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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fewtril no.274

Deogolwulf: Fewtril no.274
There has been raised a horde of men, if so honorific a title may still be retained for them, who cry out “sky-fairy!” whenever they hear the word “God”, rather as Ivan Pavlov’s dogs salivated whenever they heard bells and whistles, albeit with a crucial difference: the dogs could not be inculcated to fancy that in their mindless reflexes they were on the side of reason.

10 comments:

Crude said...

Ah, the sky-fairy card. Does it ever go out of style?

I've had more than one atheist harp on and on about believing in "magic", then turn around and tell me that something could come from nothing (literally, that this exact thing could happen).

Some days I wonder about God's attributes, but I never doubt He has a sense of humor, somehow.

Ilíon said...

Yeah, the typical 'atheist' is a real hoot, once one learns to stop taking them so seriously and actually *looks* at what they'll say.

Ilíon said...

But, you know, even some "theists" will assert magical-thinking as absurd as the "something can come from nothing" to which 'atheists' are prone ... magical-thinking is what the thing with Wm Vallicella was about.

MK said...

Damn man, that's too deep for a lowly peasant like me. :)

Ilíon said...

Oh, now!

AWA said...

See, it wasn't so much the "violence on tv" thing that made the undergrad American demographic Pavlovian, as was claimed by researchers over the years - it was the constant prime time harping of "God doesn't exist - or if he does, we can't know anything reliable about him, *especially* from the Bible" spiel. And other such relativist gems of wisdom. Think of the last film, show, or docudrama that had that plank in its storyline somewhere.

Ilíon said...

Or, to look at the matter in slightly less ultimate terms, the same basic dual-premise is taken with respect to morality, and so the resultant shows are incoherent. For the characters both make the sorts of moral judgments (and condemnations) "liberals" will make, while simultaneously denying (at least implicitly) that moralfacts can be known.

For example, I just yesterday finished watching on Hulu all the episodes of a program called 'Sliders,' which aired 1995-1997; in which the characters have a device which enables them to move between "alternate universes/realities," but they don't know how to get back to the one from which they started. I watched all the episodes, but for most of the third season, I was watching it only to get the plot outline.

(So, keeping in mind the suspension of disbelief) In episodes 16 & 17 of the third season, they manage to help a few (like perhaps 120) people get from an alternate Earth, which is about to be sterilized of all living things by a swarm of mini-pulsars, to another alternate Earth.

As it turns out on the alternate Earth on which the two episodes take place, the man in charge of the military base from which "sliding" experiments were being conducted before the main characters arrive is infected by a fungus (which he contracted in the Gulf War I) that is destroying his brain; and so, to keep himself alive, he drains fluid from the brains of others (which puts them into a coma) and injects it into his own brain. As I said, there is some serious suspension of disbelief required.

So, during the confusion of the last moments on the dying world (on which "the bad guy" intends to strand them, contrary to his promise to them if they help his people perfect the technology), the main characters figure out what "the bad guy" is doing and his plans for the few people who made it to the new world. They manage to escape, at the very last second, to the new universe (the scientist on the now-dead world had modified their device so that they can now track the "wormholes" by which one moves between universes).

But, in the end, "the bad guy" escapes to a different universe ... and so, they undertake the quest to follow him to somehow stop him (because he prolongs his own life by murdering others).

Now, my point in this is that they (somehow!) come to the proper moral judgment that "the bad guy" must be stopped ... but they don't really believe *in* the moral judgment, as evidenced by the subsequent constant snipping between the characters (for instance, even after the constant danger they've been through, they all are, and espcially "the chick," still anti-gun). One wonders how they came to the judgment, except by emotion rather than by reason.

So, they've come (somehow!) to the judgment that "the bad guy" must be stopped, for he is a mass-murderer who fully intends to continue murdering others to prolong his own life. And yet, they insist upon being squeamish about simply killing him as soon and as efficiently as they can.

"Liberalism" confuses personal squeamishness for possession of a hightened morality.

AWA said...

"For example, I just yesterday finished watching on Hulu all the episodes of a program called 'Sliders,' which aired 1995-1997..."

Ha! Blessed days of youth. I remember that show.

And true, there is the disconnect with what typically a primetime show preaches, and how the characters get to that Dickensian state of "doing the right thing" and resolving the story with chivalry and compassion.

Most script writers pawn it off on the whole "creating conflict within the characters' psyche" device: that you need a bunch of conflicting interests with (and within) the characters in order to build tension, drama, and thus story.

The hacks, anyhow, will rely on that without creatively (or tastefully) expositioning it, or even potentially resolving it. Deconstruction and a nod to dadaism/relativism, basically - even when the characters "intuitively" do the right thing.

The ones with a real sense of creativity and drive beyond the writers' paycheck evince their stuff when they actually tackle those areas that are "grey" (only because of their complexity) and bring the weightiness of decision and non-decision to the table; "If you are for, you are against - but consider if you must this as well", etc. But without the melodrama or heavy-handedness of a DNC campaign, interestingly enough.

As wordy as they are, Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky tackle the weighty and psychological while bringing it into focus as a story with some sense of emotion. Tolstoy especially when dealing with relationships and society.

But then again, on the whole, what Russian hasn't suffered more over the past 150 years in comparison to the fat and sassy Western writer?

I tend to cringe when I think that the heralded best in Western story telling (Serling aside) tend to be dissipated relativist drunks who shoot themselves during or after a successful creative career. Compare that to the amount of creative Russian talent that will never be known due to having been buried under the planks of Gulag. (Wouldn't be a far stretch to say tens of thousands, easily.)

...Hand that kind of unwelcomed suffering to American writers - well, it will either break them, or produce some pretty epic material that will define a century. It certainly would sweep away quite a bit of the relativist jargon in Western stories, since that kind of suffering at the hands of the State tends to "force one to come to certain conclusions about life", as I've read somewhere.

But enough of that. Thanks much for the share down memory lane.

Ilíon said...

"Ha! Blessed days of youth. I remember that show."

I'd never heard of it. I've lived most of my life without a TV; I decided when I was in college that I didn't want one.

AWA said...

Believe me, you didn't miss much.

The only things that *might have* made it worth while: A few car chases (live), a massive shoot-out bank robbery in Hollywood (also live), and Clinton redefining "is" to the American Volk. Those were some pretty defining moments.