I wrote this more than a week ago, but I obviously forgot to post before I went on holidays
Just finished reading Life of Pi. Loved it.
It was so well written, I found myself checking the back cover every now and then to confirm it really was a work of fiction and not even remotely based on a true story. Honestly though, I think I could believe in Pi’s story since I have a fairly loose definition of what I consider reality. The second half of the book went by so quickly I hardly had time to comprehend what was going on – but life is a bit like that isn’t it?
Martel’s view of religion are quite evident in the book but they never feel intrusive and actually make you think a little about the nature of spirituality and religion. You wonder about point of the laughably contrived arguments between the Priest, Imam and Pandit. They can neither prove or disprove anything using reason or logic, simply because the topic of debate doesn’t reside within the limits of mortal understanding. That’s half the point of religion isn’t it? To attempt to explain the “other” that pervades our lives. It’s no coincidence that Martel draws parallel’s between science and religion, because despite vastly differing stories the essence is the same – we must suspend some manner of logic and accept things as they appear in our limited field of knowledge. Science seeks constantly to prove itself wrong, or at least purports to, since we loathe to admit that answers and certainty provide a measure of security that makes breaking paradigms difficult. Religion seeks mainly to accept one or another story regarding creation, life and death, and the nature of human existence; but the facts of these stories are of little real consequence when one considers the comfort and strength they can provide to a broken soul. It is a pointless argument to have – whether or not a story is true has little impact on the feelings and actions it might elicit. If the story of religion, true religion is one of goodness and hope, why fight to destroy it or even waste time trying to disprove something that was never true or false in the first place?
At the end of the day, whether his stories had animals or people, spanned 100 or 200 days, Pi faced the same reality in the end; much like we all do regardless of what we believe in – we will all succumb to death in some shape or form. There’s a kind of irony which Martel illustrates in that regardless of what we believe about God, evolution, other worldly forces we cannot change anything about the “afterlife”, yet our choice of faith, religion or science can guide and shape our entire mortal lives.