Language, Truth and Logic

(by A. J. Ayer) It is a pleasure to read Ayer’s demolition of metaphysics, even though it leaves an arid philosophical landscape. Written in 1936, a time when perhaps we might have done with a small dollop of silly spirituality, Ayer has the cracking lines:  ‘Our charge against the metaphysician is not that he attempts to employ the understanding in a field where it cannot profitably venture, but that he produces sentences which fail to conform to the conditions under which alone a sentence can be literally significant.  Nor are we ourselves obliged to talk nonsense in order to show…

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I Shall Bear Witness

(by Victor Klemperer) Despite some confusing Anne Frank with a Nazi (see: Rijksmuseum moments), her diary is mandatory reading and so should be this diary of German Jewish academic, Victor Klemperer. He lived in Germany throughout the Nazi reign and this volume, covering 1933 to 1941, reveals the incremental march to holocaust. Each little step led to the next and so on, quickening in pace: May ’33: Klemperer can still lecture in Romance languages and literature at Dresden but he complies with a ‘request’ to no longer conduct exams; by May ’35, he is dismissed from his post; by October…

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God’s Funeral

Hardy is dead, but is God?

(by A.N. Wilson) A beautiful & rich review of Victorian and Edwardian thinking, as God’s life support was unplugged and how later generations may come, in time, to feel the need to apply resuscitation. As Kenneth Clark observed, heroic materialism and Marxism aren’t enough. We need something more.

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The Glass Bead Game

(by Hermann Hesse) Hesse’s ideation of his own life as a monk is a heavy but worthwhile read.

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Elmer Gantry

(dir. Richard Brooks) (1960) Dr Gantry sets aside his unwanted toasters and vacuum cleaners and returns to where he belongs, in the evangelical business.  A sprawling, gargantuan rendering of Sinclair Lewis’ novel, with giant performances, particularly Lancaster as Elmer, Jean Simmons as Sister Falconer, Shirley Jones as Ms Baines and Arthur Kennedy as the journalist following the big tent.  “It wasn’t really acting” quoth Burt Lancaster of his performance, “It was me”.

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