A Hell of a Woman by Jim Thompson

From my notion book review template

A Hell of a Woman by Jim Thompson

What It’s About – lowlife surrounded by other lowlife’s meets desperate woman – the lowlife reveals himself to be quite low over the course of the book

How I Discovered It – Amazon sent me an email saying I would like it, and it was on sale

Thoughts – The pacing is the most interesting part – Thompson starts the main character off in the first person as the inner dialogue of a regular guy, then it changes to the dialogue of the average lowlife, then it gets much worse – all very believable though.

Calling Thompson the “Dimestore Dostoevsky” is pretty accurate

What I Liked About It – the character progression as a moral descent, which in hindsight, was obvious. Also the book was a very fast read – I read it in two or three sittings.

What I Didn’t Like About It – the ending had too many new things which hurt the concepts a bit

Who Would Like It? – any hard boiled fiction fans

Related Books – Pop 1280, the Grifters

A new way of labeling one’s position on abortion

We currently have the inadequate terms “Pro-choice” and “Pro-life” – which, while self congratulatory and cloying don’t describe the situation with any clarity or precision.

Are you find with abortion by medication (abortion pills) but think partial birth abortion/dilation and extraction should be illegal? Which are you? Are you pro-choice because you think the pills should be legal and maybe even covered by insurance, or are you pro life because you think abortion at 39 weeks should be illegal.

I propose a new way of thinking about the matter – instead of choosing a binary term (pro or anti) – why not use a numerical score of when you think abortion should be prohibited?

Assuming the following:

  • The average pregnancy takes 40 weeks from a woman’s last period
  • Conception happens at week 2 (on average)
  • One’s opinions on contraception are not relevant to this metric
  • Once the child is out of the womb it assumes it’s own existence and personhood separate from the mother

Why not start using numerical scales – someone who would prohibit all abortions would label themselves as A2, someone who thinks partial birth abortion/D & E should be legal would be an A40. Someone who favors the heartbeat rule would be an A12, etc, etc.

I think this would offer much more clarity in one’s positions than the current system of labeling.

Another de Boerism that should be a yard sign

From this post on feeling valid

I don’t mean to be a bummer here. But it’s important to point out that we’re born in terror, we exist for no reason, we experience confusion and shame as children, we busily prepare ourselves for lives we don’t want or can’t have, we are forced to take on the burdens of adult responsibility, we compromise relentlessly on what life we’ll pursue, we settle and settle and settle, we fear death and ponder our meaninglessness, we experience the horrors of aging, and when we die the only comfort we have is that we aren’t conscious to learn that there was never any heaven or God to give it all meaning. This is the inevitable reality of human life and it can never change.

Book Review – The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

From my notion book review template

The Book

The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

What It’s About

Letters from an older demon to his demon nephew on how to lure humanity into damnation – similar to the role of mobile phones and social media in our modern age

How I Discovered It

A book by Freeman Dyson – in his Templeton section on Theological Fiction

Thoughts

An interesting approach to the subject of moral progress

What I Liked About It

The perspective – one never hears the devil’s perspective, not does one ever read a book about moral progress as a process, instead of just arriving at an ideal end state

What I Didn’t Like About It

Nothing in particular

Who Would Like It?

People who are more prone to pondering religion and existence than going to church

Related Books

StarMaker by Olaf Stapledon

Money Quotes


There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.

Keep everything hazy in his mind now, and you will have all eternity wherein to amuse yourself by producing in him the peculiar kind of clarity which Hell affords.

What he says, even on his knees, about his own sinfulness is all parrot talk. At bottom, he still believes he has run up a very favourable credit-balance in the Enemy’s ledger by allowing himself to be converted, and thinks that he is showing great humility and condescension in going to church with these ‘smug’, commonplace neighbours at all.

Keep his mind off the most elementary duties by directing it to the most advanced and spiritual ones. Aggravate that most useful human characteristic, the horror and neglect of the obvious. You must bring him to a condition in which he can practise self-examination for an hour without discovering any of those facts about himself which are perfectly clear to anyone who has ever lived in the same house with him or worked in the same office.

Once this habit is well established you have the delightful situation of a human saying things with the express purpose of offending and yet having a grievance when offence is taken

And how disastrous for us is the continual remembrance of death which war enforces. One of our best weapons, contented worldliness, is rendered useless.

Do what you will, there is going to be some benevolence, as well as some malice, in your patient’s soul. The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbours whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know. The malice thus becomes wholly real and the benevolence largely imaginary.

the healthy and out-going activities which we want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return, so that at least he may say, as one of my own patients said on his arrival down here, ‘I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked.’

Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours. Let him feel as a grievous tax that portion of this property which he has to make over to his employers, and as a generous donation that further portion which he allows to religious duties. But what he must never be permitted to doubt is that the total from which these deductions have been made was, in some mysterious sense, his own personal birthright.

Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their political life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster. On the other hand we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything—even to social justice. The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience.

who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s shop. Fortunately it is quite easy to coax humans round this little corner. Only today I have found a passage in a Christian writer where he recommends his own version of Christianity on the ground that ‘only such a faith can outlast the death of old cultures and the birth of new civilisations’. You see the little rift? ‘Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason.’ That’s the game,

The real trouble about the set your patient is living in is that it is merely Christian. They all have individual interests, of course, but the bond remains mere Christianity. What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of mind I call ‘Christianity And’. You know—Christianity and the Crisis, Christianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and the New Order, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Psychical Research, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Spelling Reform.

At any rate, you will soon find that the justice of Hell is purely realistic, and concerned only with results. Bring us back food, or be food yourself.