The Invisible Who?

The first post of year 2011 shall be dedicated to the book review of The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells. Why did I read this book? Because it was the first book available on my Archos 70. Yes I finally got myself a gadgety thing after all those hours researching ipads, kindles, nooks and what have you. I decided on the Archos simply because it is new on the market, available for sale in Singapore, within my budget and not a freaking Apple! (Review on Archos to come…)

Actually after completing the book, I realised this is the second time I’ve read it. Amazing how I didn’t notice earlier. In short the story is about this man Griffin who was so absorbed in his research into invisibility resulting indirectly in his father’s death. When he finally found a breakthrough to make something invisible, he was afraid to share this research so went ahead and made himself invisible.

Almost immediately after, all notions of the benefits of being invisible dissipated and he was instead faced with the disadvantages of being one and had to contend with its many limitations such as running naked in the cold, barefooted on rough grounds and the very obvious problem of things knocking into you.

In his continued search to find use for being invisible, Griffin fell into trouble with the townsfolk of Iping, which later blew up into a county wide man hunt for him. The sacrifices he made for the research and discovering the pointlessness of his whole venture made him turn increasingly violent which culminated in his death.

However despite his maniacal tendencies, I cannot help but sympathise with him. An albino by birth, I wonder if perhaps he was taunted and ostracised as a child? Which could have led him wanting so badly to make a name for himself or simply to disappear. His brilliance apparently was too advanced for his time, coupled with his reluctance to share and the unenlightened people in the early 19th century. This led him to be misunderstood and those around him felt threatened.

I think an important lesson from this classic is to always take a balanced view towards everything. For Griffin, it would have been between understanding the benefits and disadvantages of being invisible and between sharing and going it alone. For the other characters, it would be between accepting conventional wisdom and challenging it.

Which reminds me, I just completed another book prior to this. It is probably one of the popular titles in the market – Freakonomics. I had absolutely zero expectations when I bought the book but Steven Levitt totally blew my mind away with his application of economics to explain our everyday thoughts and action.

The point in these two books is about challenging conventional wisdom. Much as we often like to remain in the comfort zones of our fixed ideologies and explanations for how things work in the world, the truth is often very different from it. And it is through an open mind and continual desire to learn that we discover this truth for ourselves.

Hopefully that will be something I look forward to in 2011. Becoming an open minded person and always challenging the conventions so as to find new and better ways to improve people’s lives.

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