Monthly Archives: February 2012

Have No Fear, This Is an Easy Read

I’ve noticed a tendency of modern writers to write clipped sentences and paragraphs.

Like this. One or a few in each paragraph, for certain scenes.

Not even action scenes.

Ones where there’s supposed to be descriptive of a scene, or internal thought development.

I can understand if it’s first person from a certain kind of character.

Or in blogging, because reading online is different.

But even that is getting out of hand.

Maybe it’s just me.

I’m not concerned with “online readability” posting techniques, building a social media platform, hosting blog tours, throwing contests at you every week, indecipherable industry acronyms, graphical links and bolded words everywhere, marketing myself to hell.

See, even in that paragraph I used too many commas.

I don’t like screaming at people that come to this blog.

But in printed fiction this style gets aggravating. It reads like those Dr. Seuss’s Board Books.

Should I be blaming authors, readers, editors?

Functional, grown adults should not be writing like this for other adults.

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I Hate Your Guts, But Give Me a Few More Episodes

The one named "Lucciola" here is not a girl. Also, these are two boys.

If you’re a great writer, and I know you are, then you should be able to take a personality type that has been known to really boil my goat in the past, and eventually turn me sympathetic toward the character holding that personality. One recent example for me was Dio from Last Exile, which is a highly recommended 26-episode series, if you like any kind of sci-fi. You can watch the dubbed episodes on Netflix or all the subbed episodes on Youtube.

Dio comes from a high-technology society, the Guild, that antagonizes the rest of the nations in Last Exile. At the outset you take him as villainous because of his background but he ends up unofficially expatriating to do some weird, partially homoerotic/piloting fetish flirtation with the series protagonist, Klaus.

Basically, Dio acts like a toddler, though he is a skilled pilot and is constantly in the face of danger. He has an annoying whimsy about him that excessively-talented people tend to have in movies, where they consider life-threatening situations as gameplay and other people as playthings. Prodigies are supposed to get bored with their expertise easily in Hollywoodland, it seems. It doesn’t help that his English-cast voice hints at arrested development, which would fits nicely in with his history.

It all turned around for me one episode, where his oblivious demeanor is cracked and he executes a super-freakout during non-combat flying. It literally comes out of nowhere in a scene where lots of things come out of nowhere.

Dio’s story is pretty tragic because we learn the Guild’s method of selecting its ruling elite, the place in which his intended fate sits. It takes until the end of the series for his psychological history to sink in, but losing all control of your ship from a complete breakdown seemed to be an appropriate response when threatened with a destiny like that.

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Nothing Racks Up Adsense Money Like Another Post on Theodicy

"It's okay, bro. We kinda knew you two would screw it up."

While trying to escape that weird part of Youtube, I landed on the first video posted below, of C.S. Lewis on the problem of evil. He explains, with much better clarity and elegance, what I mentioned before about God having preferences (he even used the same word), and that He prefers free moral agents over wind-up automata. This preference leaves open the possibility of evil and is a contending solution to the trilemma of God’s omnibenevolence, omniscience, and omnipotency existing alongside evil.

Another way to state this is that God prefers the returns of free moral agents choosing goodness than the non-existence of evil. There are physical, material-world analogies that can be drawn that demonstrate this, but I can leave that to your imaginations.

A common objector might ask why couldn’t God create free moral agency without the possibility of evil. Lewis addresses that as well but the objection is nonsense if you dig to its core. To paraphrase Lewis, who I believe was paraphrasing someone else, nonsense is still nonsense even when we talk it of God.

It’s important to remember that by “preference”, I don’t mean an affection for trivialities, like how I prefer cheesecake to pie, but it can be more weighty, an in how most humans prefer a safe home over a turbulent environment. Essentially, we have preferences and act on them, and the books of the Bible seem to portray God as such a being.

So, using Lewis’ explanation, the proof can look like this.

  1. God is omnibenevolent.
  2. God is omnipotent.
  3. God is omniscient.
  4. God prefers free moral agents over automata in at least one universe-instance.
  5. God does not prefer evil.
  6. Evil exists.
  7. Therefore, God prefers prefers free moral agents over the non-existence of evil (4, 5, 6)
  8. Therefore, an omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient God can exist alongside the existence of evil.

Another thing to remember is this does not prove any of God’s ombi-properties. It only concludes that such a God is not impossible.

As a bonus I’ve posted a video of an N. T. Wright sermon on a different kind of theodicy. It’s lengthy and not easy listening but it’s worth it for food for thought. And both of these guys have (or had) British accents so you know their engine has gas in it*.

*I was wondering if the first video was actually Lewis speaking, but I don’t think it is. This video, described as Lewis’ only surviving BBC address, has Lewis with his Oxford drawl so I don’t think the theodicy video is him.

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A Compendium of Smoking Writers, Part Four or Five or Around There

I’m due for another one of these, and I kind of miss blatantly stealing images of beauty without attribution, from bloggers and websites that did the same (I did steal some of them from The Gentleman). Of note are the reprisals of Chesterton, looking as crabby as ever, and Alan Moore with his life-long imitation of a backwoods serial killer.

There are also two of Faulkner as he and his mustache enjoy a sound piping.

Not pictured below is the knock-down internal debate I had over Hugh Heffner’s status as an actual writer or merely a potboiling smut peddler that got a lucky break.

W. Somerset Maughm:
W. Somerset Maughm Smoking

Uwe Johnson. I feel like buying an analog watch just so I can set time to his haircut:
Uwe Johnson Smoking

Mark Twain:
Mark Twain Smoking

J.R.R. Tolkein:
J.R.R. Tolkein Smoking

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Smoking

Steve Martin (he counts):
Steve Martin Smoking

P.J. O’Rourke:
P.J. O'Rourke Smoking

Ian Fleming:
Ian Fleming Smoking

Goran Simić:
Goran Simić Smoking

William Faulkner:
William Faulkner Smoking

William Faulkner Smoking

Dylan Thomas:
Dylan Thomas Smoking

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Smoking

G.K. Chesterton:
G.K. Chesterton Smoking

Bob Monkhouse:
Bob Monkhouse Smoking

Bertrand Russell:
Bertrand Russell Smoking

Alan Moore:
Alan Moore Smoking

Hunter S. Thompson:
Hunter S. Thompson Smoking

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