The Consolations of PhilosophyThe Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was the first link of the chain of thoughts and instants that led me to reading this book by philosopher Alain de Botton.

This is one of those rare applied philosophy books that pose the question peculiarly left untouched by many contemporary professionals in the field of how one can use philosophy and philosophical ideas, some of them quite old, to make their life better and happier. To me, and by all appearances to Mr. de Botton as well, simplicity is a virtue of itself, and there is very little value to be found in ideas that need several tomes of derivative works and commentary to be decoded.

Consolations of Philosophy book has none of that. You could call it anti-philosophy, in an almost ying-yang sense. Mr. de Botton took six problems commonly faced by some—I’m tempted to say all— people and asked “what would Socrates, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche do?”

It worked. It gave me a sense that these famous thinkers basically had the same insecurities I do, and it did so amazingly eloquently, informatively and most of all intelligibly. His train of thought was clear and I felt invited to hop on for the ride from the get-go.

The sad part is that most of the original works actually are the boring, long-winded books we have come to connect philosophy with. I suppose that makes Mr. de Botton a real bearer of ideas, a cultural translator or interpreter. Whatever he is, his job is extremely valuable and that was awesome.

Excerpts and some comments:

Consolation for Unpopularity, Socrates:

“It would be as naïve to hold that unpopularity is synonymous with truth as to believe that it is synonymous with error. The validity of an idea of action is determined not by whether it is widely believed or widely reviled but by whether it obeys the rules of logic.”

…for the next time I have to confront insulting sworn carnivores, skeptics, dogmatists—anyone with a closed mind, really. Or for expressing an opinion that is over-looked in group situations.

Consolation for Not Having Enough Money, Epicurus:

“At the heart of Epicureanism is the thought that we are as bad as intuitively answering “What will make me happy?” as “What will make me healthy?” The answer which most rapidly comes to mind is liable to be as faulty. [i.e.—it’s not money!]

… for the next time I stress over not getting a review done, playing a game, or having little income.

Consolation for Frustration, Seneca:

if most philosophers feel no need to write like this [clearly], it is because they trust that, so long as argument is logical, the style in which it is presented to the reader will not determine its effectiveness. Seneca believed in a different picture of the mind. Arguments are like eels: however logical, they may slip from the mind’s weak grasp unless fixed there by imagery and style. We need metaphors to derive a sense of what cannot be seen or touched, or else we will forget.

… for the next time I worry about not being precise and finding it difficult to speak succinctly. Speak intelligibly if you want to be memorable!

Consolation for inadequacy, Montaigne:

But writing with simplicity requires courage, for there is a danger that one will be overlooked, dismissed as simpleminded by those with a tenacious belief that impassable prose is a hallmark of intelligence. So strong is this bias, Montaigne wondered whether the majority of university scholar would have appreciated Socrates, a man they professed to revere about all others, if he had approached them in their own towns, devoid of the prestige of Plato’s dialogues, in his dirty cloak, speaking in plain language. […] It is striking how much more seriously we are likely to be taken after we have been dead a few centuries. Statements which might be acceptable when they issue from the quills of ancient authors are likely to attract ridicule when expressed by contemporaries.

…for when I feel stupid, doubt my own arguments and thoughts, because they do not come complete with fancy words (thanks Dad!)

Consolation for a Broken Heart, Schopenhauer:

We should in time learn to forgive our rejectors. The break-up was not their choice. In every clumsy attempt by one person to inform another that they need more space or time, that they are reluctant to commit or are afraid of intimacy, the rejector is striving to intellectualize an essentially unconscious negative verdict formulated by the will-to-life. Their reason may have had an appreciation of our qualities, their will-to-life did not and told them so in a way that brooked no argument—by draining them of sexual interest in us. If they were seduced away by people less intelligent than we are, we should not condemn them for shallowness. We should remember, as Schopenhauer explains, that: What is looked for in marriage is not intellectual entertainment, but the procreation of children.

…for the next time I am, uh, rejected by a woman for not inspiring her to have children with me?

Consolation for Difficulties, Nietzsche:

In the eyes of people who are seeing us for the first time… usually we are nothing more than a single individual trait which leaps to the eye and determines the whole impression we make. Thus the gentlest and most reasonable of men can, if he wears a large moustache… usually be seen as no more than the appurtenance of a large moustache, that is to say a military type, easily angered and occasionally violent — and as such he will be treated. […] The secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment is—to live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius!”

…for the next time I make base judgments about others. Remember that everybody’s the centre of their own universe, the protagonists of their own movie, and ultimately the only actors on their destiny that really matter. Be subjective about others (allow them to be subjective about themselves) and objective about yourself, that is allow seeing yourself as others see you, the good and the bad, and be mindful of it. Keep in mind that most people will like you or dislike you no matter what, so go with it. Move and function from love, not fear.

See? Just writing this review inspired me to put down some of my own values and philosophical musings. Can there be any greater compliment for this book and Alain de Botton?

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All links to High Existence:

My Struggle with Social Media: A Diatribe on Ego and Honesty

…so if I unfriend or ignore you online, I hope you understand. But if you see me go on some friending frenzy you’ll know I found something worth telling the world about. I will have found a banner I can wave that doesn’t read, “Look at me!” Rather, it might read, “Look at us. Poor, sorry, beautiful us.”

A Philosopher’s Guide to Facebook Envy

“It’s a real taboo to mention envy, but if there is one dominant emotion in modern society, that is envy…”

– Alain de Botton

Do you ever feel negative emotions while browsing the web? If you do you’re not alone. A recent study showed 1 in 3 people feel more depressed after visiting social media sites like Facebook. Psychologists call this phenomenon as ‘Facebook envy’.

Best-selling philosopher Alain Botton has pointed out that because Facebook envy is one of the least talked about emotions, it has the power to potentially destroy your life and prevent you from achieving your dreams. To stop this from happening to you, Alain de Botton has invented what he calls the ‘envy diary technique’.

By using the envy diary technique outlined in this post you’ll be able to transform negative emotions like Facebook envy, jealously and frustration into motivation and confidence, allowing you to achieve your goals with more speed and more ease.

The Envy Diary Technique

Whenever you feel envy:

  1. Acknowledge it.
  2. Write down the cause.
  3. Repeat.
  4. Look for a pattern.

Social Media is Distorting Your Creative Vision, and You Don’t Even Know It

What drives your creative work? Money? Fame? Success? If you’re an artist, you’re probably answering “no way”— meaning drives you. Finding purpose or making your life meaningful is your deepest priority, even if it’s not the priority you act on most. (Let’s face it, if living a meaningful life consisted of following an indubitable recipe, we’d all do it. But it doesn’t.)

Whether subtly or profoundly, we all experience this drive for meaning. And though the cause of this drive seems unidentifiable, it’s by searching for it that we add meaning to our lives. Art is just one way we undertake this search. The difficulty, though, with making art is remaining honest, and often our truest desires get supplanted with the desires of others. If you’re struggling to find artistic fulfillment, it may have nothing to do with your skill set or methodology, and everything to do with unquestioned motivations.

For some time now my own work (writing) has felt polluted. I’ve struggled to achieve a sense of honesty, so I recently began exploring why. What I found is an intoxicating ideology and social media as the dominant carrier of it. Together they chloroformed me, stifling my creativity and sapping the pleasure from my work.


The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly ImprobableThe Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a smart book. The author, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, is one of these guys you come across sometimes who are smartasses and they know it, are in love with that smartass prestige of theirs, and who you can’t help but sit and listen to because they’re so damn interesting. Sometimes their smartassiness goes a bit overboard, similar to the scratching of an itch that at first is satisfying but can easily hurt if you don’t stop at the right moment. However, albeit barely, most of the time they keep it under control.

I have to tell the truth. Most of the Black Swan was too technical for me, too difficult. I caught the main idea but at some point I just didn’t know what I was reading anymore. I wonder if Taleb would have had a bigger impact with his book (and he did a big impact as far as I can tell) if he had made it easier to read for a broader audience. I have the impression that the more sophisticated an academic or a specialist is, the more resistant to books such as this he or she is, whereas

Anyway, Taleb’s idea, the whole topic of this book, is rather simple: life is full of Black Swan events, and…

Sod it, I’ll let Wikipedia do the talking for a sec:

The phrase “black swan” derives from a Latin expression; its oldest known occurrence is the poet Juvenal‘s characterization of something being “rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno” (“a rare bird in the lands and very much like a black swan”; 6.165).[4] When the phrase was coined, the black swan was presumed not to exist.


Juvenal’s phrase was a common expression in 16th century London as a statement of impossibility. The London expression derives from the Old World presumption that all swans must be white because all historical records of swans reported that they had white feathers.[5] In that context, a black swan was impossible or at least nonexistent. After Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh discovered black swans in Western Australia in 1697,[6] the term metamorphosed to connote that a perceived impossibility might later be disproven. Taleb notes that in the 19th century John Stuart Mill used the black swan logical fallacy as a new term to identify falsification.[7]


Based on the author’s criteria:

  1. The event is a surprise (to the observer).
  2. The event has a major effect.
  3. After the first recorded instance of the event, it is rationalized by hindsight, as if it could have been expected; that is, the relevant data were available but unaccounted for in risk mitigation programs. The same is true for the personal perception by individuals.


The theory was developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb to explain:

  1. The disproportionate role of high-profile, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance, and technology.

  2. The non-computability of the probability of the consequential rare events using scientific methods (owing to the very nature of small probabilities).

  3. The psychological biases that make people individually and collectively blind to uncertainty and unaware of the massive role of the rare event in historical affairs.

Basically, we can’t predict things. We think we can, but we can’t, and they are the ones we are most vulnerable to. What do we have to do to make ourselves more robust to Black Swans? Be aware of them. And screw banksters and speculators, they’re frauds. There, I just summarised the whole book!

Don’t give Black Swan a read if you’re a bankster or speculator and want to preserve your so-called  self-respect. Do give it a read if you believe that the world is much more complex than any model we can come up with, but be prepared to skim, skim, skim.

Anodyne Review

Anodyne's script ain't no "It's dangerous to go alone! Take this!"
Anodyne’s script ain’t no “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this!”


Take Link To The Past, a David Lynch film (or any other work based on a stream-of-consciousness or dreamscape narrative) and some Nietzsche. Put them in a blender. Blend. Serve with Indie™ sprinkles. You’ve got Anodyne.

What I enjoyed:

compact dungeons;
card collectables;

creative use of the graphical limitations.

What I didn’t enjoy:

the map was more Zelda ’86 and less Link to the Past;
floaty controls (don’t use analogue sticks, trust me);
difficult in an awkward way, ie I was falling too much into pits and not being killed by enemies enough – also had to do with the very short invincibility window after being hit.

What I will remember:

the ultimate broom which could be used as a weapon as well as a means to push dust on water to create a raft with;
the Master Sword Get! moment after completing the first three dungeons (it has to do with a wind power generator);
the philosopher bosses who always had something deep to say before and after the battle;
the ending (which I had to fight for twice because  I comically drowned after defeating the final boss the first time around);
the humour – something we don’t see in games that often unfortunately.



I would recommend it to everyone who:

• likes Zelda, especially the 2D ones;
enjoys short games (it won’t take you more than 5 hours);
• is bored of dry dialogue (no text is wasted in Anodyne, there are no “Isn’t it a beautiful day?” or “This is the way to the lake!” moments);
feels comfortable with philosophy and/or poetrythe game makes little sense in terms of what we’d normally expect from the genre; it takes a mind that can grasp abstract ideas to follow what might be happening or derive enjoyment from the calm realisation that maybe what is happening doesn’t matter as much as how it’s happening;
likes it indie (just two people worked for this. I hope, if you’re that dedicated of an indie person, that you’ll overlook the fact that the game’s main outlet has been Steam. I personally got it from some Humble Bundle and would happily share a DRM-free .exe with you if you’d like me to, but I’m sure you’d rather have the achievements, wouldn’t you?)

Review: Apocalypsopolis by Ran Prieur

ApocalypsopolisApocalypsopolis by Ran Prieur

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve asked the question before, but can we really consider this a book? If the writer says it’s one, it is one; we’re taking it from there.

I’ve been reading the blog of this crazy person Ran Prieur for the past few weeks and every day I love him more and more. His writing, his style, his way of life is another inspiration for me. He’s quickly finding his way to this exclusive mental resort where all my top favourite people (Douglas Adams, Dan Carlin, Maria Efthimiou, Kyle Cease, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Raymond Smullyan, Steven Wilson, Alan Watts, Edgar Wright and the list goes on) are having the longest cocktail party/cozy discussion in altered states of their (after)lives.

Apocalypsopolis is a post-apocalyptic novela – or should I say while-apocalyptic? It shows what would happen during the apocalypse. Ran Prieur’s version of it isn’t any old end of the world, however. Through his work he clearly shows all of the things that mattered to him 9 years ago and still, to a certain extent, do today: man’s alienation from nature, his interest in “conspiracy theories” and metaphysics, the simplicity, complexity and -at the same time- trivialty of existence, the future of humanity.

You like post-apocalyptic fantasy? Read it. You like (political) philosophy? Read it. You like hippie fiction? Read it. Intrigued by the deconstruction of metaphysics? Read it. Survivalism strike your fancy? You know the drill.

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Review: The Human Evasion

The Human Evasion
The Human Evasion by Celia Elizabeth Green

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this book, Celia Green tries to deconstruct the term ‘sanity’. She argues that sanity is only an evasion taken on by people to avoid looking at reality and the whole spectrum of problems it brings with it, e.g. how little of the world we know or can, as humans, ever know; or the knowledge that our presence in the world is finite and therefore could be deemed as pointless, etc. In other words, sane people get used to dealing with problems concerning their relationships with other humans so as not to have to deal with reality and their finiteness. “Dealing with reality” is avoiding reality. Curiously, sane people do not seem to be aware of the fact and may insist that they are taking reality head-on while telling fellow humans more concerned with otherworldly or trans-human issues (in the sense of transendence, not transhumanism) that they are not dealing with reality.

An interesting book and one I that I wish to read again, if only because I feel that reading it off a screen somehow reduced my retention even if it is a short read. It is fully available on, which looks as if it has many other interesting articles, books and opinions that can go a long way in challenging the conceived sanity of most.

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Review: The Ethics of Computer Games

The Ethics of Computer Games
The Ethics of Computer Games by Miguel Sicart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent blend of philosophy (chiefly ethics) and a game design analysis. The main idea presented by Miguel Sicart is that gamers take their morality in the games they play, that players are moral subjects with certain cultural and individual backgrounds when they come in contact with a game and cannot be analysed individually without a player-activator. That is to say that as an object turned into an experience by a moral subject cannot exist on its own and thus should not be analysed as an experience players would enjoy passively (as is droned by politicians and the media concerning violent games). The best comparison he gives is that games provide a moral skin for players to wear over their normal subjectivities. This skin is the basis for all interaction with the game world, whatever the player’s role might be within it.

For Sicart, ethical games are games that allow a certain freedom of choice to the player but do not impose their own morality on them as Knights of the Old Republic or Fable would do, both examples of games he deems unethical exactly because the subject that creates the ethical meanings out of the game is not the player-subject herself.

I have never read a more up-to-date and complete reading on games and ethics together and I can say that I generally agree with the author, even with his bolder suggestions. I’m still not sure, though, what exactly makes Custer’s Revenge an example of poor design if it can, in the end, make the player-subject reflect on her actions nonetheless. But I’m prepared to cut him some slack. I mean, an in-depth analysis of BioShock and DEFCON, mentions of obscure little gems like Cursor*10 and Daigasso! Band Brothers?

Miguel Sicart is a philosopher gamer. We need to read more from other people with similar critical abilities and back-catalogue of game experiences. Until then, this book will remain the definitive literature on the subject.

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Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: The Trilogy of Four

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Trilogy of Four
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: The Trilogy of Four by Douglas Adams

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was thinking of starting my review with a quote from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It would neatly go to display exactly why the probability of this book’s humour and insight into the ways of the universe actually existing are two to the power of two hundred and twenty-six thousand seven hundred and nine to one against. You see, after coming in contact with the universe that sprung out from the genius that was Douglas Adams, your life gets torn into the period before having read H2G2 and after. It shapes your mind, it makes you think about the world in ways you never thought possible — or it makes you realise that this is exactly the way you used to look at the absurdness of the Universe, only life on this mostly harmless planet has made you think in mostly harmless ways yourself.

It’s such a yummy, well-mixed recipe of dead-pan, random, black, so-funny-because-it’s-so-true humours, all served with hearty amounts of insight you can’t help stuffing your face with the whole pot. There’s also a secret ingredient which talks to your philosophy loving side… It leaves you lighter as you laugh with lines so clever, a writer so talented and situations so bizarre you can hardly believe your eyes. It’s the hash brownie of scifi…

The only breaker for me was the characters as well as the plot. Both of them serve as little more than means to present the jokes. I get the meaning of the story is to be bizarre but at some points it went so overboard I had little idea of what was happening. The characters were also inconsistent and to some point interchangeable. Maybe that was Douglas Adams’s intention? I don’t know. But still, four books later, I have no clear view of the plot or of the characters, they’re blurs more than anything else. Which is a shame, for they were means for some pretty unique situations.

I thought that the first and second book were the best, with the third one having the strongest messages but the most confusing situations and plot. “So Long And Thanks For All The Fish” had its moments, especially between Arthur and Fenchurch but it was generally disappointing. I read however that Adams was forced to push through a deadline for the fourth book and was generally disappointed by the end result himself.

The Trilogy of Four is aptly named for my rating standards: I’m giving it a four overall because it didn’t maintain the stellar quality of the first two books throughout the series. I know I’m not finished. This is only my introduction to this extraordinary and hilarious world of not only The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy but Douglas Adams in general. Now I must play the game, read the rest of the books, see or hear the shows…

And to think I may had not read the books in the end because I hated the film…

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Quotes ~ Αποφθέγματα ΙΙ

Are an acorn and the oak tree it grows into the same thing?

Είναι ένα βελανίδι και η βελανιδιά στην οποία θα μεγαλωσεί το ίδιο πράγμα;

Paul Ricoeur