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
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?
However, this proverb is far more profound than its attempt at cleverness. All three are actually interrelated and two of them are the dominant aspects of our modern times. The cynic is the average person, having become enlightened, but since none of her traditional beliefs or values are reliable, she sinks in a reflexive false consciousness. The fanatic is the reactionary who, in rejecting the secular wisdom of the Enlightenment, inadvertently recreates a secular version of his traditional beliefs or practices in fundamentalism. As for the troll? She merely avoids the pitfalls of either dead end by transcending the modern times in her utilization of cheeky humor and avoids the sin of seriousness in mocking either caricature. Continue reading Cynics, Fanatics, and… Trolls?
Twitter is the perfect medium for today’s over-saturated media-soaked times. Continue reading Philosophy on Twitter
Another tough year, down the drain. There were several deserving shows, regardless of the endless flow of mediocrity, and they deserve a mention.
One of the all-time greatest creators in anime, Shinichirō Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo) returned with a fantastic premise in experimentation: start with a ragtag bunch of bounty hunters (Dandy, Meow, and QT) and throw them into impossible scenarios, and then… reset each episode, wipe it clean for the next one. This is anthology done right as each episode became a showcase for the top animators, directors and writers in the business. That did recycle the overall shtick, but somehow, each episode managed to shoot for the highest peaks in blending or bending genre, mixing parodies and homages. I often applaud creativity over technical execution, especially when ambition and originality plays a huge factor in this surreal and over-the-top series. You could say Space Dandy “saved” anime in 2014, but truth be told – there wasn’t much to save in the end. Both whimsical and great, Space Dandy would’ve been a strong contender in any other year, because there’s absolutely nothing like it.
Kill la Kill
Anime is an unique medium that isn’t as grounded in mimicry or verisimilitude – and that means the creators should push its boundaries every time, exploit the medium without respect to realism in the slightest. And Kill la Kill is the latest exponent of this philosophy, in a long line that dates back to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and FLCL – a madcap, hyper-kinetic spectacle with a barely coherent plot and outsized, totally outrageous characters. Absolutely zero filler episodes means this show had impeccable pacing. Admittedly, there were plenty of fan-service-y innuendo and inside baseball jokes (many of the puns are based on Japanese words), so many of the references might fly over your head. Competently animated, and completely slick with its stylized aesthetic, Kill la Kill is a shot of adrenaline to your groin, and doesn’t let go until you’re pumped at maximum capacity, frothing at the mouth, ready to change the world – or at least blog on the next episode.
And… that’s it.
Two. Frigging. Shows. All. Year. Jumping Jehoshaphat. 2014 was a down year in Anime. I mean, we are talking the Leastern Conference bad in the NBA these days. Even my favorite anime bloggers burned out (Psgels) or delegated the burden (Scamp) or started blogging other non-anime content about Japan (Guardian Enzo).
Flops? Of the ones I did hunker down and watch…
Decent science fiction ideas in the wake of Gen Urobuchi marred by substandard execution. No budget, one dimensional characters? Junk it.
Fate/Stay Night Whatever Whatever
No matter how great a studio is, it just can’t get beyond the ridiculous high school setting. Ufotable couldn’t escape the 15 ton ball and chain of shounen and that Yuji Everylead the Bland character.
A few weeks ago, I came across an article on Grantland that pushed forth the thesis that all science fiction films after 1968 are in dialogue with 2001: A Space Odyssey, and shared it with my colleague in intellectual crime, Paul. Continue reading Scifi film in dialogue with 2001: A Space Odyssey
The other day I got into a debate on twitter about the morality of sharing ebooks. Someone was posting free copies of Roger Zelazny’s books on kindle, and I replied that I was entitled to ebooks of the printed books I own. This writer challenged that assertion and asked for an argument. I refused to engage in his Empire-inflected moralizing, that the writer owned the medium his story is printed on, and used the Ship of Theseus example to deconstruct the notion of ownership.
Smoke clove cigarettes? Wear ironic trucker hats? Skinny jeans? Horn-rimmed glasses with bug-eyed lenses? Graduated with a liberal arts major? Carry a shoulder-strap messenger bag? Soi disant exceptionally cultured, with at least one pop vice? Have at least one Republican friend, and describe him/her as your “one Republican friend?” Unwashed hair, but position said head on pillow at night to maximize cowlick? Yes, you’re a hipster. Continue reading The Hipster and Cynical Reason
Educated Americans tend to confuse morality and art, and morality for them tends to mean social consciousness which usually equals bad art.
— Bret Easton Ellis (@BretEastonEllis) November 4, 2011
This quote illustrates the problem with criticism and art today, especially when it comes to pop culture critics.
The comic book critic Kelly Thompson dropped Wonder Woman after issue #7, and explained herself in her article “Is the Destruction of the Amazons The Destruction of Feminism in DC Comics?” Basically, the writer of Wonder Woman, Brian Azzarello, has returned the titular character Wonder Woman to ancient Greek mythological roots. However, Greek mythology is much more bloodthirsty and savage than their previous incarnations, notably expressed by George Perez in the mid 80s. The Olympians of Perez seemed closer to the stoic figures of Roman mythology: certainly noble but mostly detached from the affairs of mortals. Continue reading Criticism and Pop Culture