"A (wo)man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of (her)his life in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of beautiful God has implanted in the human soul."- Goethe

Sunday, September 12, 2010

It's just one of those books

I love love love the book Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. It's just one of those books that I will never tire of re-reading. If you've ever seen the movie Awakenings starring Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro, which I also highly recommend, this book has many similar themes and ethical dilemmas. The book was written in 1958 and this movie came out in the 90's. A movie was also made based off of Keyes's novel called Charly, (no, it's not the same as the cheesy LDS romance movie) but I haven't seen it yet so I don't know how good it is. Let me know if you've seen it because I'd love to know what you think.

There is so much in this book, but because most of the topics of discussion are rhetorical and interconnected, it is clearer if I just use "moral dilemma" to encompass all facets. Themes of interest and thought-provoking points are as follows:
  • moral dilemma
  • "the more intelligent you become, the more problems you'll have"
  • intelligence and ignorance: benefits of each, caliber of problems for each
  • language: as a barrier or a pathway depending on intellectual extremes
  • subconscious: idea that nothing in our minds is ever gone
  • reconciliation of old self and new self after a mighty re-birth
  • "men dedicating their lives to studying more and more about less and less"
  • affection: intelligence without the ability to give and receive affection leads to neurosis

Most novels fit into a certain type of narrative, and this story is one of many fantastic creation narratives (think the Bible and Frankenstein). Creation narratives always have complex questions regarding the consequences, ethics, and responsibilities surrounding creation, right of possession creators have over creations, and the individual needs and feelings of the created being, so there is a lot to digest. Could it get any better than this? Love love love it!

Happy reading!

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