2007-03-25

A man in full possession of his writing talent

A Man in Full is the first Tom Wolfe I've read. I've always intended to read The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test but never got round to it. Part of what happens in AMIF is that characters get into desparate situations and are then helped by the philosophy of the Stoics, in particular Epictetus.

Wolfe has the character Conrad explaining, 'Epictetus said that Zeus has given every person a spark from his own divinity, and no one can take that away from you, not even Zeus, and from that spark comes your character. Everything else is temporary and worthless in the long run, your body included'.

But surely we know that this isn't really how things work. A person's character arises from the particular configuration of the neurons in their brain. Okay, well let's say that Epictetus was using 'divine spark' to mean the human spirit (not a supernatural thing). The bit about nobody being able to take away the 'divine spark' just isn't true. Epictetus obviously hadn't seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

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