Sunday, October 28, 2007

Books Meme 2 or 3

I've tagged myself on a book meme at Ello's. I'm about a month late on the tagging, but I usually do get around to things eventually.

So first question. Total number of books?

This must mean that I own. Currently, not too many. Must be less than a hundred. Probably about three bookshelves. This is a huge change from pre-grad school days. When we had to sell everything to move here, we had to use a pick-up truck to take all our books to the public library as donations. I think we had about seven full-height bookcases. Maybe eight. Yes, that is where my discretionary income used to go.

Last Book read?

I spent almost all day reading, but I didn't read anything front to back. Instead, I read major portions of The Mind's Arrow: Bayes Nets and Causation (or a similar title) by Clark Glymour. Also, this edited collection called Causality in Crisis or some such. I scanned two chapters of Statistics for Social Scientists as well.

Last Book Bought?

Hm. Good question. Maybe this history on Japanese-American regiments in WWII, perhaps called "Just Americans". I think there's something more recent though; however, those might just be books for B. I should stop doing these blog entries in the dark.

Five meaningful Books?

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. No surprise here. Actually, I'm not sure if it's profoundly meaningful, but I do read it almost annually.

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. This is one of Lewis' last works. It's a study of love in all its forms told using the Cupid and Psyche myth - romantic, familial, friendship, and divine. It's also an exploration of the idea of divinity itself and how all else falls away in the presence of the truly divine. The end, in which Cupid appears, is the closest thing I've read to approximate what it might be like to encounter God.

Norse Myths by Roger Lancelyn Green. I've carried this little book around since I was perhaps 10 years old. It's hard to say that the myths themselves are individually amazing stories, though perhaps they are. I think it's instead the entire vision of the world in play, with the foresight of Ragnarok in which almost all of the world will perish.

On Liberty by John Stuart Mill. This is the classic defense of the doctrine that government should stay out of people's way unless that person is harming others. This critically includes times when the individual is harming himself. I would perhaps be a typical modern liberal if Mill's classic liberalism wasn't in the back of my mind. Mill is a fascinating person, by the way. Apart from On Liberty, he, among other things, published the most influential account of utilitarianism in ethics, which is the idea that ethics should be based upon the greatest happiness for the greatest number. He also wrote "On the Subjection of Women" which is one of the very first tracts in English to suggest that women might indeed by subjugated at all and that they should not be. It includes essentially an argument for the equality of the sexes. There were precursors to this - Mary Wollstonecraft perhaps if my dates aren't wrong - but Mill was quite influential, already being a member of parliament and one of the most famous intellectuals of the day.

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. This is really a stand in for almost all of his apologetic work. He hasn't convinced me yet, but he writes with an insight and clarity that I find rewarding. It doesn't mean he's correct, but he is constructive.


SzélsőFa said...

The only thing I've read from C.S. Lewis was 'Out of the Silent Planet'. I liked it, but I am unsure whether I understood it really or not....:(

I don't really get why The Count of Monte Christo is so popular. I don't wish to question your or anyone's choice, but... I just don't get it..:(

Ello said...

I love the count of monte christo! One of my all time favorite books! Good meme Paca! I'm glad you put it up.

writtenwyrdd said...

Paca, you are awesomely erudite, and I reread Terry Pracett books annually. But moving and ditching one's books is painful. I've done it three times now due to x-country moves. I've made up for it, though: Over a thousand books. Hence my recent bookshelf building projects.

Robin S. said...

OK- I have to finally admit ignorance, I hate to do it - but I really wanna know...

What is a meme - and how do you know if you have one or not? And how and who tags a person? Sorry to be late to the party.

pacatrue said...

Hi robin s, here is (the start of) what wikipedia says about memes:

"A meme, (IPA: /mi:m/) as defined within memetic theory, comprises a theoretical unit of cultural information, the building block of cultural evolution or diffusion that propagates from one mind to another analogously to the way in which a gene propagates from one organism to another as a unit of genetic information and of biological evolution.[1] Multiple memes may propagate as cooperative groups called memeplexes (meme complexes).

Biologist and evolutionary theorist Richard Dawkins coined the term meme in 1976.[2] He gave as examples tunes, catch-phrases, beliefs, clothing fashions, ways of making pots, and the technology of building arches."

I think that's only enlightening if you already know what it is. A meme is some idea that catches on and moves from person to person. On blogs, it's most often when someone answers some sort of quiz, list, etc., and then their friends do the same exercise, and their friends, and their friends, etc. It's like a gene in that it spreads throughout the blogosphere as long as it remains interesting to people.

Often in blog memes, at the end of the meme, you are supposed to tag someone else with doing the meme, too. In this case some other blogger tagged Ello a month ago. She didn't tag me but invited readers to do it, and I finally got around to the project today.

SzélsőFa said...

I'm sorry to tackle this over and over again, but why not write a post about the Count of M. C., for I really want to know.
I will accept any reasoning, but what are those?

writtenwyrdd said...

I had to ask the same question myself, Robin.

Robin S. said...

Thanks, WW - I really had no idea what the heck everyone was talking about!

Thanks, paca. And you're right- the wiki explanation wouldn't have done it!

pacatrue said...

I'll write an answer to your question in the coming days, szelsofa.