Book report

Currently reading The Screwtape letters while dipping into the works of HP Lovecraft. What with the ongoing and enduring cog-psych reading, I feel like C.S. Lewis is directly admonishing me when he writes [That devils] are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight. Quick! Roll against POW! And remember that free will is an epiphenomenon. No good; I’m going to hell, twice.

I am enjoying Screwtape quite a lot, though. Written from the POV of a senior devil corresponding to a naive nephew, it attempts to expose what Lewis feels is worthwhile in Christianity, from the vantage point of the other side, seeking to undermine it. For a polemic tract, I enjoy the humour, notably in Screwtape’s counsel against expecting too much benefit from the jingoism of war:

The results of such fanciful hatred are often the most disappointing, and of all humans the English are in this respect the most deplorable milksops. They are creatures of that miserable sort who loudly proclaim that torture is too good for their enemes and then give tea and cigarettes to the first wounded German pilot who turns up at the back door.

I’d certainly like to thing that this holds true, and of the Western world generally – that the discussions of torture that exhude from the internet (both extremists and legal experts) is just expension of hot air.

Yikes! On further reading, I find he actually names the type – materialist magician, who go in for this sort of thing. Consider me named and shamed. In other book related news – the news being that I have or am reading them also – must continue to smear Lemony Snicket with all the good-time love he undoubtedly deserves. After a mammoth two-month-odd sojourn through Michael Moorcock’s Mother London (verdict: good, and in parts immensely rewarding, but a bit of a schlep; even as a Londoner I got lost in some of the descriptions and areas) I got my synapse candy through books 4-6 of Snicket’s …Unfortunate Events. It’s not just the stories, it’s the style, the fun that isn’t aimed over the heads of kids, like some of the recent family films seem to be (I see ya Shrek, and I heard it in spades about Sharks Tale) but squarely at them, forcing them to duck and cover, then appreciate. So obviously, right at my level. Take this:

If you were to take a plastic bag and place it inside a large bowl, and then, using a wooden spoon, stir the bag around and around the bowl, you could use the expression “a mixed bag” to describe what you had in front of you, but you would not be using the expression in the same way I am about to use it now.

And while you’re taking this, take that!! From another thumbed but unfinished novel, The Pleasure Of My Company from cerebral clown Steve Martin, sharing a gentle tale of an uncommon person who just happens to have OCD:

Thinking too much also creates the illusion of causal connections between unrelated events. Like the morning the toaster popped up just as a car drove by with Arizona plates. Connection? Or coincidence? must the toaster be engaged in order for a car with Arizona plates to come by? The problem, of course, is that I tend to behave as if these connections were real, and if a car drives by with plates from, say, Nebraska, I immediately eyeball the refrigerator to see if its door has swung open.

I also just got Dave Eggers’ How We Are Hungry, chunks of palatable short fiction, and have Kenan Malik’s Man, Beast and Zombie moaning to be read. My brain hungers for zombies…

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