Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A Book Review

I read a book over the weekend that happened to be in my parent's vacation house. It was State of Fear by Michael Crichton, the first novel I have read in a few years. Ironically, although it is fiction it deals with a form of scientism in our times, i.e. "global warming." It's like one can't escape it these days. I found the way the author paints verbal pictures of the mommy Earth type of New Man amusing. I suspect that some scientific cold toads will be hopping mad about it. Anyway, example of the New Man:
“Listen,” he said. “I have to go see Nick for a bit.”

“I’ll be fine.”

“I’ll come back,” he said, “as soon as I can.”

“I’ll be fine,” she repeated. He stood, and she stood, too. On a sudden impulse he gave her a hug. She was so tall they were almost shoulder to shoulder. “It’s going to be okay,” he said. “Don’t worry. It’ll be okay.”

She returned the hug, but when he released her, she said, “Don’t ever do that again, Peter. I’m not hysterical. I’ll see you when you get back.”

He left hastily, feeling foolish. At the door, she said, “By the way, Peter: Do you have a gun?” “No,” he said. “Do you?”

“Just a 9-millimeter Beretra, but it’s better than nothing.”

“Oh, okay.” As he went out the front door, he thought, so much for manly reassurances for the modern woman.
(page 152-153) It seems that the New Man has a hard time separating from the feminine sometimes. He also feels that he comes up short and resents her for it. By page 323 things are still pretty much the same:
...Sarah looked at Peter. He was good-looking, and he had the strong physique of an athlete. But sometimes he behaved like such a wimp.

“You ever do any sports?” she said.
“Squash. A little soccer.”
“Hey,” he said. “Just because I don’t shoot guns. . . I’m a lawyer, for Christ’s sake.”

She was disappointed with him and not even sure why. Probably, she thought, because she was nervous and wanted somebody competent to be with her. She liked being around Kenner. He was so knowledgeable, so skilled. He knew what was going on. He was quick to respond to any situation. Whereas Peter was a nice guy, but...
The New Man is a nice guy. That's pretty much undeniable. By the way, I should note that Real Men don't write about what New Men or Real Men do or don't do. Yet that does not stop me!

It wasn't all so bad for the New Man in this section:
"...but...She watched his hands on the wheel. He drove well. And that was important today." (Ib.)

Well, there's the good hands and at least some sort of spatial reasoning. Maybe the New Man can be a Real Man? Maybe...but he'll probably have to quit being so prissy, die fighting evil and then be born again. Where do such scripts come from? By page 358 it was done:
He realized then that his experience in the crevasse had changed him—and changed him permanently. Someone had tried to kill him. .... [H]e could not have predicted the way that he felt changed by it now. He felt as if he had been physically moved—as if someone had picked him up and shifted him ten feet to one side. He was no longer standing in the same place. But he had also been changed internally. He felt a kind of solid impassivity he had not known before. There were unpleasant realities in the world, and previously he had averted his eyes from them, or changed the subject, or made excuses for what had occurred. He had imagined that this was an acceptable strategy in life—in fact, that it was a more humane strategy. He no longer believed that. .... The world was not how you wanted it to be. The world was how it was.
The "crevasse" was quite a wordly womb and the New Man had to be pulled on out of there to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Otherwise he'll always skirt the issue of Good and Evil by hiding behind Mother Nature's skirts or crawling back into her womb. Look carefully, he sometimes looks out from her skirts with fearful eyes! Fortunately, some New Men are born again:
She noticed that Evan's voice had lost its boyish hesitancy. He was no longer protesting everything Kenner said. He sounded older somehow, more mature, more solid.
So by page 359 he's coming along nicely! How nice. Well, you get the idea, I liked the book as a fast read and found it amusing. Also, he has apendices in the back of the book which deal more seriously with his research and so on. (No book that deals with scientism would be complete without mentioning the eugenics movement and the Nazis.)

Spoiler: There is a spot where a Hollywood half-wit type Leftist gets eaten alive by their supposed noble savages. Yes, believe it or not there are evil people living in Third World nations. It has to do with how they come to be Third World nations in the first place. Yet as much as I agree with doing away with stupid and ignorant ideas, having someone get eaten alive may have been a bit heavy handed. At any rate it is true, Rousseau's noble savage is not so noble while the New Man's typical refusal to deal with Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, is often dangerous to himself.

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