INFERNO by Dan Brown
Like his previous books, The Da Vinci Code and Lost Symbol, the treasure hunts for Robert Langdon also set in a 24-hour time limit, a fast paced action thriller indeed. Here is a good book review by Giulio Prisco, and can have a glimpse of what is H+ or transhumanism about.
Below is a little background :
Inferno (Italian for "Hell") is the first part of Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy. It is followed by Purgatorio and Paradiso. It is an allegory telling of the journey of Dante through Hell, guided by the Roman poet Virgil. In the poem, Hell is depicted as nine circles of suffering located within the Earth. Allegorically, the Divine Comedy represents the journey of the soul towards God, with the Inferno describing the recognition and rejection of sin.
Thanks to one of my favorite French artist Gustave Doré who specialized in wood engraving in the 19th century. According to the art world, although he illustrated over 200 books, some with more than 400 plates, he is primarily known for his illustrations to The Divine Comedy, particularly The Inferno, his illustrations to Don Quixote, and Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven. But to me, I love his illustrations to John Milton's Paradise Lost and Michaud's History of The Crusades as much. And yes, only through his amazing illustrations, I learnt to know all these major works from the other side of the world.
Subsequently, I also came across other beautiful depictions of Paradise Lost and Inferno by William Blake.
"Not impossible, Robert, just unthinkable. The human mind has a primitive ego defense mechanism that negates all realities that produce too much stress for the brain to handle. It's called denial."
Denial is a critical part of the human coping mechanism. Without it, we would all wake up terrified every morning about all the ways we could die. Instead, our minds block out our existential fears by focusing on stresses we can handle - like getting to work on time or paying our taxes. If we have wider, existential fears, we jettison them very quickly, refocusing on simple tasks and daily trivialities." ~ pg214
"Remember tonight ... for it's the beginning of forever." ~pg457
Considering everything that had happened ... thing that might still happen ... and all the possible futures, it makes me believe this saying.
The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl is another mystery novel that worth reading. Set amidst a series of murders in the American Civil War era, it also concerns a club of poets, including such historical figures as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., and James Russell Lowell, who are translating Dante's The Divine Comedy from Italian into English and who notice parallels between the murders and the punishments detailed in Dante's Inferno.
ELEVEN MINUTES by Paulo Coelho
A gripping and daring novel by this Brazilian author that explores the sacred nature of sex and love. From the book's blurb, you know that it is based on the experiences of a young Brazilian prostitute called Maria, whose first innocent brushes with love leave her heartbroken. At a tender age, she becomes convinced that she will never find true love, instead believing that "love is a terrible thing that will make you suffer....". When a chance meeting in Rio takes her to Geneva, she dreams of finding fame and fortune yet ends up working as a prostitute. As Maria drifts further away from love, she develops a fascination with sex. But when she meets a handsome young painter she finds she must choose between pursuing a dark path of sexual pleasure for its own sake, or risking everything for the possibility of sacred sex; sex in the context of love.
Why eleven minutes ?
According to the book, spending 350 francs to hire a prostitute from the club Copacabana for 45 mins, allowing time for taking off clothes, making some phony gesture of affection, having a bit of banal conversation and getting dressed again, the amount of time spent actually having sex is about eleven minutes. ~pg86
Some points of interest :
Love was undoubtedly one of the things capable of changing a person's whole life, from one moment to the next. But there was the other side of the coin, the second thing that could make a human being take a totally different course from the one he or she had planned; and that was called despair. Yes, perhaps love really could transform someone, but despair did the job more quickly. ~pg53
And all for eleven minutes a day? It wasn't possible. After her experiences at the Copacabana, she knew that she wasn't the only person who felt lonely. Human beings can withstand a week without water, two weeks without food, many years of homelessness, but not loneliness. It is the worst of all tortures, the worst of all sufferings. Like her, these men, and the many others who sought her company, were all tormented by that same destructive feeling, the sense that no one else on the planet cared about them. ~pg88
In all the languages in the world, there is the same proverb: "What the eyes don't see, the heart doesn't grieve over.' Well, I say that there isn't an ounce of truth in it. The further off they are, the closer to the heart are all those feelings that we try to repress and forget. If we're in exile, we want to store away every tiny memory of our roots. If we're far from the person we love, everyone we pass in the street reminds us of them.~pg231