I've been thinking about creating a course on the portrayal of scientists in popular culture of books, TV, and film and was looking for possible sourcI've been thinking about creating a course on the portrayal of scientists in popular culture of books, TV, and film and was looking for possible sources already covering the topic. David Annandale suggested this to me so I went out and found a copy. For a resource this is really useful. Though not covering the full breadth of what I was looking for, it certainly fits into some aspects.
Skal explores chapter by chapter the portrayal of doctors, scientists, and monsters in light of various eras and their dominating cultural influences. Covering far more than just 'mad scientists' Skal illuminates all the different scientist/doctor archetypes. Well, at least some of the more negative ones.
Each individual stands on its own well, but what is lacking with this is any overarching thesis to unify all the discussions that take place, all the different archetypes and eras. It covers a large swathe of depictions of scientists/doctors so also doesn't got into any particular in-depth analysis of many. So for a broad overview of the topic it is useful and an enjoyable read....more
Written in a manic stream-of-consciousness flow as diary entries from minds fractured and deranged, 3000,000,000 is at times poetic and profound, vulgWritten in a manic stream-of-consciousness flow as diary entries from minds fractured and deranged, 3000,000,000 is at times poetic and profound, vulgar with visceral gore, illuminating, and impenetrable. The main characters are Gretch Gravey, a psychopathic mass murderer/cult leader, and Detective E.N. Flood, the officer tasked with combing over Garvey's rambling writings and testimonies to penetrate the meaning behind his horrific crimes.
As Flood struggles to understand the insanity of Gravey and his alter-egos his colleagues (and the reader) begins to witness Flood's own life and mind descend into a similar vortex of madness where rational sentences devolve into surreal images of raw contrasting emotions. Reality and imagination in the minds of the protagonists blur, as do the lines between the plot and the social commentary of 300,000,000 on the fabric of America.
I try to avoid statements such as this, but this novel if any will hold to that idea that most people will either love or hate Butler's novel. The near incomprehensibility of much of the text, read more for the poetry, frantic cadence, and general feeling of unease that it elicits will not be for everyone. At times I found it fascinating, but as the novel wore on I became increasingly bored and uninterested, dulled to the violence and disturbing heart of it all, which perhaps is an effect and commentary Butler desired to convey to some degree.
Just as Flood becomes affected by the crazed mind of Gravey, so too does the reader. The effect is chilling. In moments where I spent time focused on the novel, and in the dark quiet of the night, my mind tried to construct some logic around the surreal, and began to feel a growing sense of paranoia and discomfort. Butler succeeds well at making this truly creepy for the reader able to immerse into the pages of 300,000,000, particularly in the start of the book. I also appreciated how the horrific depravity and bloodbath behind the minimal plot of the novel seems at times supernatural in nature, yet also reads like that would be a cop-out, denying the utter evil capable by humanity itself.
Eventually, however, the novelty of that experience became old, the effects dulled. After a certain number of times reading dehumanizing words like 'flesh' and 'meat' to describe people loses its effect. The fragmentation of characters and the unreliability of who is 'real' and who is a fragment of Flood's imagination start to become repetitive and the social commentary on America grows a bit too literal perhaps. A little over halfway through the novel I was ready for it to end. The remainder just reinforced responses I'd already had and there isn't enough of a 'plot' here to really make the latter portions of the thick novel fulfilling from the angle of story.
Readers who really enjoy surreal, bizarro fiction will find this worth checking out, but this is certainly not for those who want a more traditional kind of novel or those put off by disturbing horrors. While I remained welcome to it, the experimental nature of the novel wore thin on me. Finally finishing it I felt far more displeased and unsatisfied than I feel now with the passage of some time. Butler's 300,000,000 is certainly unforgettable.
Disclaimer: I received a free advanced reading copy of this from the publisher via Goodreads' First-reads giveaway program in exchange for an honest review, originally published at reading1000lives.com....more
In his introduction to this collection of essays, Isiah Lavender III explains that Black and Brown Planets continues a conversation started in the sciIn his introduction to this collection of essays, Isiah Lavender III explains that Black and Brown Planets continues a conversation started in the science fiction community with Elisabeth Leonard’s 1997 anthology, Into Darkness Peering: Race and Color in the Fantastic. The cultural and literary criticism found here in looking at works of the recent past become particularly significant as we comprehend a future where, as Lavender III puts it, “the Western world ceases to be dominated by the white majority”:
"SF has charted a few of the alternatives for this unknown territory, and the change presents both opportunities and challenges for society to establish new values. In short, skin color matters in our visions of the future…[To] transcend various repetitions of the color line – black, red, and brown – we must be conscious of these repetitions."
As subtitled, Black and Brown Planets focuses on the politics (the strategy of obtaining a position of power/control) of race in science fiction with the essays divided into two parts. As with any criticism, it can be most fully appreciated if you are intimately familiar with the material being discussed. Yet, while helpful, I wouldn’t consider it essential for several of the essays here; they still have relevance that can be conveyed to interested readers.
Part One focuses on the portrayal of Black identity in science fiction from the African-American to Afrofuturism to postcolonial analysis in general. Living in the United States, having traveled to Africa, and having studied some French postcolonial literature, I personally found this part of the collection to be more approachable and comprehensible due to familiarity.
In this Black Planets part, essays by De Witt Douglas Kilgore and Gerry Canavan consider the simple but profound “Far Beyond the Stars” episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which addresses racism and gender bias in the history of science fiction publication. Simultaneously, as Kilgore points out, the episode marks a contrast of the past to a present-day vision of the future where a Black man is a Starfleet captain, station commander, and a political and spiritual emissary to another race: an Afrocentric politic where “people of color determine human destiny” (as put by Lavender in his intro).
Though I’ve seen “Far Beyond the Stars”, I haven’t read The Star Pit, the other focal point of Canavan’s essay. Similarly, I haven’t read The Evening and the Morning and the Night discussed in Lavender’s contribution. However, I have at least read enough works by Samuel R. Delany and Octavia Butler to be familiar with their style and themes, permitting me to appreciate the general critiques. In a way, extending Susan Sontag’s Illness as Metaphor criticism, Lavender’s essay considers Butler’s story of disease as metaphor for race where “those suffering from [a] fictional genetic illness…are in fact victims of cultural racism.” I look forward to reading these stories and returning to their discussion in these essays anew.
The final essay in the Black Planets portion of the book by Marleen S. Barr is noteworthy for offering appreciation for the power and potential the science fiction genre has had — and can achieve — to promote positive change from a young age. Yet, it also servers equally as a warning of how perpetuation of racial dominance or the ‘erasure’/’disregard’ of the Other’s presence in the genre can be dangerously manifested.
Brown Planets makes up the second part of the collection and includes consideration of Hispanic, Amerindian (indigenous), and, briefly, Oriental identity in science fiction. The specific discussions of these essays were admittedly harder for me to grasp, but their overall themes of addressing the effects of colonization and postcolonial recovery (return to the traditional) should be clear to all. Likewise, the connection of this process to the apocalyptic genre is intriguing.
The second portion also contains interesting reflections on the science fiction themes of technological and/or corporate dominance and how these are used in plots and settings to alienate and repress. This analysis for me was clearest in Malisa Kurtz’ essay — again because of my familiarity with the subject, in this case her focus on the works of Paolo Bacigalupi. Bacigalupi’s works are intentionally disquieting in terms of technology, class, and environment. But for some reason, I had not recognized their equal critique of racial inequity that continues to be violently perpetuated in the bleak futures that many of his stories serve to paint.
Lavender concludes Black and Brown Planets with a “coda”, an essay by Robin Anne Reid that is one part criticism and one part data compilation/statistical analysis. Subtitled “The Politics of Race in Science Fiction Fandom”, it begins equally with the politics of gender.
Reid reviews the formation of the Carl Brandon Society at “the oldest and only feminist science fiction convention”, WisCon, in 1999. Forming in response to Delany’s 1998 article, “Racism and Science Fiction,” in The New York Review of Science Fiction, the group took its name from a 1950s fictional black fan invented by Terry Carr and Peter Graham. Its mission is “to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction,” and its vision is “a world in which speculative fiction, about complex and diverse cultures from writers of all backgrounds, is used to understand the present and model possible futures; and where people of color are full citizens in the community of imagination and progress.”
She then proceeds to relate the online fan ‘call-out’ dubbed The Wild Unicorn Check-In, where fans of color responded to a generalization by Lois McMaster Bujold by ‘calling out’ the white science fiction community for remaining ignorant of their existence (both present and past) in this “community of imagination and progress.” Bujold’s comment was viewed as a form of erasure, similar to one that can occur in alternate-history forms of science fiction where exploitations or non-dominant cultures are glossed over or excised.
After the historical background is established, Reid sets out to present an ontological study of this fan ‘call-out’ through a series of tables that illustrate the diversity of terms that were used by fans as self-identification: racial, ethnic, national, etc.
I found Reid’s essay particularly relevant in light of another fictional fan (in this case an invented reviewer persona that served as social critique/performance art) and the questionable behaviors in reaction to her recent identification online. This incidence reinforces the points of Reid’s critique and The Wild Unicorn Chick-In itself. Namely, that “erasure of entire cultures based on racism exists, as do erasures of women and queer people” and that both the politics of race and gender continue to rear their ugly heads as individuals either willingly or unwillingly act/react to maintain dominance and control, perceived or actual.
The coda thereby serves as a fitting close to the collection, illustrating that the concerns of Black and Brown Planets extends beyond the physical pages of science fiction publications to the social interactions of the community itself, even online. Though it is the end to Lavender’s collection, he speaks in the introductory acknowledgements of additional essays that he couldn’t include, presumably due to length and publication costs. I recommend checking these essays out and will hope that this collection’s success will permit a follow-up, including discussion of African literature which is beyond the scope of this collection.
Disclaimer: I received an electronic advanced reading copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Review originally posted at skiffyandfanty.com...more
Coming across this superb collection I had only ever heard of Leslie Marmon Silko (for her well-known novel Ceremony) and Sherman Alexie (who is the Coming across this superb collection I had only ever heard of Leslie Marmon Silko (for her well-known novel Ceremony) and Sherman Alexie (who is the only one here I’ve previously read. I am a fan of Alexie’s work, not because he is a Native American or because that is what he writes about, but simply because of his relevance, strong voice, and enjoyable stories. Yet, when ‘contemporary Native American writer’ comes to mind, it is him I think of. He, and his work, become defined in my mind as some kind of representative context.
When I saw this title available on NetGalley I immediately considered it a possibility to discover other Native American writers with viewpoints and voices distinct from Alexie’s. His “War Dances”, included here, I had previously read and enjoyed, and reading it again in the context of these companion stories was particularly enlightening.
The first stories included stretch the definition of ‘contemporary’ in terms of their date of composition. Reading them, however, shows that the themes addressed therein have remained relevant today. From the start the stories in this collection address the question of cultural and personal identity. “A Red Girl’s Reasoning” for instance addresses the difficulties inherent in cross-cultural marriage, a mixture here of physical race and of tradition, including those religious. Pauline Johnson’s poignant tale of a determined, proud woman is a fantastic start for the collection, showing that the issues raised through these stories regarding identity and societal classifications is not only inherent to Native Americans, but to those of other minority status or those trying to exist in mixed, sometimes clashing cultures. The thread of these issues continues throughout the stories (and time) here, bookended with Alexie’s “War Dances” where confusion over identity and shared characteristics between different minority groups is given voice in difficulty distinguishing Native American from Hispanic.
The voices and points of view vary throughout the collection – and even include the question of Native American identity through the eyes of a white narrator in McNickle’s “Train Time”. Forbes story stuck out to me as the most similar to Alexie’s voice with a mixture of depressing honesty and joyous laughter at the absurd. I’m reminded that I really need to read more of Silko’s work (Ceremony is also discussed in detail in a fascinating work on Race in Science Fiction that I’ve just read). And several of the authors here I’ll have to look up to try to find more from them if possible, particularly Piatote and Bruchac, whose stories stuck in my mind with their quiet power.
That idea of ‘quiet power’ is present throughout the collection, there is a rage and frustration building beneath the characters in the stories as they struggle to define their identity and place, to keep a part of themselves in a world that holds them either in disdain or disregard. “Borders”, describing the attempts of an elderly Native American woman to cross between the United States and Canada while still holding onto self-declaration as a citizen of a tribe and people rather than either of these modern nations, takes this issue and makes it literal.
In one aspect the collection was a surprise to me. I started it thinking that it would contain stories about Native American culture, that I would learn more about particular tribes and their traditions. Instead, the stories here are about Native American culture in existence within the European – in relation to something else, rather than the identity they have unto their own. I imagine that such are the struggles of being Native American and what is going to be present in any honest contemporary Native American writer’s work. I can never fully understand being Native American because that’s just not what I am. But I find it a horrible and lamentable reality that perhaps even Native Americans can’t really achieve it, for does that identity even still exist? It makes me feel a bit rage-filled, and perhaps that is the point and an indication of how effective and truly great these short stories are.
GREAT SHORT STORIES BY CONTEMPORARY NATIVE AMERICAN WRITERS is an outstanding collection, and at such an affordable price as this thrift edition offers, it is something that anyone interested in short fiction or in aspects of cultural identity should pick up.
Disclaimer: I received a free electronic reading copy of this from Dover Publications via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review....more
I received a free copy of this from the publisher via Goodreads' First-reads giveaway program, in exchange for an honest review.
In this inspirationalI received a free copy of this from the publisher via Goodreads' First-reads giveaway program, in exchange for an honest review.
In this inspirational essay that blends nature appreciation, travel, and environmental activism, Bill McKibben structures his ruminations around a walking journey he undertook from his present-day home in Vermont as professor at Middlebury College to his former home across the lake in the New York Adirondacks.
Wandering is an apt word to describe the essay, for it is not primarily about details of the actual journey, nor is it particularly about the natural features of the two neighboring regions. While both of these topics are given voice, the walking trek and its environment are really just a narrative backdrop to symbolically contain McKibben’s wandering thoughts and anecdotes. These anecdotes primarily take the form of recounted encounters with other people along McKibben’s route who embody a sort of spirit or cause that he meditates upon, as in the style of a sermon.
Personally I would have enjoyed this more if there had been greater structure to it, if there had been fuller details on the journey and the environment, or a deeper probing of the ecological, social, and political themes that the anecdotes touch upon. However, I acknowledge that isn’t what this work is meant to be, and the brief read that this essay provides is certainly inspirational. Thus, for those who do appreciate this kind of book and have a striking love of nature or environmental activism, you will enjoy it.
While I found Wandering Home to be too cursory overall, I certainly did also find moments of intense beauty and inspiration within it. McKibben’s writing is impassioned and poetic. The passages where he is detailing the environmental qualities of each region are evocative and rich. The meditative quality of the text and its wandering nature probably make this the type of book that isn’t best read in one sitting as I did, or even in the same span of general time. This is more like a resource that could be dipped into during precious reflective times, or a during a moment’s anticipation of going on a similar hike or journey.
If nothing else, Wandering Home serves as a fine, gentle reminder that other types of existence – closer to nature – are possible than the one we may be accustomed with, and perhaps we could each find ways to seek and embrace some aspect of these alternatives. ...more
I received an electronic copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley.
This fascinating volume was not what I initially expected based on the providedI received an electronic copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley.
This fascinating volume was not what I initially expected based on the provided summary and the title. It is not a well developed treatise on the theme of Christianity in an age of economic globalization. At all. Rather than a cohesive whole, it is rather a transcription of separate studies on the books of Amos and James, commentaries with follow-up remarks to questions from Ellul's audience. Though the theme of rich/poor comes up as one aspect in each study, that particular issue is not necessarily predominant. Additionally, in those sections that do address this theme, Ellul repeatedly points out that richness/poorness should not be understood merely in economic terms. Hence my disappointment with this volume solely consists of how it is being sold. If you are looking for a structured and complete exploration on the subtitle topic, I wouldn't recommend this.
However, ignoring this subtitle and the emphasis of the blurb, this book is well worth reading, for Ellul's writing is clear and well reasoned, and his insights into both Amos and James are substantial, thought-provoking, and inspiring. Rather than an overall focus on economic disparities, what rather unites these texts more strongly and thoroughly is the simple message that God loves, and then consideration of what follows from this in God's means of connecting with humanity and the rest of Creation.
In this way I found "On Being Rich and Poor" to be in some fashion an Apologetic, something that like Lewis' "Mere Chistianity" sets out to answer some of the common critiques of Christianity by defining what exactly the faith is. Here, Ellul delves into the texts of Amos and of James to clarify his interpretation of the texts and the unity of their messages across the span of the Old to New Testaments and its relation to both Christians and Jews. In contrast to defining Christianity, Ellul instead spends a lot of the text detailing what he thinks these books tell us about what/who God is, and how this is sometimes quite different from popular understandings. In another sense these two commentaries strive to point out the various ways Scripture has been abused through literal readings and ignorance of both historical context and nuances of the original languages.
Although not as 'sold', this is a tremendously good and approachable read, and would be ideal as the basis for group or individual Bible studies on Amos and/or on James. In addition, anyone with an interest in theology and interpretations of the Bible could gain valuable insight from Ellul's thoughts, and it serves as a potentially useful tool for clarifying common misperceptions on the nature and 'personality' of God as portrayed by the Biblical authors....more
I've really enjoyed the majority of Sherman Alexie's writings that I've read, but I can recall very little of this book other than that it did not surI've really enjoyed the majority of Sherman Alexie's writings that I've read, but I can recall very little of this book other than that it did not surprise me or impress upon me any significant way. Minimalistic and expected, not full of wonder as I'd grown used to seeing from his writing. Given how short this is it is a novel that I need to return to again and give another read after working through the rest of his output....more
I received an electronic advanced reading copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley.
As a big fan of horror movies and someone that agrees with theI received an electronic advanced reading copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley.
As a big fan of horror movies and someone that agrees with the sentiment that the originals made in the 1970s were more disturbing (and simply put 'better') than the remakes of the 2000s, I happily requested a chance to read this. Seeing the publisher is an academic press I figured it would have an academic tone, but didn't quite expect the degree to which this is an academic treatment. Its main weakness in terms of appeal is thus that it has portions that are incredibly detailed and dry. Nonetheless, for what it sets out to accomplish, this study does a fine job and will have appeal to certain audiences, particularly certain sections.
The opening chapter serves as an introductory overview or summary to the work as a whole, covering the 'question' of the study, the approach to address it, and a brief summary of the author's conclusions. The next chapters then contain analysis of the films that are considered in their broad purposes and interpretations. These are the chapters that are going to be of the most interest to an average horror movie buff. Even if you have seen all the originals and the remakes several times over, I suspect that there will still be interesting insights raised, particularly to interpretations of aspects of the films, that you may not have considered before.
Having already viewed the films helps. I've seen them all save for the Dawn of the Dead films (though I have seen the original "Night of the Living Dead" which comes up in discussion as well). I found myself skipping even the general analyses of the Romero film and its remake then, both because references were unfamiliar to me and I didn't want some aspects of the story 'spoiled'. I've seen "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" however, countless times, and appreciated its discussions greatly. To be fair, many of the analyses of this section are not Roche's per se, but summaries and responses to a previous academic study on the topic he is taking up here.
The latter part of the book is taken up with chapters that go into increasing detail into the construction aspects of each film (most interesting to me discussion of the film scores), eventually becoming a literal shot-by-shot summary comparison and analysis between the films. These sections, being less about the plot as much as the process of making the horror films, would be of tremendous interest to anyone wanting to create a work of 'horror'. Even discussing what the term 'horror' means and how that compares to 'terror' or other concepts, these chapters are noteworthy of interest not just to those wanting to film horror, but even to those who strive to write a work of horror or suspense.
So, although academic, there is plenty here for a general audience, particularly if reading selective sections. For the horror fan, it may even re-inspire you to watch some titles, as it did for me. Out of all the remakes, Roche appears to look most favorably on Rob Zombie's Halloween. I recall thinking it had the strongest voice, but was more "Rob Zombie" than "Halloween", truly his take on it, which had led me to really dislike the movie. With time and consideration of Roche's book I think it is the one film worth reconsidering now with time of having some merit despite being a less 'disturbing' remake.
"Day One" literary magazine featured an apocalyptic short story recently, where the author stated that they were tired of dystopia apocalyptic stories"Day One" literary magazine featured an apocalyptic short story recently, where the author stated that they were tired of dystopia apocalyptic stories where disaster simply brought out the worst in people. There is love too in the world. Here is a fine example of a novel where civilization breaks down and the survivors primarily are banding together to keep society going, to band together to form governments and regulations to provide nets for social security and general public betterment. The plot is a purposeful fictionalization of the type of world the author could see developing if our civilization continues down its current routes of water management and reliance on oil, and is written as a novel form of his nonfiction work. This doesn't diminish the power of the story. Not only offering a more simple 'agrarian' alternative for civilization to return to, the novel is also a reminder on just why we have governments, and is a basic argument against the more extreme political positions that constantly complain about any form of government getting involved in their lives. I always have to laugh at those so vehemently against the 'federal' government dictating what they can do, while arguing it should be up to the states. This novel illustrates the truth, that those with power and selfish desire to keep things solely in their control (even if they are misusing the resource) will object to anyone telling them what to do, whether federal, state, municipal, or the person next door. The negative aspects of this novel include that it stays limited in the sorts of conflicts it addresses, leaving the story end with the feeling that greater friction that could tear this new civilization apart still remain through the forms of power still embodied in the religious community and in the powerful landowner. Instead of fully exploring the conflicts this could produce, and how they would be solved, Kunstler instead has the three forms of civilized power present in this world (public government, private business, and religious) working together despite their differences to combat the obviously criminal, immoral, and psychotic rednecks that threaten them all. Once those dangers are past, would it not be back to these institutions fighting over power once again, with civilization again crumbling around?...more
I received an electronic copy of this from the publisher through NetGalley (though it oddly no longer appears on my shelf for me to provide feedback)
YI received an electronic copy of this from the publisher through NetGalley (though it oddly no longer appears on my shelf for me to provide feedback)
Yesterday I was listening to a podcast of NPR Books and someone mentioned that young adult books often focus on how the actions of adults affect the lives of children, but rarely how children drive the lives of parents or other adults. That made me think about this novel and how Carleson's work follows both directions of impact. The majority of this novel is about how the life of Laila (and the lives of her fellow young) are dictated by their family and culture. Yet, the novel also addresses the lack of freedom inherent even in the lives of the adults, whether they be parent, dictator, or (apparent) CIA officer. Furthermore the novel is that coming-of-age tale where the child begins to exert more freedom and actually turn the tables of control over so that they are now steering the course of their parent's life.
I finished "The Tyrant's Daughter in one day. It is an 'easy' read, but it is also full of great ideas, intriguing characters, and compelling plots. The story is profound and it is populated with realistic people; the text flows naturally. Nothing in this book seems superfluous, and Carleson nicely makes use of her personal experience to craft a taut thriller amid the literary underpinnings of Laila's story.
I appreciated just how well this novel mixes entertainment with significance, conflict with insight. This is a book I would have enjoyed even when younger....more
I received an electronic copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley. I usually don't have that hard a time assigning stars for a review. PersonallyI received an electronic copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley. I usually don't have that hard a time assigning stars for a review. Personally, I considered this a three star reading 'experience', but would easily recommend this book highly for other readers not familiar with the topic, so am giving it four stars.
Enjoying following Jennifer Ouellette on social media, I jumped at the chance to read her new book, an explorative overview into 'the self'. Overall the book is a success as a scientifically accurate, but lighthearted education on an incredibly complex topic that extends from hard science to the realms of philosophy and theology. For anyone familiar with Ouellette the style of the book will be instantly recognizable, a combination of awe-filled curiosity, an appreciation for learning and understanding, and a talent for communicating complexities in simple fashion, complete with analogies and references from the classical to the pop culture.
For those that do have a scientific slant of curiosity but don't know much about these topics of self - from genetics (nature) to environment (nurture) that define us to the neurological systems that form our thoughts - this book is the perfect broad overview, and offers a gigantic bibliography of materials to turn to for further information. Ouellette's coverage of these topics works so well for the general reader because of her relation of the science in terms of personal stories and pop anecdotes.
For me personally the book was a relatively quick read, and not as fascinating as I had hoped, but this is mostly due to the fact that most of the material covered was familiar to me already. Thus, for those out there who are already fairly well-read on the topics presented here, you may be disappointed that Ouellette doesn't delve into deeper detail on the aspects of our current scientific understanding of self. At the end, readers are left with the general conclusion that the mind and the self arises from the combined interplay of a host of factors biological and nonbiological to emerge as consciousness that we are still struggling to precisely define and understand.
Thus, if you are expecting a cut and dry revelation of novel and epic proportions, well, that just doesn't exist. What you will find is an excellent primer on our current understanding of what makes 'me' me, and may open your eyes to fuller empathy that all individuals are truly unique, and to judge anyone without being 'in their shoes' biologically and completely is a horrible sin indeed.
Even if you yourself know most of Ouellette covers in this book, we all certainly know people who don't have any idea, or who may not have even thought about themselves. This book would be the perfect introduction to themselves....more
I received an electronic copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley.
This novel intrigued me and held my interest primarily from its exotic nature tI received an electronic copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley.
This novel intrigued me and held my interest primarily from its exotic nature to a Western reader relatively unfamiliar with the time period, particularly from the Muslim point of view. I studied Medieval Spanish history in course for school years ago, but not up to this point of the Renaissance period of 'Reconquest' under the reigns of Ferdinand and Isabella.
It is immediately apparent that Ali writes nonfiction essays and screenplays predominantly, in many respects this novel is a mixture of the two set around a fictionalized plot of one family's tragic destruction as microcosm of the Reconquest as a whole. Ali focuses the story around key historic details both political and of daily life, writing most eloquently when describing the mundane and quotidian, such as cooking a dish, or when describing moments of tenderness and eroticism. In contrast, while relaying large dramatic moments, Ali employs matter-of-fact brevity. The result is a flow that feels a great deal like watching a film, or a documentary re-enactment of events. In similar film manner the focus of scenes flows back and forth between characters with complete omniscience, favoring no single character in the novel overall, but intimately zoomed in to each for their moment in the camera's eye.
The resulting style may not be for everyone's reading taste, but I didn't mind it whatsoever, in a way it gave the events related on the small scale of this one family seem more grandiose and general for the society as a whole, splitting focus between characters with varied pasts, secrets, and points of view. What is interesting is that although on the face of it the events in the story feature a clash of religions, particular theological faith has very little to do with it. Really it is a clash of general cultures. The majority of characters have either a general faith in an almighty power, willing to accept the Muslim version or the Christian as required, or have no faith whatsoever. Instead, the events are reduced to a matter of conqueror and conquered. Of destroying a particular culture and wiping it out and the decision of whether to give into assimilation or fighting to preserve a culture and religious heritage.
This treatment of a complex mixture of religion and general secular culture into a simplified form makes the point that these conflicts in history are, at their heart, ultimately independent of any theological issues. However, the treatment also reduces the characters, particularly the chief villain, into one-dimensional caricatures of cruelty. The novel thus certainly has its flaws, and those demanding happy endings to their stories should obviously stay away, but for those interested in an introduction to this period and the type of conflict that continues to this day, it would be worth reading....more
I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher as part of Goodread's First-reads giveaway program.
This novel was a pleasant surprI received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher as part of Goodread's First-reads giveaway program.
This novel was a pleasant surprise that I did enjoy despite its simplicity. Both the story and the writing are straight-forward, with no complex, artistic manipulations of the language and no surprise twists, making a quick read. Yet I enjoyed reading it the entire way, despite the predictability and its general positivity where things work out despite the travails of life.
It works because it is so straight-forward and simple. Hootman's purpose here is not elaborate plot, exciting action, or rich, inspiring poetic prose. The novel is about characters, the protagonist and the woman he is courting, Greta. The majority consists of dialogue or the internal thoughts of the protagonist, little attention is given to the details of surroundings or the world apart from the one of the relationship between these two people. The story of their relationship, amid all of their eccentricities and metaphorical baggage is entertaining and enrapturing simply because Hootman is so exceptional at rendering the characters realistically.
I wish Hootman were able to achieve these strengths of characterization while still fulfilling other aspects of the novel, such as descriptions of the settings, or the personalities/histories of secondary characters who end up feeling terribly wooden compared to the fluidity of the novel's stars. If you like touching and realistic stories of a developing romance then this is something you should without a doubt check out, but I'm not sure if a broader audience would appreciate it as much. ...more
A fascinating, though admittedly dry, review of the sociological and to some extents legal aspects of the evolution vs. creationism debate for inclusiA fascinating, though admittedly dry, review of the sociological and to some extents legal aspects of the evolution vs. creationism debate for inclusion in public education. Written by political scientists based on published and their own statistical research, the book doesn't cover the science of evolution to any great extent, nor the characterization of creationism or its ilk (intelligent design, eg). Instead the book focuses on some questions that can address assumptions or unknowns in the sociological aspects of this topic, such as:
what does the public actually favor? Who currently decides what is taught in public schools - politicians? the public? teachers? Are people who subscribe to evolution more intelligent? Better informed? How much does religion influence things? Or is it more cultural in general? Is the general public actually literate in science? Should an ignorant and misinformed public actually have the right to decide on important issues?
All these questions and more are addressed, some with results that seem obvious, but others that could be quite surprising and unexpected. In the end the book offers an excellent round-the-board primer on the issues at the heart of this conflict and suggest ways that that scientists and scientific governing bodies could work to improve the public's acceptance of evolution. Most notably it shows that the focus of effort shouldn't necessarily be on policy as it currently is, but instead on teachers who have the greatest impact....more
This is the kind of book that I would have had no appreciation for when younger, one of those award-winning books that adults and critics would go gahThis is the kind of book that I would have had no appreciation for when younger, one of those award-winning books that adults and critics would go gah-gah over, but that I wouldn't imagine a kid getting anything from. Yet, I know this books was beloved by many in their youth, and it does not lose that potential to touch with an older reader. Though the protagonist is a child, the lessons and issues he faces are relevant to all. I can see how some people could never like this book. It meanders, with little humorous, absurd vignettes peppered throughout, making the novel into one long tall tale or yarn of Maniac Magee (though grounded firmly in realism).
There is very little action, but lots of clever writing, as the story continues through many mini-conclusions to the various relationships Maniac Magee enters into within the town he arrives in at the novel's start. The climax of the book ends up being marginally larger in tension and momentousness from previous events, giving it a feeling of ending abruptly with no firm closure. Similarly, very little of the text is spent explaining the rationale behind character's behavior, particularly Maniac. He remains largely as enigmatic and bizarre to the reader as he does to the other characters throughout the novel.
This latter aspect is something I view as the key strength of Maniac Magee (beyond the great writing). Maniac relates his morals and his beliefs on how to act like a good human being through his actions - not his words or thoughts. He is laid-back, rarely stressed, non-judgmental, trusting, loving, etc. Others may view him as an ignorant, naive fool. And he is, in fact Maniac Magee is what one might call a Holy Fool. He lives and interacts in relationships according to what he feels in his heart is natural, and thus utterly attainable. As the novel progresses the other characters begin to see that this behavior is perhaps not that crazy, not so idealistically naive as one might think, because that behavior starts to work - uniting people once divided, educating the townspeople that they are not so different from one another as they might think.
It would take a special and very perceptive child to get Maniac Magee for all its thematic virtues, but even getting a sense of them, or enjoying the little entertaining, wondrous escapades of Magee may be just enough. An adult should be able to get much more from it, and what could be better than a book that delights in different ways throughout one's life on multiple levels? I need to check out some more Spinelli....more
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Goodread's First-reads giveaway program.
True or False: If you haven't read or written or liI received a copy of this book from the publisher through Goodread's First-reads giveaway program.
True or False: If you haven't read or written or listened to something at least three times, you have never really read, written, or listened.
So reads one of the 'questions' in a test given to Citoyen (City), the protagonist of "Long Division", a test that appears both near the beginning and the end of the story. Or perhaps one should say, stories. With the qualifications of 'for me [dot dot dot] for this novel' the above statement is most certainly true. On the surface Laymon's debut novel is filled with straight-forward social commentary on race, age, and family. These weighty topics are dealt with moments that are humorous and a style that shows joy at playing with language. But I also get the sense that there is more behind that surface, a trove of thought-provoking bits that could easily fuel dissection in some academic setting. This is a novel that one finishes, and decides to return to again one day.
You can read the summary of what this novel is about, so I won't go into its complexities here, but it is indeed a book with another book called "Long Division" within it. And that secondary "Long Division" even has yet another "Long Division" within that. We the reader don't delve into that level, though one gets the impression that it may circle back into the world of the primary "Long Division" one holds in his or her hands. Thankfully, this complexity does not detract from the novel, it is actually an integral part that drives the whole. The fantastic aspects of the novel (time travel across historical eras) actually take place in the secondary "Long Division", while the primary work stays rooted in a realistic manner until the end when a bit of magic possibilities enter in, at least how I interpreted things on a first read. I felt some uncertainty in both events of the plot and what ideas to take from the novel upon concluding it. On the one hand this fuels thinking, reconsidering, and rereading. On the other hand, some readers may not like doing this at all.
Laymon desired (from what I can tell) to write something unique that spoke to a particular audience, but still capture certain essences of 'classic' Am literature that we all grew up with in school. He has surely achieved this kind of balance both in story and characters. On the back cover of the book, Tim Strode is quoted "...City...feels totally singular and totally representative." This statement is dead-on, both in characters and the overall style of the work. Layman's most impressive achievement is that of voice. The City of "Long Division" prime is both similar, and quite distinct from the time-traveling counterpart of "Long Division" secondary. In a book that focuses commentary on sterotypes, cliches, acting a part, etc, it becomes essential that the author stays well-clear of falling into the same trap. Laymon manages to keep each character utterly believable and sincere: simply human, whether young or old, male or female, black or white. Primarily focused on issues of race, it was profound to see Laymon also masterfully handle those other considerations such as gender.
The varied styles and personalities of each character really does make this novel go beyond being a clever social commentary or homage to classic literature; it makes it art worth consuming. That fact, along with the book's easy flow, strong plot, and tendency to make one chuckle make this something well-worth your reading.
I received an electronic copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley.
The original Star Trek and its reboot delighted in the contrast between the stoI received an electronic copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley.
The original Star Trek and its reboot delighted in the contrast between the stoic, logical Spock and passionate, instinct-driven Kirk or McCoy. Not long before that, over fifty years ago, C.P. Snow gave his famous lecture on "The Two Cultures" and the divisions between Science and the Arts, providing voice to sentiments that existed long before then. So, the topics of Olson's book aren't exactly new. But they are still necessary. Graduate schools continue training scientists to ideally immerse themselves completely into a scientific framework, devoting themselves to their research in the lab and thoughts about their research out of their lab. Little to no emphasis is put on education or communication. Sure, one learns communication of results to fellow scientists, but not to the general public, a completely different beast.
Olson's book seeks to point out this issue and encourage scientists to pay greater attention to communicating to the world at large. In a series of four parts he waxes on how scientists should not act (too cerebral, too literal minded, bad storytellers, and too unlikeable), and then closes with a fifth chapter encouraging scientists to take an active role in culture, not unlike Carl Sagan or Neil deGrasse Tyson. The short book is a quick read, and probably could even stand to be shorter for the amount of ideas it conveys. Olson writes very informally, injecting humor throughout. At times that humor works, but at many points it seemed awkwardly forced or inappropriately off-color.
Olson's major points are that the world is increasingly style-ridden. People aren't convinced by facts, but by the show. Style has become the new substance. While trying to reverse this and encourage rational, logical thought is important, people are never all going to become ideal scientists, we aren't Vulcan. Nor should we be. The skills needed for ideal science are not the skills needed for human relationships or communication with the general public. Olson does a very good job convincing the reader of this, but doesn't offer much in the way forward other than a general directive that scientists need to realize this and adapt or implement public-engaging considerations, as they are most naturally fit.
I find it interesting that what Science communication comes down to is Evangelism, the similarities to religious communication are numerous. Both cases are attempts to translate an understanding of truth to the general public, a public that may be unfamiliar with these understood truths and ignorant about how these are arrived at. Some may argue that science is 'rational' and thus 'truth', while religion is the reverse, but that is unimportant here. In both case those wanting to convey the information believe they have some sort of truth and want to spread that truth to an audience that at some level may be hostile and skeptical. When scientists act too cerebral, literal minded, superior, and spout off facts with no story, this is basically the exact same thing as a piss-poor Evangelist who acts too emotional and illogically, reading their Bible as literally and senselessly as possible, an air of moral superiority, and spouting off Bible verses and condemnations.
In that sense, Olson's arguments in a larger context are more universally applicable on how humans should act to try and communicate anything they have strong opinions about to the general public. Olson bases his recommendations for the infusion of style into the substance of science with stories from his experiences in Hollywood. At times these asides or examples are useful and appropriate, but often they also appear to primarily (or at least equally) be present to promote his own productions and career. Doubtless, these are examples he is most familiar with, and given his scientist/Hollywood background his examples also involve science. Still, it felt self-serving at points and extraneous.
I think more and more younger scientists are aware of the problems in the system of training scientists to be better communicators. But with employment and advancement having NO ties to these factors at all, it is hard to change. One most go above and beyond normal efforts, with no compensation in sight, to teach oneself to be a better communicator of science. And, as Olson points out, risk disdain or jealousy for having done so. Without a change in professional recognition and the demise of scientists who seem to think we should all be like Vulcans devoted in our entire being to science, I can't see what will change. Olson doesn't touch on this professional issue much at all other than acknowledging it vaguely exists. Thus, this book may be a good reminder to scientists who already realize the problem, or may further open one's eyes to the issue, but I'm not sure what audience will be reached beyond that or what change it can affect beyond a preaching to the choir....more
I received an electronic advanced reading copy of this from the publishers via NetGalley.
Yanagihara's "The People in the Trees" is a captivatingly ricI received an electronic advanced reading copy of this from the publishers via NetGalley.
Yanagihara's "The People in the Trees" is a captivatingly rich novel that delves into both large-scale cultural conflicts and intimate psychology behind human relationships and family. The novel is written a an edited compilation of memoir-like letters from the protagonist Dr. A. Norton Perina, a Nobel Prize winning scientist who discovered a source for vastly-extended life span while on an anthropological expedition to an isolated Micronesian tribe, and who is now serving a sentence in his advanced years after conviction for sexual assault on children from the tribe who he has adopted through the years. Perina's obviously-biased epistolary recollections are edited by his only remaining friend and support following the conviction, and thus also biased, Dr. Ronald Kubodera.
Yanagihara begins with Perina recounting his childhood and relationship with his twin brother and their parents and then moves onto his schooling and events the lead up to his participation in the life-changing expedition. These early chapters at first seem quite separate from the story of cultural conflict that dominates the central portion of the book and I initially questioned the choice of this extended 'introduction'. Part of that reaction came from the descriptions provided with the novel and the focus of comparisons to themes found in something like "The Poisonwood Bible", highlighting cultural clashes between isolated tribes and the 'civilized' West. In reality this is only one half of the book's import, and these early 'introduction' chapters leading to the anthropological expedition nicely set up the psychology of Perina, the disfunction of his familial relationships, and the notable absences of sexual encounters or apparent interests during his schooling. All these become immensely important in the final third of the book following the impacts of the expedition on Perina's career and private life, ultimately leading to the cause of his conviction.
The central third of the book with Perina travelling with an anthropologist to the fictional Micronesian island, his encounters and responses to the alien culture of the isolated tribe, and his gradual discovery of the islander's profound life spans and the cause are clearly the most exotic and succulent portions of the novel, where Yanagihara's skilled use of language and colorful description shines. Beyond making the text enjoyable to read, this fact ironically highlights Norton Perina's inherent unreliability as a narrator of his internal self. Norton frequently comments how he is the scientist with little artistic capability, while his twin, a renowned poet, is the literary talent. Yet the words we read in this letter declare to the reader otherwise.
Perina's inability to truly understand himself, joined with his extreme arrogance and the results of the announcement of his medical discovery of prolonging life on the Micronesian island and its people lead to the events of the final third of the novel, Perina's adoption of dozens of children from the tribe over a span of decades, their possible betrayal, and his possible guilt. Completed with a powerful ending that unites the two major themes of the novel, Yanagihara manages to keep the reader invested even beyond the closing lines.
The novel is described as being based upon true events, and the obvious source for Perina is Dr. Daniel Carleton Gajdusek, an NIH scientist and Nobel Prize winner who investigated the cause of the Kuru disease in Papua New Guinea and thereby helped establish the existence of prions - infectious misfolded proteins (in contrast to the living infectious agents known: bacteria, parasites, and (arguably 'alive') viruses). Like his fictional counterpart, Gajdusek adopted many children from the island nation, gave them Western educations, and ultimately was convicted to their sexual abuse, marring his scientific career.
And this brings us to the only flaw I see in this book - the science is poorly rendered and unrealistic. Kuru, like "Mad Cow Disease" and all prion diseases are neurodegenerative. They target the mind and involve protein aggregations and effects much like seen with something like Alzheimers. Rather than staying with prions, Yanagihara chooses to go with the more cliched concept of seeking eternal life. This does allow display in the novel of scientific and economic greed more than a cure for prion disease might. But, Yanagihara still includes the neurodegeneration and subsequent slowing of the mind as a side effect of the longevity seen in the island tribe. Despite the perfect health of their body and the lack of its aging, their minds do slowly go until they become not unlike 'vegetables', or "Dreamers" as Perina dubs them. Their longevity as described in the novel is related to telomeres - the ends of chromosomes. And here is where the novel - for me, a biologist - failed miserably. While telomeres and aging are speculated to be related, it is hard to imagine how preventing aging in most of the body through alteration of telomere maintenance would somehow just not work in the brain, leading to the more prion-like side effects. In fact, it is more likely that a substance that extends overall life span by acting on telomeres would lead to a side effect of cancer, as telomere maintenance has a role in preventing cancer development. The copy I read is an uncorrected proof, so I also can only hope that the novel's explanation of telomerase (the enzyme that MAINTAINS telomeres - not degrades them) is corrected. The description as it stands in the novel is backwards, and the inhibition of telomerase the text claims would rapidly shorten life, not extend it. Even with that correction, the overall 'explanation' is more of a MacGuffin than I would hope for from such an otherwise richly constructed novel.
Despite that flaw, I obviously enjoyed this novel immensely and it is one that would be amenable to rereading one day. Highly recommended for its beauty and the subtle undercurrents beneath the visible cultural reflections....more
I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher through the Goodreads Firstreads giveaway program.
Since I was young I have loved tI received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher through the Goodreads Firstreads giveaway program.
Since I was young I have loved the night sky, gazing up at the lovely stars. Years later when I had the opportunity to be outside in a small village and the Bush of Botswana, I realized that until then I had never seen true night. Not only were these stars of the Southern Hemisphere different, but there were so many more. I was bathed in their glow and I found that I could even see the Milky Way, something that prior I had never comprehended. Yet even then, there in the heart of Africa, light pollution was evident, blazing along the horizon from distant mining industry.
The End of the Night talks about light pollution, about how most people are born, live, and die without ever experiencing an actual night, actual darkness, free of artificial light. I was aware of the effects of modern electric light on star gazing, and even a bit on its adverse health effects, but Bogard takes the story far beyond these issues alone to shed light into all aspects of darkness, literal and even figurative.
Bogard writes both well and passionately, suffusing the text with a glow of caring and hope, even amid factoids that can be downright depressing regarding how ubiquitous and how horrible our way of artificially lighting our lives is done. The book is about light as much as it is about darkness, starting at one of the brightest spots on Earth, Las Vegas, and slowly counting down chapter numbers, dimming the focus on light and raising the focus on dark to the final reflections in quiet blackness.
After the initial astronomical discussions, Bogard turns to examining how two large European cities, London and Paris of course, have utilized light in different ways, with very different effects. He addresses the issue that most lighting we use is too strong and too wasteful, both economically and energetically. He discusses findings that demonstrate that all this light we clamor for in fear, all in the name of 'safety', actually has the opposite effect.
The most interesting chapter occurs halfway through the book with exploration of light and darkness in the metaphorical sense, and the psychological needs we humans have for darkness and for both sides of related things characterized so dualistically. Another chapter focusing on what people can do to change how we misuse light and foolishly banish darkness completes the tour of this book, leaving the last chapters almost like an epilogue, finding bits of darkness still close to home, and hope that it will still exist in the future, perhaps even return to our daily lives.
Riding the bus while reading this I noticed all the lights blaring inside, lights still on outside in parking lots, lights shining from cars...all while the Houston sun blazed down. This book opens your eyes to the lights that blind us. I'd recommend it to all to read....more
A good introduction to the historical and theological concept of 'just war' and the origins of chivalry. Flori discusses the pacifism of early ChristiA good introduction to the historical and theological concept of 'just war' and the origins of chivalry. Flori discusses the pacifism of early Christianity and the gradual development of a theology that allowed (one might say even forced) compatibility between being a Christian and being a soldier. ...more
The concept behind this book is intriguing, it is written humorously and I enjoyed reading it for a time, but it rapidly got old. Rather than focusingThe concept behind this book is intriguing, it is written humorously and I enjoyed reading it for a time, but it rapidly got old. Rather than focusing on each specific 'rule' found within the Bible I wish he had spent more time reflecting on his conclusions in the larger sense, namely that the Bible is not a set of rules, but a complex text that requires interpretation with many factors taken into consideration. What's in this book could have been sufficiently boiled down into a magazine article or brief series of columns....more
A powerful and well-written book on the subject of addiction. Organized into clear sections including personal stories (running the gamut from drug adA powerful and well-written book on the subject of addiction. Organized into clear sections including personal stories (running the gamut from drug addictions to more socially accepted addictions), the biology and psychology underlying trauma and addiction, and proposals on how to respond to addiction and ameliorate/heal the person. Extensively referenced, the science, sociology and policy discussed is spot-on, although I personally feel the author short changed spiritual aspects in a vast generalization in the final chapter. You can learn a lot from this book, starting with the realization that we all exist on the continuum of addiction and can benefit from understanding it better....more
I am very glad I read this, but I doubt I would ever want to read it again, and would hesitate to call it a great book. Important, yes, but great? FirI am very glad I read this, but I doubt I would ever want to read it again, and would hesitate to call it a great book. Important, yes, but great? Firstly, this felt more like two books. The first half is much like a typical SciFi book of the era, a plot involving action and conflict with a character of model self-reliance in contrast to the government. A human born and raised on Mars by Martians arrives on Earth, utterly ignorant of our culture and ways, at the mercy of the government that fears what he represents and that wishes to control him. A reporter, a sympathetic nurse, and the self-reliant model man mentioned above protect the Man from Mars and work to ensure he will be safe.
There are bits of social commentary like any SciFi, but by the second half the major conflict is resolved and focus changes as the protagonist (the Man from Mars) matures into making his own decisions rather than living in reliance and in reaction to the other characters. The shift now becomes how the Man from Mars transforms human society and rather than SciFi, it becomes full-on social commentary with a focus on religion and spirituality.
The problems are that Heinlein really bites off more than he can handle. The religious social commentary is interesting, but unlike how such heavy issues are handled in good literature, like say Dostoevsky, there is no balance whatsoever. Characters are simply that, they have no airs of being real people, just voices for Heinlein. Heinlein models the plot and the Man from Mars (Michael Smith) rather overtly on Christ, but changes things to be 'what if this message came to humanity from a SciFi route - and without the context of any Deity. The message hardly changes other than to remove the Deity, and people are just as unresponsive to the message as they were when it came from Christ because they only see the blasphemy of denying a Deity, just as those in Christ's time saw Blasphemy in the implications of what he preached.
Again, Heinlein's ideas are interesting, he is just rather simple and base in how the ideas are conveyed. There is no complexity or true opposing view to be found. It ends up reading like what he supposedly intended with it - just to culturally shock.
However, in today's standards, what was shocking no longer is particularly. INstead his antiquated depiction of women and his treatments of homosexuality are. In the end it now reads like an odd mix of sexist 1950s, sexually liberated 1960s with a dash of some scifi elements along with it....more
We are reading this for a Sunday School class in conjunction with the Open Gate homeless youth ministry, and I've been reading a bit each Sunday. TheWe are reading this for a Sunday School class in conjunction with the Open Gate homeless youth ministry, and I've been reading a bit each Sunday. The book has a unique format, being a conversation between two people, Shane and John, one a young leader of an outreach community in Philadelphia and the other an elderly leader of the Civil Rights movement from Mississippi. Each chapter is on a broad subject in relation to being a leader and a follower in working toward some cause. Chapters consist of short passages back and forth between the authors as if transcribing a conversation. As such it can be read non-linearly, topics tend to go off onto tangents from time to time, and certain anecdotes come up multiple times. While I have difficulty whole-heartedly agreeing with all of their opinions and thoughts, that isn't an issue as part of their point is that one shouldn't blindly follow and should always challenge our own beliefs and those of others. There is nothing earth-shattering or even novel here, but it is an interesting conversation they have to 'take part in' and it certainly stimulates discussion and pondering over what you care about and what can be done about it from a Christian point-of-view....more
I grabbed this in the library thinking from the description that it would be about the cultural divide between scientists and non-scientists (HumanitiI grabbed this in the library thinking from the description that it would be about the cultural divide between scientists and non-scientists (Humanities) and the imperative need for better communication. As I read Snow's lecture and follow-up, however, I realized this isn't completely true.
That is one of his points, certainly, extending to a call for greater efforts in elementary science education. But his purpose and ultimate argument extends to basic class differences (in Britain of his day), the distrust of science by a particular group of academics, and Snow's apparent belief that science is actually much better than the Humanities in terms of its potential to 'rescue' humanity from disease, despair, politics, religion, and general all around strife man-made or natural.
I'm surprised that I hadn't heard of this work before, was it in Juniata's cultural analysis at some point but I just completely forget, or missed it? Despite the passing of a half-century and the differences between Snow's Britain and the modern US, his ideas are still relevant to consider today.
Ultimately I disagree with Snow on the far-reaching socio-political conclusions he draws, and even his assumptions (and arguments) that technology and scientific development are a priori beneficial to humanity. But these arguments still are sustained today, and we should ponder them. And his calls for better communication between scientists and non-scientists, and his warnings for the dangers of failing to improve in that matter, I could not agree with more....more