Greatest Paradox

Some time ago, I wrote myself into a corner in a chapter from Pantheon, in which a character was forced to solve a conundrum: he had to stay at a location, safeguard a highly sensitive museum, but prevent interlopers from coming inside, while not showing himself to them, or destroy them, or the critical objects of desire. The more I thought about this, the less confident I was at solving this Gordian knot. After all, if the aforementioned options prevented all possible solutions, then somewhere there was an assumption that made the conclusion false.

Continue reading Greatest Paradox

Narcissistic, still?!?

Never a wrong time to take a selfie.

In the 21st century today, narcissism appears to be much less about the correlation between our self-importance and our own personal relationships than it is with the number of followers on Twitter or Facebook friends. Indeed, social networking is, at worst, a platform to cultivate one’s narcissism and indulge where it hasn’t metastasized. Continue reading Narcissistic, still?!?

The Bicameral Mind in Westworld

Dolores
Dolores

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

Mr.Robot, Fight Club, American Psycho

Mr. Robot by Ururuty
Mr. Robot by Ururuty

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

Is Daenerys the Villain of Game of Thrones?

game_of_thrones___daenerys_targaryen_by_daninaimare-d5plslqIt 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?

Cynics, Fanatics, and… Trolls?

tweet

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?

Best anime of 2014

Another tough year, down the drain. There were several deserving shows, regardless of the endless flow of mediocrity, and they deserve a mention.

 

Space Dandy

space-dandy-21
The dandiest guy in space

 

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

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…

 

PSYCHO-PASS 2

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.

Scifi film in dialogue with 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) GARY LOCKWOOD TTO 016FOH

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

Ethics of Piracy

piracy

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.shipoftheseusargument

  Continue reading Ethics of Piracy