The Solitude of Thomas Cave by Georgina Harding. Curious book: 17th century whaler Thomas Cave takes a bet that he can survive a winter in Greenland: he makes it, but is changed forever by the experience.
Was expecting a kind of fictionalised Worst Journey in the World with lots of detail about ingenious methods of survival. Instead it's a part-psychological, part-allegorical journey into the human soul
Quite crisply written and compelling in places. Found it a bit hard to take myself though: had problems suspending disbelief, and it didn't really seem to say that much.
Saw the Shah Abbas exhibition at the British Museum: collection of works related to the influential ruler of Persia.
Was pretty quiet on the Sunday morning, no queue to get in. Usual BM bureaucracy: even with a card you have to go over and get a ticket, and it's a kind of linear labyrinth that makes it hard to backtrack, though may work well for shepherding hordes at busier times.
A few interesting things there. Especially liked the sparse and elegant silver bowls designed for exceptionally religious people without too much ostentation.
However, mixing up the Persian artefacts with Chinese porcelain and European paintings doesn't do them many favours. The blue and white pottery looks decidedly crude by comparison, and the lack of perspective makes the paintings look slightly childish.
Dropped in at the last day of the Rebecca Warren exhibition at the Serpentine gallery. Bit of a mixed bag. Some very tedious vitrines of ugly random objects in glass cases, and some pointlessly conceptual bronze cubes. However some of the unfired clay sculptures are fascinating: there's a nice rotating one with a female form emerging from the rough clay. And the "Helmut Crumb" sculpture seems to me a hilarious Robert Crumb tribute: woman reduced to two muscular legs and a vagina.
Operation Become More Stoic
Fasted for 24 hours last week: no food, just water and black coffee. Not what I expected: thought there would be agonizing hunger pangs and a kind of light-headed clarity. Instead I only felt about as hungry as on a normal day: felt hungry as a mealtime approached, but less hungry after it passed.
Mentally however I felt tired and thick-headed: it's a bit like waking up still drunk.
Definitely makes you appreciate your food a lot more afterwards though. Might try skipping meals next time I need to lose weight too.
In general, not much change since last time. I'm definitely a lot more less stressed in queues and when trapped behind slow-moving walkers. Also managed to deal more patiently with my family.
Doesn't seem to be helping at work though: I lost my temper a bit on Friday. Epictetus says "To the rational being only the irrational is unendurable, but the rational is endurable." I think the irrationality of work problems makes it hard to deal with: I'm forced to waste time on ludicrously stupid ideas, and can't work effectively because I'm constantly having to change tracks to deal with whatever the latest artificial crisis is.
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