Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wonderful Aspects of PSME Volumes 5 and 6

-Rin's "I am evil" expressions
-Rin's "I am perfectly innocent" expressions
-Rin's "Ooops, what did I just say?" expression
-Rin's "Gyokuran, you are an idiot" or "I have no idea what you are talking about" or "This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard in my life" or possibly "Man, you have a lot left to learn" expression
-Rin's "Despite the fact that I have not yet achieved double digits, I am amazingly patronizing" expressions
-Rin's "I am actually the single most patronizing person in the history of the universe" expression
-Gyuokuran and Shion have an argument even though Shion is not actually there! I will always love that.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Only One Coin

The Neverending Story was my favorite movie as a kid, and I still quite enjoy both the movie and the book version. That having been said, it occurred to me while watching the movie today that the relationship between creativity and the void presented by the film is one that I'm not entirely comfortable with. Trying to think of an alternative model, I realized that, perhaps unsurprisingly, I find it best expressed in Fire and Hemlock:

"Two sides to Nowhere, Polly thought. One really was a dead end. The other was the void that lay before you when you were making up something new out of ideas no one else had quite had before."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Guess Who THIS Post Is about!

Isabel Archer: "A swift carriage, of a dark night, rattling with four horses over roads that one can't see - that's my idea of happiness."

---The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James

Rereading The Portrait of a Lady does make me feel very anxious that I will somehow inexplicably wind up marrying Gilbert Osmond.

I mean, metaphorically. You know.

Monday, November 8, 2010

_What Maisie Knew_

In his Preface, Henry James himself picks out two scenes in What Maisie Knew as demonstrating particular excellence. One of these is the scene where the Captain, Maisie's mother's lover, says the first nice words Maisie has ever heard about her mother in her entire life, moving her to tears. The other is the scene where Maisie's father urges his daughter to let him take her to America, all the while making it quite clear to her nonverbally that he desperately wants her to refuse. Perhaps because these are the scenes James himself picks out, perhaps because they really are quite excellent, I did in fact remember both these scenes.

But I did not remember the scene in which the following happens:

ELDERLY WIDOW: Your father is a manwhore. And that's his best quality.
. . .
. . .
ELDERLY WIDOW: Your beloved stepmother is also a whore.
SMALL GIRL [Maisie's age at this point is slightly unclear, but I would guess she's twelve or thirteen): Well, but aren't you a whore too?

I so much <3 Henry James!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Old Pretender

So, I've been re-reading The Wings of the Dove after finishing all my real work for the semester.

Then I had to spend an hour sitting around with nothing to do.

So I wrote the following sentence:

"After all, she felt, in her inner self, that she left rather a lot out, on the whole, when it came to pleasing others, so that she was positively obliged, insofar as she considered her general attitude a failure of the ideal, to make up for the absence as much as possible in those simple cases wherein the effort should be, thankfully, not quite too much to bear - and if she was unavoidably conscious of the fact that others - particularly those who, while always serving as attentive and sympathetic auditors of her complaints, were perhaps somewhat removed from or oblivious to the waves more typically spreading from the pebble dropped by her standard inconsistent treatment of her social relations - tended to see her as erring on the side of doing nothing else but too much, as far as her kindnesses were concerned, she rather suspected that no one would be able to sound the abyss of cynicism she knew to lie behind the gilded mask of her compassionate veneer better than she herself could."

I am rather proud of myself.

If nothing else, I think this provides strong evidence for the contention I used to make back in my Henry James and Flaubert course in graduate school (which had something of an unfortunate tendency to turn into a Henry James versus Flaubert course) that the prose style of Henry James - yes, even the late Henry James! - does a better job of representing my own experience of thought than the prose style of Flaubert!

Constructive criticism is welcome! Writing like late Henry James is interesting - it's much more like writing poetry than writing most prose (although this may be simply because when I'm not going for pastiche I don't bother sufficiently about style when writing prose).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Workers Move to the Suburbs

Belle & Sebastian's new album is apparently out now, not that I'm going to hear it for a while yet, and they produced a video in order to promote it. The video is a slightly odd one; about half of it is promotional material for the album, with performances of a few songs, songs running over photo and video clips, fans asking the band questions and having the band answer - and then another half of it is about the future of the music business, with a parody of a marketing executive (who, as a fierce Scottish man in business attire talking about media relations, reminds me awkwardly of Malcolm Tucker from In the Loop, such that I kept on waiting for him to curse more), questions in the interview about what young aspiring musicians should do, a whole conversation between members of various different about the changes that the industry is undergoing. The parody of the marketing executive even involves the mention of making a promotional video (which is on a list of things that will completely fail to help sell the album).

Although it did strike me as an odd topic for your promotional video to cover, I suppose that Belle & Sebastian were interested in discussing because as successful recording artists it's certainly something they must think about with at least moderate frequency - and something, I suppose, that all fans of music might legitimately be interested in. It's interesting for me at least in part because I've also been reading news and commentary lately about the future of the academic humanities - musicians are worried about their future, so are humanities scholars. The rhetoric on both topics even has a certain amount of similarity between it - take a look at the similarities between Mick Jagger's comments here and the point (which I can't seem to find a citation for now, but which I promise you I have seen today) that the academic study of modern languages is in fact a relatively new phenomenon in itself.

It makes me wonder what it's like to be old - to have more experience. There are aspects of the way things are that are so new that they've arisen within my own lifetime; I know that it's only very recently that it ever would have occurred to me to have a blog. But some things, like recorded music and academic humanities, have been around since well before I was born and seem pretty standard and normal. Thus, it's weird to think of them as relatively recent and ephemeral. I wonder if this is a fallacy that one ever grows out of, or if it's something that remains, no matter how old you get - well, I suppose it probably wouldn't remain if you were magical and consequently significantly longer-lived than non-magical people, but this doesn't really seem like a salient qualification ;-). I also wonder if there was always an issue. I have my own stereotype of the very normalization of rapid change in society and technology as being a relatively recent phenomenon, especially as a global phenomenon. And I think this is a very standard stereotype. But even if quantitatively this is true, I wonder about how my own ancestors, dating back for tens of thousands of years, actually experienced their lives - whether had a core sense of stability that I really don't possess thanks to being raised with a different set of expectations, or whether even when technological change was much slower than it is today, there was still a sense of the basic instability of society, because cultural changes that would seem minuscule to us seemed far more significant to them.

One thing I love about myself is the way I am nearly always able to find an extremely apt title for a blog post. Thank you, self!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Both of You Dance Like You Want to Win

Why do I say indie-pop, not indie rock? I don't know. It's just a habit I picked up, but to the extent that there's a conscious motivation, I think it's because of the way all the bands I like turn out to have some relationship with dance music. The odd thing is that this happens regardless of whether or not the songs that get me into the band are like that. So. . . let's go through bands I like:

-Pulp: Dance-y from the first, I think. "Common People" sounds dance-y to me. What's more, this is a band that has a compilation CD named "Goes to the Disco" and actually recorded a song that is pretty straightforward house music.

-Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts - Well, this isn't even indie to begin with ;-). "Cosmic Dare" is kind of dance-y nonetheless, but it's hardly typical.

-Franz Ferdinand - "Music that girls [such as myself] could dance to." 'Nuff said.

-Belle & Sebastian - Okay, I first got into B&S thanks to "Get Me Away from Here, I'm Dying" and "Judy and the Dream of Horses." Not dance-y at all, right? So how could I expect when I first heard those songs that I was also falling in love with the band that put out "Your Cover's Blown"?!?

-The Delays - Actually, their third album was less dance-y than the first two, and I didn't like it nearly as much.

-of Montreal - I think this is the most egregious example. Started out intrigued by hearing "Penelope" on Pandora. Wound up addicted to, I don't know, "Faberge Falls for Shuggie" or something. "Faberge Falls for Shuggie," btw, would be the most hilarious title ever, but "Strawberry Letter 23" is actually probably less funky than "Faberge Falls for Shuggie," which ruins the joke.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

All the Best People Have to Be Ghosts

For a long time now, I have wondered why it is that I like Utena without loving it. On paper, Utena seems like something I should love. I've described Angel Sanctuary as "all these people who don't fully understand each other always hurting each other inadvertently" with Gnostic overtones implying that "the physical world is evil because it separates us, divides us up into these beings that can't touch and careen about and hurt each other" and, of course, weird gender and incest issues. Given this description, there's almost no distinction between AS and Utena. So, given that Utena is obviously the more intellectual of the two, and AS is clearly sillier by far, why is AS the one I adore and Utena the one I coldly admire?

While I was walking around doing nothing for an hour today, I came up, for the first time, with an answer that makes sense - if it is clearly not the content, then it must be the structure! This is slightly hard for me to accept because the structures do seem superficially similar (well, those aspects of the structure that seem relevant - I do not think the reason I don't love Utena is because of the Rose Bride duels). Both of them feature a main plot in the present and a lot of backstory, which is revealed gradually during the course of the main plot, up until the final, most important, extremely Gnostic backstory that gets revealed at the end. However, the difference between the two of them is, I think, in the balance of the backstory and the main story. It's true that in Utena the backstory is the motivation for the entire present story. It's also true that almost every important individual character has his or her own different backstory, and even that the backstories connect (to some degree - Utena's, Saionji's, Touga's, Akio's, and Anthy's obviously do). However, first of all I feel that less time is devoted to backstory in Utena and the focus is more clearly on the present. Even if I'm wrong about this (and I haven't measured it to find out for sure), I think that it's still true in the sense that people in AS spend a huge amount of time talking about the backstory with each other even in the present, whereas although we see a lot of the backstory in Utena, it seems less common for characters to be discussing it with each other in the present, such that it still makes for a time differential. Secondly, the backstory in AS is far more convoluted and interconnected; all of the characters have motivations that stem from the motivations of other characters who are connected to still other characters, whereas the backstory of Utena seems (if you don't mind my saying so) far less incestuous (as for whether or not this is literally true. . . ummm. . . that's a hard one). These two features contribute to my sense that, despite the many similarities between the two works, the backstory plays a more significant role in my experience of AS than my experience of Utena.

And of course it's very likely that this would, in fact, be a reason for me to love one far more than the other. Because I love stories where a lot of the story time is devoted to figuring out what went on in the past - in fact, that's among my favorite things. If you look at the works of art I have fallen in love with, whether it's Hexwood, Lost, Xenogears, PSME, or Hitherby - these are all stories where a lot of the narrative drive and suspense comes from trying to figure out what's already happened rather than momentum forwards. The big climactic moment of Utena isn't finding out the truth about Anthy and Akio, it's Utena's duel with Akio and the aftermath. It's something that happens in the present. But, although it is the end of the series, it would seem odd to say that the big climactic moment of AS is in fact Setsuna killing God; it seems to be more something along the lines of discovering the true relationship between Alexiel, Lucifiel, and Rosiel and the catharsis for Alexiel and Rosiel of Rosiel's death. So the climax is the reveal of the ultimate truth behind the plot; the death of God is more like a necessary afterthought (as part of the climactic reveal is the revelation that God is to blame for EVERYTHING!). This is the kind of story I love, where the whole point is to discover the truth about the past - it's the reason I fell madly in love with Absalom, Absalom! the moment I read it - because it's a book where the entire plot is laid out in the first chapter, and the rest of the book is just characters researching and then making up an explanation for it.

I don't know why this kind of narrative appeals to me more than other structures when the content is so close - but there you have it, it does. And I think that's a very helpful explanation of my heretofore inexplicable reactions.

Yay walking around doing nothing for an hour!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill

Usually, when I think about the kind of music I like, I think it's indie-pop. Which makes sense, given that three of my four favorite bands and most of my other well-liked bands since I started listening to contemporary music as opposed to only classic rock have been indie-pop bands. Apart from indie-pop, I know I like Japanese soundtrack music (whether that's for anime or video games), and my other favorite band was Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts. So that's another type of music I specifically think of myself as being fond of.

But some of the music I like doesn't quite fit into those categories (I often like to joke about how two songs I really like quite a lot are Enya's "Oronoco Flow" and Laibach's "Tanz mit Laibach," which are very clearly from different genres, neither of which is indie-pop or J-pop). One other genre that I'm clearly fond of is a certain kind of retro standard-esque music. The example that comes to mind here is Jenny Toomey's Tempting. I really like this album, and I suppose it qualifies as indie pop, but it's not at all the kind of indie pop I usually think of when I think of the term. Have a link to "Unionbusting," which isn't only a good song but also has fun lyrics :).

Thursday, September 30, 2010


When I purchased False Priest (amazing, btw) from Polyvinyl, I received The M's Future Women along with it for free. I've been extremely busy listening to False Priest as much as humanly possible, but today I finally listened to Future Women for the first time. As is more or less always the case when I listen to new music for the first time, I was unable to get much out of the experience. In fact, all of the songs sound sort of the same to me. It's not that I really think they all sound the same, but the differences all kind of blur together. They all sound like generic songs. And even as I can't tell the difference, I know perfectly well that if I listen a lot to this album, the songs will (probably) stop sounding so generic to me, I'll be able to pick up the distinctions, and they'll all sound relatively distinct, whether or not I end up liking the album (although this is not invariably true - one reason why I dislike albums like La Belle's Moon Shadow, The Dismemberment Plan's Emergency & I, and The Webb Brothers' Maroon is because the songs never became un-generic to me; even though I listened to those albums a lot, I can barely remember a single distinct from them).

This is not an original thought; I have had this thought many times before. However, what was original was that today was also my last day of classes for the year, and I was also thinking about my relationship with my students. I'm terrible at remembering people, and out of my five classes there are actually two where I can't honestly say that I know all of the students. But that makes three where I do, and I know those students reasonably well - I have ideas about all of them in my mind. Even in the classes where I don't, I know a lot of the students. And yet I am reasonably sure that when I start new classes in 2011 I will know barely any of the students at all for weeks, and for months quite a few of them will be a blur to me. It's hard to imagine now, when the students I teach all seem so familiar - can they really remain blurs for so long? And yet, judging from past experience, that's precisely what will happen.

So apparently my relationship with music is actually quite similar to my relationship with people - they both seem like indistinguishable blurs to me at first, but give it enough time and most of them resolve into quite distinguishable figures. That's kind of interesting. I've been reminded lately of just how unusually non-physical I am by a friend calling me weird because of it - and it really is true - I've often said I wouldn't really miss all that much if I became a brain in a vat. I love music, of course, and I like having ears. But it's interesting to me that all of these sensory impressions, whether auditory or visual, take quite a lot of time to take on me. I think I'm just less good at the physical than the mental, in general, even with those physical sensations that really are important to me.

Why I Like Being an English Teacher

People come to you sometimes and ask you to spend a while talking to them about grammar! Like, that actually happens! People want you to talk to them about grammar for a while.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Thin, Weak Thinker

I don't particularly like fairy tales, and I can't remember ever having liked them. This apparently makes me anathema to Tom Lynn from Fire and Hemlock, but I can't help it. They don't seem interesting to me. They don't involve interesting characterization or plot or themes. I'm perfectly happy with some stories that don't fit the typical character-driven templates (Borges or even Hitherby probably qualify in this respect), but fairy tales never seem to offer interesting or thought-provoking themes to make up for it. What's more, if you know one fairy tale, you know them all. It's no wonder someone just made a template of all the different fairy tales; the differences between them really are that minor, that you can just mix and match a countable number of elements, and BOOM, you'll have a fairy tale.

On the other hand, I do really like, and can't remember ever having not liked, mythology. I suppose the difference between fairy tales and mythology is that, even if mythology also has elements of redundancy, even if mythology also doesn't tend to have the deepest characterization, it's epic. And I like epic. Stories on a large scale, with myriad characters in complicated relationships that you have to keep track of, where the redundancy almost manages to substitute for characterization because it's the same characters involved each time - that always appeals to me, whether it's a fantasy epic, a mythological saga, or, heck, even the history of the Roman or British royal houses.

I was thinking about how I tend to like stories based on fairy tales, even if I don't like the tales themselves, but the more I think about this the more I wonder if it's true. I am a huge fan of intertextuality - I like all sorts of stories that refer to each other, again, because they make the story more complicated, they grant it hidden meanings - actually, I suppose I like intertextuality for the same reason I like epic, or even sitcoms - they're all storytelling forms which involve the possibility that is kind of pointless or even unnoticeable on first glance becomes meaningful and even fascinating once you know all the context - but I wouldn't say that fairy tales as referent are a particularly important focus for my interest. It's more mythology, I think, that I really appreciate the references to - it's the mythological scale that always seems to hit me when I encounter it in a story, and make the story seem more numinous. All of the children's books that hit me that way as a child - I think of DWJ, of course, but also of Susan Cooper - are drawing on myths and legends, epic cycles. Perhaps "Tam Lin" counts as a fairy tale - it's closer to that than to an epic, anyway - but even Fire and Hemlock is secretly referring to the Odyssey and even T. S. Eliot as well, plus I think the stories of actual fairies/elves are broader than simply "Tam Lin" and add additional resonance that bring them closer to the mythological level.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Reasonable Fascimile Thereof

I am at that stage in my procrastination where I feel an overwhelming urge to blog about. . . things. We will see how long that continues; probably not long.

Anyway, now I am going to blog about "Flight of the Bumblebee," by Rimsky-Korsakov. This is a rather famous short piece of music that I am sure everyone has heard before, but, being fairly ignorant about classical music, I personally was not aware that it was actually originally from an opera, The Tale of Tsar Sultan. In listening to this piece of music just now, I was impressed by the way that it really did sound like an insect's buzz - but much less annoying.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Giles Goat Boy!

Oh! Giles Goat Boy is totally another example of wonderful OTT narrative! I mean, this is the novel that I like to summarize by explaining that it's about a young American man who decides that he is going to finally achieve the goal of so many philosophers and spiritual leaders and start a new religion that can bring salvation to, at the very least, all of America, if not the entire world. Except that America is a college, the world is a university, and salvation involves passing your exams and graduating. Then my ideal interlocutor asks me if I mean that literally or figuratively, and I get to respond, "Both!" Plus there is the beat poetry version of Oedipus Rex.

Of course, the problem here is that Giles Goat Boy qualifies as exactly the right sort of OTT in my mind, but, unlike Angel Sanctuary or Gardens of the Moon, it is quite obviously intended by its author as a joke. OTOH, "Rautavaara's Case", for which the brief summary is "Jesus eats people" and which is clearly not meant as a joke, is not OTT at all, much as I adore it. I think the difference is that the basic premise of "Rautavaara's Case" is less "Jesus eats people" and more "Wouldn't it in fact be rather odd if Jesus ate people?" In other words, the oddness of the premise is intrinsic to the story; the story's plot and themes are entirely dependent on the fact that it's a really odd premise. Though PKD might well have written the story because he thought the idea of Jesus eating people was really cool, he goes to a lot of trouble to justify it in the story itself, and to explain why Jesus eating people is not only fascinating as a ridiculous idea but also genuinely fascinating on a theological level. On the other hand, though Giles Goat Boy is clearly a joke, it's told with a completely straight face - there's no attempt made to justify why the world should be a university, America a college, or salvation passing one's exams and graduating. This is just taken as a given, just as Yuki Kaori clearly thinks giant flying aborted angelic fetuses with lots of eyeballs that possess their twin brothers and try to rape people don't particularly need any justification, or Steven Erikson apparently believes that good houses versus evil trees are totally par for the course. So Giles Goat Boy may be a joke, but this is extrinsic to the story - although there is no way to miss the fact that it's a joke, the narrative does not depend on explaining or justifying the joke. The depth of the worldbuilding, I think, is what makes me feel inclined to take it very seriously despite being such a ridiculous joke. In a way, it reminds me of Gulliver's Travels - which, again, is obviously satire, but I tend to have the feeling that while Swift was writing it he sometimes just got so caught up in the worldbuilding that he forgot to focus on satire ;-). In fact, if it weren't for the fact that I've known the basic premise of Gulliver's Travels for as long as I remember, such that I'm entirely inured to it, maybe that would count.

Actually, you know what probably does count? Manfred! And that's even relevant to the original instigator of this whole train of thought, given that I strongly suspect Yuki Kaori of having an interest in Byron. I mean, her two most famous manga are both full of incest and homoeroticism, one of the bizarre brother/sister pairs in Angel Sanctuary involves a sister named Astarte who winds up dying before her brother, and her other famous manga (which I admittedly haven't read) takes place in 19th century Britain (or. . . umm. . . perhaps I should say Yuki Kaori's version of 19th century Britain)and has a hero named Cain who is only interested in heterosexual relationships with girls to whom he's related and is himself the product of incest between a woman named Augusta and her brother. So yeah.

Not to Mention the Cloud Whales

You know, normally, if I don't love something, I'm fairly clear on why I like it or dislike it. I dislike it because it's boring, or I like it because it has that cool stuff that I like.

But when I'm obsessed with something else, it's a little different. When I'm busy being obsessed with The Homeward Bounders, The Homeward Bounders strikes me as the perfect book, and nothing else is even remotely as appealing, because nothing else is perfect. When I'm obsessed with Hitherby, even DWJ books seem wordy and simplistic in comparison to the sparse thematic complexity that is ideal. But, you know, being obsessed with DWJ or Hitherby is kind of okay, given that the things I love them for aren't actually absurd OTT-ness.

And then there's being obsessed with Angel Sanctuary. A friend of mine mentioned on her personal blog that she is really into the new ABC Family TV show Huge and that it has an asexual character, and I was intrigued enough to start watching it. And I am finding it entertaining enough. It's nice to have been motivated to watch TV again (I really have trouble staying motivated to watch TV unless other people are there watching it with me). But. . . I keep on finding myself thinking, Wouldn't this friendship be so much interesting if that guy was actually possessed by an evil sword that has been chasing the other guy's reincarnations for centuries because it's in love with his original identity as a female angel and is actually, unbeknownst even to itself, Lucifer? or, Wouldn't that scene be strongly improved if there was a giant aborted angelic fetus with lots of eyeballs floating above?, or, The best solution for any weird problems with your father-figure is letting him eat you when he turns into a cannibal zombie, and then he can temporarily regain his sanity just in time to save Lucifer from being killed by the reincarnated angel with himself, because he's blind, and then his blindness will be miraculously lifted and he'll suddenly realize that you're not just his surrogate child but actually his real child that he left for dead after cutting you out of the womb of your mother when he was set up into killing her, so that he can save your life and get you to kill him as the real ultimate act of love.

I also find myself thinking very nostalgically of Gardens of the Moon, which is one of the few narratives I've encountered that seems even to approach AS for OTT-ness. I mean, the epic battle at the end is a good house (as in a building) versus an evil tree! I will never get over that!

If anyone reading this happens to have other recommendations of completely OTT narratives, drop them here. I can't promise to read them, but I would like a list! Basically I am looking for things like the good house (as in a building) versus an evil tree, where it doesn't come off as intentionally funny, and the thing is, it is, unavoidably, funny, but somehow it actually manages to work despite that.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Procrastination. . . .

So. . . ummm. . . this week just happened, where this thing happened, which was that I kind of read all of Angel Sanctuary (I didn't actually read most of Volume 1, but I've read Volume 1 enough times that I think that's okay). Apparently, the scanslations were up illegally online at this site OneManga, which was really easy to use. I should note that even though I put in that link, I don't really recommend AS to anyone who's reading this blog who hasn't read it already. It's very unlikely to be your kind of thing.

Anyway, despite how often I've been obsessed with AS, I haven't actually ever read the whole thing before! Let's see. I own books 1-13 in French, which I can sort of read, but not perfectly. I also own books 1, 3, 7, 9, and 17 in English. Back in 2006 I read all of the books that were out in English at the time in the bookstore, which included 1-14. I've also read 20 in the bookstore because I tend to have moments of panic about Lucifer/Alexiel (I used to have a lot of moments of panic about Shion/Mokuren, too, but I think I've been mostly reassured on that front. I don't have many OTPs, but I really, really care about the ones I do have!). Other than that, I've just read online summaries (although there used to be a lot more of those than it seems there are now) - in fact, when I first fell in love with the series back in November, 2001, it was entirely through online summaries.

I was expecting Volume 15 to be relatively dull - because Kira dies in 14 and Lucifer only shows up in 16. However, it turns out that there is this amazing scene in Volume 15 where Michael and Setsuna bond over their mutual love of Kira. It was kind of awesome. Setsuna leans tenderly over Michael, and Michael bursts out into tears, and there are images of Kira and Lucifer, and the whole thing is completely awesome. Yeah.

Oh, and it wasn't until I read this fanfic and Volume 16 that it was really brought home to me that, when Rosiel revives Lucifer, this is actually Kira Sakuya's body, not Lucifer's original body or some new body created just for the purpose (this really does seem to be canon in the manga - Katou says so). Mostly, this just intrigues me because of Mr. Kira. It's like, it's not enough that the guy lost his wife and son. It's not enough that, eleven years later, he also loses the spirit that's been possessing his son's body and that he's come to love as a son. No, he also can never bury his son's body because it has been permanently possessed by the Devil. And, okay, obviously this is somewhat mitigated by the facts that: A) the spirit he's come to love as a son was the Devil and B) the Devil is much more awesome than his reputation anyway, and who wouldn't be happy to give him the bodies of their loved ones? But still - despite the mitigating factors, it still seems like the guy just can't catch a break ;-).

I feel like I do so much babbling about Kira whenever I talk about Angel Sanctuary that no one will ever believe that, say, I like other characters too, or that I actually like Zaphikel so much I'd say he's my second-favorite character. But I do! It's just I have fewer random comments to make about Zaphikel. I have to admit, though, I really really really would like to see the epic pre-manga Zaphikel, Anael, and Lailah fanfic. I'm not sure why, exactly, but I think epic pre-canon stories about three intertwined characters really appeal to me (one of the very few fanfics I've ever even considered writing is the pre-Xenogears Miang, Ramsus and Krelian fanfic). I'm not sure what I think I'd get out of the fanfic that isn't in the manga. Just more Zaphikel and Lailah, I guess (I'd say more Anael, but she appears so rarely in the manga that I have very little feel for her. I hope she is awesome enough to live up to Zaphikel and Lailah in the story I am imagining). I guess it's my trouble thinking of what exactly would be added to the manga that means I can't think of the story myself (I have also, for a much longer time, been intrigued by the epic pre-manga Alexiel, Kurai, Arachne, and Nanatsusaya fanfic, but I can't really think what the epic plot would be for that one, either).

Oh! I also think this is an annoying story because I am really not sure who I am justifiably allowed to pick as my favorite female character. I'd pick Belial, if I were confident I was allowed to pick Belial. And if I'm not, then I'd pick Sevothtarte - but am I even allowed to pick Sevothtarte? (Note that my two favorite "female" characters are the ones who are in epic unrequited love with my two favorite male characters. That probably says. . . something about me.). I really like Kurai, but I'm not even sure that I don't like Arachne more than Kurai - I mean, come on, Arachne's flirtation with Kira is the cutest thing ever, and then they get married! So. . . yeah. Awkward. Kurai is definitely my favorite unambiguously female character, but I like a lot of the more ambiguous ones more than her.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Record of Times I Have Been Totally Obsessed With _Angel Sanctuary_

1) November, 2001
2) June, 2002 (7 months)
3) December, 2004 (30 months)
4) September, 2006 (21 months)
5) January, 2009 (28 months)
6) July, 2010 (18 months)

This is the second time it's this Acey Dearest's fault, too. I discovered that she's published three Angel Sanctuary fanfics since I read "Cast it to Dogs" - all of them are Kira/Kato, but, like I said before, I don't mind Kira/Kato, and I actually really like the way Acey Dearest does it; it doesn't go against my interpretation of canon at all, and, in fact, really reinforces it. I don't actually have time to write about this, but I can't help but at least write a bit about it - "No Answer" is the least interesting to me, personally, since Kira doesn't actually appear in it at all - it's entirely Kato's reflections on Kira. "Mainsprings" is quite good, although, if I'm interpreting the ending correctly, it's really extremely bleak - but it's not necessarily good in a way that I particularly associate with Angel Sanctuary.

I think "Light Pollution" is an excellent fanfic because not only is it good, but it strikes me as good for more or less the same reasons that draw me to Angel Sanctuary, similarly to "Cast it to Dogs." "Light Pollution" is also a genderswitch AU - Kira and Kato are both female, and Kato is a closeted lesbian - which, to be honest, appeals strongly to me as I've been wanting a story about a female Kira for a long time, for. . . ummm. . . personal reasons - but I think that the story also really works on its own merits. I really wish I had more time to talk about this - but I love the way that it is entirely a story from Kato's point of view, and it does a compelling and interesting job of presenting Kato sympathetically and making the story about Kato and her concerns, but at the same time having Kato's story intersect with Kira's hidden story, which is only clear to us because we've read the manga - and certainly isn't clear to Kato! The genderswitch is effective (a genderswitch of Setsuna might have worked, also, although I think the genderswitch of Kira and Kato is ultimately more effective) because it means that Kato looks at Kira and sees a girl who has not only a father who loves her but also a potential perfectly normal heterosexual relationship, in contrast with Kato and her father who hates her and her internalized homophobia - Kato's story is all about the complexity of her feelings about Kira and the way she's incomprehensibly screwing up her life - whereas, of course, we know exactly why Kira does what she does and why her life is already screwed up. And of course we know that what concerns Kato is ultimately completely insignificant to Kira - Kato is convinced that Kira would be disgusted if she realized that Kato is a lesbian and attracted to her and imagines their relationship as impossible because of the homophobia, whereas one assumes that Kira could care less (I think there's plenty of evidence in canon that Nanatsusaya isn't particularly hung up on gender - in terms of sexual attraction, Nanatsusaya is obviously not disgusted by the possibility of sleeping with a female; it's not just in the story but in canon that Nanatsusaya is perfectly happy to possess a female body; when Kira teases Arachne in Volume 1, he knows all about who she is before he even gets into it but goes ahead with it anyway; and it's hardly as though he's likely to have any hangups about morality) - but I think what makes the story even more effective is that, since it is Kato and Kira who are genderswitched, not Setsuna, Kira's ambiguous gender comes up in the story - Kira alludes to herself as Rhett Butler (I had to look up this quotation, though - actually, encountering that quotation in that context actually made me want to read or watch Gone with the Wind, not an experience I've ever had before), not a woman chasing a man, and calls Setsuna a girl - but Kato, though she notices, doesn't pick up on the importance - Kato is left wondering about Kira but simply couldn't have the frame of reference to understand what's going on and interprets it entirely in terms of her own perspective. Like the moment when she notices Kira's bloodstain, but the bloodstain comes up entirely in the context of Kato knowing she will never have the chance to see it in full - picking up on the detail entirely from her own perspective. But of course Kato can never have Kira anyway, but not at all for the reasons she thinks.

It's a very effective story because of the story going on behind the obvious story, and because of the way the story behind the story is the motivating factor for the story we read, but, at the same time, only breaking through at moments into the story we read, and I think it fits so well with Angel Sanctuary's methods - it's like, IIRC, Katan. Katan is this hugely important character with a tragic story that runs throughout nearly all of the manga, which has a large effect on Setsuna and his life, but, again IIRC, Katan shows up towards the end and dies and Setsuna has only the vaguest idea of who he is - because their stories just haven't intersected enough for Setsuna to know, despite Katan being a major force behind Setsuna's entire story arc. The thing that's so GREAT about Angel Sanctuary is this messiness - although it's technically Setsuna's story, and it's obvious Setsuna is the hero, it's everyone else's story too, and everyone else's story often never becomes entirely clear to anyone else, so that it's all these people who don't fully understand each other always hurting each other inadvertently (well, obviously not all the hurt is inadvertent, but, with the exception of God, we mostly get everyone's motives) - and I think this messiness is really what makes Angel Sanctuary effectively Gnostic - Gnosticism works, in literature, because it's not just about the idea that the God that created the physical world is evil, it's also about the idea that the physical world is evil - and the physical world is evil because it separates us, divides us up into these beings that can't touch and careen about and hurt each other - "Why a tender curb upon the youthful burning boy, why a little curtain of flesh on the bed of our desire?" - or the point of Evangelion (although Eva is obviously a rather cynical take on the idea) - and this idea really explains a lot of the seeming craziness of the story and ties it together - perfect androgynous beings and gender being a division, wacky Freudian pregnancy issues with rampaging fetuses, Rosiel getting people to eat him so that he can possess them (see, it's not just a Eucharist joke, even if Eucharist jokes are the best jokes) - I realize I'm not making any sense but I really have to just say this - and I think it's that same sense - the separateness of people but the way we hurt each other anyway - that comes across so well in both "Cast it to Dogs" and "Light Pollution." So yay.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Oh! Oh! Oh!

Over at Steepholm's LiveJournal, he happens to start off a comment with: "I do not know much about dragons."

Inexplicably, the comment does not then continue with a Spirited Away-themed filk of "The Dry Salvages."

I mean, there is even a train in Spirited Away!

I will concede that is perhaps unhealthy to see "The Dry Salvages" every single time I see a river god and trains. But then I have to admit that I have long thought that Miyazaki was a far better match for Spellcoats than he was for Howl's Moving Castle. I think I would actually be pretty excited if Miyazaki made a Spellcoats movie. So maybe I am really on to something here ;-).

Monday, July 12, 2010

I Write Like. . .

This time, yhlee links to "I Write Like. . .". Apparently my posts on this blog are like Dan Brown. I should be offended, but at least in terms of content, it's kind of credible, from what I understand of Dan Brown's topics.

But when I put in my paper on 1984, I was told I write like. . .

George Orwell!

It's not just laughable because it's a paper on 1984, it's also laughable because one assumes George Orwell would loathe my writing style. . . .

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Oh, Also

Jenna Moran just posted up stats for Martin and Jane as if they were characters in her tabletop RPG, Nobilis. I know nothing about Nobilis, but TSOR suggests that what she has written strongly supports my contention that Martin is extremely creepy. So I am feeling kind of justified in that one, even if I think we're not meant to take it entirely literally.

Also - when it says that Jane is an angel, is that purely a Nobilis term? Because. . . it's a thought-provoking word choice.

I wish you would all read Hitherby so that you could comment on this!

ETA: Aww, the people who actually read Hitherby went and commented on it and answered my question in such a boring way that it no longer says that Jane is an angel! Oh, well. Nothing about Martin's creepiness has changed. It is difficult to imagine any circumstance in which Martin's creepiness will change.

Don't Want To Really Get To Know It Better

One of the few bands that I actually pay attention to and try to buy CDs by, when they come out, is an extremely obscure British indie group that I discovered through some form of Internet radio - I can no longer recall if it was Pandora or Live 365. As it happens, about a year and a half ago this group (which is not the point of the entry) actually played a show in the city where I was living, at an indie festival. Naturally, I had to go. I am kind of obsessive about standing near the front at concerts (it wound up being well-worth the obsession at this particular concert), so I was there for all of the bands even though the band I'd come to see was the last to play.

Rather early on in the festival proceedings was a performance by Janelle Monáe. This made an impression on me, for several reasons. First of all, I was surprised to see a black woman performing at an indie festival - one thinks of indie as fairly white and male. Secondly, lots of people came specifically to see her performance, talked about past shows of hers they'd seen, and generally hyped her. Finally, she was undeniably an interesting performer - she comes off a bit cold for my tastes, but she definitely has style.

I wasn't really expecting Janelle Monáe to turn up in my life again, but she's popped up more and more often since that first performance. For one thing, although I'd first seen Janelle perform in a context completely unrelated to of Montreal, I wound up seeing her perform two more times (three in total), because she and Kevin Barnes have become quite good friends, and she often served as an opening act for of Montreal. Kevin talks about her all the time and even recorded a song for her new album - "Make the Bus." Meanwhile, Coffeeandink, whose blog, as I've mentioned in the past, I quite enjoy, has started posting about her quite a bit. I suppose this isn't really surprising, as Janelle is a black woman who writes science fiction, and that's generally what Coffeeandink likes anyway, but it's still interesting in that it's a context completely unrelated to either Kevin Barnes or the indie band I originally mentioned.

So, the thing is, I don't particularly like Janelle Monáe's music. I realize that I've mostly only heard it live, and I rarely like music I hear live, but I still feel like having seen her stage show three times does qualify me to have a sense for whether or not I'm eager to hear more, and I wouldn't say I am, particularly. I barely remember her songs despite having seen the show so many times; they didn't make much of an impression on me. And yet, despite this, I feel as though I kind of have to buy her album. I wasn't going to - after all, all these coincidences aside, it didn't interest me - but I've been listening to "Make the Bus" so much - and I like it! It mentions Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - that I feel I really ought to own it legally, and somehow that's pushed me over the edge. It's a kind of weird situation - everything I've read online makes it quite clear that "Make the Bus" is an of Montreal song with only minor participation by Janelle Monáe, and that it's really out of place on the album, and everyone who loves the album doesn't particularly feel that it fits in. So I really should just purchase the single track "Make the Bus" and let it go. But the fact that I like this song so much - much better than "Coquet Coquette", the first song released from of Montreal's upcoming False Priset - makes me feel like, given the preponderant weight of coincidence on the side of the album, I might as well go the whole hog. I feel as though I am fated to buy this album, taste aside.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Nothing at All to Do with God

I am not sure what is a more bizarre thing - that there exists a genre of Germanic-language literature focused on people getting sick in Italy, or that it is a completely amazing genre! Seriously, if you told me, here is a book originally written in Swedish or Frisian about someone getting sick in Italy, I would be like, "Oh, wow, I have to read that!"

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Perhaps it is so obvious that I don't actually need to state it, but I'm worried that some readers may think that my theodicy explorations have only worked themselves all the way around to where they began. Therefore, I'd like to point out why this is not so.

It is true that the position I suggested Stanley Fish was at least hinting at (a recent reread suggests that it's actually the Devil's position in the Hitherby serial "An Unclean Legacy", which does not speak all that highly for it) is that fiction is theodicy - I also say fiction is theodicy.

Nevertheless, it seems clear to me that there is a difference. The Devil's position is that suffering is morally justifiable because it makes for drama. This is true even if people are genuinely experiencing suffering. My position is that suffering is morally justifiable if people are not genuinely experiencing it, and that this is possible if people see their suffering as fictional, as somehow less real than other things that are more valid. In other words, the Devil is happy to hurt people and thinks they should like it because of the intrinsic value of drama. He doesn't care if the intrinsic value of drama doesn't outweigh the suffering for those experiencing it. My hypothetical God (who does not seem to exist) wouldn't be happy to hurt people, and would ensure that people experience their suffering in the same way we experience suffering of others in a story or suffering of ourselves in the best kind of dream, rather than the pain and misery and unjustifiability of suffering in real life. The reason why this God (as opposed to any others) clearly doesn't exist is because we don't all experience our suffering this way, even if some people might.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Theodicy I Find Acceptable! (Just Not in Our Universe)

I've been thinking about God and fiction again all weekend. I think my previous post on this topic had the issue of jumping between my perspective and my characters' perspective too much. I don't think it's fair to mix these up. From my perspective, we can say, I am obviously not God. However, I still might be God from my characters' perspectives, and this is the point that counts. So let's try to look at the issue from my characters' perspectives, then.

Okay. So, from my perspective, I created their universe. There then remain two possibilities. Either they could meaningfully "transcend" their universe and come to interact with me and other people in my universe, or they couldn't. If the former is true, then, by definition, I can't be God, because, by definition, God is the "uncaused cause" or the "unmoved mover." If my characters have the capacity of transcendence, then they clearly would realize that I am far from being an uncaused cause or unmoved mover. Thus, if my characters can transcend, I cannot be God, not only from my perspective but also from theirs! However, it seems obvious that, even if they can't transcend their universe from my perspective, from their perspective, they can. This is because they are capable of knowing that they are fictional characters. If I create them that way, they will be aware of their own fictionality. Since I have created such characters, I know that this is clearly possible. A character who is conscious of her own fictionality is clearly one who realizes the limitations and boundaries on her author, since that character is aware of the existence of a "real world" that subsumes her own and that provides limitations on the mindset of the author. So that character might be mad at the author, but cannot place ultimate blame on him and cannot think of him as God.

One might argue - but you are still creating some characters who aren't aware of their own fictionality; thus, those characters cannot make any such argument. I think in order to deal with this argument we really have to place ourselves into the perspective of one of these characters. So, switching gears for a moment and imagining myself as a character in a text by a transcendent, sufficiently-advanced alien (a hypothesis which may well be true): I certainly have no knowledge of my fictionality. However, I can safely believe there are three possibilities. Either my universe was created by no one, or it was created by an imminent God, or it was created by a sufficiently advanced alien. Note that these possibilities are not, in fact, mutually exclusive. The universe in Paradise Lost, for example, was created by both an imminent God (the God that appears in the text) AND a sufficiently advanced alien (John Milton). If the universe was created by no one, then it is meaningless to call God evil. If the universe was created by an imminent God, then I call that God evil. If the universe was created by a sufficiently advanced alien, then I do not call her evil, because she is not ultimately to blame for suffering - suffering was presumably part of the very cause that led her, a deeply moved mover, to create the universe. I believe that is meaningful to distinguish universes created by no one from those created by John Milton, in the sense that, while it's never possible to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that your universe wasn't created by John Milton, it is, as mentioned above, possible to prove that your universe is. If John Milton makes you aware of the fact that your universe was created by John Milton, then you will know that your universe was created by John Milton (it is a justified true belief); this is something that is very unlikely to happen if your universe was not created by John Milton, and so, were I to be granted this belief, I would be pretty likely to take it at face value and not be skeptical about it. Thus, regardless of whether or not I know for sure that the universe was created by John Milton, as long as the possibility of knowing this is open to me (which it clearly is), John Milton is not evil from my perspective.

But this opens up a rather odd corollary that has useful and, I think, extremely satisfying implications for theodicy. The thing is, my third possibility is that the universe was in fact created by an immanent God (a possibility which I can clearly imagine, given the existence of, say, Paradise Lost. The immanent God Itself may be, in fact, a fictional character created by a sufficiently advanced alien, but, as long as the God believes Itself to be immanent, it still counts (I would want to say that, despite the fact that Milton created Paradise Lost's God, this is still justifiably a representation of God, not a sufficiently advanced alien. If we can say that fictional characters have properties, and obviously we can, then in the world of the fiction it is completely true that God is God.). I would like to say that this God is evil, a villainous character - and I'm not the only one, if you look at the kind of arguments people have about Paradise Lost. This God, which is, from Its own perspective, an uncaused cause (even if from our perspective It is not), deliberately chose to create the universe and be the cause of a great deal of suffering, for no good reason.

However, the immanent God is also, by definition, omnipotent within the realm of its universe, which means that, among the other things It can do, It can most certainly cause the people of the universe to believe, with full conviction, that they are fictional characters. This may or may not be true; from God's perspective, it certainly isn't true. But God can make them believe it, anyway. Which means that there is in fact a way for an immanent God to create a universe and yet not be evil - It just has to have Its people believe that they are fictional characters.

Is it enough for this to be possible? I was already saying that I am not evil if I create a fictional universe, even if I don't let all my characters know that they are fictional. But I am not within the fictional universe and therefore don't have to admit to the reality of my characters, and, in order for my characters to be talking and thinking about me and not a fictional immanent God in their world, I have to be not God. I am not the God of their world because I am not immanent and don't believe myself to be God; my moral decisions thus are made on that basis (and they will be able to come to understand if my moral decisions are made on that basis). But God really is God and believes Itself to be God; God's moral decisions thus have to be based on a genuine belief in the importance and reality of Its subjects (since God is not aware of any limitations on Its powers, and, in fact, within Its own universe, there are no limitations). Thus, God's responsibilities are different from mine. God is less evil and more good, even if It is fully immanent, to the extent that It lets Its conscious creations believe (even if falsely) that they are fictional characters.

So God, the source of all goodness, is in fact morally justifiable only if It lies? But I don't think this is as bad a result as it might sound. Because the whole point is that it isn't really a lie - if you believe you are a fictional character, then you are, or there is no meaningful difference between believing yourself to be a fictional character and actually being a fictional character (how can you prove that you're not a fictional character? Is this even a meaningful concept?). And being a fictional character seems to be the one thing that could justify suffering to me. Because if your suffering is purely fiction, then you are aware that it is not real, not important - you have perspective. My suffering seems real to me and that is why I hate it; were I to not experience my suffering as real, I would not have this reaction. In fact, this is precisely the point of the dream I relate here. One of the most exciting, pleasurable dreams I ever had, which involved suffering, but that was okay, because the suffering in the dream was known by the character experiencing the suffering to be only fake suffering, in service of a larger goal of creating suspense. That suffering is okay, because it is justified in the mind of the character who knows that she is really only a smaller part of a larger mind.

So, I can actually see an immanent God as non-evil! If you happen to be omnipotent and omniscient and want to create a universe, I will now give you permission! However, our universe is still not that universe, because we DO NOT KNOW that we are merely ideas in the mind of God. Or perhaps some people do know that, but I don't. And if an immanent God created me, then there was no need to create me without this belief.

I also really like this theodicy a lot because I think it fits with my love of Hitherby. I've often thought about how, even though there is just as much suffering and pain in Hitherby as there is in the real world, I always feel like I'd rather live in the Hitherby universe. I've never been quite sure why, except for the very vague thought that I liked the metaphysics better than the metaphysics of our universe. But now I think I have a better sense of why - the reason is because, even if Hitherby doesn't quite fit the ideal of having everyone know that they are a fictional character (and, in fact, part of the point of Hitherby is that even fictional characters can become real characters who feel real pain), it seems to come much closer to that ideal than our world. I still wouldn't quite call the God of Hitherby omnibenevolent, but It seems to be far less evil than the theoretical immanent God of our world. More like the level of evil of a regular human being or a sufficiently advanced alien than the level of brazen evil I see in that idea.

Monday, March 29, 2010

_Utena_-Based Theodicy

I had an interesting theodicy idea but don't really have time to write about it. But it's definitely interesting. The idea, which stems from an online conversation with a friend, touching on theodicy, in which the friend asked some of her Christian friends to explain Jesus for us, is basically to assume that the situation of the universe is more or less the situation of Ohotori Academy in Utena (which is, I think, an intended interpretation of Utena, which is an explicitly Gnostic work, although I think there's also a lot of Buddhist influence that is more beyond me), but then to start from a more Christian viewpoint of God as prior to time, which means that the situation that leads to the complete messing up of Dios and his sister in Utena is in fact the fault of the complete messed-up-ness of Dios and his sister. Or, in more Christian terms, the reason why Jesus has to redeem mankind for its sins is because mankind sins, but the reason why mankind sins in the first place is because Jesus/God is timelessly messed up from the act of having died and gone to Hell. This sounds too circular to be interesting, but I think it is nonetheless interesting, as long as you accept the idea of God as unmoved mover. Thus, if God is flawed, God must be flawed because of its own action: this is only logical. It's not a theodicy that justifies Christianity or leaves us with an omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient God. But it is a fun variety of Gnosticism, I think. I wish it would work to make me appreciate Utena more viscerally (I tend to appreciate it intellectually but never find that it quite works for me on an emotional level), but I definitely like the idea that the real God might have things in common with Akio and Anthy, because they're much more interesting characters than Jesus as I know him.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Why I Should Not be Thinking

[excitedly]I would get so much sleep! Sleep would be screaming as I beat it into submission!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Wistful Regret for Those who are Not Yet Here to Regret: Tannoreth

Everyone knows about Fire and Hemlock and "Burnt Norton." I've written about Archer's Goon and 1984, and I've at least sketched out thoughts about The Homeward Bounders and Prometheus Unbound. But it just occurred to me that I've been taking the connection between Dalemark and "The Dry Salvages" to be so obvious (I mean, come on! "I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river / Is a strong brown god"?) that I've never really given it any thought or realized that I've never heard anyone else talk about it. I just briefly skimmed over "The Dry Salvages" - a lot of it is about ocean gods and sailing, a lot of it is about the interaction between the past, present, and future, and the excitement of sudden illuminations, and the intersection of the timeless and time - of course, it would be, given that it is one of the Four Quartets, but there is even a line: "When the train starts, and the passengers are settled."

Possibly it's foolish to even make the connection, given that the four books were written over a very long period of time and seem, in some ways, to be somewhat distinct from each other. Still and all, the resonances exist. And if you're strongly impressed by something such that it helps to form the fabric of the setting of your new work, might it not remain in the setting even over the course of long years?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Solidifying an Awesome Insight

This isn't really a new thought, but it is a kind of awesome one in its awesomeness:

I am Shelley - Headfinger is Keats.

I was going to say, "Just read Alastor and Endymion," but there are two problems, namely: is it really fair to ask people to read Endymion, and, there is so much else to read that you could just about read everything, actually. Still, Alastor v. Endymion is the fundamental contrast I am going for here.

The reason why it's awesome, obviously, is that someone is going to write in the comments to my previous post some kind of rebuttal to my explanation of The Fabric of Reality's argument against solipsism, and that person will be Byron. Then we shall see some painted veils called life torn aside, and some loathsome masks are going to damn well fall, I say, fall! Oh, yeah.