Books that everybody has read

There are books that everybody has read so it is as if you had read them as well. Interestingly how the plots of some books are so well known virtually to everybody that even without opening the book even once, you can understand the jokes based on the story or characters, use them as metaphors or laugh at the parodies.

The stories of Robinson Crusoe, Hamlet, Frankenstein and even the Bible itself were interpreted and re-interpreted so many times that they became a kind of common knowledge, entered the noosphere and suddenly became known to everybody, disregarding the actual act of reading the original story. It is interesting to watch how the stories get distorted and float away from the original thought of the author.

Recently (well, yesterday to be exact) I finished reading “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” by Stevenson, one of such stories. The now classic story of a person and his vile alter ego who awakes at night to produce depravity and crime was used in so many films, TV shows and later books, that I imagined the plot of the story in absolute clarity. Thus, there was no reason to read the original book, thought I. After having read Stevenson’s story however, I should confess I was wrong. While the plot was very predictable, the essence of story was not about the evil doppelgänger who tries to take over the doctor’s life, but rather about the suffering of a weak man, who struggles to control his two identities: one of a respected and rich scientist and another of a frivolous debauchee. It is a duel of morality and immorality, rather that of good and evil. Almost everything I saw influenced by that book clearly missed the depth of the original, concentrating on the evilness of the mystical double and positioning the story as a thriller rather than drama.

jekyll and hyde
No-no, it is not a story about a pet orc either


It is always nice when some down to earth empirical knowledge gets scientifically confirmed.

American scientists found out that women and men are different on the level of the structure of the brain connections. Put simply the male and female brains work differently. The exact findings are open to interpretation of course, but the significant difference is confirmed, no way back.

That would lead to some implications for the equality and women rights discussion IF we lived in the science-driven society. Of course they will not. But that is not what captured my attention. It was the text of the article I linked to in this post. Article author, Ian Sample quotes scientists speculating about how different brain wiring may be good for some tasks and detrimental to others. Which led me to think that possibly some time in the future people would be able to use brain scanning techniques to determine where a person can fit into the society. Like the Harry Potter’s magic hat sorted pupils into different houses, brain scanner will sort high school graduates offering them a type of career that corresponds best to their type of neural map. From the practical point of view that might lessen the number of people bitching about not knowing what to do with their lives.

Seriously, get your brain scanned.