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jameslaird
21 November 2008 @ 01:04 am
Free Speech
Nothing illegal or copyrighted; otherwise, go nuts

http://www.freespeechproject.com/
 
 
jameslaird
09 November 2008 @ 11:36 pm

Many of us in the modern world, are rightly so, skeptical of Christianity but how many of the problems that we see in Christianity are cosmetic and how many are fundamental? I offer that as a line of thought but leave it as rhetoic (I'm cheap). Liberal atheists often disagree with Christianity from a moralistic stance point, they point to the Inquisition as one of many things in Christianity's long history that is morally 'wrong' and infact contradictory witih Christian ideals. The finale of any argument against Christianity relies upon identifying them as evil right wing, racist, traditionalist, close-minded, blind fools. All ad hominem aside, I'd like to know more about the possible positive aspects of Christianity's philosophical fundamentals. An issue that was recently raised on a forum concerned the possibility of Transcendental Christian texts.

Suggested readings from the topic:

Meister Eckhart - "Teacher and Preacher"
William Blake - The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
Tolstoy - Anna Karenin
Rudolf Bultmann - New Testament and Theology (A thinking of Christianity along the lines of Heidegger without the rejection of theism. John Macquarrie (the translator of Being and Time) writes a passable introductory book on Bultmann and Heidegger called "An existentialist theology.")

Also, though I do not share his core disposition, Schopenhauer is a very underrated thinker. Huysmans' Durtal novels are an interesting account of a Schopenhauerian conversion to Christianity.

The Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas is essential to an understanding of Christianity, although not really "esoteric". However, it is foundational, and paradoxically in many ways the apex, of Christian thought.
http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/aquinas/summa/index.htm


A dialogue concerning the nature of Transcendental Christianity:

"Why are you interested in 'esoteric Christianity'?"
     I am because transcendental idealism is the right philosophy, and I'd like to unite transcendental idealists so we can take over society and get it back on track.

Is the idealism of esoteric Christianity so different from the idealism of the "mainstream" variety?         
  The "mainstream" variety doesn't have an esoteric core anymore

what is the essence of this "core," this kernel, that it is worth considering in the first place?

   This "core" concerns itself primarily with the possibility of absolute divinity that transcends all dualism and all relativity (God). More specifically, it concerns itself with the pursuit of becoming aware of, understanding, and becoming an embodiment of this force (and in that order). Doing so gives one possession of absolute truth, and freedom from delusion,  the value of which is self-evident.
 
One can see an example of how the outward form of this goal was retained, but without the spirit, in the modern Christian vernacular of our time. "I want to be a servant of the Lord" is not the same as "I want to become an embodiment of Divinity".
 
 
jameslaird
09 November 2008 @ 11:22 pm

http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/ci/mmp/mmp.html

Welcome to Heavy Fundametalism: Music, metal and Politics project homepage. The project seeks to explore the growing critical interest in the music and culture of heavy metal. The project aims to examine, critique and bang heads on what this long standing movement is about, where it is going and what it has to offer, politically socially and philosophically. Characterised by extremes, it is a music movement that has a range of lifestyles attached to it, comprising of quite disparate and radically different views amongst both fans and its progenitors.

core themes
The project will critically engage with a number of core themes relating to heavy metal and

  • Politics and the Political. The apolitical; Nationalism; Fascism
  • Imagery and Iconography; Aesthetics
  • Art: Performance; Design; stage; album
  • Misogyny, Homo sociality; gender issues; masculinities
  • Subculture; Underground; Popular Culture
  • Religion/anti religion/ evil/ satanism
  • Philosophical themes: Existentialism; Nihilism; Hedonism; Ethics
  • Literature- horror, gothic
  • Fashion
[Probably the first of its kind which is something to praise but one can't help but be skeptical about any conference that deals with 'extremities' of society. Pessism dictates that this conference will fall into the heap of projects that propel the status quo. If I think optimistically then this conference might have had some useful discussion and will help to promote metal as a serious art form (unfortunately, its project image into society is far from that).]
 
 
jameslaird
Found these websites a while ago and figured it is worth sharing them.


http://www.sfwriter.com/
This is a website of a published author whom provides many tips for budding authors. The advice covers writing, editing and publishing. It comes from a sci-fi perspective, useful for me but it should also be helpful to all writers.


http://limyaael.livejournal.com/
A critically minded fan of fantasy writing, many of the rants are well thought out and sound educated. Always a good thing. I far from reading everything she has written but I agree with many of her complaints about mundane fantasy. The advice is mostly sound.

While I disagree with feminism in principle, her pro-feminist rants at least seem to be from a pragmatic viewpoint (rather than a heavily idealistic one). Hence, the rant sounds thoughtful as opposed to whiny. The writer has since moved to a new journal, the link is on that site.
 
 
jameslaird
27 August 2008 @ 02:13 am

So in a previous post I mentioned that I was planning to write a novella sized book full of ultra-short stories set in a Sci-Fi universe that I've created for a longer work (a novel). Below I post one of the stories in an unedited/raw form. The idea of these stories is to make you think, some will be very straight forward and provide only a mild challenge while others (i hope) will make you sit and think for a while longer. The benefit of working in a sci-fi context is that I have the liberty to bend current rules/norms and exaggerate certain points. Enjoy!




"Sir, the patient in ward 2 is dying. We need to change his medication." A young yellow skinned doctor spoke towards his department leader.
 "The orphan from sector 6? The pink-red coloured boy?" the senior replied.
 "That's the one, we can't continue to feed him the regular medicine we've been giving him. Research has shown that that Red citizens don't respond well to Yellow medicine. The genetic difference is too great!"
  "Doctor, you're job is to make sure he gets better. I don't want to hear stories about genetics. We're all practically the same anyway... what is the relation? 95% the same?"  The political-savant consultant is a wealthy Green from sector 2, he didn't care if one person died here or there as long as the majority were safe.
 "Despite the governments policy on ethnic-genetic equality, we need to over ride that to save lifes. Some special medicines for Yellow people won't work on Greens, Blues, Reds and so on."
 "Policy is policy, I can't change the rules for you doctor."
 "So you condemn this orphan to death?"
 "No doctor, if you do your job then you should be able to save him."
Was his senior telling him to disobey government policy? Or was he just being thick and stubborn? If I disobey government policy then I might lose my job but if I chose to obey it then this boy will surely die.


"I see the boy's condition has improved since last week doctor, I must commend you on a job well done."
 "Thank you, sir"
 "What did you do?"
 "I followed my procedures." 

 
 
 
jameslaird
27 August 2008 @ 02:03 am
Electric motors provide a much higher torque than conventional petrol (gasoline) motors. There are fewer moveable parts too. More fuel efficient and cheaper to run would also be a selling, all of that without mentioning the 'green' effects but I want to avoid jumping on to that popular bandwagon. Facts should sell a product, not clever  marketing or gimmicks.

One example of a UK company for electric cars:
http://www.avt.uk.com/


A quick Google search shows that there are many more sites, they sell conversion kits/fully finished cars and in some cases they might do the conversion for you. I'm intrigued.
 
 
jameslaird
27 August 2008 @ 01:34 am
http://www.corrupt.org/articles/culture/alex_birch/10_movies_criticizing_modern_society#comment-1273

Movies are for the most part modern entertainment without any long-term, meaningful value. They brainwash and control us subtly by integrating commercials, ads and political messages with shallow plots that, thanks to their moral simplicity, anyone can understand and relate to. But not all movies are junk. Here's a list of 10 movies that all criticize modern society, uphold traditional values and carry some artistic merits.

A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Apocalypse Now (Redux) (1979)
Blade Runner (1982)
Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Conan The Barbarian (1982)
High Plains Drifter (1973)
Repo Man (1984)
Taxi Driver (1976)
The Seventh Seal (1957)
The Wicker Man (1973)



A good list imo. A few others worth viewing:
A Scanner Darkly -- More political but less profound than Bladerunner. A metaphorical and at times literal portrayal of modern society.
Ghost in the Shell -- pre-Matrix, post Neuromancer cyberpunk based anime with some elements of existentialism.
Fight Club - mild nihilism makes it more profound than most. Enjoyable plot.
Syriana - it seems like an accurate portrayal of the US and their relations with Middle Eastern Countries.

Avoid: 
Children of Men - Terrible film with populist ideals. Another slice of liberalism/ egalitarianism. Worst film I've ever seen.
Pan's Labrynth - Terrible film with populist ideals. Another slice of liberalism/ egalitarianism. Same as above except the plot is slightly more interesting and not all the characters are worthy of hate.
 
 
jameslaird
26 August 2008 @ 03:03 am

Originally planned one huge post but opted for two smaller ones, they are logically distinct enough. :-) So I've already stated (below) that I prefer science fiction and fantasy, therefore it is without surprise that I will mention that my own works fall into that genre.

I have 2 main works, or 2 main universes that I'm working on. The first work is a fantasy story, this is the story that I started first. The original ideas were penned when I was teen but did not develop into something more considerable until I reached about 20. Still this work is unfinished and may take considerable longer until it is finished. While the plot is almost complete, the story is missing the flesh on the bones. I like the plot and the characters but is still far too under developed for me to consider this a completely worthwhile story. It should be easy to read with few challenging thoughts. ETA: too far to tell.

The sci-fi universe I created was also thought up around the same time as the fantasy work but spent even longer as an idea in the drawer. The plotlines are darker and the setting is bleaker than the fantasy work. What will happen to Earth if we continue on our current course? I extrapolate what might happen in this series of stories. I hope the ideas are clear but the concepts will be challenging hence it won't be as easy to read an absorb. I place my characters in a universe that is not this one, my preference is to avoid obvious contradictions with the real world hence I can take more liberties when I need to.
 
The main novel in my sci-fi universe is almost half written, so the ETA is probably another couple of years given my current pace although I'd like to speed up. Hopefully before its release I will write and finish a small novella size book full of ulta-short stories that are based in this universe. I'm aiming to make the reader ask themself moral/ethical questions, it will provide the means of a journey of self-discovery but I am most likely not going to provide any answers. I intend to provoke thoughts and get the reader interested in what I write. The main novel (released later) will be a far more coherent work that will be as focussed on providing answers as asking questions.


Beyond that I have a few other works that reside on paper as ideas and nothing more.

 
 
jameslaird

I enjoy creative writing so I should probably post a bit about what I write about. My time spent as a author is hindered by my time spent as a paid student and researcher. Hence, the vast amount of time that it seems to be taking me to finish. There is the worry that I may never finish but I try to banish that thought as soon as it enters my mind. I'm still young so perseverance will win in the end.

My preference is science fiction and fantasy, 'oh no' some might say in response. I understand many reasons why this genre receives negative press: many books are superficial, the concepts are too simple, the character are one dimensional and too much focus goes on the writing style and not the content. Science fiction has too much techno babble while fantasy tends to be written in a pseudo-archaic way to give it an air of grandeur. If done correctly, techno babble and the archaic lend itself to the content of the story. Otherwise they massively detract from an (often) mediocre story.  Some of the crap I've tried to read in these genres makes me wonder how hard it is to get a contract in the first place.

It can't be easy to get a contract but what are the requirements? Create a product that will sell. It doesn't have to be well written, just a good seller. Perhaps it entails mild elements of thrill and suspense. I can't bring myself to finish the Da Vinci Code, it is old ideas done from a populist viewpoint. It sells. It claims 'literary awards' but I'm unimpressed. 
Another book I tried to read recently is called Priestess of the White by Trudi Canavan. Her books have a central presence at many book stores I've visited in my local cities, particularly at Waterstones (UK book store). The writing is simplistic, the character are one dimensional and I'm struggling to get past the first few chapters. I doubt I'll finish that book. I ask myself, who does that appeal to? Fantasy fans that want an easy read, something unchallenging. That is my guess, the books must be selling well enough for the book store to keep stocking them. It must have passed by an editor, surely, but how the hell did it 'pass'? A quick look on Amazon and I see similar complaints, yet the reviewers still give it good marks: "this book is a bit boring: 4 stars." WTFYO?

An example of a better writer is, imo, Robin Hobb. I've  read the liveship series and enjoyed it for what it is: the books are well writen with intense action and believeable characters. What they are not: profound. I enjoyed reading them but they didn't expand my mind in such a way that makes me question myself: my  existence, my beliefs, my ethics. It would be a slap in the face to say they are equivalent to a soap opera and fortunately they are substantially higher than that (beats the hell out of TV). At least with this writer, I can understand why she has a contract and why her books continue to sell.

I need to keep my focus and integrity, selling low grade trashy novels just doesn't appeal to me.

 
 
jameslaird
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/7574379.stm

Nationality means almost nothing these days. In the last 50 years there is a noticeable divergence between nationality/ ethnicity and culture. For example, an Indian born in the UK might claim British nationality yet have Indian ethnicity. Furthermore, there is a high probability that said Indian is part of the rap/r'n'b scene which is a culture of African descent. Very few people in modern society can agree upon what nationality is or what it means, although people tend to be clueless about ethnicity despite it being the most obvious of the bunch. In the past ~70+ years, the three would converge to the same answer: an ethnic Indian abides by Indian culture and therefore holds Indian nationality.

"Home is where the heart is", a statement that one can expect from someone whom is lost and is clueless of their ancestry. I feel pity for them.