Monday, April 12, 2010
Mark Booth has left the room
Tulips in front of the Supreme Court.
When you start a book do you feel like you have to read the whole thing? Not me. I have no problem with abruptly sticking an unfinished book on the shelf. If it isn't teaching me anything, if it doesn't hold my attention after 50 pages, or if it's actively annoying, that's it. I quit reading Eat, Pray, Love on page 136 because even though everyone told me I would LOVE that book, I found it completely predictable in every way. Plus I couldn't stand what's-her-name who wrote it. I know it is a classic among many. I didn't like it, and since I'll never have the time to read all the books I'm interested in, when one doesn't grab me, it's prudent to move on. Do you agree?
When I tried to read Natalie Angiers book, The Canon, I eventually became exasperated by her snotty dismissal of all things mystic. As of this morning, I'm beginning to feel the same way about A Secret History of the World, only in reverse. The author, Mark Booth, keeps referring to scientists as atheists who suffer from "reductive" thinking, whatever that means. In his view, "ancient" world views are more valuable than contemporary thought, a purely romanticized perspective. He's just as prejudiced as Natalie Angiers, though he stands on the other side of the looking glass.
Wouldn't it be great if there was One Perfect Way to understand the world? If ALL mystics were nuts or ALL scientists were atheists? It would make life so simple. OK maybe it wouldn't be great, maybe it would render the complexity of the world somewhat less intricate. And anyway, it's not true.
Albert Einstein said, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." That's not reductive, is it? And as for mystics, well, is the Dalai Lama a nut? Of course not. He is a voice of reason helping people reconnect with spirit and compassion.
So I'm going to chuck this book into a drawer until Tom of the blog Half-Moose with a Twist comes to town. If anyone can get the wisdom of A Secret History ..., it's Tom.
As for myself, I will turn instead to The Mongol Queens. Life is short. Carpe diem!!