I expected a lot more from someone so commonly recommended. His application of concepts from the philosophy of language are largely unnecessary--for eI expected a lot more from someone so commonly recommended. His application of concepts from the philosophy of language are largely unnecessary--for example, the first three chapters cover what the phenomenology of religion already tells us: that we should take the intentional content of a religious persons' experience seriously. Not sure why he doesn't just start there and move on.
Also, as a general rule, he makes bland, over-reaching assumptions and assertions with a whole lot of zero sophisticated self-analysis.
Could have been a good book save for that particular bad habit. ...more
It's as harrowing as you might expect, and, well, words are sometimes a waste of time. Don't expect too many of them here.
Perhaps the strongest imageIt's as harrowing as you might expect, and, well, words are sometimes a waste of time. Don't expect too many of them here.
Perhaps the strongest image in the book is of a young boy who hung for half an hour, too light in weight to die like the two Jewish men who hung beside him for their 'crimes'. Wiesel, or at least the character Wiesel portrays, was forced to look at the boy while he writhed. That does not include the babies and children being thrown into the fire at the first moments the Jews arrived at Auschwitz; it doesn't include the starvation, frozen corpses, gunfire, and other terrors, either.
I have always been amazed at man's ability to live through these types of torture, and more amazed at their ability to render it. Our capacity for inhumanity is, I'm beginning to believe, our greatest sin, no matter anyone's tradition.
Some call a man a nigger without a second thought, and, if the conditions are just a little altered, feel they can lynch him for it. I wonder how many times people like Wiesel heard the word "kike", or its German equivalent, and felt the pang it brought. And then I wonder how often they would simply have preferred to hear the word said about themselves or their loved ones instead of being tossed like firewood into the flames.
"Look at the fire! Look at the flames. Flames everywhere...," she shouted on the cattle transports, as if the old prophets had possessed her. ...more
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it barely passes as a fiction. Sartre displays all the literary elegance of Hemingway and combI have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it barely passes as a fiction. Sartre displays all the literary elegance of Hemingway and combines it with all the overbearing descriptions of Tolkien. The dialogue is fake, most of the characters are flat, and the diary-style mode is so incredibly unrealistic in its application that it's impossible to read for long stretches of time without growing bored. Maybe my translation is just bad (Nausea, trans. Lloyd Alexander, A New Directions Paperbook, 2007--not found on Goodreads).
On the other hand, Sartre occasionally nails it. "Everything existing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness and dies by chance...existence is a fullness which man can never abandon." Nausea is a perfect description for the hauntings that result from the absurdity of life. It's a sickness, an obsession with the flatness and ephemerality of things, including oneself; it's a disgust with the self-wrought illusions we invent and a critic of everything we value.
The work succeeds inasmuch as a fiction lasts long enough to either teach us or remind us about the permeation and perpetual nature of nausea. I called this a haunting in my early twenties, and in some ways, the ghost never leaves. I was reminded while reading just how much the haunting infuses itself into everything: objects, relationships, relations, abstractions, food, etc. Nothing escaped the ubiquity of the sensation.
I do have to say, though, that Nausea in my experience never emphasized the failure of others--the masses ever-and-always distracting themselves--to grapple with the same realities as myself. This is not true of Sartre. I have never been disgusted by people's weakness, if not jealous of their naivety; at worst, I have been irritated when they think they have anything intelligent to say about the meaning of life. But only irritated in the same sense that one gets when a child begins to teach you about something of which you are infinitely more informed than themselves. All that's required is a head-nod, a smile, and some patience. Sartre neither nods his head or smiles nor reveals any level of patience; and for that, I think Sartre is a little petty.
The creation of art as a solution/answer or the invention of values out of thin air rings as false and pretentious to me today as it did eight years ago. Sartre's philosophy is littered throughout the book. I don't know enough about it to say anything intelligent, but suffice it to say that he 'gets his point across' with respect to existence preceding essence. ...more
There is almost no cohesive argument or belief set so far as I can tell. The Tao is a cause, a sustaining power, an ethical modality, a pragmatic purvThere is almost no cohesive argument or belief set so far as I can tell. The Tao is a cause, a sustaining power, an ethical modality, a pragmatic purview, a standard, etc. According to the scholar/translator of my text, there is basically no uniform theology running through it, a concept with which, after reading, I am in total agreement. The metaphysic is present yet hazy: 'heaven' 'the Tao' 'the One' are all interrelated at the metaphysical level but in a convoluted way. They are often coterminous.
Perhaps the strongest and most enduring analogy throughout the text's 'chapters' (poems?) is one of an uncarved stone, unmolested by outside influences, desires, and concerns. Naturally, there are strains of Buddhist belief here, if that isn't too anachronistic to say. Perhaps it's the other way around. I'm not sure.
But the hardest concepts to follow, if not the only difficult concepts to follow, are the persistent uses of paradox. Something comes from Nothing, the high is founded on the low, the truth grasped because one seeks no knowledge, etc. More pragmatically/ethically/specifically, we gain wisdom by seeking no knowledge; we acquire contentment through indifference; we gain wealth by being poor and wanting no possessions, etc. All of this fits neatly and in accordance with the Tao. These bits in particular are all very "Confucius say"-like, if you'll forgive the idiot/m. Egoism, too, is prominent throughout, if not to the point of being virulent. Doing good is the means of being good. Practicing patients is a means of participating in the Tao, which itself is preferable above all other human activity. Do good not because it is good but because it is good for you. I think above all other theological confusions, this one comes shining through.
The Tao is also, apparently, ineffable; with positive differentia--mostly analogies focused on the lack of a substance rather than its presence. The Tao sustains being, but, more importantly, is the condition for the Nothing from which being arises--making it almost metaphysical--and sustains the being post 'creation'. This is about as close to causal monotheism as Taoism gets, I think. ...more
The story is mediocre, if not terrible, but the setting and description of that setting relieve the narrative of it's normal or anticipated impositionThe story is mediocre, if not terrible, but the setting and description of that setting relieve the narrative of it's normal or anticipated imposition. When I think about it, the two could not co-exist--the story and the setting--and still manage to evoke the same sentiments in the reader. This is not a story; this is a place: a world--a dank, drab, cavernous slab of dirt and ash with petty gods and impotent people, each waiting their turn to die. To focus the reader on the excitement of the story would be to take the reader out of the place, to give the a sense of hope and journey, instead of a sense of wanderlust and chaos, disgust and despair.
It's a post-apocalyptic, poetical piece of fiction. We do not know the names of the two main characters, and we do not care. It's just a man and his boy. We know nothing about the cause of the apocalypse and we don't care. There is only ash in the air, a cough in the lungs, and a gray sea. We know nothing about the where man and his boy are going, and it makes no difference. They are hungry, and tired, and pale, and always weeping.
McCarthy can write. That much I have learned. I highly recommend it. In many ways, I was reminded of reading Faulkner, a writer for whom I have the most profound respect.
A charming, weird, tactful little book for which I'm grateful not to have read in high-school, like so many unfortunate teenagers. Age and reading expA charming, weird, tactful little book for which I'm grateful not to have read in high-school, like so many unfortunate teenagers. Age and reading experience, I think, can give you an appreciation for this text that youth and exhilaration would over-value and misunderstand.
First of all, the man can write--even though the story itself is not altogether worthwhile. I wisely stuck it out for the one liners simply because the first three pages were so well written. Really, the first line is enough to keep someone like me going for at least 100 pages.
Fortunately, Kurt gave me a few in the interim. There's no major theme that will stick with me and no great lessons learned or wisdom extracted. Just a pleasant read with insight into the human condition; the book compliments a thinking mind like chardonnay compliments an expensive dinner. At the very least, Kurt succeeded in helping me feel what he must have felt about Dresden both during and after the war.
It's like those yogurt cups that have all the vanilla on top and the fruit below. Sometimes you forget that the fruit is on the bottom and needs to beIt's like those yogurt cups that have all the vanilla on top and the fruit below. Sometimes you forget that the fruit is on the bottom and needs to be mixed, so you trudge through the first 20 or so bites (or in this case 978 pages) so that you can get to the good stuff. Not Martin's best work, but perhaps one of his more necessary.