There’s something about 3: They say bad/good things come in threes. Some things in my life have been in threes: My favourite science fiction authors: Asimov, Clarke and Crichton (an ACC instead of an ABC). The books that shaped my views on society: The Lord of the Flies, 1984, Brave New World. My views on cosmogony so far have been largely influenced by Arthur C. Clarke’s Rama series and Orson Scott Card’s Ender Quartet. Now, I have a third to add to that: Neal Stephenson’s Anathem.
Thoughts on things I read
I have just finished reading Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby. To those who don’t know, Fever Pitch is about Nick’s obsession with Arsenal. For those who don’t know what Arsenal is: nothing to see here, please move along, folks. I haven’t read of a lot of football literature, but as an Arsenal fan, it gave me a peephole into a world long since gone: the world when Arsenal were the equivalent of Stoke City of the last few seasons - the ogres of football. No, honestly. The way Nick described Arsenal and the Highbury crowd reminds me of the Potters in every way - the siege mentality, the general dislike from other fans, the media, the shit football…
One thing to note before you start reading this: I haven’t written anything in a long time. I’m just gonna ramble. Note 2: I started writing this before Echoes and some of the stuff meant to be here ended up there, so not much rambling! :)
Recently I started reading Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series. Each book is well written, and the characters strong and memorable, the tales themselves grand. The series itself vies with the Mahabharata, considered by most Indians to be the greatest epic. One thing I noticed time and again is the number of similarities, echoes, as it were, of tales from elsewhere, books and movies. By itself, it might seem like a weakness, but no! It is a strength, for each echo strengthens the feeling that the tale is your own experience long forgotten, from a different life perhaps, for it is familiar and yet strange. Perhaps like the feeling Birgitte Silverbow has for the memories of each of her adventures with Gaidal Cain.
Over time, I have changed my position regarding the existence of god(s). From apathy (‘Don’t know, don’t care’), to disbelief (atheism) to doubt (agnosticism). I have heard many accounts of god(s), from the ‘universe, then god’ (like the ancient Greeks’) to ‘god, then universe’ (most other accounts), from single god (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) to many gods (Hinduism, the Egyptian pantheon). The problem exists, in my opinion, specifically in the proof (or lack thereof) of the existence of gods. For the purposes of this article, let us consider a few things as given:
It has been a long time since I first read the novels which affected me the most strongly: Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Crime and Punishment, War and Peace, Great Expectations, David Copperfield, One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Ivanhoe and Gone with the Wind. The first two I read when I was ten years old, or thereabouts; the last, Gone with the Wind, three or four years ago. Since then, I’ve read a few books, but none which created impressions as deep as they have. So much so, that I’d come to doubt whether I would meet anybody as kind and as good as Melanie Wilkes, or anyone as terrible as Dorian Gray. I felt that I wouldn’t meet any love as strong as the love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, or the love for Scarlet that Rhett had. Women like Jane Eyre, or Countess Natasha Rostova, or Agnes Wickfield, or Scarlet O’Hara are rarely met with. But a lot of things changed when I decided to correct a mistake that I had made, since I had never got a chance to read Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, having read The Hunchback of Notre-Dame years ago as an abridged version (curse those monstrosities, they rob us of a great deal!). So when I chanced upon a Penguin Classics edition of Les Misérables, a 1976 translation by Norman Denny, I seized it without a second thought.
Jurassic Park and The Lost World are movies that almost everyone I know have seen. These movies prompted me to read the novels, and, out of curiosity and knowing that novels always contain more detail than movies, I did read them, laying my hands on a second hand copy of Jurassic Park, and later on The Lost World. Thus did I start reading books by Crichton, on of my favourite authors. It did shock (and dishearten) me to learn that he died on November 4, 2008, due to cancer (I learned it only a week after, when I checked the Wiki article on him).