I'm guessing most of my friends would find this series mean-spirited, puerile, scatological, and fairly worthless as art. I found it damn entertaining...moreI'm guessing most of my friends would find this series mean-spirited, puerile, scatological, and fairly worthless as art. I found it damn entertaining and whip-smart underneath the poop jokes. But that's Warren Ellis.
Edited to add: I re-read this series on the eve of last November's election, and it rang even more chillingly true. I had to stop at re-reading V For Vendetta, Fahrenheit 451, and 1984 as well, or I might have ended up in the fetal position. Seriously, read this book. Don't let the graphic novel part put you off (or the poop jokes, or the juvenile character traits, or the weird sci-fi-esque setting... if any of those are liable to bother you, that is). Ellis is a master of compassionate misanthropy (though he'd probably tell you to strike the "compassionate" bit) with a keen sense of justice. I know I'd certainly like to apply the bowel disruptor to certain prominent political figures now and again...(less)
More of the soul-searching, compassionate criticism that Duncan does so well. Much of this book is a calling-out of the current American religious rig...moreMore of the soul-searching, compassionate criticism that Duncan does so well. Much of this book is a calling-out of the current American religious right; the balance is musings on faith and meaning and action. Duncan has always struck me as being more well-read than I could ever hope to be, and that background makes his novels and his nonfiction incredibly rich. There's a wee bit of overlap in material with some of his earlier nonfiction, but he's such an astonishingly good writer that's easy to overlook.
Duncan's preface begins the book by paralleling the current US administration with Shift & Puzzle's faux Aslan in the last Narnia book, and from there he deftly criticizes the neocon Right with the words of the very Book they use to defend their own actions. Not myself one for getting into real-world arguments with Fundies, since the powers of logic seem to hold no sway, it's vicarious fun to watch such an eloquent soul put it all down on paper.
Beyond that, this book holds a few gems that are less about argument and more about example. "Romeo Shows Jamey the Door" made me cry like a baby. "When Compassion Becomes Dissent" has in it some of the bones of this blog post. And he closes by walking some of the same terrain Dillard covered in For the Time Being:
...the scientific facts of our physical situation are becoming impossible to express in spiritually neutral terms... This is not to demean reason. It's only to say that, unless trained like a bird dog to heel in the presence of love and mystery, reason lunges forth barking and snuffling, scaring off meta-meanings that only the heart could have hoped to embrace. When a superb reasoner like Teilhard says that "the divine assails us, penetrates us, and molds us," he has not left his sanity behind: only his reason. He is exposing matter to spirit. He's using beyond-language to do it. We can go with him. Our reason can't. The notion that we can stand apart from all things, infer the existence and true properties of all things, and solve the dire problems we've created for ourselves, with reason alone, it what I would call "Rationalist Woowoo."(less)