Classic existentialism from Camus--it takes only a few hours to read, and it gives important insight into the despairing mind of postmodernism. One c...moreClassic existentialism from Camus--it takes only a few hours to read, and it gives important insight into the despairing mind of postmodernism. One could consider the ending thoughts a Despairist's Manifesto of sorts.(less)
I've been reading René Daumal's Mount Analogue. It's trippy, distinctly French, and highly entertaining. It's every bit as goofy as the title sugges...moreI've been reading René Daumal's Mount Analogue. It's trippy, distinctly French, and highly entertaining. It's every bit as goofy as the title suggests, but it carries a poignant (and misguided) message underneath.
Mount Analogue is (appropriately) an unfinished work. It describes a fantastic expedition to the title mountain, a symbolic link between the human and the divine. In order for it to epitomize this link, the base of the mountain must be accessible to all humanity, but its heights unattainable. Indeed, the group of adventurers make camp on the base, and begin ascent—and there the novel stops. René Daumal died, effectively ceasing further exploration of the mountain.
Of course, the novel fails because this mountain is purported to be an internal, uniquely personal link. Yet seldom have I read a more compelling account of the need for a mediator between the human and the divine than that given in the first chapter. As is so often the case with philosophers, Daumal understands a profound need and yet provides a solution that history has proven insufficient for the amelioration of said need. Yet unlike the work of one (more famous) contemporary ( Camus), Daumal's work does not spiral towards despair, but towards wonder. And this is what I appreciate most about his writing—he recognizes the despair, and yet wonders at the marvelousness of the world.
Mount Analogue is close—so close! It recalls to mind the words of Galadriel in The Fellowship of the Ring: "The quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail, to the ruin of all." Alas that missing the mark—although barely—is missing it nonetheless.
A very interesting volume. Plato's philosophy is interesting, and I plan on reading more about his metaphysics in Timaeus. I was very intrigued when...moreA very interesting volume. Plato's philosophy is interesting, and I plan on reading more about his metaphysics in Timaeus. I was very intrigued when I discovered that Plato used the phrase 'through a glass darkly' many years before its inclusion in the Bible. It's very insightful to realize that Paul was well educated and that he thought it worthwhile to make allusions to the philosophical thought of th e time when writing his epistles (1 Cor. 13, for example).
Epictetus provided an interesting introduction to the Stoics' philosophy. The have some very fascinating and practical thoughts on living properly, and I found them to be very insightful in some regards.
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus drew much from the Stoics, and his meditations were fascinating to read. Of no little interest to me was his use of the term daemon (which we've seen make a recent appearance in Northern Lights / The Golden Compass. Aurelius uses the daemon as another component of the human being, similar to but separate from the soul. The daemon represents the Deity within, and is unique to each person. Understanding a little bit the ancient idea of a daemon, I wonder how much Philip Pullman is drawing on this old definition and how much he's redefining it for his own purposes. My guess is that there is little truth in the former and much in the latter; Pullman seems like the type of author who would redefine balk at the Greek and Roman definition of Deity, but would love to "reclaim" the word in order to effectively express the stature and fortitude of enlightened modern day humanists.