21 August 2017

Frolicking in Flanders: The Jeruzalemkerk in Bruges

Bruges is an old city. It is old enough to have a church built in the 15th century, such as the Jerusalem Church, built by Anselm Adornes and his family. The Adornes family is a merchant family, and Anselm was also a Crusader, going to the Holy Land in 1470. The church was built upon his return, and supposedly was modeled after the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

19 August 2017

Book Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo

Urgh, this was maddeningly powerful. Imagine a man, who had all of his limbs amputated, as well as all of his senses removed, since somehow, his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth were all blown away by an explosion. But he still has a brain, and he is fed through a tube. He basically is a thinking piece of meat. This is the main character of this very gruesome and graphic novel against war.

Published in 1939, this is perhaps Dalton Trumbo's most known work. I personally haven't known about this book until I read it in Reddit somewhere as a recommendation for one of the most shocking novels to read. And indeed it is shocking. It puts the effects of war in personal and raw sensational terms. See, the thing is, most of the time, when there is a war happening, it is far away from us. We don't really know what war means. We have this idea that we engage in war because we want to spread democracy. The United State does this a lot, given that it is a world power. However, every time war happens, it is far away from the home turf, so for the most part, people don't really grasp what war actually means.

17 August 2017

Frolicking in Flanders: The Old Town of Bruges

A while ago, I came across a movie called In Bruges. It's almost a decade old now, but I just heard of it in passing and haven't really watched it until one day, we were browsing Netflix and found it. We somehow liked it, of course, due to the black comedy, and I must say the pretty setting was icing on the cake. Anyway, perhaps that was subconsciously a reason why I decided to go to Bruges this time. I allotted two nights to explore the town.

15 August 2017

Book Review: Claudius the God by Robert Graves

Back in 2015, I picked up I, Claudius, by Robert Graves. It was a rather mind-blowing book, written as an "autobiography" by the Roman emperor Claudius. The style was rather new to me, and to be honest, it made Roman history rather fun. It recast the intrigues and scandals and political issues that permeated Roman society at that time to something that I could easily follow. This current book is a sequel of that, covering Claudius' reign from the time Caligula was murdered to his own death.

As with the first book, I really like the fact that the author wrote this book in a way as if Claudius himself wrote it. I personally do not know Roman history well, so I cannot verify the authenticity of the historical events that Graves narrated. Nevertheless, from what I can see, it is a well-researched book, and the events that were described are all verifiable by other historians and historical accounts.

13 August 2017

Frolicking in Flanders

So I returned to Belgium recently. I have been to Belgium twice before, but on both visits, I really didn't do justice to the country. My first visit was a short stint, only visiting Ghent and Brussels. And my second visit was a business trip to Leuven, plus a day of exploring Brussels as well. Nevertheless, there is more things to discover in the country than those two, so when I got the chance to visit again, I went to new places. This time, I went to Bruges and Antwerp, as well as to a couple of smaller towns nearby.