Plays and movies

It took me a while to get into The Castle by Kafka. It can definitely be a boring book, but it doesn’t have to be. What finally got me into the book was this: I stopped imagining the scenery of the story as if it were a movie or a television show: an entire world playing out in front of a camera. Instead, I now imagine it as a theatrical production, as if I’m watching a play of The Castle, with a limited set and props, actors in the background doing whatever, the spotlight following the current thread of the narrative. Imagining K.’s world in this way helps me understand the story being told, I guess because The Castle is a “theatrical” novel?

I recently read The Name of the Wind, a modern fantasy novel which was very much written like a movie, and not like a play. It was easier to imagine Kvothe’s world as a series of movie scenes, with the camera focusing on different things for effect, cut scenes to explain a back story, and so on.

Maybe I’m becoming a better reader? Maybe I have an over-active imagination?

The Principle of Charity

First off, there is really only one thing to keep in mind when reading a philosophical text, and it’s the thing that seems to be the most lacking in new readers: The Principle of Charity. It asks that you read a text in the strongest, most persuasive way possible, regardless of whether you agree with the content. This is extremely important for reading philosophical texts, because many of them will challenge your ideals. Some might even say that is the entire point of reading philosophy, so if you fail in the Principle of Charity, you fail at reading philosophy entirely.
How to study philosophy as an amateur – Existential Comics

Ignac Semmelweiss

From Aceso Under Glass:

When I was a kid, my dad told me the parable of the first physician to realize you should maybe mothers would not suffer quite so many horrifying deaths if doctors washed their hands between autopsies and childbirth. Unfortunately this doctor was an asshole, so everyone ignored him. He eventually went crazy from the stress of knowing so many women were being killed by their doctors, and died in a mental hospital. And that is why we don’t dismiss ideas just because they come from crazy assholes, no matter how much we want to.

[…]

But there was another part of the story I knew but hadn’t considered; the autopsies that were contaminating doctors were being done in pursuit of curing childbed fever. The infection was spread by examinations meant to teach students. The very things doctors were doing to cure women were hurting them. Over the medium term, everyone would have been better of if they’d stopped trying. I find this terrifying.