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Absurd in itself, ironically
on 28 November 2011
The worst bit of The Age of Absurdity, good though it is elsewhere, is Foley's sex scene. Slow, in the missionary position, with his wife. You didn't want to know that, did you. It gets worse. Foley not only tells you about it, he advocates it as the best sex there is.
And that's the trouble with his book, and many other books, and people in general. They think they know best. Ironically, Foley points out this human weakness, the tendency to overrate oneself and underrate others. He advocates humility. But he just can't do it. Perhaps none of us can. Is humility possible? Who invented it? Or imagined it rather? Jesus, I imagine.
Foley criticises one of my favourite books, John Gray's Straw Dogs, except he doesn't really. He just says it's too pessimistic and favours determinism over free will, and gives us a couple of quotes which I assume are meant to show us that Gray is self evidently wrong. I'd say it's hard to argue with the fact that most things in life are outside our control.
Having said all that, it's a good read, quite witty, if you like grumpy old man humour, and I think Foley's conclusions are sensible, e.g. it's a good idea to cultivate detachment, to be able to concentrate, delay gratification, and generally exert as much control as we can over our lives. Ironically, John Gray reaches similar conclusions, at least regarding contemplation and detachment, he's just a bit more realistic, in my view, in thinking most people aren't going to do this, at least not very often.