Friday, July 21, 2006

The Beauty of the Infinite book discussion blogging (and fishing)

I have been threatening to read David Bentley Hart's The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth (Eerdmans, 2003) for a couple of years now, virtually as long as I've been blogging. Friend Gaunilo has been doing nearly the same. Well, it is time to decide whether to fish or cut bait; we're going to fish.

(Side note: that seems like an odd turn of phrase, to fish or cut bait. Probably we all recognise that it means we've come to a point where a firm decision needs to be made to decide to do something or to decide not to do it. But the strange thing is that 1) it implies that you are already fishing, because if you weren't, you wouldn't 'cut bait' (i.e. wouldn't cut your line and let your bait sink to the bottom) and 2) fishing is so very nearly like doing nothing in the first place*, it seems to mitigate the force of the phrase: it is as if to say, let's either continue doing nothing, or stop doing nothing. But maybe, not being a true fisherman, there are subtleties that I am missing.)

So, the G-man and I will be finally reading Hart's estimable work and blogging about it on Tuesdays. Feel free to join in with comments, or to read and blog about it yourself (but let us in on the fun by letting us know you are in our comments).

*And while I'm at it, what's up with computer games which simulate fishing? If fishing is doing nothing, then what is a game which simulates doing nothing?
'Virtual nothing?' Less than nothing? Does that then mean that, since you are not even really doing nothing, but only doing an ersatz approximation of nothing, that to then do nothing (say, stare at the wall), would be doing more than virtual fishing? I suspect that this is, as yet, the only profitable means of doing less than nothing -- but only because 'SimWall' hasn't caught on yet. Oh, and because blogging isn't profitable.
** By the way, I should mention that the Goliath Corporation graphic above comes from jasperfforde.com. This is the eponymous website of this brilliant author -- I have just finished reading four of his books (focusing on the character Thursday Next) and I loved them. Some people have compared Fforde with Douglas Adams, and that is not too far off in terms of inspired zaniness. But Fforde also favours his readers with time-tested conventional literary devices such as plot and characterisation, which overall makes for a more joyous reading experience. Check out his books -- I think they're amazing, and so hard to put down that I am sure he uses flypaper in making the covers. (The graphic I used last month from the Socialist Republic of Wales also came from Fforde, although I didn't know it at the time; that I accidentally ran across this graphic actually served to introduce me to Fforde and his work. Strange how life works.)


Blogger D.W. Congdon said...

I will look forward to hearing what you have to say. My personal assessment of Hart is rather harsh, and I also heard him speak here at Princeton Seminary this past winter. I am rather unimpressed. But I look forward to the dialogue over his book.

Saturday, July 22, 2006 4:20:00 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Thanks for swinging by Gower Street. I am keen to hear your thoughts and assessment of Hart: have you posted on this on F&R? Or could you share some of these thoughts here?
Many thanks,

Monday, July 24, 2006 10:53:00 PM  

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