Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fate & Philosophy

Fate & Philosophy

By Jim Flynn

Emeritus Professor Jim Flynn brought us The Torchlight List a couple of years ago - his recommended reading list to give a broad taste of literature, and life. Fate & Philosophy is the second book in what is to be his Modern World , the purpose of which is to get people to think about their place in the world. Flynn hasn't taught philosophy but is passionate about it and sees it as very personal. So this book very much reflects his beliefs, but also gives an overview of the beliefs of others. As he puts it in one chapter,

'Today is my seventy-seventh birthday, so it has taken me sixty-five years to replace Catholicism with a personal philosophy I can live with.'

In the book he looks at the big questions such as 'what is good?' Is it moral reality or language that tells us what is good, or economics, or ourselves? 'What is possible?' 'What exists?' And what tells us what exists? Religion? Science? Instruments? Or our own sensory experience? Does God exist?

In writing this book Flynn is trying to get us to think beyond what we have been told or brought up to believe by our parents, or religion, or society. To question what we thoughtlessly accept.

I did not find it an easy read, in fact for me there was quite a bit of mental gymnastics and re-reading required - but that probably says more about me than the book. I have no background in philosophy and a little knowledge would have been handy. In saying that, I am glad I read this book, in fact I will re-read it to help digest some of the argument. In this reader Jim Flynn has certainly achieved his aim, in getting me to think more about my perceptions of the world and my place in it. An interesting and challenging read.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Death in The Clouds

Death in the Clouds (1935)
by Agatha Christie.

I've been doing some nostalgia reading lately, as part of my ongoing fascination of all things Ngaio Marsh, I am reading works by her fellow Queens Of Crime, Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham and Dorothy Sayers.

Death in the Clouds is a locked room murder mystery, a locked room ten thousand feet in the air! Hercule Poirot happens to be one of the passengers on the airliner Prometheus traveling from Le Bourget to Croydon when the flight takes a deadly turn and Madame Giselle, in seat number two, is discovered to be dead, not sleeping. Poison is declared to be the cause, but not just any poison, poison delivered with a blow pipe. Suspicion falls on everyone, including M Poirot.

This was an entertaining read, and worth it just to see how different air travel was in the nineteen thirties - sitting at tables, bone china cups and saucers, sets of fish knives and forks laid out and sharp objects allowed. Those were the days...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rewards for good (?) behaviour

For me the holy grail of Kitchenotopia has been the Kitchen Aid. Every time I've had a new novel come out I've promised myself I'll get one, but then, have baulked at the rather hefty price tag. Then this week, while sitting at home, full of a cold and feeling slightly sorry for myself I thought, I've got five novels out now - why the *%@# haven't I got that Kitchen Aid yet...

One hour later...

I am in loooooove, and why on earth didn't I do this after book number one?!!!!!

So far we have made five loaves of bread and a batch of bread rolls, plain meringues, chocolate and toasted coconut meringues and minced beef for homemade hamburgers. And we haven't even had it a week yet!

Of course, you'll be saying, why are you baking when you should be writing, Vanda? It's all a creative process, isn't it? This one is just a damn tasty one.

Let me leave you with the loaf of the day...