Gulliver's Travels

Dr T

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The last book I read was Swift's Gulliver's Travels. This book was a self narrated account of various travels by a man named Gulliver. Whether it be his first voyage and being ship wrecked to wake up in the world of tiny people (Lilliput) where the people had to give up a LOT of food to feed him, or how some of them wanted to kill him but didn't know what to do with his body if they did, to the world of GIANTS in the land of Brobdingnag where he was carried about in a box, how eagles fought to take him for food, how his owner, the farmer intially used him to make money by showing him off then he was owned by the queen, or when he was attacked by pirates and ending up in Laputa and Balnibarbi, or when he talked to all the historical figures in Glubbdubdrib just to find out they had lied to build themselves up, or when he went to Luggnaggians and Struldbrugs or Japan it was interesting how he used social commentary in this book. I guess that was the best part and the faciful ideas of other cultures, languages, and magnifying various aspects and govermental and occupational characteristics of people and character flaws that he saw in life. It was also interesting how he was driven to continue to travel and not stay with his family/wife so he continued to travel. He often worked as a doc aboard ship since his business failed. Overall, I would not rate this book very highly. I'd like to hear your ideas about it though and find out the things you found interesting in it.


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It's been several years since I've read it, but there are three things that stick in my mind from it.

1. Big Endian vs Little Endian. I work in computers and this is used to describe the debate about significant bit ordering. It also illustrates to me the real-life tactic of arguing over minutia to either distract from real issues (can we say "ground zero mosque"?) or simply to maintain a disagreement between parties (in the computer world, for instance, a standard really needs to be set, but which one isn't so important).

2. Progress just for the sake of progress. I'm certain there's a better way to phrase that, but the specific instance in the book is of the peoples who abhored right angles and would build the top of a building before the foundation. In an effort to keep with bleeding edge technology, we could scrap our current framework and adopt the brand new one that's getting dropped as a buzzword. But we need to recognize that there's a price for breaking in new technologies.

3. Man is not a rational animal. We like to pretend like we are. We like to justify our wars and laws with logic, but really when you break it down (as the Horse do for Gulliver) you see that it's a lot of silliness.

Dr T, what are your thoughts about the Horses' arguments that we are not truly rational? If we are not, then what is our true foundation? Ethics? Morals? Emotions? Instinct?

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Hi Mordorbund,

For the #2 issue, I really found that part funny. It made me laugh with all the silly inventions but your correct, that progress just for progress sake issue was really there. I liked some of them were working on things like planting things way down deep so the hogs could rout around to prepare the field rather than having to do all the hard work of plowing. There were silly inventions to be sure but there were some interesting ideas. Yes, they were there just to prove the point that you made but I found those fun to read.

I remembered the Yahoos and the other people after I posted the OP yesterday. I felt kind of convicted to some extent by how he wrote about that issue. I thought he wrote that section to address how uncultured or uncouth we really are in spite of our words that we are sound with out decision making. We prove beyond what we claim that we truly are not at times. It is even hard to say that because I understand that we need to do what we need to do sometimes but I know we use force a lot when we say that we are beyond that now in our "enlightened age." I'm going to bed. I hope to talk to you more about it when I get back from my camping trip this weekend. Thanks for posting on this thread!

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I’m sorry for being unclear in my last reply. I reread it and am embarrassed at the laziness in my writing. Basically what I was referring to was Swift’s juxtaposition of the two people groups, the Yahoos and the Houyhnhnms. The Houyhnhnms were obviously Gulliver preferred people. He seemed, at least to me, to be content with their way of life, the sability and way of going about things. He put them on a pedistal for their intelligence, ability to reason, “ethics,” etc in spite of their problems. It was clear that Gulliver did not like the Yahoo’s way of life even though he resembled them most. He was repulsed by their characteristics and behaviors even though he was criticizing humanity. I did like the concept of “Not being a people that tell things that are not” and being truthful. I really took that whole section as Swift’s own self-deception of finding a group of people being above reproach. I too think that we are smart enough to not do horrible things yet we still do. That’s all I meant to say. Sorry again for the confusion from my last post. I hope that helps. :)
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