Consider the big questions. For instance, what does language afford us? Is self-consciousness and all it implies (self-reflection, guilt, joyâ€¦) embedded in language, daresay a function of language? Why do we create art? Nature or nurture, what shapes us? How is love possible? Where does rage come from? Cruelty? What are we to make of the animals, those we imprison, those we consume, the beasts we love as companions? What, indeed, does it mean to be a human being and can it, whatever it might mean, be fully realized? Now, take these questions and a bunch more just like them, and wrap them up in a narrative so unique and compelling, so rich as to bring transparency to the questions. Then shape the story around a unique voice that ranges from the mindlessly inarticulate to the Mensian complex. If you can imagine experiencing all that, you have a sense of what this book affords the adventurous reader.
The core of EMBASSYTOWN by China Mieville is an exploration of the nature of language in the context of the future on a far-distant solar system where humans interact with an alien species that speak a profoundly different language. This is a new book by the brilliantly inventive author of THE CITY AND THE CITY, PERDIDO STREET STATION, KRAKEN and others. I have read four of his books now and one common thread is that they have a philosophical emphasis, and plunge us without much explanation into a radically different world than our own. Due to the strangeness of these worlds, the first part of each book is like visiting some foreign place without knowing much at all about the place, the people, and the customs. Initially clueless, we are rewarded with an unfolding appreciation of the environment. Complex philosophical and conceptual issues are the point of this body of work. EMBASSYTOWN is no exception to this rule.
One of my earliest childhood memories involves singing â€śRing-A-Ring Oâ€™ Rosesâ€ť with some fellow kindergarteners. We assumed the rhyme was some general gibberish especially because in our modified version it became â€śRing Around the Rosesâ€ť and we substituted â€śHushaa Hooshaâ€ť for the actual â€śAtishoo, Atishoo.â€ť Many years later, I found out that the rhyme might have a darker connation with it signifying people collapsing to the plague.
The PirahĂŁ are the “Show me!” tribe of the Brazilian Amazon. They don’t bother with fiction or tall tales or even oral history. They have little art. They don’t have a creation myth and don’t want one. If they can’t see it, hear it, touch it or taste it, they don’t believe in it.
Missionaries have been preaching to the PirahĂŁs for 200 years and have converted not one. Everett did not know this when he first visited them in 1977 at age 26. A missionary and a linguist, he was sent to learn their language, translate the Bible for them, and ultimately bring them to Christ.
Instead, they brought him to atheism.