Thursday, September 23, 2010

Diet, Pullman, air travel

Who needs to know about the best diet pills ever? There are other ways to lose weight.

Last night I flew into Dunedin from Auckland. We were due to land at 9 pm, and were pretty much on time, in spite of a headwind. In the end we actually landed about 9.30 after half an hour of circling the city. That delay might have been okay, except that every time we approached the airport the squalling winds buffeted the plane around in a horrific way, and anxiety was the major emotion on board. The unfortunate thirty-something man in the seat opposite mine, across the aisle, brought up his dinner, then his lunch, and perhaps even his breakfast. That's not a pleasant way to lose weight, but it's effective. Anxiety is probably pretty good too. I'm sure I was several pounds lighter by the time I put my feet on the ground.

On a totally different tack, I came across this delightful piece by Betty Smartt Carter in the Books and Culture magazine today. It relates partly to Philip Pullman's most recent book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, but it goes beyond that, back into Pullman's famous (children's) trilogy, His Dark Materials.

It begins:
The following is a story that attempts to show how a recent novel could have happened. It is not the story. It is not even a plausible story. Sometimes it reads like fairy tale and at other times like a product of Google Translate. The effect is intentional.

Once there were two brothers from Norwich. The younger brother, Philip, became a storyteller. He had a gift for describing the natural world without sentimentalizing it. The older brother, Pullman, became a teacher and a champion of human liberty. He liked stories, too, but thought they ought to serve a Greater Purpose.


Its tongue-in-cheek style takes the edge of its satire, but only a little.
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