Saturday, March 20, 2010

Review: Metafizzical Essays and Others by Nicholas Hancock

Put on your 4D glasses, stand on your mental head.

These 87 essays and assorted writings came into being over the past thirty years. A glance at the Contents will show that they have been collected under some fifteen different headings, among which are Liverpool, God, the primacy of the physical and the United States of America. The aim, when Hancock's single finger hovered over the keyboard, was simply to hit the right letters and never - despite his thirty-two years in the profession - never to teach. At all times he has tried to see the underside of things, to become aware of aspects of experience that habit or optimism, or both at the same time, sometimes blind us to. In choosing which of his stock of 197 essays to include, Hancock, together with his mentor and adviser, John Dixon, were driven by the desire to achieve some degree of variety in both style and subject matter.

Received from the publisher for review.

This was an interesting collection of essays, but it wasn't entirely cohesive as they addressed a wide variety of topics. I also wasn't sure whether some of the essays were meant to be serious or funny, which was unfortunate. One essay in particular, Women in Paradise, left me with an “I don't get it” grimace.

The large section on gods and religion was especially strange as I wasn't sure what the author's views actually were, although he later identified himself as a “convinced atheist” whatever that is.

This one gets one star. I must say that I was not impressed. Of course, the author would probably tell me that I'm just too stupid to fully comprehend his intellectual essays. In any case, the book did nothing for me and I was left with a slightly disconcerted feeling wondering about whether the author truly believed all of what he wrote in the essays. I truly hope not. I'd have to recommend a pass on this one.

☆☆ = Didn't Like It


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