The Pains: A Book For Our Times
My teenage daughter knows a bit about life and art and intellectual pursuits. But only a bit. She rated John’s “Acts of the Apostles” as “not bad”, which is to say she liked it a lot. It’s a good read, and she can relate to its view of uncool dudes in the world. But having grown up living the technology instead of studying it, she takes too much for granted to appreciate the detailed references or the jokes.
I’m not yet recommending John’s latest book to her. She does not yet have the intellectual background for “The Pains.” Thank God.
Everyone over 20 should read it. It is an easy, funny and entertaining novella to read, with terrific pictures, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But it has a challenging subject that forms a litmus test of whether you’ve been out in the world and paying attention and asking questions: What is the scope of science, religion, and politics?
“The Pains” is no wishy-washy thematic rambling — it has an opinion. (My favorite line is when the heroine meets the obviously dying hero for the first time in an ’80’s dance bar and declares, “I hate the fucking Eagles.”) I had first thought that opinion was centered on the general theme of “neo-con totalitarianism is bad, starting with Reagan.” As such, maybe the story was a bookend capturing a dead era?.
But the deeper theme of personal vs messianic science, religion, and politics are certainly not resolved this January, 2009. Indeed, a soul’s freedom requires perpetual awareness, and I think I hope that it always will.
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Howard Stearns works at High Fidelity, Inc., creating the metaverse.
Mr. Stearns has a quarter century experience in systems engineering, applications consulting, and management of advanced software technologies. He was the technical lead of University of Wisconsin's Croquet project, an ambitious project convened by computing pioneer Alan Kay to transform collaboration through 3D graphics and real-time, persistent shared spaces. The CAD integration products Mr. Stearns created for expert system pioneer ICAD set the market standard through IPO and acquisition by Oracle. The embedded systems he wrote helped transform the industrial diamond market. In the early 2000s, Mr. Stearns was named Technology Strategist for Curl, the only startup founded by WWW pioneer Tim Berners-Lee. An expert on programming languages and operating systems, Mr. Stearns created the Eclipse commercial Common Lisp programming implementation.
Mr. Stearns has two degrees from M.I.T., and has directed family businesses in early childhood education and publishing.
Why think yew, think you ferry much.
Can I get you to say a few nice words on Amazon? Of course, I make more money on sales through wetmachine than through Amazon, but Amazon cannot be ignored.
There are two reviews up there now, including a very funny (and positive) review by Mike Barlow.
Read it twice. Missed the hundreds of geeky allusions of “Acts”, or the weirdness of “CCD”. But: it’s the “deepest” of the three.
I have 4 copies, 3 of them intended as presents for those who deserve and can take it. Don’t know yet how will that be, and when. “The Pains” is really special. Giving it to someone feels like a confession.
What a nice thing to say! Thanks!
When you get a second, could you say something nice on Amazon? Or elsewhere? This little book (and its author) need(s) all the help it(they) can get.