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Oblarg
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:52 pm 
 

failsafeman wrote:
A big part of it is also how a lie, with an emphasis on fabricated history, if believed by enough people and acted upon as if true, can basically become true. There's the part at the end for example where the different "sects" of secret societies believe the fabrication that they're all descended from the same secret society of Templars, and then actually "reunify" as one big secret society. It makes me think of how a lot of nationalism was and is founded on a heavily edited past which co-opts historical figures and cultures and blends them into a single fabricated identity convenient to the situation. Like how Mussolini constantly referenced ancient Romans, and the Greeks and Macedonians were bickering over essentially "ownership" of fucking Alexander the Great. It's grade-A bullshit, but it's bullshit that got actual people to rally around their respective flags. So in that regard, the importance of ethical and honest treatment of history is illustrated by showing what happens when it's treated too flippantly.


Oh, certainly. But it's also important to note that the Plan didn't "gradually" leak out into reality.
Spoiler: show
Rather, Belbo makes the pretty big mistake of explicitly taunting Aglié with it, in a fit of jealousy - prior to that, it was entirely "contained."
Many of the analyses out there make it seem as if there's some sort of mysterious transition from fabrication to reality that can't be explained in any commonsense way, when Eco himself seems to spend an awful lot of time mocking precisely that kind of thinking.

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Anyway it's a complex book with a lot of themes going on and a lot of conclusions that can be drawn. I like that Eco left its "message", if there even is one, very much open to interpretation.


All of Eco's works seem to be pretty multifaceted and deep; he was pretty explicit about his belief that "closed texts" with few viable readings are the least-interesting. One reading that occurs to me as particularly interesting is as an attack on post-structuralism/lazy semiotics - the notion that, if one adopts the habit of torturing contrived webs of meaning out of effectively-unrelated elements, one will eventually lose the ability to distinguish between that and genuine hermeneutics.
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failsafeman
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:14 am 
 

Right, there's the scene where the main character's wife (I read the book almost 10 years ago, their actual names escape me) goes over all of his research, which he himself has started to believe by that point, and then spends a few pages breaking down exactly why the whole thing is based on nonsense and confirmation bias. It's a great scene because the reader (at least in my case) has started to actually believe the whole conspiracy theory is true, and then there's Eco basically saying "no, even within the world of this book, it's ridiculous to believe it's true."
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Oblarg
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 12:11 pm 
 

failsafeman wrote:
Right, there's the scene where the main character's wife (I read the book almost 10 years ago, their actual names escape me) goes over all of his research, which he himself has started to believe by that point, and then spends a few pages breaking down exactly why the whole thing is based on nonsense and confirmation bias. It's a great scene because the reader (at least in my case) has started to actually believe the whole conspiracy theory is true, and then there's Eco basically saying "no, even within the world of this book, it's ridiculous to believe it's true."


I felt Eco was an absolute master of keeping the novel right on the line where things continually happen that are contrived enough to make it intensely frustrating for the reader to write them off as coincidence, yet still only rationally explicable as such. It's a lot like what he did with The Name of the Rose, except this time he's putting the reader in the situation that William was in. It's very effective. It really says something about the way our brains crave meaning, even to an extent where we see it when it's not there (the same way we see constellations in effectively-random arrangements of stars).
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Thiestru
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 1:58 pm 
 

So I finally decided to give Jane Austen a chance, after thinking for years that the phrase 'novel of manners' could only entail ball-crushing boredom, and it turns out that I'm glad I did. To wit, I'm reading Sense and Sensibility, which, while not exciting at all, is quite entertaining, and features top-notch characterization. But when I think of it, action has never been one of the chief things I seek in a book; hell, one of my favorite chapters in The Lord of the Rings (which is my favorite book of all time) is 'The Council of Elrond', which is nothing more than a bunch of folks sitting around talking. Anyway, as with many books, one of the biggest attractions for me to this novel is the writing (although Austen overuses the word 'approbration'). I love 18th and 19th century writing; it has a class that modern novels too often sorely lack.
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TheConqueror1
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 9:28 pm 
 

I've recently (because it was extremely difficult) abandoned reading Twilight of the Idols by Nietzsche. I'm at the moment reading Dostoyevsky's Notes from the Underground and the Double. Notes from the Underground was very pretentious at the beginnig but started getting better as I read throughout the novella.
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BeholdtheNicktopus
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 3:08 am 
 

I've finished Poe's complete stories, moving on now to the Elric saga. I read the Swords trilogy by Moorcock in high school and really loved it. I hope Elric is as good! Of course I have to listen to Domine while reading.

Also, I hesitate to call this literature, but I'm giving a go at Hegel's Science of Logic... hoo boy. I forgot how wild this stuff is. I think that Hegel may be a bizarro Neoplatonist deformed by protestant modernity. Maybe my favorite modern philosopher (along with Badiou and Bergson).
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TheConqueror1
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 7:35 pm 
 

I was at Barnes & Nobles last week and they actually had a copy of Mein Kampf by Hitler. I thought it was kind of taboo, you know? Has anyone ever read the book? It can't all be about bashing Jewish people in a sense.
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InnesI
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:07 am 
 

TheConqueror1 wrote:
I was at Barnes & Nobles last week and they actually had a copy of Mein Kampf by Hitler. I thought it was kind of taboo, you know? Has anyone ever read the book? It can't all be about bashing Jewish people in a sense.


I listened to it several years ago as an audio book and its fine. Some people have said its written so badly that its hardly readable. I think that's just projecting a feeling towards his ideas and what they led to. The book is written fine and I think he is quite clear in explaining his views. Much of it is about the Jews and he tries to explain his stance. But of course its not only about the Jews either. If you're interested in the ideas behind the NSDAP I think it is essential reading in the same way "The Communist Manifesto" is essential reading if you are interested in Marxism or "The Social Contract" by Rousseau to understand the ideas of the enlightenment.

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TheConqueror1
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 8:42 pm 
 

Just finished Notes from the Underground and The Double by Dostoevsky. Both novellas were good.
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InnesI
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2019 6:11 am 
 

TheConqueror1 wrote:
Just finished Notes from the Underground and The Double by Dostoevsky. Both novellas were good.


I have read Notes From the Underground as well. I thought it was good. I very much did prefer the first part of the book before he went into the actual anecdotal story that is told in the second part though.

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TheConqueror1
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 7:26 pm 
 

I'm thinking about reading Bram Stoker's Dracula. Is it a good read?
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iamntbatman
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 10:56 pm 
 

Yeah, it's a solid read. Not jaw-dropping or anything, but still quite good.
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MARSDUDE
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 3:11 am 
 

TheConqueror1 wrote:
I'm thinking about reading Bram Stoker's Dracula. Is it a good read?


Good to see where today's vampires began in popular culture. Obviously writing has come a long way since then, so don't expect to actually be terrified or thrilled.

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Thiestru
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 2:20 pm 
 

@MARSDUDE: Yeah, writing has come a long way since then - downhill. Dracula is an excellent book, TheConqueror1, and you should definitely read it.
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Razakel
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 3:28 pm 
 

Thiestru wrote:
@MARSDUDE: Yeah, writing has come a long way since then - downhill. Dracula is an excellent book, TheConqueror1, and you should definitely read it.


Honestly I can't agree with this. Dracula is definitely worth reading to appreciate its influence, but there are better Gothic horror books out there, like Frankenstein, which is a hundred times better.

For me, Dracula loses almost all of its momentum after the first few chapters which take place in Dracula's castle. The rest just turns into a bit of a slog. It's like one of those frustrating albums with an awesome opening track that the rest fails to live up to. That opening section is filled with atmosphere and tension, and then when it's finished the book just starts going downhill and never really picks up again. There are still memorable moments later on, and Van Hellsing is a cool character, but eh, it really begins to peter out for me fairly early.

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Earthcubed
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 9:50 pm 
 

I agree that the scenes in Transylvania are the best part of the work. I didn't find it amazing but it's worth a read.

InnesI wrote:
If you're interested in the ideas behind the NSDAP I think it is essential reading in the same way "The Communist Manifesto" is essential reading if you are interested in Marxism or "The Social Contract" by Rousseau to understand the ideas of the enlightenment.


Minor quibble here--the manifesto is the one most people in the West are familiar with or have heard of, but Capital was arguably more influential worldwide. For one thing, the tsar's censor banned the manifesto outright for obvious reasons but didn't initially ban Capital, thus it circulated quite freely in Russia and had more impact. Apparently, the censor thought it a purely scientific work rather than a political treatise, and also thought it too confusing for peasant Russia to make much use out of it. Many of the revolutionaries in the world's first communist state probably had never read the manifesto yet had read Capital.

But yeah, one shouldn't be knocked for reading a work of Marx or Hitler for historical or educational reasons. That shouldn't be taboo.
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InnesI
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 3:44 am 
 

Earthcubed wrote:
Minor quibble here--the manifesto is the one most people in the West are familiar with or have heard of, but Capital was arguably more influential worldwide. For one thing, the tsar's censor banned the manifesto outright for obvious reasons but didn't initially ban Capital, thus it circulated quite freely in Russia and had more impact. Apparently, the censor thought it a purely scientific work rather than a political treatise, and also thought it too confusing for peasant Russia to make much use out of it. Many of the revolutionaries in the world's first communist state probably had never read the manifesto yet had read Capital.


Very true. And I probably said it (maybe unconsciously) because I haven't read The Capital.

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Thiestru
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 12:35 pm 
 

Razakel wrote:
Thiestru wrote:
@MARSDUDE: Yeah, writing has come a long way since then - downhill. Dracula is an excellent book, TheConqueror1, and you should definitely read it.


Honestly I can't agree with this. Dracula is definitely worth reading to appreciate its influence, but there are better Gothic horror books out there, like Frankenstein, which is a hundred times better.

For me, Dracula loses almost all of its momentum after the first few chapters which take place in Dracula's castle. The rest just turns into a bit of a slog. It's like one of those frustrating albums with an awesome opening track that the rest fails to live up to. That opening section is filled with atmosphere and tension, and then when it's finished the book just starts going downhill and never really picks up again. There are still memorable moments later on, and Van Hellsing is a cool character, but eh, it really begins to peter out for me fairly early.


I understand your opinion, and I agree that the beginning of the book is the best part. Frankenstein is indeed a very good book, but I still prefer Dracula. I just like the titular character of the latter better, although that of the former is a superb example of a tragic figure. Happily, we live in a world where we can take both books, and not omit either. :)

The other day I got David Copperfield and Hard Times, both by Dickens, and both for free. I'm reading the former now, and enjoying it, but I do find that Dickens here is guilty of over-writing. He and Tolstoy have that in common. But as he has more strengths than weaknesses, I haven't given up on this book yet.

I also recently read Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, which I expected to be ball-crushingly boring. I was wrong. If you don't depend on action to sustain you through a story, you could do a lot worse than giving Austen a chance; she's exceptionally good at characterization. I though a so-called 'novel of manners' must needs be doomed to insipidity on the very premises, but it wasn't. If you're even a bit curious about Jane Austen, I recommend this book to you. I'm led to understand that it's not even her best book, which bodes well for future prospects.
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Nahsil
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 3:23 pm 
 

Jane Austen is one of those writers I thought was basically "chick flick" in written form, but yeah she's actually great.
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TheConqueror1
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 8:16 pm 
 

At the moment, I'm reading R.A. Salvatore's Homeland and it's very entertaining.
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