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Book meme

* Grab the nearest book.
* Open the book to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.

As the page starts in the middle of a sentence, I am including 2 sentences. If you count the first, incomplete sentence as [1], then the first below is [5]; however is you only count complete sentences, then the second is [5].

"Take plenty. With regard to Policy, I expect you already have your own views."

From "Scoop" by Evelyn Waugh, the book I am currently reading. As an aside; wow is this book racist. The plot revolves around a reluctant British reporter sent to cover a civil war in Africa. This being Waugh, I was prepared for the sarcastically bitter political humor. I know he hates most things British; and all things Non. But still, the casual dismissal of the Africans the main character lives amongst is shocking to me.

I think it is because, living in 2008 Massachusetts, I am accustomed to racism being deliberately mean. But in the 1937 British mindset of the novel, there is no conscious hostility to the remarks and attitudes. They simply are. Even the most virulent racist in the modern world is aware that there are people - somewhere - who disagree with their beliefs. Seventy years ago? Not so much. No one even thinks to question their attitudes any more than the would question a comment on the weather. The Africans (and the few Arabs and Indians who wander through the story) are backdrops to the action; local color, comic relief, chess pieces for the Europeans to move around for their amusement and greed. An angry goat is attributed with more human thoughts than any of the non-European human characters.

All this is, of course, not the point of the book. The author seems as oblivious to it as his characters are. The point of the book is how journalists make shit up to sell papers, how rewards and punishments are completely random with no regards to merit, and how humans are generally horrible and stupid. And on those issues it is very funny. But in my overall feelings for the book I am conflicted.