Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Doris Lessing's Canopus Series

I'm reading four books at the moment (not bragging, I just need variety) and this is one of them. It's the fourth in the truly brilliant series Canopus in Argos Archives by Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing. She calls the series "inner space fiction" and it is breathtaking in its scope, beginning with the microcosm of humanity and ranging out into the vast reality of the universe and universes. (In the second one, she has dimensional 'zones' attached to Earth or Shikasta/Rohanda not unlike the Buddhist notions of bardo realities.) Each book is quite different in tone and subject matter though loosely joined together by the over-arching presence and observation of Canopus. I thought at first this last one was boring and 'small' in comparison to the others, but the more I read it the more hilarious I realise it is. A scathing attack on the folly of humankind, more particularly man-kind, and the machinations of politics and the absurdity of sentimentalism. Most of all I have learned, myself, a lesson in the dangers of rhetoric and how one can get carried away by one's own words. She presents rhetoric as a form of illness, of madness. One has only to think of the ridiculous nature of political conventions with their meaningless speeches and infantile flag-waving calculated to rouse the rabble.

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