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Neal Stephenson, Anathem - Required BBS reading?

Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by PatsFanInVa, Dec 30, 2010.

  1. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I know, it's a pipe dream. But Anathem has a lot to teach us about rhetoric. Often the observations of the rationalist "monastery" about the outside world, and the stereotypes that the outside world applies to those who are dedicated to reason, are recapitulated virtually word-for-word on these boards.

    By the way, I'm in the first quarter of the book. The very rational protagonist has just has an insight as to the similarity between two supposedly antithetical interpretations of their founder's vision.

    In one, it's said that he saw a particular arrangement in the daytime sky - sun shining through a slit in the clouds - that made him understand that all the geometric forms he used in stonecarving were rough approximations of (basically) a platonic form. The other interpretation of his vision was that he saw the gods themselves should be worshipped, not the idols that represent them. Seems he's sort of Plato and Abraham in one character, and his two daughters interpreted him different ways.

    So the stage seems set (at this point in my reading) for him to bridge what appears to be a divide between the religious and rationalist worlds. Some good politics there, if ya ask me.

    If nothing else, I love his coining of the word "deolator," the word the rationalists use for people chasing after gods at the expense of reason - the English echo, of course, is "idolator."

    Anybody read this? Anybody intrigued?
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2010
  2. Harry Boy

    Harry Boy Look Up, It's Amazing PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Little deep for me.
  3. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Sure Harry. We know you're actually a 26-year-old Harvard grad student doing your thesis on creation and perpetuation of an internet persona. Or possibly a bot written by a guy doing his PhD in information science, trying to prove that you can write a bot sufficiently complex to be indistinguishible from a human intelligence, if that human intelligence is sufficiently stunted by right populism.
  4. Harry Boy

    Harry Boy Look Up, It's Amazing PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I tried that once when I was mowing my lawn.

    :bricks:
  5. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I don't believe you ever mowed your lawn until I see your BIRTH CERTIFICATE

    WHAT ARE YOU HIDING?
  6. State

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    #70 Jersey

    I recently cracked open his _Cryptonomican_. I only have made it a third of the way, before going on to other projects. I loved the Pearl Harbor sequence that's early in the book.

    I'm impressed by Neal Stephenson like Instapundit.

    Currently I'm engrossed by Jeffrey Meyers's biography on Samuel Johnson.
  7. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I liked Crypronomicon, have no knowledge about Instapundit... actually made it through the Baroque Cycle.

    I do like that he can handle big ideas, cool little details, and interesting plot and fairly interesting characters. If I have one problem with him though, he's not very good at making the reader feel a damned thing LOL... operates much more on the level of "wow, that's interesting" than "my God, how could mere words on a page evoke such [pathos/horror/joy/your emotion here]"

    I can't really describe what kind of person any of his characters are, not very accurately. That's not true of good character-writers.

    But no single writer can excel at everything
  8. State

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    #70 Jersey

    Instapundit, my homepage, is law professor at the University of Tennesse at Knoxville, Glenn Reynolds's must-read blog.

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