I haven’t read this yet, but it’s in my book queue. Anyways, he’s giving a livestream Q&A to chat about his book. You can watch the live stream here.
It has taken me quite a while to work through twenty-five pages of C.S. Lewis’ work, Mere Christianity. Given as a series of wartime talks, its purpose was to explain Christianity to the common man from a common man. It presupposes no previous religious background, and rather attempts a rational argument towards the existence of God and the rules of Christianity. Recall, C.S. Lewis was previously an atheist.
I struggled (and continue to do so) through the initial pages of the work. My education within the sciences and its scientific method instilled a constant search for logical fallacies in arguments or possibilities not considered.
C.S. Lewis was a brilliant man. Though I have filled margins of the text with counters and rebuttals against passages with which I do not agree, his ability to confer complex arguments in a easily understandable form is quite impressive.
For now, I hope to hold my tongue against any major disagreements I have found in the first twenty-five pages of text (as Lewis has already resolved quite a few of these), but rather I use this post to urge religious and non-religious people alike to pick up a copy. My single vantage point lacks the comprehensiveness with which I wish I could analyze his arguments, but at the very least this work has caused me to reconsider the grander questions of life in a real, rational way — it’s a great feeling.
Edith Hamilton, I apologize, but I found the first half of Greek Mythology (the part without the stories) vastly uninteresting. Sure, various anecdotes and paragraphs were amusing and inspiring, but alas my aversion to history once again prevents me from finishing your popular work. I will admit, however, that the speculation on the origin of how the Gods’ came to assume their stories and roles was interesting and enlightening. It was, after all, our earliest civilized government — arguably.
In light of Halloween, I read Edgar Allen Poe’s Black Cat and The Fall of the House of Usher. All I can say, dear Poe, is that I understand why you were constantly intoxicated in one form or another.
Black Cat was eerie in how well Poe describes the out of body experience. The narrator addresses his rage and laments the fact that he committed terrible acts in response to his anger, but speaks in a tone that would be appropriate to describing a walk in the park. As if he were a perfectly civilized and sane man who fell helpless to the terrible atrocities his mind concocted. Yet it seems not to be a case of schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder, just simply a twisted individual with little sense of remorse. But we have all had that experience before — when an action in the past no longer feels real in retrospect, as if it were performed by someone else. Bravo Poe.
The Fall of the House of Usher took me several days to get through. Not for difficulty of language (though it was indeed a bit cryptic at times), but rather because I could not find a proper plot line. There seemed to be details that were largely unimportant to the story. What was there to grab my interest? I continued to put it down for lack of interest. Even upon finishing, I could not completely understand the purpose of the story except to describe an odd mental disorder and a eerie sequence of events. Wikipedia later informed me that this short story was one of ‘totality’, meaning every detail was pertinent and related to some aspect or another. If I were a literary scholar, perhaps I’d show a bit more interest.
I also just finished Hunger Games, but I’ll save that for another post.
The original plan was to re-read this classic, which I really had only partially read (“sparknote-d”) back in high school.
Unfortunately, getting through the introduction has been incredibly boring. I may just skip to the actually mythology part.
There was one passage in the introduction I particularly liked, however.
When the [first] stories were being shaped, we are given to understand, little distinction had as yet been made between the real and the unreal. The imagination was vividly alive and not checked by the reason, so that anyone in the woods might see through the trees a fleeing nymph, or bending over a clear pool to drink, behold in the depths a naiad’s face.
How limited is our creativity because of the predetermined notions that we hold as true? (Which have been so engrained into our thinking patterns that were are blind to them). I have mentioned this previously, but when I was younger (say elementary school through high school) I observed people and attempted to empirically develop theories of how people thought — how people functioned. Knowing this, I intentionally avoided any courses or training in psychology. It is along the same concept of not being able to “un-see” something. Once we store a fact, an experience, etc in a particular way, it is quite difficult to ever return to that though objectively.