Monday, 30 May 2011

The Life of Pi

I have been meaning to post about this book for a while.

It won loads of prizes, and is a great book. If you haven't read it, you should.

It does throw up some interesting thoughts about post-modernism though. Without giving away the plot, the story is in two halves. The first of which features, amongst other things, the protagonist, Pi, engaging with a variety of religions (plus atheism), and choosing some parts of each to follow. The sense behind this, is that all religions are paths up the same mountain, that is, of trying to understand God. The religious teachers Pi meets all argue that Pi can't pick and choose which parts to follow. (I'd probably agree with their assessment, but Pi's view is a commonly held one, and so rather than looking at the religious arguments, I'd like to point out something about the, essentially post-modern, stance that Pi takes).

Pi's father suggests that there is no incentive to follow any one religion, since all the religions are equally true and un-true, and as Pi is happy following all three (four if you include atheism), it doesn't matter which is true. This is a commonly held view, and it plays out in the second half of the book.

This takes the form of Pi recalling an incredible and fantastic story at great length. At the end, when this story is questioned with incredulity, Pi tells another story which is more realistic, but less wonderful.

The reader is not told which version of the story is true. This is very in keeping with the post-modern attitude to religion, but, crucially, you come away wanting to know which was true. The answer of 'whichever you want to be true is the truth', just doesn't satisfy.

I wonder how much this reveals the flaw in post-modern thought? In theory a fluid concept of truth holds water, but in reality, we need to have something more concrete, more solid, more real to stand upon?

Occasional Rap Relief... The Reaction

As promised, JJ's response to his Birthday video. It's not as exciting as I'd hoped, but as it was promised - here you go. See the original post for lyrics, thanks, etc.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Occasional Rap Relief...

Yesterday was my housemate JJ's 23rd Birthday. I wrote him a rap. And recorded it. And made a video. Braap.

Raised in the jungle by a panther and a bear,
With all necessities for which a kid could care ,
In the laboratory in their underground lair
He gained all the skills to be the new leader of the nerds.

So he moved into the ghetto, where I was living on tea,
And he showed me how to make myself some toast with beans.
He taught Mozart the piano and Churchill how to speak,
Schooled Einstein on his theory, relatively.

Maybe you haven't seen, maybe you haven’t heard,
His name is JJ, he’s the king, the king of the nerds.

It’s rumoured he was bitten by a mutant spider,
With radioactive beats like Dr. Geiger.
In the daytime he wears clothes that his mum bought,
But by night he’s clad in lycra, no anorak or shorts

Red-hot chilli peppers are the only food he eats,
They give him strength to do incredible feats
At night he gets mad with crimes in his sleep,
Goes all Bruce Banner on the toilet seat.

Don’t be deceived by his geeky outer casing,
Believing such a lie and you’ll be most mistaken.
His knowledge of planes is more just than recreation,
He’s the brain behind the International Space Station.

His origin’s a mystery that bends space-time,
I found a Tardis in his wardrobe, but he said ‘That’s not mine’.
Half Maharaja, half rabbi, half mafia don,
He traced his family tree back to the Higgs Boson.

An enigma Bletchley Park just could not break,
The science master, geeky leader, nerd-erific sheikh.
Despite his bad-ass ways, he’s a bastion of virtue
Call him Jesus once, and that’s once too few.

A lot of in-jokes, but hopefully me dancing like a muppet will be fun for everyone. Thanks to Tim Kwant for the idea. Thanks to Pete, Tom, Max, Fiona, Nick, Tim, Hamish, JP, Sam, Mikey and Mozart for being such good sports.

Happy Birthday JayJ!