In other news (other than the angry Veg-mob), it’s been a busy week as always, but not only work-wise. Surprisingly, there are a few morsels of “real” life to talk about.
Last night, in a rare bout of insomnia, I finished William Golding’s Nobel-winning book “Lord of the flies”. It’s a strange tale of a bunch of British kids who crash on a Pacific island and go gradually crazy – actually, “atavistic” (huh? what’s that?) is a more appropriate term.
Essentially, the book is a study of social structure and human nature. Golding’s view was that we derive our morals and values from the presence of order and civilisation around us; in the absence of these, we will begin slaughtering pigs, bashing people’s heads in and dancing naked in the moonlight. I’m not sure I fully agree with this notion – that circumstances dictate the level of our morality – but I think the way he captures the beast within – smeared on the canvas of childish innocence – is superb. In short, he turns the island into a micrography of the world, and unleashes the different forces of human society – democracy, anarchy, morality, immorality – in a dazzling way. Not to mention that his descriptions – though dangerously teetering on the Tolkien “please-no-more-leaves-and-trees” edge – are captivating, simply because they are first hand. A vicious novel that might even disturb us today, 52 years later.
And that’s not all. Get some coffee. About a week ago, I also finished Robert Baer’s “See no Evil”, an account of an ex-CIA agent on how beautifully the CIA has messed up its act in order to serve wallets. Nothing we didn’t already know then, but it was shocking to find out the specifics. I’d recommend it to anyone who remotely wonders what all those “the CIA trained terrorists” or “the CIA is involved in the Middle-East” accusations actually mean. And even if you couldn’t care less (like the CIA), it’s still a tight, powerful and realistic (well, duh) spy thriller. It’s a wonder how huge organisations like that can get away with willful incompetence and neglect, two sins that unfortunately culminated in the sad events of 9/11.
And speaking of the fall of giants, I’ll close this little review spree by mentioning an exceptional documentary I watched on Saturday: “Enron: The smartest guys in the room”. If the name “Enron” means anything to you, it’s definitely worth watching, if only to understand something about the mind and psyche of the people behind the biggest scam in human history, including Scientology. In one word, unbelievable – and that’s pretty much how they pulled it off. Agitprop? Nope – just a view to how far corporate realpolitik (aka “greed”) can go with some good will and blind eyes.
Okay. Enough hippy reviews. If you read so far, thank you. But what have we learned? I’ll leave the answer to some friends:
That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun. – Ecclesiastes 1:9
…there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. – Romans 3:22b-24
2 thoughts on “The Microscope recommends. Like anyone cares.”
Lord of the Flies is a brilliant book. I don’t think Golding thought that morality was purely a social construct – indeed the fact that Ralph opposes the violence of the others shows this. Rather he was trying to show that society was very important in regulating behaviour, but wasn’t in itself capable of creating moral character. His book was largely a response to the idealistic Coral Island, which painted the ruddy young English boys as instilled with good moral breeding and saw them thrive on their island as though on a Famous Five adventure. In the face of world war Golding showed just how flawed the idea of “moral society” was.
You’re right. I guess I was thinking more of Jack and his tribe than Ralph. Good book, although chokes itself a little when it tries to interpose some lyricism during it’s brilliant action/suspense scenes. Then again, it WAS the 50’s…