Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Another huge detour has been the World of Warcraft trial. My friend recommended I try it, and try it I did. The account just expired today, and already I've done thorough cleaning and read half of a book I've been dying to reread (My Name is Asher Lev), as well as go to dinner and attend the Christmas Eve service at my Church with my family. Now, I'm blogging for the first time in nearly a month. All this, and I didn't wake up until noon today. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the game. And what prewriting I've gotten done for the story was, in large part, triggered by playing--it put me in a very creative frame of mind. I still haven't decided if buying the game is worth the cost, particularly with the constant influx of money it requires (subscriptions every month and, if they continue the current trend, an expansion pack every couple of years). But all of that is beside the point.
The point is, I need to write more. I want to write for the rest of my life. As a living, if at all possible. But I've been neglecting it. And talents don't like to be neglected. Trust me. So somehow, I'm going to need to write more, and more often. That said, I only have a couple more days of internet access in which I can update this blog before I visit relatives and have irregular internet access. Still, I suppose there are always word processors. Or, if I'm absolutely desperate... PEN and PAPER *shudder*.
Enough kidding around. Merry Christmas, everybody.
Friday, November 28, 2008
This is where my paradox comes in: I hate breaking the touch barrier. Part of it is that I know some people don't like to be touched. I do my best to respect other people's barriers. Unfortunately, there are selfish reasons too. With my insane fear of rejection, I for some reason feel that it is better to be starved of touch than to offer a hug and be shaken off. Because of this, I would hug only family members (primarily my mother, aunts, etc) for years and years of my life. I didn't even have much physical contact with my first girlfriend back in high school (although it was only a week).
As a point of interest, it was also my freshman year of college in which I discovered how important touch was to me. The majority of this was expressed through cuddling, hugging, or holding hands with my second girlfriend, whom I met the first day of freshman orientation. We spent a lot of time together (as young people who think they're in love often do) and I was, in general, much happier than I had been throughout my earlier life. Then we broke up, almost exactly a year from the day we met. I spent another year and some change in relative isolation from physical contact, until I again found myself in a relationship. This one lasted considerably less time, but shortly thereafter I had something of a breakthrough: I don't need a girlfriend to hug people. I could be reaffirmed that people cared about me by hugging friends. And so I did just that. I love it. I don't think I could go back to only having contact with a girlfriend if I tried (and I see no reason to do so).
The worst part of knowing people care mostly through touch is that it's incredibly awkward to explain to anyone (especially a significant other) that you want to be touched. Our culture is so sex-obsessed that people's minds immediate go to eroticism. It bothers me. Sex is certainly a big deal, but realistically cannot occupy that much of our time, and so should not occupy so much of our thoughts.
Anyway, that's my thoughts on hugs.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
This morning, I started thinking about the question “where do your ideas come from” when I saw one of the men from my dorm pick up a giant foam sandwich from the curb, where it had presumably been left for trash pickup. This sandwich had been sitting in the hall of our dormitory for some weeks, and I could not imagine why anyone would bring it back inside. Seeing the opportunity to ask a delightfully bizarre question, I addressed him, saying “May I ask why you just took the giant sandwich inside?” He was entertained vowed to quote me on Facebook, and explained that he planned to cut up the foam for use in his room.
What occurred to me is that we probably see dozens of things almost as strange as this every day, but don't consciously process them. While the image of a man in a camouflage jacket carrying a giant sandwich under his arm is unusual enough to have captured my attention, had I seen it only out of the corner of my eye, I may not have been aware of it. However, this could still have prompted me to write a story about giant food or tiny people. Alternatively, I might have written an essay about world hunger or about gluttony. I might have written a poem about food, hunger, or fullness. All of these things come from this single experience of a man with a giant sandwich. It leaves me wondering just how many such experiences we almost have that lead us to write what we do. So, while I cannot call it a universal or eternal answer. if someone were to ask me today where my ideas come from, I would almost certainly respond, “From the corner of my eye.”
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I respect the editor of the Aviso, Malone University's newspaper. She is a fine woman with a good sense of journalistic integrity. In this year's first issue, she stated her commitment "to cover Malone news accurately, truthfully, and responsibly."
To a degree, she has accomplished this. The Aviso has accurately reported many stories. But there are some points in which they have stopped short. Particularly, when the administrators say something, the Aviso has not, this year, questioned that statement. Before I go on, I in no way insinuate that any deceit is going on in the case of the individual administrator who was quoted by the Aviso, or in the Aviso staff. I only contend that falsehoods were spoken, and make no accusations as to where the falsehoods began and who was under the impression that they were or were not true.
Even in the same first issue in which the Editor dedicated herself to reporting the truth, a story ran about a campus beautification project. Many students were upset that picnic tables were being taken away for the more "aesthetically pleasing" benches, but my concerns were elsewhere: the Aviso reported that "The gazebo," a structure formally located near one of the dorms, "was structurally unsound and was eliminated over the summer." (Emphasis mine). I will tell you, dear readers, this is a lie. First, the gazebo was not structurally unsound. I have spoken with one of the workers responsible for the demolition. Asked about its structural integrity, the anonymous worker said, "It was fine. It just didn't fit in with the current...design. It was torn out for the sake of a proposed road that may be built later." He continued, "In fact, it was quite difficult to take apart." Another reason students believe (but the Aviso did not report) that the gazebo was torn down was that students were fond of using this semi-secluded spot for "make-out sessions." The reason I suspect that the administration claimed the gazebo was unsound is that they could not claim it was unaesthetic, like the picnic tables and could not admit publicly that students used it for romantic rendezvous. Everyone knows it, but no one will own up to the fact. I have heard, though I cannot confirm, that the gazebo had been payed for by a previous graduating class as a class gift. If this is so, it was also necessary to claim the gazebo was unsound for the sake of its demolition because any other reason (like a through-road) to tear down a class's legacy would be met with intense disapproval, to put it lightly.
The problem continued in the third issue of the Aviso, where they reported that class integration of the upperclassmen and freshman dorms was intentional. This is, in fact, what many of the administrators said. It is also a lie. At the end of each school year, returning students may request to keep their room in the freshman dorms. Over the past several years, more and more students have been doing this for the sake of "community" or, in the case of many girls, to avoid being stuck with a room in the dorm furthest from their classes. This increased to the point that the upperclassman residence halls could not be filled with only upperclassmen. Also, Malone continues to admit more students (particularly more men) than they can adequately house. Since Malone has strict rules about who may live off-campus, more upperclassmen were asked to live off campus to make room for all the freshmen now in need of rooms. I was asked to do so the past two years, and flatly declined. Because of upperclassmen refusing to move on from their freshman halls, and Malone's insistence on admitting more students every year, the dorms have become mixed. This was not a plan to break down class barriers, but a simple state of affairs being spun as such.
The issue continues in later issues, but I've already written enough for now. I'll continue at a later date.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Chapel has always requested that we remove our hats, hoods, and other head coverings while in Chapel. I have no issue with this. They also ask that we have our cell phones set to silent. This is no issue, either. Both are signs of respect, and I do my best to give respect where it is due.
Last school year, I noticed that the overhead displays asking us to remove our hats weren't just asking for their removal. They were asking us to remove our hats as Moses removed his shoes before the Lord (a reference to Exodus 3:5). I still removed my hat, but for some time, I would also sarcastically remove my shoes anytime I was in Chapel. I would have kept my hat on to further illustrate this point, but I am personally convicted to have my head uncovered during worship (I'll explain why later). If ever you see my head covered during Chapel, you can tell I feel the message is not only not worshipful, but actually interferes with private worship. I kept up the practice of going barefoot or in stocking feet until I realized that it was even worse for me to do this spitefully than for the school to misuse the verse.
For a time, these messages went away, and Malone went back to just respectfully asking us to remove our hats. However, this semester, it began again... this time with the addendum "but you can keep your shoes on" followed by a smilie face. This flat out disgusted me. I have considered writing to our student newspaper about this, but never have.
Perhaps I should explain myself further for clarification. First of all, the verse in Exodus 3:5 does not say that this is a general practice being established, but a specific case - this was Moses encountering the Burning Bush. Second of all, it was not because of worshipfulness that Moses was told to remove his sandals, but because he was on Holy Ground. Third, if Malone is going to refer to this verse, they ought to have us remove our shoes as well. Fourth, there are verses that speak of the covering or uncovering of one's head in the New Testament, in First Corinthians 11:4-15, especially verses 4-7, 10, and 13. Fifth, if Malone wanted to claim that either of these verses were culturally specific, they should not use them at all, but simply say "as a sign of respect." They could appeal, if they chose, to the practice of removing hats for the Pledge of Allegiance, National Anthem, or Alma Maters - it is respectful in modern American Culture to remove head coverings in cases of particular reverence.
Why does Malone use Exodus and not First Corinthians? My guess is it went something like this:
"We need the students to be respectful in Chapel and remove their hats."
"Why is that important?"
"Paul says in Corinthians that Men need to have their heads uncovered when they pray."
"Hm... just the Men? We're all about equality. After all, 'in Christ, we are neither Male nor Female'."
"Actually..." [looking it up] "some translations say she would be better to have her head cut off than uncovered."
ADMINISTRATORs 2 and 3:
"Well, he goes back to Creation and the original order of the Cosmos and explains that just as Christ is the head of the Church, Man is the head of Woman."
"That doesn't fit well with our Quaker theology of egalitarianism - it was probably contextual. How else could we motivate the students to take off their hats, and keep a spiritual emphasis?"
"Well, Moses took his sandals off at the Burning Bush - shoes are sort of like hats for your feet..."
"Perfect! Let's use that!"
I make no judgments about Women who do not cover their heads while praying. It could well have been contextual. The references to the created order clearly require some sort of separation or distinction, though. The options are: in the context in which Paul wrote, the specific sign that was necessary was Women covering their heads and Men having their heads uncovered, but those specifics are no longer necessary, OR Paul was writing for all time and Women ought always have their heads covered, men, uncovered. I personally feel convicted by this passage of scripture, and so I always remove my hat to pray, even if I am only praying for a few seconds.
My response to the claim that we are neither Man nor Woman in Christ is simple: this is true. Neither sex nor gender has any bearing on our salvation. However, it is ignorant to think that this means we are no longer distinct. Just as Christ's sacrifice did not physically remove differentiations between Man and Woman, it has not changed the way in which we relate to the world either. Eve was a helper to Adam. A "helper" is not one who does the same exact thing as the one they help. Neither is the helper a slave or even a servant. A helper fulfills a role separate from but not inferior to the one being helped. And there is nothing to suggest the removal of this distinction, especially in light of the many New Testament references to the differing roles of Men and Women.
Malone is right to tell us to remove our hats (at least, the men). I respect their rules. However, to use the example of Moses and not Paul disrespects the passage in Exodus for using it to support what it was not intended to, the passage in First Corinthians for not using it to support the very thing it was explicitly written about, and us as students for not considering us smart enough to notice or respectful enough to follow the rules for their own sake.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Malone University has screwed me over. Despite the fact that it had been used as a Cross-Cultural credit before, despite the fact that every administrator and professor claimed to support me in going, despite the fact that classes with no actual Cross-Cultural interaction are on the official Gen Ed menu, the Gen Ed committee refused my petition to count LA toward my Cross-Cultural Gen Ed. I will not graduate late. I now have lost. I will finish out my Senior year at Malone University. I wish I could blame someone, but I can't--it's just the way things have gone.
I love all of my Malone friends--the one benefit of all of this is that I won't have to leave them. The Lord is faithful, and all will be well. I am only saddened that things have not gone as I hoped they would. Prayer for my peace of mind with this turn of events would be appreciated.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
In other news, I got back early from this weekend's Forensics tourney a day early (sadly, because none of us made finals) and got to catch some extra Zs. I am almost 100% over my recent bout of illness, and am only slightly behind schedule academically.
I battled with the Gladiator group today, and am now conflicted in choosing between Forensics and Camp this next weekend. Camp, it's my only chance, period, before I leave for LA. Forensics, it's a big deal tournament, and I only have two more before I leave. Plus there's the whole "I'm on a scholarship" thing.
I wish this would lead to some deep insights, but I just haven't written in a while, and my journal is almost full, so I don't want to run out of space before I can get a new one.
Friday, October 17, 2008
After a little while spent in the past, I decided to transfer some of my notes from this year to my computer - this time I mean class notes, not notes from people - and have at present managed to completely record two of my classes in this way. But while I was working on this project, I swapped over to Firefox and checked my email. Sitting in my inbox was a message from LAFSC: I've been accepted.
I'm not free of any more work now. I still have a lot of work to do, getting my finances together, convincing Malone to deal with my Gen Eds the way I want them to, signing and mailing a couple forms... all sorts of formalities. But all of this work is under the promise of results, the lack of which is the reason I hate application process. And of course it isn't as if I'm just tossing Ohio a quick goodbye and never looking back. My relationship with Caroline is scarcely a week old, and we'll have about two months until I leave. But we decided when we started going out that I wouldn't bemoan my leaving for our sake.
This is not among the more reflective of my blogs, but then, they can't all be.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
RULE 1: I will only dance...
1) with my date.
2) in a group.
3) by myself.
Therefore, I do not dance with anyone else, friend or otherwise, while on a date. I toyed with the idea of allowing "anyone my date tells me to dance with" on the list as well, but that has some unpleasant potential implications.
RULE 2: On any slow dance, I will make eye contact with my date, and I will never look over her shoulder at other dancers.
This is just plain rude. You're there with your date. Not the other dancers. She should have your complete focus. All the time.
RULE 3: I will not hold my date to the first two rules.
This took a lot of personal growth on my part to allow this, but I realize that other people do like to dance with friends, and it would be rather inflexible of me to insist on all of her attention for the entire night.
RULE 4: My date sets the level of intimacy for the dancing.
I never pull a date close if I don't know how comfortable she is with me. If she wants to dance close, we dance close. If she wants space, we dance with a reasonable distance between us.
These are what come to mind. It just seems like common courtesy to me. What about you, oh faithful readers?
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I did not like what I had to do. I have suffered such chastisements before (thankfully, no more than words were needed tonight). But I did not feel guilty. I cannot claim that it was the office I held that spoke in my stead, nor would I want to. I was speaking. The effect on me was very real. But such behavior without the authority, and I would feel the need to seek forgiveness. I feel no such need. I was in the right. Even before others confirmed to me that I was in the right, I knew.
For the longest time, I have held the view that the government has the right to do things that citizens do not. Capital punishment is, clearly, not the same thing as murder. Neither is war. But now I can understand in a way of which I had previously been ignorant the way in which these things affect the agents of government. More thoughts on this topic fill my mind, but I do not presume to write these half-formed musings into writing. In fact, I may have already said too much.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
This was of no great significance to me, except for the symbolism. The eight external points represent the eight chivalric virtues of Loyalty, Piety, Frankness, Bravery, Glory and Honor, Contempt of Death, Helpfulness to the Poor and Sick, and Respect for the Church. I began thinking of what each of these may mean:
Loyalty: Always remain true and faithful to those who love you and those whom you love.
Piety: Always give first praise and glory to the Lord your God, and worship Him with all your heart.
Frankness: Always speak the truth without balking, even when it is unpleasant to either yourself or the hearer. Neither lie nor hold back, especially in matters of conviction.
Bravery: Never let fear turn you from what you know to be a right course of action.
Glory and Honor: Always give respect and tribute to those who have earned it with right action, justice, and mercy, and ever strive to be worthy of such high compliments yourself
Contempt of Death: Never fear death as a monster, but view it as your enemy with whom you must one day join in battle. Death is brought about by sin, and so must be hated, but is powerless in the face of God, and so must never be feared.
Helpfulness to the Poor and Sick: Always help those whom it is within your power to help, even if this is comprised of no more than pointing them to someone who can better aid them.
Respect for the Church: Always give due respect to the body of believers that constitute the Church. This is not summed up in politeness but by seeking to protect the honor of Christ's bride with openness, integrity, and honesty.
Two things you may notice: these are inherently Christian and Spiritual, and there is no mention of politeness or courtesy. First of all, this is because Chivalry was invented within an inherently Christian system—other honor codes suit well other religions or atheistic traditions. Secondly, being polite—especially to the degree of Political Correctness prevalent in today's society—is not a virtue. To unnecessarily insult someone is not Chivalrous because it denies the virtue of Glory and Honor, but to hold off telling the truth for fear of offense is just as bad.
I am not living by these standards. I'd love it if I were, but I'm not this good yet. Nonetheless, these are my goals for behavior. What are your views on the matter?
Thursday, September 4, 2008
I'm beginning to wonder about my motivations for many of the things I do. I won't explore this fully now, but I felt like putting the generic idea out there in the world.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
In many ways, self-context functions as a limiting agent in all texts we encounter (I should specify that while we established the many possible meanings of 'text' in class, I hear refer primarily to written text). No one can truly understand that which is outside one's own realm of experience, and the effect is even worse if one has an experience which seems similar to the text, but which is in fact quite different. When one knows nothing of the topic being written, the context is lacking, but if personal context leads us down a false trail, we not only fail to understand the author, we fail to understand our failure.
In other ways, this same self-context serves as an invaluable helper. This is most apparent when we share experience with the author because it shows us something we can relate to, but may say it better than we have, or vary just enough that it expands our experience by building onto our existing context. This building of context is a primary means of making ourselves bigger people—people more worth knowing—who may in turn share their experiences with others and help those others to become bigger people themselves. Through this gradual widening of experience, any member of the human race who interacts with others is advanced. This, as I see it, is the primary mode of operation for self-context and any text we receive.
There is, however, yet one more contextual effect that is as much greater than shared experience as a false similarity is worse than a lack of connection. This highest effect of context is when the recipient of a text has an experience wholly unlike that on which the author drew when communicating, but which still has a real connection to the text. Whether the recipient and author shared the author's intended experience no longer seems necessary, because the text begins to take on a life of its own. The recipient can then have a burst of truly original thought—this may, in fact, be the only time this can ever happen in real life—because the idea came neither from the reader nor the writer, but was formed through their exchange. This process is in many ways like the bearing of children, with the author siring an idea, but the new concept being carried to term and birthed by the recipient of the text.
It could be there are other ways that a context could function than these I have listed, but these seem the most primal. Either the context helps or hinders understanding. Hindering could be as little as a full stop or as much as a wrong-mindedness, and helping could be so small as to understand or so great as to conceive of something truly new. In my context, these forms exhaust all possible options.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Three years ago, today fell on a Wednesday, and it was the first day of Freshman Orientation. Today is a Sunday, and I missed church because I was working on a project for one of my extracurriculars. I don't plan to make a habit of this, it just happened to work out that way today.
I got the last of my things moved in yesterday, thanks to my parents, and now I only need 5 books to have all of my materials for the semester. Three years ago today, I was a scared little freshman meeting my first roommate other than my brother for the first time. Two years ago today, I had already gotten over my relationship of ten months and was comforting the very girl who had just broken up with me the day before. One year ago today, I was having fun and eagerly anticipating "the Main Event" (which, this year, was yesterday--I didn't attend).
Every now and then, I like to think of anniversaries like this. Not the ones people really celebrate, but those that we sort of gloss over. Some people even try to avoid them. But I find that they give a greater perspective to my life.
Eight years ago today, I was silently celebrating the birthday of the girl I had a crush on, but didn't ever talk to.
When I think of anniversaries, I feel connected to the world as a whole. I cannot, no matter how hard I try, live isolated in the present tense. At all times I feel the twin pulls of destiny and heritage, of future and past.
One year from today, Lord willing, I'll be in Los Angeles.
When I think of people always living in the present, I feel sad for them. It isn't pity, but genuine sadness. No matter how happy they are, their lives are so small, because they refuse to acknowledge the past and the future as part of themselves. Already, my ancestors define who I am. Should I be so lucky as to have descendants, they will continue to redefine me for so long as my line perseveres. This is, in large part, why I am an optimist. In the perspective of so much time, what can my small problems mean? And with God guiding all of eternity, for what wondrous achievements might my small goods lay the groundwork?
Friday, August 15, 2008
For the record, I don't have a conspiracy to take over the government. I just wonder how people would react if I said I did.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Thursday, August 7, 2008
I sometimes randomly slip into these... moods. But that's not really the right word. It's a lot more than that. It affects my perceptions, both sensory and emotional. All of my senses seem heightened. Everything seems to happen faster, but also more clearly than it does otherwise. I feel the resistance of anything I touch or move much more keenly, but seem to have the same strength as I otherwise would. And things are timed strangely. I have, in the past, described it in terms of rhythm. What I do not know is whether everything is happening in time with this unheard beat or syncopated to it. Judging by how unsettling the experience is, I'm inclined to call it syncopation.
The emotional effect is sort of an enhanced form of irritation. I'm not "angry," everything just somehow manages to get under my skin a lot more than it should. And I mean everything. The sound a fan makes as its blades are spinning, the footsteps of anyone passing by, the sound and feel of my fingers on the keyboard. Typically, it's so bad that I can't do anything effectively (certainly nothing that requires rational thought) until it passes, so I just sit and wait.
Here is where it was connected with my previous post: I haven't had one of these moods for a couple years, until two days ago. Just as I was about to start writing, I slipped into this state and was nearly furious with just about everything. I had thought to post something along these lines then, but I had wanted to do the other topic for a while. Besides as I learned in my poetry class, it is never wise to write about your feelings while you're still going through them. Undoubtedly, such an irregular emotional state would have an even worse effect, particularly with its inflammatory nature.
Has anyone else ever experienced something like this?
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
One interesting side effect of this (at least, I think these two things are related) is that I can picture something, describe it in vivid detail, and yet not be affected by the image. For example, many people like to test their ability to gross out their friends. When I am really trying, I can always succeed because I can describe the most disgusting images without the faintest effect on myself (I sometimes, but not always, manage to avoid the effects of others' descriptions). It also allows me to fully comprehend the scope of horrific news without emotional reaction, though I cannot say if this is good or bad.
The downside of this is that even though I don't always know what I'm thinking, my mind is still working, sometimes to a tiring degree. And I can't just "Think of something else" because all that does is add to my mental burden. It's possible I'm thinking of two things at once when I do this, but since I don't consciously process my unknown thoughts, I feel it would be unfair to claim this talent.
It's actually possible, I just realized, that this is a side effect (or cause) of my largely intuitive grasp of life. It could be that my intuition functions so well because I sort of pre-process my thoughts on the subject without knowing it. Of course, I have no evidence of this correlation. It's just a thought.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
-Failing to get a summer job (consistently)
-A little over a week ago, my brother celebrated his half-anniversary with his wife, Lizzy.
-Exactly a week ago, I hit the 6 month mark of being single.
-The past couple weeks, I've been playing computer games I hadn't played in a while (today I was making a family in the Sims 2 with a bunch of variations of me: William, Will, Liam, Jesse, W.J.--it was fun)
-I've continued my reading, but am finding it slower-going than my previous endeavors, most likely because Tolkien is a very dense thorough writer.
-TODAY, my friend Drew got a promotion he'd been hoping for.
-On Friday, I will be celebrating my birthday with my family (Ben will be in town this weekend, so it made sense to hold off).
-On Saturday, I'll be driving back up to Canton to go to a party. These party's are always good.
-At some point soon, I need to get in touch with Malone about MC Comedy and out performance for Freshman Orientation, both to make sure we're still on and to find out the specifics.
-In just under a month, I'll be back at Malone, starting my Senior year.
-In January, with luck, I'll be moving to Los Angeles.
My point? I honestly don't know. I'm just taking stock of things, you know? This isn't a profound blog. It's just me typing.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Spoilers may begin at any point beyond this line
Section One: Things I Less-Than-Loved
I refuse to ever just say "I loved it" and go no further. If I can find an intelligent criticism to make, I'll make it. I was struck by a couple odd points in this film, and here are my thoughts on them.
1) The film took a little bit to grab me. Not long, mind you. Just a minute or two. By the time the Scarecrow showed up, I was in. And it could be that the people sitting right next to me had something to do with it too, because while they shut up as soon as the movie-proper began, they did talk right up to it, even into the logos. So I'll forgive this point and account it to unfavorable viewing conditions until I can afford to see the film again.
2) I knew it was coming. I saw it in the previews. It's not a big deal. But I love the classic Joker look, and wish it could've appeared in the movie.
3) Jim Gordon's speech at the end. WAY too cheesy. I can appreciate the point it was making, but first of all, it contradicts itself (he's the hero we deserve, but not the one we needed... he's not a hero, he's....), and second, he ended the movie by saying "he's... a DARK KNIGHT." Yes. Thank you for reminding us of the title of the movie. As if we couldn't see it coming with people constantly calling pre-Twoface Harvey Dent "Gotham's White Knight." We didn't need to be told "He's beginning to be Batman" in the first movie, and we don't need to be told to whom the name "Dark Knight" applies now.
Section Two: Things I Loved (In roughly linear order)
1) The Joker. Man-oh-man. I have always loved the Joker. He is my favorite all-time villain. No other character have I found who can believably embody pure evil and chaos so completely. And they did him right. Yes, he looks different, but I don't begrudge him his appearance, I only mourn that the look I know and love has never been put in a mainstream movie (for an indie film, go see PATIENT J at Batinthesun.com). And though I said it before, I must say it again: they put the Joker's soul in this film. This is actually what I love about Elseworlds is to see how much you can change in a character without disturbing who they really are, and this movie just shot up next to Red Son among my favorite Elseworlds. When he explains his father was the one who cut his face, I thought "Okay, at least it's terrible enough to really mess him up," but I was a little disappointed. When I heard him give another revelation to Rachel Dawes than to the crime-boss, I nearly exploded with wicked glee. They managed to maintain the Joker's questionable history, and inserted that he changes what he says to, I believe, whatever he thinks will scare his victims the most.
2) "No, no, no... I shoot the bus driver." No more appropriate scheme to present the Joker to the world exists than this.
3) Harvey Dent disarming a witness on the stand. Few times can anyone seem so incredibly badass while keeping their cool. I find myself incapable of disliking Aaron Eckhart in any role, and this was no exception.
4) 'The Magic Trick.' My father has commented more than once that some woman said of the movie "There ought to be some way to let parents know a guy get's a pencil through the forehead." I don't see what their problem is--parents tell children not to run with sharp objects, and now they have an object lesson to prove the point! Not to mention, further detail the pure random evil of the Joker.
5) Faking Jim Gordon's death. I honestly believed he'd done it. I didn't like it, and I shouldn't have fallen for it, but I believed it and respected Nolan for doing it. I think the fact that his son was named "Jim" too was what helped me accept it, because it was a possible work around. Had I thought, as my friend Drew did, of the fact that he wasn't yet "Commissioner Gordon" and there was no way he would die without it, I would've been less likely to fall for it. But it was masterfully done, either way.
6) The potato peeler. Anyone else notice it among Joker's Knives?
7) Joker's jailbreak. Only asking for a phone call. Using that call to simultaneously kill everyone with one of his crazy disciples and get away at the same time. Somehow defeating a cop while unarmed (or he snuck a knife into the holding cell, I don't know) and putting the cop under a knife. All further the Joker's fantastic evil.
8) Rachel Dawes's death. I never liked her. Most fans attributed this to Katie Holmes, but I was not one of them (though I admit Maggie Gyllenhaal did a better job). Batman simply cannot have a childhood friend, nor a longtime love waiting for him, and few moments of the film were quite so satisfying as when she died in a burst of flame and rubble. That this also created Twoface was the icing on the cake.
9) The corruption of Harvey Dent. Killing Joke, anyone? This was masterfully transferred from Gordon to Dent, and the fact that it succeeded where it had previously failed makes it all the more ominous (If you don't know what I'm talking about, read The Killing Joke. Those who know me personally may come over to read it anytime they like). This shows the essence of both Joker and Twoface. Joker, in his reckless abandon for anything and anyone, including himself, so long as he creates chaos, and Twofaces complete and utter subordination of himself to fate. Not to mention, he looked more like Twoface than I thought any live action version could ever achieve, even with prosthetics and/or CGI.
10) "This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object." This speech is the greatest single assessment of the Batman/Joker relationship. EVER.
I loved much more about the film, but figured I'd keep it to 10 things I love for both (relative) brevity and dramatic effect. There's a lot more I could say discussing the movie, but no review is perfect or complete. If I didn't mention it in the "less than love" section, just assume I liked it. For further reading about the movie, check out Criticinema (not sure if you guys capitalize the second "c") and their reviews.
No More Spoilers
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
First, I'd like to discuss how I envision my mind. Many people talk about their minds as mazes, landscapes, file cabinets--one girl even referred to her mind as a cage. My view of my own mind is just a bit more complex than that. Begin by picturing a solar system. Not one of those mobiles we made in grade school, but a full-fledged solar system in which all the planets, moons, and other satellites orbit in all three dimensions. Now, imagine that many of these orbiting objects are close enough to one another that they affect each others' orbits. So far, this is physically possible for an actual solar system. Now imagine that each planet/moon/satellite is connected to those near it (and perhaps some farther away) by bridges of light. The sun, by its very nature, is then connected to everything in this same way (yes, technically it wouldn't be restricted to light bridges in real life, but every metaphor breaks down somewhere and this one breaks down here).
Within the context, all the planets, moons, and satellites in this scenario are my thoughts, memories, and other like mental occurrences. The Sun, my soul. Here's where the metaphor picks up again. The soul, as I see it, does not make up the mind. It does not constitute my memories, does not contain them. I cannot even say for certain that it is how I think. The sun, my soul, merely illuminates the rest of my mind. If another soul were put in its place, something would undoubtedly change, but much of what people would recognize as "me" would stay the same.
To some degree, I suspect that everyone's mind works this way, at least insofar as the soul and the rest of the mind interact. But the difference lies in how I view this. Anyone care to weigh in with alternative models for minds or criticisms that would help refine mine? I'd certainly appreciate them.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
That all said, I must warn you, who may read my blog (all three of you, at this point) that you have one week to go and watch the film. After that time is complete, I will post a spoiler-heavy review of this film. Or at least, I will discuss my thoughts on the film in detail and I won't worry about whether this spoils the movie or not. Consider yourself warned and alerted.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
But that isn't why I decided to update again. I've had a number of odd musings. One of them I can trace back to my finally reading Allan Bloom's "Closing of the American Mind," which has been sitting unread in my book collection for some time. In the introduction, he refers (very briefly) to the nuclear family and its shift from the more traditional view of the family--the extended family. That prompted an observation for me. At one time, humanity was one family. Then we became nations, but nations were considered family (ie-the Nation of Israel). Then tribes became family. Then a single lineage, as with the aristocracy, nobility, and royalty. Now, we think of the core family: mother, father, children. The term "nuclear family" may be more apt than most people realize, for what we are experiencing, I think, could rightly be called "familial half-life." As time goes on, every few generations or so, we stop thinking of people as our family who are are on the "edge" of our family. Who is next to go could be anyone's guess.
Also on my mind recently was a conversation I had with some friends not too long ago about growing up. In particular, we were talking about an early episode of Boy Meets World in which the young Cory Matthews discusses having his own girlfriend whom he can "kiss on the lips whenever [he] want[s]." Herein lies our observation: when you're younger, a kiss is on the cheek or forehead unless otherwise specified. The emphasis isn't "I kissed her on the lips," it's "I kissed her on the lips." Then, we grow up. I don't know when the change occurs, but for almost everyone, it's taken place by high school. And suddenly, a kiss is always on the lips. Can you imagine a college student having this conversation?
Romeo: And then I kissed her!
Ben: And did she kiss back?
Romeo: What? How can she kiss back, I was kissing her cheek?
I thought not. Unless you specify kissing elsewhere, we typically assume the lips. Now I wonder, is there a reason for this shift, or does it just happen at random?
Anyway, I have more things I could throw in, but I've held you for long enough, and I may want to use those other ideas later. God Bless!
Friday, July 11, 2008
Let's take this whole thing step by step. "Eye for an eye" is one of the most widely misused quotes in the bible. It has been used as an argument for personal revenge for thousands of years, and Jesus' response to it from Matthew 5:38-39 has been used as an argument against the death penalty (and war) for at least as long as I've been alive. It originally (in this context) comes from Exodus 21:24, in a section that begins in verse 22. The fuller context reads: "If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no other injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." (Emphasis added by me). In context, this seems obviously to be a punishment being named for a specific crime, that is: causing injury or death along with premature birth or miscarriage (incidentally, this is also an argument of equality for unborn children). Jews in the time of Christ, like most people now, misused this quote, saying they could repay people as they were mistreated. This is what inspired Christ to say "turn the other cheek" in Matthew 5:39. The difference is, of course, that Christ is addressing individuals while the quote in Exodus was referring to punishment by governing authority.
Moving on: I grew up in a Christian household, so I've always been aware of “The wages of sin is death,” a quote from Romans 6:23. This is utterly true. We all deserve death. And (barring the rapture) we will all get death sooner or later. Just because we don’t get a needle in our arm, doesn’t mean we won’t pay the penalty for our sin. The very fact that we die at all is a direct result of sin. Had Adam not sinned, we would not live in a fallen world, and there would be no death, or for that matter, thorns, carnivores, allergies, hunger, or essentially anything that is unpleasant. (Another side note, the pain of childbirth was only “greatly multiplied,” not created new with the fall, so pain is not in every way a negative). We didn’t even need to “toil by the sweat of [our] brow[s]” before the fall. But I digress…
Another common “argument” against the death penalty is to ask, “Who are we to decide what crimes deserve death?” My response is to say “Well, what do you mean 'we'?” As individuals, we have no right. But in Romans 13:4, we are told “…if you do what is evil be afraid for it[the governing authority] does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” Tell me honestly if this doesn’t sound like it’s referring to the death penalty. Tell me it’s not saying that the government has the right to execute people who commit crimes. And offer a real alternative interpretation that makes as much or more sense. Yes, in our system, individuals serve as a jury, but a jury is an agent of the government. And jury screening assures that jurors will have justice in mind, and won’t be biased or acting for vengeance.
The next point my former roommate brought up was the sanctity of life, which I acknowledge was quite valid. We do concern ourselves with sanctity of life. It is very important, therefore, that we do not execute without discrimination. We ought to provide ourselves with a standard, and stick to it. God does love us all equally, and is equally just with all of us as well. However, we are not the ones who make a distinction between guilty and innocent. The criminals made that distinction when they sinned, including, but not limited to, the crime they committed. To compare the death penalty with abortion is atrocious: an unborn child has yet to commit personal sin, and so is, as much as any human apart from Christ can be, innocent. The death penalty is only used for the most severe crimes, such as murder.
These cases (the death penalty and abortion) are further differentiated in that the death penalty serves three purposes: to deter crime, to punish a convicted criminal, and to take a dangerous criminal element out of the world. Admittedly, the last of these three is less often used, but it is a real situation. My former roommate advocated removing the death penalty from our system entirely, but this is a dangerous decision, as there are some criminals we simply can’t risk escaping. And no matter how many precautions we take, it remains a possibility, especially since so many interest groups want “humane” treatment of our convicts, which generally amounts to better living conditions in prison than many murderers had before hand. But again, I digress. The death penalty is, quite simply, sometimes the only punishment adequate for the crimes committed. Enough said on that topic. Next point: the claim that the death penalty is not a deterrent. This could be true, today. But this is because people have foolishly moved executions further and further from the public eye. Murders were far less prevalent when public hangings took place in town squares. It showed the world the gruesome consequences of these crime. Now, it takes place in a sealed room, in a locked prison, surrounded by fences, where it is seen only by those who were directly affected by the criminal’s actions. It has no effect on the general populous, and so criminals don’t think about it.
Next, my roommate claimed that the death penalty is “handed down in a grossly unfair way.” First, just saying this admits that there is a fair way, but I'll grant him that this may have been an oversight in semantics, and won't press the point. Second, he’s right. The death penalty should apply equally to everyone, and that is unjust. But that doesn’t mean capital punishment should be done away with entirely. It means that sentencing is flawed in our justice system and ought to be renovated. By Nate's logic, we should stop sentencing criminals since the system is flawed. Does this make sense to anyone? I thought not. We must endeavor to improve the system, but doing away with it is not the right answer.
Nate’s last point is that sometimes a person can be proven innocent after they’ve been executed, and that this punishment can never be undone. This is true. But, suppose someone serves a life sentence, dies, then is proven innocent. Well, that punishment can’t be undone either, they’ve already served it. I guess we should get rid of life sentences, too. But you know… if someone serves all of a 25 year sentence, but is proven innocent after they’re released, they can’t undo that punishment either… Do you begin to see my point? There is a time limit to how long you have to prove someone innocent of any crime before they’ve served the entire punishment; the only difference with the death penalty is that the time from beginning the punishment to the end is much shorter. (Incidentally, it is possible to revive a prisoner within a few minutes after they’ve been executed via lethal injection, it just rarely happens.)
I believe in the death penalty for these reasons, and others, but if I can be shown that I am wrong in this, I will repent and turn away from these arguments, even decrying the death penalty myself. But no one has ever managed to do it, and I doubt they will
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Years ago, there was a tribe of people who were completely isolated from the outside world. Their village was pristine and peaceful. Everyone was happy, and everyone got along. One day, a young boy was playing in a field and he saw a terrible monster! It had a curly tail, green skin, and vicious-looking stripes all along its body. It looked like nothing the boy had seen! He ran and told the elders about this beast, and they came, and they too were frightened by this strange creature. They decided to build a fence around this section of field, and to cut it off from all the village. And for a time, all was well again. But then another monster just like the first was found in another field. The elders did the same. As time went on, more and more of these monsters appeared, and the elders simply blocked off the sections of field in which the monsters lived. There was plenty of open field still, so there was no problem.
One day, a missionary came into the village. He looked around and saw strange renderings of a bulbous-bodied beast on fences surrounding fields and asked the villagers what this meant. They told him they were monster fields, and that no one dared go in to face the beasts. He asked the villagers to show him these creatures anyway, and with trepidation, they complied and opened the gates of one of the fields. They did, and he looked through the tall, unkempt grass that had grown up inside the fence since the villagers had closed it off. He searched through and finally saw...
“You fools!” he exclaimed, taking out a trail knife. He cut the watermelon from its vine, cut out a slice, and took a big bite.
The villagers who had come with him looked on with terror. The green monster had been nothing, but this thing was worse! It looked like a man, but it showed no fear! It had killed the monster without a second thought, and now, look how it smiled even as it ate the flesh of its prey! Surely this thing “missionary” was the worst of all monsters. So that night, while he slept, the elders cut off his head and placed it on a spike to remind the villagers of the only thing worse than the green monsters.
Some time later, another missionary came to the tribe, and seeing his predecessor's head impaled, he was quite wary. So too were the tribesmen and elders, remembering the monster who had come in the form of a man not long before. They were even more nervous when the missionary asked, as before, about the drawing, and then asked, as before, to see this monster. But when they took him to see it, unlike his predecessor, he peered through the grass and turned back saying, “You're right, this is a very dangerous beast, and we must work together to find a way to rid your village of this menace.”
So the new missionary began working with the people. He began to teach them about watermelons, and what they were like, and what they, in fact, were. And as the years progressed, the villagers understood, and began to take down the fences, and to cultivate watermelons. They even grieved having killed the first missionary, as he was clearly innocent of the charges they had lain at his door.
At this point, Ian explained that rather than the first missionary, who lost trust by his bull-headed approach, he would rather be the second missionary who, with compassion and tact, showed the tribe the error of their ways by working with them.
At the time, I was just getting to know Ian, and so I didn't respond critically to his story at all. I regret this for a number of reasons. First, as I'm sure you noticed, this was an awfully long story when he could have just said that he would only try to reveal to his friend this mistaken career choice rather than flatly tell him. But what I have an issue with is the story itself. Aside from glaring plot holes (how did watermelon's show up out of nowhere, why did the tribesmen kill the missionary—the greater monster—but not the watermelons, and how did the missionaries speak the native language early on when the tribe was completely isolated) the moral of the story is wrong. Ian asserts that the preferable missionary was the one who lied politely but smartly and saved his own skin, while the admittedly careless but truthful missionary takes on an inferior quality.
Admittedly, a third missionary would be best: one who truthfully says “this is not a danger to your tribe,” but does not so bluntly and daringly jump to eating what the villagers feared. I'd like to be that missionary. But out of the two Ian told me about—I'd rather be the missionary who didn't lie, even though it cost him his life. He wasn't brave, didn't think he was risking his life, but he nonetheless told the truth while his successor lied. And we don't know that the second missionary was acting out of any noble motivation when he lied: he had seen the first missionary's dismembered head and may have simply feared for his life to do anything other than agree with the tribe at first.
Ian, so far as I know, never told this friend of his that he was going into the wrong field. In actuality, I probably wouldn't either. But while Ian probably thinks it's some sort of virtue, I consider it a personal failure that I wouldn't have the courage to tell my friend the truth. Just like I never told him the truth that his story was a load of bull.
The interesting thing is, feeling mildly lousy seems to have combined with my overall lethargy of unemployment for the summer and produced that same feeling from school when I would be too sick to go to school, but not so terrible I couldn't enjoy The Price Is Right when it came on. That's a good feeling. I've accomplished even less today than the past several days, but I'm fine with that, because I'm sick. But I'm still not so sick that it ruined my day. Apparently being sick is just another of those things that gives perspective to my life.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Anyway, since I'm new here, I should introduce myself. At present, I am between my Junior and Senior years of college. All attempts at finding a summer job have failed to pay off thus far, which is particularly disappointing because I'm hoping to move to Los Angeles in either January or May of next year (depending on some questions of schooling). I am an aspiring--though not particularly prolific--writer, and an avid reader. I confess with pride that I am a comic book nerd, most recently my focus being Superman (Green Lantern was my hero-of-choice for years).
Now that that's all in order, I'll take my leave until something interesting strikes me.