I've always believed that looking for expecting a perfect solution inevitably leads to extremism - for me, integrists are simply people who have becom...moreI've always believed that looking for expecting a perfect solution inevitably leads to extremism - for me, integrists are simply people who have become too lost in theory. They're not monsters - they're just people with strongly held beliefs who have forgotten that, more often than not, one has to tolerate a certain degree of uncertainty, even compromise, in order to reach a valid conclusion. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing touch with reality.
I went to a Catholic school until I was 18, so I know full well that arguing this point isn't exactly easy. It doesn't matter how reasonable and conciliatory it sounds in your head - people will accuse you of moral relativism, even cowardice. Well, apparently there was someone who made this point long before I did - Bertrand Russell, a philosopher and public figure known for his high moral integrity. Oh, and also, a logician. Take that, stupid teenage classmates!
Interestingly enough, his story is told in a very metafictional way. I've always felt attracted to metafiction exactly because of this reason. By metafiction I mean experiments like Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile, in which the author subverts an original storyline and saves only the most essential plot points in order to play with parallelism. I get a kick out of it every single time, because it reminds me of how very little of what we take for granted is in fact essential - to a story, to a person, or to a way of life. There's something morally very powerful about that.
Then there's the other sort of metafiction, in which the author breaks the fourth wall and draws attention to the fact that the book is, precisely, a book. I'm a big fan of that too, but in this case it definitely doesn't work. To begin with, there's too much of it - the authors keep interrupting the plot to explain what just happened and where they plan on going next. This doesn't enhance, subvert or question anything - it's just sloppy. It reads like they got overexcited and wanted to include much more than they thought the storyline could contain. "See what we did there? We're drawing a parallel between The Oresteia and Russell's foundational quest! Get it?". I understand that this is related to the self-referential theme, but it still feels like cheating. You don't use metafiction for cheating!
Anyway, Russell's life story was fascinating, and it's made me want to read both Russell and The Oresteia, so I'm very happy I read it.(less)
This was a pretty cool reading experience, if only because it's been the first book in a while that I've read properly, respecting the pace and the fl...moreThis was a pretty cool reading experience, if only because it's been the first book in a while that I've read properly, respecting the pace and the flow of the story instead of reading it all in 10-minute periods. So I'm rather happy about that. The book itself is great too, though I liked the second half (which is less about comic books and more about the characters themselves) more than I did the first one. That's odd, because I'm a comic book fan myself; but the second half felt tighter and more focused. I particularly loved the entire North Pole section - it was harsh, unromantic, and anticlimactic in a way that made an excellent point of why revenge is ultimately useless and unsatisfactory.(less)