ethics

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Read: The Sanctuary

Dual (or multiple) interwoven time lines seem pretty popular in current successful novels. The Sanctuary, for instance, connects one story plot playing in the early 1700 with one in the early 2000. Raymond Khoury mixes quite a bit of action – shoot outs, kidnappings, hot pursuits – a string of coincidences with an appealing scientific motive. Though the general level of violence and the number of shady characters is rather high the novel also brings up an interesting mix of moral attitudes and scientific ethics.

How far should you go, how far can you go to achieve your goal? Here, questionable scientific experiments, torture, and murder are obviously accepted means to reach the end. On top of that, even the goal is “ethically challenged.” Should one strive to find the cure for death, to prolong one’s life beyond the normal expectations? And, should you share that knowledge?

For this novel does not tell the “usual” quest for a religious artifact or a secret that could shatter the foundations of the Church, it does tell the quest for a vaccine to cure the disease of aging. And prolongevity – doubling, tripling the healthy human life expectancy – raises some serious social and moral questions.

These questions are far more interesting than the novel itself that only cursorily is concerned with them.

Still, The Sanctuary is quite entertaining – even though [url=http://en. wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_Khoury]Khoury’s[/url] first novel The Last Templar was a bit more enjoyable and enthralling.

Read: Style - Lessons in Clarity and Grace

Maybe two or three years ago I already read “Style - Toward Clarity and Grace” which is a version of Style for a more general audience based on an older textbook edition. By now I have read quite a few (text)books on writing, especially on writing in economics; it is, at the end of the day, how I earn my living. So I should put some effort in it. Reading the 9th edition of the textbook is, however, not really an effort. It is quite enjoyable. The reason, of course, is that Williams put quite some effort into writing and over the years constantly revising it.

Unfortunately, just reading the book is not enough. Williams himself gives a nice metaphor explaining why: Knowing all the ingredients does not make you a good cook. And, I have to admit I did not do the exercises.

Nevertheless, I think I learned at lot from his advise. I noticed how my personal style and approach of revising my texts changed since I left school, since I finished my studies, and since I first read Style. I wish there was something similar in content and style for my native tongue. And that it would be taught at school and first year courses at universities – for both languages.

An interesting and important part of the later Style editions is a chapter on the ethics of style. How we can be fooled by an author’s rhetoric. How we can see through such attempts.