Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Wishful Thinking

It is unusual to write a review of a book before you have read it, but the world is full of strange and wonderful things, so there is no reason not to try. I tried eating a date today, but it was so sickly sweet it repulsed me. The world is a far better place for me giving it a go though.

Time and space travel have been freely available for a number of years now, thanks to the works of Terry Nation and the Hollywood blockbuster phenomena of action movies. But no one ever thought before that our historical philosophers like Berkeley, Mathers and Figgerson needed to trim their ideas down a bit, and put on a bit more muscle in their reasoning, until Stephen Law came along and wrote "The Philosophy Gym". Basically the technique is quite simple, pit these guys one on one in the hot, sweaty confines of a philosophical gym, and you can measure the success of their ideas by who manages to slough off the most pounds.

I recently bought Stephen's book because something was niggling me about the nature of time. For all the talk about evolution and Creationism, Dawkins always looked a bit uncomfortable on tv, and the religionists always look serene. How were we rationalists going to pack a bit more punch, and wipe the smile off their smug faces?

As an aside, the only religious leader I have ever observed in a rush is the magnificent Dalia Lama. Buddhists always have a great smile on their face, they are the only bunch I could honestly team up with. Without giving too much away, the ideas of random acts of kindness and endless re-birth have far more appeal to me, then the sanctimonious nonsense the rest of them peddle. Don't be too dismissive though, many Christian churches offer tea, cakes and jumble sales at knock down prices, and even Muslims suggest they are prepared to submit on most things. The Jewish faith offers a wealth of humour, and some contradictory arguments about whether Rabbis believe in God or not. The last religious festival that I seriously took part in was a Druid one at one of the Avebury stone circles a year or two ago. It was meant to be for the Spring Equinox, but as you know that came a little bit early that year. Sorry, what I meant to say was that due to unforeseen circumstances, our ceremony was a little bit late. However it is fantastic to meet with real people from history, such as Arthur Pendragon and Merlin. Don't get too close though as you'll find they carry a bloody big sword. Something to do with the Human Rights Act, I guess. Anyway, it's not surprise the Dalia Lama spends all his time rushing around, it is because all the other Patronisers get such an easy ride.

If you want sort out your ideas about time, trim off a bit off flabby reasoning, and buy a book that will really look good on your shelf, Stephen Law has definitely come up with the business. A word of warning though, leading existentialist Sartre only contributes by the lack off his ideas, although I guess Law is spot on with his (1905-80) estimate for Sartre's lifespan. Again as an aside, you should not infer from this that Sartre was -1,825 years old. In fact exactly the opposite! My copy of Law's excellent wikipedia of thought in action is soon going to get very well thumbed and battered. Friedrich Nietzsche, as well as sharing a middle name with my Dad, is missing from Law's book. I don't know if this is a problem, I can only presume he is still talking to that horse.

My actual problem is this: I have a copy of his book, but I don't really know if Law the person actually exists. I want to get it signed, as this baby is going stratospheric, but I cannot rely on the post, especially the Watford sorting office. Should I wrap it in a parcel and send it by DHL? How can I be certain it will be delivered, and more importantly that I get it back as well. I can't really afford to let it go, as to be without such an important document for more than one second would, literally, wrench my heart out. How on earth does the book get signed and thereby authenticated by its author, without tearing the fabric of the Universe apart to do it?

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