Joshua (dragonguyver) wrote in spadortch,

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I have found Shangri-La, and I think it sucks.

Aha, I am finally whittling away at the stack of books beside my bed, so now...

My opinion about: "Lost Horizon" by James Hilton.

"Lost Horizon" is a novel by James Hilton, published in 1933, about four people who are hijacked as they escape from some catastrophe at some place called Baskul. They end up making a bumpy landing in some very high mountains, and are met by a group from a nearby lamasery, a secret supposed-utopia called Shangri-La.

Yes, this book is where the reference comes from.

The main character is Conway, a man with few connections in his life. No family, no work to do, no close friends. It's like he's dead already. He had been in the war, and it had changed him. He finds this place of secret beauty very bewitching. The only maxim that the peoples of it have is "moderation in all things", and they take this to the fullest extent. They are only moderately virtuous, only moderately chaste, moderately hard-working, and so on and so on.

It's a classic of literature, notice the proliferation of the Shangri-La reference. Its major point is that our civilization is bringing about its own end very quickly. Only Shangri-La with its moderation, wisdom, and dissolution of passions will survive to keep our culture and achievements safe to be discovered after the ashes settle.

On the one hand, yeah, I agree, we are fucking up, hardcore. I find it awesome that this was written in 1933 and Hilton seemed to know that we would create a weapon like the atomic bomb. However, I think that abandoning our world to this and hiding in some pretty little hole is bogus. I also feel that the philosophy of moderation and the fading of passions is basically wrong. I think our passions are what make us human, what makes us alive. While I think a Plato-esuqe Philosopher King who would be like the high lama of Shangri-La would make a good leader, I just don't see a society of moderately this and that people being anything I would want. It strikes me as being bad somehow for some reason, and I haven't pinned it down. It's almost like a fire dying out.

The other cast of characters round it out nicely. The kindly secretive Chang. The unpleased Mallinson. The devout what's-her-name nun-face. And the happily-escaped-from-police Bernard. There's some good dilalogue in the book. Not a lot happens in it, since it's only 230 pages long. It's basically just our four characters get kidnapped, our four characters get to Shangri-La, ooo big secret, Conway is told, and such and so on. Not a whole lot.

But, well, it's a classic and stuff, and it's interesting, I won't give away the big secret of Shangri-La, because it's the big secret. And it goes into the whole thing.

Final Score: 90.
I think this book is pretty great, it's written well enough, though I don't understand some outdated references that go unexplained. However, I think Shangri-La sucks. The whole place stinks of sedation. Read it, it's a classic.
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