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Ironic Contradictions

I'm a long time reader - since way back when I was seven. That makes it over three quarters of my life that I will be a reader for. But it is worth it. When I'm not reading or wasting my time online on here or Goodreads I'll be off playing video games, studying teaching and messing around with friends and pop culture. Or reading some more.

Thoughts and Questions

Confusing Contradiction here:

I've been thinking about an issue right. One that seems to be another contradiction of modern society.

In the past, socially, and even today, it's been considered somewhat acceptable for a man to marry a younger woman (or for her to be his partner). That's assuming that it's not like a 50 year age gap and that that woman is not a minor of course. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I've noticed it tends to be more acceptable for the man in a relationship to be older, but not the woman. Can someone help explain to me why this might be the case?

Let's talk about film for a moment.

Today I went and saw How to Train Your Dragon Two which was really quite good. I wanted to use one paragraph here to talk about different types of film styles and the second paragraph to talk about some new film news. Firstly then, let me say that I really, really enjoyed HTTYD2 as much as the first one. It did what all good sequel films should. But, for whatever reason, animated movies are often not considered to be 'proper films'. I mean, when was the last time you saw an animated film nominated for best picture or even win? It's because that animated films, like foreign films are not considered proper films necessarily. And yet, my favourite movie seen this year has been the animated The Lego Movie.

 

This kind of issue also applies to literature in how graphic novels are considered by some snobs to 'not be literature'. But when we categorise things like that, we're only cutting off some great options. Speaking of graphic novels brings me - conveniently - to my next point. I heard tonight that Jason Momoa has been cast as Aquaman for the Superman v. Batman film. Which adds up to a whole lot of extra Justice League characters who have been cast for the film. I find it interesting to think about, because basically DC are doing a reverse to Marvel - they're making films with several characters in them before making the stand-alone films. Marvel made stand-alones to introduce the characters to new audiences and excite us about the planned, shared-world Marvel Universe so I'm interested to see how DC's 'everyone hasn't been introduced but they are in this universe' thing works out.

Friendship

 

And finally, I wanted to ask whether anyone else is nostalgic like I am. It's odd to talk about being nostalgic as a twenty year old, going on twenty one, but I am. Yesterday I had my life group - some great male and female friends around a similar age to myself (or a little older) - over at my house for food and games (and yes I cooked). We normally during the middle of the week have a mix of Bible study and applied talking about life and things we can learn to help with the daily grind, but for then it was just friendship and fun. 

Being an extrovert, when I hang out with other people I get energised. I just feel like I belong, that wherever I am, I am home. You know those times? The times where everything just fits into place and it feels like everything is just full of connection and wholeness? Yeah, being with the people in my lifegroup is like that. It's platonic love is what I guess you can ultimately say. But anyway what I wanted to talk about is the fact that when I hang out with all the friends and people I am close to, it just reminds me of the friends who have distanced themselves from me physically (moving states or countries) or more emotionally/spiritually and it causes me to nostalgically reflect on all the times that have been.

But you know what? I don't want to live in the past. Because there are some glorious times coming and I want to experience them too - to experience all that life has (bad times also).

Question: What do you respect the most?

I just wanted to say, if there's one thing I will always respect, it's a respectful person. 

No, I'm serious. I absolutely respect people who are willing to listen to you, to talk to you and not yell in your ear about their own point of view. I'm extroverted, so I surround myself with people a lot of the time when I can, but those who are my closest friends (my life group, my good mates) are people who respect me and who I respect. Mutual respect (trust) is something that takes time to earn, but it shouldn't take any time to be respectful still. 

So I wanted to ask: what do you respect in other people the most?

Also, I just wanted to say that I'm kind of buzzing with energy - I was making Choc Ripple Cake and I may have eaten far too much sugary whipped cream. Oh, and I got my new car :D!!!

The Contradiction of Equality

A friend of mine recently posted the following link: http://www.mrconservative.com/2014/06/43128-churches-now-legally-obligated-to-perform-gay-wedding-ceremonies/

Which got me thinking. 

I've come to the conclusion that given that we live in a secular world now, that people should be free to do as they like (within reason) in this secular world. Legislation Gay Marriage secularly is one of these things. However, having read this article I find it disturbing that secular society is enforcing its law upon the Church.

I'm not going to discuss gay marriage again. It's a controversial topic and discussing it tends to cause more harm than good. What I do have an issue with in this case is the law forcing a church to do something that, more than anything, is contrary to the beliefs of that church. Why is the law not doing the same thing to other religions?

It's the same issue I see all the time: the contradiction of the world. The concept that is trying to be brokered is equality and yet there is a distinct inequality when you are forcing one group to do one thing and yet not others. I may be ignorant, and there may be other groups who are required to - but this article does not mention them and I have heard of no such cases in other locations.

It's the same issue I have with the laws for Torres Straight Islanders and Aboriginal Australians. I appreciate the attempts being made to help these groups out - to repay some of the centuries of damage done by 'white settlers' (of which sadly my ancestors are included). Yet to provide groups of people with special rules and not others? That to me is wrong. It's bias - only reversed and with the understanding that 'we're really helping these people'.

Yes, there are many times where wrong has been done to minority groups and to other groups of individuals. But I actually no longer see the concept of providing 'special laws' to help these groups as correct and proper. The Holocaust and Nazi Germany is often used in relation to such things - now did you ever see specific laws be created to help out the Jewish people? I haven't really - but then again I could be missing something because the one thing I'm realising the more I learn is how much I have to learn.

When specific rules are created to help one group of people out and not the other - I see it as creating a specific schism of inequality, even when those laws are for equality's sake. And as I've argued before, I believe equality is a flawed notion - that we need to fight less for equality and fight instead to recognise the strengths that each person (and groups of people have). Labels and laws don't help these causes in my views.

Let me finish by saying this - secularism was intended to help protect religious freedom. In many ways it's being used to prevent specific religious freedoms (though this also depends on observation and point of view). Whatever you believe about the issues raised in relation to the law and Churches (euthanasia, abortion, LGBT rights etc.) there is one thing I'm merely trying to state here. Governments and individuals say that we should keep the Church out of government decisions (lobbying, policies and so on) - but why is the government then allowed to make decisions which affect the Church without allowing them a say in the matter? It seems very opposite to the type of democracy that we all should be striving for.

I'm not trying to merely defend the Church. As a Christian I've seen Churches do plenty of terrible things - like this: http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/29127/20100617/church-wants-taylor-henderson-to-renounce-tv-stardom.htm
But that doesn't mean that faith and belief aren't important - because radicalisation is something that can also be a danger. What I am saying is that if you want both Church and State to be separate then they need to be separate. In other words - the Church should have its own laws and the Government should have theirs (and never the twain shall meet and so on). Pardon my sarcasm though (I tend to use irony and be cynical more than I should - though I'm a positive cynic).

 

Obviously that type of separation doesn't work out. So all I'm saying or trying to say is that if you want true equality, then stop imposing laws on one group but not others. And when the Church wants to have its say on particular issues, then don't deny them the opportunity to do so as a Government or society. All people should be allowed their say and nothing - gender, religion, ethnicity, values or so on - should be a deterrent for hearing that voice. Unfortunately though, this is not always the case...

What do you think?

I can't help but be extremely cynical in today's world. It seems that whenever someone is accused of murder, rape or something 'similarly evil', that they are assumed guilty until proven innocent. And I've heard far too many cases of injustice mixed with injustice because of such assumptions. 

This all said, I wanted to ask a question for people to answer in the comments below. If you hear that some author is accused (and the evidence stacks up more or less) of such crimes, does this taint your view of their work? I know for some people it does. My view however is this: a) people are screwed up, b)just because an author is screwed up, doesn't mean that their work is any less artistic (look into history about how many works of art were created by psychopaths, sociopaths and genocidal maniacs). Therefore, for me I can seperate a work of art from the artist (though I still keep in mind the actions of the artist to understand some elements).

My personal view is this: people only let themselves down when they put other people on a pedestal. There is no one who is perfect enough to avoid doing something which is the beginning of the path to 'evil'. So um, what do you think?

The Lies of Label


I happened to share today a link that indicated I wished to watch The Fault in Our Stars in the coming week. For those who do not know my personal habits - I've made it a tendency of mine to watch new release films on a weekly basis as they are released for watching or dvd purchase. I was busy watching Edge of Tomorrow (a superior film adaptation in my view to many that I have seen recently) this past week, and playing Mario Kart 8, hence the reason I have not seen this film yet. 

 

Anyway, one of my mates basically jumped into the conversation with some friendly joking advice about staying away from 'teenage girl films.' All of which caused me to start thinking about branding, literature and stories. 

I'm assured enough of my own masculinity to not feel threatened by the idea of something being 'too girly' to watch. As all men should be - and I also feel that women should likewise be able to be confident enough in their femininity to not view anything as too 'blokey' for them. I know men who enjoy what have traditionally been called feminine pursuits - knitting, cooking or embroidery for instance - and yet they are some of the most masculine men I know. The reverse goes for the incredible women that I know. The important thing is that these individuals around me are self assured in who they are. 

 

I've read widely enough to know that I do not know anywhere near to one percent of anything that I could know. Yet there are two things that I do personally believe. The first is that I could never truly call myself a feminist. This ties into the second, which is that I believe equality is a myth. 

 

The reason I could never label myself as feminist is not because I disagree with the aims of feminism today. On the contrary, I agree with the aims - striving toward equality in areas that demand and need equality. Yet I disagree with the stigma of the label of feminism and believe that to label myself with such a label would be to attach the stigma to myself. Such stigma often falsely existing and holding connotations such as metaphorically castrated men under the rule of tyrannical women.

 

It is, therefore, in this case, the label that I disagree with more than anything. I believe that labels do not create the kind of equality that feminism strives towards, but that labels create banners for segmented separation. 

 

I mentioned however that I disagree with the idea of 'equality', yet at the same time I say that I agree with the equality that feminism strives for. I disagree with equality as it is used as a blanket label. The way of nature is not equality so much as it is balance. Men and women are - taken as a whole group and talking strictly biologically - not physically equal. Men, due to testosterone and other sex-based hormones become physically bigger in bulk and have a higher tendency towards aggression and risk. Women become capable of bearing children and develop bodies naturally for this. And of course there are exceptions - all professional female athletes would be stronger and physically more capable than I am. It's a fact of their training. But within the same disciplines, very few women would ever be taller or stronger than the men - it's a matter of biological inequality. Even gender aside, I will never be equal physically to Lebron James for instance. But I may prove that I can think on a level that he can never equally think. As I say, the way of the world is not 'equality' but balance.

 

It is this balance that gives me a reason to support the equality feminism supposes. Because while I may not believe in 'equality' as a utopian ideal, I do believe that there needs to be a level of human equality. Equal pay, equal work opportunity, equal representation, equal consideration and so forth. It is an issue of balancing out the scales which for so long have been dominated by a dedicated patriarchy.

 

I digress, however. I was discussing the concept of how the idea of a 'teenage girl film' led me to think on branding - or labelling. It is a part of our nature, or society, to brand and to label. To categorise and sell something to someone else. How often have you seen a book or film being compared to something else which is familiar? How many times do sci-fi films draw upon recognised ideas to show something which is foreign? It is who we are.

 

But what I wanted to express - for myself and for anyone reading this - is that branding, labelling, should be questioned and challenged. Are their concepts or stigmas attached to labels which are unhealthy? Do these labels lie, telling us that video games are 'men only' or that romance is the domain of women? Because I can stand here - well actually I'm sitting, but that's beside the point - and state that I have enjoyed many romances and actually find the gorier video games - the 'male targeted' games - disgusting. 

Labels are essentially lies - though, warning they may contain traces of truth. The essential lie is that those who market such labels, who peddle and deal in them, will tell you that it is the other way around: that labels are truth and may contain traces of lies. It is a contradiction, one of the many that I strive to point out to myself and to others. Because the point is that we should not fall back on labels, but should instead fall back on the reassurance of who we are.

Who am I? A man, affirmed by his faith, his God and the people around him and who doesn't need to worry about labels. The funny part of all this is that I still so often do. 

Given that my final essay's topic is 'one person's hell is another's heaven' I'm tempted to write about how this essay is my hell, but a tutor's heaven to make us write...but no I don't think so.
One more till winter holidays...

Entitlement and Media Spin

Well, I'm back from my placements and the internet seems to be working for me properly at least. And for those who did not know, I was off doing my placement. Which involved the very taxing work of creating lessons for my classes for History and English and then teaching those classes, as well as handling a variety of other situations that take place in any classroom. All of which is meant to point out that I've been very busy. Almost too busy to read properly...*sigh*

One of the things that I was doing, however, while teaching. Was explaining to students about the 'power of the media'. So what I wish to talk about now is this article I stumbled upon yesterday: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/05/22/how-australias-winking-tony-abbott-became-one-of-the-worlds-most-unpopular-prime-ministers/?tid=pm_pop

The first thing that struck me about the article is how subjective and superficial it was. It's 'news' that is not really news. A story that promises to deliver the details of how a situation unfolded and only really tells you what's happening at the moment. The second thing that struck me was how the author became sucked into the 'noise' surrounding the issue rather than the actual details themselves. I'll forgive him, as the author is an outsider to this affair and it is so much easier to see the noise. 

What really did the article in for me was when he began to focus on the 'Twitter' and 'Facebook' trends linked into voicing displeasure about our Australian Prime Minister. The issue here is that most of this voiced displeasure is from the vocal minorities or from those who wish to argue and argue loudly. If you talk to the majority of people on the street there are a few who are disgruntled, but most of them voted in this government also.

What those who are being vocal, childishly so in my eyes, don't seem to realise is that democracy is not run by the most vocal. It is run by the mob, by the everyman. Those who hold the most power in influencing politics are the everyday people. And the everyday people are those who see the squabbles on social media and who see one-sided superficial news reporting and want to shy away from it. 

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that those who are being vocally upset don't have their points. The thing is that there is no alternative to the current government. The opposition is, at the moment, in disarray and spineless, offering no leadership alternatives. Yes, the budget is harsh in various ways, and some of the things it does are kind of pointless (there's some situations that almost take money from health to give to medical research for instance) but it seems kind of obvious that it is a budget that the government believe is necessary. Otherwise, why shoot themselves in the foot?

The issue is that the majority of news and media coverage surrounding the government's actions are nothing but negative. For whatever reason, people have decided to dislike the Prime Minister (in the media at least - which is not a true snapshot of the public) as a person. Not as a leader, but as a person. Part of which I believe is linked to a media smear campaign that was run two years ago... It would be much better if people were to, instead of attacking our elected leader, see what there is to actively criticise about the government's decisions - and not just because 'I don't like how Tony Abbott looks' (which is childish). 

The big problem is that the media has major influence in people's lives. And very few people stop and reflect on the image portrayed by the media. How are they covering statistics? What are they feeding me about certain issues? Is that a correct interpretation? What is the language used in these articles? Etc. Etc.

What we need in Australia, and around the world, is less squabbling. We need discussion, not argument. And too much of what is happening in Australia is argument. As I tried to say to friends, what the immediate outcry about the budget told me is that in Australia we live in an age of entitlement. Around about 7 million Australians receive some kind of government payment out of 22 million. For the government to strip a lot of those payments away...well of course there was going to be outcry. Although the majority of people crying out about it were the privileged. Given that very few nations in the world have had the government incentives that Australia has had, I found it interesting to see the reactions that people had to them being taken away. It showed me that at the heart, people look inward and rarely look outward on a more global level. That is why we need discussion - to move towards being inwardly self-obsessed and to be able to understand a bigger picture...

So...

Things have been pretty hectic for the past two weeks. All university assignments and school placements and working out insurance details for my parent's car (which may be a write-off thanks to someone hitting me). But everything is exciting, if busy, and Thursday I'll be teaching my first English lesson - been busy teaching History to this point and learning a lot.

So I, therefore, apologise for rushing through this little explanation. I also apologise for not writing any deep blogging thoughts or reviews recently. I normally have some sort of reflection on the world for you if not a review. But I promise that reviews and reflections on pop-culture/teaching/etc. are right around the corner!

God is Dead?

Currently I am in the process of having to write on various Nietzschean ideas, one of which is potentially the concept of 'God is dead' as I understand it from Nietzsche's perspective. Now, Nietzsche basically uses this concept academically and from an atheistic perspective, claiming that God is purely an invention of man and that humanity has ceased to believe in God. He further believes that we all live our lives now through a series of reactions to this point. Either we are in mourning, we refuse to accept this or we accept that God is dead and live our lives morally as we wish.

Naturally I disagree with Nietzsche but I understand how, academically he can reach such a viewpoint. As someone else once said along the lines 'Nietzsche may not believe in God but I wonder if God believes in Nietzsche'. This is not a verbatim quote but it covers the concept as I heard it and explains a touch of Nietzsche's pride, ambition and lack of humility. 

Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about was this comment from someone on this idea. They stated that God was extremely dead with the overwhelming amount of good and bad in this world evidence for that. Which, as a claim, made my head real for a second or two. The reason for this is that, theologically, such a claim makes little sense to me. Oh, I understand the rationale behind such a claim, it's just that to my mind God - at least within Christianity - explains the existence of good and evil, good and evil does not defy the existence of God.

This is the biggest issue I have with Nietzsche from all my reading to this point. He consistently links religion to morality. Now, religions across the board are exceptionally focused on morality - even the more extreme of them. Yet, the issue is that he believes all religions are focused on making you become a 'good' person in order to gain some kind of spiritual or eternal reward. Not to mention that 'good' is an arbitrary and subjective concept, Christianity for instance is not about making people 'good' but eternally perfect. Which is another topic aside from this one.

Anyway, theologically Christianity states that it was man's own choices - defying God's instructions (original sin) - that lead to the existence of good and evil. So the point I am making is that yes, to me to hear that good and evil are somehow evidence for a non-existence of a God is flawed in its logic. Of course I understand the logic used to reach that point of conjecture, it merely does not flow well with me.

So is God dead? Well, it depends on what you choose to believe. I believe that he was, but that he also rose again. Others choose to believe as Nietzsche did, that he is a concept that no longer has any relevance and is 'dead'. Many things matter according to the perspective. Only that whether God is dead or not has no relevance if the ultimate truth is that he is and always will be...

I hope everyone has had a great Easter time, no matter what you have been up to!

I Have No Choice


It is the ultimate claim of surrender: I have no choice. However I want to take a look at this claim for a moment and explain that I believe such a notion is incredibly false. Yet first I would like to take a look at another statement made to me earlier in the week.

This statement was the following 'Never accept excuses. Excuses are for the weak.' It was directed at me after I tried to explain why certain tasks had not been fully completed, rather than as a pure excuse. Yet, I realised that I disagreed with this statement from the get-go. Why? That was the question I tossed over in my mind until I realised that I had an issue with the word 'never' (not to mention that the individual making the statement has used excuses in the past themselves). 

Never, in this context is a word I disagree with. It is a closed word, a word that does not allow any contradiction or any small amount of leeway. It is, in other words, a concept not linked to mercy but to justice and that is why I dislike the term. My personality aligns far greater with mercy than justice for a beginning, yet I also feel that in a modern world you cannot be so closed as to say that there are no exceptions. In general I agree that constant excuses and an attitude of excusing everything is a weak mentality. However, to state that excuses are always a problem, is a problem to me.

This ties into the idea of 'I'm sorry I have no choice.' I want to debate this concept because again it is a closed concept. There is no room for exception and to me it denies a basic principle of reality: 'you always have a choice.' Some people may disagree with me. 'What about biology' they may ask, 'you cannot choose your genetic code.' And that is absolutely correct. However, you can make choices connected to your genes. If you were born with a disease then you'd make choices in relation to that disease (diet, exercise routine, doctors to visit etc.). If you were born with a particular ability or talent then you would make choices in regards to that talent (do you exercise it or ignore it?).

So forgive me, but when someone states that they 'have no choice' I view it as a cop-out. You always have a choice, merely that the other choices in such a circumstance do not or would not appeal to you as much. I suppose that what I am stating is that it is important to recognise when such statements as 'never' or 'no' are false and to take the onus upon yourself. Because too often in society we like to pass the blame onto others - which coincidentally does tie into the concept of excuses. Therefore I can conclude that it is an error to both state something as a finality or to pass the blame onto others, we must attempt to find greater shares in middle ground.

You Are Uniquely The Same As I

On the weekend two interesting and amazing things happened for me. The first is that I went to watch The Lego Movie with an old friend (and my three siblings). This was an amazing movie to watch, I personally loved it even more than the equally great Captain America: The Winter Soldier which I saw earlier in the week. But tying into this the second amazing thing is that I heard a wonderful message at church from my pastor which brought so many things into a great an incredible perspective.

I won't entirely spoil The Lego Movie, but if you haven't watched it and consider learning about the premise a spoiler then don't read on from here.

What made it an amazing film was the very fact that it started off like any other fantasy or sci-fi film. It had a promise of being fun and humorous at least, but with a story about another 'chosen one' (or 'special' in this case) seemed old hat. But by the end of the film you start to realise that the film is actually subverting these tropes. The entire theme of the film therefore challenging the idea of social conformity and providing an uplifting look into the concept of 'uniqueness'. You see, where books that I have been reading in recent history, such as Life of Pi, try to talk about everyone being the same in a way that removes or ignores differences, The Lego Movie provided a plot which accepted these differences and then went on to talk about how these differences are what make us the same. We are the same because we are all unique. It's a paradox that is so rarely acknowledged in books or on film in the politically correct world of 'we're not different'.

So, this leads into what happened on Sunday. The message on Sunday happened to revolve around the concept again of being unique. And I don't know about you but when I read something and then hear or read or watch something within a short timeframe with similar themes or content, something clicks for me. So by this point an idea had started to form about the concept of being unique.

You see one thing that has irked me when I hear it is the modern notion that men and women are not that different at all. Looking across history I think you can see that men and women are in fact both similar and different. Yet to come out and claim such things or even to challenge the 'nice' idea of 'everyone is the same deep down' is not viewed as politically correct. And so people tread around such areas. But for me I'd like to say that we are in such cases as between men and women again the same and different. The issue is that again through history the differences between men and women as generally observed have been used to ill-purpose (i.e. the notions that there are strictly 'male jobs' and 'female jobs' and so on). When differences are used to purely separate and create a wedge: that is when you have a problem. But I challenge that you also have an issue when the similarities are used to mingle personalities and groups to the point where uniqueness and difference is not able to be recognised.

I want to bring up a link to an article I read yesterday, discussing a particular issue as brought up by one of my favourite bands: Switchfoot. Switchfoot started out as a 'Christian' band and wrote many 'Christian' songs but have gradually moved away from that label. More judgemental individuals have frowned and even attacked the band for such a move. Yet the lead singer Jon Foreman explains why in the following post:

http://faithlikes.com/2014/04/05/this-is-why-switchfoot-wont-sing-christian-songs-anymore/


It is something I have noticed in any circle or group that exists. Christianity and the particular Christian circles I have orbited within or around are perhaps easier for me to discuss in this way. I have as a result noted a problem with modern Christian art, films or literature as a whole to this effect 'it tends to be too Christiany'. Or in other words it seems to need to prove that it is made by Christians by constantly addressing the tenants of the faith. Now this is all well and good until one point: where you end up constructing a box. And it is this box that I have been talking about all along.

You see, putting limitations on your creativity by being predictable is part of how you continue to live within a box. In many ways The Lego Movie was also about that box - that area where constriction of creativity, imagination and life exists.  Pushing the idea that 'all religions can be the same' is following that box, because at their core while some may have similar goals they have different methods and means of achieving goals and life shows us that the method or journey is just as important as the goal. Pushing the differences between men and women to the point where you say 'I'm a man I don't need to cook in the kitchen' is not only sexist but it plays along to that box. The point that I am making is that while freedom does exist with its own limitations and while creativity also must have limitations that the true key to existence is equilibrium - balance.

 

You are uniquely the same as I am. It's a rough paradox of my own wording but it means approximately what I intend to in summing up my thoughts - which have spilled free in a life of their own. To be 'special' or to be 'chosen' is not to be 'the best at everything' - no one is. It's not even to be 'the best in one particular area'. But it is to be the best individual version of you that you can be, and in the hustle and bustle of life we can so easily forget that. Thankfully we have such artistic creations as books, music and film - particularly in this case The Lego Movie. By the way it's a 5/5 from me as a film - fully recommended.

 

 

All Flash And Little Bang

Life of Pi - Yann Martel


Life of Pi is one of those works of fiction that everyone raves over. Those who have read the book and loved it proclaim 'oh, it's such a wonderful spiritual story.' And those who loved the film proclaim it as one of the best visual spectacles of cinema in the last couple of years. For myself, from the book alone, all I can state is that I found it a beautifully written book, but only on the surface.

 

It's the story of Piscine Patel, an Indian boy who is a Hindu, Christian and Muslim all at once (more on that later). After telling the reader about himself 'Pi' ends up the victim of a ship sinking in which he travels the ocean with a tiger. At the end of the novel, there is an interview about this experience with two journalists who state that living in a lifeboat with a tiger is 'impossible'. So Pi tells them another story in which the events match up, but feature different characters. The conclusion by Pi is that these two different stories are like two different religions, another play on the whole concept of truth being entirely subjective in this new existentialist world.

 

To tackle the themes of this novel I must say that I found the concept of Pi belonging to multiple religions an ignorant one. Or rather that the logic behind it focused around several poor metaphors and analogies (disappointing to myself because I tend to think linguistically in metaphors and analogies). The concept was that 'God lives in Heaven. Heaven is like a country in the sky. Different countries accept different passports. Surely God will accept the different passports of religions.' Unfortunately the fact is that countries are not required to accept passports however and so through Pi's eyes the fact that God himself may only accept a specific type of passport (a particular perfect sacrifice) is ignored.

 

To me, Life of Pi was symbolic of modernist thinking and the type of thought that ties into existentialism or New Age mythology. The problem is that in trying to be too inclusive and accepting they completely reject the concept that perhaps truth could actually exist in a universal form and that underneath that universal truth we can only see shadows of truth or truths which are really lies. It's the issue I have with Nietzsche in that such veins of thought 'throw the baby out with the bathwater' in their complete rejection or acceptance. There is no turning towards nuance, no open-minded thought, merely adherence to simplistic complete accept or reject mentalities.

 

That is not to say that Life of Pi is a poor novel. I found it beautifully written, though at times Yann Martel appeared to tell the reader too much and provide too many conclusions - to some readers this becomes pedantically condescending in its own right. On the whole however, all the writing aside, I found this book to be...naive. To bring everything to one solid conclusion I felt this book contained more of a veneer of beauty, and created less of any lasting philosophical impression.

Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover - And The Nature Of Evil


My title for this particular blog post may suggest I am covering two separate ideas. I am not. So hang in there with me as I explain my particular reasoning and what the title actually means to me.

These thoughts came to me after hearing plenty of criticism from irreligious individuals regarding the film Noah. As I discussed elsewhere, it is not a particularly close translation of the story by any means, though it is a spectacle. The criticism I wish to discuss however, came from certain friends who chose to criticise the film well before it had even come out. One could suggest their comments verged on mocking.

The suggestion of such criticism was focused around one particular judgement. No matter how fictionalised/embellished a story was, if it was centred around a 'religious' narrative' it could not possibly make a decent film. To me, however, such judgements are of course disappointing, in that they show a closed mind to the possibility or potential of the movie having a strong story. It seems modern audiences have forgotten that most of the grand classic art of the Renaissance for instance was Catholic or Christian inspired. Or that a great many other works of art stem from other religions (and I use this term colloquially, not as in a previous post 'We Are All Religious').

What is even more bizarre is that one of my friends saw the film and thoroughly enjoyed it. Yet his comments on Facebook were greeted by 'surely this is a joke?' So I ask: why is it that one of the great contradictions of society be that we are so ready to 'judge books based on their covers'. Or in other words, why do we speak about learning to be 'accepting' or 'tolerant' and yet rush so quickly into judging any other aspect of someone's life or art that we do not like. Are we at the core merely judgemental?

My theory or argument, is that we as humans simply like having labels in order to bring a system of equilibrium to our world. I've been learning in my Education course about theories of how misconceptions exist because of particular schema that individuals create within their own minds and how disequilibrium occurs when a teacher (or other individual) tries to correct those misconceptions (also know as alternative conceptions).

 

The short version of this theoretical discourse is: I believe people like to balance out their world by having clear-cut labels. I think this is what is suggested by the above examples of how people categorically put Noah into a 'religious film' category and hence had something to laugh about or mock.

How this connects to the nature of evil is through the concept of categorisation. Last week in a tutorial we were asked to discuss what we believed 'evil' was. My small group of three worked out that we believed that evil was in its way subjective and something used as a category to distinguish types of people and their actions. That said I do believe in the existence of 'ultimate evil' I just believe that the way it is used in modern life is wrong. For instance I've heard people say 'that book is evil' or 'guns are evil'. No, I think that is wrong. I don't believe objects hold innate evil whatsoever. But do I believe or perceive that they can be used for evil? Yes I do.

I feel that the problem is that 'evil' has been used as a term to categorise particular actions of people or set groups of people. However, to me the concept of 'evil' is connected not to actions as much as being an innate part of people. I believe personally that Christianity goes beyond good and evil in what it discusses, but I also believe that good and evil are both intertwined in mankind. 

The point of my reflections is to think about how to stop merely judging and take time to consider, where possible, how labels rule your view of the world. I think I would rather learn how to understand the innate contradictions and complexities of life - flaws and all, knowledge of good and evil, together.

Noah: A Review

Just so people know I do follow back - so if you're following me and I'm not following you there's a flaw in me not recognising this... Please let me know so I can fix that!

But onto the real topic of discussion. The blockbuster of the end of March (which for Aussies is not The Lego Movie - not yet :/ anyway) which is Noah. Which, to watch, was a very bizarre experience for me. I wasn't naive enough to go into the movie expecting it to be like the Bible story but the way they broke from the story was a weird half mix of sticking to the story and trying to be artistic. Which worked in places but failed for me in others. It did make for a nice environmental comedy however. I haven't seen one of those since 2012

There will be spoilers below.

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