Saturday, September 26, 2009

Eschatology extended

I usually travel alone and, given my tendency to spend two hours at random reading newspapers from wherever I am, perhaps it's for the best. London is good at newspapers as it is at generating humourous place names. I read the Guardian tonight and a few of Marina Hyde's zingers were worth the price.

"When earth's population has been driven into its catacombs by the great idiot wars, and the urine distilleries that provide our only source of drinking water are controlled by an army of psychopathic mercenaries," we will realize that it began in 1999, when we appointed Geri Halliwell a UN ambassador. Torontonians may perhaps date it to the day our mayor begged Halliwell to stay in the Spice Girls, unless Halliwell was already a UN ambassador when this happened.

Writing about her visit to Nepal, Halliwell said that "My presence apparently gave the confidence for that new prime minister to speak out about violence against women because there was a western presence there." Writes Hyde: "A what, sorry? A "western presence"? Time was a western presence meant Madeleine Albright, or at least the US ambassador. Now it's the soi-disant author of Ugenia Lavender and the Burning Pants."

As an added bonus, Hyde refers to Eat, Pray, Love as a "travel memoir of airport-novel spirituality, wherein the author comes to impressively certain answers to questions that have defeated minds from Thomas Aquinas to René Descartes, much in the manner of most people who have had "done" India."

There's something remarkable about how every bookstore from Tokyo to Brussels has the same dozen or so books in its English-language section. You can be assured of finding a Khaled Hosseini novel, a book by Barack Obama and Elizabeth Gilbert's answer to the meaning of life. For those seeking the meaning of life, I strongly suggest the Nicomachean Ethics. It is not, unfortunately, available at Narita airport for 375 yen in the way of Gilbert's treatise on the topic. Nevertheless, by reading Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, you can learn nine virtues of character (including wit), as well as five virtues of intellect.

No comments: