Regeneration by Pat Barker

This book is set during WW1 in England. It makes use of the factual poets Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, and Robert Graves. Fact and fiction are mixed together in this story about the psychological damage done to soldiers during the First World War. The issue of opposing the war is also discussed, since Siegfried Sassoon, one of the most famous of WW1 poets, opposed the war publicly. Those injured soldiers who opposed the merciless killing were equated with cowards and shirkers. The only apparent option for them was to return to the front in France to demonstrate they were not afraid. When Siegfried Sassoon was wounded in France he returned to England. Wilfred Owen felt he should replace Sassoon at the front so he could report independently on what conditions were like. He returned to France and was killed a week before the end of the war. His mother received the dreaded telegram the same day the church bells were ringing out proclaiming the end of the war. In the novel Regeneration, Rivers is a psychiatrist who treats men who were damaged psychologically by their experiences in the war. The men were often injured mentally as well as physically, yet… Continue reading

Never, never, never give up

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP That is a popular slogan these days. I see it everywhere, but it gives me an uneasy feeling, because I just cannot agree with it. I hope others don’t actually believe it, yet I see it presented  as if it were an infallible truth. There are times when it is best to give up because usually there is a price to pay for not giving up. Let’s look at some examples. During the Second World War, Japan gave up. They did not continue the war after the second atomic bomb was exploded on Nagasaki. What if they had followed the rule, and never, never, never gave up? The bombing would have continued. They didn’t know there were no more atomic bombs, but there were plenty of incendiary bombs, and Japan had no air force by that stage of the war. There was a price to pay for not giving up. The price was the war continuing for perhaps another year, perhaps ten million more civilians would die from bombing, starvation, disease. That was the penalty for never giving up. We should ask the question, never give up … what? Never give up trying to achieve… Continue reading

Do not read these famous books

book cover

I know this is going to open a can of worms, or perhaps a barrel of rattle-snakes, but it needs to be said: do not read these famous books. One thing all these books have in common is that they are too long. If they were excellent, fascinating, educational, absorbing on every page they would not have a problem. But most readers find they are not any of those things. I have read all but one of these books, and while they are talked about in literary circles, and are on lists of Must Read Books, few people ever finish reading them. Some people would hint that you are “artistically impoverished” if you have not read these books. Do not believe them. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy This is one of the longest novels ever written. The version I read contained 1500 pages of tiny print. The story: Napoleon Invades Russia, Napoleon retreats in disarray. It is not a difficult book to read, and it is mildly interesting. But it is going to take months of reading, and probably you will feel it was not worth the journey. If it was a shorter book, it might be worth the time… Continue reading

50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True

 Of course what is implied is that these beliefs are not true, or at least unproven. And as it happens that’s quite right, he sets about dismantling each of these beliefs. Harrison does this by assembling the facts, the evidence, the basis of the story. Where did it come from? Who said this? What evidence is there for this belief? With some beliefs like flying saucers, he is ready to believe, he does not dispute the possibility, but is waiting for reliable evidence, which he shows does not yet exist. Because something is not understood, that does not mean we should believe in some explanation that has no factual basis, like ancient Greeks thinking Zeus was throwing lightning bolts whenever there was a storm. There are plenty of beliefs to consider. Here’s a list of a dozen. Your Either Born Smart Or You’re Not. Astrology is Scientific A Psychic Read My Mind Atlantis is Down There Somewhere Creationism is True and Evolution is Not Stories of Past Lives Prove Reincarnation is Real Ghosts Are Real and They Live in Haunted Houses UFOs Are Visitors From Other Worlds Area 51 is Where They Keep the Aliens My Religion is the One That… Continue reading