Book review : The dark angel (Johannes Angelos) by Mika Waltari

Hey guys!

Today’s book review is about a novel from the amazing finnish author Mika Waltari, who I think is a very talented and original writer. If you know me a little, you’ll realize that my favourite genre is historical novels that ally good old history with fictional stories or characters. So my mom recommended that I read some of Mika Waltari’s work lately, I couldn’t find The Egyptian, so I picked this book instead. And let me clarify myself: I hate love stories. I absolutely can’t stand a book where the story is all about a couple and all the ups and downs of their relationship, it’s like I never find a reason to care about their problems. But I started making few exceptions when I read “Love in the time of Cholera” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but the only reason that pushed me to do so was to discover this so-known author and book. Then there’s my sister’s novel “The future in his arms” that I found quite interesting and catching.

It’s not the fact that there’s love involved in a book that annoys me, not at all, i can be the biggest fan girl over some couples and ship so many of them wishing they end up together and make it no matter the odds, but the fact that some authors turn that into the most important thing in the book, the main core of the story, just gets me bored. “The dark angel” is also about an impossible love story, but this one takes place during the forfeiture of Byzantium, and it’s this last part that catches all the attention. The author does give importance to the relationship between Johannes Angelos and Anna Notaras, his greek lover, but never to the point where the reader feels like he’s on a bad teen romance movie.  Continue reading

10 amazing digital artists and illustrators you should check out asap

Hi there, today I’m sharing with you some very talented artists and illustrators whose work really inspires me. Most of them are into animation, digital art and comics, but there’s such a huge variety in their work and techniques. Their work takes me to a different world each time and that’s what I think illustration is all about: creating a different reality, either it’s a post chaotic and apocalyptic future like the chinese digital artist Wang Ling or a girly and naive break from reality like the beautiful work of Natalie Foss or Richard Ferez. Sometimes, it’s not a different reality, just a lecture of it, like the satirical illustrations of Pawel Kuczynski. Either ways, art here meets all its nobel purposes: give to the viewer the chance to imagine, to think, to go beyond the image, to dive deeper into the symbolism of things. I inserted links to all the personnal blogs or DevianArt accounts of the artists so you can check them out. I hope you enjoy.

1) Wang Ling 

2) Izzy Medrano 

3) Jorge Molina Manzanero

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20 life lessons i learned from Game of Thrones

Hi there buddies, today’s article is something I wanted to write down for months. I already talked about the 5 things a korean tv show called “Boys Over Flowers” teached me, that I think is quite girly and childish, but that I enjoyed very much (yep, I can be very childish and even girly when I want to). So today, as I’m waiting for the next season, I’ll do the same with my favourite tv show of the moment Game of Thrones (still on air cause I have a long list of favourite tv shows that unfortunately ended a while ago). Feel free to like, share and comment down below.

1) Winter is Coming. This sentence is probably the most famous line from the show. In Westeros, every family has a motto, but none are quite as eloquent as the words of House Stark. It not only refers to the actual winter that can last for many years in this fictional North, but it’s also a reminder that the good days end and that everyone should be ready for when the times get darker and colder. It’s a warning to always be prepared for the worse. It reminds me of the second part of the saying “Expect the best but be prepared for the worst”.

What the actual fuck

2) Finish doing before you start talking. Oberyn gave us this amazing life lesson during The Mountain and the viper episode that I think had some of the most interesting scenes of the season. What happened is that Oberyn had almost no chances to win against the big ass Mountain, but he still managed to stab Gregor and injure him badly, pinning him to the floor. But then he forgot that selling the lion before you shoot it down is the biggest mistake a man can undertake, and this time, the price was Oberyn’s life. Gregor managed to seize him and smash out most of his head to the ground. What a tragic ending to one of the sassiest characters on the show, but it leaves us with a learning.

3) “Power resides where men believe it resides.” Varys once said this when talking to Tyrion, and it can’t get any wiser. Littlefinger once claimed that “Knowledge is power”, and Cesei answered that “Power is power”, the good ole Varys explains here that both of these two characters were right since wherever we think power resides, powerful it becomes. It’s all in our heads. The king as an eg is indeed powerful because the people believe he is, while his strength is actually in the hands of his swordsmen who ignore how much power they have over the impotent crown, the power is in the hands of the army, the people, the numbers. But as long as people ignore this fact, the king is the only power there is. We can take this quote and see how applicable it is in real life, if you believe that your words, actions and thoughts are powerful, they will be. If not, then, you’ll have absolutely no potency over the world around you.

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7 inspiring documentaries you should check out ASAP

Hello dear friends, i wanted to share some documentaries that i liked this month , all which you can find and watch easily on Youtube.

1) Thrive : What on Earth will it take ?

2) Simply raw : reversing diabetes in 30 days

3) Taxi to the dark side

4) Waste land

5) Festival Express

6) Solo

7) Hacktivists story – Anonymous

Book review : Salvation army by Abdellah Taia

Hi there internet buds,

After writing down my 2015 “to read” list, I thought i should probably make a review of each book on the list after reading it. So today’s post is about Salvation army by the talented Abdellah Taia. I read one of his books about two years ago, the book was called “Unfaithful” and I instantly fell for his pungent and scathing style. Salvation army is different since it talks about his own childhood, but what I admire about him is the ability to say the harsh truth just the way it is, without a single half measure, he doesn’t chew his words and lots of people around the world and in Morocco especially aren’t happy with it. I can understand their anger, to them he’s ‘filthy’, ‘zamel, ‘gay’… He talks about taboos and sex and reveals some of the cruel things that can happen to people in our society if they’re different. I don’t agree with all his ideas as he’s sometimes sexist and anti-patriotic but it’s only because of all the bad things he witnessed, so I can totally understand his perception, what happened and still happens to him isn’t an exception, it happens to many people around Morocco and the world in general simply because they’re different, because they’re from the LGBT community, divorced, single moms, handicapped… in one word: different.

“I am not saying here that my family didn’t love me, in their way. I am saying that Moroccan society always sacrifices the victim, the weak, the fragile, the poorest among the poor people … I understood one day that I would not be the victim they wanted me to be.”

“My childhood is also my mother screaming all the time, fighting all the time, dominating our world, trying to get us food to eat. She didn’t protect me but I am still in love with her. I admire her. She is everything I do.

“In my head, I am still in this atmosphere of sex and war between my mother and my father … I am fascinated and horrified, attracted and repulsed. And I know that this has influenced my life, my loneliness, my intelligence, my books.”

The guardian

One of the reasons why I like Abdellah is because he’s totally on a different planet, he’s starting a revolution, he’s creating awareness about the horrible homophobia going on in our society. Being a rapist, a harasser, a thief, an aggressor, an animal abuser… is better than being homosexual in homophobic people’s brains. Morocco is very homophobic in general, not everyone, especially not the youth, but the society still has lots of narrow-minded people who bully on others and see homosexuality as a horrible disease. “I would rather die than be gay, I’d rather be a dog” I think that’s the worst resentful idea a person can hold. When we look down on people, start making assumptions about their lives, start hating on them just because they’re different from what we would want them to be or just because they don’t fit inside our pre-made book called ‘how to be good according to X belief’… then we’re doing something way worse than just having a twisted sexual preference. “Being gay isn’t a choice. Hate is.” This poster was made by one of my classmates and friend called Marouane during a workshop at our school (ESAVM) with Cedric Gatillon, and I liked it a lot so I thought I could share it. Thanks for the poster bud.

Poster by Marouane Hafit

When it comes to same-sex marriage or homosexuality, the only answer I can give when I’m asked if I’m with or against it is that what other people do or decide to make with their lives is their decision, not mine. I’m happy for anyone who’s looking for happiness and finds it, even if what makes him happy doesn’t necessarily fit the doctrines and religions I endeavour. As long as he’s not attacking me or challenging my own happiness and safety, he has my blessings. If your religion says that being gay is a sin, then don’t be gay, that’s it. Since you aren’t going to burn in hell and rot with the devils, why would you have a problem with someone who probably will according to your narrow belief system (the belief itself isn’t perforce narrow, but the way you see it is)? Just let it be. All religions agree on one thing : faith is personal, and nothing we do must be obliged to others. Only God can judge, all we have to do is be the best version of ourselves and forget about other people’s lives and problems. Doesn’t life give us enough problems to worry about on our own? It’s almost like the motto of nowadays is “take everyone else’s problem and make it your own”. Excuse me to say this, but no, minding our own business should be the motto, taking care of our flaws should come first. If we’re selfish and arrogant enough to think that we have the right to start judging others, then we are saying that we are perfect, it’s like we turn ourselves into gods and angels, which we’re obviously not. The person who never sined can throw the first stone. We are humans and every human being is a sinner according to all religious beliefs. We all have things to work on, mistakes to forgive ourselves, flaws… So in the end, can we throw stones at people we think are ‘bad’ ? No.

Salvation army was released as a movie, i didn’t watch it but I’ll definitely look for it on the internet (it has been banned in Moroccan theaters for obvious reasons) and from what critics say, it’s very interesting. I don’t doubt it. The book is a shock, in all kinds of way, it talks about pedophilia, homosexuality, incest, sex, prostitution… but at the same time it’s an insight into Abdellah Taia’s vision of life and experience. Even if you’re against his ideas, or (just like me) doesn’t approve all his positions, you’ll definitely feel something while reading the book. They say a book that gives feelings and emotions is a good read, anything that makes people talk and discuss and argue is worth talking about. That’s what I think about Taia’s work : he writes things to start discussion, to get us wondering, asking questions… I wouldn’t say it’s commercial like when Miley Cyrus started acting very ‘strange’ to gain buzz for her album and singles, but it’s well thought, he wants people to change the way they see, think and judge homosexual people, so he creates the buzz in all his works. Or maybe, he’s just sick of society, of people ‘throwing stones’, of judgments, of being treated differently just because of his sexual preference… Either ways, i think he’s a genius.

Salvation Army was described in Out Magazine as “a gay coming-of-age novel” whose “perspective–rooted in the claustrophobic world of a poor Moroccan neighborhood–lends it freshness rare in English literature.” It was described by author David Ebershoff as one of the best gay books of 2009 and by Edmund White, who wrote the introduction to the American edition, as marked by “a simplicity that only intelligence and experience and wide reading can buy.” Variety called it “a bold coming out, unadorned by guilt or sensationalism and directly confronting Western expectations, at least in gay circles, of Arab youth as adornments rather than equal companions.

My 2015 ‘to read’ list

Hi friends. Not that i set reading boundaries to myself, but i like having non-exhaustive lists that i can later on modify. If you have any book recommendations, feel free to comment and discuss.

  • Salvation Army – Abdellah Taia
  • Tao Te Ching – Lao Tseu
  • دوان الحلاج
  • Leaving Tangier – Tahar Ben Jelloun
  • The metamorphosis – Franz Kafka
  • The Steppenwolf – Herman Hesse
  • Book of Enoch
  • Bringers of the dawn – Barbara Marcinak
  • Seriously, i’m kidding – Ellen Degeneris
  • Flower of Life Vol. 1 & 2 by Drunvalo Melchizedek
  • Nothing in this Book is True by Bob Frissell
  • Demons of the flesh – Nikolas Schreck
  • The crusades through arab eyes – Amin Maalouf
  • The Places That Scare You – Pema Chodron
  • Praise of Folly – Erasme
  • Fragrant meadow – AbūʻAbdallah ʻUmar ibn Muḥammad al- Nafzāwī
  • The art of being and becoming – Hazrat Inayat Khan
  • Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom
  • Sarmada – Fadi Azzam
  • Superman is arab – Joumana Haddad
  • 777 and other Quabalistic writings – Aleister Crowley
  • The book of lies – Aleister Crowley
  • Thus Spake Zarathustra – Nietzsche
  • Miramar – Najib Mahfoud
  • Avesta
  • I saw Ramallah – Mourid Barghouti
  • In the Presence of Absence – Mahmoud Derwish
  • The incoherence of the incoherence – Ibn Rushd
  • The poems of Al Muttanabi
  • The Necronomicon – Simon
  • A brief history of the druids – Peter Beresford
  • Voluntary castaway – Alain Bombard
  • When Anna smiled – Yael Hassan
  • Waiting for the Taliban – Emmanuel Guibert
  • Allah is not obliged – Ahmadou Kourouma
  • Afro-Cuban tales – Lydia Cabrera
  • The deliberate dumbing down of America – Charlotte Iserbyt
  • Kafka on the shore – Haruki MurakamiI
  • I am a cat – Natsume Soseki

That’s it for now, what’s yours ?