Sunday, June 26, 2005

Shame the Devil by Alan Jacobs

Someone recommended the author, and I requested a random book from the library. It turned out to be a collection of essays, mostly about writers: from Auden to Pullman. The Nigerian Wole Soyinka seems to have "sold his birthright for a pot of message," as was so aptly said of H.G. Wells. Auden he shows to be misunderstood: Auden changed when he became a Christian, but the romantic revolutionary sorts prefer to ignore that and focus on his early "poet as prophet" work. Jacobs (and apparently the later Auden) destests the dishonesty of this apotheosis of the artist, and "Tell truth, and shame the devil" is the theme of this book, which also looks at Solzhenitsyn, Camus, and others.

Jacobs slices and dices Pullman, whose dishonesty destroyed his craft. (I can't believe they made a play of his trilogy.)

He ends the book with a long series on his experiences trying to use Linux, and his musings on how much our technologies shape us when we don't look at them clearly. Trying new tools sometimes gives us a new perspective, even if we wind up going back to the old tools.

Interesting; good writing; probably not to everyone's taste.

No comments: