Saturday, 19 March 2016

The Booles and the Hintons - Gerry Kennedy

Ming Wei Chong writes:
Gerry adopted a unique approach in The Booles and The Hintons, with narrative ownership, as opposed to mainstream biography of figures. It constitutes a hybrid of travel, politics, opinion and biography, as well as an intimate touch with excerpts from his travel diary. Gerry reminisced his early childhood days and the discovery of kinship and familial ties subsequent to him attending the funeral of a relative in 2000. With a quasi-political personality, he narrated his involvement in the peace movement.

We gained a very fascinating insight where there was reflection of stark contrasts between today’s world and the early days. There was a comparison between the computer-dominated world, and the era when The Booles and the Hintons advocated egalitarian doctrines, and were proponents of social change. There was amalgamation between science and religion - the co-existence of scientific discoveries along with spiritual beliefs.

It was especially intriguing to learn about the British physicist and mathematician, whom I idolise very much when learning about his work- Sir Geoffrey Taylor. It was exciting to gain some insight into his personal life and his biography as a major figure in fluid dynamics and wave theory, as well as his contribution to the Manhattan Project.

In particular, James Hinton- father of Charles Hinton attempted to uncover the mystery of pain and pleasure. Being an advocate of polygamy, he proposed for the need for change in the concept of marriage as a social institution. Liberation, as the realisation of nature, led him to explore the role allocation/ assignment between genders. He considered that men are vested with the responsibility of loving women who are innately more altruistic, while endorsing the theory of mutual respect.

The link between prayer and music was also briefly pondered over. The notion of prostitution was examined, especially the reason behind men turning to prostitution. The stand was a pioneering attitude towards prostitution, particularly during a relatively conservative era. Gerry also took us through his personal experience in Moscow, where he elaborated on his travels as well as his encounters while undertaking the task of smuggling some documents.

It was a captivating and thought-provoking exposition of the story of the Booles and the Hintons, illustrating ‘two dynasties who helped shape the modern world’.

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