You may have noticed a deluge of shorter blog posts over the past week. They’re not quite stream-of-consciousness, but they’re also not quite refined, finalised, percolated-into-the-crystal-goblet cogent ideas. Which is kind of apt really, because I’m just churning things over at the moment. Flitting specks of knowledge begin to form into ideas — and then spin away into the corners of my mind. They re-emerge a few days or weeks later — usually when I’m sitting on the toilet — and only then do they start to make sense.
What I’m trying to say is: I’m currently a gargantuan, hairy ape chock-full of knowledge, but almost bereft of useful ideas. I’m sure they’ll come, when they’re ready, but I’m more than happy to keep absorbing knowledge in the meantime!
So, since we last spoke, I’ve read three of Kurt Vonnegut’s novels. Slaughterhouse 5, Breakfast of Champions and Cat’s Cradle — in that order. Maybe you have to be high on LSD to fully appreciate Breakfast of Champions, or heavily into meta-fiction… or something. Slaughterhouse 5 and Cat’s Cradle were both superb however. I don’t think Slaughterhouse 5 is as anti-war as people make it out to be. Anti-humanity, maybe. I also wish that he actually gave his books proper endings, rather than just fizzling out. Still, he does have his moments of perfectly-observed brilliance — especially in Slaughterhouse 5. I’ve picked out one passage to share. It’s long, but so it goes:
There was a lot that Billy said that was gibberish to the Tralfamadorians, too. They couldn’t imagine what time looked like to him. Billy had given up on explaining that. The guide outside had to explain as best he could.
The guide invited the crowd to imagine that they were looking across a desert at a mountain range on a day that was twinkling bright and clear. They could look at a peak or a bird or a cloud, at a stone right in front of them, or even down into a canyon behind them. But among them was this poor Earthling, and his head was encased in a steel sphere which he could never take off. There was only one eyehole through which he could look, and welded to that eyehole were six feet of pipe.
This was only the beginning of Billy’s miseries in the metaphor. He was also strapped to a steel lattice which was bolted to a flatcar on rails, And there was no way he could turn his head or touch the pipe. The far end of the pipe rested on a bi-pod which was also bolted to the flatcar. All Billy could see was the dot at the end of the pipe. He didn’t know he was on a flatcar, didn’t even know there was anything peculiar about his situation.
The flatcar sometimes crept, sometimes went extremely fast, often stopped-went uphill, downhill, around curves, along straightaways. Whatever poor Billy saw through the pipe, he had no choice but to say to himself, ‘That’s life.’
You’d need to have read the book for this to fully make sense, but basically: Billy sees the world in three dimensions; Talfamadorians experience the world in four. The entire passage feels like it’s dedicated to the bullheaded blindness of humanity.
Anyway, with Vonnegut out of the way (I really wish he’d written more short stories — he’s better at those), I’ve now moved onto Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. The first 40 or 50 pages consisted of two introductions by irritating I-know-longer-words-than-you-ner-ner-ner scholars, and then a retrospective introduction by Aldous himself. After three nights, I’m finally onto page 2 of the book itself!
* * *
In other news, I passed my driving theory test again. 50 out of 50! I also booked my driving test for September! I’ll be going to Wales for 4 days — three days of intensive tuition, followed by a test on the final day. Exciting!
I’ve also booked my flights to Montenegro, for the end of July. I’ll spare you the exhaustive history of the country — instead, have a pretty photo of the Bay of Kotor:
And unlike drizzly, grey, underwhelming Norway, I’m almost guaranteed good weather! Yay July! Yay Mediterranean!