Pinch Yourself

Reality Check time!
  • Plainly the correct translation of "Kaibutsu Oujo" is not merely "monster princess" ('Princess Resurrection' was just the first chapter), but "Monster Infanta". "Oujo" means "king's daughter"—in Asia the king's children didn't usually have the title of a lower class of noble.

    It's not a reality check per se (though such works often get erroneously lumped into tsundere) but I think Deus X Machina (robot preacherman for the win!) has given us a really good term for the genre, utterly unremarkable youths being dominated by the lovely high-class ladies. Namely, Maiden Tyrant. It's a good name for a genre, huh?

  • Speaking of the title of the king's children, why is it that, after all Frank Herbert's work on his setting, he doesn't know the emperor's daughter who marries Paul should be a Grand Duchess, not a Princess?

    Interesting though, that, that the child of a monarch is two ranks lower—dukes are one above (sovereign) princes, who are two below kings. I have no idea why, but it does let you avoid the awkward situation of having an emperor's son being a king in his own right.

  • So I'm still flabbergasted by this myth of the "terrible" French Revolution, that mars such otherwise intelligent thinkers as John C. Wright. The fact is that the French Revolution killed a lot fewer people—possibly 50% fewer—than contemporary English liberalism, which, again, also instituted the first systematic terror-rape in Western history, a mere 5 years after Robespierre's Terror. And unlike Revolutionary France, England wasn't in imminent danger of being invaded by every other power on the continent, and so had much less excuse.

    I think a part of it is, Continental Romanticism was a conscious reaction against the (excessive) rationalism of the Revolution; there was no such literary reaction against English Liberalism, except in Ireland, and those writers were themselves Liberals, and so restricted their criticism to nationalist rather than ideological grounds.

    It's especially egregious in Wright's case, though, since he likes the Stoics; "Stoicism" is an excellent shorthand for the entire Revolution, especially Robespierre. Oh, except Robespierre murdered a lot fewer people than Stoics like Marcus Aurelius.

  • What's really fascinating is when right-wingers sloppily identify Marxism with the French Revolution, when it was a product of the First Republic's mortal enemy, Prussia.

    Actually, the only commonality Marx has with the Revolution is that he, like Rousseau, studied England and believed the lies the English Liberals told about their state. It was just that there had begun to be a (simplistic, wrongheaded) backlash against capitalism by Marx's time, while in Rousseau's time they were still telling their lies about popular sovereignty and elections (while the wholesale theft of the English people's land continued unabated).

    It would not be wrongheaded to say that all the evil ideologies of the modern era are basically Whiggism, conducted by people a lot more intellectually consistent than the English. The other name, after all, for Marxism's Hegelian triumphalism is Whig History.

  • It is incidentally not true that Christendom is the only state that has ever enacted laws reflecting a belief in human equality. It's nearly true, but there's one exception: the Goryeo Kingdom (Korea between 918 and 1392) made some moves in that direction, recognizing the rights of women and abolishing slavery, due to the state being serious about its establishment of Buddhism. It didn't go anywhere near as far as Christendom did, but it deserves credit.

    Of course, just like the strengthening of Roman law (as against Common Law) in the late Middle Ages, followed by the pagan darkness of the Renaissance, the Joseon Kingdom imposed Neo-Confucianism, brought back slavery, and relegated women to nonentity status. Also, like the Reformation, it persecuted Buddhism and shamanism...mostly so the kingdom (and its ruling class of scholars and landowners) would have access to monastery/shrine coffers.

    Things are rough all over, huh?

  • The other example of how ideas can be much more dangerous outside their home is, the atrocities of the Imperial Japanese Army. See, when Japan was modernizing in the Meiji era, the most-copied Wesern power, militarily, was Prussia. And Prussian military theorists were agreed that one ought to terrorize the enemy's populace, to hurt his morale. It's just, as in all other things, when the Japanese decide they're going to terrorize your populace, they'd be ashamed to leave your populace half-terrorized. The Japanese work ethic makes Calvinism look like Epicurus, after all.

    You'll notice, the Japanese didn't do anything like that when they invaded the Joseon Kingdom under Hideyoshi; they behaved like any other contemporary Asian army (which, admittedly, wasn't great). Indeed, the Koreans' Chinese allies (being paid by the body count) killed more Koreans than Hideyoshi's men did.

  • I'm always curious, why do people call Hasidic Jews "ultra-orthodox"? Doesn't anyone know they were considered flat-out heretics right up until the Shoah? Properly "ultra-orthodox" ought to be restricted to non-Hasidic Haredi, and even then, Modern Orthodox are just as strict, so the label is misleading.

    Of course technically Jews who are strict about their Torah observance ought to be called "Orthopractic", not "Orthodox"; Judaism is not a creed, it is a practice. Now part of the practice is belief in God (and the practice makes no sense without such a belief), but any non-atheist beliefs that keep the 613 laws can be considered Jewish. It's conceivable for a perfectly Torah-compliant Jew to be pantheist (indeed both major schools of Jewish theology are, Maimonides identifying Ha-Shem with the formal part of the cosmos and Kabbalah being a type of Hermeticism) or even monist (which is what Hasidim are).

  • Another point is, many Jews say their religion is 6000 years old, because their religious calendar's year is 5 thousand something. Only, no, the best date we have for Moses is c. 1300 BC, so their religion is 3300 years old (or 800 years older than Buddhism, nothing to sneeze at—only Hinduism of organized religions is older, and only by a century).

    The date on the Jewish calendar is the count since the creation of the world as recounted in Genesis—yet, because they're a practice not a creed, nearly all Jews feel perfectly content to interpret the date symbolically, rather than being tied to Young Earth Creationism like the followers of Bishop Ussher (who got, I believe, a slightly different date).

  • One more point about Jews: it makes me nuts when Jewish writers say "Jews don't believe in sin, we say 'to miss the mark.'" Huh. Well by that logic Catholics don't believe in sin, either, we say "to stumble" (literal meaning of the Latin word peccare), and Anglicans and Lutherans don't believe in sin, they say "to separate" (literal meaning of English "sin" and German sünde). Oh and by the way, the Greek Orthodox also say "to miss the mark," since that's the literal meaning of "ἁμαρτία". Other Orthodox say "burn with guilt", since "to burn" is the etymology of Old Church Slavonic "грѣхъ".

    Or perhaps we can all rationally discuss the fact that, no, we're all talking about sin. Indeed, even in terms of etymology they're probably wrong; the cognate term in all the other Semitic languages (possibly not Arabic?) means "to fail in a duty by not being on the same wavelength as the one who gave it to you" which, in terms of morality, is about as elegant a summing up of "sin" as anything I ever heard.

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