Posts from 6th December 2004

Dec 04

I have recently read John Gray’s

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I have recently read John Gray’s Straw Dogs and my pained response may or may not produce something longer from me at a later point. For now I am content just to blog this essay by Keith Sutherland from the academic Journal of Consciousness Studies. It hits on a central objection I had to Straw Dogs, namely that though JG claims importance for his project because he is starting from the point of taking Darwinism seriously, he has to ignore the fact that many philosophers have actually been productively engaged in this activity (what I think would be called “naturalised” philosophy) for some time.

Not only that, but while flagrantly betraying fundamental misunderstandings of the science (genetics, “cognitive science”, etc), JG goes on to extrapolate all manner of invalid claims that (on one, vaguely waving, hand) brings him within the fringes of the Extropians (at one point quoting Hans “I am actually barking mad” Moravec) and (on the other) seem to sidestep argument in the “well it’s Gaia innit” mode.

My suspicion is that I’m barking up the wrong tree though – that the book was MEANT to be a general hand waving “what would Schopenhauer/Cioran make of all this science”. The implict and cliched “I have a wonderful proof of this, but there is no room in the margin” is a great way to critic-proof a book*, but it doesn’t make for more than a rant.

(* not that it worked – i have since googled some reviews of the book, that have served to quell my ire, hurrah)


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aka Santa Claus Conquers The Martians, which gives away a bit too much of the plot in my opinion. I would imagine that this film is exactly what Mystery Science Theatre 3000 was designed for: schlocky half arsed plots, lousy set design and a star who went on to be well know (though Pia Zadora is not exactly boffo box office). The Zucker’s parodied it in Amazon Women On The Moon , and to be fair their version was about as funny, and potentially less engaging. The kind of film cable televsion was invented for, the kind of film that the day-glo sixties spawned remorselessly. A terrible kind of film in other words: but how can you hate a film with dialogue as direct as: “You’ll never get away with this, you Martian!“.

The Advent Calendar Of Comics: Dec 6

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The Advent Calendar Of Comics: Dec 6

Popscene Contd.

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Popscene Contd.: hot on the heels of Poptext, here’s another new pop-for-nerds blog. I think I like this one even more, because it has pretensions to MATHS at the end of each entry.

The Guardian’s pop coverage just gets odder.

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The Guardian’s pop coverage just gets odder. This article calls for U2 to split up – nothing very radical in that, though the author seems to think that they should split because they’ve failed to usher in a new era of Christian consciousness. But why run it on the main editorial page? I’m not complaining exactly, but the words “sore thumb” did leap to mind this morning.

It’s that time of year…

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It’s that time of year…

When I find my journey into work tormented by a new batch of Lambrini ads, said by their website to “offer a real insight into the world of women”. But this Christmas, for once, the least funny advert on the Tube isn’t advertising a sickly pear booze. It’s advertising Ricky Gervase’s Politics DVD.

The ad shows the smirking face of Ricky in Che get up and the frankly baffling copy quote runs “If your surname’s Dumpty, don’t call your son Humpty…he probably jumped off that wall.”

I’m assuming this is a joke from the DVD. The poster is everywhere on the central London tube, and my reactions to it have run approximately thus:

“No, really, eh?”
“B-b-but nobody’s called Humpty?”
“Maybe I just don’t get it”
“Is it some kind of police brutality gag?”
“That can’t be the best joke on the DVD.”
“God, how many of these fucking posters are there?”
“Is it the way he tells it?”
“Oh Jesus, I’m going to have to blog it.”

So here we are. Share my pain – or attempt to explain – in the comments box please.

There’s something a little uncomfortable about this

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There’s something a little uncomfortable about this headline. And this is the Guardian, not some Spanish rag.

Giving the crowd the finger: literally

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Giving the crowd the finger: literally. This horrendous story is exactly why FIFA are penalizing excessive goal celebrations. Sooner or later someone is going to break their neck doing a backflip.

You might think that giving the player a yellow card in this situation is adding insult to injury. I would have sent the player off. Admittedly to get the urgent medical attention he so obviously required.

This has also reminded me of one of my other bugbears. There aren’t enough hand and partial arm amputees in football (ie there are none). You would imagine that as a sport where the hand is rarely used this slight disability would make no difference. Furthermore only a really insensitive referee* would accuse such a player of handball.

*However as the story above shows, there is no shortage of insensitive referees in football.

Freaky Trigger writer, posts essay about Lindsey Anderson’s If….

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Freaky Trigger writer, posts essay about Lindsey Anderson’s If….

Ah, but its not THAT Freaky Trigger writer, it is Henry K.Miller.

Love is colder than death

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A jogger collapses, dead. A child is born. Intertitle: ‘Ten years later’. These are the first three events in ‘Birth’ and already it has the Luis Bunuel feeling — in spades. This was only confirmed when the end credits listed one of Bunuel’s collaborators as a co-writer. Freudian theory was relatively easily incoporated into Hollywood storytelling, with the basic Oedipal plot underpinning films across genres: ‘Birth’, like Bunuel’s films, cannot be reduced the the Freudian ideas that inspire them. The ten-year-old who claims to reincarnate — in fact, be — Kidman’s late husband is not simply a surrogate son. In other words, I can’t really figure it out. As a suspense film, it’s a bust: the ‘explanation’ for the kid’s behaviour is so weak that the director actually buries crucial plot information: the revelation is blink-and-miss. Music dominates the film, and the film resembles music — I guess: it orchestrates emotions, sometimes obscure. Its treatment of ‘content’ (which is present: social tension, family tension) is oblique. Glazer is clearly a fan of Kubirck, but no Kubrick film contains a scene as gutwrenching as the finale here.