Saturday, November 26, 2011

Do You Believe in God?

My intention is not to spark a debate or to offend anyone with this post.  I  merely want to put down some (rather confused) thoughts after reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

The God Delusion is a very persuasive and compelling argument against religion, drawing from Darwin's Natural Selection and Human Biology, and has given me plenty of material to discuss with my partner and argue about!

I can't say that I have been a very religious person, but I'd like to think that there is more to life in a spiritual sense than what Dawkins is trying to prove.  It comes down to the age old question - why are we here?  We humans need a reason, we need something to believe in and something to hope for, otherwise what is it all for?  When we lose someone we love we live in hope that they will be waiting for us 'on the other side'.......

Dawkins argument is that religion is purely a way  for those in charge to control the masses, the fear that an almighty being can hear our innermost thoughts and the threat of eternal damnation was a good tool way back when, but in these enlightened times we should know better.  Indeed, I am the sort of person who needs proof to believe in something; I haven't had a religious experience - so I JUST DON'T KNOW - and Dawkins can even explain away some religious experiences.

The Crucifixion
How about Jesus Christ?  My opinion has always been that he was a misguided cult leader and Dawkins leans towards that direction too.  The Bible must be taken within the context of the time, you can't really take it literally with what we know today.  Some of the scriptures are quite appalling and include rape, violence and murder.  It is a handbook for warfare, and the same could be said of The Iliad but we haven't taken that literally and built a religion around it, so why do we hold such faith in The Bible?

Religion takes up a massive amount of money, time and energy, it creates so much guilt in people to the point that some are drawn to suicide.  Think of the lives that are lost in religious wars, honour killings, and martydom? Imagine how happy we could all be if there was no religion.  But, would we really be that happy with nothing to believe in?

I agree with much that Dawkins says, but I still can't shake the belief that there is something out there that is bigger than what we could possibly imagine or comprehend.  There is so much more that we don't know about our origins, but maybe that is my own indoctrination and Dawkins is right; but I sincerely hope not! 

I wonder though, if when the end is near for Dawkins, do you think that he may actually change his mind?

Just a thought.......


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Are You on my 2012 Reading List?

I will be dedicating 2012 to Independent authors (interspersed with some classics of course) in my search for the ultimate horror novel.  I plan on reading a minimum of 60 books next year, depending how much the classics slow me up!

My list so far consists of 34 novels (they are in no particular order):

Click Here: 2012 Reading List

This leaves me with 25 spots for an independent horror novel - do you want to be on my list? Send me a DM on Twitter @CaffeineChapter with the link to your book -  please note I am interested in horror novels only.  If you can offer your book for free it will go to the top of my list.  If I like the first chapter I will read the whole novel and leave a review on your preferred site.  Short horror stories are also welcome - the only criteria is to SCARE ME!

So, what are  you waiting for?!!


Friday, November 18, 2011

My Friend Batman

Jayden & Batman
I have just had the best five days.  A whirlwind visit from my daughter and my two grandsons, all the way from Western Australia, had me realising just how cool it is to hang out with a three and a half year old!  What joy he brought into my home, along with his ever smiling 7 month old brother.  My daughter is obviously doing something right to have such lovely children.  

There were so many funny moments courtesy of Jayden, but the highlight for all of us was when he met his hero Batman at Movie World here on the Gold Coast.  Batman even took the time to talk to Jayden during the end of day parade which totally brought tears to my eyes! I never thought Batman could be so cool :) Jayden was totally awestruck, especially after the Batman Show which had him shaking in his sandals it was so intense, and after he had his photo taken he just had to tell everyone about "my friend Batman". What a magical age three and a half is!

Happy Taj
And who could resist this little cutie? Taj was either eating or laughing. I don't think I've ever seen such a happy infant.  I'll miss out on seeing him crawl for the first time, but he was giving it a good shot whilst he was here.

All good things must come to an end and we said goodbye on Wednesday. Jayden left armed with his new Bat Cave that I couldn't resist buying him, and I've been left with some fantastic memories.  Now I'm counting down to Easter when I'll fly over for Taj's first birthday.

Hungry Taj
Being a Nana (albeit a far too young one lol!) is a truly wonderful experience, and I can highly recommend it. 

All this excitement hasn't left me much time to read this week, and I was ill for a couple of weeks prior, so I have a lot of reading to catch up on.  Plenty of recommendations are coming in via Twitter and my Kindle will be put to good use soon as I try a few Indie horror authors. Right now though I'm finishing off Dicken's Dombey and Sons (depressing), The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (compelling argument against religion) and Damned by Chuck Palahniuk (disappointing so far).

I'm up to Book 9 of The Iliad.  So, I'm off to bed now to spend some time with the Greeks and Trojans.

Happy Reading All!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

On First Looking into Chapman's Homer

George Chapman, 1559 - 1634
I have been thinking a bit about translated books, and often wonder do I love the author of this novel or the translator?  I was never quite sure and now I am even more unsure after switching from the audio version of Anna Karenina to my kindle version and the difference in writing is quite obvious.  I am really surprised.

I thought I loved Haruki Murakami but do I really  love Jay Rubin for The Wind-up Bird Chronicle or Philip Gabriel for Kafka on the Shore?  Maybe Koji Suzuki's The Spiral was an okay novel and I just didn't like Glynne Walley's writing style (though the story was so ridiculous that I can't believe that it did get 'lost in translation').

What is the criteria when translating a novel? Is it like the X-Factor where you pick a song and then 'make it your own?'  Can I really say I love Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy - have I REALLY REALLY read them?  It's a subject that I actually wish I hadn't started thinking about!!

My latest translated read, apart from Anna Karenina, is of course Homer's The Iliad.  I'm on Book Six now and can honestly say that I look forward to lying in bed of an evening, reading the study guide notes for the verses I'm to read and then just reveling in the language.  My version is George Chapman's, and although there are many other later translations that may be easier to read, I think I will continue with this one.  The poet Keats was so taken with what he had read by Chapman that he wrote a sonnet about it and I want to read that version which so inspired him. 

Keats, 1795 - 1821
On First Looking into Chapman's Homer
 Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
 And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
 Round many western islands have I been
 Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
 Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
 That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
 Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
 Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
 Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
 When a new planet swims into his ken;
 Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
 He star'd at the Pacific — and all his men
 Look'd at each other with a wild surmise —
 Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

                                         John Keats, 1816

I would love to know your thoughts on the best and worst of translated novels and translators.

Happy Reading All.