Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 188

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The Martinshof Story - A Philosophy of Happiness - Life Awareness - Maps & other Text series

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Thursday - Monday, November 11 - 15 2010 (diary)

Pimpernel Reunion 2010, 9 Club members present I have been very busy this last week, so my Blog writing had to wait for a bit. I have completed two compressed download files, one a course on Cardplay Technique the other one of the complete series of my Philosophy of Happiness. You can download these files for free.

I have also finally completed the Martinshof Story. That has become quite a long story but I am well satisfied with it. If you plan to read it, take a handkerchief with you as it has a rather emotional ending.

Furthermore I have been in hectic conversations (monologues mainly) through long emails in Dutch with my Pimpernel Club student friends back in the old country. This has been a good exercise getting my Dutch writing back into shape. They had their annual reunion at the student club premises Societeit Minerva in Leiden this last Saturday. Nine of them turned up, so that was excellent.
I have instigated an animated discussion on one of my favourite food items in Holland : bitterballen, and you can see on this photo that my friends are starting to treat these humble morsels now with a lot more thought and respect. So culinary education is having its effect.

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Tuesday - Saturday, November 16 - 20 2010 (diary)

With Anne-Marie, Sybil, Bill and Pat, Nov. 2010 The days are racing by at present. I have been cleaning up my various text series, correcting a few pages here and there, etc. I have also been busy playing bridge again this week and had my car serviced in preparation for my long journey in a weeks time.

We have had lots of rain this week, and some mighty thunder storms. A large tree was hit by lightning in one of Darwin's suburbs and lit up in flames like a huge torch, quite spectacular. This year we have virtually had no build up period at all (lots of humidity but no rain) and got straight into the wet season, which is very nice in fact.

Anne-Marie's copy of the 'Sad Clown' by Buffet I would not mind staying on with all my friends in Darwin, but on the other hand look forward to see my friends in Adelaide again and of course my daughter at the Sunshine Coast. The ocean will be nice and warm (around 25°C) I hope so that I can start body surfing at Mooloolaba Beach again.

When you travel just out of Darwin, 30kms or so, the blocks of land are all 5, 10 or more acres in size. Many of them have been transformed into lush tropical gardens. The area feels like, and is to me (and all who live there), a real paradise.
Anne-Marie had invited my small bridge class for a real French dinner on Saturday at her place, which is about 10km further inland from where I live. Her sprawling garden is wonderful with lush trees and vegetation everywhere, surrounded by a well kept lawn. Her house is something else. Anne-Marie is a keen painter (during her precious free time from teaching) and enjoys especially copying the paintings of old, impressionist and contemporary artists, and she is very good at it. Her tropical style home is full of them, hanging on the walls of all rooms, even around lampshades.

Copying famous paintings has also appealed to me in the past and my daughter Babette too has done quite a few. By doing this you feel that you travel in your mind the same road as the original artist, overcoming technical problems, making choices of colour etc., really discovering how he created his work. I have experienced it as a close mental and emotional encounter with the artist, which is so much more powerful than just looking at the original work in a Gallery. Anne-Marie obviously feels the same or very similar about her efforts.
We had a wonderful meal and a most memorable and enjoyable evening together.

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Sunday - Tuesday, November 21 - 23 2010 (books 1)

With Hauk in Felechas, Asturias 1958 Looking back, books have been an integral part of my life. Having said that, I never was a book worm, more an off and on casual reader.
As a child I read a little but especially enjoyed it when my Grandmother read to me, first at Martinshof, with us all three children on Sunday mornings in her bed, later in Scheveningen when I visited her on holidays.
I can't remember reading much while at High school, other than the novels we had to read in Dutch, French, German and English for our exams.

At University I started to read more I believe, often following the choices of some of my friends. But a clear trend, reflecting my personality, was rapidly developing here. I loved the books of John Steinbeck, and my best friend Hauk Fischer and I mimicked the lifestyles and attitudes of the characters featuring in Tortilla Flat and Cannery Row, amplified during our fieldwork summers in Northern Spain (1956-61), living amongst the farmers and miners in small rural villages like Cabdella and Felechas.

Max Dendermonde, Dutch writer 1919-2004 But perhaps the greatest influence on me during those Uni days was De wereld gaat aan vlijt ten onder (something like : "The world succumbs under too much eager work") by the Dutch writer Max Dendermonde (1919-2004).
It portrays a man who prefers a laid back easy lifestyle : lying in a hammock, reading books, philosophising, writing a bit, taking the occasional casual job during the summer to survive.
He falls in love with a career woman who attempts to wean him off his lifestyle, forces him to complete and publish his book and become famous. But it does not work and eventually he manages to revert to his preferred easy lifestyle.

Perhaps partly unconsciously I always have tried to become such a man, and once I was firmly established in music at age 50 I actually achieved such a lifestyle.
Once at retirement age (receiving a small Government pension) in 2002 even my "casual teaching" became unnecessary and I now live a lifestyle Dendermonde's hero would be most envious of!

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Wednesday & Thursday, November 24 & 25 2010 (diary, books 2)

Stendhal Just off the top of my head I would say that books in general fall within three broad categories : entertaining, impairing knowledge or insight, or literature.
Literature is (in my Concise Oxford Dictionary) defined as :

"writings whose value lies in beauty of form or emotional effect".

Quite neat and definitive, although I would add perhaps that literature often also includes a creative use of words and language in general, and that it should stand the test of time.

Nevertheless I believe "beauty" is the keyword in the definition and of course immediately Stendhal's definition of beauty comes to mind.

"Beauty is the promise of happiness."

In my opinion literature is certainly that.
A book need not necessarily be representative of one of above categories only. Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice for example is undoubtedly above all else a magnificent piece of literature. But it also gives a good insight into the moral values and social stratification of the time, and to most readers the book would also be very entertaining.
Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth falls clearly within the entertainment category, but the book also provides insight into the life and especially masonry skills and architecture of the Middle Ages. But one would certainly not call it literature.

My own reading has shifted over the years. During my working life I mainly read entertaining novels, detectives stories and the like, and my knowledge reading was usually related to either my work or my side interests like bridge and music.
Now in the reflective phase of my life I have turned my interest to literature, which I find much more satisfying. And the knowledge based material I read is now of a more general nature. I still do read entertaining novels now and then (when I can't find anything else in the library) but more often than not get bored halfway through a book.

Airport Gateway Motel, Darwin It is Thursday and on our mango farm it is getting quiet. Kim and Andrew won a Brolga Award (NT award of excellence) this weekend with their Best Western Motel (best new business in the territory). They are now in Singapore and Phuket for a well earned break.

I am also packing up to leave for Adelaide tomorrow, and Renee and Rick fly out to the UK in two weeks time to spend Christmas and New Year with their family there.
But we will all be back, for this place is just paradise!

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