2021 Reading Challenge – July Recap – Self-Discovery

Happy Friday! I’m very pleased to say that I’ve read 4 books this month! But…I almost didn’t. Last week, while headed home from work, I forgot my book at the train station and didn’t notice that it was gone until I was several stops away! It had been a long day; I had already been away from home for 12 hours. Tired, hungry, and melting (Missouri summers during global warming are hot), I decided that my only option was to turn back.

Sure, I only paid $1.99, but I had spent a couple hours on the book already! A book is an investment beyond anything financial, after all.

This month’s literary investments were:

  • The Last Children of Tokyo (The Emissary), Yoko Tawada
  • God, I Feel Modern Tonight, Kat Cohen
  • The Jew in the Lotus, Rodger Kamenetz

and last, but certainly not least,

  • Self-Discovery, Vladimir Ivanovich Savchenko (read it here!)

This last one was the one that I had forgotten at the train station. I couldn’t let it go. With a name like Self-Discovery, and it’s psychedelic cover art, it almost looks like some sort of New-Age self-help book. It is not. However, it was still very helpful!

Self-Discovery by Volodymyr Savchenko
I suppose the words “new science fiction” give away the genre!

Savchenko’s Self-Discovery

A computer scientist builds a machine that can synthesize life. Rather than creating clones, or doppelgangers, the people created are exact ‘informational copies’ of the scientist. This means that they have all of his knowledge, all of his memories; they are exact copies. Throughout the book, the scientist Val and his copy work on their research together, developing methods of creating human copies while grappling the philosophical implications of their invention.

Oh, and did I mention murder?

Police arrive on the scene to find an unconscious lab assistant, a dead scientist, and a wrecked lab. Before they’re able to bring the corpse in for an autopsy, before they can even get him out of the lab, something bizarre happens and the body seemingly self-destructs!

I don’t want to give too much away, but I would like to pose to you, if I may, some of the questions asked by Savchenko’s novel. I’ll also be listing some of the questions that I had in response to the reading.

Things to Consider

Can humanity be perfected? Is perfection subjective or objective? Or is it both? And if so, can the 2 types coexiston coexist? If perfection were attained, what would we strive for? Is perfection incompatible with free will, with human nature? Is it a carrot on a string? Can we imperfect beings even accurately imagine perfection beyond mathematics?

Does goodness earn merit from being freely chosen vs automatic? And if so, does that mean that wanting to do harm but choosing to do good instead is more meritorious than wanting to do good? Why doe intent matter? Does intent matter?

What has a greater impact on intent; logical realities or artistic idealisms? Both art and science speak to how things are, how things have been, and how things could be. They express realities as well as potentialities. The physical sciences, however, look to the outside world for these truths, whereas the arts look inwards. Both affect one another. The outer world changes us, and what we do with our inner truths affects the world.

The world could be many, many different things. There’s so many options, so many possibilities within each and every one of us. Is there any one way that the world should be? Is there any one way that people should be?

I’m sure we’ve all thought about these sorts of things before, and I think these sorts of questions are good to revisit in life. Chances are, our answers to these questions will change as we collect new knowledge and experiences. At least, I’d hope so!


Thank you so much for reading, and for visiting Freshly Stale! Come back soon 😊

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