[Literature] Currently Reading (discussion)

Yeah. You read right. This is for everything that doesn't have anything to do with Eva.

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Atropos
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Postby Atropos » Fri Jan 31, 2014 4:09 pm

Finished reading Njálssaga the other day, and WOW. That was freaking incredible. Went a bit "The Assassination of Jesse James" at the end there, though...

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Postby caragnafog dog » Tue Feb 04, 2014 6:25 pm

Suttree's ending was absolutely beautiful. Great mixture of humor and McCarthyan description throughout the whole book.

EDIT: It snowed all day today so I thought it appropriate to stay inside and read Notes from Underground. It was very good, even more neurotic than I expected. Hard to believe it's 19th century fiction.
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Postby Blue Monday » Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:32 am

I just finished MZD's The Fifty Year Sword in one sitting. Only took about half an hour, it's...
It's a beautiful experience to say the least.

SPOILER: Show
Image
Image
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Note that scans are not my own, and yes; those are actual pinpricks dotting the cover. Top-to-bottom, front-to-back, this thing is a work of art.

I don't even know where to begin describing this book. I guess you'd call it a novella, but even that would be pushing it some.

Set in an orphanage, the story itself centres around Chintana, a Thai seamstress, who is chaperoning five orphans (who are also our five narrators) on the cold snowy night of the 50th birthday party of Belinda Kite; a woman that Chintana's husband had been having an affair with in the past. A storyteller arrives (with a large black box) to entertain the children. Much of the book is the transcription of the Storyteller's tale, recounting the journey he took to find the eponymous sword, which may actually be contained in the box set before him. The tale is of disquiet, cosmic vengeance and the unravelling of one's own identity. Sounds like a great story for children, right?

Well going in, and having purposefully left myself mostly in the dark about the book's style, presentation and such - I immediately rolled my eyes at the format. I've mentioned before in this thread how I was pretty disappointed with MZD's sophomore book, Only Revolutions, I felt was gimmicky due to it's total ergodic nature which to me left an absence of actual narrative. But The Fifty Year Sword manages to teeter the brink successfully. In fact, the joy comes from the layout and the reader's own journey in turning the pages. The almost simplistic words themselves creating distinct, unforgettable imagery like The Man with No Arms (with those beautiful purple eyelashes), or the final vignette in the snow.

Unfortunately you can't really talk about the story or any kind of in-depth synopsis without spoiling the content. Just know that every illustration, stitched artwork by a group called Atelier Z, lends its all to the Swordsman/Storyteller's tale and the five childrens recollection of events. TL;DR: It's a ghost story I guess. Or is it a tale of caution? I honestly have no fucking idea.

Beware though, as this is no House of Leaves and is more akin to Only Revolutions. Without the "artwork" and post-modern use of page space it would all feel too thin. Skinny. Nothing much there at all. Only for the die-hard MZD fans.


Oh, I ended up finishing all of The Silmarillion on the weekend too. I'm now concerned I'm not going to enjoy LOTR near as much as I did The Sil.

:think:


Up next: The Shining.
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Postby Shinoyami65 » Tue Feb 11, 2014 12:04 pm

^Speaking off which, I'm up to my neck in House of Leaves currently. My god this is awesome. I wasn't expecting the pseudo-nonfiction style of the Zampano sections to really invigorate me, but the unconventional way they're written keeps the whole thing fresh and strangely exhilarating. The sections written by Truant get a bit difficult to follow because it often sort of spills over into huge waterfalls and cascades of adjectives, but these actually work pretty well in the context and they aren't annoying or boring in the least.

I've gotten to the part where the format starts to get pretty screwy, which is interesting but gives me a sort of paranoid feeling that I might be missing some important clue because I can't be bothered to read through an extremely long list of cooling devices which flips backwards every other page. On the other hand there are pages which are near-blank, which is a sort of empty oasis from the clutter that populates the preceding pages. At first I wasn't really sure what to expect when I heard that the footnotes would go 'up the page' but now I see they indeed do exactly that.

Another cool thing about this book is that it seems to be able to conjure up all sorts of meanings and associations with things that you previously wouldn't have associated with them. In one of the early chapters, for example, the text goes on a brief tangent to explore the meaning of the term echo; it not only explores the mythological interpretations of the word but also ends up attributing the term to something stronger than just a sound. The weird thing about it is that you never know when the book is quoting from real texts or just producing them from nowhere to suit its own ends (at least not without trying to consult the entirety of its enormous bibliography). The way the text is written makes all the 'sources' seem equally real and draws a similar depth of analysis from all of them, which is a pretty impressive feat in itself. The fact that much of the text is applying these quotes and analysis to a body of work that is entirely fictional is also pretty awesome, as MZD's pretty much making up the events seen in The Navidson Record and then applying analysis to what he describes in order to draw up the message of the events for the reader (or at least that's how I interpreted it). Between the vibrant, detailed analysis of the Record and Truant's overflowing sentences, the book often produces vivid and haunting images, such as in the first glimpses of the House and its exploration.

The book also is not afraid to play with the reader, such as by mixing the two narratives to give a different meaning to the text; parallels between the two can also be made which sort of messes with the perspective even more. In a way it does sort of feel like it's taunting you at times with all the foreign quotes, long footnotes and such, but you still keep reading because you honestly want to find out what happens and you genuinely don't want to miss any of the information, either because you think it'll become important later or because the notes and anecdotes and pretty well-written and engaging of themselves.

Colour doesn't have as large a role as I expected, at least at the moment; coloured passages don't crop up that often except for the occasional mention of the word 'house' and the ominous red passages. It certainly has a symbolic purpose but the meaning isn't really clear at this early stage.

Overall I'm enjoying the book loads, though following the plot can be as difficult and labyrinthine as navigating the House.
E̱͡v͈̙e͔̰̳͙r̞͍y͏̱̲̭͎̪ṱ͙̣̗̱͠h̰̰i͙n̶̮̟̳͍͍̫͓g̩ ̠͈en̶̖̹̪d̸̙̦͙̜͕͍̞s̸̰.̳̙̺̟̻̀

I always thought I might be bad
Now I know that it's true
Because I think you're so good
And I'm nothing like you

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Postby Catamari » Tue Feb 11, 2014 12:26 pm

I just finished "A Small Place" for my Literature class.

Jesus-fucking-Christ, there's something wrong with the speaker in that book. All she does is bitch and moan about the English and how they fucked up Antigua. It got old about five pages in. Her anger is understandable, but, shit, DO SOMETHING.

I don't know what it is about this book that frustrates me so. I'm the only one in my class who see Kincaid's anger as immature and pointless. She even goes so far to say that nothing will make up for her ancestors being enslaved by the English. If nothing will fix it, THEN STOP BLOODY COMPLAINING.
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Postby Blue Monday » Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:49 pm

View Original PostShinoyami65 wrote:I'm up to my neck in House of Leaves currently. My god this is awesome.

Glad to hear you’re enjoying the book, Shino. I’ll refrain from my posting about it at-length, but yeah; pretty sure I’ve devoured every bit of text within its pages in many rereads over the years and have to say there is always something new to be discovered. From the outset I found to be an interesting caveat that Truant’s facet, which simply begins as footnotes and annotation to the ‘The Navidson Record’, becomes as intriguing and enthralling as the main story itself, inextricably connected and inevitable the two ultimately are.

Even though House of Leaves is without a doubt one of the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced (I couldn’t bring myself to walk through my house in the dark at night for a long time after my initial read-through); it really transcends any pigeonholing as horror.

Looking forward to more of your thoughts about it anyway, man.
Especially on the end(ings).

;)
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Postby caragnafog dog » Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:43 pm

I finished the first part of the volume of The Border Trilogy by Cormac McCarthy today, All the Pretty Horses. It was sparse and beautiful as expected, but probably a touch more optimistic the McCarthy I've read previously. I'm looking forward to see how the next two relate.
On 11/10/14, at 8:43 PM, Merrimerri wrote:
fhycjubg beat tge sgut iyt if gun
On 6/2/15, at 10:14 PM, Delispin wrote:
> Wow. I've disgusted even myself.

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Postby arkiel » Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:46 pm

I'm here to pimp a book from another Eva fanfic alumni:
http://www.amazon.com/Champion-Zeon-Conspirator-Thomas-Leigh-ebook/dp/B00AM2DSKA

Its by SerialRavist, the dude what wrote Orchestrating the Silence.
https://www.fanfiction.net/s/4140913/1/Orchestrating-the-Silence

It's only 99cents, but if anyone would be willing to review it on Amazon or Goodreads after you're done, I'll gift you a copy. I like playing the good witch, and this thing needs a couple more reviews before most of the free advert blogs will touch it.

Check out B. Pratt's review on Amazon for a spoiler-free summary. Keywords include quantum hacking, low-fantasy, ultragore, and competency porn.

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Postby caragnafog dog » Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:55 pm

View Original Postcaragnafog dog wrote:I finished the first part of the volume of The Border Trilogy by Cormac McCarthy today, All the Pretty Horses. It was sparse and beautiful as expected, but probably a touch more optimistic the McCarthy I've read previously. I'm looking forward to see how the next two relate.
The Crossing was not as good. It was longer and suffered from a few too many long-winded, sparsely punctuated (it's a McCarthy novel after all) existential monologues. Still, the ending was unexpectedly poignant and would have definitely left me thinking were it not for the final book in the series to attend to.
On 11/10/14, at 8:43 PM, Merrimerri wrote:
fhycjubg beat tge sgut iyt if gun
On 6/2/15, at 10:14 PM, Delispin wrote:
> Wow. I've disgusted even myself.

https://qnuw.wordpress.com/ The hottest new meme, revived in blog form. qnuw/qnuw. qnuw/qnuw. qnuw/qnuw.

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Postby Shinoyami65 » Wed Feb 19, 2014 10:15 am

Finished House of Leaves, including the excerpts from The Whalestoe Letters in the back of my copy. I already dumped most of my reaction in my previous post, but looking on the whole thing as a whole is pretty daunting, because there are so many different interpretations of the meaning of the plot. Frankly I was somewhat surprised at the ending of The Navidson Record:



SPOILER: Show

Mainly, I wasn't expecting Navidson to survive (or be saved in such a coincidental deus-ex-machine-esque manner) due to the almost cathartic nature in which his final fall into the abyss is presented. In those moments Navidson loses all sense of direction and becomes increasingly nonsensical, until it seems he has accepted death, yet somehow Karen manages to find him and the house 'dissolves' (although it's still apparently there somehow). Then again, Zampano's theory that Navidson's 'last words' as he falls are actually 'Karen' does make the ending seem more plausible; Karen's need/love for Navidson is also what motivates her to overcome her claustrophobia and venture into the House to find Navidson in the first place. Perhaps that's why some people classify the book as a love story with the appearance of a horror story.


The ending of Truant's narrative also surprised me:

SPOILER: Show

Truant initially mocks the reader by presenting an unrealistic imaginary scenario in which he manages to recover from his psychosis and physical neglect with the help of neglect. Although he does later make reference to the doctor who helped him in this imaginary scenario when giving the final anecdote, so as with much of the text the line between imaginary and reality is being exploited.

The final anecdote of Truant's narrative, before the text goes back to The Navidson Record, seems to link to Truant's relationship with his mother, although I couldn't really tell what the peaceful death of the child at the end was supposed to represent; it could be a metaphor for Truant himself, or just a final, definitive way of concluding Truant's narrative, which is now 'dead' and finished (except for the long appendix).


The appendix seemed to be mostly composed of incomplete and unfinished material, although I'm probably going to give it another run-through to see if there is anything of vital import hidden in it. Notably, the format of the book becomes most difficult to follow in the middle but is more conventional at the beginning and end of the book, almost as a way of bookending the distortion caused by the House. The format actually became even more confusing after my initial post on the book, including one chapter opening with what I think was Braille (although not raised from the page like conventional Braille). Color wasn't a huge part of the book for me, although it did help to highlight how many times the word 'house' recurs throughout the text.

Finally, the fragments from The Whalestoe Letters seem to mostly just provide background on Truant and his mother, although they did seem to have some sort of deeper underlying subtext at times and sometimes dissolve into a sort of confusing distortion akin to that seen in sections related to the House. They weren't as interesting for me as the rest of the novel (or at least not enough to want to pick up the complete Whalestoe Letters) but they did serve some purpose in illustrating Pelafina's character.

Perhaps the best way I can describe House of Leaves is 'deep', in many ways. The book deals several times with literal depth; physical distance and descent, and the narrative mirrors this physical descent and exploration by presenting the story through a variety of different occasionally confusing and shifting ways; the format changes almost parallel the movements of the house and of the characters, which both helps to illustrate the difficulty of the House's exploration later and helps to provide the reader with a glimpse of how difficult navigating the House is, by making navigating the narrative similarly complicated. To find the meaning of the House the reader has to descend into the depths of the novel and try to explore to find what MZD is trying to say, despite how difficult and cryptic it often is; there is always something buried deeper down, out of reach but perhaps decipherable. And the reader keeps going deeper, just like Truant and Navidson, in order to find out what the novel really means.
E̱͡v͈̙e͔̰̳͙r̞͍y͏̱̲̭͎̪ṱ͙̣̗̱͠h̰̰i͙n̶̮̟̳͍͍̫͓g̩ ̠͈en̶̖̹̪d̸̙̦͙̜͕͍̞s̸̰.̳̙̺̟̻̀

I always thought I might be bad
Now I know that it's true
Because I think you're so good
And I'm nothing like you

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Postby Blue Monday » Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:40 pm

So how would you rate the book all up, Shino? I was deeply perturbed after first reading it and ended up rereading it six months or so down the line (with the book mostly never straying far from my thoughts in the interim) and I have to say you pick up on a lot of stuff going through it again. I wouldn’t sweat too much on trying to discern a meaning or message from the book overall. Part of the presentation is actually intended as satire on over-analysis, I think. The most important thing, as always, is the story itself which just so happens to have a pretty unconventional (and unforgettable) format.

SPOILER: Show
Karen manages to find him and the house 'dissolves' (although it's still apparently there somehow).

It’s the labyrinth that dissolves by the end and the house seemingly just goes back to being a regular house; the extra portion correcting itself. I always felt there was a distinct separation between the two confirmed by the conclusion of The Navidson Record.

Perhaps that's why some people classify the book as a love story with the appearance of a horror story.

Yeah it’s certainly a touching part and to me felt more prominent the first time I read the book.
Guess I was focusing elsewhere on repeat visits.

The appendix seemed to be mostly composed of incomplete and unfinished material, although I'm probably going to give it another run-through to see if there is anything of vital import hidden in it.

I honestly can’t remember if I referenced the appendix on the go or left it until the end. Definitely some really cool stuff in there though that complements the text.


Finally, the fragments from The Whalestoe Letters seem to mostly just provide background on Truant and his mother, although they did seem to have some sort of deeper underlying subtext at times and sometimes dissolve into a sort of confusing distortion akin to that seen in sections related to the House. They weren't as interesting for me as the rest of the novel (or at least not enough to want to pick up the complete Whalestoe Letters) but they did serve some purpose in illustrating Pelafina's character.

I agree, but I’ve actually decided that I’m going to grab myself a copy of The Whalestoe Letters for my next read-through later this year. Knowing MZD, he wouldn't release it as a separate item if it didn’t add something to or supplement House of Leaves.


I’ll try to avoid getting into theory-talk for the time being, as I would suggest coming to that only after you’ve reread the book should you so choose. From a quick Google search, there are some pretty interesting points on this page however, just have to ignore the obvious gag theories is all.

But yeah; HOL, as mentioned before, is probably one of my favourite books of all-time. If you ever want to shoot the shit about it, get to posting or feel free to PM me, dude.

:smirk:


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Postby Chuckman » Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:50 pm

I liked the Navidson Record, but the Truant sections are kind of sophomoric at times and the format is really just annoying.
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Postby caragnafog dog » Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:26 pm

Cities of the Plain really took me for a ride. The protagonists of the previous two were brought together and separated in a way I would not have guess but I probably should have. The real strength of it all was the timeskip and epilogue. It wrapped up the trilogy in an immensely moving and satisfying way that pleasantly surprised me. This'll be the last McCarthy I read for a while but it was well worth the time.
On 11/10/14, at 8:43 PM, Merrimerri wrote:
fhycjubg beat tge sgut iyt if gun
On 6/2/15, at 10:14 PM, Delispin wrote:
> Wow. I've disgusted even myself.

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Postby Gorbatschow » Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:04 am

I'm currently reading "Unterm Rad"/"Beneath the Wheel" by Hermann Hesse, a classic I delayed way too long. I'd recommend it to anyone who's slightly interested in rather old literature with a kindly dated writing style.
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Postby caragnafog dog » Sat Feb 22, 2014 10:14 am

View Original PostGorbatschow wrote:I'm currently reading "Unterm Rad"/"Beneath the Wheel" by Hermann Hesse, a classic I delayed way too long. I'd recommend it to anyone who's slightly interested in rather old literature with a kindly dated writing style.
Have you read Demian?
On 11/10/14, at 8:43 PM, Merrimerri wrote:
fhycjubg beat tge sgut iyt if gun
On 6/2/15, at 10:14 PM, Delispin wrote:
> Wow. I've disgusted even myself.

https://qnuw.wordpress.com/ The hottest new meme, revived in blog form. qnuw/qnuw. qnuw/qnuw. qnuw/qnuw.

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Postby Gorbatschow » Sat Feb 22, 2014 12:07 pm

View Original Postcaragnafog dog wrote:Have you read Demian?


Not yet, but I'm planning to read it.
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“Intelligent men do not decide any subject until they have carefully examined both or all sides of it. Fools, cowards, and those too lazy to think, accept blindly, without examining dogmas and doctrines imposed upon them in childhood by their parents, priests, and teachers, when their minds could not reason.” - James Hervey Johnson

“Science doesn’t give absolute answers; it only shows the most presumable contingency based on actual, practical or theoretical evidences.” – My physics teacher

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Postby Madonna » Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:11 am

Edward Feser - The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism

and his book on St Thomas Aquinas.

Very interesting stuff, and he does a great job in refuting many of the outdated arguments promulgated by the likes of Dawkins. One thing I can't stand is vacuous sophistry, and Feser's work has none of that.

As someone who was once an atheist (back in my teen years) but now an agnostic with deist leanings, it's always refreshing reading works like the aforementioned.

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Postby Xard » Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:25 am

They are both excellent books, yes. Honestly surprised someone on EGF (other than me) has read those two. No one writes better or more engaging introductions to modern day Scholasticism than Feser. Not only that, the guy has some seriously noteworthy philosophical chops, especially in field of philosophy of mind and general metaphysics. His last year paper on Newtonian principle of motion and whether or not modern physical science is in conflict with thomism was exquisite. The book he edited this year on neo-Aristotlean metaphysics should be good too though that's honestly much more "dry" topic than one covered in TLS for one.

It's also very humbling to read Feser et al. and then see your own professors fall for same cliched, invalid arguments against Aquinas in introductory classes. I don't share Feser's general commitments (from his form of natural law ethics to classical theism) but through him and other modern writers of his ilk I've definetly come to entertain it as feasible, intellectually living option. One that is not so easily dismissable after all.


I have zero intellectual respect for folks like Dawkins and TLS is very good showcase of it why. I think there's even better stuff out there but not written comparable combination of sharp intellect and keen barb Feser excells in. Typically the reply books to Dennet, Harris et al keep it excessively polite. Which is perhaps a good thing, but it's amusing to read someone willing to use NAesque rhetoric in combination with actually thought through reasoning on the other side.


Personally speaking my journey from atheism back to theism was almost completely intellectual in character. I had no transformative religious experience of any kind. It was some tough couple of years when what I wanted to believe (atheism) and what I felt was only rational option to believe (some form of theism) were in conflict. Eventually I gave my assent and looking back in retrospect and how much more I've learned by now, well, I haven't regretted it in the least.
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Nice, Xard. That's nice.

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Postby Madonna » Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:50 am

View Original PostXard wrote:They are both excellent books, yes. Honestly surprised someone on EGF (other than me) has read those two. No one writes better or more engaging introductions to modern day Scholasticism than Feser. Not only that, the guy has some seriously noteworthy philosophical chops, especially in field of philosophy of mind and general metaphysics. His last year paper on Newtonian principle of motion and whether or not modern physical science is in conflict with thomism was exquisite. The book he edited this year on neo-Aristotlean metaphysics should be good too though that's honestly much more "dry" topic than one covered in TLS for one.


Should be interesting to read, I enjoyed Real Essentialism by David S. Oderberg, which deals with neo-Aristolean metaphysics too. So I'll pick up Feser's new one too.

It's also very humbling to read Feser et al. and then see your own professors fall for same cliched, invalid arguments against Aquinas in introductory classes. I don't share Feser's general commitments (from his form of natural law ethics to classical theism) but through him and other modern writers of his ilk I've definetly come to entertain it as feasible, intellectually living option. One that is not so easily dismissable after all.


Ha! yes, when I first started taking Philosophy classes back at University, it really annoyed me how my professors and, especially, the students (many of whom considered themselves secular humanist atheists. :lol:) in my class would look down upon Aquinas, Augustine etc. To dismiss arguments based on your own lack of belief in God is utterly strange to me. I don't share Feser's commitments or convictions either, but I manage to look past his stance on homosexuality for example, and even as a gay man, it was easy to do because the gist of his arguments are outstanding.


I have zero intellectual respect for folks like Dawkins and TLS is very good showcase of it why. I think there's even better stuff out there but not written comparable combination of sharp intellect and keen barb Feser excells in. Typically the reply books to Dennet, Harris et al keep it excessively polite. Which is perhaps a good thing, but it's amusing to read someone willing to use NAesque rhetoric in combination with actually thought through reasoning on the other side.


It is amusing and refreshing, I consider Harris and Dawkins to be secularist bigots (as Antony Flew had once said), they kind of deserve to be given a taste of their own medicine, especially by someone who is capable of real scholarly arguments and not just sophistry.

Personally speaking my journey from atheism back to theism was almost completely intellectual in character. I had no transformative religious experience of any kind. It was some tough couple of years when what I wanted to believe (atheism) and what I felt was only rational option to believe (some form of theism) were in conflict. Eventually I gave my assent and looking back in retrospect and how much more I've learned by now, well, I haven't regretted it in the least.


Same, and one person who I told my conversion from atheism to deism to had the audacity to say that I went from being rational to delusional (he was an avid Dawkins fan, go figure). I found this hilarious considering the complete opposite is true, I always saw deism/theism as a rational option.
Last edited by Madonna on Tue Feb 25, 2014 8:23 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby AngelNo13Bardiel » Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:54 am

On a lark yesterday, I picked up a cheap (seven USD) paperback copy of The Stand while passing the book section in a store I was in.

My mother's bought and read pretty much everything King's ever written, I suppose I should at least give this one a go. At least it'll be something to read aside from Evafiction...for a little while, at least.
Evangelion fan since 15 October 2002, Evangelion fanfiction writer since 1 April 2004. (FFN) (AO3)
Current avatar: This is Nene. She is cute. It's all there is to it. (sauce: 296426)
Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. - Franz Kafka
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