Just to one-up Mr. 302 who proposes to read 20 books this year, I may not have done all the things that I intended to do with “holiday” time, but I have been reading, and that’s a blessed change from last year. Interestingly, lies and deceit come up all the time, but maybe that’s because no good story is without lies and deceit. Latest on the list are Janet Malcolm’s This Silent Woman (the story of the story of Sylvia Plath: many lies have been told), Peter Carey’s My Life as a Fake (need I say more?), Tyler Cowen’s Discover Your Inner Economist (trick yourself into being an economist), and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, the first of which is now popularly known as The Golden Compass.
Reading Pullman reminds me of when I discovered Tolkien at the ripe old age of 19, and couldn’t wait to get back to the story. It’s swift, and rich, and dark, and five minutes after finishing the first I was eager to see it on the big screen.
Big mistake. Although, I should have known better. Of course it would be turned into a kiddies’ film, and worse, of course parents would be taking the kiddies to see it. So the philosophe and I found ourselves sitting next to a set of parents and kiddies who were CLEARLY TOO YOUNG to go to the cinema, and had to keep asking, “What’s that?” “When’s the bear coming?” “What did the monkey say?” “Why can the monkey talk?”. We managed to get about half way through, and then left in great irritation, both with parents and film. [Have parents NO respect for the rest of humankind????]
So, back to the books. I’m half way through the third, and enjoy the fact that even reading fantasy feels like work (ie. good). Because Pullman is a clever writer, and one of the ways he reveals his cleverness is by aptly chosen quotes to set off his chapters. Like this one, by William Blake:
A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent
This is a very interesting truth. Consider the case of the humble banana. A few weeks ago, some twits posted a video claiming that the banana is an “athiest’s nightmare” because its design (fits perfectly into the hand, “even curved towards the face to make the whole process easier”, inbuilt eco-wrapper etc etc) “testifies to the genius of God’s creation”.
That almost wins as the biggest serving of bollocks I’ve ever come across. But then, consider this. A new book has just been published entitled Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World, in which author Dan Koeppel reveals why it is that there are x varieties of apple, but only one kind of banana. Well, he kind of debunks the one-kind theory by explaining that the single variety of banana we all eat now (yup, everyone in the world eats the Cavendish banana: this is globalisation) was not always the one, but that the other kind, the Gros Michel, was wiped out some years ago by a banana-sickness. The bad news is that if anything happens to the Cavendish, there will be NO MORE bananas.
But, I couldn’t pausing at this sentence in a review of the book: ‘the banana as we know it is a worldwide poster child for bio-nondiversity’. Suddenly it all made perfect sense! The (perfect) banana really is evidence of God’s creation! And of his dictatorial, narrow-minded, self-serving blindness to anything but himself.
That does it. No more bananas in my fruit basket.
Here are a couple of other wondrous things going on in the world today. Cape Town residents who believe that they are experiencing more cockroaches than usual have been assured that they are not seeing things. There are more cockroaches than usual. One reason for this, according to the Cape Times, is ‘increased economic activity’. (Anyone know the way to the roach-mall?).
Looking for a gift for the man (or woman) who has everything? You can now buy an inflatable English pub.
Finally, Dr. Phil has declared Britney Spears ‘too intense’ for his planned feature on her breakdown. Dr. Phil has reached his limit!!! Sounds like the two of them need to share a big ol’ banana.