Saturday 13 October 2007

Nobel Observations

The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Doris Lessing just a few days ago.

I have tried to read Doris Lessing upon the recommendation of my sister (although she now denies ever having recommended it to me). Some of my more astute readers will remember the result which were document in this post. Let's just say it wasn't flattering.

And then I read the author's reaction to winning the prize as reported in the New York Times:

"Either they were going to give it to me sometime before I popped off or not at all."

I could say the same thing! She's not very clever, is she? So what exactly is the criteria for winning the Nobel Prize?

On a more positive note, my hero, Al Gore, shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC assesses scientific information related to human-induced climate change. This is a well earned, well deserved award.

Not so sure about the literature prize though. Seems to me the thought "gee she wrote lots and she's getting on in years, maybe we oughta give her an award or something". Kinda like those lifetime achievement awards at the Oscars for those actors who never actually won during their career but made so many dang bad films we gotta tip our hats to them!

So I went back through the list of Nobel Prizes for Literature. I was afraid that over the last several decades, there were only 3 or 4 writers whose names I even recognised. I found that as I travelled back in time I was far more familiar with the authors and had more than likely read their several of their books. I even found some of my favourites: Pearl S Buck, John Steinbeck, TS Eliot, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Isaac Bashevis Singer. Does this mean that good literature needs to age, like fine wine and superb port? Or that the Nobel committee used to be much better at picking out winners?

Another observation I made was if the authors were not American, English or Irish I did not recognise their names nor could I cite their works. Their were a couple of exceptions: Gabriel Garcia Marquez who hails from Columbia(whose work 100 Years of Solitude I have been trying to read off and on for over 6 years now); JM Coetzee who is originally from South Africa but now lives in Australia. I don't know about him from his writing but due to the controversy surrounding his, according to some, abandonment of his mother country for the good life in a Western culture. I also recognised last years winner, Orhan Pamuk but only because the book group forced me to read his book which I hate to admit but did really enjoy.

Why are authors from other countries not translated and published in foreign countries? Any one?


Anonymous said...

Al Gore, are you kidding me? I could not believe he won for his global warming lies, and this time its not me saying it! The movie cannot possibly be a documentary, when he mention's a stting president in it.

It was a UK Judge, that earlier this week, declared that 11 corrections had to accompany the showing of his movie in UK schools. Not that anyone here is interested:
1. Gore presents Mt. Kilimanjaro's melting snows as proof of global warming. In fact, the snows are vanishing thanks to local factors, including deforestation
2. Gore suggests Antarctica's ice cover is melting. Most studies say it is increasing or stable
3. Gore shows scary graphics of cities drowning in seas that rise 7m, causing millions of refugees. But the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the seas will rise at worst by 59cm this century.
4. Gore uses images of Hurricane Katrina and suggests it was caused by global warming. The Government's expert in this case admitted such one-off events can't be blamed on warming." (Where are the hurricans this year by the way and in 06'. If global warming is happening, where are all the katrina's?)
5. Gore suggests ice-core evidence shows rising CO2 caused temperature rises, which ended the past seven ice ages. In fact, the CO2 rises followed temperature rises by 800 to 2000 years.
6. Gore claims global warming could stop the Gulf Stream, causing an ice age in Europe. Recent studies deny it."
7. Gore blames global warming for species losses in coral reef bleaching. The government couldn't show evidence to back this claim
8. The film suggests that the Greenland ice covering could melt causing sea levels to rise dangerously. The evidence is that Greenland will not melt for millennia
9. The film suggests that the Antarctic ice covering is melting, the evidence was that it is in fact increasing.
10. The film claims that rising sea levels has caused the evacuation of certain Pacific islands to New Zealand. The Government are unable to substantiate this and the Court observed that this appears to be a false claim
11. The film shows the drying up of Lake Chad and claims that this was caused by global warming. The Government's expert had to accept that this was not the case

This is why they are starting to call global warming, "Climate Change" that way everything can be blamed on GWB.

Can't comment on the rest, I am a dumb conservative who reade 1 (2 on good year) books per year.

LaDawn said...

Reading lends compassion for other points of view. I recommend that.

Janell said...

Joe, thanks for the details on the 11 points - I'd heard and read about that, but hadn't seen the 11 points.
My first reaction about Doris Lessing was, "Is she still alive!?" I question the judgment of the Nobel committe on both Gore & Lessing being awarded.

Anonymous said...

Having compassion for other points of view and not agreeing with them are two completely items.

Correct me if I am wrong, but it appears that you are associating the number of books I read per year with how informed I am on what's happening on the planet and how I am not as open minded.

Being open minded and standing firm in my beliefs are not conflicting values.

Most of the books I read are business related and are rarely political: For example: Execution, Good to Great, The Deadline, Come Thirsty (Religious Book), Masters of Chaos (Book about US Special Forces)

At any rated, I am open minded enough to know where other people stand and what other points of view are and I don't agree am not interested in compromise (I respect that you don't compromise either).

How do you compromise on your beliefs or negotiate with opposition when the premise of a negotiation is flawed.

Examples: We need to talk to / negotiate with Iran. How do you negotiate with someone when the premise if literally your death and the destruction of your nation. Where do you compromise? You can kill half of us? or maybe, can you wait a few years to kill us? Instead of kill me, can you just take a limb?

I don't believe we elect people to compromise, we elect them to politically defeat the opposition and implement our idealogy (this applies to liberal or conservatives).

By the way, compromise is generally defined as when conservatives give in to libs. Not the other way around. It angers me that most of the GOP are a bunch of wimps and are afraid to be conservatives.

LaDawn said...

I do not define compromise in those terms. I prefer that provided by the Oxford English Dictionary.

1. Verb : to find a way between extremes
2. Nonun: settlement of differences by consent reached by mutual concessions

My comment did not pertain to the number of books you read but rather the selection of books you choose.

I recommend reading some fiction which, I have found, provides unique points of view of other cultures. I would surmise from the books you cited, although I haven't read all of them, you prefer to read books which are aligned with your belief system rather than challenge them.

I have read Good to Great which I believe has now taking a beating given that many of the examples cited have now fallen rather than remained Great.

Have you read The Kite Runner, A Good Earth or My Name is Red? I recommend all of them.

Janell said...

Just a guess to comment on why no translations from other languages: it may be cost prohibitive to get the job done properly. It may be that it has been done in the past and not proven profitable. Perhaps you've found a market niche to fill?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I am not a fan of fiction books, that's what movies are for because I have very very little time to read as is. I like to think of myself as well cultured, so far I've been able to visit around 14 different countries and will be visiting atleast five more in the next 12 months (China, Thailand, India, South Africa, UAE - Dubai) and speak fluent Spanish, a bit hungarian and am learning Portugese.

I wouldn't necessarily say I read books in line with my belief system, the books I listed above are not political. Most of my reading is business related, Execution is a business book about how to develop a culture of strong execution and accountability. Masters of Chaos is more of a historical biography of a special forces soldier and all the conflicts he was involved in from Training to Panama to the current War on Terror. Come Thirsty, is a religious book a neighbor gave me (didn't know it was religious til I started reading it). Interesting you say good to great is taking a beating, some of the companies are, but I believe the concepts in the book are sound and that book fundamentally changed the way I think (admittedly, some of it turned out to validate what I do, but I didn't know til I read the book). Examples: Build the right team first, get the wrong people off the bus, never steal credit, etc, etc. I think the concepts are very very sound and if I recall, the book itself admitted that the companies would not be able to sustain what they have done for much beyond 15 years. The Deadline is a book about Project Management (Actually you'd enjoy it, given what you do for a living).

As far as challenging my belief system, couple of beliefs I am not interested in challenging. I stand firm in my religious beliefs, you'd be surprised what I know of other religions, but there is no point in challenging that (I think that was one of the ten commandments). A biz book is a biz book. If they come out with "Half Ass to Mediocre" (making lite of good to great LOL) I don't think I'd buy it. The only political book I ever read was Culture Warrior, by Bill O'reilly and I have purchased (but haven't read) Freakonomics. Other good ones include the 48 Laws of Power and Sun Tzu (a must own, not a good read cover to cover. I pick it up and read pages from time to time).

I forced myself to watch Farenheit 911 (Anti War, Bush) and Invonvenient Truth, I am pro-gun but thought bowling for Columbine was pretty funny (Two Michael Moore's and one Al Gore). I listened (before they failed miserably) to Al Franken on Occasion and sometimes catch Randy Roades. Won't bother seeing Sicko, because its mostly made up.

I'll look into the three books you recommended. I'd recommend Culture Warrior to you or Master's of Chaos, two completely different reads, but both both good books.