mixed bag. thought i would hate dostoyevsky and kafka but was very pleasantly surprised by Notes From Underground and by the kafka parables. thought imixed bag. thought i would hate dostoyevsky and kafka but was very pleasantly surprised by Notes From Underground and by the kafka parables. thought i would like sartre but hated it. liked the nietzsche. hated the jaspers. mostly hated the heidegger, although i liked the initial image of the tree of philosophy - the roots of the tree lose themselves in the ground so that the rest of the tree can leave the ground. jaspers is almost pure, insufferable word salad. i'm sure he was a smart fellow who had some interesting insights into human psychology, but his writing is repetitive without examples or explanation. rilke was forgettable. kierkegaard was a disappointment. the kaufmann introduction is quite good....more
almost three stars, but not quite. lots of amusing stuff about how screwed up society is and ghoulish extrapolations of capitalist/consumer-driven advalmost three stars, but not quite. lots of amusing stuff about how screwed up society is and ghoulish extrapolations of capitalist/consumer-driven advances in genetic engineering, as well as the social consequences of a divide opening up between those who can afford the products and those who can't.
but, the characters. why do authors invent good scenarios and then insert jerks as characters? i assume the answer is that it's just so EASY to write a jerk, instead of taking the time and effort to write a brilliant human being. you might say, "but how can a person who is not a genius write a genius?" the answer is simple: slowly. if you spend 30 minutes writing a page of dialogue, it cannot be much more intelligent than if you were speaking to someone yourself. but if you take a week composing one page, looking up wisdom from the myriad geniuses of the world, past and present, and culling the very best relevant nuggets, then your characters can be geniuses. does atwood take her time? well, she has published more than FIFTY books, so there you go. ("BUT SHE WINS ALL THOSE AWARDS!!!" yes, awards.)
are there other reasons to have every character in a novel be a jerk? one might say, "realism", but then what is the moral of the story? that people are jerks? but i already know that....more
the first nietzsche i've read, and i loved it - the nietzsche, that is. you can feel the forces of socrates (ever skeptical, most savagely of oneself!the first nietzsche i've read, and i loved it - the nietzsche, that is. you can feel the forces of socrates (ever skeptical, most savagely of oneself!) and schopenhauer (pessimist) bashing their way toward the surface. i wish i could read german, since there is every indication that he was a master stylist of language. the playfulness comes through, but of course the poetry and wordplay largely defy translation.
sometimes rational and scholarly, but other times he lets fly with exuberant scorching disdain:
The state, I call it, where all are poison-drinkers, the good and the bad: the state, where all lose themselves, the good and the bad: the state, where the slow suicide of all—is called "life."
Just see these superfluous ones! They steal the works of the inventors and the treasures of the wise. Culture, they call their theft—and everything becometh sickness and trouble unto them!
Just see these superfluous ones! Sick are they always; they vomit their bile and call it a newspaper. They devour one another, and cannot even digest themselves.
Just see these superfluous ones! Wealth they acquire and become poorer thereby. Power they seek for, and above all, the lever of power, much money—these impotent ones!
See them clamber, these nimble apes! They clamber over one another, and thus scuffle into the mud and the abyss.
Towards the throne they all strive: it is their madness—as if happiness sat on the throne! Ofttimes sitteth filth on the throne.—and ofttimes also the throne on filth.
Madmen they all seem to me, and clambering apes, and too eager. Badly smelleth their idol to me, the cold monster: badly they all smell to me, these idolaters.
My brethren, will ye suffocate in the fumes of their maws and appetites! Better break the windows and jump into the open air!
however, as an anthology, i can't give it too high a rating. the first two thirds are ok - especially about 100 pages in the middle of solid text from Thus Spoke Zarathustra. but sadly, in the final third the editor goes on and on about how the late niezsche makes less and less sense, then quotes a few lines, then after a five page introduction, the "works" section will contain literally less than a page from the introduced work, and it's what he already quoted in his intro. ack....more
the monumental achievements of modern physics have been based upon (or, "have led to"?) a certain worldview - that the universe is made of entities ththe monumental achievements of modern physics have been based upon (or, "have led to"?) a certain worldview - that the universe is made of entities that can be broken up into elementary constituent parts, and Everything That Happens is made up of interactions between these entities. unfortunately, as with a great many ideas, as time passes and the application of this viewpoint to various avenues of investigation meets with success after success, people come to believe that the reason for this success must be that the concept is a True representation of Reality, and not simply an efficient and practical set of techniques for operating in a certain limited domain.
bohm mastered quantum mechanics and relativity in the 1950s, spent a bunch of time hanging out with einstein and feynman and those sorts of people, and then stepped back and tried to figure out why the two revolutionary advances in 20th century physics have proved so difficult to reconcile. is nature telling us that we are missing something?
this book makes a case for wholeness, and against fragmentation. quantum entanglement hints that entities which appear to be isolated from each other are still connected. relativity tells us that there can be no such thing as an extended rigid body, which led particle physicists to posit that the elementary particles are extensionless points, but this then leads to infinite fields and other infinities in calculations. so they muddle along, sweeping mathematical absurdities under a carpet called renormalization.
but seeing physics in a holistic way is totally alien to modern science, and smacks of new-age non-scientific drivel. it led to bohm being ostracised from the physics world, although he has always maintained a small band of ardent supporters. there is no doubt that physics has been in crisis for at least a generation, until finally today one sees a veritable explosion of "crazy" ideas actually seeing the light of day in "respectable" fora, although sadly bohm didn't live to see it.
there is a certain tone in the way david bohm communicates that is difficult for me to describe, but i love it. it is genius, and gentleness, and kindness, and carefulness. how can one write about quantum mechanics with gentleness and kindness? i don't know, but david bohm did....more
almost four stars. tons of good stuff about anarchic utopia, both pro and con. no laws, no prisons, no money. but it only obtains when the authority ialmost four stars. tons of good stuff about anarchic utopia, both pro and con. no laws, no prisons, no money. but it only obtains when the authority is transfered inside the individual, via constant indoctrination from the cradle, and total isolation from all rival ideologies.
unfortunately, Shevek was not quite John Galt. i think if you are going to have a superhuman protagonist/mouthpiece, then make them superhuman, and don't have them get drunk and try to rape a woman and then ejaculate(!) on her dress.
i wish the author had let her hero go visit the socialist superpower as well as the capitalist one, and allowed him to find at least one person on the planet he could have a long, open-minded discussion with, rather than quick little exchanges.
but overall quite thought-provoking. makes me want to go read some histories of real utopian experiments. also (and this was never addressed), how do you actually start the movement going?...more