All That Man Is – David Szalay

“That night Murray has a dream.

He is lying on his bed. Outside rain is falling – falling heavily and steadily. The window is open. He is lying on his bed, listening to the rain. It is like rain he might have listened to somewhere else, long ago. The room is strangely empty. There is nothing in it except the bed on which he is lying with his head at the wrong end, where his feet should be. He lies there listening to the rain and from the darkness of the bathroom, a large dog emerges – an Alsation. Panting quietly, the dog lies down on the floor next to the bed. As it lies down it knocks over a glass that is there – the sound of the glass falling and then rolling a little way across the floor. With a tiny whimper the dog yawns, and then starts to pant again. The rain is still falling. Without otherwise moving, Murray has stretched out his hand and is stroking the dog’s neck, the deep fur. The dog pants quietly. The rain falls and falls, making a puddle on the floor next to the open window.”

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Soul Mountain – Gao Xingjian

“This is pristine natural beauty. It is irrepressible, seeks no reward, and is without goal, a beauty derived neither from symbolism nor metaphor and needing neither analogies nor associations.

I take deep breaths of the pure air of the forest, inhaling and exhaling is effortless and I feel the very depths of my soul being cleansed. The air penetrates to the soles of my feet, and my body and mind seem to enter nature’s grand cycle. I achieve a sense of joyful freedom such as I have never before experienced.”

Travelling Differently – Paulo Coelho

Avoid museums. This might seem to be absurd advice, but let’s just think about it a little. If you are in a foreign city, isn’t it far more interesting to go in search of the present than the past? It’s just that people feel obliged to go to museums because they learned as children that travelling was about seeking out that kind of culture. Obviously, museums are important, but they require time and objectivity – you need to know what you want to see there, otherwise you will leave with a sense of having seen a few really fundamental things, but can’t remember what they were.

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