Sunday, May 30, 2004

I was very pleased to receive a copy last week of 'The Human Phenomenon' The new translation of Teilhard de Chardin's classic by Sarah Appleton-Weber.

This really is a wonderful book. I had tried to read 'The Phenomenon of Man' many times but I hadn't reached past the prologue. The translation makes the text flow very smoothly and even though you are reading complex ideas they seem to glide through your head.

This is a quote from the author's note:

"Just as meridians as they reach the pole, so science, philosophy, and religion necessarily converge in the vicinity of the whole. The converge, I repeat, but without merging, and never ceasing to attack the real from different angles and levels right to the end."

I love the image of science and religion being meridians that converge as we travel forward.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Bush has been caught out abusing human rights. Guantanamo bay and the prisons in Iraq reveal that you can't afford to have 'blackholes'. I think it was Robert Mason in 'Chickenhawk' who wrote that one rumour was that the CIA were taking prisoners up in helicopters and threatening to throw them out if they don't talk.
This is a good part from Davidsons book on Guine. He asked the leader about using magic:

"Yes at the beginning amulets and charms, much of that. But now they've learned that it's better to take good cover and shoot straight."

Davidson is a good writer but I suspect he has sanitised the revolt. He likes to emphasise that the military were not given too much importance and that the soldiers were being continually involved in political education. The perspective I have of African armies are that they tend to surge ahead and take things under their control. Davidson stresses that writings from Cuba stress the military too much and that the leaders in Guine disagreed with this and limited the power of the military.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

I read Bech in 'The Holy Land' yesterday and one comment really struck me:

"The tricky thing about peace," Bech suggested, "is that it doesn't always come from being peaceable."

That is the sort of comment that would be perfect for Belfast, and even though Updike maybe visited Jerusalem 20 years ago and based his story on that visit, it is perfectly true for that situation too. It is perhaps something that is very difficult to learn.

I haven't really had much of a chance to do any serious reading lately. I bought another book today. 'The Liberation of Guine' by Basil Davidson. It seems almost an adventure novel about a journalist who made friends and supported the revolutionaries in Guine in their struggle against the Portugese. So far, it is quite exciting. I had no idea that the Portuguese were so brutal. One of the reasons that Africa is so poor is that the colonial powers degraded and demoralised the indigenous peoples and then stepped away. Angola is another one of Portugals colonies and it is probably in a worse state. Portugal had enabled the education of 0.5% of the population of Guine. And then out of that 0.5% they were expected to be the leaders. I can only admire people who come in and try to build their country with so little resources. Most of the 0.5% had traveled to Portugal to be educated and were culturally persuaded to forget their African heritage and become Europeans.

Anyway it is quite a good book.