Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: post-modernism
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2016-11-16 04:47
Sorry for the Inconvenience
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish - Douglas Adams

When I first read this book I loved it namely because I happened to be a hopeless romantic and our protagonist, Arthur Dent, finally gets a girlfriend. Well, finally is probably not the best way to describe it because Adams does raise the possibility that Arthur may have had a relationship with Trillian (and when the question is metaphorically asked the reply is basically 'none of your business'), and also suggests that there is a rather long gap between books two and three where we end with Arthur together with a Gulgafringan and then beginning again years later with Arthur by himself in a cave (having discovered that all the Gulgafringans has died off, just because).



Anyway, more time has passed since the end of book three and the beginning of book four and we once again meet up with Arthur, who happens to be standing in the rain at the side of the road on a planet that looks remarkably like Earth, and in fact happens to be Earth. Okay, there are a couple of minor differences, though I would hardly call not having been blown up by the Vogon Constructor Fleet as being a minor difference (though Arthur's house still standing, in the grand scheme of things, is). However there is also the fact that the dolphins have still vanished, and everybody happens to have a fish bowl with the inscription 'so long and thanks for all the fish' upon it.



The thing about this particular book is that it is more of a romance than the other books in the series, which sort of gives it a different feel. The other thing is that for a bulk of the book the story is set not only on Earth, but both Arthur and Ford are going their separate ways – it isn't until we get close to the end that the two once again come together, but it is only for a short while as Arthur and his girlfriend (Fenchurch, so called because she was conceived in the ticket line at Fenchurch Street station, though my only experience of Fenchurch Street station is having a meal at a pub underneath it) head off to try and find God's final message to humanity (or the Universe to be precise).



It also goes back into the old style where there is little to no plot and the main characters just seem to stumble around trying to work out what is going on, only to discover that the answer that they were looking for, in this case God's final message, is a piece of absurdity. Actually, there is sort of a plot, but not in the same sense that Life, The Universe, and Everything had a plot. Rather it involves the main characters continuing their search for meaning, and when they finally discover this meaning, as I mentioned, and as is the case in the other books, the answer that they were looking for turns out to be absurd. In a way it even seems as if God's message to the world is not so much an answer to the reason why we are here, namely because there doesn't seem to be any real reason at all, at least in Adam's mind.



In a way I guess this is where our secular society is heading, even though many people in the Western realms still seem to consider themselves connected to some form of religion. Mind you, when you head out of the cities you do tend to discover a much more religious, and conservative, culture, but that has a lot to do with the country being very conservative, and new ideas filter in much more slowly (if ever). In a way, with their religious outlook, people in the country still seem to have a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging, and a sense of identity. However, once you head into the cities, and into the realms of the intellectuals, this traditional purpose and reasoning suddenly seems to get thrown out the door. In a way it is this rejection of religion that leads to these rather absurd views of the universe, and meaningless understanding of life.



However, we aren't necessarily the first, or only, people in the history of the world because many other civilisations, particularly those who eventually freed themselves of the tyranny of a king, because in a such a system the purpose and meaning of life is to serve the king, but then one wonders whether the king, who seems to exist in this world to be served, would eventually suffer an existentialist crisis. I'm not sure, particularly is the king never really gave it that much thought – it is only the intellectuals that would start thinking along those lines since most of the kings would probably just be incredibly self-absorbed.


As for this book, well it is much shorter, and a lot different, than the other entries in this series, and while I may have gushed over Arthur's romance when I was younger, these days it is a lot different as I am somewhat (or a lot) over that hopeless romantic streak that I used to have. As for the story, it is okay, and the message is interesting, but in the end the first two were much, much better (and this one was quite a lot less funnier as well). Oh, and the fact that Arthur, and to an extent Fenchurch, can fly really doesn't appeal to me all that much.


Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1809590267
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2016-07-20 11:46
It's All About Money
The Year of Dreaming Dangerously - Slavoj Žižek

Well, here we have another Zizek book that has so much packed into the 135 pages that it is almost impossible to be able to talk about everything that he says. He seems to have this ability to use English so well that he is able to touch on a huge number of subjects in a really short space – he certainly doesn't waffle, and he uses words really sparingly. The other thing that I love about his books is how he pulls philosophical meaning out of pop-culture, his take of Kung Fu Panda (which I gather is one of his favourite movies – I can just picture him rolling around in laughter while watching the film – I've only seen it once) being his most well known. In this book he spends a lot of time looking at the television series The Wired (which I haven't heard of) and he also talks about 300 and Ralph Finnies Coriolanus.


Anyway, The Year of Dreaming Dangerously can be boiled down to an exposition of the protests in Tahir Square in Egypt, which is more commonly known as <i>The Arab Spring</i> and the Occupy Wall Street movement, both of which appears to have fizzled – with the Arab Spring turning into what appears to be a never-ending civil war in Syria, an Islamist government in Egypt (which has since been overthrown to be replaced with a military dictatorship), and the Occupy Wall Street movement simply morphing into 'business as usual' in the advanced democracies (with the exception of a few Facebook pages and websites).


Mind you, he does point out a few interesting things, particularly the nature of modern democracy. In reality democracy is simply us going to the polling station every few years to vote for either the centre-left party or the centre-right party. Actually, that isn't even the case anymore because it seems to be the centre-right party and the extreme fundamentalist Christian and economic party. Somebody even suggested on my Facebook feed today that the Democrats are now the GOP while the Republicans are basically little more than WTF (though since he is a Christian minister he didn't phrase it in the way that I have).


But it is interesting watching how democracy works, especially these days. For instance Bernie Saunders went from nothing to a nationwide sensation before he lost to Hillary Clinton. However, before he conceded to Hillary he told his supporters that the fight wasn't over and that it was time for them to take action by not only joining the Democrats, but also running for seats in the local, state, and federal congresses, as well as for other electable positions. In fact the left-wing media has indicated that this is what needs to be done – if Saunders had won the nomination, and then the election, then he would have basically come out as, well, Obama. However, I then noticed that now that Saunders is out of the race the support has suddenly flooded over the Jill Stein of the Greens.


That actually tells me a lot about many of his supporters – they don't want change, they want a saviour, however Saunders isn't that saviour. The truth is that change won't come about from the top – it never does – Obama demonstrated that. Not only does he have to deal with Congress, as soon as one steps into the Oval Office there are a lot of pressures coming from a lot of quarters. Don't get me wrong, I think Obama has done a lot, and has made calls, such as normalising relationships with Cuba and Iran, that needed to be done. Sure, many people claim that he is as much of a warmonger as Bush was, and point to his drone campaign as an example (and the fact that he didn't close Guantamo down, as he had promised), however the fact that he made moves to normalise relations with Iran goes to show that he is actually more than just another president, but one who is actively seeking to extend the olive branch where it is possible to do so.


But Saunders is right – real change doesn't come after somebody becomes president, it comes when the president has support in Congress. Notice how the Democrats didn't come out to vote in the mid-terms, which resulted in the Republicans gaining control of both houses of congress. Real change doesn't come about by standing in a park in Wall Street chanting slogans – Egypt proved that: as soon as Mubarak was removed from power the Muslim Brotherhood was elected, and the president started running around claiming that he was Pharaoh. Change doesn't come from the top, but comes from those who are willing to put in the hard work to make that change a reality.


However there is another interesting thing about democracy – it only works when the right result comes from an election. When the European Constitution was voted down, they just went to another vote – okay, they don't like it, so let's do it again. We are seeing the same with Brexit – they weren't supposed to leave, but when they voted to do just that, all of the sudden the referendum was flawed, and they had to go and do it again (though a second Brexit vote is looking incredibly unlikely – and for those who are interested I have written a blog post on it). I remember a similar thing happening in Palestine. After Arafat's death the Palestinians went to an election and voted for Hamas – democracy had failed, the media screamed, because Hamas wasn't supposed to have been elected. But isn't that what democracy is actually all about, or does it only work when the powers that be get the results that they want (we are seeing the same coming from Labor supporters in Australia simply because Labor didn't win the election).


Sure, an extremist group is unlikely to elected, at least at this stage, in our advanced democracies, but that is because things are really not all that bad. Okay, the recent Australian election brought about a bunch of minor parties, but with the exception of Pauline Hanson (which is actually an Australian celebrity because of her extreme anti-immigrant views), all of the minor parties that were elected were basically moderates. However, when things get bad then the extremists suddenly start to gain in popularity. We saw that in Greece when the left wing Syriza party was elected in a landslide - notice how quickly they moved to the centre when they rejected the EU bailout and the country was on the verge of economic collapse – they pretty quickly learned how to play ball, and the people of Greece agreed to follow along behind them.


So, the question boils down to the idea of money – which is what I titled this post as. Sure, you might have issues of culture drifting around the fringes, such as gay marriage, however politics all comes down to one thing – how do we spend the money. A government isn't actually about governing the country – a liberal democracy is, in theory, a country where people are free to do and believe what they like, within reason of course. In the end it comes down to how money is spent, and how it is collected, and the sad thing is that this is all it is, whether you are communist or capitalist. The problem I see is that you need money to have access to the basic essentials of life (and that doesn't mean a two-story house, caviar every night, and three BMWs in the driveway), and if something doesn't generate money then it isn't seen as having any value. In fact everything that we do and produce needs to have some value, either in the short term, or the long term. In fact, the way we are living now the long term is just too far away, and we want everything yesterday. It doesn't matter whether we part with 10 cents, or ten thousand dollars, we all want to be treated the same – we paid you money therefore treat us with respect. For me, I wish we could do away with money and just focus on the arts and culture – our society is becoming ever more empty and meaningless as time moves on that I think it is time that brighten things up without having to resort to watching Kim Kardashian's life.

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1699858194
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-06-27 13:23
Piercing the Veil on Religion
The Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut

I'll start of by saying that I have read a number of Kurt Vonnegut books (five to be precise) and have a another one on my too read list (Player Piano) and of the five, three of them I have read twice (including this one) and of the remaining two, one I them I intend on reading again (Slaughterhouse Five). As a writer, a satirist, and post-modern thinker, I quite like Vonnegut's work, but for some reason the second time around I found that I simply could not get into this book as much as I was able to get into the other two (Breakfast of Champions and Cat's Cradle), though I am not saying that this book is essentially bad, it was just somewhat dryer than the others that I have read.


However, before I go on with this commentary I have to say something important:




meaning that if you haven't read this book, and would like to read it, then please read this after reading the book because what I want to do here is not so much sway your mind to whether you want, or don't want, to read this book, but rather discuss some of the ideas that Vonnegut explores in this book, and unfortunately I am unable to do this without pretty much revealing what ends up happening in the book.



Now, Vonnegut has explored the concept of religion in his other books, however in Sirens of Titan religion pretty much takes front and centre. In his own, strange way, Vonnegut explores what he understands religion is, and the role religion plays in a universe that pretty much makes absolutely no sense (and remember the absurdity of existence is also pretty much front and centre in Vonnegut's books). A lot of Christian writers (rightly) expose our world as a world where we only see half of what is going on, namely we see things from our point of view, but are blind to being able to see and understand reality from God's point of view. The Bible (particularly in the book of Job) attempts to draw the curtain back to enable us to see the world from the spiritual reality so that we may be able to make sense of the absurdity of the world around us.



Vonnegut also pulls aside the curtain, but in pulling aside the curtain, he is not adding purpose to the world, but rather completely destroying it by indicating that there is actually no purpose to this world and for those of us who are desperately trying to seek purpose in this world are on a fools errand. In the end, Vonnegut suggests, we should stop looking for purpose and simply seek the company of others, and the love that comes from those around us. So, I am going to go through and explore a number of themes, starting off with his conclusion, and that is of love.



Have we ever experienced unrequited love? I know I have and I have wasted a lot of time trying to turn unrequited love into requited love. In the end that task is little more than a fools errand because not matter how hard we try, we can never really change somebody's thoughts. Okay, that may not always be the case, because there are times when the iron is metaphorically hot, and we need to be able to recognise those times so that we can strike it. However, the problem is that by narrowing our focus on one specific area we can end up missing the beauty of the world around us. As the protagonist comes to realise at the end (and the protagonist, whether it be Unk, the Space Wonderer, or Malachi Constant – I'll explain that in a bit – isn't actually searching for meaning, but rather stumbling around an absurd universe and ends up discovering the pointlessness of the universe) that the only purpose is love, and the love that he needed was around him all the time. However, it was only for a year in which he actually experienced this, and then it all came to an end, at which point he died, and upon his death bed is thrust into an illusion of paradise.



The other interesting character is Chronos, who at the end, says goodbye to his mother and father (the first time he recognises them as such, or seems to because we are never allowed to see inside his mind) and runs off to immerse himself in nature. What we see in Chronos, especially at the end, is contentment. He is content in nature, and does not need the company of others. He only recognises the two most important people in his universe, and then departs to immerse himself in his own universe, and that is the last we see of him. He is described by some as a savage, but in reality he is the most civilised of all the characters because he needs no purpose, he just accepts and appreciates, and immerses himself in that appreciation.


The Future

We are told at the beginning that one of the major characters, William Niles Rumfoord, and his dog Kazak, had gone off on a space voyage and was caught in a space anomoly which resulted in him going into an infinite loop between the sun and Beatleguese and would only appear on Earth for a set time every so many years. For a time he is kept hidden away, and when Malachi Constant is finally allowed to see him, he tells him that the reason his wife has kept him away from everybody is that he told her her future, and then proceeds to tell Malachi his own future. Immediately Malachi resents this and seeks to go and do completely the opposite (as his wife had done) however it ends up that the future Rumfoord predicted comes true. In a way we see biblical ideas coming out here in the belief that we can never run away from God (such as we see in the book of Jonah) however the catch is that the future is not actually being told, it is being created.



Malachi, and Mrs Rumfoord, cannot escape the future because the future has not actually come to pass. In the end everything that they do ends up moving them towards the future that has been predicted. Once again there is no purpose and there is no future, there is only a route that we are travelling, and it is a route that we cannot escape from – it is the absurdity of the universe. Sometimes it only takes a simple suggestion (hey, what do you think of such and such, do you want to ask her out – which results in you suddenly thinking about it, and moving yourself in that direction despite you initially not wanting to go down that path). It is not that the future has been set, but the future has been created, and while there may be a purpose to that creation – it has nothing to do with you – that is the essence of the absurdity.


Malachi Doll

There was only one proper way to hang a Malachi Constant doll.

That is by the neck.

There is only one proper knot to use,

and that was a hangman's knot.


This chapter is immediately followed by a chapter entitled 'We Hate Malachi Constant Because …'



The comparison between Jesus Christ and Malachi Constant are astounding. Firstly, we have the Malachi Constant doll, a doll of a figure known as Malachi Constant (though not necessarily in his image because when he walks among the people of Earth nobody recognises him), which is being hung by an hangman's noose. Have you ever wondered the origin of the cross that you see around many people's neck? Yes, it is the cross that represents Jesus Christ. And why does that cross represent Christ? Because that was the cross that he was executed on. Many of us know, but do not really appreciate, that what we are hanging around our necks is an instrument used to execute people. This is the absurdity of Christianity and that is that we glorify somebody whom we executed. What is being suggested, or what I understand, is that what the cross symbolises is not so much our faith in Christ, but rather a statement suggesting 'this is what we did the Christ the first time he appeared on Earth, and if he dare come back again, we will do it to him again.'



Then we have the chapter on hating Malachi Constant. While we are not told, those of us who are astute readers will realise that Unk, and the Space Wanderer, are both Malachi Constant. The thing is that the people of Earth do not realise this. When the Space Wanderer appears, everybody is worshipping him, all the while displaying effigies of what they will do to Malachi Constant when they get their hands on him. Thus, when Rumfoord brings the Space Wonderer in front of the people, they are worshipping him, right up until the point that Rumfoord informs them that he is Malachi Constant, and which point the attitude of the crowd changes from one of immense adoration to a desire to rip him limb from limb.



Such it was with Jesus Christ, for one day they are heralding him as King as he rides into Jerusalem on a Donkey, and the next they are calling for his blood and demanding that the Romans crucify him. The reasons behind that sudden change in attitude deserves an essay entirely to itself, but it demonstrates three things:


  1. 1) our immensely fickle nature;


2) our innate desire for self preservation; and

3) the fact that we would rather follow the crowd than think for ourselves.


The Purpose

So what was the purpose of the events in the story? Simply put it was to enable a highly advanced alien to be able to get the component that he needed to get his ship working again. What was the mission that this alien was on? It was to travel millions of light years to another civilisation to deliver a message that simply said 'hello'. All of Earth's history, all of our wonderful achievements, and all of our technology was simply manipulated for this one goal, a goal that had nothing to do with us. As such, all human existence is absurd and pointless, and in the grand scheme of things our purpose, to ourselves, was not so much pointless, but only to allow a very simple mission to succeed, a mission that seems to be almost as absurd as the book itself.


It is a good thing that my world view is not as absurd as that, but at least it helps me look out beyond my self satisfaction and appreciate the fact that while my existence here on Earth may seem meaningless to me, and indeed meaningless to us all, that there are greater things at work. What Vonneget seems to have forgotten, or not even mentioned (because maybe it is for us to work it out) is that this little thing that the alien Salo is performing has a much greater significance than even he realises. The universe is so great that it is mindboggling, and even the most insignificant events have a much grander purpose than even we can realise.


Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/830964984
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2016-03-26 12:25
Critical Modernism: Where Is Post-Modernism Going? - Charles Jencks

This is an incredible book. It is provocative and insightful. It aims at introducing postmodernism is a ‘new’ way that is attempts to make sense of the most striking elements that contributed in rendering postmodernism a sort of everlasting revival of modernism.

Jencks is a pedantic reader. We get examples of the state of postmodernism today from various fields: architecture (of course), literature, technology, and even physics and so on.

This book is too short though considering the data it makes use of. Sometimes it is confusing. I would not recommend this book for those who want to be introduced to postmodernism, as it’s not easy to follow the thoughts of the author without knowing already a lot about postmodernism.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2016-03-17 18:36
Reading progress update: I've read 50 out of 240 pages.
Critical Modernism: Where Is Post-Modernism Going? - Charles Jencks

I'm really enjoying this book a lot. It's original and as a bonus very stylish with all the colorful pictures and diagrams, yes I find that stylish lol

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?