Reviews from 06/2014

Heidegger - Thinking of Being

Book reviewed by Rob Mason on 28 June 2014

Philosophy was born in ancient Greece when someone looked up from plowing the field or tying their sandals to ask not what is this particular thing or that, but what is 'being' in general?  What does it mean to 'be?' In terms of the ontological difference, these early philosophers move from dealing with beings to inquiring into the being of these beings, that is their mode of being or the way they are.  We find the answers to these questions in the great works of metaphysics; these works are for Heidegger attempts to define 'beingness' that…Read

What W. H. Auden Can Do For You

Book reviewed by Rob Mason on 22 June 2014

The poet, like every artist presents us only with the particular, the individual, yet what he wants to do is to let us know the whole species.  The poet takes from life that which is quite particular and individual and describes it accurately in its individuality: but in this way he reveals the whole of human existence, since, though he appears to be concerned with the particular, he is actually concerned with that which is everywhere and at all times.

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Keep the Aspidistra Flying

Book reviewed by Rob Mason on 15 June 2014

Keep the Aspidistra Flying, first published 1936, is a socially critical novel by George Orwell. It is set in 1930s London. The main theme is the protagonist's romantic ambition to give up money and status.  The aspidistra is a common plant used decoratively. Orwell uses the plant to symbolize commoners, the lower class, of society. To keep them flying is to maintain their pride, to raise the value of common man from the soil to the sky.

A film adaptation of Keep the Aspidistra Flying was released in 1997, directed by Robert Bierman, and starring…Read

A Life Worth Living

Book reviewed by Rob Mason on 2 June 2014

Though we do not face the same dangers that threatened Europe when Camus wrote "The Myth" of Sisyphus" and "The Stranger," we confront other alarms. Herein lies Camus abiding significance. Reading his work in Robert Zaretsky's book:  A Life Worth Living, we become more thoughtful observers of our own lives. For Camus, rebellion is an eternal human condition, a struggle against injustice that makes life worth living. But rebellion is also bounded by self-imposed constraints--it is a noble if impossible ideal. Such a contradiction suggests that if there is no reason for hope, there is also…Read