In the Penal Colony.

Goodreads Review.

 

Short enough to quickly read on the train, the narrative flows linearly. A simple twist at the end, one I failed to anticipate, despite ruminating on it during the train change. Mr. Kafka anticipates & predates the Saw film franchise, the Hostel film franchise.

The author, & this work particularly, seem to have acquired some respect, although precisely how this impression came to me, I do not know. However others attach metaphors, whatever it demonstrates about absolute commitment to justice, it is torture porn in literature format.

A Call For Violence, or, Mercy Killing.

A Call For Violence, or, Mercy Killing.
True justice being an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, cruelty is more and mercy is less.

Mr. Sepp Blatter accepted a bribe, and because of that choice between yes / no, people (Bangladeshis & Pakistanis) have died. His own death, being singular, would be merciful.

His wealth, and the bribes more specifically, should be distributed between the wage-slaves he created. Without his ‘yes’, they wouldn’t be building the FIFA stadium in Qatar. Don’t get me started on the Qataris who funded the offer or corrupt officials who enabled the crooked process.

Slavery is an apt description, the Pakistani & Bangladeshi labourers do not have freedom of movement, some are beaten, some are killed. The wage they are paid is reduced by their overseers, without freedom of movement they must buy food at inflated costs, like how the Tuckshop used to be in Scottish Highlands.

If Mr. Blatter had said, ‘no’, they total suffering in Qatar would be lesser. His single death would be merciful, because his ‘yes’ lead to much more than one death.

All this leads should lead the Pakistani’s and Bangladeshi’s quite reasonable to resentment or hatred for ‘The West’.

Do you consent or dissent to this call?

P.S. Yes I do realise this is some years late.

Superlearning.

Goodreads review.

 

Apparently Bulgarians have extra-sensory powers including but not limited to predicting lottery numbers. You want that to huh?

Step number 1: Be relaxed.

Step number 2: Breathing.
The secret is to breath in for 2 seconds, hold your breath for 4 and breath out for 2 seconds. This timing will fit your breathing pattern into specific Baroque music, with 60 beats per minute (BPM). Make or buy a recording where the stuff to be learnt is spoken for 4 seconds, and listen to it so that your breathing stops for those 4 seconds.

The authors are certain of themselves, and the only reason the secret hasn’t caught on is the fumbling of the Canadian government. Applying it wrongly & damaging trust, the Canadians have screwed it up for everyone. By this day, decades after publication, all blind people should be able to see, telepathy should have made Skype useless and, most importantly, we’d all be much more relaxed.

The Road

Goodreads review.

Ueghhk… I did not like this book very much at all. A positive is the relatively low word count which allows a quicker read. Redeemed only because now other books nigh overwhelm me with sensuality and emotion. If you want to take this book seriously I recommend two courses; treat it as arbitrarily restricted artwork, or, as a narrative woven from the inconsistency of a schizophrenic, depressed homeless man with a kid.

So art often imposes contingent and frankly ridiculous restrictions to produce unique creations. The Road applies that method by using almost no punctuation at all. Conversations are not shown by quotation marks, which which fogs the train of thought, although conversations generally occur only to curb enthusiasm. Next limitation is the paragraphs, which often split apart what would otherwise be continuous. Explicable as art not literature, figuratively speaking this fracturing of paragraphs are climbing a cocoanut tree, there are no major branches it is simply the trunk. If you are not pleased by comparative literature, seeking to understand this as an artwork relative to other artworks will be a displeasure.

Duchamp tried to push his persona beyond the art world, and succeeded. I have heard more talk about his pisspot than about surrealism or photorealism or even romanticism. So perhaps McCarthy is trying to create a novel with reach beyond domain of literature, incorporating the system which heaps accolades upon his labours as an easy target for ridicule for those interested in simpler books or illiterate. Maybe, but I repeat, if you do not enjoy comparing literature, seeking to understand this as an artwork relative to other artworks will be a displeasure.

The second is obvious. The only bloom in these pages is fire, although this may be indicative of pyromania instead of depression. Read about Rome and surely a description of a laurel wreath will cross the page, I assume Herman Melville wrote briefly about a frangipani lei, flowers are found in Tolstoi’s works. I challenge a reader to find a single page where McCarthy’s characters whistle a little song, tell a terrible joke or anything derived from the passions (excluding of course; despair, dismay, disappointment, deviance, denial, denigration & so on, so forth). I believe Mr. Victor Frankl, a sense of purpose and humour are vital to our continued existence. The man in ‘The Road’ actively discourages his child from any dream of a better tomorrow. Page 160, sigh…

So McCarthy has built an elaborate metaphor for a depressive-type personality? A person who drags them self through day after day without purpose or humour and refusing to allow such concepts into the mind of the child in his care. What happens when a homeless man loses his trolley and all his possessions? Read this book if you would know. How does it feel to meet people who are born to die? Isn’t it a little nicer to consider the inevitability of death as ‘pretty girls make graves’ instead of, that baby in your womb is going to die as surely as if your husband were to decapitate and spit-roast it over an open fire? The ending would be more consistent with this interpretation and the overall tone of the book if the boy became a Mowgli bereft of animal tutors.

The book is tedious. No flight of fancy, no deeper purpose, not gonna get much of an experience from reading, if you share ineffable reader attributes with me. I appreciate it in the same way eating plain porridge for brekky can give one a great sense of just how smeggin’ good bacon & eggs can be.

2312

Goodreads review.

A grand space opera. The author writes for us, the readers, flights of emotion inspired directly from music, waxes lyrical about space, sex, death. AI ‘personhood’ is briefly skirted, a shadow looms large upon interplanetary civilisation. As for consistency with science, this work of fiction holds up alright, as much as I’m any judge. Full of ‘high culture’ this book is most rewarding to anyone peculiar enough to have memorised planetary geography or the relevant famous figures. Prepare for ‘SJW’ agitation!

How to build an asteroid habitat, called a terrarium here, is detailed. This eases the reader towards the sweet, fantastic indulgence of interplanetary travel. Pitfalls are avoided, to my frustration, the experience of gravity closest to the sunline is not written. Terraforming technologies are strung together in the brief chapters which jerk away from linear narrative. In regards to terrarium, this pre-emptively constructs the next destination and a frequent travel method. Terraform technology is advanced and had to be so because humans buggered up the climate in “The Dithering”. A critique of modern times. Regrettably the author does not use this opportunity to highlight the unique benefits of a benevolent dictator [climate is a global system, a singular executive is my preferred option for action], which offers clear benefits in 2312 due to additional supports absent to any contemporary wannabe.

Social affairs were hit-&-miss to the sweet spot. Economics are discussed in broad strokes. Observations of the narrative try to find a balance between modern criticisms and absent fantasy. There is a lack of personal devotion to a particular economic system, a ‘future-Objectivism’ would fit snugly into place. Race, is not a sticking point for any of the characters, such sticklers are probably unlikely to go on an adventure. However, there were frustrations. Surely an Indian citizen of earth; from an impoverished, violent, rapey, xenophobic community, would feel some degree of culture-shock on being transplanted, almost overnight without any anticipation whatsoever, to Chinese Venus? Not really no, not in 2312!
Describing a minor character as of indeterminate race from the view of a major character, is inconsistent to the fantasy. Either the main character cares about race, or does not. If the latter, and not a single main character has the slightest bias in this regard, then why would it be remarked upon in their inner dialogue? If it did matter, the main characters have discreet access to AI-assisted, Future Internet. Further, if it was instead a flight of fancy, a challenge to the personal, unassisted mind, than dark skin winnows a few of the potential races (i.e. Korean, Gaelic) from the pools of possibility.

Gender, is a similar kettle of fish. Personally, the writing was at times repulsive. There is an attempt to show repulsion of others sexuality as a human attribute (hermaphrodites / androgynous circle orgies are not repulsive, but some small people having sex with one big person is). The particulars are brief and bad. However, sex doesn’t strangle the space fantasy, nor is it a distracting spectacle to alleviate narrative inadequacies. The fit jarred me. The temporary failure of internal logic is powerfully frustrating to me. Again if physical gender is remarkable, and if someone is definitely not-male and not-female, it is not indeterminate gender, particularly not if the observer gave a damn to remark upon it. It indicates two genders as definitely absent.
A bit of the internal backstory though, does clear it up slightly. We, the reader, are exposed to a historical summation of longevity. In the same way that powerful social taboos about conception technology were overcome, i.e. abortion, devout Abrahammic religions & the general populace deviating from those moral codes, so to is our contemporary gender template overwhelmed by the what is offered by embracing, by act of intentional & specific creation, both crotches…

Finally, the AI. This is written with a sprinkling of quantum terminology; coupling, decoherence, potential states and more. Qube AI is not explicitly interrogated, implicit interrogation takes place, about the character of Jean Genette. I, for one, would truly like to read the future version of the Turing Test. It is a shame it was not explicit, perhaps it cannot be done adequately. At times Qubes are narrative tools used as literal Deus Ex Machina, the difficulty of imagining a story involving powerful AI without resolving the tension in a few verbal queries & commands must be recognised

The Eureka Stockade.

Goodreads Review.

Signor Carboni Raffaelo writes funny [& true!] anecdotes, the progress of history, some mediocre poetry, and an ability to communicate his own passion. To sketch out the events in the book loosely; it begins with Raffaelo’s visit to Australia, his discovery of several ounces of gold, then his gradual engagement with local affairs. He & his fellow gold-diggers are repressed by a licence scheme, there is a murder-later revenged by vigilantes, fire, (mild) abuse of clergy, and the climax is a bloody rebellion against the colonial government (which at the time was terrified of democratic revolution), finally trails off with his trial and departure to Rome.

My own impression was of his own sincere belief in a Christian God, his belief in equality beyond race or religion (although scarcely mentions Australian Aboriginals), his awareness of world affairs (such as Field Marshall Lieutenant Haynau)  and of a sense of alienation from the colonial world. He was a visitor, not any type of colonist. His trial, which I believe to be directly transcribed, has shockingly bizarre & absolutely hilarious speeches.

Signor Raffaelo records various Australian lingo, some now fallen out of pop. use, and peppers his book frequently with, “Great-Works!”. “Spy Goodenough”, occurs frequently and took me quite a while to grasp. It was rewarding to expand my awareness about national caricatures-‘John Bull’; his pleasure in flames, and so deeply attached to commerce.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in Australia, this event even now carries social momentum (in the form of the Eureka Flag).

 

Free Radicals: The Secret Anarchy of Science.

Goodreads review.

Rather good, to be honest, not flawless. Some really frustrating inconsistencies diminish the case the author builds, nevertheless he delivers a quality product. Very enjoyable anecdotes and the specific skeletons, once closeted, have room enough to dance along these pages. Be warned though, science is a nebulous concept in these pages, it does not always mean the method (predictability, records etc.) nor a community of individuals.

An example of failure is using the frequency of publication as a standard to defend Mr. Sagan, whilst later attacking that very standard as stifling progress. Also, a few pages prior mentioning his wide margin of error in a study, which is less predictive and so less valuable when scored with the scientific method. Also on that, in the last chapter, mentioning a study of Mr. Sagan’s of which he himself is dubious. All this undermines a certain expectation of consistency, that a critic will have a superior alternative in mind (constructive criticism) as well as hurting trust that Mr. Sagan is more scientist than demagogue (I use the word aware of the negative connotations).

What I want to change though is simple. Put a bloody asterisk when there are notes in the rear pages. Those notes are extra chips in bag, so to speak, and had cooled, gone gross, when I turned the final page and found them there.

Soft Colonialism & Chinatown.

Let me thrash out a certain perspective. Chinatown is a global phenomenon, ubiquitous to major cities & towns. Although to me they contrast most strongly when set against a non-Asiatic culture, that is a personal ignorance. To bind together all these disparate locations, expatriate culture has lead to the construction of similar architecture, food, language and semi-segregation. These are small, semi-independent colonies and are scattered across the world.

At times Chinese migration was directed by a foreign gold rush. Many Chinatown’s were founded by greed, similar to a lot of European colonisation (& Russian, & African, & Australian-Aborigine, and so on & so forth). Some Chinatown’s were created due to fallout from significant, contemporary events, which is seen after W.T.C. attacks in the U.S.A. caused a domestic migration from New York City to Montville, Connecticut. Nevertheless, greed via business seems to be a significant factor in all Chinatown’s and this is a concept with a lot of reach. Not only does greed motivate the founders of the colony ‘to boldly go where no Chinese has gone before!’, it is directly relevant to instances of negative action; legal targeting, insidious rumours, coolie-slavery, etcetera.

Discourse on colonialism is dominated by the European forms. These forms are distinct from a soft colonialism. They are characterised by much larger movements of people, greater technological inconsistency between the colonisers & colonised, seizure of power across a larger geographic area, seizure of power in deeper social values, a central authority responsible for the colony before its founding, and much more violence. These traits belong to a ‘harder’ colonialism. Frequently a colony will send some type of remittance to the homeland and resources are diverted from the local populace. These two traits are common to both ‘hard’ & ‘soft’ colonialism, although in the latter it is lesser.

Hopefully consideration of Chinatown’s as a soft colonialism will reform perceptions of colonialism into a broader category, enable realistic criticisms of certain modern nations and feed curiosity.

Celebrity, Ideal Self & Posterity.

It is a curious phenomenon, the Cult of Celebrity. Many varieties abound such as Elvis Lives!, ET news, to the followers of Bahá’u’lláh, the pattern is a part of the human condition. Here I record my current conception of the Cult of Celebrity, and by all means seek or create alternative explanation and comment them. I offer these 3 reasons as central to the dynamics, individual & communal, of celebrity:
– the Ideal Self,
– 300 year legacy / Posterity,
– the Talking Point.

The latter is most obvious in this little blog essay, so please allow me to be brief. Celebrity’s are gossip grist and are accessible to to the greatest number of value systems. Devout Jews can bemoan the deteriorating moral fibre of modernity via Justin Bieber, the man-slut can express the wonder of sexuality via Brangelina or an arrogant intellectual can act vicariously vain via admiration of Sheldon Cooper. The Cult of Celebrity is more truly the loyal fanatics, however the complaining conversations based about celebrity are a negative facet of the Cult of Celebrity. Simply put, the Talking Point is the measure of how much discussion a celebrity creates, any type of discussion whatsoever.

Ideal Self & Posterity are somewhat inter-connected. Each of us has some favoured traits, things we like about ourselves and also things we would like to become. Many of us would like to be remembered and perhaps some have felt the fear of being forgotten, when considering this desire. Who do you remember &/ discuss from 300 years ago? Or only 3 family generations ago? If you, like me, are one of the tired, poor, huddled masses, then maybe you would prefer a legacy of a certain folk hero. A personal preference determines if you prefer Slim Dusty over Che Guevara.

This is in part a negative consequence of the critical tradition upon the other traditions, which in turn encouraged individual rights over community rights (by the way, things have never been better). The Scientific Method, an essential core of modern life, explicitly embraces criticism. In part it enabled a massive metropole in which anonymity reigns, as it does in other megalopolis’. Trains, buses, highways are full of strangers. There is no reason to believe they also want Slim Dusty to be commemorated. Indeed they may nominate Sepultura, or the latest Euro-Vision entrant. Although only Martin Luther may remain a somewhat known name, surely a great many of his followers would accept his legacy as both representative & iconic. A modern city is home to multiple cultures & sub-cultures, which in turn may undermine a collective will to build some great & lasting monument to stand the test of time (like, say, the pyramids of Sudan).

In supplement to that though, memorising the family tree (a tradition in small, illiterate societies) such as the genealogy given for Jesus (of which there are 2 contradictory accounts). This would have been a Talking Point, as well as recognition of an Ideal Self (and a unique, personal connection to them) and functioning as a marker of posterity (how long and to how many people has that ancestor mattered?). More recently then such oral traditions, there were of course those of aristocracy. Imagine a Borgia walking down a hallway, beneath the gaze of portraits, perhaps giving house-guests a tour. The Borgia would have met the three criteria of Talking Point, Ideal Self & Posterity, although the Ideal Self may only be recognised negatively, through criticism of those portrayed.

Both the oral tradition and the aristocratic tradition represent, to the relevant times & places, an immediate form of celebrity, which exists in a mutated form in modern life. Familial schooling in fame could perhaps be decreasing due to the increasing fraction of the population which never kept such records, then or now. Perhaps the mass schooling of hundreds & thousands every year coupled with the consistency of the Scientific Method across platforms (everything should be open to criticism, measurement, etc.) has set the critical tradition to dominate the schoolyard instead of an aura of veneration about some saint, instead of a Cult of Celebrity.

Nevertheless such antiquated ‘celebrity’ as found in oral or aristocratic traditions does supply data to inform opinions about legacy. A bad joke doesn’t live on as long as a good deed (probably). Although the great-great-great grandparent may not be as worthy of respect as some contemporary, an attentive audience would still develop realistic attitudes about what gets remembered & what gets repeated.

So celebrity’s represent how we might like to be right here, right now. They represent a common aggregate of the above concepts. When considered from a 3 century perspective, it suggests who we would like to be remembered as, by those lucky bastard born in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alien Outpost.

Alien Outpost.

Found footage this film is not, a sigh of relief was breathed when aliens turned up on camera as the Blair Witch Project has left a terrible template which was stamped most expensively upon the un-pleasantry that was Cloverfield. Within this cinematic universe, a pseudo-historical perspective grounds the movie, similar to Edge of Tomorrow (EoT) but through a team of war reporters eyes as opposed to an intangible watcher in EoT. The pivot of pseudo-history in EoT however, are rather more critical to the progress of history than those ‘documented’ in Alien Outpost. Some writer or similar, put real thought into what a war-reporter documenting a failed alien invasion would get earn a Pullitzer Prize for, held back the delusions of grandeur which co-permeate EoT with the ever-present inferiority complex, and crafted an enjoyable 90 minutes.

Characters within the film are somewhat tacky as the director is intent on delivering an imaginary, army camaraderie to citizens to cowardly to enlist, but did  well enough to make me chuckle. Although the film seeks to deliver a package similar to Apocalypse Now or perhaps Jarhead, the tension does not escalate as it does in the former, nor does it deliver the hunger for combat found in the latter. Violence & madness are intricately linked, as in Apocalypse Now so to here, is the ultimate objective enabled by a soldier who mentally embraces the ‘alien’ perspective. Not that all the combat comes from the aliens, but the authenticity of the local militia is null as well as the grenade throwing strategy of those stationed at Outpost  37. What moronic local villain raids a heavily fortified military outpost the day after it is reinforced?

It is tempting to chase a consistent metaphor throughout the film, one about the War on Terror. A disgusting waste of money, which does not deliver any value system (other than an angry Zeus-type fear), and is still less horrific than most historic wars. So one asks oneself, when the USDF (United Space Defence Force, haha ah ha ha ahhh) soldiers are made to kill themself, by the same method by which a goat-herder’s child becomes explosive, is it not delivering  a powerful sermon about the War on Terror? That we are all human, our minds unreachable directly can house ideas of violent madness? That the biggest victim of suicide bombers is their parents? No, no it isn’t, it is quite clear, once someone has a bad idea there can be no forgiveness. Local militia make up a lot of fodder through out the film, but captured USDF (ha ha, ahh #sigh) soldiers become traitors and are exterminated like rats on board the Hindenburg. If it is a sermon, it is an old-time sermon full of rage and a void of tolerance. No tolerance for torture in the film, captured aliens (despite having plot-furthering potential) are killed swiftly.For the finale, the resupplying of alien weaponry reduces the idiocy of EoT where a single man on a single day saves the entire planet. It is instead a critical moment in a long struggle, which carries on after the credits.