With this post and pixie dust, you can fly.

More random thoughts, since I had a few things to say. I might do a full-length post on something later--Trigun, maybe, or Outlaw Star.
  • So, Battlestar Galactica ended. There's a sequel/spinoff in the works, I hear; if you don't kill such creatures properly their power hides out, in Mirkwood for instance, and takes a new shape, and grows again. But anyhow, the series ends with the shocking revelation that all this horse-hockey is actually our past. Yes, you read that right. The people at BSG apparently thought they could get away with the hackneyed "Adam and Eve Plot." Wow, guys. You've reached Bert I. Gordon levels of suckation with this one. The whole monstrous run of your series, and you pick this as the only piece of real SF you use? Go die. In a hole. And be reborn a more sentient being--like a banana slug, maybe.

  • There's an anime series I discovered, called Heroic Age, that is, in many ways, what BSG could have been--each of the races is named after one of the Five Ages of Man from Hesiod, the hero is basically Herakles (with some hints of Kintarou and Son Goku), down to having 12 labors. I'd just as soon he didn't transform into a giant monster, a la Betterman (I think there's a few designers in common between the two), but it certainly isn't any worse than BSG. Also, it's got characters! Weird, huh?

  • Sartre is pretty much the definition of Euro-trash intellectualism--shallow, obfuscating, misanthropic...and an abusive, philandering squeeing-fangirl-for-Stalin! Also lied about being in the Resistance. All that, however, is immaterial, for with a wave of my magic wand (wait, that's my middle finger) I shall dispense with him.

    See, Sartre said that if existence precedes essence, God would be a a being-for-itself that's also a being-in-itself: which is a contradiction in terms.

    Aside from the question of whether that is contradictory (I don't think it actually is), Sartre's making a much more basic error, one that would've got him laughed out of the University in the Middle Ages. See, he's using the terms being and essence univocally of God and of creatures, as Duns Scotus did. Congratulations, Sartre, you dispensed with one of the weaker thinkers of Christendom. Unfortunately, we Thomists have always taught that any statements about God are true only analogically--there is more difference than likeness between any such statements and the Reality Who they describe. Since language is founded on subject and predicate, for instance, even the Tetragrammaton (I AM) is inaccurate, since the I is the AM and the AM is the I (and the fact that the word has to be marked for tense and/or aspect is another inaccuracy, since it's actually dealing with eternity...). God is not a being for Himself nor in Himself, since the concept implies a distinction between subject and predicate that's nonexistent. He's actually not even a being; he's just being.

    And now let us all thank God for the gift of gangrene.

  • So, out of morbid curiosity, I read Roger Ebert's review of Twilight. My little sister and I had gone to see it, to riff on it (she'd read the book and didn't like it, quelle surprise)--and we were actually surprised that it wasn't too bad. Apparently actually being able to show vampire baseball makes it not suck (I've never understood how anyone can enjoy sports-fiction), and it helps not to have the climactic battle filled in, in dialog, after the fact. I know, who knew?

    But anyway, Ebert said something about how Edward (you fangirls may squee now; I am going to sneer) probably hates being in biology, since "Darwin came in during his time, and Darwin proved there can be no vampires."

    Well. Castrate and lobotomize me and call me a film critic. I knew Darwin was revolutionary, but I'd no idea he changed the rules of logic and made it possible to prove a negative! Darwin actually, of course, proved nothing (except for some revolutionary ideas about earthworms' effects on erosion); theories--which really ought to be called "models", to avoid this confusion--aren't proved at all, they're judged by their explanatory and predictive power. Darwinism is largely adequate as a model of biological change, especially the newer forms of it (Neo-Darwinism, in other words, though I admit to liking Punctuated Equilibrium's attempt to address the fossil record). But how exactly does a theory that only addresses what organisms do while they're alive have anything to say about them after they're dead?

    I think Ebert was just trying to be cute, but he only succeeded in making himself look philosophically illiterate.

    Also it said right in the film that Edward, 17, was sick in the Influenza of 1919, so he'd have been born in 1902, long after Darwin. But then, I actually know when Darwin was around.

  • So a recent difficulty has revealed to me the fatal flaw in Liberal/Modernist Christianity (the fact it's a thin gruel of uninspiring platitudes is not a fatal flaw, just grounds for questioning whether something that's fatal is always a "flaw" absolute).

    They judge everything emotionally, not intellectually.

    Thus, nobody dislikes Puritanism, and indeed Calvinism in general, more than me. But I can tell you why: the doctrine of Predestination essentially makes God the author of all the evil that men do, and the doctrine of Limited Atonement means God wishes some of His creatures damned. There is also a certain Manichaean hatred of bodily pleasures, that goes beyond the caution all responsible moral thought treats it with, and a similarly Manichaean hatred of women, too (read Milton if you don't believe me); also it made possible a number of economic and social injustices in the places where it was adopted.

    What do most Modern Christians say about Puritanism? That it saw God as stern and unloving, disgusted with His creatures' sins. Whereas Liberal Christians see him as loving and kind and forgiving...and, historically, completely fine with the Rape of Belgium and gung-ho for the Master Race's acquisition of Lebensraum.

    But I kid sellouts to the Zeitgeist. The point is, their description of Puritanism is emotional, not doctrinal. They couldn't tell you in a vigintillion years where they differ from John Calvin--or Simon Magus, for that matter. All they know is Puritans were mean, and they're not. Puritans were also of human intelligence, which they most certainly aren't.


Kids get everything

So, thought it'd been too long since I did a review, but the problem is, I haven't seen anything in a while that made me want to review it at full length. So I thought I'd just mention two movies I'd seen relatively recently, Kung Fu Panda and Coraline. Maybe the kids'll turn out okay, after all.

Yes, I know KFP came out a while ago, but I'd been putting off seeing it. Frankly, the ads drove me away (Good God Effy but they do that a lot); why must they show the most dimwitted and irritating gags in the entire movie? Are they attempting to attract the Head Injury Ward set, or something?

But anyway, I thought I'd start with Coraline, since it's less deep. Yeah, I know that sounds nuts, but keep yer britches on and you'll see what I mean. Anyway, I can't think of a single thing I didn't like about Coraline, which is not something I can say all that often (Dirty Harry, the original, is another film I saw recently of which I can say that).

Great voices, great animation (shocking insight, that)--wasn't the cat Goliath in Disney's Gargoyles, and the narrator for a bunch of Navy ads? I also liked that the moral of the story was more subtle than "good vs. evil" or "reality is preferable to fantasy." See, this was actually, "never sacrifice the goods you've been given for the ones you think you want." It's not about gratitude, precisely; it's about humility, and understanding that everything good is a gift, including existence. That idea, not coincidentally, is at the heart of nearly every fairy tale--it's what good ol' GKC called "the ethics of elfland," in a chapter of Orthodoxy (wonder if Gaiman's read that). It's the fundamental ethic of Paganism at its deepest--certainly a step up from the airy-fairy po-mo nonsense that passes for most imaginative fair.

Now, Kung Fu Panda actually gave me a few complaints. I wish Jackie Chan's monkey had gotten to talk more. All that talk of "belief" was irritatingly Kierkegaardian. I don't think the villain should've been a snow leopard (I like snow leopards, sue me), and I wouldn't've made the Tiger a girl--I like catgirls as much as the next guy (probably significantly moreso, actually), but Tigers are purely Yang animals. You want a Kung Fu chick, make her Leopard (they're more Yin than Tigers are, though I don't remember that they're actually Yin).

But otherwise...A-frigging-mazing. The choreography was good, both for the gags and for the serious fights; the slapstick was vintage Jackie Chan (I wonder if he helped them choreograph it). A lot of the gags are funnier if you've seen many wuxia films; the whole thing shows a familiarity with the genre that's impressive by my standards.

Here on out, it's SPOILER COUNTRY (text purpled out).

More importantly, the turtle...is a Taoist. The stuff he says, that sounds sorta profound, but might just mean he keeps a bong in his shell? Taoism. It's reminiscent of, "And the master said, 'What if my buttocks turned into cart wheels, and I rolled down this hill?' And the pupils were enlightened." He grows peach trees, for Heaven's sake (small joke). And then when he died, he became a frigging immortal!

It don't stop there, though, kids. The whole movie's an allegory of the Zen teaching of the Everyday Mind! What's the secret technique? What's the secret ingredient?


What's the mind of a master? Why, your everyday mind.

I didn't know Yagyu Munenori had registered any screenplays with the Writer's Guild, did you?