Tuesday, December 25, 2007

... And The Titanic - Which Did Not Sink ...

Turkey dead and eaten - Quality Street wrappers everywhere - negatory replies to requests regarding more food all made .. time to swing the sofa round, shush the smallest member of the family and turf out any stray neighbours. Cometh the hour - cometh the Doctor and the best (and strangely in our house nearly the only*) bit of Xmas Telly. We laughed at Allon zi Alonzo - we hid behind our hands when The Host attacked (no sofa-sheltering wusses in this house) and we cried when Kylie floated off to go travelling. The Golden Compass board game ( Ages 27 and Masters in The Monte Carlo Method and above only) was nowhere near as exciting as this.

Now where is that tangerine? **

* Brenda at Three - disappointingly corgieless this year.

** Daughter informs me it was a satsuma.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Asinine Comedy

Listening to
Hunkpapa by Throwing Muses

... despite the untrueness

Either in the middle of or just finished many books at the moment. Daughter's bedtime read of
Peter Duck was completed last night though I think that it having real pirates and a proper sea voyage makes it one of the least enjoyable of the AR books. There is actually some reference to this at the end when, after being beaten up and shot at before witnessing the drowning of the responsible crew in a waterspout, Titty (no sniggering at the back there) remarks that nothing exciting happens to them. May leave the next one for a while.

My own reading includes
Saturday by Ian McEwan which as well as having one of the most atmospheric covers of any book I know, leaves me breathless at how real the story seems. I think I once mentioned the idea of a machine/program which could take real life with all its requirements to document events and internal feelings and produce a narrative version of the world as seen and imagined by one person. Saturday seems to do just that. It is rare that absolutely everything in a narrative leaves the reader feeling happy with the way it has been described but Saturday steers a careful path between all possible absurdities. It has little dialogue and is otherwise a taught description of events and feelings exactly in the way that my wonderful little life-recording device would do it if I really wanted it to work. Strangely, despite being one of those books you just have to pick up in any spare moments it didn't leave me with that "sorry to be finished" feeling which is probably because of it being a day's worth of an open doorway on the events and mind of one person - it has the premise of being a day long and the end of it seems exactly the right point to leave it. The events are interesting and despite the fact that I am sure the whole thing is structured down to the last press of the mute button, it never seems forced. I suppose I can see some personal McEwan stuff in there somewhere but I wouldn't be surprised if he had managed the whole thing without ever dragging in any his own experience. Read this and live someone else's life for a while.

Currently reading
Watching the English by Kate Fox which is a proper anthropologist's investigation into the norms of English behaviour. As the author mentions, this book is definitely an attempt to get under the skin of English stereotypes and so you will often find yourself saying "but I don't do that" but more often it will be "I do exactly that" which probably says something about how much of a rebel I am not. Weather comments are a form of coded message for "I want to talk to you" a sort of non-romantic chat-up line. More secrets about myself will be uncovered later.

Other things on the bedside table (alright piled up on the floor) are
Your Own Sylvia, Eye Rhymes and The Golden Notebook which might be a girl's (girl's? I mean lady's) book. I've only got into the 1971 preface to The Golden Notebook but its already said something relevant to my arguments for moral relativism. Lessing says that things which 50 years before were the desires and wishes of only the far left (for this I think she means radical "lay people" in general rather then politicians- and I may have misremembered anyway) are now the basis of good governance whichever political denomination is in power. The religious arguments against moral relativism break down if you simply imagine what the world would be like if various faiths hadn't changed their outlook over the years. Inquisition anyone? Execution for apostasy? Stoning for adultery? Don't fancy any of those? Is this too simplistic for you. Have I asked too many questions for one day?

At risk of shooting down my own already-un-airworthy views in the above paragraph, I am sure that Christmas will bring more things to read. I wonder what Richard Dawkins gets for Christmas. You might like to ask him
here but I suspect they actually want something a little more meaty.