Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Butt by Will Self

Don't you hate it when you favourite writers write a book that irritates you?  I sure do.  Self, a writer I admire, has just done that with The Butt.  After the fist few pages, it meanders into absurdity, which I normally would quite like, especially from the likes of Self, who has penned some really fantastic and satirical novels.  Great Apes, for example, is quite excellent. Reading The Butt, however, only made me wish that the book was 100 pages shorter.  Why did it take so long to get to the end?  And then there was that overpowering sadness at the loss of so much time spent cursing this book.

The reader never knows what kind of bizarre or fantastic world is going to unfold in a Will Self novel.  Nor is s/he incapable of being in awe of his linguistic skill and vocabulary.  But, this book borders on the incomprehensible.  Sure, there are some amusing passages, and one cannot help but admire his writing, but I was left with a feeling that this wasn't really the best he could do.  I truly felt tired at the end of it, and I had no interest in recalling any part of the book after chucked it aside with considerable relief, like a cigarette butt left to slowly disintegrate over time in a ditch.  

Read Will Self, but skip this one.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Damn Spam!

Apologies if you have received spam from my email account.  Some bastards hacked in and "borrowed" my email account and posted to this blog.  I have had to change my password.  I have no idea how they managed to do it, since my password was not really a word, more like a string of letters and number.

Anyway, if you want to retaliate, feel free to email bomb them using the email addresses listed in their message. 

The hack came from IP in China on January 18th, 2011.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

On Religion

(Sadly, this blog is either dead or very close to it).

I do not hail from a religious family.  I think that this is a positive thing, and I remain thankful for that.  On the other hand, certain traditions that have currency among religious sects have invaded the cultural zeitgeist and led to travesties, such as widespread circumcision, for which I am not thankful.  But this post is not about genital mutilation.  It is about religion.

I was baptized in the Presbyterian church and, as far as I can remember, the only times I ever set foot in a church for many years hence were to appreciate the architecture or for weddings or funerals.  I was in my third year of my undergraduate degree when I checked out a Christmas sermon with a female friend (not a girl friend).  We sat at the back.  I have to say that I remember very little, but what I do remember was that I was sinner.  The message was repeated over and over again.

As a child, I was spared Sunday School, spared religious indoctrination of any kind, but knowledge of it seeps in from many places, like literature and TV and movies.  One can't really exist in our society without being aware of faith.  Nor should we.  We need to know what is written, but there is no reason to believe it.

Very early on in my life, I discovered that there were other religions.  I recently read that there could be 3800+ religions just on our little planet.  Doesn't it strike you as intolerant and chauvinistic to accept your religion (the one you were born into) and by extension reject all others?  When I first learned that there were other religions backed by legions of blind followers, I moved from agnosticism to atheism fairly quickly.  I was still in public school when I made the switch.  For me, Jesus Christ was equal to Santa Claus or a character in your favourite childhood fairy tale.

if you have spent any time reading the bible or the new testament or the Koran or other "holy" texts, you will no doubt be aware that they are filled with impossible acts and impossible-to-believe stories.  Are we really to believe that for all of human existence, god ignored us and then, for some odd reason, he decided to intervene but only to a handful of people in a remote area of the middle east?   I say no, but don't believe me.

I beg you to read god is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens.  He does a magnificent job of annihilating all religions, including Islam, the so-called religion of peace.  Islam is a violent religion.  Hitchens argues that "The real axis of evil is Christianity, Judaism, and Islam."  I agree one hundred per cent.  No educated person could ever read the scriptures and come away thinking that they are to be believed.  And, no one could come away with the belief that religion makes us peaceful.  Pick up any history book are read about the evils that religion has brought to the world.

The people who wrote the various scriptures had two goals in mind:

1) to impose a bizarre morality
2) to explain where we came from

I beg you to also read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.  No thinking, educated person could ever read Dawkins and Hitchens and argue that there is a god watching everything we do and say and think. It's nonsense.  These "holy" books are obsolete, at least in terms of the points above.  I would never advocate eliminating these books, well, except for the Book of Mormon, perhaps.

Darwin was correct.  Humans evolved. We were not created by some dude in six days; nor did some god begin the process of so-called intelligent design (which is merely code for creationism).  Creationism has had its time.  There is irrefutable evidence that we evolved; there is zero evidence that we were created, other than the pages of a book that has no author.  There is simply no proof for anything in these religious writings.

On a different Christmas eve, many years after I ventured into a church with my friend, I was dragged to a Catholic church for an Xmas service.  Again, I was admonished for being a sinner, yet I knew that I was "created" in god's own image.  Does no one else see the problem with this or with original sin?  It's nonsense.

The world would be much better off without any religions.  It would be a more peaceful planet without Islam and without Christian sects running around Africa trying to convert  everyone in sight.  Without religion, the world would have been spared a plethora of religious wars and crusades.  Count up the wars that have been (or are) religious and those that weren't, and you will see what I mean.

We would all be farther ahead if we adopted a humanist outlook free from religious dogma and deception.  And, someone really has to bring the Pope in for questioning about child rape.  He knows more than he is saying.  What kind of a sick organization permits and enables the rape of children?