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Monthly Archives: April 2017


The Philosophy of Ghost in the Shell (1995)

The Wisecrack Youtube channel has a great video on the philosophy of Ghost in the Shell (the original one). It’s actually a very Western movie because it’s Hegelian through and through, and Hegel is as Western philosophy as it gets.

I left a comment on the video that I will cross-post here, for those interested.

Sure, I can explain.

There are numerous instances of Mamoru Oshii using reflections to embody Motoko’s search for her counterpart, or antithesis. Not necessarily with literal mirrors but with imperfect, reflective surfaces like glass or water. If you pay close attention you can maybe pick out a dozen or so instances. An obvious instance of the reflection motif is in the diving scene where Motoko rises to the surface and it looks like she “meets” herself: until the images meet, you can’t really tell who the Major is from her reflection. Her conversation with Batou after that scene goes hand in hand with that kind of confusion.

You’ll notice too that the reflection becomes “reality” when the Puppermaster hacks into the shell, especially where they are laying side-by-side on the museum floor. That was the physical meeting of the thesis and anti-thesis. You’ll also notice that the Major and the Puppetmaster have reverse existences: the Major was a human who became fully robotic except for her brain, while the Puppetmaster was essentially a program looking for a human body to achieve the full range of existence, even death.

Regarding the end scene when the Major-Puppetmaster figure is in the chair inside Batou’s safehouse: there’s a strange shot her in the chair which quickly cuts to the same shot, but a mirror image of it. The second shot is a different kind of quality than the first, so the effect isn’t quite as jarring. This was Oshii’s way of telling us by imagery that the synthesis is complete and the Major and Puppetmaster are now the same being. This scene is examined in this video, at mark 30:40 and onward: /watch?v=l9v8FzQ2btg

Hope that helps.

EDIT: Clarified some things.

EDIT 2: Contrast this with the 2017 Ghost in the Shell, which I also like, though not as much and for different reasons. Both films deal with issues of self-identity, but in different ways: Oshii’s Major lacks an identity because of the nature of her humanity, where ScarJo’s Major lacks an identity because of what others have done to her. In the former, existence is deceptive, in the latter, humanity is deceptive.

EDIT 3: Is Project 2501 a Boltzmann brain?

EDIT 4: No edit. Just a what up to my party peeps.

How It Should’ve Gone

Mustafa sat proudly at the back of the rock outcropping, a paw—with just enough claw extended make the warning explicit—held firmly on the back of Sarabi’s neck. The mandrill, that neurotic mystic, walked out to the edge of the outcropping and held up Mustafa’s infant son, Simba, for all the gathered animals on the ground to see. The signal. The lions, naturally the strongest and the acknowledged instigators, leaped into action, followed a few seconds later by the hyenas. The two factions tore into the group of frantic wildebeests, and the commotion kicked up dust and shreds of wildebeest hide. The meerkats activated and jumped into the collected pile of squirming grubs and bugs. The warthogs came after, alongside the meerkats, but soon the two groups vied against each other for control of the insect pile.

There were other fiefdoms that joined in, but the details of the battle were lost in the fog of war for all those gathered on the promontory. Simba, still aloft in the crazed mandrill’s hands, cooed and giggled at the chaotic Tennysonic battle below.

Mustafa smiled. It was an orchestrated war of all against all in homage to his heir’s future, and the future of his dynasty. His pleasure-sense heightened, and his claw involuntarily extended out farther into Sarabi’s fur. She whimpered and tried to evade the clamp down, which made him tighten all the more. What a wonderful scene, Mustafa thought, ignoring Sarabi’s pained cries. Wonderful. It will make a damn fine movie someday, if they would get it right.

Magicland

Alice was the person in the audience least willing to be called upon, so naturally the magician volunteered her for his first trick. Seated on the stage chair, being so close to the magician—she forgot his name but he looked like a Mark—wasn’t as embarrassing as she expected. It also wasn’t exciting.

He was well-muscled but wore a shirt cut for a fat man, as though he had raided a wardrobe department that was staffed entirely by overhired interns. The shirt was red, maybe maroon, but Mark was the type who would insist on calling it, not even “wine-colored,” but “wine.”

He proceeded with his trick with all the nuance of a supernova in heat. Alice stifled giggles at the absurdity of the scene, but the effort was too much when the head-caressing started. In the sonic space between Mark’s megaphonic chanting, Alice squeaked out a sneezy guffaw that rang loud into the furthest corners of the function room. He didn’t break from the theatrics one bit. Mark, draped in his wine shirt, was a force with which one neither negotiate nor halt.

Steel City Comic Con 2017 Photos

Just what the title says.

Someone from something, and Bucky Barnes from Captain America/Avengers:

Freddy Krueger:

People from a thing:

New-ish Batman and old-school Robin:

A version of Wonder Woman:

Indiana Jones and yours truly:

A Doctor Who (I think), some Harry Potter person, and someone from something:

Eren from Attack on Titan. She even did the salute:

Old-school Batman and Joker:

Diana Prince (Wonder Woman) and Robin:

Goku and two people from something:

Someone from Harry Potter:

Deadpool:

Deadpool/Sailor Moon mashup (?) and Captain America:

Ash from Pokémon:

A scout trooper and Jessica Rabbit:

Yours truly and Hulk Hogan:

Negan from The Walking Dead and someone:

Jason from Friday the 13th and a Harry Potter person:

Rey and Kylo Ren without the helmet:

Reppert, a Ghostbuster:

Rey. She had a great lightsaber:

Belle and Gaston from Beauty and the Beast:

Boba Fett, one of my favorite costumes. He even had an intercom-type speaker so he could talk while the helmet was on…sounded like the real thing:

People from something:

Kylo Ren:

Negan (that’s marker stubble on his face), hitting yours truly’s daughter, who is dressed as John Egbert from Homestuck. The fellow on the right said he was Despair, but he has a mask of Glenn from The Walking Dead on.

Waldo and horse-banana:

Rey, Luke Skywalker, and a rolling BB-8! I liked Luke’s puttees:

Kylo Ren:

Thor and Loki. They were huge:

No-Face and Chihiro/Sen from Spirited Away. True to character, No-Face even gave gold away to everyone.

Someone:

John Egbert, Dirk Strider, and Dave Strider, from Homestuck:

Not pictured: a great Darth Vader costume, that was as good as the Boba Fett one. It was a bad picture that I accidentally deleted.

Fun times.

The Minäverse by Jill Domschot

Jill has decided to serialize her new book, The Minäverse, and you can read the first chapter here. Jill was kind enough to send me an ARC* and it’s definitely a good ‘un if you like absurdist sci-fi, a la Douglas Adams and that other author of that one book I can’t recall right now.

Who wouldn’t like this wordplay?

Indeed, golf had become a great sporting event, with bonding between man and beast. Men would choose their favorite bionimals, and the favorites would smugly go out to play the game, while the less desirable bears were left behind. It was par for the course.

* “ARC” is an annoying publishing industry acronym meaning “advanced release copy” or “advanced reader’s copy” or “aardvark reticulation control.”

Ghost in the Shell (2017) Review

tl;dr – a very good retelling of the original

Possible spoilers below. See my previous posts here and here about the film.

Thoughts, in no particular order:

1- Visually and aesthetically impeccable. Director Rupert Sanders did an excellent job of portraying a society figuring out its relationship with acute, mechanical, physical augmentation. He skirts the line between its usefulness and nightmarishness, though with the subject matter and the people involved, we see more of the nightmare aspect.

2- Mostly followed the plot points and thematic elements of the original, though obviously it much more Westernized: there’s less philosophy, more conflict, and a less open-ended resolution. There were times things where characters turned narrator and it kind of broke the spell, particularly the first scene where the setup of the Major’s creation was over-explained by the computer-intercom.

3- Related to #3, as I had predicted, the “I’m going to kill my creator” sentiment is there, a sentiment that is wholly absent from the original. This was to be expected since Western-philosophy based folks have (at least) a mild fear of metaphysical/supernatural phenomena, and it seems that sci-fi, as it is embracing a lot of transhumanism and artificial life-creation scenarios, is being expressed as a kind of wish-fulfillment at being able to “get back” at our creator. Since man can barely rebel against God, much less commit deicide, positing “God” to the natural level, as a literal creator, gives us physical access to Him.

4- Regarding the whitewashing accusations: that Motoko is basically Anglo in appearance is fairly central to the plot; her completely artificial body needed to look different that her original, Japanese one. Progressives don’t need to wring their hands anymore about any of this, and Rupert culturally appropriated Western-style diversity into the cast that wasn’t there in the highly monocultural Japanese version. From what I could see, one or two characters in Section 9 were blackened or feminized. The two antagonists are, thankfully, White Folk, though the Antagonist You Didn’t Expect redeems his/herself nearing the resolution. The Head Evil White is male, as expected.

5- Pure trivia: Togusa, in the original, used a Mateba auto-revolver. In the film, it was an older-style gun compared to the more advanced tech (it was emphasized that he was purely natural/non-enhanced and his handgun reflected that), and in the real world, they are not manufactured anymore. There was a scene in the 2017 version where Togusa very noticeably uses a Chiappa Rhino handgun, which was modeled after after the Mateba design, and share the same designer.

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