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Dogma (2012)

by Lars Iyer

Series: Spurious Trilogy (2)

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886306,254 (3.38)2
"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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Further adventures of Lars and W., Britain's most misanthropic and despairing professors of philosophy. Perhaps it was a mistake on my part to read this right after reading Spurious, the first novel in this trilogy of eruditely absurdist slagging off. About halfway through I started to find this getting tiresome, and not at all as amusing as I found Spurious. Perhaps my general attitude shifted. Or perhaps the book really did tail off. At any rate, all my notes came from the first half of the novel, and looking at them now I have to admit this is pretty good stuff:
But what would I know of all that? There's no tenderness in me, W. says. Lust, yes. A kind of animal craving. Foam on the lips. I'm like one of those monkeys in the zoo with an inflamed arse - what are they called? Oh yes, mandrills. I'm the mandrill of romance, W. says.
In the end, I excel at only three things, W. says: smut, chimp noises and made-up German. That's all my scholarship has amounted to.
Sometimes, in my company, W. feels like Jane Goodall, the one who did all that work with chimps.
Glee: that's what W. always sees on my face. That I'm still alive, that I can still continue, from moment to moment: that's enough for me, W. says. He supposes it has to be.
When not insulting Lars, on the evidence of these two novels his primary activity, W. joins with Lars in a sparsely attended speaking engagement in America, founding a philosophical movement called Dogma which collects no followers, drinking with Lars in pubs and informing the working class blokes they find there about the imminent apocalypse, and fighting his university to avoid redundancy (one of the all time great Brit euphamisms, there). Lars, for his part, turns his attention from fighting the takeover of his flat by Damp to fighting the takeover of his flat by rats. And listening to Jandek. Lord help him. ( )
  lelandleslie | Feb 24, 2024 |
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. ( )
2 vote RandyMetcalfe | Mar 28, 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"--

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