Thursday, 5 March 2009

Guest Blogger: Peter Cave-Author of 'What's Wrong with Eating People?'

Today's Guest Blogger is Peter Cave. He is the Author of 'What's Wrong with Eating People?' Published by Oneworld Publications, Peter's novel is a collection of philosophical puzzles.

Writing a book is a way of passing the time; but, as Samuel Beckett quipped, time would have passed anyway. ‘How true,’ we may nod in agreement, but we may think further, ‘Whatever do we mean, when we talk of time passing?’

Thus it is that we enter philosophical perplexities – and the perplexity of time is one puzzle in my What’s Wrong with Eating People? After all, many people tend to think that the future does not exist – not yet – and, although the past was once present, it no longer exists; so, what is left of the present? Is the present just a boundary between the past and the future? But how can we live in a boundary – and how can there be a boundary between two non-existent items, namely, past and future? We seem to have lost all time... Hence, the need for the red wine...

Writing philosophy often involves no writing at all. It involves staring into space, sipping that red wine, while puzzling about such questions, be they questions of time or fate or love or voting or, indeed, the question of what’s wrong with eating people. I guess that the quick answer to that last question depends again on the wine to accompany those people.

Writing philosophy – where I live, in Soho – also engenders lots of teeth gritting, at the noisy road-works outside, car alarms going off unnecessarily and, dare I say, people outside enjoying themselves, cavorting and having fun. So, off I trek to the British Library – only to encounter other ‘readers’ who fail to turn off their laptop sounds. Road-works’ noise is replaced by Microsoft jingles – and the sounds of merry mucus swirling noisily and unhappily in those readers who lack the ability to use tissues.

Oh dear me, do not get the impression that I am forever complaining, ‘Sulky of Soho’ – dear me, no.... of course not. ‘Live and let live’ is my motto – but silently.

True, you may think it bizarre that I live in Soho, in view of the problems of noise; but then it does afford easy opportunities for music, as opposed to noise. I can skip along to English National Opera. Opera is one of the great absurdities of life, of the arts, yet curiously we can wallow in it, suspending belief – another source of paradox. We know we are in the opera house – or the theatre, or reading a book – yet we are swept along by the story, the music. We have hopes and fears for the characters – and yet, how odd! We know they are not real – but we can worry about how their lives develop, even when having left the theatre. Oh dear, another philosophical puzzle!

Thus it is that philosophy can find questions to ask about virtually everything in our lives; and thus it is that I sit down, maybe with earplugs in, headphones on, and try to write some more philosophical puzzles. Pity that the telephone than flashes – maybe it could be someone important – so I remove aforementioned headphones, take out sticky earplugs, pick up the phone – only to be able to hear, over the din of the road-works, some recorded voice urging me to return to the delights of BT or such. So, put down ‘phone, earplugs back in, headphones back on – but then must have some coffee...

And so – one way or another – we live the absurdity of life. And so it is that, in my Robot collection, I mused upon the better life of a pebble on a sun-drenched beach. It would be a better life for then things would just wash over us – and no one would think of eating us. And yet....

Well, try Doctor Atomic – some links at my webpage: or even some jazzed-up Monterverdi sung by Philippe Jaroussky. When submerged in such music, we may lose ourselves – as we lose ourselves when writing a book and reading a book. Paradoxically, things often go best for us when, indeed, we have lost ourselves – be it in the music or in love and romance or even in digging the garden. Here, once again, we have a philosophical perplexity. Whatever is the ‘self’ that we worry so much about? Whatever is the self that we can lose – and feel so much pleasure when lost?

When the mountain flowers are blooming,
Their scent carries their meaning.


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