Monthly Archives: August 2013

Zach Braff Is Kind of a Knucklehead

Zach Braff doesn’t always tweet about penises:

I get it. The implication with this statistic is that all religious belief systems can’t all be right, but that declaring them all wrong is more tenable.

He has it backwards, though, if that’s what he is implying. Person A who believes Religion X is free to believe that Religion Y has at least some bit of the truth, by dint of religion’s definition.

It’s gradations of truth strength. Not only is Person A free to believe this, he is logically compelled to, no matter what his feelings are toward Religion Y.

Skepticism and atheism shut the door on that completely. It actually suffers from the categorical defect that religion is diagnosed. All claims to metaphysical/supernatural events are false—end of. Religious people are either mistaken or outright lying. If I don’t make tables at all I have no choice but to reject all table-making offers, but if I specialize in creating one type of furniture—tables—I can, though not as competently, create chairs or desks as well.

Not that I care deeply about being tolerant (not of us are, in the end), but which belief system, theistic or non, has more possibility for broad-mindedness, forgiveness of error, or a thin but common bond between strangers?

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Ernest Hemingway boxing

Ernest Hemingway: Crossdresser

Ernest Hemingway boxing

“Take that, nancyboy!”

Hemingway’s mom, Grace Hall Hemingway, was a little off:

Ernest had four sisters but always wanted a brother, vocally expressing his discontent at the births of his two sibling sisters. In his very early childhood his mother, as was not totally uncommon, dressed Ernest in frilly girls clothes and paraded him and his elder sister, Marcelline, as twins (another childhood fact that he later resented).

Wonder why it as “not totally uncommon.”

Another mention of this fact here. It also mentions that this may have contributed to his hyper-masculinity later in life.

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Socrates in the Athens School

What God Can Do and Can’t Do

Socrates in the Athens SchoolA pastor I follow online posted a quick rebuttal of a boilerplate criticism of theistic belief. In his blog is mainly concerned with theistic belief qua theistic belief, not as interpreted via Western modes of reasoning, though this post shows his strong grip on formal logic. To wit:

Smart-aleck atheist wannabe asks, “Do you believe your God can do anything?”

Christian kid says, “Yeah, sure.”

Smart-aleck: “Do you believe He can make a rock too big for Him to lift? Yes or no?”

We’ll make this quick and merciful. Three category errors, a false dichotomy and a charge of intellectual dishonesty.

My reply always went something like, “Yeah, He could maybe do it to prove that He could. But what makes you think He’d bother to prove it to begin with?”.

It reminds me of a C.S. Lewis’ line from Miracles: nonsense is still nonsense even when we talk it about God.

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J.G. Ballard, We Gotta Have A Little Talk

Concerning your methods of courting the muses.


I’m curious to know how material from the “real world” comes to be incorporated into the rather enclosed spaces of books such as High-Rise, Crash, or Concrete Island?


Well, before starting Crash, for example, in 1969, I staged an exhibition of crashed cars at the New Arts Laboratory in London—three crashed cars in a formal gallery ambience. The centerpiece was a crashed Pontiac from the last great tail-fin period. The whole exhibition illustrated a scene from my previous book, Atrocity Exhibition,* where my Travis hero stages a similarly despairing exhibition. What I was doing was testing my own hypotheses about the ambiguities that surround the car crash, ambiguities that are at the heart of the book. I hired a topless girl to interview people on closed-circuit tv. The violent and overexcited reaction of the guests at the opening party was a deliberate imaginative overload which I imposed upon them in order to test my own obsession. The subsequent damage inflicted on the cars during the month of the show—people splashed them with paint, tore off the wing mirrors—and at the opening party, where the topless girl was almost raped in the rear seat of the Pontiac (a scene straight from Crash itself), convinced me I should write Crash. The girl later wrote a damningly hostile review of the show in an underground paper.

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Thor (2011) Credits Sequence

There’s no reason for me to post this other than I thought that this was one of the better modern movie endings I’ve seen. I didn’t see this in theaters but I imagine this scene was quite the spectacle, especially in IMAX theaters. The score certainly helps.

It’s obvious that Branagh, et al, proposes the Yggdrasil tree of Norse cosmology as the “correct” one in the Marvel theatrical universe. The Norse gods (or “gods”) are contained within the physical and we’re not given any indication that they are transcendent. In other words, the religious/metaphysical questions—in this case, of the Nordic pagan belief system—is left unexamined.

That metaphysical propositions are left untested is common in sci-fi/fantasy films and it’s not a criticism; it makes perfect sense since anything we can resolve with our epistemological tools are not going to be inconclusive about truths that remain outside of their domain.

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“We were married within three months.”

An wonderfully-written excerpt from Ballard’s Super-Cannes. Content warning:

We were married within three months. I was still on my crutches, but Jane wore an extravagantly ruched silk dress that seemed to inflate during the ceremony, filling the register office like the trumpet of a vast amaryllis. She smoked pot at the reception held at the Royal College of Surgeons in Regent’s Park, sniffed a line of cocaine in front of her mother, a likeable suburban solicitor, and gave an impassioned speech describing how we made love in the rear seat of the Harvard, a complete fiction that even her father cheered.

During our Maldives honeymoon she snorkelled on the outer, and more dangerous, side of the reef, and befriended a female conger eel. More out of curiosity than lechery, she set my camcorder to film us having sex in our bamboo hut, watching me like a lab technician who had grown attached to an experimental animal. Sometimes I sensed that she might walk off into the sea and vanish for ever. At Maida Vale, a week after our return, a policeman called to question her, and she admitted to me that she supplied tincture of cannabis to psoriasis sufferers and had tried to grow hemp plants in a disused laboratory at the hospital. Already I guessed that the urge to work abroad was part of the same restlessness that had led her to marry me, a random throw of the dice.

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Video: Ghost in the Shell vs. The Matrix Analysis

Some decent thoughts here, with requisite spoiler warnings if you haven’t seen the entire film. The film is, however, must-see for science-fiction or technology/futurist enthusiasts, as long as you’ve already gotten past the “animation is for kids” reservation that you may have. If you haven’t yet, please do get past that assumption before watching it because you won’t be able to absorb it properly.

The video’s title is misleading since he spends ample time explaining Ghost’s predecessory position to The Matrix than examining thematic elements. I was glad he included the boat scene (one of my favorites of all time), but the voice performance in the English dubbed version gets mangled. Not so much because of the actress (Mimi Woods, who does an average job) but there’s some inherent mechanical difficulties in having to match mouth movements with the translated English words. If I ever have the time and inclination I want to upload the subtitled version to do it justice.

Anyways, the narrator skirts around the Cartesian mind vs. body problem and doesn’t seem to state it outright that there is no separation between body and mind. We can infer that from the fact of memory being readable and rewritable, and copyable—as it is in the Ghost universe—though with everything in philosophy, there can still be arguments against it.

LogosSteve also points out the marriage/childbirth themes, which I didn’t really notice that much before. It’s interesting to note that the verse spoken by the voice in the aforementioned boat scene, 1 Corinthians 13:12 sits in a chapter known for its exposition of Christian love, which is used in some marriage ceremonies.

* Note the similarities in voice quality and roles between Tom Wyner as the English-voice Puppetmaster and Lawrence Fishburne’s Morpheus.

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Monasticism and Trigonometry

"Okay to visit. Wouldn't want to live there."

“Okay to visit. Wouldn’t want to live there.”

From Chapter 3 of Lost Horizon:

He was also interested in the mountain beyond the valley; it was a sensational peak, by any standards, and he was surprised that some traveler had not made much of it in the kind of book that a journey in Tibet invariably elicits. He climbed it in mind as he gazed, choosing a route by col and couloir until an exclamation from Mallinson drew his attention back to earth; he looked round then and saw the Chinese had been earnestly regarding him. “You were contemplating the mountain, Mr. Conway?” came the enquiry.

“Yes. It’s a fine sight. It has a name, I suppose?”

“It is called Karakal.”

“I don’t think I ever heard of it. Is it very high?”

“Over twenty-eight thousand feet.”

“Indeed? I didn’t realize there would be anything on that scale outside the Himalayas. Has it been properly surveyed? Whose are the measurements?”

“Whose would you expect, my dear sir? Is there anything incompatible between monasticism and trigonometry?”

Conway savored the phrase and replied: “Oh, not at all—not at all.” Then he laughed politely. He thought it a poorish joke, but one perhaps worth making the most of. Soon after that the journey to Shangri-La was begun.

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It’s Okay, I Didn’t Want To Interview Your Band Anyway

It feels like this sometimes.

It feels like this sometimes.

The first interview I did for Noisecreep was with David from For Today. We were in the room were the touring bands kept all of their gear went they weren’t playing their sets—basically the closest thing to backstage there can be at a venue with a capacity of only a few hundred people.

In the middle of the interview, someone from another band had come in and sat down. Nothing unusual since people were coming and going all the time. But then he interrupted us like he was paid to do it.

“I’ll let you interview us if you tell me our band name,” he offered to me.

I had come to the show late and didn’t know the order of bands, or all of the bands playing for that matter. For all I knew he could’ve been in a local band that wasn’t even listed or was added last-minute.

I gave him a dismissive, smart-alecky answer. “No interview for you!” he said, and left, which is the best thing that could’ve happened. See post title.

Contrast this exchange with my real, intended interview with David. He was pleasant and accommodating, and even offered me Skittles (I declined). They had toured extensively already, had label backing, and they were about to put out their second album but by no means were they a large band. If he acted like a schmoe to everyone while “on the job,” how long do you think his band would last?

For Today’s career is three releases deeper so far, and interviewless local-band guy was never heard of again. It’s one thing to burn bridges. It’s another thing to never bother to build one.

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Free Movie Time: Wings of Honneamise

An overlooked filmed from 1987, about an alternate history space program. It comes off, to me, as a precursor to Contact but without the latter’s stupid heavy-handedness of the conflict thesis binary. Science and religious elements play hard in the story but their treatment is far from Hollywood’s childishness.

Like Magentic Rose, the mechanical designs are flawlessly detailed, as is the rest of the background art. I found myself rewinding a lot to see the neat blinky colors and physics in action. All before CGI was a thing. There also a pervasive undercurrent of humor the entire duration—the screenshot of part 2 you see below was from a rather serious scene.

There’s some bad language, violence, and a scene with boobies. If you listen to the Matti’s voice you’ll hear Bryan Cranston, way before he became Malcolm’s dad and a meth dealer.

EDIT: I received an email about a print fanzine called Royal Space Force: 25th Anniversary Fanzine, that has essays from authors and primary-source material about the movie:

One essay specifically addresses Yamaga’s use of religion in the film and his somewhat personal motivations behind it, the complicated real-life role faith has played in space exploration (citing the experiences of William Anders, Buzz Aldrin, and James Irwin) and how Riqunni is as much the main character of the film as Shiro–in fact, at one point the film was to be called “The Wings of Riqunni.”

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