Oops, it’s 2:56AM here in Taiwan and I was just reminded that September 30th is International Blasphemy Day. Luckily, since most of the world is half a day behind, I still have time. I decided to celebrate by dusting off this post about Emily Dickinson I’ve been meaning to publish for about a year.
It vexes me to see Christians and other religious people quote Emily Dickinson’s Poetry in support of their faith, when she spent so much time, irony and wit mocking her religious contemporaries with blasphemous poetry. She refused evangelical conversion point-blank, and denied Christianity in favor of a naturalistic (Pagan) spirituality. Some may claim that she is not “an Atheist” but rather deeply devote – but this trespasses over her very cutting criticisms and mockery of Jesus and the Christian God, whom she saw as a cruel tyrant. There is also a tendency in literature studies to avoid the straight-forward anti-religious tone of the poems and interpret Dickinson’s poetry more imaginatively.
Dickinson is actually pretty easy to understand and appreciate – unless you disagree with her. Then suddenly she becomes “cryptic” and “mysterious” and “difficult”. Giant edifices of literary theory have been constructed around the idea that Emily is hiding … Read More »
“I just need to know how he does it.”
This is the consuming passion of Psychologist Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) as she investigates a world-renowned blind psychic Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), who has resurfaced after decades for a final appearance.
The movie builds and builds, with supernatural attacks leading up to the death of Margaret. Her partner Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) takes over the case, determined to solve the mystery.
“Forget about Silver, there are certain things it’s better not to know,” says his girlfriend Sally (Elizabeth Olsen).
“I just need to know,” Tom responds.
At this point in the movie, the implied moral seems to be this: that rigorous skeptics and scientists will be destroyed and their skepticism will consume them; they will break like waves against the paranormal rocks of our mysterious universe.
Margaret and Tom seem to be the fanatics, trying to use logic to solve the incredible paranormal power that they can’t accept as real.
Silver, meanwhile, has come back to prove to the world that his powers are real:
“It’s a matter of absolute priority that science begin to learn all it can about these forces. We can’t wait any longer. The aim of my public appearance is just to generate … Read More »
If you need a mystery to solve itself by wrapping up all loose ends, you might not like Sound of my Voice, the new movie directed by Britt Marling, who also plays the main role as Maggie — a time traveler from the future sent back to save the ones she loves from the coming economic and ecological collapse.
The plot follows Lorna and Peter, a young couple determined to do something important with their lives, as they infiltrate the cult and try to record video of Maggie. First they have to learn the rules, the complex secret handshake, and ‘train’ in an isolated location, before finally being allowed to meet the enigmatic time-traveler.
But as Maggie winds her powerful personality deeper and deeper into the psyche of both Peter and Lorna, and eventually drives them apart, they start to question. Is she a fraud? Is she lying? Or is she really who she says she is?
Maggie has cult leadership down pat – she gives then she takes, praises then insults. She can be cold and mean, but then loving and forgiving. When asked a direct question about herself or the future she comes from, she stalls, evades, reacts in anger, or … Read More »
Procrastinating from work (which I always feel to be a colossal waste of my life, yet necessary to prolong it in comfort) I downloaded the Series Premiere of a new TV show called “Revolution”. It’s just beginning. It shows a modern family: toddler playing with an Ipad, daughter zoned out watching cartoons on a plasma screen, mother on her phone with daddy, and another pair of guys driving and sexting someone.
Suddenly, all the power goes out – and it won’t ever come back on.
I watch the globe-map of the USA becoming dark as all electricity fueling our modern life dries up, and I’m thinking, “AWESOME.”
Why is this so thrilling to me? Why are our favorite fictional beings – zombies and vampires – slowly giving way to End of the World Scenarios that lead to a Post-Apocalypse setting? Specifically, about Revolution, or Massive Social and Political Upheaval?
“Governments fell. Militias rose up. People starved. Sickness, without medicine, fires, without firetrucks. If you were smart, you left the city. If not, you died there.”
And then suddenly, after probably 90% of the population of the human race has died in the violent upheaval, a small portion of survivors are living an idyllic Medieval lifestyle … Read More »
Several months ago I stumbled across a book on Amazon. A mediocre cover, no reviews, but I flipped through it and it caught my interest: speeches by Satan defending himself, a topic close to my heart (and my research). This week, stalling on some other projects and feeling inexplicably lazy, I spent most of my time on my antique oriental couch absorbed in what turned out to be one of the greatest books I’ve read, possibly ever.
This is the review I posted on Amazon:
If you want to learn about the fall of Lucifer, the creation of mankind, and the war in heaven, you have three main sources: The Bible, Paradise Lost, and The Other Side of Evil. It is not lightly that I compare this new book with these two classics; this massive achievement is a retelling of Satan’s biography, given in first-person, explaining as it were “the ways of Satan to Men.”
Already open to the idea that Satan’s backstory needs to be fleshed out and that in Satan’s rebellion hides the truth and epicenter of the entire Christian edifice, I’ve read countless attempts to justify Satan’s rebellion and highlight the cruel tyranny of God – but most fail.
The reason … Read More »
I started writing this post a couple years ago as a response to a very silly book called “How to Profit from the coming Rapture”. Here’s the description:
“Taking the familiar form of a how-to investment guide, HOW TO PROFIT FROM THE COMING RAPTURE instructs those readers who will certainly be left behind (Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, less ardent Protestants, and many more) on how to exploit the inevitable demise of the world in order to make a tidy profit. Sure, the rivers and seas will run with blood, locusts will swarm, mountains will move all over the place, and famine will strike. But for the five billion of us left behind, the post-Rapture world will be a time of even more unique investment opportunities.
Disclaimer: I haven’t read the book. I don’t plan to. So this is not a book review. But I like the idea of the book and think it is worth discussing.
I assume the book is tongue and cheek – pointing out how ridiculous we sinners will be when the Christians are gone but we keep thinking about money, rather than turning to God.
Since Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, less ardent Protestants … Read More »
Stories have always had the magical power to give our lives meaning and perspective. Stories about how the world was created, why there is evil in the world, why we should be good even when no one is watching, and what happens after death. Around 2,000 years ago, some guys cobbled together a book of recycled pagan stories and pinned it to a Jewish cosmology of Good and Evil, resulting in the Christian Bible.
Good people go to Heaven, Bad people go to Hell.
To keep the story fresh and relevant, it needed to be constantly updated. Hell needed to consist of whatever disgusted and frightened people the most. Heaven needed to promise the needs and wants that weren’t fulfilled in this lifetime.
For much of the history of Western Civilization, Hell has been a place of torment and punishment.
Heaven needs Hell; Christians need Hell because if the alternative to heaven was simple unexistence, many people might choose it rather than grovel and live unfulfilled lives of restrained desire
The Neo-Christian fable that Hell is “merely the anguish of eternal separation from God” is a lie; because even that is too much. Giving a reward to urge people towards better things is GOOD. As … Read More »