Monday, August 27, 2007

Holden Caulfield FTL, Han Solo FTW

I found an interesting article on one of my favorite blogs, Word Around the Net today. I'm usually more interested in reading the comments than the article, so WATN is a dream come true. Comments + intelligent commentary p0wnz.

The topic today is Art As Misery and I recommend a read.

The author, Christopher Taylor, comes to the conclusion:

Life can be very hard, and it is easy to become self-pitying and miserable as you wallow in the hardships and horrors you sometimes have to face. The answer is not to embrace this as a life and worldview, but to fight free of it and face life once more; to look to others and help them in their need. The attraction of staying depressed and miserable can be a very perverse compulsion, but the way out is by working and focusing on someone else.

There was a reason I absolutely despised "Catcher in the Rye" in high school, and this is it. The glorification of pathos as heroism just doesn't appeal to me, especially as someone who has suffered from depression in the past, has decided to just not be depressed anymore, mostly by changing useless and damaging thought processes.

One of the most self destructive things one can do is dwell endlessly on ones own feelings and internal barometer, and make their world revolve around that center. The commenter Horst the in WATN post touches on this with his connection to postmodern deconstructionism, where it is no longer about producing a feeling in your audience, but prostituting your innermost self to your viewers/readers in a weak bid for attention, getting away with such impropriety and narcissism under the banner of “art.” I’m an extremely amateur artist, but I would no more expose myself like this than walk down the street naked (of course Zombietime keeps showing us the people who do both…must bleach my eyes now....).

Some of my artwork is dark, I’ll give that point, but I always try to have a sense of humor about it, it is not self-flagellation on canvas. Contrary to what viewers may think, most of my art really isn’t about anything, it’s just what came out when I put my pen on paper, and I can only hope someone else will think it’s neat too. My interests are weird, yes, but I learned years and years ago that someone can be just as “Goth” wearing white as black. You can be just as interesting, and probably more so, being happy than miserable and off-putting.

The people who idolize suffering have the Hemmingways of the world as heroes, since they don’t consider anything but discomfort (real or marginal, think people who file lawsuits so they can bring their comfort ferret without whom they have panic attacks into their dorm rooms) worthy of admiration. For my generation at least, the pressure to have a tragic background is incredible. Just look at college admissions. Every one has an essay choice to write about how you have “overcome adversity.” What if you haven’t had to? That’s a good thing, right? That’s what our grandfathers laid in bloody trenches for right? That's exactly why so many good brave men have come home in parts labeled 1 through 3.

Now hold up pathos as disgusting and wretched and one may have a point.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Crimestop Now!

I recently went on a few days' trip to Las Vegas to spend some money in style, and read George Orwell's "1984" on the drive.

The passage I found the most striking is the definition of the newspeak word "crimestop" found in the book-within-a-book, Emmanuel Goldstein's The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, most particularly because I encounter just this attitude so very often in debate with leftists as to almost be unsurprising:

"Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of through which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity. But stupidity is not enough. On the contrary, orthodoxy in the full sense demands a control over one's own mental process as complete as that of a contortionist over his body."

Since compared to Orwell I am but a lightningbug to a kleig light, I've been calling it "willful ignorance" for years. The act of consciously denying and dismissing logic and fact, combined with the ability to force the conscious act of such denial completely out of one's memory as soon as it is committed, therefore rendering all illogic and denial inexistent and any of one's arguments remain unchallenged. Of course, if you are unchallenged, you win. Right?

For an excellent example of the functioning of crimestop in real life, engage in a discussion with a 9/11 "Truthist." I play Orwell bingo every time I do and invariably hit all 4 crimestop signifiers.

Try it yourself and report back!

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Wrapped up the last Harry Potter installment last week (in under 48 hours no less).

My only significant disappointment is that Snape's patronus didn't turn out to be Johnny Cash.

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