Monday, April 5, 2010

Book #23

Island by Aldous Huxley is a true classic in every sense of the word. One could write a book on this book and I could spend the rest of the year blogging on a single quote. I will not do that obviously, but suffice it to say this qualifies as an extremely deep work of literature.
This is a book that has significant ties to, among other things: The Rise of Hitler, World War Two, Faith, Utopia, Love, and Lost(as in the show, not actually being unable to find your way somewhere).
Take this quote, for example:
"Faith is something different from belief. Belief is the systematic taking of unanalysed words much too seriously. Paul's words, Mohammed's words, Marx's words, Hitler's words - people take them too seriously and what happens? What happens is the senseless ambivilence of history - sadism versus duty, or (incomparably worse) sadism as duty; devotion counterbalanced as organized paranoia; sisters of charity selflessly tending to the victims of their own church's inquisitors and crusaders. Faith, on the contrary, can never be taken too seriously. For Faith is the empirically justified confidence in our capacity to know who in fact we are, to forget the belief-intoxicated Manichee in Good Being. Give us this day our daily faith, but deliever us, dear God, from Belief."
If that does not serve as one of the most powerful, and thought provoking things you've ever read, keeping thinking about it. Trying to unpack it would take a doctoral thesis or two but the ideas are so overwhelmingly complex it is definitely worth considering.
That said, this book is a surprisingly easy read, as the prose flows from idea to idea. You will have to put this book down several times and just think about what you have read, but it is more than worth it.
And now for something completely different...

I recently discovered Breaking Bad and my first reaction was "what the hell took me so long?" This show features the best decent into evil since the Godfather and some of the finest acting performances since The Wire. The first thing that truly struck me about this show was the staggering performance of Bryan Cranston. This is a man who has completely reinvented himself at least three times that I know of. A friend reminded me he was the suave Tim Wattley on Seinfeld before I remembered him as the incomparable Hal on Malcolm in the Middle. I thought Malcolm was one of the most underrated and brilliant shows in the history of television and part of that was Cranston's peerless depiction of an overworked, underpaid father to four boys. Seriously, try watching Cranston teach his son to figure skate to the song Funky Town, and then try picturing him in any other role. That is part of what makes his role on Breaking Bad so incredible. He is Walter White, man with incurable lung cancer who just happens to cook the best meth on the planet. His slow reconciliation with the depths of the man he is rapidly becoming leaves behind one, simple question: "Why me?" Watch it, and you will not be disappointed by the best show on TV.

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