Reduced Reflections offers an alphabetical accounting of various words as diverse as “ambition,” “diligence,” “jungle,” “omen” and “village,” as well as the author’s personal take on each. Readers can open the book to any page and read a thought or two about a word, look up a specific word to see if it is listed, or read from beginning to end (though that is not suggested).
The type of listings range from the ridiculous (“Calamity: Nobody is more calamitous than a prophesier of calamities”) to the light-hearted (“Banquet: Many people like banquets, especially when they are invited to them”) to the irreverent (“Hunting: Hunting is called a sport. No other evidence is needed to show that humans are born fundamentally wrong”).
Some philosophies hit the mark, providing deep or intriguing thoughts about the words we use daily, such as: “Humour [sic]: Humour [sic] reduces pretentiousness to its proper level.” Others miss it, seeming obvious or irrelevant: “Law: People obey the laws because it is their duty and they don’t like to go to prison.”
When the great thinkers of the world offer their thoughts and philosophies on life, they are immediately taken seriously, given a carte blanche, so to speak, to regale us with their wisdom. Unknown authors, however, provide their thoughts at the risk of seeming a bit presumptuous. Tan Kheng Yeang may be a revered thinker in his family, but readers will need to take a leap of faith when blindly embarking on this journey of unproven wisdom.
Their risk will most often pay off. Reduced Reflections features some pointless entries that probably should not have been included. In general, though, it is a thoughtful, interesting, provoking look at the world through Yeang’s perceptions of individual words.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.