The Grand Delusion

In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance occurs when a person holds two or more contradictory beliefsideas, or values; or participates in an action that goes against one of these three, and experiences psychological stress because of that. According to this theory, when two actions or ideas are not psychologically consistent with each other, people do all in their power to change them until they become consistent.[1] The discomfort is triggered by the person’s belief clashing with new information perceived, wherein they try to find a way to resolve the contradiction to reduce their discomfort.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Imagine a circus – the spotlight is on the entertainment while all the real issues take place behind the scenes. The convention takeaways are never the back-room deals and the negotiations that take place off of the convention floor. The show never includes those details anymore than it includes beating the elephants and the other entertainers into submission. Cleaning up the trash that the audience leaves behind.

Third parties being entered into the mix allows for a full three-ring circus, but again, the things that are of important are those subjects that are in the ring farthest from the one that the barker tells you to pay attention to, and probably not even taking place in the ring at all.

The bigger problems remain unaddressed as the media continues to prattle on about issues that are not really issues. Brown suits and laziness. Age and sickness. Individual enforcement transgressions instead of the central codifying theme of policing (which is racist and racism to the core) I’m still boycotting the news, myself. Let me know when Trump implodes, please?  Wouldn’t want to miss that, and the political discussions will only be relevant after that point.

America spells competition
Join us in our blind ambition
Get yourself a brand new motor car
Someday soon we’ll stop to ponder
What on Earth’s this spell we’re under
We made the grade and still we wonder
Who the hell we are

STYX

Editor’s note. I wrote this on October 30th, 2016, with the exception of what is in italics in the text. It’s funny. I quit paying attention to the news in 2016 because it ceased to be news in 2016. Every now and then I come up to sample the air, but it still isn’t worth spending my time paying attention to closely. We still have a reality TV president with delusions of grandeur, and the media is catering to his Stormtrumping supporters who are equally deluded.

The media does this because they are deluded into thinking that Stormtrumpers represent a legitimate majority of the population. They know, intellectually, that only a third (at most) of the voting population supports Trump. But their experience tells them that the status quo has a tendency to be maintained. Ergo they weight the political field (erroneously) in favor of what they see as the status quo.

It isn’t. Joe Biden represents the status quo, and the majority of Americans know this. The Orange Hate-Monkey will never be the status quo because he simply doesn’t have the depth of knowledge to be able to heft a telling argument in support of his ill-defined Trumpist movement.

There is a reason that Trump’s hardest core of support comes from Evangelicals and White Supremacists (but then I repeat myself) They are the ones with the highest levels of cognitive dissonance. They are the ones that see the most disruption between what they believe and what they see in the world around them. If whites are superior then cops killing the darkest skinned people more often is the way the world is supposed to work. If the Bible (and what the average Evangelical believes about the Bible that they haven’t read) is true, then anyone who makes you feel wrong inside is an insult to god and should be driven out.

They are trying to make their wrong-headed beliefs real. It is our job to stop them. This is the one instance where not bargaining with my opponents is the only way to victory, because bargaining with my opponents means they have the right to hurt people that never hurt them. This circus has to end.

Featured image from Flickr – H. Michael KarshisWelcome To The Grand Delusion

Fantasy vs. Reality

I have been a consumer of fantasy media all my life.  I love a great who-dun-it, spend hours and days tearing through novels of all kinds.  I’ve always appreciated visual entertainment, movies and television.  Remember watching Star Trek in its first run, have followed Dr. Who for the better part of its entire run.

As the about me page for this blog points out, I derive great pleasure from posing as the devil’s advocate. In order to explore various angles of argumentative attack, it is important to be able to hold ideas temporarily, as a basis for testing these ideas.  Entertain notions that you really don’t support simply as a basis to test a hypothesis.

I believe in the value of fantasy, in other words. That there is a benefit to engaging in fantastical speculation that can lead to insights which are denied people who stick to reality at all times. That there is a redemptive value in escapism, an expansion of mind only possible to the imaginative.

The problem isn’t fantasy.  The problem is mistaking fantasy for reality.

You know the kind of people I’m talking about. What you probably don’t know is that you are one of the people I’m talking about. Even I’m one of those people, on occasion.  In the miasma of influences the average person is subjected to these days, it is hard to separate what is real from what is fiction. It takes a dedication to unbiased research, to reading stories that you disagree with just to see if you can find the facts that are buried in the story, to come to the point of determining what the reality of the situation is. Even then you can be mistaken.

You can be mistaken because of the sad fact that there are entire organizations, websites and social groups set up specifically to delude you into believing that the comfortable fiction is reality.

No, this is not a conspiracy theory, which would in actuality be a conspiracy fantasy.  Conspiracy sites are some of the worst offenders, right up there next to climate change denial, vaccine denial, anti-GMO propaganda, creationism and pro-life websites. All of these kinds of sites share some basic common themes; namely, the discrediting of accepted science and the proposal of an alternate narrative at odds with what the scientific method has revealed to us as we’ve learned to apply it.

Netflix Hates Firefly Fans

It’s kind of been done, with Serenity, but yeah as a series. Let me give you one broad statement about these recovery shows. In almost every case the cult around the show gets more intense and smaller as time goes by. Arrested Development was the rarest of birds in that the audience of the show grew larger than the original broadcast audience because people came to discover it years after it was cancelled. The Firefly fan is still the Firefly fan from when it was on TV and there’s fewer of them and they’re more passionate every year. Whereas with Arrested Development we’re going to be serving a multiple of the original audience. Any of the other shows we could bring back would be a fraction of the original audience.

Stuff.TV, Ted Sarandos talks

Seriously? Perhaps The Stand deserves chance to be seen but Jericho? That series went nowhere after the first season, and I never need to see that again. Arrested Development? More people talk about that show than ever saw it or would sit down to watch it again.

But the Firefly fan base continues to grow, and that isn’t rocket science. Joss Whedon may not actually walk on water, but with the success of The Avengers under his belt (as well as Buffy) it’s hard to say he was wrong in creating Firefly and I can’t think of a better property that could be revisited given the chance. The problem isn’t Firefly, it’s Netflix. Imagine just for a minute that there were more than thirteen episodes to watch in the first place? It’s kinda like imagining that you could watch Babylon 5 as J.M. Straczynski first outlined it. What kind of show would that be?

The leadership at Netflix clearly lacks the imagination to create Science Fiction content on that level.

Facebook status backdated to the blog. They still don’t do SF on Netflix. Superheroes? Yes. SF, no.

Tolkien’s War on Science

This time around, I could see where Feanor was coming from, and that he was roundly screwed on all sides by Morgoth and by the Valar. Even though I realized it before, and just didn’t want to face it years ago, it was obvious that JRRT really did not think well of scientists and technologists.

Science Blogs: Dr. Joan Bushwell, “The Tolkienian War on Science” (Wayback Machine link)

Strangely, I saw this attitude while reading Tolkien’s (JRRT) work, but I never made note of it or gave it much credit. Magic is the language of fantasy work, and magic is how all of the creations of Middle Earth are framed. Magic is the technology of fantasy writing. My disagreements concerning global warming, the bugaboo of the left, I will set aside since she gives the Bush administration a few well deserved jabs during the process of revealing her thoughts on the subject. Her insights do put the entire series of stories in a different light than the one that I read them in. Food for thought.

My advice to Feanor: next time, get yourself a phalanx of good patent attorneys. Morgoth will wither in fear at the prospect of litigation.

Joan Bushwell

 

Vertiginous Air

While struggling with a vertigo attack today, I was reminded of a quote from one of my favorite authors Stephen R. Donaldson, a portion of which titles this compilation of previous postings on the topic. When I visited his site today looking for the release date for the next book, I discovered that I’m going to be waiting a long time. 2007, is the best guess; and the quartet of books isn’t due to be finished until 2013. This could be a new test of patience on my part. And I thought waiting on Harry Potter books was hard…


Concerning “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever” which I finished re-reading for the 4th time recently.

I stumbled across several words that seemed, well, obscure at best, this time around. I was trying to explore the unexplored with this reading (in preparation for the next series of books) so I’ve been taking time to research a few of the more impenetrable words on the ‘net. I was pleased when I Google’d up this thread online. In fact, it was the only reference for the word “unhermeneuticable“, which was how I found it in the first place. Words like “Formication” (a feeling like insects crawling under your skin) can be found there as well.

(I have removed the direct links to the Kevin’s watch website, replacing them with links to the Wayback Machine archive. The site appears to be infected with malware as of 2018. -ed.)

her·me·neu·tics
Pronunciation: -tiks
Function: noun plural but singular or plural in construction
: the study of the methodological principles of interpretation (as of
the Bible) (from www.m-w.com)

Which, as “unhermeneuticable” would be something like “a non-methodological principle of interpretation”. Basically an “inexplicable conclusion”, most likely with religious overtones.
[The author himself has answered this question, here]


A few words on the proper reading of Donaldson, from an expert:

  • Unless you are reading the first Covenant trilogy, prepare your brain to be stretched to new proportions. SRD writes on a college level. He pulls no punches, and he doesn’t explain obscure concepts unless they are key to the novel’s progression. You are expected to keep up. The first Covenant Trilogy was written under extreme editorial pressure. They sliced out whole chapters, and re-edited much of the writing to make it appeal to less-educated and younger people. He himself has commented on this, and included one of the chapters that was removed in the short story collection Daughter of Regals. Every other set of books that he’s written has been longer and far more difficult to understand than the first Covenant trilogy.
  • Plot progression can be slow. Glacially slow in some books. That’s OK, because plot isn’t what you read Donaldson for. As an example, the first two books of the Gap series are merely an intro to the story that the Gap series tells. It doesn’t really get rolling until the third book and the introduction of the grafted Thermopyle (pronounced “Ther-MOP-i-lee, BTW) character.
  • Donaldson is obsessed with exploring the concept of redemption. Because of this, pretty much every character he creates suffers horribly through a good portion of the story. I’ve had several people tell me that they couldn’t get past the descriptions of leprosy in the first few chapters of “Lord Foul’s Bane”. But if you don’t understand the suffering of the character, you won’t appreciate the monumental task of redeeming that character. Exploring the world of leprosy brings you face to face with the impossibility of Covenant’s ever accepting himself in the role of hero. Reliving the crimes of the characters in the Gap series (explored in the first two books) gives you an idea of what those characters face when the true nature of the threat to humanity is revealed in the later novels.

That pretty much covers it. I finished the second book in Gap and went that’s it? The next one better get better and doggedly went on. I was rewarded with a pretty decent story from that point onward. It was a lot like reading Dune Messiah and Children of Dune. Doesn’t make any sense unless you read God Emperor of Dune. That’s where the payoff is.

Stone and Sea are deep in life, two unalterable symbols of the world. Permanence at rest and permanence in motion, participants in the Power that remains.

Giantish truism

Editor’s note. I have now read all of the Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series. You should take my word for it and skip those last four books. They were some of the most unpleasant reading I’ve ever had to endure. So unpleasant that I found audiobook copies of the text and listened to them rather than even try to read them myself.

It was this experience with reading that finally convinced me that I had a problem with the back and forth eye movement setting off my vertigo. The story was so glacial in pace, with descriptions of battle scenes that made no sense from a strategic position, with decisions made by the protagonists that kept me screaming at the book no, don’t do that, combined with my disability to make the chore of reading itself so miserable that I would never have gotten through the books without audio assistance.

Even so, the climactic ending ruined most of the other stories for me. There are some things that a writer should simply not reveal to the reader. The ending of the series was one of those things that should have been left unsaid. To have waited so long only to be disappointed with the work. It was truly heartbreaking.