According to Plato, political regimes evolved consistently, from oligarchy to democracy to tyranny. When the elites become self-indulgent, lazy or promiscuous, and develop interests apart from the masses, they fall, oligarchies give way to democracies. And in turn, when mob passion overpowers political wisdom and a populist despot seizes the moment, democracies yield to tyranny. However, the despot is not quite a tyrant just yet. In a democracy, the would-be tyrant always offers himself as the champion of the masses. He simplifies everything, and make everything whole again.
In Donald Trump, this evolution is pretty straightforward: a vulgar right-wing populism coalesces in the midst of an anti-establishment hysteria and a strongman fascist declares that he will stick it to the elites and make the country great again, and presents a familiar scapegoat, an alien Other the masses can redirect their poisonous resentment. For a fragmented and bitter populace, this is rhetorical palliative, and just like Plato predicted, the very sort of thing that pushes a country over the edge. Continue reading Plato on Trump
Last night’s episode of Westworld went out with a bang. But besides the science fiction elements, the most interesting thing about the show was the bicameral mind reference – first name dropped back in Episode three, and the season finale’s title. It was a provocative theory proposed by Julian Jaynes in his 1977 masterpiece, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Continue reading The Bicameral Mind in Westworld
In this day and age, science fiction, not to mention its more popularized version, scifi, has lost its prestige. Before we get into its current dilapidated state, first we need a cursory analysis of its emergence, to properly assess its origins. Continue reading The Decline of Science Fiction
At the most basic level, the TV show was a deathmatch between two dominant cult films of the end of the 90s: the narrator from Fight Club and Patrick Bateman from American Psycho over the stakes of capitalism. Mr. Robot is Sam Esmail’s attempt at re-purposing and repairing of these two opposing representations in order to succeed where they both failed. Therefore Mr. Robot transcends tribute and arrives at re-invention. Continue reading Mr.Robot, Fight Club, American Psycho
It has been a while since I posted on Game of Thrones, or more accurately, A Song of Ice and Fire. As we start winding down on Martin’s epic, a small but fast growing sector of the fanbase is giving credibility to this notion: Daenerys, the Mother of Dragons (and a bunch of other honorifics) is the true villain of the story. We already have the obvious candidate in the Night King, but recent episodes, as of Episode 6, has Daenerys taking a heel turn in her declaration of conquest. She’s made these claims before, but always with a qualifier – to free the slaves of Slaver’s Bay, to restore her House of Targaryen, etc. Now it’s just strictly conquest for the sake of conquest. Continue reading Is Daenerys the Villain of Game of Thrones?
One of the main reasons of conceiving my graphic novel epic Pantheon is to explore the post-human aspect of science fiction, and I felt this was the most interesting direction to take the stories of mythology towards. For me, science fiction works best when it expresses the future according to our hopes and fears, but mythology works in a different fashion – it comes from some type of a collective unconscious of the human experience. That said, a combination of both elements should be quite rich and dynamic. Continue reading The Post-Human in Pantheon
In Saul Bellow’s novel, Seize the Day, the protagonist Tommy Wilhelm remarked that “cynicism was bread and meat to everyone. And irony too. Maybe it couldn’t be helped.” Irony became entrenched in the fifties, where the American economy flourished under the shadow of a potential nuclear war. Once the Cold War and the economic boom ended, the national self-definition was subverted until irony became the cultural currency. While irony served a valuable purpose in the works of great American writers like Barth, Coover, Burroughs, Nabokov and Pynchon, the commercial culture of the US filtered that into the national aesthetic as postmodern irony, resulting in David Letterman, The Simpsons, and rap, among other things. Continue reading Cynicism in the 90s and today