There's this attitude, one I'm seeing a lot more of these days (or maybe I'm just more attuned to it than I used to be), that if someone can do something, what's to stop anyone else from doing it? It's a pernicious attitude, in big part because the truth in the statement is ruined by the way it's framed.Read more
Most of you Constant Readers know by now my whole spiel about how would-be creators need to not merely expose themselves to other examples of the kind of work they want to produce. This crosses disciplines and fandoms, meaning an aspiring comic artist is likely to gain perspective from getting out of his reading bubble in the same way an aspiring novelist will be enriched by a trip to a museum they normally would never go to.Read more
Saw The Force Awakens last night — no spoilers in this discussion, so no worries. On the whole, it was good-to-very-good, if not quite the sheer jolt of electricity that we got back in 1977 (but really, nothing is ever going to be — not in the same way, certainly).
A couple of things come to mind:Read more
“Buddhist” in Berkeley means the same thing as “Christian” in Foley. Most Foley Christians may be ignorant of basic Christian doctrines, and rarely if ever go to church, but that’s not the point. Most Berkeley Buddhists may be ignorant of basic Buddhist doctrines, and rarely if ever go to a meditation group, but that’s not the point. That’s not what Buddhism is for. It’s a way of saying what sort of person you are. At least, that’s one thing it is for! What is “I am a Buddhist” supposed to say about you? The rest of this page suggests that it is a statement of allegiance to the monist-leftist side of the American culture-war tribal split; it is a sign of moral piety; it is a claim for high status within the middle class; and it signifies particular personality traits such as openness and agreeableness. This used to work well, because it was a “costly signal.” However, the strategy’s effectiveness has declined over time. Saying “I am a Buddhist” may now be heard as “I’m cowardly, disorganized, boring, and dumb.”
I don't know if I agree with the idea that "Buddhist" sends that kind of message (maybe I just hang with a crowd that isn't , but I do agree that it sends a message, and that the message isn't always a positive one. The more tuned-in Buddhist folks who have a soapbox to orate from (and an audience of more than a few dozen to hear it) are fond of saying things to the effect that being a Buddhist does not mean being a doormat. (Who was it that said, "Pacifism doesn't mean 'passive'-ism"?)Read more
... in 1960's America, a story about a spaceship that ferries an ethnically diverse yet socially functional group of humans from one planet to another so that they might learn and discover not just more about aliens, but more about themselves, and who would only use force as a means of self-defense, never as a means of conquering or pillaging–this was sf, even if it was on television, and even if had to be supplemented heavily with baser content to appeal to the masses.
I find it incredibly infuriating when Star Trek's achievements are referred to as "naive." ... A science fiction television show once challenged a deeply racist culture to believe that people of varying skin color and ethnic background could travel the stars together and leave not just their planet but their galaxy a little better than they found it.
Buscemi has some de-lovely points to make about the latter-day Treks that hint at why I might have fallen out of favor with the franchise. The later shows traded up their pulpy but visionary explorations for "gritty" realpolitik that you could get in a dozen other places . But the point cited here is the core of it. It's not "naïve" to suggest that we can do better, look further, try harder, inhabit the universe more charitably. Our survival might well depend on it. It doesn't mean that anything that comes our way with that message is immune from criticism, but naïve isn't a valid criticism for it.Read more