Disclaimer; due to the fact that I have not finished this book, I won’t be putting any review or review-kind-of-opinions about this book in this post.
I am a bit surprised of how much new information I collect by reading John Green’s The Fault in our Stars. To me, at first this book simply seemed like another book that has a story about young love and fighting disease.. that kind of classic stuff. But it is actually quite philosophical!
For those of you who has read the book, probably would remember the rather lunatic and very unique character in this book; Peter Van Houten. Van Houten is the writer of the main character’s favorite book titled An Imperial Afflicition. Basically, Van Houten is a fictional character.
At first, i was disappointed by the fact that later in the book he is not depicted as what I imagined while reading the earlier part of the book. Firstly, I imagined him to be slightly a much more quiet, charming and a noble man. The nice-snuggly-grandpa kind of man. I know lots of writers are mostly a bit funky and always seem to appear kind of different i guess. But frankly speaking, I didn’t expect Van Houten to be that different. I didn’t expect him to be a fat alcoholic obnoxious out-of-this-world lunatic grumpy old man.
Surprisingly, later on, the way Van Houten’s character presented in the story kinda made sense to me. I have come upon a conclusion about this. You see, Van Houten is a very, very smart character. That’s why for such a smart man, I think lunatic behavior is likely acceptable. I tried to think of some famous geniuses, for example: Einstein, who seems to always known as this mad genius. Their brain certainly does not work much like.., you know, regular people’s brain. Their mind must have work differently. The matter of him being an alcoholic, fat, and grumpy old man kind of suits the whole “mad genius writer” idea.
But the thing is, throughout reading this book, a hundred and ninety-ish pages of the book (which more or less half of this book, i think) to be more exact, I found myself frequently checking the dictionary and going in and out google every time i came across a part that involves Van Houten in it. Started from the time I read his mail replies, and also the obnoxious conversations he had with Hazel and Gus (two main characters in this book) when they meet him in his house in Amsterdam. It was obviously surprising for me but I thought it was very clever of John Green to put an essence of his points in a more complex form through Van Houten’s role in the story.
I found a lot of famous greeks such as; Cassius, Greek philosopher Zeno and Parmenides, etc. I also found a lot of rarely-used english terms taken from latin language that often had me go ”what the hell is the meaning of that odd word”. Like, Ontologically for instance. I googled it and even the meaning of the word is abstract to me. “Of or relating to the argument for the existence of God holding that the existence of the concept of God entails the existence of God.” I mean, wow, even the definition has a concept of inception.
Then I found some more interesting information, such as the name; Rudolf Otto. This name sounded familiar to me, and also the fact that he was a writer (must have heard/read about him earlier somewhere). Another awfully abstract thing came up. I was searching the meaning of the word numinous. And what I found in Wikipedia was that the word means power or presence of divinity (which i think is basically the same definition to the ontological word i was talking about, i think)
This word was used in Otto’s book titled Das Heilige.
As I continue to gather more information about this one word, the less I understand. Quoting the wikipedia; “According to Otto, the numinous experience has in addition to the tremendum, which is the tendency to invoke fear and trembling, a quality of fascinans, the tendency to attract, fascinate and compel. The numinous experience also has a personal quality, in that the person feels to be in communion with a wholly other. The numinous experience can lead in different cases to belief in deities, the supernatural, the sacred, the holy and/or the transcendent.” —— What!!? This definition is so abstract that it was almost impossible to be captured by my understanding! Ok, maybe it is not the definition that is abstract but just the fact that it is something that has to do with metaphysical elements which is already inherently abstract.
But you know me (or i know me), always try to find the simplest understandings of almost anything. I think everything in this world is actually a simple thing that drawn in complexity or simply appear to be complicated caused by layers of simple things altogether. That’s what I believe in. But you see, as I searched towards something, it was always the same result; less understanding.
Those are just a few of what I question in this book. BUT… if i question something that basically means i am interested in it. That makes this book is so far very very interesting to me. So as I am writing this right now, I decided that I should just keep reading the book and ignore Van Houten’s tendency to use words with such abstract concept of definitions.
I will keep you guys posted, maybe.
Or please, if you have any thoughts about this just email me to firstname.lastname@example.org!! or contact me through any way possible. Just, no spoilers please!