Reading (& Writing) Catch-Up Jan 2020

Happy New Year everyone, just the one resolution here.
Not posted since November and not read much either.
Kinda(*) stalled I guess.

Work got serious in a shift from planning & requirements gathering to funding & implementation, so I’m distracted by the day-job – in a good way, for all the right reasons – and several half-completed reads / reviews got neglected. That and the dire doom and gloom left by UK GE 2019. Five more years of bloody #Brexit in prospect (still say it’s never gonna happen, except in face-saving-BINO “Brexit-in-name-only”). Actually only blogged 60-odd times in 2019, less than half the least year since I started in 2001 – mostly, in recent years, because so much more interaction happens directly on social-media, Twitter mainly in my case.

Been sticking pretty close to the Trans vs TERF battleground because it contains all the “it’s complicated” elements. Totally misguided reductive science-based “rights” campaigning agendas on the one side, real caring humanity on the other. Graham Linehan is on the right side of it, like Lewis Moonie, J K Rowling and Martina Navratilova, and Glinner’s made it his business for some time to fight this one to a conclusion, with his comedy writing career on hold. All power to his elbow. [Quite a large movement now using the hash-tag #BanGlinner in an ironic support for his free-speech.] Anyway, it’s grist to my mill on identity in philosophical realism, if I can ever do it justice.

I said I owed Philip Goff a more positive review after my fuller read, but ultimately I remained on the disappointed side. Close but no cigar.
[* Post Note – got to meet & hear Goff speak on Thursday at a meeting of the North-East Humanists. Even more convinced there is barely a cigarette paper between him and Dennett, though he doesn’t see it yet. Didn’t want to make that the main topic of – mainly linguistic – difference, when so far as I can see they are both making the same philosophical point about the damage being done by “scientism”. Much more important that humanist / rationalist / sceptic types understand the materialist error at the root of science. (Kinda / sorta are part of Dennett’s lexicon, when dealing with topics whose choice of words carry baggage that gets in the way of shared understanding – hold your definition he says, until you’ve progressed your dialogue constructively at the kinda / sorta level.)]

I read Timothy Sandefur’s biography “The Ascent of Jacob Bronowksi. Very good, highly recommended as a much needed biography, especially since the death of Bruno’s daughter Lisa Jardine meant her much anticipated memoir is now left incomplete. New to me was the amount of his philosophical thinking, ultimately foundering on disappointing idealistic naivety, but much of it along the right lines, Close but no cigar again. I have so many notes & highlights to feed into that particular mill.

Between Christmas and New Year, I’ve been reading Lionel Davidson’s “Kolymsky Heights“. Reading it because nonagenarian Mum, studying Russian literature under U3A, was disappointed to find it was a modern (1994) thriller. After previously underestimating Lee Child and Jack Reacher (courtesy of Andy and Heather Martin), (and Dan Brown’s “Origin), I thought I’d give it a go. It has amazingly positive review quotes in the cover blurbs, not least Philip Pullman’s “the best thriller I’ve ever read”. ?!? Man, it is the most tedious stereotypical garbage, with only the Asian / Siberian geographical detail to redeem it. James Bond meets Ice Station Zebra. I’ll finish it(*), if only to meta-understand the plot itself and its narrative structure, but it’s going to be a slog.

[(*) Finished it, and it didn’t improve. Reasonably exciting chase, will-he-won’t-he escape closing scenes with plenty of violent confusion requiring an epilogue to explain the outcome – spoiler – he survives and gets the girl with no discernible twist(s) – yawn.]

On the other hand, great to see Wendy Pirsig donated Bob’s Honda CB77 and related archive materials to the Smithsonian, and they published a piece on his philosophical motorcycle road trip. It was the highlight of an otherwise disappointing year in efforts to establish Bob’s legacy.

Pirsig’s writing may be more important now than ever.”

As the clinical psychiatrist advised Bob all those years ago, I’m going to stop reading and just bloody write something. This time, it starts with a resolution to quit the two decades of dithering between the textbook and the narrative fiction … I’m on it. I am resolved.

3 thoughts on “Reading (& Writing) Catch-Up Jan 2020”

  1. I’m with you on the Lewis Carroll-like weirdness of the trans-v-TERF debate, if only because the militant trans side are demanding the routine denial of obvious empirical truths, and if you give in to such demands you’re already down the rabbit hole.

    I own up to being on the panpsychism side of the debate, but my motivation is primarily evolutionary. How could evolution create consciousness from dead matter? There must have been at least something, however incipient, proto-conscious, etc. to work on and select for. But I’ll take your hint and acquaint myself with Whitehead…

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