Friday, 4 February 2011

Milbank, Egypt, Cyclone Yasi, and the Latin American labyrinth

John Milbank's second Stanton lecture, on Immanence and Life, is available now. He's also written a more popular piece for the ABC on Recovering Trust in a Labyrinth of Solitude. To my surprise, I discovered from this piece that Milbank and I have been reading all the same books lately: he discusses Octavio Paz, Gabriel García Márquez, and Roberto Bolaño. To be honest though, I don't think he's right about any of them: who would describe One Hundred Years of Solitude as a document of "meaningless secularism"? You might as well call The Arabian Nights a nihilistic book. The reference to Octavio Paz is dubious too, since Paz's labyrinth of solitude isn't a denial of love, but an account of the conditions which make love possible. In fact, Paz's The Double Flame: Love and Eroticism is one of the most striking and beautiful things you could read in defence of erotic love.

Speaking of literature, the new issue of Literature and Theology is devoted to the theme of poetry and belief, with articles on Blake, Shelley, Hopkins, Stevens, Auden, and others.

And while you're over at the ABC, see also Waleed Aly's piece on the uprising in Egypt. And if you've been following the news of the Cyclone Yasi this week, here's a great slideshow with some photos of the aftermath. (Why do we find it so soothing to see photographs of natural disasters? As a boy, I always loved cyclones – they're a regular source of excitement for children growing up in the tropics. Each time, we waited eagerly for the news that our school had been blown away.) Anyway, I especially like this photo – thank God the books weren't damaged!

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