Sunday, March 19, 2006

Finished Saul and Patsy moving on to Gogol

With the past 45 minutes I finished 'Saul and Patsy' and I am still feeling a little bit uncertain. It is a brilliant read, had me hooked to the very end but I am not sure if I am convinced about the ending but that is the luxury of all readers, we all want a book to end in a way that we would have liked.

You'll need to read it to see if you agree with me :)

I started to read 'Diary of a madman' by Gogol tonight. The story is about a clerk in the Russian civil service, the lowest of the low (know how that is) who falls in love with the daughter of the director. As if that isn't crazy enough, the clerk forms a relation with the dog that belongs to the daughter. They write letters to each other and the clerk is fuming because the dog writes non-stop about the other dogs she sees out the window and doesn't want to tell him about the daughter. Keeps me smiling.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Saul and Patsy

I recently started to read the new Charles Baxter book and it is unbelievably brilliant. Baxter is back to his eloquent best. Feast of Love may not have been his best and unfortunately his publishers choose that book to introduce him to the UK. Every single page of this book I love, it makes me soar. You escape, you fly into the relationship of these two lovers and their awkward relationship in a small town in the american mid-west. If I could I would quote huge segments from each page but I can't.

The character Saul is convinced that the world is losing the ability to think and he stops his high flying career to become a history teacher. He is not satisfied with the current atmosphere of fear and prejudice in the USA and notably criticises the current president. A lot of people make a big deal about this, it doesn't affect me. He is simply living his life, we experience his frustrations, his joys and it carries me away, I feel that I am living their lives in my dreams. The writing uplifts me, it gives me joy.

This is a small passage describing how they met after a dance performance of Patsy and Saul is describing to her how he appreciated the performance:

"He had the piercing brown eyes of a repentant gangster, though he was gaunt in other respects, except for his thick peasant's hands. He was excited by the text ("self-incriminated language," he called it,"oxidising in your ear") and the sounds("lyrical aural insults, with no bottom to them"), but most of all it seemed he was excited by Patsy. "You were moving but you weren't moving," he said, "the words were moving your body," demonstrating that he had got it, that it hadn't slipped past him. "It was psychokinetic," he said, "and phonemic-kinetic," which was going a bit far. They were talking in the hallyway, Patsy holding her knapsack, the hour was getting late and then Saul blurted out, "I kept imagining what it would be like to be partnered with you," and then he blushed under his beard, self-astonished. Patsy smiled. So it would be like this, from now on? The blurting of truth in the wee hours?"

I still haven't finished the book, I am looking forward to the rest of it!


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

B. S. Johnson was a genius

One of the books I have wanted to buy and bought recently was 'Like a fiery elephant' the story of B. S. Johnson by Johnathan Coe. If anything so that Johnson can be explained to me. I love to read his novels but they are bizarre, experimental. To be honest I am really enjoying this biography. One passage quoted is from the end of 'Christy Malry's own double entry', this passage reflects his active view on the relationship between reader and writer:

"'Yes, Christie you go on to the end,' I assured him, and myself went on: 'Surely no reader will wish me to invent anything further, surely he or she can extrapolate only too easily from what has gone before?'
'If there is a reader,' said Christie. 'Most people won't read it.'
'Politicians, policemen, some educators and many others treat "most people" as idiots.'
'So writers may too?'"

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Short poem

Here is a short poem I wrote, must post a pic of Clulow park:



Billy Clulow Park


One sunny morning I was angry

Listening to jazz, I went to buy milk

As I said I was angry

Anger is pain

It stops things moving

My mind was stopped

And consumed with a raging fire


I thought to myself

What would be the 70s reaction?

What would Steve McQueen do?

And as the snow melted

And I kicked the mud

I started to dance.


All in Billy Clulow Park

An old lady sat smoking and her dog stared at me

Even the cat, my hated enemy received a friendly smile

And I wished it would go

But like pain

It doesn’t do what it is told . . .


Perhaps Steve McQueen would sort it out!



by Rod White

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Science and Religion

A few of you will know that I have an interest in the whole debate about science and religion, you might also know that I have a degree in geology, you might also know that I have an interest in Teilhard de Chardin who to me proposes quite a unique approach to science and religion.

I have a particular problem at the moment with Richard Dawkins. Yes he is brilliant at talking about science. I appreciate that he was one of the first scientists to really populise and promote science. However he seems to have the idea that science is the answer to everything and therefore religion is superstitious nonsense. I find it particularly hurtful when he goes on TV and alleges that to be a scientist you also have to be an atheist. I have no problem with scientists talking about nature and evolution but when they start to say that God cannot be proven scientifically therefore we all must become atheists I am disgusted. Basically Dawkins has become a scientific fundamentalist. He has no idea what religion really is and proof of this is his statement that all evil that exists today is down to religion.

Science to me is not a religion, it does not dictate what we should believe or how we should behave. It is scientists who blame politicians for 'forcing' them to invent the nuclear bomb. It is scientists who invent biological and chemical weapons because 'that is what they are paid to do'. Science should not have the right to tell people what to believe. Science explains what happens, it doesn't explain 'why' things happen.

The picture above is a photo of sunset over Blackpool beach on New Years day 2006 (click on the picture and see if you can spot Isabel). It is only a representation, a 2D view of something that was 3D or even 4D. So when God wrote the Bible he had to present things things to us in a simplified manner. (See C. S. Lewis 'Transposition'.)

Dawkins and many other scientists have gone on to insult Teilhard de Chardin. I have a particular interest in Teilhard. I find his work profound and beautiful, he is also quite difficult to understand. However there is no point in trying to say that Christianity and science can never be reconciled because of Teilhard. It is a complete misrepresentation for one thing, sure Teilhard may have said some strange things but there are many other people who have argued that science and religion are not in conflict.

Galileo Galilei has long been advanced by science as the one who finally and completely removed the credibility of religion. Anyone who thinks this is the truth needs to read what Galileo actually said in his Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina:

"the intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes."

Watch this space for more information about Teilhard de Chardin.