Literature is unique as an art form in that it relies entirely upon a human construct to express an idea: language. The nature of language and the challenge it presents to artistic expression are what make Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun so impressive.
Mother Night is not just for those in for a grim laugh. By focusing on an ordinary man who struggles every day with whether what he has done was excused, Vonnegut is able to makes a rather uncomical argument about the nature of good and evil in the world.
It’s no surprise narratives like this can be found throughout Australian literature, but I was taken aback by just how similar these three stories are. They represent a de-landing myth in Australian culture, a repeating plot of threat to home that I’m sure could be found elsewhere too. Frankly, what surprised me most was that they don’t even make much of an effort to be different from one another.
For many of us living in self-isolation, the experience has been one of incredible loneliness, which is dramatically different to the potential for isolation to be freeing and satisfying as presented by Woolston in many of his works. It seems that isolation itself does not bring freedom, but is rather a short-cut to liberation provided by living in an environment free of the pressures applied by the social and institutional systems of city life.
My very long time thinking about God and nihilism, while for sure, enhancing my enjoyment and understanding of the story, had another impact. It led me to be, dare I say it, a touch bored by the whole thing.
I have absolutely no idea what to say about this wonderful book, but I am going to try. I picked up Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, one of those monsters some call a ‘magnum opus’, off the internet three months ago. I’ll be totally candid, I’d been told it was hard to read, but interesting, … Continue reading Reading Gravity’s Rainbow
How do we square in our hearts good people who do bad things? How do we understand that the world’s greatest sinners, murderers and traitors and genocidal racists, can be full of love for their friends, can be generous to the needy, or willing to suffer for the good of others? The answer Brothers offers is pretty compelling: Because they failed to be brave in a moment of weakness.
In so much other fiction, and in life in general, empathy is presented as a virtue, as inherently linked with kindness, sympathy, charity, and compassion. But, to Carver, empathy can create benevolence or malevolence, for any number of reasons. He tends to present empathy as its own beast, and above all, as a method of self-exploration.
Looking back, if I were an ordinary worker in Redfern or Glebe in 1910, I would almost certainly have sided with league.
Pat reads Ursula Le Guin's fantasy classic. "If ever you want to delve into a world that is utterly fanatistical, but explore the lives of the people within whose struggles are so strikingly like our own, Earthsea is surely for you."