Saturday, January 07, 2012


Don't you just love it when you start reading a book, and you are arrested by something unexpected that confirms that this book is the book that you are meant to be reading right now? Synchronicity. Serendipity. Synthesis. I've run across those words somewhere, and I love it when that happens.

I just finished reading a book which was a dialogue on the nature of man--material only or is there a spiritual nature as well?

Moving right along, and (since it's still January) focusing on my planned reading for 2012, I decided to dip into Anna Karenina to see if that was the right book to read next. Within the first couple of chapters, I was drawn right into Tolstoy's world. His writing is so vivid. But within a few chapters, I stumbled over another discussion on the material vs. spiritual nature of man, accompanied by the identical question addressed by Jostein Gaarder: Is death the end of existence or not?
With him there was a well-known professor of philosophy, who had come from Harkov expressly to clear up a difference that had arisen between them on a very important philosophical question. The professor was carrying on a hot crusade against materialists. Sergey Kosnishev had been following this crusade with interest, and after reading the professor's last article, he had written him a letter stating his objections. He accused the professor of making too great concessions to the materialists. And the professor had promptly appeared to argue the matter out.
The main character at this point, Levin, is listening to the discussion and feels that they are arguing around the main question at hand, so he cuts to the chase.
But here it seemed to Levin that just as they were close upon the real point of the matter, they were again retreating, and he made up his mind to put a question to the professor.
"According to that, if my senses are annihilated, if my body is dead, I can have no existence of any sort?" he queried.
I nearly laughed out loud at the best answer the professor was able to make: We can't answer that because we don't have enough data.

Tolstoy is good stuff. When it comes to weaving together story and philosophy, he is the master.

This is definitely the right book for me, right now.


At 1:19 AM , Blogger Carol in Oregon said...

Oh, how you make me want to throw down my rags (I'm doing battle with soap scum), and pick up Anna K.

Don't you love, love, love that synchronicity of the reading life?

I especially love when a discussion, fact, or thought that I read in one book is picked up on the very next book I read.

Thank you for the wide grins this post provoked.


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