Many of you will already be familiar with Richard Dawkins’s series, Enemies of Reason. In this series, Dawkins examines the all-too-readily accepted charlatanism of psychics, astrology, homoeopathy and more.
During one section of Enemies of Reason concerning spiritual readings, Dawkins interviews the illusionist Derren Brown in order that he might be better prepared for the tricks (cold reading etc) that will inevitably be used during a visit he plans to make to a spiritualist church.
Below, you will find the complete, uncut interview (not shown in the original series.) The interview is taken from “The Enemies of Reason: The Uncut Interviews“.
All text © 2008 Gary William Murning
“And that’s why books are never going to die. It’s impossible. It’s the only time we really go into the mind of a stranger, and we find our common humanity doing this. So the book doesn’t only belong to the writer, it belongs to the reader as well, and then together you make it what it is.”
The perfect expression of my own thoughts and feelings regarding the acts of writing and reading. This is one of the many reasons why books are so important to me.
© 2008 Gary William Murning
Having finally completed Tolstoy’s War and Peace — I approached it with much trepidation, paced myself far more sensibly than I normally would, found some of the final battle sections and philosophising rather tedious and unnecessary, but, on the whole, thoroughly enjoyed it — I today started reading By the River Piedra, I Sat Down and Wept by Paolo Coelho. I bought it on a whim after ordering Jostein Gaarder’s The Orange Girl via Amazon and having their service recommend it to me (quite often a good idea, I find, if you want to discover something you might otherwise have missed), and I have to say that, so far, I find it rather unimpressive. Coelho, whilst not exactly proselytising, seems intent on pushing his own religious/spiritual views on life — and whilst I don’t especially object to this, I find, because of the simplicity of the novel, the sketchily drawn characters, that it’s quite overpowering.
With novels like this, and with my own particular position on such matters being so… well, founded in the rational, and even though I do have those “spiritual” moments of connection with the world around me (usually when I’m out in the countryside), it’s very difficult not to let the author’s agenda develop more weight than he might have intended. I’m very conscious that it may well be my own bias that is spoiling the work for me, though I truly don’t think that it is. There’s a naivete about it that I feel I should like, but somehow it doesn’t feel quite sincere.
It isn’t a difficult read, though, so I’ll give it a chance and try to keep an open mind.
Other books waiting to be read:
- Elvis and the Memphis Mafia — by Alanna Nash.
- The Orange Girl — by Jostein Gaarder.
- Consciousness Explained — by Daniel Dennett.
- The Meaning of It All — by Richard Feynman.
- The Tin Drum — by Gunter Grass.
© 2008 Gary William Murning
Non-readers are so often inclined to conclude that reading is a passive passtime. One sits, book in hand, and the written word does all the work. “I’d rather be doing something,” they say.
As a reader and, more to the point, a writer, I know how ridiculous this is. However rich the layers of my work, it is the reader who supplies the detail. I breathe life into my characters, but only the reader can decide if they should continue to live and, if so, what that road they walk down really looks like. It is one of the first, the truest interactive media.
And you don’t even need a red button.