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Dogma by Lars Iyer
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Dogma (2012)

by Lars Iyer

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Is there thought outside the university philosophy department? the answer seems to be no, so the reduction and even elimination of liberal arts departments portends a new dark age -- it seems -- or at least, the end of philosophy is thus at hand -- it seems. Toward the end of Dogma, volume two of a trilogy that began with Spurious and will...end...with Exodus, it began to seem possible that that would be A Good Thing.

In any case, I'm on board for Exodus, whatever it might contain, including a particularly peculiar form of male bonding away from the battlefield and out of the locker room.
  V.V.Harding | Apr 21, 2015 |
Suffers a little from middle child syndrome. ( )
  CSRodgers | May 3, 2014 |
In which a pretentious intellectual poseur and his deferential sidekick trade ripostes about life's big questions. The two characters are straight out of the imagination of Samuel Beckett as they ramble through vignettes constructed within their inner universes, which are, unfortunately, not that interesting. The book comes blurbed as hilarious, which it is not; amusing at times, yes, but it's pretty difficult to imagine anybody finding it laff-riot stuff. And if the book is shooting for any sort of philosophical profundity, it's difficult to see that as a credible possibility in a book where the flippant chapters are rarely more than two pages long. This is a quick, entertaining read, and those are not qualities to be undervalued in a book, but there are far better works of light intellectual fiction out there.. ( )
  Big_Bang_Gorilla | Feb 12, 2013 |
The return of this most one-sided of double acts—the philosophers “Lars” and “W.”—is most welcome. The droll delights of Spurious are equalled here in the fretful eschatology of Dogma. It is the end of things: the end of humanity, the end of life, the end of the rat infestation of Lars’ damp digs and, worst of all, the end of the Philosophy and Religion department at the University of Plymouth which spells the end of W.’s desultory career. Only dogma can save them now. Or Plymouth Gin, which (except in America) is readily available.

Iyer has a fine comic touch. The almost silent character, Lars, recounts the interactions between himself and W. primarily through the reported speech of W. It’s as though Laurel, of Laurel and Hardy, were silently telling the tale of he and Hardy’s dependent-abusive relationship. It is a technique that forever wrong-foots the reader. But you rather expect pratfalls here.

Lars and W. travel to America, where they (that is, W.) are astounded by the aforementioned absence of Plymouth Gin. They follow the conference circuit to Oxford, where they (that is, W.) set out the rules of their intellectual movement, Dogma. They visit Lars’ damp abode in Newcastle and W.’s sorry Plymouth. And throughout W. maintains a steady stream of quasi-philosophical speculation, abuse, and drunken revelation. Despite the attraction, death is too good for them.

Narrative is frustrated. Character is besotted. Philosophical and religious ideas flit by like moths headed for an open flame. This is the intellectual picaresque. And it should raise a smile or two, with or without Plymouth Gin. ( )
1 vote RandyMetcalfe | Mar 28, 2012 |
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

By all laws of the current literary market, the comedic novels Spurious and Dogma by philosopher Lars Iyer (comprising two-thirds of an as-yet unfinished trilogy) shouldn't really exist at all, and it's a testament to the suddenly hot Melville House that they've not only published them, but have been promoting the newest with all the pomp and resources usually afforded only to Stephen King potboilers; for these are not traditional novels nearly as much as they are the spiritual grandchildren of Samuel Beckett, absurdist and cyclical tales where the point is not really to see "what happens" but rather to wallow in the abstract pleasures of language itself. Comprised as a series of conversations between a philosopher who just happens to be named Lars and his doppelganger and frenemy known only as W., and with the story details grounded in just exactly enough reality to seem plausible (they live on opposite sides of Britain; W. has recently become a Malcolm-Gladwell-type popular public prognosticator; Lars is experiencing a mysterious mold problem in his house that threatens to take over the entire building), readers will nonetheless get quickly frustrated if expecting such silly things from these books as a plot or character development; instead, this is more like getting a glimpse of what it must be like inside the head of a college professor while they're in the middle of having a nervous breakdown, a series of funny yet sometimes impossible-to-follow rants and arguments between the two that reference as many obscure thinkers and experimental artists as Family Guy does '80s television shows (and many times just as randomly). I agree with a lot of other critics I've come across, that I immensely enjoyed these silly yet high-falutin' comedies, but can't imagine another human being who will as well; and for that many unrelated strangers to say the same thing is a powerful statement indeed, and makes one understand why the publisher has put such a big promotional push behind what's essentially the very definition of idiosyncratic writing. As you can tell, it takes a special type of personality to enjoy these books; but if you're already a fan of such things as Waiting for Godot and A Confederacy of Dunces, you owe it to yourself to at least take a stab at these frustrating but ultimately satisfying head-scratchers.

Out of 10: 8.8 ( )
  jasonpettus | Feb 29, 2012 |
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"A plague of rats, the end of philosophy, the cosmic chicken, and bars that don't serve Plymouth Gin--is this the Apocalypse or is it just America? "The apocalypse is imminent," thinks W. He has devoted his life to philosophy, but he is about to be cast out from his beloved university. His friend Lars is no help at all--he's too busy fighting an infestation of rats in his flat. A drunken lecture tour through the American South proves to be another colossal mistake. In desperation, the two British intellectuals turn to Dogma, a semi-religious code that might yet give meaning to their lives. Part Nietzsche, part Monty Python, part Huckleberry Finn, Dogma is a novel as ridiculous and profound as religion itself. The sequel to the acclaimed novel Spurious, Dogma is the second book in one of the most original literary trilogies since Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable"--… (more)

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