Archive for December, 2010

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What Dreams May Come

December 31, 2010

A quack you say?!  More like a benevolently evil manipulator!  (Can one be benevolently evil?  Haber can!) Oh dear something is rotten in the state of Oregon…and it’s the shady doings of Dr. Haber.  I think that it’s even more ominous that he thinks that he’s doing good.  When he raises his glass of Scotch at the end of Chapter five, shivers went down my spine.

This book is surprisingly scary.  It’s like the Black Swan of classic sci-fi.  You go in thinking that you’re seeing a nice movie about dancing (in the Black Swan portion of this analogy) and then BAM! you find yourself in the middle a full throttle horror picture.  I was expecting weirdness, but not the strange sense of dread this book instills in the reader.  One dream and Orr….remind me later and I’ll finish that sentence (I don’t want to spoil the story for you…but its way creepy).

Last night I started to think “Maybe I have the ability to change the course of the world with my dreams….maybe my dreams are shifting the present and no one knows!”  Then I looked around and realized that I wasn’t, and indeed never was, the fifth roommate of the Golden Girls and that I didn’t have a crime solving cat and realized that that possibility was, in fact, highly unlikely.

Moral of story:  Don’t read Lathe of Heaven late at night.

We’re in the home stretch of my hundred book goal…two days left, five books to go…I’m well into multiple titles…so I may still make it.  I’ll keep you posted.

Happy New Year!

Jon

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Quack, Quack

December 19, 2010

Q: What sort of doctor is Dr. Haber?
A: A quack.

Perhaps, I am being a bit hasty in my judgements here, but after reading Chapter 2, I think if I found myself in Orr’s position I would run (not walk) out of treatment with Dr. Haber. Now far from being an expert in the field of psychiatric medicine here are a few “Red Flags” that instantly jumped out at me from Haber and Orr’s first session:

1.) Haber refers to himself in the third person “oh, yes, sure, Dr. Haber, that’s a snap!” (He does know he’s Dr. Haber, right?)
2.) He refers to his office as “Dr. Haber’s Palace of Dreams.” (Creepy.)
3.) His main therapeutic device in an electric mind control device–it’s sort of like a futuristic variation of Suddenly, Last Summer
4.) Does he hypnotize Orr or does he perform some non-copyrighted version of the Vulcan Death Grip on him?
5.) His office either has a **wall sized** photo of Mount Hood or a robust race horse as its central design feature (oh, I mean except for the huge quarter-room-sized mind control device.)

It’s enough to make me rethink my earlier assessment of Charles Bovary as the most inept medical practitioner in fiction.

Aside from Dr. Haber’s questionable therapeutic strategies, I am really a fan of this book. I like the sort of Twilight Zone-y feel that things are similar to our world, but just slightly (and menacingly) different. Also, the idea that Orr changes the trajectory of life through his dreams is really interesting.

I have to admit that your child-like enthusiasm at finally finding a reference to a lathe in the book was contagious. To celebrate I found a piece of timber and knurled it.

Another nagging question: Why is “Antwerp” the hypnotic trigger? Why not Bruges? I guess it’s the unanswered questions that will keep me reading.

Justin

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Enter The Lathe

December 16, 2010

Ohmigosh ohmigosh ohmigosh!  The first lathe sighting…and it came in the most unexpected of places–the little quotation opener of Chapter 3!  Leave it to Chuang Tse…in case you’re skipping over those parts here it is:

Those whom heaven helps we call the sons of heaven.  They do not learn this by learning.  They do not work it by working.  They do not reason it by using reason.  To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment.  Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven.

It’s here…and it’s scary!

I think I’m going to reach my “high attainment” here by acknowledging that I don’t understand that paragraph.  I understand all those words individually, but in that order…bubkes to me.  I mean how can you reason without using reason?

Who is Chuang Tse anyhow…time for some research!  Ohh!  Hmmm!  This is interesting…according to Wikipedia he’s a Chinese philosopher whose philosophy was “skeptical, arguing that life is limited and knowledge to be gained is unlimited. To use the limited to pursue the unlimited, he said, was foolish.”

That may come in handy later…

So after Chapter 3 I’m wondering…what do we think about Haber (please note the dream he causes Orr to have in which the racehorse defecates Mount Hood…I think that deserves an “I told you so”.)  Is he trying to help Orr, or (ha!) now that he knows of the power of Orr’s dreams is he going to exploit that power for nefarious purposes?  I can’t decide…but I think there’s something lurking beneath the Charmin Bear exterior of the good doctor.

Personal (slightly sad) Grow-up Bookit update…87 books!  That means 13 books in 16 days! (I’m not overly optimistic…but maybe! [but probably not]–I’ll keep you posted).

Off to read more!

Jon

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Bernoulli’s Principle

December 11, 2010

How appropriate that you mention Bernoulli’s Principle! Because the “moving air” of your post is putting “low pressure” on me to post again!  I had intentions of posting earlier this week…but I got distracted with library books, Christmas shopping, and, if I’m completely, honest Gossip Girl reruns.  Damn you Serena Van der Woodsen for the hours of my life you’ve caused me to squander!

Anyway I’m currently snowed into my condo so I decided it would be good to make some more headway into Lathe.

The premise is trippy…the fact that Orr’s dreams change the present, as opposed to the more expected future (although their present is the future..I’m never going to get tired of pointing out the timeline hijinkery) is a nice twist.

After two chapters, still no lathe. But I’m beginning to get the feeling that the lathe is (disappointingly) metaphoric.  I.e. Orr’s dreams is the “lathe of heaven” (because it shapes the present).  We’ll see…but if there’s no actual lathe-type hardware I’m not going to be a happy camper.

On a completely unrealted note…Did Haber refer to the race horse, Tammany Hall, as a “life-size sex symbol”?  Orr fears societal disapproval because he didn’t “seal the deal” with his Auntie–what kind of sexual mores exist in this crazy hippie sci-fi adventure?!?

If the snow persists you may have another post tomorrow!

Until then…

Antwerp.

Jon

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Twice-Read Tales

December 6, 2010

My thoughts after reading Chapter 1 the first time:

“??????”

So as is typically the case when my thought are solely punctuation after reading something the first time, I read it again. This opening a treasure trove of insight! My thoughts on reading Chapter 1 the second time:

“??????….hey cool, he has a balloon bed. I am not sure what’s going on with the jellyfish, but a balloon bed…Ursula Le Guin, now you’re speaking my language.”

After reading chapter 1 twice I needed a break. I’d like to tell you I was meditating on the metaphoric possibilities of the jellyfish and what implications it may have on the narrative as a whole. Are we supposed to identify with this translucent stinger from the sea? But in reality, I got distracted by another book (on a side note I highly recommend The Life and Opinions of Maf, the Dog, and his Friend, Marilyn Monroe.)

Now, if my prolonged silence will only encourage more travels in world of science with Jon, well, expect me to become the Harpo Marx of our brother act. (I may honk a horn, but I won’t say a word.) Why Twin Brother,  your explication of the Haber-Bosch process was as entertaining as it was enlightening. If you’re taking requests for flashing your pin-sharp scientific acumen perhaps you could tackle that constant head scratcher, Bernoulli’s Principle. (I feel like that’s really the only thing standing between me and a firm grasp of fluid dynamics…well, that and knowing exactly what fluid dynamics actually is–I sort of assume it has to do with liquids.)

But I digress,  as far as the book goes, consider my  ol’ reading shoes laced up and ready to race.

Later gator,

Justin

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A Quick Note on the Haber Process

December 3, 2010

Or if you prefer the Haber-Bosch Process.

But I’m getting ahead of myself….I knew that you’d read the first chapter, so I’ve been waiting for you to introduce some thoughts on this book that you’ve picked out.  I waited and I waited…and all I got was silence.  So I’ve decided to forego good manners and dive into the first post engaging with this book’s content. (As opposed to my last post where I largely engaged with the book’s title)

Engaging with Chapter 1 — What the?!?  At least it was short.

Engaging with Chapter 2 — I think this book takes place in the future (which funnily enough, since this book was written in the past, appears to be the present–or at least the near future).  I was struck that the therapist’s name was Haber.  Because this is science fiction that automatically made me think, of course, of the Haber Process (or as I said…Haber-Bosch).  Since my Introduction to Chemistry skills were a little rusty (what’s titration?…oh right, I never need to know that again.) I had to go look up what exactly this scientific process was.  According to Wikipedia it a process used to create ammonia…which is used to produce fertilizer.  So needless to say I’ve decided that the therapist, Haber, in this book will be producing a lot of s**t (or “fertilizer“).

And I think the protagonist (Orr) will be good at hockey.

Witty Le Guin, very witty.

So far (10 pages in) I’m liking it…not really sure what’s what, but I enjoy the writing.  Here’s a nice passage:

“Good afternoon, Mr. Orr!” he said, rising, smiling, but not extending his hand, for many patients these days had a strong dread of physical contact.

The patient uncertainly withdrew his almost-proffered hand, fingering his necklace nervously, and said, “How do you do.”

That’s a nice moment…I’m excited to see what LeGuin brings next.

Lathe Watch: 10 pages in and not a lathe in sight.

I just recalculated and my yearly book count has now reached 81….so get your reading hat on and your blogging boots laced up!  I need this book to be one of my December nineteen!

Reading, reading.  Doing nothing but reading!

Jon