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Anathem

I would post a lot more about books but I also use visual bookshelf for book reviews so I don’t do that so much here. However, recently I re-read Neal Stephenson’s Anathem and wanted to say a few words. Its a really powerful and amazing book that I couldn’t recommend more. In it Stephenson posits a world with a much longer history. The people of math and science are kept in monastic seclusion to limit their impact on the world through advanced technology in the past praxic (industro-technological) ages. Its from a perspective of a young fraa (secular monk) in a decennial math (each group is secluded for a year, 10 years, 100 years, or a thousand years from the secular world so as not to contaminate each other). During Apert the 10 days of interaction with the secular world he is most struck by how distracted everyone is by their jeejahs (cell phones and hand held devices) and I have adopted that term as well. Jeejahs seem to be the plague of the modern age. Even otherwise intelligent and focused people can’t hardly do anything for 20 minutes without looking at their jeejahs and jeejah noise is ubiquitous. Having moved back to a land line I have really noticed a difference. I always found the ringing of the phone a distraction and kept it on vibrate. Even now coming up on a year of being cell phone free I still get ghost vibrations in my upper thigh and pat my pockets. Having near continuous access to the internet has its advantage, as does convenience, and emergencies and all that, but at what cost??

The other piece of the book deals with what he calls The Hylean Theoretical World. What I think he is talking about is Plato’s World of Pure Ideas, which if you are a regular reader of my blog you know has been a big part of my philosophy for a long time. Its where I think Heaven is and what the purest most true part of ourselves are made of. Where the rubber hits the road i think its the most real reality. If you don’t know what I’m talking about and you want to wrestle with a really fun fast moving adventure story about ideas than Anathem might be for you.

I might try re-reading Snowcrash next.

Categories: books, philosophy
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