Saturday, May 30, 2009

On Seducement During Dinner

From Tom Jones:
'Say then, ye Graces! you that inhabit the heavenly mansions of Seraphina's countenance; for you are truly divine, are always in her presence, and well know all the arts of charming; say what were the weapons now used to captivate the heart of Mr. Jones.'

'First, from two lovely blue eyes, whose bright orbs flashed lightning at their discharge, flew forth two pointed ogles; but happily for our heroe, hit only a vast piece of beef which he was then conveying into his plate, and harmless spent their force. The fair warrior perceived their miscarriage, and immediately from her fair bosom drew forth a deadly sigh. A sigh which none could have heard unmoved, and which was sufficient at once to have swept off a dozen beaus; so soft, so sweet, so tender, that the insinuating air must have found its subtle way to the heart of our heroe, had it not luckily been driven from his ears by the coarse bubbling of some bottled ale, which at that time he was pouring forth. Many other weapons did she assay; but the god of eating (if there be any such deity, for I do not confidently assert it) preserved his votary; or perhaps it may not me dignus vindice nodus, and the present security of Jones may be accounted for by natural means; for as love frequently preserves from attacks of hunger, so may hunger possibly, in some cases, defend us against love.'

Friday, May 29, 2009

Let's Get Metaphysical

Ever wondered...exactly how to approach that shy - but absolutely gorgeous - philosophy major? Get metaphysical with them!

1. Has anyone ever told you you're a supernatural existential?
2. Babe, I'd break the law of non-contradiction for you.
3. You must be transcendental because you don't belong to any category.
4. Can I participate in your being?
5. You should be tired. You've been running through my conceptual apparatus as a cognitional being all day!
6. Honey, can I be the efficient cause of your happiness?
7. My web of intelligibility sure did a number on you!
8. Baby, can I proposition you, that is join our terms together by means of a copula?

Disclaimer: These are not of my doing - mah friends came up with these and I preserved them for posterity.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Satire

As a Rodevacantist, I echo William Shatner's statement that "Gene Rodenberry created the Star Trek of the ages," and that any change is obviously the result of directors and writers who no longer have the inspiration and guidance of the Rodenberry spirit. Any change is inorganic. All change is inorganic. This Novus Trek is an abomination and I - and those few who have not drunk the Targ-aid - will show you JUST WHY THIS IS SO.

After the death of Gene Rodenberry, Jews, Freemasons, Protestants, and Communists influenced the creation of the abomination "Star Trek XI." Many people welcomed this "New" Star Trek, saying it was more "accessible" to non-Geeks and encouraged a spirit of dialogue. Puh-lease. The beauty of Star Trek lies in its mystery and not in its comprehensibility. Why else do you think Chancellor Gorkon, in Star Trek VI, said "You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon"? Do you understand Klingon? No. Do *I*? No! Ergo - mystery. QED.

And if you WANT to understand Star Trek, you're WRONG to want that - and I bet you're a bad mother/father, too, if not a closet homosexual.

So I - and a few others who keep the Trek Tradition - maintain that this new formulation of Star Trek differs so drastically from the Star Trek of Gene Rodenberry as to be positively harmful to the Trekkie or Trekker. Was this New Trek an organic development? No! It was a shocking hermeneutic of discontinuity: a rupture with all we held dear, a NEW TREK. Where are the transporter beaming noises of old? Why does Scotty have a real Glasgow accent, rather than his heavy fake Scottish brogue? Why does Spock show so much emotion in Star Trek XI? Why is there no sacrificial aspect? Why do you see "Trekkies" attending New Trek in SHORTS - without any respect for the Mysterium of Star Trek?

Shocking, isn't it? Maybe those "phaser smells and bells" might not seem too important to you - or maybe the "Captain's Log, Stardate..." before the episode don't seem "necessary" - but without those things, is it really...Star Trek? Can it really...engage us?

That is the question many Trekkies have had to ask themselves.

When the Novus Disorder Star Trek was released, many Trekkies were bewildered by the changes. Hollywood executives (again, Jews) ruthlessly stripped old traditions of their meaning and implemented radical innovations. You see, JJ Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are secretly working to undermine the teachings of the one, true, Gene Rodenberry. Gene Rodenberry was sublimely dedicated to the preservation of traditions: the clich├ęd scenes, the utilization of exotic and scantily clad women, the Prime Directive, etc. But Novus Ordo Trekkies believe in "religious freedom." Its women wear pants and go to the "Academy" - they even enter into "careers" and display initiative! In the Traditional Star Trek, you never saw a respectable Star Fleet Woman without an impossibly short miniskirt, unless she were in another impossibly revealing costume, and the women always assumed highly feminine and monotonous roles! Degeneration of society, anyone?

Many Trekkies left - disillusioned. Trekkie clubs which used to be packed are now...empty. Maybe those Trekkies had undergone the horror of seeing Clown-Star-Trek. We may never know just how many were lost. Thankfully, I am a Rodevacantist. I am not lost.

But welcome to the Novus Ordo Star Trek! A place where "No One," and not "No Man," has gone before.

And so what if the body of science fiction authors have hailed this Novus Ordo Star Trek as a legitimate and valid part of the Star Trek Legacy? Do you think the authority to interpret what is and is not the Star Trek legacy lies with *them*? On the contrary, it lies with Traditional Star Trek fans. If we don't like it, it is not a part of Tradition (with a CAPITAL T).

A reader, alive to this abomination, pointed out the following:

As you can see from the pictures, True Nimoy has heavily hooded small eyes, a narrow nose, and small earlobes.

Imposter "Nimoy" has wide eyes that appear not to have a hooded appearance, a large, drooping nose, and large earlobes.

Quote from Imposter "Nimoy":
"Canon is only important to certain people because they have to cling to their knowledge of the minutiae. Open your mind! Be a 'Star Trek' fan and open your mind and say, 'Where does Star Trek want to take me now'."

Quote from True Nimoy:
"It was a nothing role with just a few lines for Spock to 'pass the torch' to the new cast. I wasn't interested in that... as far as I was concerned, Spock had a grand exit in 'Star Trek VI' and I didn't want to disrespect that in any way." (on being invited to appear in 'Star Trek, Generations'. True Nimoy, obviously, would not appear in NewTrek.)
I'd like to end by asking: what about the third secret of the Andorian Peace Treaty that was never released, eh?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Speaking of Which.

Since it was just the feast of St. Athanasius, I'm reminded of one of my favorite quotes of his, in a letter to Marcellinus on the Psalms:
...Holy Scripture is not designed to tickle the aesthetic palate, and it is rather for the soul's own profit that the Psalms are sung. This is so chiefly for two reasons. In the first place, it is fitting that the sacred writings should praise God in poetry as well as prose, because the freer, less restricted form of verse, in which the Psalms together with the Canticles and Odes, are cast, ensures that by them men should express their love to God with all the strength and power they possess. And, secondly, the reason lies in the unifying effect which chanting the Psalms has upon the singer. For to sing the Psalms demands such concentration of a man's whole being on them that, in doing it, his usual disharmony of mind and corresponding bodily confusion is resolved, just as the notes of several flutes are brought by harmony to one effect; and he is thus no longer to be found thinking good and doing evil, as Pilate did when, though saying "I find no cause of death in Him," he yet allowed the Jews to have their way; nor desiring evil though unable to achieve it, as did the elders in their sin against Susanna - or, for that matter, as does any man who abstains from one sin and yet desires another every bit as bad. And it is in order that the melody may thus express our inner spiritual harmony, just as the words voice our thoughts, that the Lord Himself has ordained that the Psalms are to be sung and recited to a chant...those who do sing as I have indicated, so that the melody of the words springs naturally from the rhythm of the soul and her own union with the Spirit, they sing with the tongue and with the understanding also, and greatly benefit not themselves alone but also those who want to listen to them."
I really love the philosophy and theology behind art - and, being in a choir, really appreciate Athanasius' take on the relation between the soul and the song.

Who Will Save Your Soul?

If you've ever read Tom Jones by Henry Fielding, you instantly grock that the author truly loves the character of his excessively virile, flawed, and young protagonist: Tom Jones. Tom commits many shocking indiscretions and easily gets into bed with women whilst being deeply devoted to another who is the paragon of virtue, delicacy, and beauty. The author, anticipating our censure, makes a plea for Tom: he's flawed, yes, but he is also a man of good-will, capable of appreciating, striving for, and attaining virtue. Don't, Fielding begs, conflate *a* defining moment of a life - or even several "a"s - with "the" defining moment of our life. That is, with the moment of death. Most people habitually commit sins - some quite serious ones - and most people would not like to be judged solely by the worst sin they committed or by what the world sees and makes of that sin.

And yet, many people, in a fit of righteousness, use one defining moment/act as the defining moment/act of that person's life - on both a social and a moral level - when it comes to transgressions. The internet is rather devilishly misused to work that righteousness up to an unreflective frenzy (see the Christopher West eruption, for example). All one seems to hear about - even on Catholic blogs - is SCANDAL, SCANDAL, SCANDAL! Then follows the public hue and cry. Outrage! Shock!

Such a state of existence can be useful, if and when an object/act merits such a strong response, but it seems that when everyone is in such a state of hyper-agitation it is dangerously easy to jump from a moment to the moment, or to too hastily jump from a moderate to a nuclear sort of option (which isn't to say I dislike using nuclear options - in Sid Mier's Civ II, I often enabled the cheats and did just that. So long, Mongol hordes!).

Shame - or the idea of shame - is used to make people behave. It works, sometimes. When a radio dj messes up, or embarrassing pictures of a beauty queen emerge, or news of a cheating politician gets about, the common response of the offender - after the public has got wind of the offense - is to say: I am sorry - I regret what I did. Is this a success? Well, as Athanasius points out, one gets a very definite sense that they are not sorry for the act but that they are sorry they got caught and they regret the effect it will have on their career.

And why? What that radio dj said might be objectively really shocking. He will be remembered and judged in the minds of many people as 'that person who said X.." But there floats about an Ayer-like conception of good and evil which, roughly, equates "good" and "bad" with purely personal-value-driven-expressive-response. So saying "X is bad" equates to "@#%$^^ X!!!" These expressive statements cannot - *cannot* - be good or bad and certainly cannot be universal (de gustibus...).

Naturally, this touches upon the question of what it means to be human. If good and evil are driven by personal values, then my good is determined solely by myself - or by an other's utilization of myself for their own value-driven-conception of goodness (i.e. I might be used as a slave - I'd be useful then, and valued as such). A being's goodness, and a being's acts, are not intrinsically/objectively good or evil. Therefore, we are not capable of virtue or vice, of redemption or damnation, of repentance.

That doesn't jive with reality, and yet - or maybe "and so" - there is this morbid urge to damn those who gain notoriety by stepping outside of arbitrary demarcations (formally endorsed by law) determined by personal values. Damn the undamnable? Shame the shameless? Why? It seems like a form of mutilated hope for redemption. Saying something matters is better to say that nothing matters - a very tenuous grip on reality is held. And if someone else is being damned then at least I'm not, because I didn't do that.

I entirely agree with Athanasius that people who are shocked (along with those who are not) by the bad behavior of those in the public sphere have created the culture in which that behavior can thrive. However, I place a different interpretation on the use of shame: it's not really shame that moves a politician to express regret -- it's fear. When motivated by shame, it is because there is something that we are *ashamed of*: we recognize our acts/words as shameful. But there is an attempt going on to shame that politician (because we don't want to say that nothing matters) and it is an attempt that really finds no corresponding notion of redemption: of Christ.

And that really isn't very pleasant. Without Christ at the center of the universe, history, reality (I paraphrase the beginning words of Pope John Paul the Great's first encyclical), how can we look at another human being and say they are capable of repentance? How can we look at them and say "you are good," if we cannot say that their being is good because it is created in the image and likeness of God?

To some extent, Henry Fielding is not making a plea solely for Tom Jones, but for all of humanity - saying that we are all capable of being redeemed because we are all Tom Jones to a certain extent.

I close with a quote from Graham Greene (from The End of the Affair - the speaker is in a Church):

I was trying to escape from the human body and all it needed. I thought I could believe in some kind of God that bore no relation to ourselves, something vague, amorphous, cosmic, to which I had promised something and which had given me something in return - stretching out of the vague into the concrete human life, like a powerful vapour - I would escape myself forever...I had done so much injury with this body. How could I want to preserve any of it for eternity, and suddenly I remembered a phrase of Richard's - about human beings inventing doctrines to satisfy their desires, and I thought how wrong he is. If I were to invent a doctrine it would be that the body was never born again, that it rotted with last year's vermin...Then I began to want my body that I hated, but only because it could love that scar. We can love with our minds, but can we love only with our minds? Love extends itself all the time, so that we can even love with our senseless nails: we love even with our clothes, so that a sleeve can find a sleeve.
If you have a copy of the End of the Affair, I highly recommend finding this passage and reading it in its entirety - Greene is a profound writer.