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jlew

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  1. Have you read any Alfred Bester? The Demolished Man and The Stars, My Destination are both great works. I love the work of Harlan Ellison, too. Essays, short fiction, teleplays and screenplays...the man does it all and does it very well. They just re-released his Strange Wine short story collection, as well as his screenplay for I, Robot. (Not the version that was made into the Will Smith vehicle.) How about Dan Simmons? Hyperion is a terrific science-fiction novel. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten around to the others in the series. Right now I am re-reading Atlas Shrugged. I am going back to college to get my undergrad degree in less than a week (I'm 33, so better late than never, I suppose!), and I want to get AS in before my time is taken up with school work.
  2. I haven't seen I, ROBOT (and I really have no desire to see it), but I can wholeheartedly suggest that everyone go out and buy the Harlan Ellison script that was written in the late 70's. Obviously, Ellison's version of Asimov's stories never got made, but he was the one who finally completed a script that no one else could seem to lick. Asimov himself touted it as a special accomplishment and described it as the first truly adult (read: mature) science-fiction movie. What he would have thought about Will Smith's version I can only imagine...
  3. Really? Where did you read that? (I'm not jumping on you...I just think that's strange...) I like Terry Gilliam...almost in spite of him being Terry Gilliam...if that makes any sense. He is a fantastically talented director, but I have to agree with argive99 that Gilliam's thematic flaws hamper his overall work. However, perhaps we can take Brazil as an attack on governmentally supported corporations? Would those billboards be needed under a free capitalist society?
  4. I just saw Ocean's 11 for the first time the other night. Granted it was on network TV, so I don't know if I missed anything, but I thought it was pretty terrible. Not a single actor seemed "there"...they all looked like they were imaging their paychecks hitting their accounts at the end of the month. Watching actors who should know better (Clooney and Co.) mugging for the camera is not worth your time. If you want a good caper film check out Rififi, The Asphalt Jungle, or Le Cercle Rouge.
  5. When I think about Atlas Shrugged or any other Ayn Rand work being brought to the big screen, I immediately think of something Terry Gilliam said when asked about filming Alan Moore's Watchmen. Gilliam said, "Not everything has to be a movie." Watchmen works because its a great story told very well...and also because of its medium: the graphic novel. Atlas Shrugged works not only because its a superb novel...but also because it is a novel. Ayn Rand was able to lay everything out to you because her characters were able to use introspection. You won't get that in a movie version of the book. (Its one of the reasons why I don't like The Fountainhead movie.) To do Atlas Shrugged justice (as far as I am concerned) you can't leave anything or anyone out. Its like the king asking Mozart to remove notes from his symphony because there are too many. "Which notes would you like removed, sire?" Everyone in Atlas Shrugged is there for a reason. To bring it properly to the screen would require a monumental effort on Hollywood's part...and probably every actor in town! I'd like to hear an excellent radio dramatization of it. Something where you could use actors playing the parts, but also have a narrator moving the action along. Of course, I realize that no one in the culture at large would listen to it...but I'd enjoy it anyway!
  6. I was going through the back issues of Skeptical Inquirer at my local library when I came across this article: http://www.csicop.org/si/2004-11/science.html (If, for whatever reasons, you cannot bring this link up, it is entitled "Science and the Public: Is Science Making Us More Ignorant?" by Austin Dacey, Ph.D. Its from the November/December 2004 issue of Skeptical Inquirer, pp 35-39. My discussion of this article will be based upon my assumption that you can see it.) I usually enjoy reading SI for its defense of science and reason, but this article gave me pause. The beginning of it, with its bemoaning of science's knocking the supports out from under the public's "cultural understanding" (a phrase never quite nailed down with a definition by the good doctor), is bad enough. But the further along I went, the more the whole thing reminded me of something Dr. Stadler's State Science Institute might have released. Especially the lines: (Itlaics mine.) I must confess that I have only a rudimentary scientific education. When I wade into the waters of this end of the Objectivism Online pool, it is with all my energy that I maintain to keep my head dry. While most of you are breaststroking forward, I am puttering along with my rendition of the doggie paddle. And even then I tend to swallow more of the wet stuff then shove aside. But I have a great respect for science and an even greater respect for scientists, and this article disturbed me. Dr. Dacey speaks of "bridging science and culture", but I honestly don't know what he means. Does he want scientists to make more of an effort to bring their findings to the public? No. Dr. Dacey says that "[t]he subject of science and the public is realted to, but distinct from, the subject of public science literacy." So what does he want? Well, in the end he wants what Dr. Stadler wanted: (Italics mine.) I was impressed by Dr. Dacey's ability to jump from "science is making us more ignorant" to "public science will save us." The members of Cirque du Soleil couldn't have been more flexible. It seems as though what Dr. Dacey wants more than anything is a science lobby, a group of pocket-protector wearing thugs that will wring the money needed from federal coffers. Or am I just reading this wrong? Have any of you encountered anything like this in your travels? What is it that these people want?
  7. Hal, you're right. I was reading it wrong. However - and I may be guilty of pulling some quotes out of context - when I read phrases like... "...nothing can be better for us unless it is better for all." "Our responsibility is thus much greater than we had supposed, for it concerns mankind as a whole." "I am thus responsible for myself and for all men..." "...freedom is willed in community..." "...in thus willing freedom, we discover that it depends entirely upon the freedom of others and that the freedom of others depends upon our own." "I am obliged to will the liberty of others at the same time as mine. I cannot make liberty my aim unless I make that of others equally my aim." ...I start breaking out in the cold sweats. Sartre believed that existence in and of itself was unknowable to man. I remember reading in Nausea the scene in the park when the main character finally sees reality for what it is (how does he "see" it?), and he is repulsed by the squirming, squggling entities he sees. If reality is unknowable how can anyone make a correct choice? How can anyone know what is "the good"? What can man base his decisions upon? If I choose freedom, what does that entail? Freedom from what? For whom? To what end? What you're left with in Existentialism are just a bunch of free floating phrases - the good, freedom, man - without anything to base them upon. If you take away reality - according to Sartre - then all you are left with is man. Man alone and suffering. So, if I choose freedom, it isn't because its the way I want to live in harmony with reality, but the way I want to live with other men. Its like a reverse golden rule: do unto myself, as I would have others do unto themselves. It still ties men together falsely; its another form of second-handedness.
  8. punk...I was trying to neatly summarize Existentialism for a post in another thread. (And if you've ever read what most Existentialist have written, you understand how tough that can be.) What you've written above helps a lot. Thanks.
  9. jlew

    Cormac McCarthy

    dwwoelfel...I've tried to read Cormac McCarthy in the past, and after your last post decided to try again. I must say that my initial misgivings with Mr. McCarthy's writing style were well-founded. The man's work is simply a mess. I'm not even going to say anything about the lack of a single quotation mark and how that just breaks down the wall between the narrator and the characters - who is telling the story? everyone? no one? does it matter? No, the main problem for me is this forced sentence structure of his: "The hacendado placed the tin on the table between them and took a silver lighter from his pocket and lit the boy's cigarette and then his own." (pg 113) (And that's just from me randomly opening the book to any old page. You yourself could do it, too. With McCarthy, its easy. There's drivel on every page.) Why was it necessary to put that sentence togther that way? It could easily be written as: "The hacendado placed the tin on the table between them. He took a silver lighter from his pocket. With it, he lit the boy's cigarette and then his own." Why wasn't it written like that? More than likely because it wouldn't have sounded "writerly" if it had. Only the truly "gifted" can cram a bunch of simple words together to create a confusing mishmash of a sentence. And its for that very reason that I dislike the vast majority (if not the sum total) of modern writers. I can't resist...here's another example for the page facing the above quotation: "The man rose and folded the newspaper and crossed the kitchen and came back with a wooden rack of butcher and boning knives together with an oilstone and set them out on the paper." (pg 112) Are you kidding me? Or how about this...same page, next paragraph: "He was a spare man with broad shoulders and graying hair and he was tall in the manner of nortenos and light of skin." Tall in the manner of nortenos and light of skin? Who the heck talks like that? Apparently Americans do, because on the back of the book is a quote from Shelby Foote extolling Mr. McCarthy's book for its use of language: "The novel's hero...is the English language - or perhaps I should say the American language..." Perhaps you shouldn't say anything Mr. Foote. You're talking bollocks. I'm not saying things should be simple and spelled out for me. But neither should they be buried under a ton of "style" and then sung to the high heavens as a masterwork of the use of the English language by people who should know better. Give me a break. Or better yet just give me Harry Potter.
  10. Its just another boondoggle to tie men together. "No one's actions are their own. No one's life is their own." It remindes me of the society in AR's Anthem, or the plight of the sighted in The Day of the Triffids. If, through the choice of my own freedom, my responsibilty is to all of mankind, for how long do you expect me to continue to choose freedom? If you expand it and say, "I choose to be rich and successful," if (as Sartre says) "...my action is, in consequence, a commitment on behalf of all mankind...," how many people are going to choose to be rich and successful? Why would you put in the effort if someone else's choice to be rich and successful is just as good for you? I dabbled with Sartre and the existentialists, but could never get beyond the obtuseness of their writing. Being confused - and being happy in that confusion - was something I never liked or understood.
  11. Dude...WTF? Again this goes back to my original observation about Adbusters and their ilk: they do not want you to buy differently...they don't want you to buy at all. punk...why does it irk you so that Inspector buys what he buys? He seems to have a handle on the reasons for his purchases. And again let me reiterate: yes, it is a shame that some people are more concerned with keeping up with the Joneses (or the Inspectors) of our world...and...it is equally unfortunate that business and advertising recognize that envy and play upon it. But how is that any business of yours or mine? If you want to make a difference in people's purchasing power than you need to address the fact that some people buy things as soon as the want/need/desire strikes them. They do not examine that want/need/desire and attempt to explain it - or even check to see if it is feasible or not. [e.g., is it within their budget, does it even exist? (I work at Barnes & Noble...believe me...the people who come into the store demanding we order a book that they think should exist are pretty numerous!)] I can only assume, Inspector, that you didn't drop every cent you have in the world on a Kenny Cole jacket and a car. You made the purchases that were available to you, using the funds available to you. punk...try to raise people's ability to raise the bar of their standards...teach people to be more self-critical of what they think they should own...reach out to their reason... ...and if they still go out and blow their paycheck on a Playstation 2 when they should really be paying rent...let 'em do it...there's no reasoning with some people. But I still maintain that by championing Adbusters, you are doing no service to yourself or your argument. I agree with you, punk. People should be more aware of what they buy and why they buy it. But striving to create a world where nobody buys anything because nobody produces anything ain't gonna solve the problem! And just for the record, I'm a Coke man. Pepsi is just too sugery tasting!
  12. Just give me any of the FIFA games and I'm a happy man. Forza Milan!
  13. Personally, I consider the new trilogy to be the greatest "dropped ball" in film history. Never before have I been so excited for a movie (Phantom Menace), only to be kicked in the stomach for the trouble. George Lucas may be a good producer, but a good director he is not. Was Natalie Portman given any help with her role? I mean aside from, "Speak in a monotone voice"? Georgie, you can have all the fancy parlor tricks in the world at your command...but if there isn't anything backing it up...all you've got is a really expensive video game. And not even a very good video game at that. I'm going to see the last of the trilogy. But its as a man going to see the last breath of a sick friend.
  14. Again, punk, I agree...but the main drift I get from Adbusters is not a pleasant little critique of "branding", but an all-out attack on production as such. Sure, there are business practices that I don't like - advertising being one of them. But I don't find it evil...I just find it plain dumb. And anyone with even half a brain can see through it. Adbusters, on the other hand, finds advertising an absolute evil. Therefore, they are anti-branding, anti-advertising, anti-consumption, anti-production - and anti-life. (Except, of course, for their little tennis shoe! Buy two pairs for the holidays!) Objectivism won't be able to make "real headway" in the culture by linking themselves (however tenuously) with a magazine like Adbusters. Skulls being spraypainted over models' faces won't show people what's wrong with modern advertising - reason will.
  15. I agree with you, punk...but only to a certain extent. If a communist came up to me and said that people were working in unsafe conditions in a factory, I would agree that something should be done. But if his answer to these unsafe conditions is that the proletariat should own the means of production and smash the bougeoise...then I'd have to part ways with him. Adbusters is no different. They rail against advertising's effects on consumers...but their solution is to get rid of advertising, consumers, and ultimately the producers. This is sort of like those elementary schools who have deemed competition's effects on the losers to be a bad thing. So, instead of teaching people to be good winners and losers...they ban all competition. Like I said, I do agree that "branding" is a strange phenomenon of dubious merit. You are right to say that, "the question in consumerism is whether people find their own self-worth within themselves, or outside of themselves in terms of what they consume." But siding with Adbusters isn't going to solve anything. To paraphrase The Bard: The problems of "branding" lie not with the product, but with ourselves.
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