Okay so these days I’m in Tome-Reader mode (yes you read that right).
I mean, look at this beast!
That’s Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker Prize winning novel The Luminaries for you.
Now there’s a reason why I’m always wary of fat books. And fat people who write fat books. Yes, I’m looking at you – George R.R. Martin! A Song of Ice and Fire is a series that takes an awful lot of patience just to get through, and you will have a read a 1000 page tome containing a story that could be summarized in just a couple of paragraphs. So yes, I’m very wary of fat books indeed.
So naturally, my instincts have told me to stay away from The Luminaries. And yet, I picked it up. Sometimes there are no justifications to what you do in life. But I probably did because of the craze surrounding this book, with regards to how brilliantly it’s been structured. It takes astrology as its base, assigning each character to a celestial object – with the people behaving and interacting with each other just like their space counterparts. Also, the chapters halve in length as you progress i.e the second chapter is half as long as first and so on, and this mirrors a waning moon. So undoubtedly, it’s the most ambitious project ever taken up by any author.
But this post isn’t about the book.
When I attended Eleanor Catton’s panel at Chennai’s Literature Fest earlier this year, she has said something that registered in my mind immediately. When asked if she truly believed in astrology, she replied (and I’m paraphrasing) –
How interesting it is, to imagine, that your life is controlled by these random stars and planets in space. That there’s order in the chaos. And that it all means something.
Now if you’ve followed my blog enough, you’d know that I don’t believe in any of that. But one can totally see why ‘astrology’ and ‘horoscopes’ are still present in the 21st century. Sometimes when we want to believe something, we believe it no matter what the rational part of our brain might say. And it is at best harmless, which is also the reason why the charade of consulting an astrologer for any Hindu wedding is still an important step. Of course, astrologers need to keep their jobs too.
If I can give my post a bottom line, it’s only this – We humans take solace from the fact that we are not the ultimate controllers of our own lives.
What an intriguing species indeed. But what’s your take on astrology? I’d love to hear it!