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Pope in his grotto
It's clever, but is it art?
(This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time.)
All right, finals are underway. Time to get back to this 100 Things business.

We left off when God had just finished putting the heavens and the earth in order, and his prize creation was just about to start making a mess of it all, with the help of a certain irresistible tree.

I’m sure you all basically know how the Eden story goes, but if you haven't actually read it, you might be surprised by how short it is. It’s about a page and a half long (Gen. 2.4-3.24). But I think you’d be hard pressed to find another story that packs quite as much potential significance into such a small space.

Let me see if I can explain.Collapse )

...It would make sense here to talk a bit about Milton and the Christian interpretation of the Eden story as “original sin” and the “fall” of man (I don’t know how I managed to not talk about Milton for almost this whole post), but this is already getting long. Maybe some other time. :P

(I feel like I should be citing sources on this stuff. >_> I'm not going to go to all that trouble, but if there's anything in particular you want a source for, just let me know.)
Science: space
Okay, so. Yeah. I'm actually going to try this. 100 posts -- sometime over the course of the indefinite future -- about Judeo-Christian traditions.

And while I don’t promise to keep to any kind of chronological or thematic order, there’s probably no better place to start than in the beginning.

So here are some thoughts on the creation of the world.Collapse )

...I have no idea if I have the stamina for 100, or even, like, three of these, but there you go.

(Also I may possibly be considering signing up for 100 Photos of My Little Ponies Doing Random Things. Or 100 posts about ancient Sumer/Babylon/Akkad/Assyria. Or both. >_>)
12th-Apr-2012 08:05 am - Guys.
Pope in his grotto
This? Is awesome.

{Take the 100 Things challenge!}

LJ is really quiet these days, and I know at least for me, a big part of the reason I don't post much these days is because I don't really think people care about most of the stuff I want to post about. But as I said to roh_wyn, I'd much rather see people making lots of LJ posts about things they're passionate about, even if some of them don't especially interest me personally, than a silent LJ-world where everybody is too considerate to post anything at all.

I think this challenge is a great excuse to post about things you love posting about anyway, or things you always wanted to post about but couldn't find a good reason, or whatever. I really hope some of you guys will try it. I'd love to see more posts here! :)

I'm thinking of doing something like 100 Judeo-Christian Traditions (like, textual traditions, mostly Old/New Testament stuff, but probably some apocryphal stuff and folklore traditions too). Either that or 100 Black & White Horror Movie Picspams. XD
31st-Dec-2011 11:18 pm
Amber: Bleys (art by Boris Sirbey)
Happy New Year! :)
17th-Jun-2011 02:03 am - ...
Shakespeare: foolery
It's 2:00 in the morning. In three hours I need to be at the airport. Russia, and all that, you know.

Clearly, it is time for ramblings about The Merchant of Venice and Macbeth!Collapse )
Shakespeare: foolery
In the course of my education, I've discovered that the best way to get anything done is to have something else to procrastinate about. At the moment, I'm procrastinating about Russian grammar. And Russian spelling, and Russian vocabulary. And the writing of long emails in Russian.

I'm procrastinating by means of Shakespeare. Which I guess is more productive, anyway, than procrastinating by means of Star Trek, which was the other option.

Until fairly recently, I was actually -- as absurd as it may sound -- sort of opposed to the idea of seeing Shakespeare on film, or even at a theater: I was quite sure that the only way to really appreciate Shakespeare's work was by reading it. And I still hold that Shakespeare does need to be read; but I've also finally realized how much one gains by watching different versions of the plays. Gods know when I'll ever actually get to see a Shakespeare play on a stage, but for the time being, I've been making use of Netflix for... slightly more academic purposes than usual. Sort of.

Anyway. Ten films so far. I'm sure you guys are dying to know what I thought of them. ;) There's some picspamming, anyway...

Hamlet - 1948: Laurence OlivierCollapse )
Hamlet - 1990: Kevin KlineCollapse )
Hamlet - 1996: Kenneth BranaghCollapse )
King Lear - 2008: Ian McKellenCollapse )
Othello - 1995: Laurence Fishburne, Kenneth BranaghCollapse )
Macbeth - 2010: Patrick StewartCollapse )
A Midsummer Night's Dream - 1968: Ian Holm, Helen MirrenCollapse )
A Midsummer Night's Dream - 1999: Kevin Kline, Christian Bale, Stanley TucciCollapse )
Much Ado About Nothing - 1993: Branagh, Emma Thompson, Robert Sean Leonard...Collapse )
Twelfth Night - 1996: Ben Kingsley, Helena Bonham Carter, Stephen Mackintosh...Collapse )
Oh, and also Titus, which was too bad to watch.Collapse )

Looking this over, I wonder if I should be ashamed that half of my reactions seem to consist of damn these guys look good in period garb. Er. So much for my intellectual pursuits...
12th-Apr-2011 06:19 pm - April poetry month
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.

I say more: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Christ—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

-Gerard Manley Hopkins
4th-Jan-2011 05:36 am - ...more book stuff!
Heh, I love how everybody is already making posts about how they feel about 2011 so far. As for me, I am definitely not off to a terribly productive start. So far, I have slept a lot and read a lot of Dinosaur Comics. And also my sister and I sat around and watched like two hours' worth of Flight of the Conchords stuff on YouTube. Oy. Though I did watch Becket on New Year's, so that was at least something. (It was very good. Strange, though, seeing O'Toole play Henry II again, but play him as such a completely different character. And once again, I have so much trouble picturing Peter O'Toole as not gay. WHY IS HE ALWAYS SO GAY?)

Also, I've noticed that I suddenly seem to have started saying "twenty" when talking about the year, as in "twenty-eleven" instead of "two-thousand-ten." Maybe because "eleven" is just too many syllables already.

Anyway, to follow up my last post, which was about the books I read in 2010... Here's a 2010 book meme post!

Book meme.Collapse )

...Okay, enough book posts for a while. Though somehow I made a lot fewer book-related posts than usual in 2010, in spite of reading more books than usual. So I guess I'm just making up for it after the fact.
Paradise Lost
Holy hell, saving that Milton essay until the last minute was seriously not a good idea. Jesus Christ. I spent last week reading a couple of hundred pages of literary criticism, then on Friday spent probably five hours typing randomly about the poem until I finally arrived at something that looked like a viable argument for a paper, spent some twelve hours yesterday writing a truly horrible first draft, and then spent literally another twelve straight hours today turning it into something I was not too embarrassed to send to my professor. Seriously, I went to bed at 7:00 PM last night when I absolutely could not look at the thing anymore, got up at 3:00 AM and started writing again, and finally, just now, at quarter to 4:00 PM have at last emailed the file to the teacher. I thought about asking one of you guys to go over the draft, but... I was afraid there would be things wrong with it, and I'm not sure I could have stood going over the thing again. EGADS.

On the bright side, I think I can say I now know Paradise Lost pretty damn well. I mean, there are like three bookcases worth of books about how to interpret PL at the university library, so I'd be kidding myself if I thought I "understood" the poem. But I at least understand it in a few different and probably relatively valid ways.

I was surprised, actually, to find that although I understand the text much better now, and appreciate the art and precision with which Milton composed it, my impression of it still hasn't significantly changed. I spent the whole semester making a point to read the poem, as far as possible, the way I thought Milton would have wanted it read, taking God's goodness and righteousness pretty much for granted, and avoiding the temptation to sympathize with Satan. But now that the class is over, I find that I feel pretty much the same way about Milton's treatment of Christianity as I felt the first time I read it -- I think, first of all, that the task of "justifying the ways of God to men" was hopeless from the get-go, given the text of Genesis and the Christian doctrine that Milton had to work with; and I think Milton made some severe errors of calculation in deciding just how sympathetic to make Satan and just how odious to make God. 'Cause his Satan is pretty much a perfect Byronic hero, aristocratic, arrogant, tormented, flawed and petty and even somewhat despicable, but a lot less ugly even than, say, Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. God, on the other hand, goes about doing a lot of the same damn things Satan does, only they're supposed to be viewed as completely different and good merely because it was God and not Satan who did them. Which reminds me of something Milton himself said in his De Doctrina Christiana (emphasis mine):
In short, many visible proofs, the verification of numberless predictions, a multitude of wonderful works have compelled all nations to believe, either that God, or that some evil power whose name was unknown, presided over the affairs of the world.
...Yeah. He then concludes that it must be God, not He-Who-Must-Cannot-Be-Named, who rules the world, because "that evil should prevail over good, and be the true supreme power, is as unmeet as it is incredible." That's the whole strength of his argument for why all the evil in the world has to somehow ultimately be explained as the divine and beautiful will of a benevolent God.

Oh religion. What can one possibly do with you.

(LOLWTF, 24 hours of essay-writing and apparently I wasn't tired of talking about Milton after all. Sheez.)

One more exam to go. There's no food in the house except for like ten zillion tamales, so I think I'll go buy some Little Caesar's breadsticks for $1.50 to celebrate the completion of the Essay of Doom. And then start studying for the most boring linguistics test ever.

27th-Jun-2010 10:26 pm - my dear Watson
Sherlock Holmes: snow
From latin_cat: a short book meme.Collapse )

On another topic: last night I finally sat down and watched an episode (on YouTube) of the Russian "Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson" series. :) It took forever for the videos to load, which turned out to be kind of neat, because I'd just keep watching the beginning over and over while waiting for the end to load, and I picked up more of the Russian each time. I was rather surprised, actually, how many of the words I recognized, given that we never exactly studied police/crime-related vocabulary in my Russian classes. I really ought to get my hands on some Russian movies/shows to watch. Except that first I need to get my hands on a Region 5 compatible DVD player. :P

I've got to ask, though... is it just me, or is it kind of strange that Holmes and Watson use the formal mode of address with each other? Maybe I have the wrong idea about how these things work, but I would have imagined Holmes and Watson would be close enough to talk to one another на ты, if not at the beginning of the series then at least by the time of, say, "Hound of the Baskervilles." But it looks like they never switch over. Strange? Not strange?
8th-Apr-2010 05:31 am - Hey dol! merry dol!
God, I seriously have the weirdest dreams. Last night, it was about the Council of Elrond. While the Council was deciding what to do with the Ring, the Auditors from Discworld showed up and decided to break up the Council (in some way that was never really explained) so that the Ring and everyone else would stay put in Rivendell and give up all this heroic-journeying nonsense. Tom Bombadil, who was there for some reason, had to call on a "higher power" (Iluvatar?) to stop the Auditors from ruining everything.

Yeah, I'm... having dreams about Tom Bombadil. >_> At least he didn't sing. But he was very huge and his boots were, indeed, yellow.

Say, it appears to be April Poetry Month. Have some Ogden Nash.Collapse )
25th-Mar-2010 05:02 pm - Non sequitur.
Star Trek: Spock - pretty
1. Today, I climbed up on the roof and cut down about 60 pounds worth of branches that were lying on it, and swept away a great mountain of leaves. :) Felt much more productive than going to the gym (which I seem to have stopped doing as of several weeks ago).

2. Monday, as tilly_stratford reminded me, was Talk Like William Shatner Day, in honor of which my sister and I paused dramatically at each other a great deal, and watched two episodes of Star Trek. Since then we've watched four more episodes, and I'm now endeavoring not to relapse into an obsession, because I really don't have time for that... but god. That show. I have never in my life been exposed to anything, anything more addictive and consuming than that show. I can handle drugs, you guys, but one hit of Star Trek and it's all over for me.

3. Here, have a book meme.Collapse )

EDIT: And now (the 26th) I discover that it is Leonard Nimoy's birthday, and that he is also now 79. I had no idea he and Shatner were born, like, four days apart. o_O
10th-Mar-2010 08:02 am - Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
LotR: Boromir *facepalm* (base by fileg)
I am very confused, because I've just finished reading a Philip K. Dick novel so mind-numbingly bad that I'm now wondering whether I've been delusional all these years that I've liked him.

Admittedly, I don't read much sci-fi, but I'd read quite a number of Dick's short stories and three (now four) of his novels, and I'd always considered him one of my favorites, maybe second after Wells. But the book I've just read... I mean, it did not have one single redeeming quality. The plot was stupid, but a good author can generally carry a bad plot for at least some distance. The writing was awful. There were so many adverbs and bad dialogue tags that I could barely read a line without groaning. 'Yes,' he decided regretfully, or she reminded him sweetly or he opined vociferously -- stuff like that, I swear to god. And then all these one-word sentences that were supposed to come off as dramatic or jarring or god knows what, but just looked childish. "He looked at her and shuddered. Violently." What the hell is that violently doing out there all by itself? There are places for jarring sentence fragments, but come on. He can't violently AFTER he shudders. What the devil is going on?

And what's even worse is that he keeps sending his characters off into multi-page pseudo-philosophical digressions about topics that have nothing even remotely to do with the story. Topics that contribute nothing to the theme, and don't even help to develop the characters. There was an entire chapter in which an extremely minor character met another character who was never to be seen again, so that they could discuss whether certain sexual practices were disgusting or not. Sexual practices which had nothing to do with anything that happened in the book. And in the middle of their conversations, people would suddenly change their opinions, presumably to give Dick a better platform for making some argument, or telling some random tragic story about a rabbit, that didn't mesh with the characters' original opinions. Jesus god. I have MSTed Mary Sue fics that made more sense.

I just... I don't see how this can be. Flipping back through some of my other Dick novels, I see that he's always been too fond of adverbs and fancy dialogue tags, though I never noticed it before. I know he likes philosophical digressions, but in books like The Man in the High Castle, that was what I liked about him -- he was good at it. I thought. His topics were relevant and interesting. But after the mind-blowing badness of this book I've just read, I'm half wondering whether he was bad all along and just had me fooled somehow. But I can't see how that can be, either. I mean, this book was like... Dean Koontz bad. James Patterson bad. That's how bad it was. There's no way I could have missed that much badness before now.

But neither does it seem possible that a good author could, without some phenomenal effort of deliberate will, succeed in writing at that level of badness.

So confused.

Anyway, I have now finally picked up American Gods. I've been hesitant to read it, because to be perfectly honest, as much as I loved The Sandman, I haven't yet liked any of Neil Gaiman's novels; but surely nothing Neil Gaiman can write could be much worse than what I just read, even if American Gods does appear to continue in the Neil Gaiman tradition of stopping to explain himself whenever he says anything he worries might be too smart for his audience. At least I can count on him, I think, to go somewhere with his books. Maybe?

Lord, fiction these days! I'm actually starting to miss China Mieville. The guy bored me half to death, but at least his writing was good.

I'm becoming one of those awful pretentious people who won't read anything but "literature," aren't I?
3rd-Oct-2009 11:35 pm - Still October.
Well, instead of studying for my Old English exam, I wound up reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I italicize the title because I suppose the story is long enough to be considered a novella, but really it felt more like a short story to me. Far shorter than I was expecting.

I've never read any Robert Louis Stevenson before. He reminds me a little of Doyle and a lot of Wells -- of The Invisible Man, in particular. And maybe of Hawthorne, too, at least thematically.

It's difficult, I'm afraid, to appreciate Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde these days the way it was meant to be appreciated, since the entire story is just a suspenseful build-up to the reveal in the final two chapters, which any modern-day reader already knows about before he picks up the book. It's almost a detective story, the only difference being that there's a moral, or at least a moral dilemma, in the resolution. But sci-fi elements aside, the last couple of chapters read almost exactly like the confessional monologue at the end of your typical Sherlock Holmes story.

It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but it was good, in that vaguely impersonal turn-of-the-century English way. Good enough that I'm sorry I didn't somehow manage to read it without knowing the twist. I'm interested to read more of Stevenson's stories now, anyway.

And I'm reminded that I really need to get back to reading classics and avoiding modern fiction, which tends to have approximately the same effect on me that television has -- that is, to leave me with this numbly placid feeling of "life is sure sparkly but what the fuck is the point" as opposed to "life is one long bloody tragedy, but I hope it lasts."
Devil: Temptation
Finished To Reign in Hell. The premise was really interesting, but I'm not so sure about the execution... I'm afraid Brust has rather reminded me why I don't generally read sci-fi or fantasy novels. Like so many of them, this one came off more like a really excellent fanfic than like a professional work, I thought. I found it particularly jarring in this case because of how blatantly similar Brust's style is to Zelazny's, yet without being anywhere near as polished or natural as Zelazny is. But besides that, his writing just felt very rushed to me, a bit haphazard, a bit heavyhanded... I mean, I realize it's hard to deal with messiahs and gods and damnation without being heavyhanded, and Brust sure as hell could easily have done much, much worse. But --

Well, enough skirting around spoilers. On to the review.Collapse )

This turned out a bit rantier than I intended. I didn't actually hate the book or anything -- I'm just disappointed because it had so much potential, and I feel like Brust could have done a lot better with such rich material. I'd be willing to try another of his books sometime, though. This one was certainly a quick read, in any case.
23rd-Jul-2009 09:25 pm
Okay, and on a (mostly) totally different topic, I also just read Lord Byron's Cain, a Mystery. In which I ramble about Byron, Satan, Cain, and Steinbeck.Collapse )
23rd-Jul-2009 07:55 pm
HP: Snape: "Always."
I've now seen Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I had very little idea what to expect, since the last HP movie I saw was Prisoner of Azkaban; I've been a little afraid to see any of the films since then, since the actors just look all wrong to me. But this one actually was not bad. I mean, it was about as convoluted and dragging as the novel, in spite of the fact that they left out a ton of stuff (including nearly everything pertaining to the Half-Blood Prince!), but for all that, I enjoyed it, and it actually inspired me to finally go to Blockbuster and rent the previous two films.

Mostly, the movie reminded me how much I still love Snape.Collapse )
So my English Lit class is over, and what's the first thing I do? Decide it's time to finally read Gulliver's Travels.

It was actually far more entertaining than I had expected. Swift's style is very prosaic and straightforward, which is probably why every time I've tried to read the book in the past, I was bored within the first couple of pages. But having gotten accustomed to his dry sarcasm from the excerpts in my Lit textbook, I was ready to give him another try. He's... quite a character, that Swift.

Mainly, I find myself astonished at how I can have ever imagined 1700 was a long time ago. I mean, I never thought 1800 seemed all that far in the past, but 1700 was another matter. The wigs and stockings had me confused, I guess. Diderot and Voltaire set me straight about the later part of the century, but I was still a bit wary of Swift. I see now that I was being an idiot. Gulliver's Travels begins in 1699, and is scarcely any less relevant now than it was three hundred years ago.

Some random observations. With spoilers.Collapse )

What's really funny is that the whole book reminded me, more than anything, of Star Trek. Okay, I know, I know. But in an age when the idea of interstellar travel was beyond any reasonable conjecture, Gulliver was nevertheless making the same kind of journeys the Enterprise makes, to strange new worlds where no man has gone before; and in most cases, the beings he discovers there are even less like his own people than the aliens on Star Trek are like earthlings. And, most importantly, in every case, by observing the behaviors and cultures of other creatures, he learns something about humanity, for better or worse. Only I'm afraid Swift was much less optimistic, and much less forgiving, than Roddenberry was.

Anyway. I should stop, because I have to go buy another computer monitor, since the one in my room has died again. God, I'd almost forgotten how preposterously long my posts get when I don't have a zillion more urgent things to be doing. You can all see how profitably I spend my free time. Whee.
10th-May-2009 02:06 am - Obligatory new!Trek review.
Star Trek: Spock
So. I went ahead and saw the new Star Trek movie, since everyone is talking about it.

I was expecting to have more of a reaction to it. Like, to either like it more, or hate it more. My lack of reaction is probably due to the fact that I’ve been reading spoilers for a couple of days now -- something I normally would never, ever do. Normally, I avoid spoilers like the plague. But this time... I figured I’d be better off preparing myself beforehand for just how much I was going to hate this movie. And it seems to have worked, because I didn’t hate it. But I definitely didn't love it, either.

Spoilers in here.Collapse )

I'm a traditionalist. What can I say.

ETA: One more thing.Collapse )

ETA #2: Okay, make that two more things.Collapse )

ETA #3: THIS. <-- (You probably won't want to read this if you liked the movie.)
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