Rannm Thawts

Random, that is to say, thoughts.
  • I was noticing that three of my favorite protagonists have unsuspected aspects. E.g., Bertie Wooster, though a bit of an airhead, is a genuinely good guy. And am I the only one who's noticed that his code, vis-à-vis his friends' love affairs, is basically a genteel Edwardian version of the Bro Code?

    Katsuragi Keima, similarly, is deceptively macho. Doesn't like sweets (that's a macho thing in that neck of the woods)—but'll eat an entire birthday cake made of ingredients literally from Hell, if a girl makes it for him. He's got a genuinely chivalrous side to him, our Keima, though he conceals it in layers of complete-dickhead-ness.

    Finally, Kull. If you ever need to, say, settle a bar-bet, "Kull of Atlantis" is the answer to "name a he-man action-hero who's a virgin".
  • Has, uh, anyone noticed how much weird Buddhistical stuff is in the Kull stories, by the bye? Admittedly some of it—the Skull of Silence being the big example—makes a mistake no Buddhist would, hypostasizing a negation, but still, the sages of Valusia talked remarkably solid nonsense for '30s-era pulp fantasy. Sorta shows Lovecraft up for the chucklepate he was, by comparison.

    Between Scorpion and a few of the other Valusian gods, in Kull, and Asura, in "The Hour of the Dragon" (CLAMP would be pleased), another big difference between Lovecraft and Howard is not all the supernaturalism in Howard is evil. But then, Howard was going more Buddhist-existentialist than Nietzschean-nihilist. E.g., "Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content." That's existentialist, it's not nihilist.
  • Which (this is shaping up to be quite stream of consciousness), by the way, is part of why they need to teach literature proper-like. Seriously, in an English class, which would you rather read, for existentialist themes: a Samuel Beckett snooze-fest, or Conan the Barbarian?

    And hey, I know they don't teach Nietzsche outside philosophy courses—and there, they don't like to mention his main idea ("if you are an atheist who believes in morals you're an idiot")—but you could get a lot of headway into introducing his ideas, by teaching a couple of Lovecraft books.
  • Someone needs to explain to conservatives that "nasty, brutish, and short" is no less an oversimplification than "noble savage"—well, except as a description of the history of England, anyway.

    Can you tell I've been debating people on the Internet again? Yes.
  • Remember how I said I was thinking the other paladin-society in my D&D setting (and stories set in same) would be Eagle-totem? Decided, scratch that. Going with Owl-totem. He's their god of death, and his paladins (who gestalt with clerics) are undead-slayers.

    Also, pro-tip. If you need a way to do cosmogony-infodumping in a fantasy story: murals in temples. Yep. It works for Lovecraft and I seem to recall Howard and Leiber (who've also used the much less elegant device of the inspired dream), and it can work for you, too.
  • An example of how translation is full of pitfalls would be, my brother was showing me the new Triad-themed weapon pack for TF2, and the Scout has a big ol' cleaver with "死肉" written on it. Presumably, they were going for "dead meat".

    Only, "死肉" (pronounced "sǐròu" in Mandarin and "séiyuhk" in Cantonese—yet the Chinese government pretends these are two dialects of the same language), means "damn meat"—putting 死/sǐ/séi before a noun means you are wishing death upon it, e.g. séigwáilóu "damn white people". "Dead meat" is 死肉, the middle hanzi being an adjectivizer; it can be omitted after a single-hanzi adjective, especially in set phrases, but I'm pretty sure "dead meat" isn't an expression in Chinese the way it is in English. Especially since 死+noun already means "damn noun".

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