Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Stupid Sensationalism

No longer is it sufficient to solely be charmed by something. Entire bracelets used to be created out of charms; but now, the bracelet has been severed, as the beads fall to dirt in a hurried escape. Who possesses the scissors? As unlucky as it is, you cannot see them. Scissors are, after all, an archaic tool used in the production of arts and crafts, hidden away in storage rooms and plastic containers. While hidden, physical scissors are certainly perceivable because of their special use. But many a metaphorical scissors - and I did say many! - are not perceivable because they are not special in their use. Our sight takes advantage of some things.

I think about cameras and their commonality. No longer does one have to wander around an electronics department store and purchase a camera by Canon, Nikon, or Fujifilm, especially as a special object. The feature of photography no longer belongs to a camera in itself, but can now be found in cellphones and other computer devices. When we say that "talk is cheap," we also infer that talk is common, wholly apart from any concerns about truth or falsity. The mass media have used cameras for a long time, but the esoteric quality is wearing thin. Any such denizen with a cellphone these days can film local scenes of speculation and publish the results through social media. Of course, this meandering about commoners' abilities is not truly germane.

But I think about a news story involving a man driving his automobile into a Ten Commandments Monument in Arkansas and how it can receive 53,000 positive reactions and a plethora of pretentious comments on Facebook. The leprechaun is no longer charming or lucky, but only mischievous - sensationalist, in a word. As long as sensationalism is made an idol, that which is actually sensational only becomes secondary scenery. Along with the surplus of cameras and their images, sensationalism is also being over-manufactured.

May charm and sanity be maintained in spite of this, and perhaps more importantly, may truth seekers not become numb to the degeneracy of the world in which they live.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sentences

An ill-informed artifact of communication can be informative in the sense that it is - while not necessarily being intellectually informative in all its parts, and especially in itself - able to be well-informed in how it looks to another, and furthermore, to the producer of the artifact itself. The way by which this realization can come about is if the artifact is emotional because emotions can subtract from the intellect, that is, if one maintains that these are entirely different corners of the psychological life. It is like looking through a clear glass window. What do I mean here? All I mean is that some people do not know how things look to other people for a time and that it is possible to transcend. Some people can affirm the stereotypes that others have of their type without them even knowing it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Society As Plastic: Some Very Short Observations

Out of all things people could be interested in, why are the masses so amused by the cheap, the insipid, and even more fatefully, the profane? Matthew wrote in 6.22 that our eyes are lamps, and furthermore, that our whole bodies should be brimming with light. But alas, many no longer use their lanterns as moral compasses, but rather, they use this technology not to guide them out of the darkness, but to keep them enveloped. Nowadays, we are worse off than Nietzsche's madman; at least he was looking for God with his lantern! What are people looking for these days? Politics, entertainment, gratification, violence, idols.

I keep on seeing content related to millennials eating guacamole toast at bourgeois restaurants, and therefore being unwise with their capital, or something along those lines. As you might have guessed, I have not taken much interest in the ordeal. Whatever the case may be though, I am stunned that these trivial news stories are the objects of peoples attention. I am also more than tired with hearing about Donald J. Trump. It seems that this preoccupation with the lives of others, especially those in power, can make people forget about their very own lives. The lack of self-awareness of those who spend their mental energy on these things will be the evidence.

And still, whenever I criticize what I consider to be the the folly of others, I mustn't forget the mystic standard: do not externalize the problem.

Twelve Twenty Six

Wonder is disinterest
when its edge is expected.

Hearts of trees lay open,
as I view skies of red.

White clouds are melting
all feelings down a drain.

Does anyone know
where everything goes?

In this world,
nothing stays the same.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Points of Fiction: Mental Labor and Ontology

Fiction is supposed to read in a similar way to how a movie plays. A cinematographer and their ilk intend to construct scenes for viewers to see on a screen, much akin to an author using words to convey a particular image which the reader ascertains through reading. However, there is a discrepancy in relation to the image of the film and the image of the novel. Consider the following fictional scenario: a green alien breaks into a donut shop in which he steals coffee and donuts. For the film-makers, they are going to use real props, or perhaps CGI, or even both, to portray this. Maybe they will make the alien bright green, have donuts with pink frosting and sprinkles, black coffee, a 1990s checkered floor, a neon "closed" sign, etc. There is only going to be one scene for this film and that will be the scene on the screen. Now, perhaps an author will go into great detail and try to make it as objective as possible, but there will be no external alien, nor will there be donuts, nor a "closed" sign, and so forth, to see. The reader has to conjure up the scenery in their own head. In a sense, "there is nothing outside of the text," to use that mistranslated quotation from Derrida.

But that's not the entire story. This lack of need for an imagination can be extended to non-fiction, as well. Suppose that I am interested in statistics, and I want to learn about cigarette smoking in a given area. So, I decide to go online and read about it. I might have images of people of different ages in my head, say, if I am comparing cigarette use based on age. But such images do not truly matter like they would in a work of fiction because statistics are about cold facts and not a creative story. The mental labor that comes with reading statistics is mere scribbling in the margins compared to the Picasso-attempts that come with reading fiction. Fiction is two-fold in its ontology. There is the ontology of the text itself and the ontology of the imagination of the reader. The former is objective while the latter is subjective. There is no such complex of ontology that comes with non-fiction or films.


Friday, June 9, 2017

Simon & Garfunkel - April Come She Will

From two of the most introverted musicians out there ... also, modern folk has got nothing on this and I would rather be a curmudgeon than a liar.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Great Chain of Linking, Part 2

Face melting guitar skills - Buckethead's awe-inspiring performance of "Soothsayer." If you like the fast stuff, skip ahead to the 4 minute mark.

A David Berlinski montage - The American intellectual talks about new atheism, evolution, and some other things along the way (in his signature biting prose, of course).

Why are pencils yellow? - If the question has ever kept you up at night...

A sociologist critiques gender sociology - I haven't actually read this one yet, though the abstract was a good sell [seller? ... Zellers?]. For all those who complain that "sociologists say x," here's a counterargument. Some of these erroneous accusations have been making me roll my eyes to the point where they'll start singing "googly, googly, begone!"

Review of The Case for Christ movie - David Wood does some hilarious impressions of Lee Strobel, Gary Habermas, and William Lane Craig (they begin at around 2:19).

Gary North has some harsh words for Frank Schaeffer - I would argue that North could have been more gracious in his approach, though he offers some interesting ideas on the arts and blasphemy. And let's be honest, this is simply a hilarious read.

Holding Pasteur under a microscope - One of my favourite reads from the Sociology of Science and Knowledge course I took in late 2016. Written by the actor-network theorist Bruno Latour, he analyzes Louis Pasteur's "solution" for anthrax and makes some intriguing observations. "The change of scale makes possible a reversal of the actors' strengths; 'outside' animals, farmers, and veterinarians were weaker than the invisible anthrax bacillus; inside Pasteur's lab, man becomes stronger than the bacillus..."

Parody of the Meryl Streep speech - It's old news by now, and I'll admit that I haven't heard all of Steep's speech; however, I've had many a laughs over this, so I thought I'd share.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Musing Over the Lord's Prayer

I occasionally find myself frustrated over the lack of times I witness the Lord's Prayer being recited. Matthew writes in 6.9 that we should pray like this (NLT); of course, the issue of whether the prayer ought to be communicated verbatim or not is debatable. However, what I do not think is debatable is that this is a powerful prayer. What other prayer has caused such civic uproar? The Lord's Prayer is, after all, that same prayer which public schools first welcomed and then denied. It is the Peter of prayers, or maybe, our prayer lives are just wayward like Peter was?

Whatever the case may be, I understand the difficulty with praying, and I trust that a lot of people relate to me in this way. But this prayer should dismantle that worry. It's right there in Scripture and God is waiting for you to pray it. What amazes me about the Lord's Prayer is that, I think, it is capable of taking on so many different meanings. What I mean here is that this ancient and objective prayer allows room for the subjectivity of the one who speaks to God. The Lord's Prayer is not some bore of a speech that lacks interest in those worries, requests, confessions, and whatever else one might want to lay at the feet of the Father. Rather, it's a map that can put these things into their proper location. Like a chorus of birds hiding in the shade of a tree, a Christian's prayers can hide in the words of the Lord's Prayer.

The practice of prayer, especially in the social sphere of life, can cause distress for the more self-conscious individual who lacks "proper speech." But again, the words await in the book of Matthew, and nobody can recite this prayer "better" than anybody else. Prayer should not welcome unruly comparison any more than temples should sell doves. Pride is not beyond the eyes of the Christ, and he will chase it out just like he chased out those robbers in the temple.