I liked reading about Marxism; I have long felt the need to get informed about it since many of its aspects are still live and present in today’s society. I met hundreds of people since last summer, with the trip to Milan to get a Visa, to Rome to leave the country, and to Michigan, and I know that many of them (not the majority, but more than I had imagined) believe in communism or are influenced by its ideology. I don’t deny being of socialist ideas, and I mostly formed this belief since I left my mother’s home, but I wasn’t aware of the number of people that are linked to communist or communist-like parties. Now I know what they talk (or seem to talk) about, and I can tell whether I agree or not agree on specific topics.
More generally (a lot more generally), I think the American bipartisan government has many commodities and strengths, but also some flaws. Identifying with one party or the other has become really difficult, as the world acknowledges minorities and differences in its population literally every day, and I think there is no real representation for them in the national government, while there is still struggle for local representation. I know the United States are just now starting to reconsider accepting communism as an ideology (a utopistic one, but still an ideology), and that’s why I want to make this point; American socialists are not represented and therefore generally mocked by politicians as weak and powerless, just like their ideology. I’m starting to feel bitter about a system of several parties if it is not regulated enough, too, like what’s happening in Italy. There are very similar parties who cannot agree on one topic, and therefore split their voting poll and make it difficult to reach the quorum in any decision, and there are consequent “alliances” of parties, made up on unstable premises of “I give in this, you give in that” and with unclear purposes.
Simply, I’m starting to feel bitter about Politics. And I’m only seventeen!
I particularly enjoyed reading the Freud chapter, probably because I’m in a Psychology class and I highly regret not taking AP Psychology this year. Although I know that some of his ideas were proven wrong years later, I do admire his look on life and the identification of the different phases of a human being’s life, he was able to analyze reality in a much different and analytical way than the other philosophers we’ve studied, which I like. Moreover, I am interested in dream theories and the significance of dreams, and I think Freud made a provocative but important point in the matter.
On the other hand, I am not particularly liking the storyline. Unfortunately, as the seniors are leaving and need to return their school books, this will officially become one of the very few books I never finished reading. To be honest, it’s not even the storyline that I don’t like, I’m sure it twists at some point towards the end of the novel, but rather the way it’s written. Another one of the reasons I want to study languages (and I’ve started studying Norwegian) is to read books and literature in its first language, the language it was written in. I’m sure dear ol’ Jostein is actually a good writer, I just wish we had a different translation.
About the Romantics’ Pantheism and Kierkegaard’s Individualism: I don’t think I could ever choose between the two. I tend to prefer Individualism because I am a perfectionist, I like details, I cure them whenever I do or make something, I always look for small clues and hidden stories about everything because I am very much a curious observer and listener. However, I do it so I can see the whole picture in a more complete way. Most of the times, as I am the quiet one, I look and listen to my friends and I am able to see and understand many things that they are not saying to me, and thanks to little details like an instant reaction to something I say or a certain look I am able to emphasize with them and interact with them in the best way possible from that moment on.
Furthermore, I tend to agree with Kierkegaard’s point of view on each man’s existence: we relate to our own existence only when we act and make significant choices. Making significant choices is definitely what I wish I could do on a daily basis. Actually, I’d probably be very stressed all the time if it happened. I know I am able to procrastinate taking a stand and decide on any matter until the last minute (which is usually what I do), but eventually, this would help me refine my life. On the other hand, our own personal existence cannot be the only important thing in our life, our society should be. There is no path to improvement without a supporting and healthy society. We need to think more about others than we do about us, and I think some religions (or religious communities) have lost this important preconception. After all, Jesus said “It is more blessed to give than to receive”; “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
I really enjoy reading about contrasting philosophies; reading both (sometimes there are more than two) sides of a topic gives the reader very good information about it. For instance, Kierkegaard’s stand on Hegel’s philosophy is very interesting, in that it takes Hegel’s “historicism” and refutes it. I found myself in agreement with Hegel, reading his chapter. I do believe that we are “children of our time”, as I think generations act and live differently from one another, especially two adjacent ones. But Kierkegaard proposes an interesting point: it is more important to find “the truth for myself”, rather than the truth for our generation or time in history. It is definitely a great idea. Who cares if I know what everybody thinks, to live my life to the fullest I’ve got to know what I want to do, what I want to leave behind me, what I want to believe in. There is no point in looking for a societal truth if there aren’t individual ones to put together. Moreover, I liked the comparison with Buddhism: I truly feel Western “culture” needs to be informed about Eastern philosophies and religions (globalization should not only mean global trade, it should also mean global education).
About the actual storyline of the book: I cannot drive myself to like Sophie and her a-little-too-much frequent comments, and I still think she is meeting Alberto too many times. I know it’s Norway and Norwegian mothers are not like American ones (nor Italian ones), and this is actually true (I have proof of Norwegian parents buying alcohol for their kids so that they don’t find themselves drinking shady stuff, which makes sense! ‘Cause they’re gonna drink anyway), and of course it is all done for the ultimate purpose of the book, but it is getting a little bit heavy.
I’ve been thinking about books and the time when I used to have the time to read them. Growing up, I would read every day, every evening before going to bed, sometimes during car rides from my mother’s house to my father’s house. I would break my leg skiing (okay, I only did it once) and stay at home every afternoon after school, rereading my favorite fantasy series twice in two months because Nintendo’s games got boring after a while. All of this because I loved living in those books, I loved the feeling of building a world in my mind, with good characters and bad ones, good moments and anxious, page-turning ones. I lived in the Elves’ forest of Eragon’s world for a while, then I lived in Narnia, at Hogwarts, I even traveled on Ulysses Moore’s boat to past times and faraway places. It felt great. However, if what Berkeley claims is true, I feel like Saint Thomas in John’s gospel: I will not believe it until I see it. Evidently, I do not have enough faith to believe in an entity capable of building this Universe just like Christopher Paolini created Alagaësia. I’ve always found Thomas’ doubt to be necessarily rational, also; how can I believe in something I cannot comprehend at least partially? And how can I believe in it if I don’t have even the smallest mean to investigate it? Someone might argue that the Bible perfectly constitutes the proof of God’s work and will, but we don’t know where it comes from, who wrote it, how, when; we don’t have the basis to start analyzing the Bible as truthfully as we can. I guess I’m a little Cartesian in this matter.
Ooooh boy. I think this Jostein Gaarder is really trying to mess with our minds.
Recently in the book, we discover the story of Hilde on the day of her 15th birthday. As she wakes up, she recalls watching out of her bedroom windows some past events in her young life; they reconnect to the strange visions and dreams that Sophie has had in the previous chapters. When she unwraps the large binder, I first thought it was the same ring binder Sophie was keeping her philosophy lessons, but it actually was a book with the entire story written down, all the events, the conversations, Sophie’s thoughts. This is where the readers understand that Sophie’s life could just be fictional. Invented. Written by someone we don’t know a lot about, except that he is a father, he is relatively far away, and he is fighting for the safety and good of the world. And that he’ll eventually come back home. Sounds familiar? Right. I don’t want to jump to conclusions too soon, but I can see how the book is Religion-oriented; moreover, it is perfectly logical for a book about philosophy to have its own philosophy. I also find the analogy to be pretty accurate: Alberto, the philosopher, somehow knows that Albert Knag is a sort of God in his reality, and that is because that God allows him to know, sends messages, performs miracles. Alberto also represents the skeptics: he does not like Albert’s interventions in his life.
I am interested to see how the story develops.