Sunday, July 17, 2005

Mark Kleiman and Mark Haddon

I just read the curious incident of the dog in the night-time (capitalization a lá the clever but busy cover), a novel by Mark Haddon. The narrator and protagonist is autistic, in the Temple Grandin sense - i.e., very smart and observant but not able to intuit normal human expression or behavior. Christopher is a young fan of Sherlock Holmes, himself possibly autistic, and the book is in part a mystery novel - the mystery being both a particular incident and the different ways of being human. The novel is somewhere between Motherless Brooklyn and Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, two of my favorite books - less exciting and dazzlingly verbal than the former, less perfect and heartbreaking than the latter, but in any case a funny, insightful, finally heroic book.

Anyway, the main character can't understand religion at all - he thinks literally, can't see any place in the physical universe for the supernatural, and can't participate in the numinous. He doesn't understand or even accept metaphors. Religious belief to him is (if he thought about it) something people's brains or programming makes them believe. In short, he has an intellectual stance rather like mine on the subject.

Reading the passing mention of the above in the book, I thought, as I've thought before, "I have no access at all to what Mark Kleiman's view of religion is." Maybe it's me thinking clearly, maybe it's me missing something important. I certainly doubt the latter, but see above.

The lovely and statistically-sophisticated Mrs. R. (see the footnote to this apropos Tbogg post) read my entries on Kleiman's view and said I seemed to be being very harsh on someone whose opinions I quote with respect. Was I doing so the way Christopher hates people saying things that aren't true, or the way he hates eating yellow food? Either way, mockery and anger wasn't a good reaction, so my apologies, Mark.


Blogger YAMB said...

Search Mark's site for his essay titled, "A Sermon on Doubt." It's very good as a clear expressesion of what he can and can't believe.

18/7/05 11:28  
Blogger rilkefan said...

Thanks, will do.

18/7/05 11:34  

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