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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Friday, 15 February 2019

"Man and the Sun" by Jacquette Hawkes

This book was written in 1962 and is a reasonably authoritative layman's guide to the relationship between man and the sun. She starts off discussing the science and how the sun drives life on Earth but her main interest lies in the realm of myth. Thus she considers the prehistoric representations of sun gods, finding solar disks in burials on Salisbury Plain near Stonehenge, before considering solar gods in the religions of Mesopotamia and Egypt, the Incas and Aztecs, Hindus, Zoroastrians, and the followers of Mithras and Christ.

There are many interesting points she made although she sometimes allows her cultural biases to show (for example when condemning the Aztecs for their practice of human sacrifice). Often her writing is vigorous and she has a way with metaphor that can coin a memorable phrase (“We stand before the chimpanzee’s cage thinking, each one of us, there but for the grace of God swing I.”) Occasionally this can stray into the use of language for reinforcing bias, such as when she describes Neanderthals [I assume] as "less able types of human being". There is sometimes a statement made baldly without any evidence but which she clearly considers fact: “As the individual self-consciousness increased and the conscious and intellectual mind grew further apart from the unconscious, there was an equivalent tendency to set a single male divinity outside and above nature, the world being his creation, sometimes his creation as Logos, the most intellectual of conceptions. It is not easy to distinguish sharply between transcendental and immanent gods.

This is a book of its time but it is well-written and very readable.

Interesting moments:
  • “At two thousand million miles from the Sun its light is still strong enough to allow the reading of fine print - were there readers on Uranus, which orbits at about this distance.”
  • “Plants can feed on pure carbon dioxide ... The leaf wantoning in the air is eating away as steadily as a sheep in a field.”
  • “It is an all but universally recognised attribute of the inspired person to have bright-shining eyes.”
  • “There are people who have developed religious ideas that allow them to be as light-hearted and guilt-free as many of the South Sea Islanders, or as grim and guilt-ridden as the Calvinists, who rejoice in simplicity like the Quakers or in grandeur like the Roman Catholics ... Yet always ... we are inclined to think of the religion shaping the faithful instead of the faithful shaping the religion.” 
  • “Satan, Prince of Darkness, and his followers can hardly be distinguished from Ahriman and his demon host.”
  • “No more than a bird can build its nest exclusively with its own feathers could the Christian leaders build a faith, rites and church without picking up all manner of extraneous material from the Graeco-Roman environment.”
  • Leonardo da Vinci said that “whoever evokes authority for his reasoning is using not his intelligence that his memory.”

February 2019; 240 pages

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