10.07.2009

Capsule Review (0XY & 1XY)

Library: an Unquiet History by Matthew Battles (0XY), was actually very interesting. Overwritten and laggy, but pretty interesting. I enjoyed some of the anecdotes about biblioclasms--the destruction of books and/or libraries. The possibly apocryphal story of the final burning of the library of Alexandria was cute... the Caliph was asked what to do with the books. He replied "If the books agree with the Koran, they are not required. If they disagree, they are not desired. Therefore, destroy them."

Also, the author has an unhealthy obsession with the Widener Library. Just... ick.

The Origins of Knowledge and Imagination, by Jacob Bronowski (1XY) was disappointing. I was hoping for a much better account of epistemology. Or an epistemology. Instead, was treated to a lot of outdated material devoted to the obvious proposition that our sense-impressions are not necessarily in close congruence with reality, and a half-hearted disavowal of reductionism in either science or philosophy. Oddly, the most interesting bit, to my mind, was when he gave account of the McCarran act and the difficulties it created for intellectuals visiting or living in the U.S.

I was led to read a bit about it and found that before he became Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau was unable to enter the U.S., because of his political leanings. The world was a crazy place when we were all terrified of communism.

Currently I'm reading The Story of English, by Mario Pei (4XY). Pretty good! Frisian!