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
Utopias had been the dominant literary form rather than dystopias in the past: Plato & Thomas Moore invented and re-invented the utopian society in order to present their political & economic views that did not extend further than coarse socialism. Once communism became a fact in the early 20th century, socialism switched from utopian fantasies to dystopian horror. Once we figured out how horrible socialism could be in reality, the utopian genre was extinct due to the death of the socialist dream. Zamyatin published We in 1921, not long after the Bolshevik coup d’etat, and ended up as the first book to be banned by the Soviets. Continue reading Best Dystopian Films
Before I get into the list, I think a distinction between dystopian and post-apocalyptic films is necessary. Both classifications have been run together too often in recent years to the point that they’re nearly indistinguishable. However, a good understanding of cinema requires clear and distinct earmarks of each genre, and that will lead to a rich & robust discourse. Continue reading Best Post-Apocalyptic films
Admittedly, this was a tough year, since there weren’t as many quality shows as there were in the last two years. It probably did not help matters that the best two shows actually began during the 2012 fall season. Last year, I tried to pick the best two series of each season, but that won’t work this year, because there aren’t enough to qualify. Continue reading Best anime of 2013
As a trope in science fiction, time travel allows for virtually any possibility and therefore, it’s the most abused plot gimmick ever. Luckily for us, a few diamonds have turned up in the rough. There are thousands of great time travel stories in science fiction, including comic books and television, but only a smattering of films qualify for this high honor. The great time travel film is not necessarily a scientific one, a logically consistent one, or even a time travel type for morons. They are the ones that succeed in presenting a brand new view of our times, or confessing profound truths about human nature. Continue reading The Best Time Travel Films ever
O sweet & deadly nihilism, what cruel beauty…
Of the four flavors of psychological states,
Three intoxicants are poisonous
Naturally & culturally, individually & socially!
First venomous flavor is the cockcrow
Of arrant meaninglessness–
A failure of Grand Purpose,
Promises a bitter aftertaste of Discouragement & melancholia!
Second rancorous flavor is the faith
In some conjectural Everything, a great Chain of Being;
A cosmic guarantor of infinite worth!
Woe unto he who loses his faith,
for he loses his own self-worth too!
Third malignant flavor is the visceral gasp
At the infinite flux, absent a safe respite;
Nothing to do but condemn all
For the sake of some Cloud Cuckoo Land,
That has no staying power whatsoever!
And the Fourth flavor? Curiously,
Neither aim, nor unity, nor Being apply!
Nothing left but a brand new tomorrow
Freed of crumbling relics & monuments of yesteryear!
Freed at last to create new selves, new worlds, new futures!
Impressions: WTF. Yes, much like others, I was left speechless. I couldn’t make heads or tails of what the hell I saw. The last time I had that disconcerting feeling was the first time I watched End of Evangelion. Given the amazing levels of awesome Evangelion 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance reached, I was geeked for more of the same, but I was left reeling with confusion, full of questions, and a slow burn that ended in anger.