Monday, December 31, 2012
Yesterday I finished my last read for 2012, which was...Twilight. Yes, the sparkly-vampires-playing-baseball book. I read it as a joke. It turned out to be a rather mean joke on myself, because it consisted of 400 pages of two lovesick teenagers emoting over one another -- "Oh, Edward!" / "I can barely restrain myself from jumping your bones!" -- 30 pages of suspenseful action, and then ten more pages of emoting. I read the book out of curiosity; though familiar with some of the criticisms levied against it (like it condoning sketchy behavior), I prefer seeing things for myself. But this was...bad. Worse than Angels and Demons, and even worse than Left Behind. Things happened in Left Behind. This is such a very large book of gush, of lingering descriptions about Edward's chest, and embarrassing displays of intense emotion that aren't in the least believable and scream wish fulfillment. And I'm told -- by a fan of the books -- that the sequel is even less eventful.
So, I will not be reading the rest of the series, unless I do something awful and need to atone for it.
Shortly before that, I finished The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek, a work of economic and political philosophy which is sharply critical of any government involvement in economics and argues for classical liberalism, for free markets and an emphasis on individual rights and responsibilities. The book consists of a series of essays which elaborate on the problems of planned economies. I must confess to somewhat liking Hayek, even if I find most of his ideas objectionable, because his writing is almost fussy in its exactness, and his general spirit one of humility and prudence rather than sneering dismissal. I find him at his most convincing when writing on the the limits of our knowledge, of how problematic our attempting to manage from the top down, something as complicated as an economy, is...largely because unintended consequences, 'blowback', is a topic I can't seem to get away from these days. His flat denial that no checks need to be made to curb the power of economically successfully companies, to break monopolies, strike me as risible, and there's always something entertaining to me about an intellectual safe and well-fed in an academic job writing on the virtues of market forces that effect the lives of working folk far more than him....entertaining in the way the insect on the leaf alleging that there is too much life among his hungry brethren in the dust is entertaining, if I might borrow from A Christmas Carol.
I did enjoy the book, though, and suspect I may be grappling with Hayek again in the future..