Friday, February 25, 2011

Philosophy of Beauty

I just finished reading a fabulous book that I can't help but share with you. It was a random find: Shaune and I had gone to the local bookstore for a "date," where we get a special coffee and wander around for a few hours, enjoying the books and magazines. I hadn't planned on buying anything, but this book caught my eye:

What a weird title! And an eye catching cover! And it was only just recently (2006) translated from French. It's a novel, but even more than that, it's a discussion of philosophy. Each of the two narrators is looking for worth and beauty in their worlds, and they craft essays describing the good they've found (or the lack of it).
Each chapter is only 3, maybe 4 pages, but it draws you in so deeply. Here's a teaser from the section on grammar:

I don't like Achille Grand-Fernet but in this case I agreed with him when
he asked this question. I feel it was long overdue. Moreover, when a literature
teacher uses a split infinitive like that, I'm really schocked. It's like
someone sweeping the floor and forgetting the dust bunnies. "What's the point of
grammar?" asked Achille. "You ought to know by now," replied Madame
Never-mind-that-I-am-paid-to-teach-you. "Well, I don't," replied Achille,
sincerely for once, "no one ever bothered to explain it to us." Nadame Fine let
out a long sigh, of the "do I really have to put up with such stupid questions"
variety, and said, "The point is to make us speak and write well."

I thought I would have a heart attack there and then. I have never heard
anything so grossly inept...

Personally I think grammar is a way to attain beauty. When you speak, or
read, or write, you can tell if you've said or read or written a fine sentence.
Upi cam recpgmoze a well turned phrase or an elegant style. But when you are
applying the ruses of grammar skillfully, you ascend to another level of the
beauty of language....

And on the way home I thought: pity the poor in spirit who know neither the
enchantment nor the beauty of language.

Yum. Check it out the next time you need some brain food. I guarentee you won't be bored :)

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