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The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths [Kindle Edition]

John Gray
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The powerful, beautiful and chilling sequel to the bestselling Straw Dogs



John Gray draws on an extraordinary array of memoirs, poems, fiction and philosophy to make us re-imagine our place in the world. Writers as varied as Ballard, Borges, Freud and Conrad are mesmerised by forms of human extremity - experiences on the outer edge of the possible, or which tip into fantasy and myth. What happens to us when we starve, when we fight, when we are imprisoned? And how do our imaginations leap into worlds way beyond our real experience?



The Silence of Animals is consistently fascinating, filled with unforgettable images and a delight in the conundrum of our existence - an existence which we decorate with countless myths and ideas, where we twist and turn to avoid acknowledging that we too are animals, separated from the others perhaps only by our self-conceit. In the Babel we have created for ourselves, it is the silence of animals that both reproaches and bewitches us.



Reviews:



'The Silence of Animals is a new kind of book from Gray, a sort of poetic reverie on the human state, on the state, that is, of the human animal ... He blends lyricism with wisdom, humour with admonition, nay-saying with affirmation, making in the process a marvellous statement of what it is to be both an animal and a human in the strange, terrifying and exquisite world into which we straw dogs find ourselves thrown' John Banville, Guardian



'Interesting, original and memorable ... The Silence of Animals is a beautifully written book, the product of a strongly questioning mind. It is effectively an anthology with detailed commentary, setting out one rich and suggestive episode after another' Philip Hensher, Spectator




About the author:



John Gray has been Professor of Politics at Oxford University, Visiting Professor at Harvard and Yale and Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics. He now writes full time. His books include False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals and The Immortalization Commission: The Strange Quest to Cheat Death. His selected writings, Gray's Anatomy, was published in 2009.


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Review

The Silence of Animals is a new kind of book from Gray, a sort of poetic reverie on the human state, on the state, that is, of the human animal ... He blends lyricism with wisdom, humour with admonition, nay-saying with affirmation, making in the process a marvellous statement of what it is to be both an animal and a human in the strange, terrifying and exquisite world into which we straw dogs find ourselves thrown (John Banville Guardian)

Interesting, original and memorable ... The Silence of Animals is a beautifully written book, the product of a strongly questioning mind. It is effectively an anthology with detailed commentary, setting out one rich and suggestive episode after another (Philip Hensher Spectator)

About the Author

John Gray has been Professor of Politics at Oxford University, Visiting Professor at Harvard and Yale and Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics. He now writes full time. His books include False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals and The Immortalization Commission: The Strange Quest to Cheat Death. His selected writings, Gray's Anatomy, was published in 2009.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic! 31 Dec. 2013
By Dodo VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am an atheist and a humanist and this book slates both! It is great to have one's beliefs challenged. His basic thesis is that animals are content just to breathe, eat and defecate, whereas humans have to cause horrendous suffering by thinking too much, and hoping for an impossible utopia gained by 'progress.' The war in Syria would sum up his message, as all traits of human civilisation have broken down. The Geneva Convention is a joke in Syria. Snipers are shooting children and pregnant women. What can suicide bombers achieve but death and destruction? Their Paradise full of virgins is a myth. As the scope of the book is infinite, it hops about like a drunken pessimistic kangaroo from one opinion to another, but is thought provoking all the same. I found it very stimulating.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bad Habits of Expectancy 10 Mar. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
John Gray, The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths

John Gray maintains that science and myth are simply the human animal's way of dealing with chaos. His latest book strips away the comforts of science and religion, mere shelters from a world we can never know. In his latest book, Gray attacks the very notion of progress, a doctrine that cannot but fail to delude. As our forefathers put their faith in gods, modern man clings to science and technology. He cites a range of authors, from Conrad to Ballard who present worlds where chaos dominates over civilisation. If civilisation is natural, then so is barbarism.

Gray refuses to believe in so-called scientific advance, his mentors being Freud rather than Darwin, and Llewelyn Powys rather than Richard Dawkins. He quotes extensively from the little-known Powys, an atheist `adamant that rejecting religion meant renouncing any idea of order in the world.' Gray's bleak and nihilistic viewpoint echoes that of Beckett: God is a man-made phantom, a bastard who doesn't exist. Gray ends with a clarion call from Powys: `It is not only belief in God that must be abandoned, not only all hope of life after death, but all trust in an ordained order.'

This is a fascinating and wide-ranging account of myth in the comprehensive sense of the word. Gray cites a range of philosophers, economists, poets, theologians, anthropologists and social commentators, all of whom have found shelter in certainties. The fact is that man's dreams of progress are but makeshifts, stages in a perpetual cycle that has no purpose or meaning.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Silence of Animals 22 Nov. 2013
By Sandford TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I found this a difficult read, but then it presents an intellectual challenge for the reader.

To précis this right down to the essence of its effect upon me is that I feel less like throwing a brick at the television when I listen to politicians puffing up themselves in fighting their party political corners. The writing has given me words that have dragged up various uneasy feelings from my unconscious, and achieved some acceptance of the inevitable, that change and progress is indeed much of a myth. If such a text provides some meaning to that not quite known inside me, then it has to have proved successful in achieving some understanding. Throwing a brick is my frustration at not understanding that those in power just only want to hang on to it, and not for the concept of progress of humanity at all. My violence has turned to more of an inward sigh of acceptance.

Now I understand a little of where my feelings come from, I feel more stoic about it all, and somehow it validates a primal feeling I have as humans we are not that important as we might believe in the hierarchy of life.

Altogether a humbling read for me
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars reality exists in the human mind and nowhere else 18 Aug. 2013
By David Spanswick VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Despite the joyous and imaginative cover art work and the title that suggests a recent horror film (the previous volume "Straw Dogs rejoiced in its duplicity)inside I discovered the working essays combined to form a philosophy of an acknowledged pessimist, maybe this is not the technical term for his status but after reading the first half of the book (it is a rather indigestible tome and requires extensive rereading)with its references to Koestler, Orwell and the darker side of Joseph Conrad, I came to this conclusion.

It does take a prolific writer (often seen in the Guardian and Spectator) to be able to draw threads for his argument from as many sources as are available and Gray is obviously extremely well read.

He delivers a world where the torture of Winston Smith is as relevant today as it was back in the 1940s; the depressing message is that nothing really changes, that so called civilisation merely masks the truths (Is there such a thing as Truth?)in empty rhetoric, propaganda, political cant and The Big Lie i.e. that we are a civilsed animal

Gray's sources are impeccable and worth further research. The book is divided into three sections each one subdivided into almost meditative essays. Essays themselves are becoming a dying literary form and so, even though challenging, this collection here is both thought provoking and contentious. There is so much food for thought that a single reading will not do this book any jind of justice.

There is no doubt that Gray's voice is an important one even though what he is saying may not always be palatable
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Inspirational John Gray: the Silence of Animals.
John Gray's work is always interesting and challenging and The Silence of Animals is no exception. Before reading it I had just finished his Soul of the Marionette; both books... Read more
Published 7 days ago by Graham Attenborough
5.0 out of 5 stars No wonder they're silent, says Gray. Rightly.
The 21st century in the West - probably the Wettest Place and Time ever. All sensibility and no sense. One of the very few ways to get even halfway dry is to read John Gray. Read more
Published 1 month ago by J. Innes
4.0 out of 5 stars The Noble Savage?
John Gray writes about complicated ideas in a simple, accessible prose and although you may not agree with his rather bleak view of humanity, it is refreshing to read a book that... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Captain Pike
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully realistic and therefore pessimistic
This book continues the arguments and analysis of the 'human condition,' found in his earlier work, Straw Dogs etc. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ray137
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything as expected.
Product arrived in perfect conditions. Nothing else to add.
Published 1 month ago by Fernando Ribeiro
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good, readable, thought provoking but excuse me while I go and slit my throat.
Published 2 months ago by joe winston
5.0 out of 5 stars Read and weep?
After reading this one I bought others. John Gray is a penetrating thinker who causes one to reassess assumptions. Read more
Published 6 months ago by M. Hayward
2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious
A curiously disjointed book that completely failed to grab my attention. I found it very difficult to read and couldn't get past the first couple of chapters. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Jon D
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong echoes of the film "Le Quattro Volte"
Utterly thought provoking. I suggest Gray's tenets here should be read in conjunction with the viewing of three films which seem to strongly reflect the revised way of... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Just a Number
4.0 out of 5 stars John Gray makes Nietzsche look like an optimist.
As long as you won't let yourself become disencouraged about the nature and prospects of mankind, this is an enlightening read.
Published 15 months ago by Willem A. Oudheusden
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