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8:11 AM
@Randal'Thor: Do you think you're likely to post an answer to the Betjeman question? You have several good observations which would work fine in answer form. I don't think it should be necessary for each answer to have a complete interpretation — different people will spot different things in a text and so multiple partial answers can be complementary.
@GarethRees The problem is that all I have are observations which are interesting but don't really answer the question. For instance, reading up on Betjeman, I'm discovering that he wrote a lot of poems with a religious angle (esp. churches) and a lot of poems relating to travel (e.g. railway stations). Sometimes, like "Monody on the Death of Aldersgate Street Station", both. Which is interesting context to be aware of, but doesn't really answer what this poem is about.
I did find an interpretation that Betjeman had a guilt complex related to his serial adultery, but that doesn't convince me enough to work it up into an answer. Especially for a poem written in 1937 when he was still living happily with his (first) wife.
I think that an answer consisting of observations like the ones you mention would still be valuable. Not every poem can be interpreted as having a coherent message or target, and sometimes a bunch of observations is all that one can be expected to find in it. I'd not like to set expectations that people can only write answers if they can explain everything.
But if you don't want to, no problem! I'm just thinking about when I should post my own interpretation.
Hmm. I'll try to think if I can roll this stuff up into an answer. It would be more thematic/background information than a real interpretation of the poem ...
1 hour later…
9:46 AM
submitted by first review on the blog. Take a look mods :)
*tries to figure out how to access it*
hahaha. You haven't accessed it since April, so that makes sense
Aha, figured it out. Approved. Thanks for the submission!
Thanks for the approval :)
posted on August 30, 2019

“Shantaram” by Gregory David Roberts is a huge yet hard-to-put-down novel. The blurb says it is based on the life of the author, but is also part fiction. Several seemingly unnatural events corroborate the fact. Fiction or not, the book kept me hooked for the entire duration. The simplistic writing style results in a near-perfect narration of the epic story that is “Shantaram

9:54 AM
can we also submit reviews of ARCs?
Advanced Reader Copies
Don't see why not
essentially the books that are yet to be released publicly
Isn't the point of those to write reviews before release?
9:57 AM
Yes it is. I was asking whether the community here at SE has any different opinion regarding the same
@CinCout Thank you! :-)
@Randal'Thor :)
10:24 AM
Q: Is there any special significance in Dr. Krestyan Ivanovitch Rutenspitz's last words to Mr. Golyadkin?

JNatThroughout the book, there had been hints that maybe Mr. Golyadkin Jr., the double, was a product of Mr. Golyadkin Sr.'s imagination — and that it was either a way to signify him struggling to reconcile two facets of himself, or that he was simply suffering from some sort of mental disorder. Righ...

3 hours later…
1:18 PM
@Bookworm In my most recent answer, I summarised from memory part of the master's thesis that I wrote 20 years ago.
1:37 PM
I'm surprised that nobody has asked yet where Ursula Le Guin got the inspiration for the secret / real names of characters in Earthsea.
2:13 PM
@Randal'Thor Proselytizing? Do you understand the difference between faith and discourse about faith?
@ChristopheStrobbe Did I misunderstand something, or is the non-existence of any actual deity an unstated assumption in that entire theory?
(I don't actually have time to discuss properly now, as I'm going AFK very soon)
@ChristopheStrobbe We do have a question about the origin of the literary trope of "true names". I answered it, but most probably there's a lot more to be said than what I found.
@ChristopheStrobbe I'm sure it has been discussed here already, though.
Q: Where did the idea of a "true name" come from?

AzaThere's a common trope in Western fantasy that, up until now, I've sort of taken for granted: the "true name." This is the idea that all things have true names that are somehow more closely linked to what the thing is, and that knowing it grants some degree of power over the thing. This has many...

Gilles also has a good answer there.
@Randal'Thor Any theory that would start from the assumption of the existence of a god would be faith-based. A theory of the origin of religion that claims to be scientific cannot assume from the start that a deity exists.
@ChristopheStrobbe Assuming from the start that no deity exists is equally faith-based.
2:20 PM
@Randal'Thor It isn't; that's a thinking error that has already been discussed in Philosophy SE.
Preaching (or worse, treating as a natural assumption) the non-existence of any deity is equally much proselytising as preaching a deity-based religion.
Regardless of what any post on an internet forum may say.
If we discount Philosophy.SE, we can as well discount your personal claims for the opposite. Gotta start somewhere or simply depart on matters of "different faiths".
@ChristopheStrobbe Not reading in full detail, but the top answer says "most atheists are agnostic. They accept that we can never know for sure that God does not exist, but they think it is more likely for the default state (no God) to be true in the light of insufficient evidence by theists." Which says nothing about faith in the non-existence of God.
I have no issue with agnostics, but true atheists, who believe absolutely in the non-existence of any deity, have as much a faith-based position as believers in God.
And a theory which holds that the idea of a god emerged from violence and human sacrifice, or any other purely human interaction, logically depends on the assumption that there is no actual god.
2:26 PM
@Randal'Thor But you cannot base a theory that claims to be scientific on faith. Does the theory I posted assume the non-existence of a god or gods? If yes, can you tell me where?
@Randal'Thor "true atheists, who believe absolutely in the non-existence of any deity". That's precisely the thinking error, i.e. that this is belief. Belief means you accept things without evidence. Atheists don't believe in god because of a lack of evidence.
This argument is unlikely to go anywhere productive. Which is precisely why proselytising (either for or against the existence of god) is not a useful activity on this site. And not necessary in this case as it's possible to answer the question without all that stuff.
@ChristopheStrobbe Yes.
Wait, has the matser's thesis answer been deleted already?
@ChristopheStrobbe Agnostics don't believe or disbelieve in god, because they haven't been convinced either way. Atheists accept without evidence that there is no god.
@Randal'Thor The idea of a god and an actual god are two different things. Assuming that there were an actual god, how would humans come up with the idea of a god?
But that's where I'm going to drop this conversation.
2:31 PM
@Randal'Thor His absence isn't under pressure of proof, precisely because the absence of things is the default.
@Randal'Thor That is the misrepresentation of atheism that believers use to represent atheism as a faith-based position.
It is understandably to some degree not the default for people growing up under the assumption of his existence. But...that's just not how things work. When you're already growing up with a preset idea, there is of course no hurdle to overcome for this idea to manifest itself out of nothing, because the idea is already there. But, that idea can't and didn't just emerge out of nothing.
An important part of faith is that certain ideas must not be questioned or scrutinised ...
But yes, claiming atheism to be "faith based" might be perceptively true in some extreme cases. But in general is just not true and primarily makes for a cool election slogan or a neat defense against proof-based arguments.
The better approach, though, would be to stand to the matter of believing in something without evidence instead of trying to hide behind a supposed equality between not believing and believing. Find confidence in your faith and stand to it, rather than trying to argue the naysayers away with odd logic. Logic isn't the domain of faith, but it doesn't have to be anyway.
Bill Maher put it well: "Religion is defined as the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power. And atheism is… precisely not that. Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex position." (Although it would be more precise if you replaced "religion" with "faith". See Peter Boghossian.)
2:51 PM
But it would be unfortunate to have an answer based on someone's master's thesis be deleted over this. Maybe there's a compromise than could be found?
@NapoleonWilson I'm not sure yet how to reformulate it. That may take some time.
@NapoleonWilson In the mean time, I added the original answer to one of my disorganised websites.
Interesting answer. Admittedly, though, as someone not too firm in anthropology, I found the big numbered rundown of Girard's theory a bit of a drag to follow and I'm not sure it's in its full detail so much required for ardessing the specific question.
Though, not that this would help with the controversy in the above chat, since that seems to take umbrage with the general positioning of religions as inherently anthropological products to begin with, primarily based on a confusion of God with the institution that was developed to worship him.
But if that's the answer that's "proselytizing", then yes, rewording might be difficult while still genuinely answering the question asked.
If we acknowledge this having its roots in earliest religions but at the same time can't pose aspects of those religions as man-made, the only answer left is that naming taboos were ultimately god-given and that's about it.
3:14 PM
@NapoleonWilson I might shorten it along the lines suggested by Randal'Thor and add a link to my website for those who want to read the complete answer.
The irony of the story is, René Girard was a devout Catholic who believed that the Bible is the result of a divine revelation and that we wouldn't have his theory without that revelation. I left out that detail and my summary got branded as an atheist one. Girard did not like atheist interpretations of this theory.
I attended several of the annual meetings of the Colloquium on Violence & Religion, which was founded to explore and develop Girard's theory. Theologians make up the biggest share of its members.
3:31 PM
It's also often held at Catholic universities.
I believe Catholics and Catholic theologians were the first people in the USA that Girard could seriously discuss his theory with.
1 hour later…
4:58 PM
Tomorrow is the last day of August, so we will need to take a decision about how to continue with the monthly topic challenges. There is a suggestion that has 9 upvotes; the other suggestions have less than half that number of upvotes.
I'm surprised at Rand's reaction to Christophe's answer. The study of literature employs many kinds of theoretical approach and I would have thought that Rand would be used by now to considering a theory on its own terms without feeling pressured to accept the philosophical basis of the theory as being true.
If we implement that highest-voted suggestion, that means we will soon pick the challenge for October and November.
Christophe gave an anthropological answer, and anthropology, being a science, adopts a naturalistic worldview. This does not mean that you have to adopt a naturalistic worldview yourself in order to read the answer and learn something valuable from it.
Someone could equally well write a theological answer to the question and you would not have to adopt a religious worldview yourself in order to learn from the answer. (I'm as atheist as they come, but my Betjeman question invites answers taking a religious point of view and I feel I can learn something about how Betjeman thought about the Evangelical movement within Anglicanism without having to become Anglican myself.)
I was also surprised. But people can be sensitive about discussing faith.
I liked your long discussion of the ideas of René Girard, whom I had not previously heard of.
5:10 PM
I really appreciate that. In the 1990s I spent a lot of time reading and discussing his work. The French philosopher Michel Serres called him the "Charles Darwin of the human sciences".
The Girard whose works I am familiar with is Jean-Yves!
Oh, a logician! Logic is an area I've never formally studies except for some of the basics they teach you for programming.
2 hours later…
7:19 PM
Q: What are T. S. Eliot’s “Jellicle Cats” and “Pollicle Dogs”?

Gareth ReesT. S. Eliot’s poem ‘The Song of the Jellicles’ was first published in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (1939) and was popularized by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats. It begins: Jellicle Cats come out to-night Jellicle Cats come one come all: The Jellicle Moon is shining bright— Je...


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