Friday, January 19, 2007

"Event Horizon" And the Nature of Chaos

I just saw the sci-fi/fantasy flick Event Horizon again. As usual, two things bother me about it.

One: The staggering visuals I remember from the large screen don't hold up at all in a home rental format.

Two: Dr. Weir spells it right out for you in this movie. The gravity drive of the Event Horizon hauls its crew into a "dimension of pure Chaos," and boy does it ever suck. You turn on the ship's engines, and next thing you know everyone's dissecting each other and eating barbed wire. Here is the central problem of the movie for me: he makes Chaos sound like a BAD thing. Worse, the movie makes CHAOS look an awful lot like ORDER.
Let me expand on this second point a little. When I watch this movie, the artificial black hole created by the ship's engines leads you nowhere but into your own subconscious, or as Jung would put it your "shadow side." I hate to break it to you, but there is nothing but Order in that dimension. As the ship starts to crawl inside the rescue party's minds and stir their fantasies with a stick, WHAT DO WE SEE?

>> A mom, who left her disabled son alone with the ex, sees him suffering in torment.

>> An officer racked with guilt who left a crewman behind in a burning spaceship is chased by the crewman's ghost. The ghost breathes fire at the fleeing officer.

>> A lonely widower is taunted by the naked ghost of his wife, a suicide.

All these people are racked with guilt. The ship picks up on that and gives them exactly what they think they deserve: a punishment that neatly fits the crimes they think they've committed. Spare me. Is there anything more Aneristic (orderly) than fitting the punishment to the crime? Fairness is one of the universal delusions of childhood, something we all outgrow after Life has punted us around like footballs for a couple of decades. A dimension where everyone gets what they deserve is the exact opposite of Chaos. It's a dimension of perfect, if painful, Order.

Remember that line from Oscar Wilde? "The good end happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means." There's your cold light of day, right there, people. Real outcomes and punishments are pretty freaking random. Or hadn't you noticed?

I'm not sure where the barbed wire comes in. Maybe my personal guilt complexes don't require it. I guess I can live with that.

Thought For The Day

"It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense."

-- Mark Twain

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Something I Noticed

When I was adding RAW to my "Days Of The Dead" kitchen calendar, which notes the death dates of the mighty, I saw that Thomas Hardy also died on January 11th, seventy-nine years earlier. That hardly seems like a coincidence.

Thomas Hardy was a prophet of Chaos in his own time. For some reason he is not recognized as such, even today, when his books have been analyzed to death by an army of English professors. I imagine part of the problem is the fact that his best-known novel, Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, is the least chaotic of his stories. In orderly progression, according to the anti-woman mores of the time, poor Tess is fcrewed no matter what she does -- sometimes literally. The message of the story is that "some people just can't win." But you know how that goes. When Roman Polanski makes a movie out of just one of your novels, it becomes the only important thing you wrote.

I took a whole course in Thomas Hardy back when I was an English major, and the professor explained that Hardy had been fascinated all his life with Greek tragedy, and he was writing Greek tragedies of his own. I couldn't make any sense of this idea until I reframed it in Discordian terms. Since this is about the ancient Greeks, maybe I should say Erisian terms. Anyway, I wrote a boss 10-page paper for the prof explaining that Hardy's take on Greek tragedy required that the protagonist not have any particular Fatal Flaw. Any normal, understandable decision you make in a Hardy novel may be the one that brings the Cosmic Piano crashing down on your head. Why? because the Greek god in charge of your fate isn't Apollo, patron of reason and balance. In these stories, Eris is in charge, so buckle your seatbelt.

I got an A on that paper. He told us he never gave out A's. Heh.

One of my innumerable college roommates told me that bad things happened to Hardy's characters because they were all stupid. I started to disagree, and in that really condescending way she had, she cut me off and said again, "They're stupid." Janet, you were so very, very wrong.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Robert Anton Wilson Lost To Us

At 4:50 a.m. today, RAW finally escaped his malfunctioning body. He went to whatever reward awaits those who lights one of those damn trick candles that you can never blow out. Because of him, the darkness will be lit forever whether you like it or not.

There is no God but Chaos, and Bob is her prophet.

Chao, baby. I hope the first face you saw when you got there was Luna's.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Discordian Therapist Speaks

Click here to see a staggering example of how the art of spin can turn one story into quite another.

(It seems incestuous, in a way, to start off one on my blog entries with an entry from someone else's blog, but isn't that what life is all about? Blogging, I mean, not incest. See, I had you going there. You thought I was about to come out in favor of brother-sister marriages, didn't you? And that's what this entry is really about: how adding, deleting, or tweaking the wording of a story can make it seem entirely different. )

Now, why would I be telling you this? Because your life is a story you tell yourself. Tweaking the story changes the ending, believe me. What ending do you want to have to your story? That could mean this day's story, or the entire eighteen-volume trash novel that is YOUR LIFE.

The first version of the story paints a picture of some sort of Californian liberal freakasauruses who heard a men's choir singing "The Star-Spangled Banner," and set upon the singers with baseball bats to demonstrate their hatred for all things American.

(Speaking of spin: when exactly did "liberal" become the shorthand for "hates all things American"? That may be a can of worms to open, and taste, in a future blog. Onwards.)

The second story makes it sound like a skirmish between two rival gangs of upper-crust thugs -- the Richie Riches from Yale University stray onto the turf of the Little Lord Fauntleroys, who rule the streets of Pacific Heights without pity. Soon the Fauntleroys will teach the Richies a lesson they will never forget! You know, like in that great old movie, The Warriors.

The third version underlines for you, in case you missed it in the first article, the fact that the guy with the Arab name got the worst beating. Are we leading up to something here? Is this supposed to be an important point?

Well, they never tell you. Remember, these are four disparate articles written for different news organs. They aren't trying to work together to give you a coherent impression of what's going on. Each reporter or editor is coming from a separate little POV, and the more you add them up the less you can figure out the resulting mess. Truly do many things come to pass, but you won't clarify matters by reading the paper, believe me.

Shakespeare's Sister sees the beating up of the singers as ultimately and truthfully a homophobic thing. I'm not so sure. Many people, young males in particular, favor homophobic epithets when trying to put someone down. Gays are one of the few groups you can still harass openly. And the parties being harassed will often flee rather than stand there and allow themselves to be perceived as gay. The insult still has that much power, even in the year 2007. People are really bullshit sometimes.

But again - the guy who got beaten up the most seriously is named Aziz. If you pare away everything else and fit that Arab surname together with something one of the assailants said -- "you aren't welcome here" -- you can easily start to wonder if this wasn't an ethnic cleansing moment. What about the gay-hating language, you ask? Well, remember the humiliating sexual positions the POWs were forced to assume in those candid photos taken at Abu Ghraib? That wasn't a comment on anyone's orientation. That was just a special way of heaping on soem extra humiliation.

Personally, I think this beating incident had little to do with with either homophobia or the atavistic loathing of Middle Eastern ethnic groups. I think a bunch of drunken bungholes spotted a group of preppie-looking dorks, and beat them up. The rest of it was tacked on by the reporters, who wanted after all to sell some papers. They know that "innocent singing group assaulted by drunks" is not half as interesting to read as "harmless singers perceived as gay and beaten" or "upstanding Arab-American Yale student singled out for beating by silver-spoon-sucking scum."

If this incident demonstrates prejudice against anyone, I think we have to talk about prejudice against dorks. If you are now, or ever been a dork, you know that you are not safe from insult anywhere -- not even at a party thrown in your honor. Oh, the homophobic slurs? Dorks know that they get accused of being gay every day they are alive, even if they are married with six kids. Why? Because the world is full of idjits who can't tell the difference between a homosexual and a person lacking coolativity. They use the insults interchangeably. And indeed, it is almost as acceptable to persecute gays as it is to persecute losers. The reasoning goes something like this: THE HOMOS AND THE DORKS ARE BOTH SO FAR BENEATH MY NOTICE, WHY BOTHER TO TELL THEM APART?

That's my therapeutic reframe on a puzzling little episode in American history. Elie Wiezel was right -- this act of persecution will be forgotten too soon, and it will be repeated as soon as it is forgotten. Of course he was talking about the Holocaust, and this is a lot less severe to say the least. But in his first major book, Night, Wiezel paints a clear picture of how small persecutions eventually snowball into bigger ones.

A great many homosexuals were burned to death in the concentration camps. The only protection we dorks have is that there are too many of us to incinerate.

But I digress...

Friday, January 05, 2007

Cucurbit Revolution Begins Here

The holiday photos just came back from the drugstore!!! Contained therein was an inspiration straight from Discordia. Sometimes she whaps me on the back of the head with a rolled-up magazine, but this time she came up under my desk chair and whizzed me around the room a few times. When the chair came to rest I had in front of me a photo of the best Halloween party I attended last year.

"Pass it on," she hissed, and I was alone again.

OK, here goes. You have the option to DO WHAT I DID: instead of throwing a party for humans, why not have a quiet get-together with the pumpkins themselves? You can see they are having a great time. I certainly did, too. It seemed to be only fair to give them a sort of cast party before I slung them outside to entertain the neighbors. Liselle, in the center there, commented that she never knew the movies we watch at this special time of the year are so, well, lame. Of course most people don't treat themselves to A Bucket Of Blood regardless of the holiday season. I watch it at any time of the year. I recommend it.

Yes, you can see from the photo that EVEN THE GIANT KILLER CRABS IN THE HOUSE GOT INTO THE ACT. I never thought I'd see a decapodal operative wearing a witch hat, but that's what this sublime faith is all about: rolling hand grenades, large and small, into your belief system. I want you to ponder deeply and well on this photo.

Goddess Of Chaos Makes "Scientific American"

Was I ever surprised to see Eris mentioned in Scientific American, January 2007, page 37, in an article called "What Is A Planet?" by Steven Soter. It talks about how Pluto got demoted from planetary status to insignificant-iceball-in-the-sky.

I should have known Eris was behind this. As I type this paragraph, professional astrologers are weeping and gnashing their teeth; Scorpios everywhere are thrusting pins into voodoo dolls made to look like the committee guys that passed down this ruling. The metaphysicians are scattering like bowling pins over this. Who do you think caused it, the Easter Bunny?  Eris did it, baby!

Let me quote the learned eggdomes themselves: "The discovery in 2005 of Eris (formerly known as 2003 UB313 or Xena), a KBO [Kuiper Belt Object] even larger than Pluto, brought the issue to a head. If Pluto is a planet, then Eris must also be one, together with scores of other large KBOs; conversely, is Pluto is not a planet, neither are the other KBOs. On what objective grounds could atronomers decide?"

There are so many things to talk about in this paragraph. First, note that Eris was orignally named Xena. Possibly named after the Warrior Princess? What a mistake; Eris is never so obvious as to clobber you with a sword. That's Athena's gig. I daresay they renamed the object when they discovered just how much trouble it was going to cause. Or maybe they aren't clear on the true nature of the situation, even now. Trying to impose 'objective standards' on primal Chaos, facryingoutloud, is kinda stoopid if you ask me.

I know: you didn't ask me.

But above all, please note: the discovery of this dang thing created, well, chaos in the scientific community, in the metaphysical community, and in the solar-system mobile hanging over my bed. About dang time. Well done, my spacy little iceballs.