Apr. 18th, 2017

jazzy_dave: (bookish)
Julian Barnes "Something to Declare" (Picador)





When i picked this up i thought it was a novel but to my surprise it is a collection of essays on France from an avid francophile.

This book of essays covers many of the topics that are recognised as French territory: filmmaker Truffaut and the New Wave, the Tour de France, the singers of the 50's-60's who moaned on finding out that they were sharing their mistresses with others. And then there are the nine, yes nine, chapters on Barnes' favourite writer, Flaubert.

The writing is engaging from the beginning as Barnes describes his family vacations around France year after year, and his growing sense of comfort with the French culture. I especially appreciated his chapter on those singers such as Jacques Brel and Georges Brassens (though I can't understand why my favourite, Serge Gainsborg wasn't included) and the one on author Georges Simenon was full of decadent scandal and therefore wonderful.


A very enjoyable book that is well-written and fun to read.


jazzy_dave: (bookish)
Stephen S. Lundsburg "The Big Questions" (Free Press)



Steven E. Landsburg’s The Big Questions is an intriguing foray into the use of non-typical sciences to look at macroscopic philosophical questions. The questions in questions range from why is there something rather than nothing, is there a God, is logical disagreement a sign of inherent meaninglessness, can we really know everything, and so on. These are indeed interesting and challenging questions. Looking into philosophy using physics and economics is kind of fun and gets one thinking laterally and not directly, which on the whole is a good skill to have.


Landsburg’s tackling of these questions is in many ways logical and rich. There are indeed mathematical bases for following both morality and human perception of color (as well as other things in the universe). His main premise is that once you have math, everything else follows. One of the very mind-boggling assertions me makes is that almost no one is deeply religious because crimes are committed on a fairly regular basis and acts of martyrdom are not. That part makes for fun reading. And for the most part, Landsburg’s theories are engaging, flow well, and get you to think a little more critically about the larger picture.

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