacks will make you remain “victimized”
  • Self-doubt often leads us, blindly, into self-sabotage
  • Creativity thrives when accept ourselves and when we associate positively with our self-definition
  • Toxic company can block our artist growth
  • We are our inner artist’s own parent
  • Your “blocked” friends won’t support your healing/recovery
  • Avoid “Crazymakers” at all costs
  • Our inner skepticism is our worst enemy
  • A creative life involves a great deal of “Attention”

Recovering a Sense of Power

  • Take you anger, use it as fuel, do something with it
  • Don’t ignore the powerful signal of synchronicity
  • Learn to separate the useful criticism from the trash criticism
  • Shadow creative, ignored by their inner circle feel shameful about their own talent, usually doubt it, and run away from it for years
  • Growth happens to you in chunks, take it easy on down/low days, they happen to everyone

Recovering a Sense of Identity

The process of identifying a self inevitably involves loss as well as gain.

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way
  • Face the mess as it shows up in your “morning pages” exercise
  • Clarity is the stage you arrive at when you know your boundaries
  • Just like in twelve steps programs, you need to “let go”
  • Creativity has its base/roots in reality
  • The best judge that you are recovering is you often feel like you are navigating uncharted territories
  • often, you are not conscious of your own growth speed
  • To become permanent and transcend time, a work of art must run away from all known boundaries oh what is possible or acceptable
  • Expect sudden shifts in mood, tastes and attitude
  • Evaluate your past carefully
  • All artists consume a huge amount of content—usually unconsciously
  • Keeping distractions to a minimum and consuming content in a ‘monitored’ way can nurture our own creative well
  • Try to imagine in detail your ideal setup & environment (Geographical, Mood, Schedule, Company, etc..)
  • Reflect back in time (back when you were five years younger for instance)
  • Have a ‘dream area’ (your secret creative space, could be a room, but shouldn’t be decorated as an office)
  • Plan for a sabbatical
  • Get rid of ‘one low-worth’ outfit
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Recovering a Sense of Possibility

  • Prepare your mind to erase any sense of limits on what you are able to achieve
  • Creativity is a ‘spiritual’ problem
  • Shift spiritually, but dot it gradually
  • Free yourself from all dependencies, but not from the dependence of ‘the creator within’
  • Listen to your Artist’s child within
  • ‘Withdrawal’ is a must for you as an artist, otherwise, anxiety and depression becomes inevitable
  • Do not ignore your internal warnings (about toxic marriage, stressful job, deteriorating health, etc..)
  • Often, as a creative, worrying about what will happen to your relationships as a result of doing what you really feel inside that you must do will keep you in the ‘non-action’ zone
  • Don’t be destructive of your true essence as an artist
  • We become really spiritual by getting in touch and accepting the creative within no matter how crazy he/she might seem

Recovering a Sense of Abundance

  • Self-limiting beliefs like ‘money is bad’ or ‘I shall pursue that creative path when I get enough money’ can indefinitely postpone that career/dream
  • Never act out of the belief that what nature or god wants for you is different from what you want for yourself
  • Write about the God/Power you believe in in your mornings journal
  • Stop blaming your misery as a creative on God
  • What we desire to pursue is what w really want to do
  • When we get stuck, we blame it on money (the lack of it)
  • Ask yourself what gives you true joy? everyone is different
  • The life of a creative necessitate a private space (even though it may seem like a luxury for some)
  • Creative recovery as a process may seem silly, but that’s really resistance from within

Recovering a Sense of Connection

  • Progressively hone your listening skill
  • Embrace your ability to create as natural
  • Accept that the universe wants to assist you with what you are doing
  • Perfectionism is simply your own refusal “to let yourself move ahead”
  • Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of perfectionism, because if you do, you’ll never be satisfied
  • Setting your limits too low, perhaps in a sweet spot that your mind perceives as achievable, is a trick and a mistake; it is selling yourself short unconsciously
  • It is easy and natural to get jealous of others when you are outside their ‘camaraderie, ‘ but once you join their club, your jealousy will vanish instantly

We’ve all heard that the unexamined life is not worth living, but consider too that the unlived life is not worth examining.

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way

Recovering a Sense of Strength

  • How your perceive Time is affecting the way you take creative risks
  • Acknowledge your creative losses (rejection, humiliation, failures, bad reviews from critics, etc..) in order for you to heal them
  • ‘True criticism’ won’t destroy you, it will liberate you
  • Academia can poison, and eventually kill, the creative spirit
  • get a circle of people around you who value, respect you and offer constructive, instead of destructive criticism
  • Artists and Intellectuals are the same
  • As an aspiring artist, without the right tools, you may delay your stay in terra incognita , buried there in obscurity
  • Artistic injuries and scars, like athletes, are inevitable
  • You need to focus on what lies ahead of you
  • Every end, is your new beginning
  • Creative endeavors ought not, in a way, and won’t be ‘finished’
  • drop the finished product thinking
  • Don’t join the great masses, the people that let a positive integer called Age stop them from doing, from going, from seeing, from LIVING!
  • Stop daydreaming about how your creative life as an artist ought to be, and start living as an one instead
  • Never think about the odds. Ever!

“I’m too old to really be a writer” is another frequent complaint. This is more ego-saving nonsense. Raymond Chandler didn’t publish until the far side of forty.

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way

Recovering a Sense of Compassion

  • Be prepared to face the emotional hurdle in your creative journey
  • Don’t confuse being Blocked as being Lazy, oftentimes, they are not the same thing
  • Fear is the ultimate block for an artist
  • Declaring yourself as an Artist may represent “an act of rebellion”
  • Being needy to make is as a creative makes it hard to do so
  • Art is a process, try to make it as fun as possible
  • Be free of anger and fear
  • Always remember that your artist is a creative child

Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection

  • Each one of us has several ways to block our own creativity
  • Abusing on the lower human needs (lower down Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, think food, and sex) can negatively impact our creativity
  • It is terrifying for an artist to see what is really possible for him/her to achieve
  • It is courageous to admit your own blocking tools
  • Your time is too valuable to waste it on thinking of the next artist who is getting past you and how he doesn’t even deserve it

Fame is a spiritual drug.

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way

Recovering a Sense of Autonomy

  • You must experiment, and see what works for you as an artist, everyone is different
  • Your credibility lies with you and your output
  • You cannot plan your creative career (even if you try)
  • Your self-respect arises from doing your work
  • You don’t need to be rich, but you need to support yourself (don’t be the starving artist)

Recovering a Sense of Faith

  • Meet the prerequisites of creativity: receptivity, faith, and trust
  • Have the courage to admit your inner dream, you are intended to create
  • There is a path for you
  • Creativity begins in darkness; we need to trust it, as ideas start and grow there
  • Mystery is at the heart of creativity

Julia Cameron’s Online Course

If you like the book so much that you want to seriously invest in your creative journey and awakening the giant within, then luckily for you, the author, Julia Cameron is offering a twelve weeks online course: The Artist’s Way Online Course that will perfectly complement your reading of the book.

Follow The Author: Julia Cameron’s Online Presence

Her Instagram, and her Twitter.


If you enjoyed reading this post, you can support my work by buying me a book (one time donation) or by becoming a patron.

 
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For The Curious: What is Logic Anyway? Part I Validity, Truth Functions, Names, Quantifiers & Descriptions (Graham Priest’s Logic: A Very Short Introduction Book Summary)


What is Logic? Have you ever thought about the question? Have you ever tried to come up with your own definition? If, yes, then you are interested in a discipline that dates back to the 4th century BC, practiced worldwide by man and woman whose professional title is simply: Logicians.

Logic as a subject itself find its deepest roots in Philosophy. In my effort to understand Logic, I came across the book: Logic: A Very Short Introduction by Graham Priest, and so I read it and this post is a summary of my own of the book. It will make understanding the basics of Logic a piece of cake for you. Some basic terminology is introduced along with syntax that requires little to no mathematical background. In fact, I believe, after grasping this book, you will have much easier time pursuing disciplines such as Computer Science, Mathematics and Philosophy.


The Concept of Validity

Validity is a cornerstone concept in the study of Logic. There are two main types of validity:

  • Deductive Validity
  • Inductive Validity

But to understand each, you first have to understand some basic terminology:

  • Premise: The part of the inference that gives reason to something
  • Conclusion: The part of the inference that get its reason and ground from the premise(s).
  • Inference: Snippets of reasoning. They are made of a set of premises and a conclusion

The whole concern of Logic, as Graham Priest puts it, is whether the conclusion follows from the premise(s). And when it does follows from the premise(s), Logicians call the whole inference Valid.

So, the central aim of logic is to understand validity.

Graham Priest – LOGIC: A Very Short Introduction

When is an inference Deductively Valid?

  • An inference is deductively valid, when there isn’t a single case where the premise(s) are true and the conclusion isn’t also true.

And When is an inference Inductively Valid?

  • An inference is inductively valid, when the premise(s) give good reason for the conclusion, but not good enough to draw a final conclusion upon them.

Truth Functions

  • Truth Values:

In any inference, sentences can either be True or False–hence, the concepts of Truth and Falsity. If a sentence is true, then we assign it the truth value T. Else, we assign it the truth value F. As you can guess, T and F stand for True and False, respectively.

Logical Operators:

  • Grammar Form: OR | Syntax Form: A V B, where A, B are sentences.
    When a sentence has the logical operator OR within it, we call it a Disjunction. And, we call sentences at both sides of the ‘OR’ disjuncts.
  • Grammar Form: AND | Syntax Form: A & B, where A,B are sentences.
    When a sentence has the logical operator AND within it, we call it a Conjunction. And, we call sentences at both sides of ‘OR’ conjuncts.
  • Grammar Form: NOT | Syntax Form: ¬S, where S a sentence.
    If S is a sentence, then ¬S is called the Negation of S.

While we are at it, let us define what a sentence is based on traditional grammar:

  • A sentence, at its simplest form, is composed of: Subject + Predicate.

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary:

  • a subject is: that of which a quality, attribute, or relation may be affirmed or in which it may inhere
  • a predicate is: something that is affirmed or denied of the subject in a proposition in logic

Note that you can also chain inferences. For instance: Let W be the sentence ‘Ben Wajdi is a writer’. Let N be the sentence ‘Ben Wajdi was born somewhere in North Africa’. Let Y the sentence ‘Ben Wajdi is a North African-born Writer’. Let F be the sentence ‘Be Wajdi is French’.
Now, if we chain all of the above inferences in the following way:

An example of a chained inference in Logic

Truth Conditions:


Truth Conditions for Negation:

  • S has the truth value T, if ¬S has the truth value F
  • ¬S has the truth value T, if S has the truth value F


Truth Conditions for Disjunction:

  • The disjunction Q v R has the truth value T, if either one of the disjuncts has the truth value T
  • The disjunction Q v R has the truth value F, only if both disjuncts have the truth value F


Truth Conditions for Conjunction:

  • The conjunction Q & R has the truth value T, if each of the conjuncts has the truth value T on its own
  • The conjunction Q & R has the truth value F, if either one of the conjuncts has the truth value F

Truth Tables:

S¬S
TF
FS
Truth Table for the Negation of S, where S is a sentence
QRQ v R
TTT
TFT
FTT
FFF
Truth table for the disjunction Q v R, read ‘either Q or R’
QRQ & R
TTT
TFF
FTF
FFF
Truth table for the conjunction Q & R, read ‘Q and R’

Quantifiers & Names

Modern Logicians call words like ‘nobody’, ‘someone’ or ‘everyone’ Quantifiers and when they appear in a sentence they are distinguished from words like ‘Ben Wajdi’ or ‘David Cohen’ because these are Names. And even if both Quantifiers and Names can both serve as subjects, they tend to work differently.

So How do they differ?

  • a situation comes furnished with a stock of objects
  • the relevant objects can be people, or any other collection of objects depending on the situation
  • all the names we generate about this situation refer to one of the objects in this collection
  • thus if we write W for ‘Wajdi’, w refers to one of these objects
  • and if we write A for ‘author’, then the sentence wA is true in the situation just if the object referred to by w has the property expressed by A.

The Particular Quantifier

  • if we use a quantifier like ‘someone’ and say “someone is an author’ then this is true in the situation that there is an object or other in the relevant domain, (an object x in the collection of objects such as) that happen to be an author
  • we denote ‘some object x is such that’ as ∃x
  • thus, if we want to write ‘∃x x is an author’ we can write it simply as: ∃x xA
  • => Logicians call ∃x a Particular Quantifier

The Universal Quantifier

  • Now, let’s talk about another type of quantifier: ‘everyone’
  • For instance: if we say ‘everyone is depressed’
  • For the sentence to be true, all the objects in the collection of objects must have the property ‘depressed’
  • in other words, ‘Every object, x, is such that x is Depressed’
  • Let’s denote the property ‘depressed’ as D, then we can write the whole inference as: ∀x xD
  • Logician call ∀x a Universal Quantifier

And so, names and quantifiers work differently. The best evidence is that Logicians will write ‘Wajdi is an author’ and ‘Someone is an author’ differently–∃w wA and ∀x xA respectively. And the key takeaway from all of this is that an inference when examined merely through its grammatical form it can mislead us when judging its validity.

Quantifiers play a central role in many important arguments in mathematics and philosophy.

Graham Priest – LOGIC: A Very Short Introduction

Graham Priest then walks us through a popular argument for the existence of God: The Cosmological Argument (very interesting read it in the book, pages 21-22)

Descriptions

We’ve seen already that at its simplest form, a sentence is a subject and a predicate. We’ve also seen that a subject can be a name or can be a quantifier. But, it also can be what logicians call a Definite Description.

A definite description has the form of ‘the thing satisfying such and such a condition’. Example: ‘The man who wrote the first novel in history’.

Th author reminds as that thanks to ‘one of the founders of modern Logic’ English Philosopher and Mathematician Bertrand Russel, we can write the above sentence as:

  • Rewrite ‘the man who wrote the first novel in history’ as ‘the object, x, such that x is a man and x wrote the first novl in history’
  • Now let’s write ix for ‘the object, x, such that’
  • Then, our previous sentence becomes ‘ix(x is a man and x wrote the first novel in history)
  • And, if we write M for ‘is a man’ and N for ‘wrote the first novel in history’ then we can write the whole thing as => ix(xM & xN)
  • The general syntax for a description is: ixcx, where cx is some condition containing occurrences of x.

We know that definite descriptions can take the role of subjects. And we also know that subject + predicate make a sentence. Hence, if we write the predicate ‘was born in Spain’ as U, then the sentence ‘the man who wrote the first novel in history was born in Spain’ bceomes ix(xM & xN)U.

We can write µ as a shorthand for ix(xM & xN), then the whole sentence/inference becomes: µU

Remember, in the last section we talked about the differences between Names and Quantifiers. Rest assured if you have questions going in your mind about the classification of Descriptions because they are considered Names.

==> And so, in the above example, the sentence µU is true only if the object referred to by phrase/description µ has the property expressed by U.

The author here warns us that even though Descriptions are Names, they are a special kind of Name.
Unlike ‘proper names’ like ‘Wajdi’ and ‘Ben’, Descriptions carry information, and often properties, about the object within it. For instance, the Definite Description ‘the man who wrote the first novel in history’ carries within it two properties about the object: he is a man + he wrote the first novel in history.

This is a special case of something more general, namely: the thing satisfying such and such a condition, satisfies that very condition. This is often called the Characterization Principle (a thing has those properties by which it is characterized).

Graham Priest – LOGIC: A Very Short Introduction

==> Here, the author talks about the Ontological Argument for the existence of god. Go on and read it in the book if you’re interested, I didn’t cover it here for the sake of brevity.

Something else you need to know about descriptions: if µP is a sentence, µ description and P a predicate, and if the object referred to within the description µ does not really exist, then µP is false.
But here again, Graham Priest warns us that it is not always the case, and that this is when we start encountering some weird behavior regarding Descriptions. Sometimes, it turns out, the object referred to can be kind of ‘imaginary’ or ‘not real’ and still the property P attached to it can still hold and be true. An example the author present is about ‘Zeus’. After all, ‘Zus’ didn’t really exist, nor did he live on ‘Mount Olympus’, yet still the property of ‘was worshiped by ancient Greeks’ is still true. And so, the author reminds us that there are some cases, where the object does not exist yet still there are truths about it.


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What is Accounting? And Who Uses its Data? (Learn Financial Accounting Series)


This is a series of posts about Accounting. They are simply a rearranged version of my notes and summaries while reading the textbook Financial Accounting: IFRS, 3rd edition by Jerry Weydgandt, Paul Kimmel and Donald Kieso. Taking the auto-education route myself, I know how important notes are to make sure I understand the material within a book ( or several of them). I know too, that sometimes you may need extraordinary level of commitment and motivation to keep going, especially when you get stuck as you will often do throughout your journey towards learning or mastering something.
And so, these posts are for my fellow autodidacts out there, who believe in themselves and who know from within that they don’t need anyone to ‘teach them’; they can learn it themselves. Keep Learning!


You have to know accounting. It’s the language of practical business life. It was a very useful thing to deliver to civilization. I’ve heard it came to civilization through Venice which of course was once the great commercial power in the Mediterranean. However, double entry bookkeeping was a hell of an invention.

Charlie Munger

Although Accounting is one popular major across colleges, many businesses spend money to make their employees more ‘financially literate’. That often means, understanding ‘the numbers’. Which in turn, mean getting familiar with Accounting and its lingo.

Accounting Simply Defined

Here is the formal definition pulled out straight from the Financial Accounting Textbook 3rd edition (IFRS Edition):

Accounting basically is the process of identifying, recording and communicating the economic events (usually monetary transactions, more on that later on within the monetary unit assumption ) of an organization (often, a business, but also can be a non-profit or a government agency/subsidiary) to ‘interested users’.

Who Uses Accounting?

  • External users: Debtors, Creditors, Investors/Shareholders, Government Agencies, etc..
  • Internal Users: Managers, Decision Makers, etc..

Accounting Standards

When they prepare financial statements, accountants follow a well defined set of terms and guidelines. And depending on which country or jurisdiction the business is based in, these guidelines can differ.

We call these guidelines Accounting Standards, and they are set by either one of two organizations(also called accounting standard-setting bodies) The IASB(International Accounting Standards Board, its headquarters is in London) or The FASB(Financial Accounting Standards Board).

IFRS is one of these accounting standards. It is set and updated by the IASB and used by businesses in 130 countries. Businesses in the US however use GAAP(generally accepted accounting standards) which is another type of accounting standards set and updated by the FASB.

While in this post, I use IFRS, all the principles are applicable to GAAP as well.

The Measurement Principle

In IFRS, we either use the historical cost principle or the fair value principle when recording assets.
When using the historical cost principle, we must record asset at their original cost. For instance, if the company bought a 10 acre piece of land ten years ago at $2,500 per acre, then according to the historical cost principal, we must record the asset value as $25,000, even though the current market value of the land may have risen over time(to say $3,150 per acre).
On the other hand, if we choose to follow the fair value principle, we must report assets and liabilities at fair value. Fair value means the current market price to sell an asset or settle a debt.
There is a trade-off when choosing between using either the historical cost principle or the fair value principle: a trade-off between relevance and faithful presentation.

Generally, and because IFRS allows the usage of both principle, companies choose to use the fair value principle only when it is perceived as necessary—assets that are often traded on a daily basis or real time or whose prices can be easily determined e.g. investment securities, bonds, etc…

The Monetary Unit Assumption

According to the Monetary Unit Assumption, companies should only record business transactions that can be measured using monetary unit. Hence, business events that cannot be measured in monetary units—and though they can be important to managers and decision makers or to the operation of the business as a whole—such as the attitude of employees (think labor unions and strikes) or the deteriorating health of the CEO should not be included in financial records of a company.

The Economic Entity Assumption

As business owners, we should keep our personal living costs, our personal economic records separate from that of our business. By doing that, we abide by the Economic Entity Principle.
==> The best way to do that? Register a Proprietorship, a Partnership, a Limited Liability Company, or better yet a Corporation!

The Accounting Equation

Assets = Liabilities + Equity

As a business, our assets are everything we have as a resource. That includes the cash in our business accounts, the equipment in our factories, the furniture in our headquarters, the patents we registered as ours, the technology we’ve invented such as source code properties (assets such as patents, and technologies are often called intangible assets).
==> So, our Assets are all our Resources.

Assets

Now, Liabilities are our Debtors claims against our assets. So, if we have a total assets value of $150,000 and our debtors’ claims on those assets are $50,000, then we owe those $50,000 to our debtors (creditors/suppliers, etc..) and that is our Liabilities.

Liabilities can include: Notes Payable to a Bank, Accounts Payable to Suppliers, or Salaries Payable to employees, Sales/Real Estate Taxes payable to the government.

Now, subtract the Liabilities from the Assets, and you get the Equity: our Shareholders’ claims on Assets. And by the way, in the case of bankruptcy, debtors are paid first, and the rest, if any remains, goes to the shareholders—often referred to as residual equity.

Residual Equity

Equity itself generally consists of:

  • Share Capital—Ordinary: The Sum of the face value of all issued Shares—a piece of the company sold to public investors (usually for cash)
  • Retained Earnings= Revenues – Expenses – Dividends
    ==> Expenses decrease equity, while Revenues and new Shares sold to outside investors increase equity
    ==> Dividends: these are distributed to shareholders, as a result of a net income and an agreement within the board of directors that this is the best use of the increase in assets (they can choose not to distribute dividends instead and reinvest the net income into the business). Dividends, when they are distributed, decrease equity.
    ==>

The effects of business transactions on the accounting equation:

Let’s define transactions! Transactions are the business events that are worth recording by accountants. They can be classified into:

  • External Transaction: these involve business transaction between our company and an external entity or enterprise
  • Internal Transaction: these are the economic events that happen within our company

All in all, the company records the transaction only if the event affects the accounting equation.

The 5 Financial Statements

There are 5 financial statements that one must learn to read and interpret:

The Income Statement

The Retained Earnings Statement

The Balance Sheet (AKA The Statement of Financial Position)

The Statement of Cash Flows

The Comprehensive Income Statement


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How Iran Went Through 3 Coups in 28 Years


Iran’s opposition to foreign powers interfering in its domestic affairs reflect its historical urge for sovereignty, it stems from the fact that a nation, with such a rich history and culture, a nation that had been invaded and exploited by the Russian and by the British during the last two centuries, needs and deserves a place amongst the developed nations.

And so, Iran is “cursed” by its own Geostrategic importance and rich natural resources (Patrikarakos, 2012).

During the 20th century, and apart from the 1979 Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution, Iran went through three military coups.

Overthrowing Reza Shah (1941)

One of them happened when Reza Shah was ‘peacefully’ overthrown on September 16th 1941, put in an ‘unmarked car’ and was dubbed ex-Shah now after the British had decided that his time in power had come to an end. The next day, at 4:30 in the afternoon, his 21-year-old son Mohamed Reza Pahlavi emerged as the new Shah of Iran. His reign will last till 1979.

Why did they overthrown him? Well, Britain and The Soviet Union, launched Operation Countenance on August 25th 1941, after feeling that Reza Shah’s official position of neutrality is suspicious and after watching Iran and Germany get ‘uncomfortably close’ during the 1930s. The Operation would consist of invading Iran in order to secure Iran’s oilfields and supply lines, after Germany launched Operation Barbarossa, began invading USSR, breaking the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact between them (Patrikarakos, 2012).



Ending The Qajar Dynasty (1925)

You go back twenty years earlier, in 1925 to be accurate, and you discover that the same British that removed Reza Shah from power are the ones who made him The Shah after they ended a century-old Qajar Dynasty.

1953 CIA’s Coup D’etat: Overthrowing Mohamed Mossadeq

Pro Mossadeq demonstration in Tehran, 1952. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The same pattern seems to continue, but this time with Prime Minister Mohamed Mossadeq—who had been democratically elected—was overthrown by a CIA American-British engineered coup d’état, as part of Operation Ajax. Mossadeq’s popularity grew to a level that became concerning to the Shah. Few months after being overthrown, the nationalist leader, was “led into his court trial”. During his reign as a prime minister, he stood for his country and, he was known for his “honesty and integrity, strongly opposing foreign meddling in Iran at the time when most Iranians perceived many of their economic and political hardships as originating from such influence”(Petherick, 2006 ). Eventually, he was sentenced due death, and hadn’t it been for his age— later, the sentence was commuted—he would’ve faced the same end as that of Saddam Hussein, forty years earlier.

And so, Iran had had THREE military coups during 28 years (1925-1953).


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MJ DeMarco The Millionaire Fastlane Book Review

What is invisible to the EYE? According to MJ Demarco, it’s the Fastlane road to wealth.

A Fastlane? A highway? A fast way to wealth? Isn’t the title a bit suspicious? DeMarco doesn’t care, he built his Empire, his online tribe (The FastLane Forum) around it and the guy keeps going. And it’s all encapsulated in the preface of The Millionaire Fastlane when he says:

Thankfully, your belief (or disbelief) of Fastlane strategy doesn’t change my reality; it only changes yours. Let me repeat: What you think of the Fastlane doesn’t change my reality; its purpose is to change yours.

We all have our own revelations and Eureka moments in our lives. The author traces it back to his teenage years. Back then he encountered a young man driving a Lamborghini Countach and asked how he could afford such a car. “I’m an inventor,” the young man replied.

For DeMarco himself back then, the Lamborghini symbolized wealth, happiness, and freedom.

The book itself represents a trending cult nowadays that revolts against the traditional old school approach to creating wealth, and against the 401K, against the “go to college and get a job and save 10% of you income…”

That burning question: How do You get rich?

If you aren’t wealthy, STOP doing what you’re doing. STOP following the conventional wisdom. STOP following the crowd and using the wrong formula. STOP following the roadmap that forsakes dreams and leads to mediocrity. STOP traveling roads with punitive speed limits and endless detours. I call it “anti-advice,” and much of this book follows this prescription.

The Millionaire FastLane isn’t only a book compromised of words and sentences grouped together. There are equations too. Equations relating to assets, to profits and to leverage.

MJ Demarco walks us through his wealth building philosophy using simple and easy to get definitions and equations. You don’t have to hack through a verbiage when reading the book.

His Favorite Equation?

Wealth = Net Profit + Asset Value

Throughout the book, the author is continually making a distinction between two groups: Slowlaners and Fastlaners. The former focus on Creating Assets and Raising Net Profit, and the latter focus on getting a job and saving 10% per month for 40 years or more and THEN retiring.

He challenges us into thinking about creating our own Money Making Systems instead of relying on a paycheck and putting all our eggs in one basket, to recruit what he calls our “Freedom Fighters”:

DeMarco also explains what he calls The Law of Effection (Not The Law of Attraction), which basically translates to: If you want to make millions of dollars, affect the lives of millions of people.

He encourages us to Operate as a Corporation. To control your vehicle—you he points out—you must establish a setup that pays you first and the government last.

Every dollar saved is another freedom fighter in your army. If your money is fighting for you, your time is freed and you break the equation of “time for money.”


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Sean Platt & Johnny Truant’s Write. Publish. Repeat. Book Review

I like how Sean Platt and Johnny Truant collaborate with each other to continuously produce valuable work.

In Write. Publish. Repeat. Platt and Johnny clarify from the beginning that in order to ‘make it’ as a self-published author, you must approach this venture—the writing—as a business, your books/writing as your products, and the reader as a buyer.

As much as there is a lot of valuable advice within this wonderful book, there is also a great deal of focus on the marketing and promotional side that every aspiring author who wants to ‘make it’ has to go through and do it as good as—if not better than—traditional publishers.



Still, with Platt & Truant focus’  on the promotional side, they didn’t ignore the inevitable reality, the ongoing necessity for any writer to continue producing a constant flow of work, an output; This approach of focusing on continually putting your work out there and forcing oneself to ship everyday reminds me of Isaac Asimov’s approach to it too. This is definitely a wonderful book for any aspiring writer. I like it when Sean Platt and Johnny Truant sum up the core ideas for their book:

Write great stuff, get that great stuff out into the world, connect with your readers, and then do that same thing over and over and over again.
In other words: Write. Publish. Repeat.

Write. Publish. Repeat.

Platt and Truant are JA Konrath on steroids. They share with him their ability to put out great work out there often, but with the promotional side. Konrath believes in luck. They don’t! They are super optimistic about the publishing landscape:

THERE’S NEVER BEEN A BETTER time to be an indie.

Write. Publish. Repeat.

I like their honesty too. They are not here to promise you a get-rich-quick scheme or anything of that nature, and they make it clear from the start of the book. They’ve been through the process themselves, and they know that while the rewards can be huge and beyond one’s imaginations and wildest dreams, it is still a long-term game: a game that requires patience, passion, and perseverance.

If you have a few books (or only one) and aren’t planning to write more, you’re as doomed today, during the e-book revolution, as you would have been during the query-and-hope days.


Write. Publish. Repeat.

Platt & Truant emphasize the importance of the quantity of your work/output in the marketplace—though, also not ignoring the quality. And this is applicable for both fiction and nonfiction indie authors. And, in my estimation, the greatest part of Write. Publish. Repeat. is the appendix at the end of the book where they interviewed some of the most successful indie authors like Joanna Penn and Hugh Howey.


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You Need To Start Stretching Now: Here Are The Benefits


But, if they do not stretch, with the passing of time, their bodies will become clumsier, more painful, incapable, etc. It is of no use to look at oneself in the mirror and not stop asking the reasons why, one needs to exercise or stretch, until one feels “in shape” again . This feeling of being in good shape is so imperceptible that one only becomes aware of it once it has been lost. Therefore, the smart thing to do is to not abandon it.


Stretching Exercises Encyclopedia, (2012, 1st edition).

Start Stretching Now!

You need to start stretching now. Preferably, on a daily basis—if you can. Forgetting about stretching is a common mistake we all commit. Perhaps, we build up the mileage or load up the bar. We feel that we are thriving until injuries, stiffness and fatigue knock our door.

During his career as an ultramarathoner and a navy seal, David Goggins experienced many injuries followed by many surgeries. I’ve heard him talk about stretching and how it changed–not only his athletic performance and how he feels on a daily basis–his entire life. In his memoir, You Can’t Hurt Me, David says:

Thanks to all that stretching, I’m in better shape at forty-three than I was in my twenties. Back then I was always sick, wound tight, and stressed out. I never analyzed why I kept getting stress fractures. I just taped that shit up. No matter what ailed my body or my mind I had the same solution. Tape it up and move the fuck on. Now I’m smarter than I’ve ever been. And I’m still getting after it.

David Goggins, You Can’t Hurt Me.

Stretching Enhances Your Overall Flexibility and Range of Motion

According to (10.1080/07303084.2008.10598237), ” Stretching has been shown to improve flexibility, which was previously believed to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury .” Although, the same article reminds us that other research ( 10.1080/07303084.1999.10605682 ) “have suggested that stretching may decrease muscle strength, which would compromise performance.”


Courtesy of Timo Volz, Pexels

However, a study by Herman, SL and Smith, Dt, published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research ( 10.1519/jsc.0b013e318173da50 ), in which they “incorporated a 4-week” dynamic stretching warmup (DWU) into the training program of a group of collegiate wrestlers and see how it affected their overall performance. They found out that the 4-week DWU intervention they incorporated, made positive improvements “in the majority of performance measures that assessed power,speed, agility, endurance, flexibility, and strength”. And according to the same study, “Sport-specific stretching exercises should be introduced into a warm-up immediately following the 2 to 3 minutes of light activity.”

Stretching Can Prevent Injury

There are four types of stretching techniques. Static, Dynamic, Ballistic, Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation(PNF). Each has its pros and cons. And while the static option–holding a muscle in a fixed position for an extended period of time, after moving it past a certain range of motion and oftentimes anything past that point in ROM involves pain and we all experience it–is the most popular option, it is not always the most effective technique for injury prevention.

Stretching Can Relieve Pain

If you experience chronic pain, and you go visit your doctor, chances are beside drugs and scanning, he will advise you to join a yoga class. And what is yoga but a form of stretching!

” Stretching increases the flexibility of the tissues being stretched. It helps to loosen the tension in your muscles, de-stresses them, and thus helps you manage your mental stress as well, ” says Amy Stein author of Heal Pelvic Pain.

Don’t take it too far

“There are, however, reasons to be cautious about stretching to the limits of pain because of the risk of causing damage ” says Muanjai et al. ( 10.1007/s00421-017-3608-y) and so while stretching regularly may improve flexibility and increase your range of motion, don’t take it too far. The same study suggest that static stretching for a long period of time may even cause inflammation and loss of strength. So be careful and use it wisely.

Warmup for 10-15 minutes. Then, begin the stretching process immediately. Breathe in a slow rhythm that you are able to control. Do not bounce or move in a silly way lest you get yourself injured. The stretch should be gentle. You should reach a kind of pain sweet spot that you can maintain so that it is neither too easy and thus provide no stimuli nor too hard and therefore lead to injury. “The body, and in particular the body part being stretched, must not be under excessive tension, which explains why some athletes injure themselves after practicing their sport when they conclude their training with rough stretches, ” says Oscar Moran (author of this stretching encyclopedia), and hence preferably, stretch before the exercise not after it.

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Bibliography

Philip Roth’s The Humbling Book Review

Very often, the very first sentence that I begin with is not the first sentence that I end with. And in the case of The Humbling, it is.

Philip Roth
Philip Roth The Humbling Book Review
Art Work & Book Cover, Courtesy of The Publisher, Used only for review and criticism.
  • Author: Philip Roth
  • Title: The Humbling
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Published: 2009
  • Page Count: 140

“He’d lost his magic,” that’s how Philip Roth started The Humbling. Later he said, in an interview, that he’d heard about an actor who couldn’t act anymore and so he started from there.

After more than forty years since he’d come to auditions in New York, and after a successful career as a play actor—appearing in movies as well— Simon Axler found himself, at the age of sixty five, unable to do the acting, unable of even memorizing a line or two, unable to be whom he used to be.

Axler felt that now he has become naked in front of the fans and the critics and everyone. He doubted that he had had any talent at all from the start.

The worst of it was that he saw through his breakdown the same way he could see through his acting. The suffering was excruciating and yet he doubted that it was genuine, which made it even worse. He did not know how he was going to get from one minute to the next, his mind fell as though it were melting, he was terrified to be alone, he could not sleep more than two or three hours a night, he scarcely ate, he thought everyday of killing himself with the gun in the attic—a Remington 870 pump-action shotgun that he kept in the isolated farmhouse for self-defense—and still the whole thing seemed to be an act, a bad act.

Philip Roth, The Humbling.

From then onwards, Axler’s days were characterized by suffer. And the reader is taken through a tour in the life of Simon Axler as a man and as an actor, as a lover and as a depressive.

In a way, I felt while reading the novel that Roth—and from the beginning —is pushing the protagonist towards one ultimate end: suicide.

ALL AT ONCE Axler was alone in the house in the country and terrified of killing himself. Now there was nothing stopping him. Now he could go ahead and do what he’d found himself unable to do while she was still there: walk up the stairs to the attic, load the gun, put the barrel in his mouth, and reach down with his long arms to pull the trigger. The gun as the sequel to the wife.

Philip Roth, The Humbling.

Though Axler tried to love life the way he used to, tried by giving it one more shot with love and tenderness and intimacy. He tried before that to know at least why he couldn’t act anymore by getting psychoanalyzed and spending twenty six days at a psychiatric hospital. He tried and tried and tried; he failed.

There are two main characters that affected Axler’s destiny through the novel.

The first is the woman he met at the Kennedy Center while he was there for a twenty Six day psychiatric therapy. Her name is Syvil Van Buren.

At first when they met, Philip Roth clearly notified the reader that the two characters share some similiarities and have some common ground. They approached one another one another, sat down and ate their meals and talked.

Sybil Van Buren opened up to Simon Axler, about what she saw with her own eyes, when one day she came back to pick up something she’d forgotten at home and to her shock and what she discovered her husband had been probably doing to her little sweetheart without her knowing.

And so both, Axler and Van Buren, shared their inability of ending their own suffering.

And then comes Pegeen. Another character that have deeply affected Axler. She was lesbian and twenty five years younger than him. He’d known her and known her parents long before she was even born.

With Pegeen, Axler began to regain some hope. He began to change. And he changed her as well—or so he thought. He bought her new clothes. He led her into getting a new haircut; a more girly one. She moved in to live with him. They jumped into some intimate adventures.



Even when Pegeen’s parents didn’t respond well to them being together—they even seemed to accept her being lesbian over being with him; an old depressive actor who couldn’t act anymore and whose spinal and mental problems are enough to make any potential partner calculate her long term moves wisely—even then he didn’t give a damn, he didn’t care. All too well.

All too well till he wakes up one morning and Pegeen decides that it’s over. She takes her stuff from the room that she had rearranged for herself in his farmhouse. The rest is for you to discover on your own! Buy the novel.


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