Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Days of Future Past: Do Our Choices Matter?

So many battles waged over the years... and yet, none like this. Are we destined to destroy each other, or can we change each other and unite? Is the future truly set?” – Charles Xavier
X-Men: Days of Future Past is a story about free will and human nature.  Sure, it’s many other
things as well – an excellently crafted movie, an equal rights parable, a commentary on human atrocities, a discussion starter about evolution – but  the latest installment in this thought-provoking franchise is perhaps the most cerebral of all.

As he considers the carnage of the Mutant/Human war, Xavier wonders, “Are we destined to destroy each other? Or can we change who we are?” The Mutants have found a way to jump a few days into the past and avoid small catastrophes, but changing single events cannot alter the larger arc of stubbornly insistent history. All seems lost; both the characters and the conflict are succumbing to the chaos. Bryan Singer noted in an interview:
“[Days of Future Past] confronts the notions of hope and second chances. It's characters that are lost trying to find themselves. In X-Men one and two, the characters had come into their own and knew who they were. In this one, they're all lost. And they're trying to keep it together.” 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking)


"The Noise is man unfiltered. And without a filter, man is just chaos walking."


Patrick Ness's opening book in the Chaos Walking trilogy,  The Knife of Never Letting Go,  garnered plenty of awards and overwhelmingly positive reviews when it was first released. Now, like so many other popular YA novels, it's headed for the big screen (Lionsgate bought the film rights).


Todd is the last innocent boy in a town of corrupted men on a planet that humanity had begun to colonize decades before. The endemic corruption is hardly a secret. Through some odd twist of fate, all men on the planet have the Noise:
“There ain’t nothing but Noise in this world, nothing but the constant thoughts of men and things coming at you and at you and at you… and them’s just the words, the voices talking and moaning and singing and crying. There’s pictures, too, pictures that come to yer mind in a rush, no matter how much you don’t want ‘em, pictures of memories and fantasies and secrets and plans and lies, lies, lies. 
Cuz you can lie in the Noise, even when everyone knows what yer thinking, you can bury stuff under other stuff, you can hide it in plain sight, you just don’t think it clearly or you convince yerself that the opposite of what yer hiding is true and then who's going to be able to pick out from the flood what’s real water and what’s not going to get you wet? Men lie, and they lie to themselves worst of all…Noise ain’t truth, Noise is what men want to be true, and there’s a difference twixt those two thing.”

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

MemeThink 101

It seems clear that the battle to think carefully and reasonably is being lost. Oh, don't worry - I'm not here to gripe! Rather than bemoan the loss of our ability to think with clarity and depth, we should embrace the new way of forming opinions quickly and painlessly: MemeThink!

As a template for how to frolic in the shallow end of the intellectual pool, I offer for your consideration the meme I encountered online last week. It provides a great example for how to engage serious subjects by building an argument that does not require any heavy lifting on your part. You, too, can change the world one fallacy at a time! So with no further ado, here's some advice for how to flourish in our brave new intellectual(ish) world.

MemeThink 101

1) Swear. It's a simple way to challenge stuffy prudishness. If someone can't see how cool and edgy it is to be vulgar in even the most ordinary of conversations, you probably don't want them to be part of the discussion.