PHIL/GEEK/PHIL


1984 : was it so long ago ?
December 6, 2008, 12:58 pm
Filed under: Books | Tags: ,

I just finished my “second” reading of George Orwell’s 1984 (my first was 15 years ago, when I was just 12 — and I realize now it was a comic book adaptation!) and I have to say I’m stunned by how good this novel is.  Orwell’s style is a crazy blend of wit, suspense and penmanship that is rarely found. Usually, one has to sacrifice pace for style, or suspence for deepness. But not here. Orwell carfts a story so compelling and thrilling, while provoking an explosion of neurones in your brain.

It must not be surprising for anyone reading this post to learn that this book is  simply one of the best works of science fiction (science fiction, really?) ever written.  Drop the Science, let me also say it’s probably one of the best works of fiction! The story surprises you at every turn, but not in a thriller kind of way. It just takes unexpected philosophical turns, with long moments of reflection, pondering on society and how we function as human beings.

Frankly, I’m a bit freaked out by the book, because so much of what he was talking about, back in the 50s, is now common practice. Apart from the totalitarian aspect of it, we can argue that society today is governed by single, extreme ideas that aim at making everyone similar and devoid of originality.

I don’t want to talk about it more than that. All I will say is that this is a must-read and you should get your copy ASAP.

PS: I’m told the film adaptation is terrific. So that’s my next step. Watch out for an update on this blog.

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Blindness
October 23, 2008, 10:52 am
Filed under: Books, Movies | Tags: , , , , ,

I read Jose Saramago’s novel, Blindness, recently and was blown away. Rarely has a novel moved me so much. It sheds light on the state of the human condition today like no other book or film I’ve read. It’s a perfect allegory of how incontrolably lost the human race has become, locked in a  vicious system that is forcing it to lose its humanity day after day…

The biggest strength of this book is that it never takes a melodramatic approach, despite it describing a very dramatic situation : the entire world going blind for no apparent reason ! You would think that, with a story like this, that features violence, excrement, loss of dignity, death, etc. you would get some strings playing in the background. Well, there are no strings here. Instead, we get a borderline ironic narrator, who describes the situation like he’s watching an ant try to climb a wall. and it works like a charm.

Saramago’s style is unique, intelligent and innovative. The character he depicts have no name, no face, no vision. Saramago knows human nature, he understands how we function and he depicts it with a scary precision. By the end of the book, we almost feel that he’s talking about our wretched sould, rather than some fictional characters in a fiction city.

My only reservation would be the final quarter of the book, that drags a little. But the final few pages are so eye-opening and philosophically rich, that I understand why Saramago felt like a little break was required.

A great read.

Note : Jose Saramago won the novel prize for litterature.

***

A movie was also made recently, based on this supposedly inadaptable book. I saw it, and actually liked it. I think it was missing some of the wit of the book, but it made sure that melodrama was pushed aside and left space for pure observation. The look of the film was stunning (cinematographer Cesar Charlone had already impressed me with his work on The Pope’s Toilet) and adds to the experience. The cast, headed by Julianne Moore, found a way to internalize the characters and bring them to life. Overall, I don’t think the film is a masterpiece, but is worth checking out. Mainstream reviews are unfair (mostly because of the huge anticipation surrounding the movie) and I would suggest ignoring them.



Seth
June 26, 2008, 4:42 pm
Filed under: Books | Tags: , , , ,

Almost 4 years after discovering his drawings on Aimee Mann’s Lost in space cover art, I stumbled upon a Seth graphic novel at Drawn& Quarterly bookstore in Montreal. I was stunned to find it, as I was looking for that artist for a while, never finding anything in other bookstores. Luckily Drawn is his publisher and never run out of copies 🙂 And he’s Canadian (from ontario) ! I was not expecting that at all.

All that to say that I discovered what may very well be my favorite comic artist since Daniel Clowes. They both have this down-to-earth, pessimistic approach to everyday life, with jolts of tiny happy moments. I totally relate to that way of thought and these comics really speak to me.

I would strongly recommend the one I’m reading now, before even finishing it. It’s called “It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken”. Find it, buy it and thank me later.