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posted by [personal profile] jay_walk at 08:32pm on 11/09/2011 under ,
...and I'm just going to skip the beginning part about "I have no time and no ideas so here's something short and irrelevant", because it seems that type of situation is status quo.
And I ought to be translating a few lines of Metamorphoses right now. Which is way better than some things, but the fact that we've been on the Daphne story for a month and a probably not going to do much else is frustrating, because I already know that story, and because people have awful opinions on it.

So anyway, Paradise Lost.

It is brilliant. It's not too difficult either, easier than Shakespeare.
This is the book where Satan is the protagonist and is supposed to be evil but comes off as quite more reasonable and sympathetic than the other side.
The parts which retells genesis and the parts about Adam and Eve being in Paradise get a bit boring after a few pages of praising, but that's just about the only flaw, and even that is sometimes very nice when the cosmology is described, the layout and composition of the universe.
The newest developments:
Raphael is telling Adam about the war between angels and fallen angels, to warn him against sinning. In this story, Satan makes some nice speeches about not serving god (interestingly, questions whether god created angels, as he claims). Abdiel doesn't like it. Then there's a war, and they are about equal in numbers. On the first day it ends when Michael battles Satan and wounds him. On the second day, Satan invents cannons. I think this is the most awesome thing the author could have put in the story to make Satan human, because that's what humanity does, think of some really impressive invention when the problem doesn't solve itself through their preexisting abilities. Of course this looks evil, and cowardly, using machinery on angels. So this works for a while, until the angels go and throw mountains at them, which isn't so good for the dark side. On the third day, god sends his son, who of course throws them into hell. The Jesus in this book is not as peaceful and loving as other portrayals. He's mostly just an extension of God, who is the old testament version who does nothing but enforce worship.
After Raphael tells Adam this story, and retells genesis, Adam tells Raphael about his first few days of existing, and about god coming there personally to discuss creating Eve with him. Nothing about Adams previous wife in this story, so I don't know where I picked up the notion that there is such a thing. Also, god is male in this story, it says Eve is less in gods image than Adam. Adam and Raphael and Eve and the narrator go on for quite a bit about how great domestick, marital love is (theyre officially husband and wife without having gotten married, but i forgot why). Which is the less interesting bit and makes me want Satan to just get around to corrupting them already.
Also, apparently angels have love to, be running their essences through each other, or something like that, and the question makes Raphael blush. Which is slightly more interesting, I am now going to read some Satan/Raphael into this, because it makes me suddenly far less inclined to hate Raphael.
Raphael leaves ( there is some nice description of the angel, which also ameliorates my desire to punch his arrogant face for having been mean to Satan somewhat).
Adam and Eve are all blissful again for far to long, than they're worried about the whole Satan thing for a bit...
Satan posesses a snake, talks to Eve, and we all know how that turns out. Since I had been of the opinion that of course one should try eating it for years, I'm not having any new opinions on this.
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posted by [personal profile] jay_walk at 07:37pm on 08/07/2011 under , , ,
(Or rather first impressions thereof, I only just started it)

-It is surprisingly easy to read. Neither complex nor tedious. I could theoretically have read it in a day. Somehow I was under the impression Nietzsche was going to be a step below James Joyce in difficulty. It just has a reputation for being philosophical and complex, and the title sounds sophisticated. But it's rather simple, not even too old-fashioned, and certainly not overly flowery.

-Reading this in german, because it was written in German, and stuff gets lost in translation (for example Geist is a different concept than the translation of Ghost...)
And of course because I conveniently speak German, as much as I'd like too I don't have the endurance to read french or latin things in the original.

-It is rather nice German. The language serves the narrative perfectly. I have never read German which is beautiful, except a few passages in The Prodigy. But it does have exactly the right mix of gravity, sobriety, functionality and lightness for this text.

-The other thing I expected to be a bit of a problem: this whole √úbermensch thing sounds like Naziism, and I expected to find a lot of ideas which Nazis later agreed with. Again, surprised. As far as I have read what Nietzsche means with √úbermensch is enlightened being, one that is spiritually beyond human. Like Buddha or Jesus, allthough I doubt he likes Jesus much. Not even
hints of racism or fascism. A general cynism and contempt for people, however, and the belief that the unenlightened masses are inferior, and enmity towards the state, among other institutions (That state would have been the German Empire then I suppose).

-And this book has a negative reputation for the nihilism. I am not very shocked by the whole "god is dead" thing, because I conveniently already agreed with that, I am made a bit more uncomfortable by the proposition that the state is the new god and we are wrong to follow it. Really up until then I haven't found this book very complicated because what it says was already self-evident in the 21st century, but with embellishments. Maybe I ought to go read something I disagree with instead, then I wouldn't feel so in the right either, getting awfully convinced of my intelligence again.
-I was under the impression that Nietsche had a reputation for being immoral. Should have thought about that assumption a bit further: nihilism is rather amoral. And I did not expect the ideas of enlightenment, love for humanity, creation.
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posted by [personal profile] jay_walk at 01:42pm on 07/07/2011 under , , ,
So Oscar Wilde went religious. I was not sure I was going to like that: Wilde writes fascinating things, but I've never heard catholicism (?) told in a fascinating way.

First it's about suffering and art, then it's about Jesus. And I like Wilde's views on Jesus. I don't have anything against Jesus in general, I agree he was a visionary, is humanity's most enduring icon, was probably enlightened (if not uniquely so), and had the general right idea. The whole suffering and martyrdom thing, Jesus pulled it off right; for the right reasons. This isn't going to convince me to become religious, but Jesus is an interesting entity.

Then he gets around to writing about God. This is the part of religion I don't agree with (unfortunately a rather central part too). Which is to say, I have nothing against believing in God or gods or whatever, but against that weird abusive relationship with their own imagination some people seem to be in. Imagining the world is doing stuff to oneself with a purpose, and whenever God doesn't answer or seems to be punishing people telling oneself it's our fault and we are guilty and God loves us. I just think the whole thing with fear and original sin and guilt isn't going to help anyone. And that people don't think of that kind of a thing for themselves, it's doctrine. So I'm surprised Wilde considers humans unworthy of God's love or forgiveness (paraphrased) for no reason at all.

And then two pages later he mentions (that Christ taught that) people ought to have less orthodoxy and more understanding the whole religion thing for themselves, which is what I had been saying. So never mind that I thought I disagreed?

(And I think I'm seeing some of Emerson's type of philosophy in this, more than that one time Wilde quotes him. Really, such a lack of diversity of thought, even in our best thinkers? My other theory would be that the reader's brain likes to synthesize similar stuff together and forget original stuff that doesn't fit, this would make as much sense and be more optimistic about the writer's capabilities, but not about my own.)

It is altogether an interesting book. Not very funny of course, and Wilde minus the wittiness leaves just sentimentality and tragedy.

And now that I've finished a book I'll get around to organizing some university stuff while I wait for the mail to bring me the next Aubrey-Maturin book.


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