Though it's certainly not what the hardliners on either side of the science vs religion debate want to hear, Adam Frank's thoughtful, wise book on theThough it's certainly not what the hardliners on either side of the science vs religion debate want to hear, Adam Frank's thoughtful, wise book on the nature of scientific inquiry and its relationship to myth is a true step forward beyond the exhausted likes of the battle over creationism in schools. Frank acknowledges the need to fight the good fight when it comes to asserting the legitimacy of science over superstition, but he also recognizes that there's more at work in religion than ritual and unsubstantiated claims. He parallels that deeper reality with the underlying motivations for the pursuit of science, and he does so in a way that respects and illuminates both the scientific enterprise and religious mysteries.
To make this perfectly clear: this is not a call to accept the validity of the idea of the supernatural. It is not even a call to agnosticism. This book goes far, far deeper than that. Religion and science, in fact, go far deeper than a debate about the supernatural, and at their heart reflect something about human curiosity and the nature of meaning.
Even if you don't buy the myth stuff, Frank provides a wonderful overview of how many of the premises upon which the debate is framed are misguided; for instance, the science and religion "war" was practically invented wholesale in the 19th century, and the two were, in fact, inseparable for quite a long time (and not due to church dominance, exactly). The so-called "science martyrs" were regarded as religious heretics and political troublemakers, not threats to the church's intellectual sovereignty by Reason. It's described well and with intellectual honesty and I appreciate, especially, the respect that Frank accords his subject matter. He qualified to speak from the scientific angle as a practicing astrophysicist, and he is cautious, careful and honest about his claims; and he respects fields like history, anthropology and comparative mythology enough to have done substantial research into their theories.
That an astrophysicist knows the word "hierophany" and invokes it with respect to his work makes me smile. That alone makes me think reconciliation is possible after all. ...more
This book is a beauty, intricate and deliberate, tied together through strands of pathos, humor, and lush description. From the opening scenes where DThis book is a beauty, intricate and deliberate, tied together through strands of pathos, humor, and lush description. From the opening scenes where Dr. Urbino dies (hilariously) by trying to capture a pet parrot, and ends with his dying words to Fermina - "only god knows how much I loved you" - you can see what sort of book this will be. Marquez is master of the deeply nuanced tone; in addition to the touching depictions reviewers have described, it is also incredibly, gently funny, horrifying, and mysterious.
Set to the scope of 50+ years, Marquez could have easily wavered in his execution. It's not often you see characters followed for the duration of their lives, much less a love story that involve a recounting of an entire marriage. But the characters unfold wonderfully, and the entire picture you're given of them is very rewarding by the end of the book.
Yes, this book is dense, and it will demand a lot of you. This does not, in any way, shape, or form, make it a bad book, and honestly: if you think as much, YOU are the bad reader. If you think the measure of a good book is a tight, streamlined plot, you are missing out on centuries of fantastic writing. If you are unable to see the characters of Fermina, Juvenal, and Florentino in their complexity and despise them for any one quality, you are reading the book selectively. Florentino, in particular, has a brilliant portrayal; he is at once all of the things people accuse him of: the annoying adolescent crybaby, the "shadow of a man" Fermina says he is, and the noble, faithful lover of all time. Many people will disagree with his particular brand of "love" -- given how drenched we are in cliched self-help regarding the subject -- but even if you disagree with him and what he stands for, he is, in some ways, undeniable. Marquez reveals moments of all the characters which call for critique and moments where their point of view is justified. In short, if you're unable to read a book with any kind of complexity, please move on to Danielle Steele, and leave the rewards of Cholera to those of us who are willing to give it time and thought....more