Sunday, 27 January 2013

Progress: More Les Miserables & Eco

Yesterday I mentioned seeing the film Les Miserables.

It's another day. One further point and I'll move on. The Innkeeper and his wife, the Thénardiers, in the musical are quite comical. However in the book quite the opposite, in fact very sinister callous characters. They seemed in the book almost unaware and certainly indifferent to the suffering their extortion was causing  the doomed Fantine and her daughter Cosette.

I also recently read another novel this time from the modern Italian author, Umberto Eco (English version again I'm afraid) that featured another virtually complety immoral character from the same period of French history. In this case the utterly immoral spy, Simone Simonini, who also helped undermine the Paris Commune

Umberto Eco is perhaps best remembered for the book of the film starring  Sean Connery, 'The Name of the Rose'.

On the whole I have found Umberto Echo novels easy to read (except the parts in The Rose that were in Latin!) but they do involve plots, sub-plots and caprices. Sometimes you feel he is having fun with you as the reader, but all generally becomes clear and falls into place in the end. The books involve complex plots and individuals while the books elucidate an underlying philosophical message. Foucault's Pendulum and The Prague Cemetery deal with an important way in which information is misused, the former dealing with spiritualism and devil worship whilst the latter the International Jewish Conspiracy (the 19th century myths that lead ultimately to the holocaust). 

The quite important message is that if someone makes up something and enough people keep repeating it, it becomes regarded as true. Papers are written that quote other papers that cite others that refer only to the first. It has become a very vicious circle of smoke and mirrors. 

There are lessons here for those of us who repeat what we read on Twitter of blog sites and don't check the facts. Science is about verifiable facts, everything else may well be smoke and mirrors.

Its been quite a good week for going to the cinema. Last night I saw Zero Dark Thirty, about the capture of Bin Laden; a long grim film but I thought another Oscar contender.

Photonic Progress