Nasty headcold, poisons everything. This is a bugs’ planet; always has been. We are but their latest and temporary vehicles; no arts, no letters, no society… Sorry, came over a bit John Gray there. I’ve been dipping into Straw Dogs lately, perhaps the most highbrow toilet book on the market, trying to remember what I thought about it. I’ve remembered now: Gray is brilliant at gutting popular truisms, but then often makes an unjustifiably strong claim himself. This creates an unusual effect: you read through each passage, many of which contain wonderful, pithily-expressed insights, nodding and thinking "hmmm, too true, too true… ooh he’s got us there… Egad! Touché Mr Gray…" but then at the end the overwhelming feeling is one of profound suspicion.
For one example relevant to the bugs' life point above, Gray slashes at the western notion of the coherent Self, arguing that a Taoist-style flow of impressions, experiences and contingencies is a truer representation of reality. But then he asserts, boldly and unequivocally, that the Self is an illusion. Well this may be true, but then it may not. It may be that we are simply not very good at recalling and ordering things clearly, leaving the impression of an incoherent flow of impressions, experiences and contingencies, and this is the illusion. And there may be countless other explanations and interpretations, each consistent with some sort of Self. And if there is no coherent Self, how come we are able to look back on our lives with such bitterness, resentment and regret, John Gray? There are many such over-confident assertions in the book – some much more obvious than this one. Might write about it later in the week.
That said, at times like this one feels there is something in his final, final conclusion – the purpose of our lives is just to see. With a poisonous headcold one yearns for nothing so much as to be a lonely goatherd, healthy and free of the bugs in the clean wild elements, watching the sun circle and the white snow turn red as strawberries in the summertime.