Sunday, October 24, 2004

Sorry that I haven't written anything for a while, my reading habits have been rather crazy and I haven't really had that much time. One thing I would love to do some afternoon is to sit down with a pint of guiness and a good book. I have to drive everywhere so that effectively puts a stop to that.

Let me list some of the things I have been trying to read the past few weeks - Updike, Teilhard de Chardin, Tillich, Mirella Ricciardi, Neruda and of course Daniel Brown.

In reading an article about Pablo Neruda the author mentioned a poem by W. H. Auden - 'September 1st 1939'. I managed to find this poem and read it. I was startled by how this poem could have been written easily in 2001 or even 2004. Imagine this as being spoken to George Bush or Tony Blair ( and then remember it was written in 1939):

"All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the state
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die."

Auden disowned it, and it is mentioned as an example of bad political poetry but I think it is very powerful, especially the mention of skyscrapers groping the sky.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Sometimes when you read Updike you laugh outloud, other times you are going 'wow'. Like yesterday in 'Couples' when they described the local fire chief as the most neurotic man in town, he had a phobia of fire, water and dogs!

From what I can make out Updike is always struggling, always experimenting with the idea of 'the good life' or 'the best life'. Only this struggle does not begin when we are 15 and end when we are 18. No, for Updike it begins the day you are born and it ends the day you die, or maybe you are lucky if you even find an answer by the day you die.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Updike, Coupling and Dan Brown

Work was getting me down so I was tempted and couldn't resist 'Angels and Demons' by Dan Brown. While it is a great read, I don't know if I am that impressed by the actual book, it is predictable at times, some of the ideas are perhaps a little way out. But when you need to escape from a dreadful office - read it!
Also I was very pleased to receive 'Couples' by John Updike this week through a friend in Bookcrossing. I am enjoying it very much. I'm still trying to figure Updike out. Just as he seems to be modern and cool and hip then he quotes Tillich. I am convinced there is some religious turmoil somewhere in his life. Perhaps his books answer some essential dilemma, I'm not sure. In 'Couples' the main character attends a congregationalist church, he admires the joinery in the pews. There is something about the struggle this character is going through, middle age, bored, looking for meaning. There is some connection with Tillich. Unfortunately I haven't read Tillich in a very long time.
In the Early Stories of Updike I read 'Flight', a wonderful story it begins with a young boy climbing up a hill with his mother. At the top she grabs his hair and says 'this is where we will always be, but not you, you will fly ...". The story could have stopped there but it went on and typically Updike the plot gets a little lost but it is still beautiful.