Sunday, March 23, 2014

On Human Motives, Violence and Understanding

Random Acts of Violence is an excellent movie displaying the nature of the psychopath and the deranged mind that acts on impulse and rationalizes his actions as he goes along.  An excellently made and executed movie, it stars Ashley Cahill (spelling?) as a British pseudo-intellectual complaining that New York is too “white” and safe; stifling the creativity that he believes requires instability and horror.  The film is actually categorized as a Horror picture ludicrously enough, when it’s clearly a vaguely philosophical comedy which small segments of drama – that is tension when you’re uncertain what’s going to transpire and the comedic elements aren’t present, not “Drama” in the sense of Soap Opera Will Love Prevail? Drama.  That may be an inaccurate description for it then, but to otherwise describe the seriousness of it would be to classify it as a Thriller, and it doesn’t have the type of action, mystery or build-up to classify it as such.  But enough on that note.
The film also functions as an effective satire on the logical end of the Nietzschean/Social Darwinist line of thinking of society becoming too weak and complacent, and stark inequality and a certain indifference to certain kinds of suffering is required if not deemed commendable; as well-as killing those who are disrespectful or offend you as Nietzsche took a hyper-defensive view of slaying those who slight you.  However this is only his main rationalization of being a Leopold and Lobe type psychopath who simply has the impulse to kill others and justifies why as he goes along.  This is seen in him pompously saying that one must be “philosophical” when killing people, and deeming himself somehow above Dahmer, Bundy and others.  He then murders his friend Alex and her boyfriend because they’re playfully insulting his cooking skills.  He actually believes the things he says, he isn’t lying, and of course that’s the nature of rationalizations. 
This is also seen in Walter White with his justifying being the head of a Meth Empire as an attempt to build a fortune for his family before he goes.  However as the show develops it becomes more-and-more obvious that this is only a rationalization for living a thrilling life of money, power and a sense of referral and purpose that he didn’t have when he was a teacher to apathetic High Schoolers.  He clearly is a fundamentally good person, even when Jessie wants to see him dead or in jail he first tries to reason with him when Jessie believes partly due-to paranoia, partly due-to sound judgment that Walter is merely trying to coax Jessie out of hiding so one of Saul’s men can execute him.  An intelligent man with a love of science that wishes to expand his knowledge unto others, he attempts to gain his meaning from teaching, but the students fail the passion for Chemistry that he has, so he cannot feel his career has much purpose both in deriving Existential satisfaction from it and it actually serving any common good.  Once he realizes he has cancer, he subconsciously realized he’s always been “the nice guy” that’s done the right thing and lived for others (whether it be his family or society through teaching) but he feels like life has not rewarded him and his efforts have a marginal if any positive impact.  So he instead moves into a “career” that is derived solely out-of his personal interests, desires and fundamentally is a business that decreases the net utility of society in obvious ways.  He ultimately confesses his true motives behind his actions, when Malcolm is too deranged to see anything but his own poorly constructed rationalizations and sense of grandiose purpose and inherent “rightness” he has. 
Malcolm is clearly a Narcissist who cannot take the slightest degree of criticism whether it’s the correction of his confusing 1984 with Brave New World, or his own motives of wanting to start random acts of violence – hey that’s the title of the movie! – when his colleague mentions that it is in-fact what he wanted when his girlfriend Sophia is injured.  He cannot of course accept this, because all anything is to him is a source of pleasure.  At that given time, Sophia made him happier than even his bloodlust and the fulfillment of ego that he obtained from killing that he now finds satisfied out of Sophia’s love.  That is why he was willing to let the two bound victims go even when it very-likely meant the end of his freedom and the execution of his “manifesto” which he derives a sense of meaning from.  However, Malcolm is psychologically a Nihilist, confessing in a scene that he believes in nothing (which isn’t tantamount to Atheism as morons believe; also I hated Sophia after her idiotic rationalization for her belief in God disbelief in Evolution, and frankly hoped she would be killed after that scene) and functions on nothing but his own craving for validation through killing, literature, romantic affections and people appreciating his pasta sauce.
Though most people clearly wouldn’t go as far as Malcolm does both out of psychological restraints existing in the mentally healthy and fear of being caught, most are like Malcolm in craving satisfaction and fulfillment in a non-Existential or way and creating rationalizations of it in terms of ethics and purpose later.  Most people do what is merely convenient or pleasant to them, whether it be Hedonistic pleasures or the myriad of psychological pleasures that are either innate in the individual or conditioned into them.  This could include having a family, their religion, love, their career, their friends and essentially any facet of their existence.  They either derive joy or comfort from these things, or in-terms of a job one hates, performs them as a necessary-evil to obtain their sources of pleasure.  Later however, some rationalize a greater purpose or ulterior motive to their actions rather than the comfort, pleasure or sense of psychological fulfillment it gives them.
Contrast this however with Marv from Sin City.  Marv is brutally honest to compliment his brutal nature.  Before he meets Goldie his life is in effect meaningless because he has yet to assign a true meaning to it.  He gets drunk, has bar-room brawls with drunken idiots disrespecting Nancy or any of the other strippers or other employees of Katy’s and would have sex if his face prevented him from sleeping even with prostitutes.  He loves sad Country music because it reflects the despair and Schopenhauerian essence of life being either a banal or painful tragedy he feels in his being.  He hates uplifting music or pop music because though he lacks the intellect to describe this sentiment, he views such music as existentially ingenuine and cheap attempts to delude one’s mind in a state of false and superficial consciousness to avoid the realities of human existence.  I feel a similar way in my love of Punk music and its mocking of stupidity, consumerism, religion, right-wing politics, apathy and Hedonism through satire.  Let the stupid, weak-willed and utterly contemptible escape in the refuge of pop-music but leave us respectable punk-enthusiasts in peace!  I was playing off a line of Schopenhauer’s for those ignorant of his Essays on Pessimism.  Read a book – YA and horror novels don’t count.
However, once he meets and fucks Goldie and discovers hours later she was murdered, he assigns an “objective” meaning to his life to catch, torture and kill her killer; as opposed to the cheap ad-hoc rationalizations of people assigning meaning to their lives after the fact of achieving pleasure or comfort from what so conveniently is the purpose or meaning in their existence (e.g. Family, love of God, career, etc.).  He is willing to suffer any degree of pain and ultimately death to achieve his goal, and though he takes deep sadistic satisfaction in his actions it isn’t the main motives for his actions.  Though he may be unaware of this (I suspect he could be half-aware of this strange fact) Goldie dying after a night of drunken passions is very-likely the best thing that could have happened to him.  Goldie went to Marv out of a need-for-protection, not love; and they would have parted ways that night and Marv would have been left in his meaningless existence which he defines as Hell.  Goldie performing him an act out of self-interest that still brought him great joy and then being murdered gave him something in life he could assign meaning to.
 It too is a rationalization, Goldie isn’t a particularly noble (Not that that makes her death not a crime.  It’s simply that while Marv is an ethical person, he wasn’t creating vendettas for anyone before Goldie, and Goldie isn’t exactly the exceptional person to begin to go to the ends of the world to avenge.) or meaningful person to Marv, at-least outside of her giving him something to define his life on, but it’s a different form of rationalization.  The rationalization of the Hedonist or Nihilist seen in Malcolm is to bring meaning or add justification to their actions and life that is performed for the reasons I’ve already described.  The rationalization of the Existentialist, of Marv however, is the craving in life of objective meaning, true meaning though there isn’t one.  So because we live in a Universe devoid of meaning, they rationalize and define a meaning to their lives at-times by whim.  The distinction being that the achievement of their goal becomes something that they wish to achieve for both for its own sake and the knowledge of achieving their self-prescribed goal – you could argue this is merely another form of psychological pay-off, but I believe it’s of a radically different kind. 
Marv dies happy because he “did right” by Goldie, but his happiness is secondary to achieving what he sets out to do.  If Malcolm no longer felt the urge to kill he wouldn’t.  Marv however is killing to do something he deems noble and meaningful.  He escapes Existentialist Hell by doing something truly great – bringing down a corrupt Priest who is aiding a mute cannibal Hobbit – for the sake of achieving his end, and the joy he reaches amongst the suffering he endures is created by achieving his sense of purpose – not the other way around as it is for Malcolm, Walter and nearly all of us.  True meaning is achieving what one has set out to do for its own sake or for the sake of a grander more abstract ideal like justice, equality, freedom, etc.  If the Ego becomes involved or personal pleasure above the fulfillment of the thing-itself then it is at-least in-part either a rationalization for said pleasure or means of achieving the comfort of self-worth or purpose, which also is a type of Existential craving, but a weaker more shallow form of it that merely wants the pay-off of achieving meaning and more essentially validation or vindication, rather than the achievement of whatever task being the main thing first-and-foremost. 
When a Hero in any epic tale goes on a journey or grand quest, he is in-effect playing the role of Marv who is willing to set-aside his own personal pleasures or desires for something that he will gain meaning and purpose from, but said meaning isn’t the motive of his actions.  Though these heroes usually have some gallant mission to undertake, while Marv’s is simply avenging a dead hooker which unintentionally (in-that he isn’t concerned bringing down a incredibly unethical and corrupt religious figure and dissolving his hold and influence over the citizens of Sin City) leads to the demise of a respectable figure doing heinous things through controlling a large network of crime syndicates – which I personally find incredibly brilliant and adds to the Existentialist nature of his ethical actions.  He doesn’t care about politics, economics or philosophical justifications for anything, he just knows in his heart that Goldie was kind to him (though for her own ends) and that she didn’t deserve to die.  And yet simply by avenging her death he helps countless lives and increases the net-utility of those living in Sin City (at-least potentially) and thereby performs an ethical action in numerous ways.  This really is one of the most brilliant portrayals of Existentialism I’ve seen in some time.
Finally, though I won’t go into great detail, it should be said that rationalizations have a close relationship to Rationalist Epistemology.  Whether it’s Descartes arguing for the existence of God because God is by definition perfect and perfection necessitates existence or it’s Leibniz arguing for this reality being the “Best of All Possible Worlds” which inspired one of the greatest satires in human history seen in Candide, Rationalism creates a validation for the psychological impulse to believe that what is reasonable or personally desirable is true.  When our knowledge of human history and reality shows such is not the case.  Quantum Indeterminacy is something that defies reason, and yet there is at-least some evidence for its existence.  The very existence of the Big Bang and Existence having a “beginning” (though it’s certainly possible that something existed before the Big Bang either in “this” space or in another Universe) is something that defies reason; and yet Edgar Allen Poe (though he had many relatively small errors in his essay where he precursors the discoveries of 20th Century Physicists) somehow, at-least in some sense, proved more right than the Philosophers who claimed it was self-evident that existence and the world are eternal.  Now of course Poe didn’t gather this conclusion from empirically gathered data, so one could make this an argument for Rationalism, but the fact is that we “know” or have evidence of our Universe’s creation from data, and should not take Poe’s word on it though it is astounding that a poet and novelist could make correct claims on astronomical affairs.  Just as though Democritus and Epicurus are geniuses and should be regarded in far higher esteem than Plato, we should not take their word on the existence of atoms and particularly not their specifics – Democritus believing that “salt atoms” would taste salty. 

One might argue that “atoms” or basic building blocks are a requisite for existence with things in it.  I would be inclined to agree but then I come across our new understanding of the path of atoms and “pure chance” and not merely our failing to understand the outcome of things creating probability.  It would seem nothing but an obvious necessity of existence for cause-and-effect to create a Determinist framework where all existence is caused by the interaction of parts the moment before it and the laws that govern them; but this too though not necessarily disproven to my understanding is under reasonable scrutiny regardless.  Though reason is a crucial tool paramount to proper judgment and execution of said judgment, we must remember that is a tool evolved from mere chance of the development of our frontal lobes and it seeks pattern and order where there is none.  Though it is capable of performing feats far outside the realm of immediate biological preservation and continuation of lineage, though it is one of the most wonderful things in all of existence conjoined with the human trait of imagination and human capacity of love, we must remember that it is based on the laws of human experience and senses which are clearly not-objective.  The senses conjoined with reason are what allow us to prove both our immediate senses and cognitive faculties wrong, creating new degrees of understanding and new thoughts as well-as questions to further the human degree of awe and bewilderment.
On Red Rain – And Other Things

Red Rain is a great book until the last thirty pages or so.  How a novel could take such a deep plunge is slightly surprising especially coming from the author I’ve read the most.  Equipped with great internal dialogue such-as they’re going to kill me now, how could you possibly go wrong?  In-fact, I thought Stine was being self-aware of the travesty he was putting us through when it seemed the ending of the book was going to be “the fire that consumed her went out with an almost-silent huuuuuush,” telling us essentially, “Hush, hush, it’s all-right, it’s all over now.” But then one of the worst endings I can recall takes place with meaningless banter and then showing Axl frying two beetles, revealing he has Samuel’s power.  That he had because he was more-or-less a zombie.  So… did they kill Axl and resurrect him to have demonic powers?  Is there going to be a sequel?  If not, why have such a horribly canned ending for a horror novel? 
The cheap, “And he opened the door!” stuff is great; cheesy, but it comes with the territory.  Ending a one-hundred and twenty page children’s novel that way when it’s one of seventy or so in a series is acceptable, but you think he would try to give his adult audience something well – more developed.
After I read Red Rain, I read one of the Goosebumps books I remember more distinctly to see a difference in writing and execution.  There was that wonderful false-scare chapter ending almost at the very beginning of the book – oh, I read Cuckoo Clock of Doom, I guess you should know that – and this particular book was written in the first person, though I recall more-than half of them being written in the third-person.  This is crucial information I assure you – trust me.  It’s clear that the book is written for a younger audience, but I didn’t sense any large distinction in depth between the two.  I suppose that’s what separates adult novels from great literature.  Adult novels are just the same plots you find in children stories only add fucking to the romance plots – unless it’s purely pleasure fucking, then I suppose you could swap that with a horny Woody Allen child whose kissing girls on the cheek – and sprinkle the dialogue with vulgarity.
I remember this book being a rather thought-provoking beginning to philosophical thought for my prepubescent self.  To capsulate the basic plot:  Michael’s sister is a little shit.  Their parents always blame him for what she does or the outcome of it.  He turns around the bird in a magical cuckoo clock to get his sister in trouble.  Day-to-day – or rather overnight – time travel ensues that only he is conscious of.  But what causes him to be aware of it when everyone else is naturally responding to stimuli according to fate?  The “time travel” (if it even technically is such because his mind is the only thing going backwards in time) is caused magically, so I suppose you could just argue, “he caused it, so the magical spell only works on him.”  Fair enough, but it certainly is an interesting question to answer and is one of the reasons why stories involving magical causes or explanations usually feel lacking to me.  It becomes an easy excuse for being inconsistent or ambiguous in the mechanics of your story.  Though I wouldn’t make either claim for this particular one.
The very notion of a pre-teen’s brain experiencing the sensations of the exterior world via a third-grader’s body is certainly an interesting concept for an elementary school reader to process, but it’s probably more to think about than most of the stuff adults today are reading assuming they even are.  Even if he had the consciousness of his twelve year old self wouldn’t he have the cognitive limitations of an eight year old just like he would have the physical limitations of one?  Could he then have the consciousness of his twelve year old self if he was limited intellectually and otherwise to the mind of an eight year old?  These are Phenomogical questions I doubt even Heidegger addresses.
If his mind is the only thing “traveling” backwards in time, then what would happen when he goes past the point of his birth?  Once again the consciousness of a twelve year old couldn’t exist in an infant based on our understanding of how consciousness functions and develops scientifically, but this seems to be a more “Sartrean” or Phenomenological account of consciousness.  Would his mind simply discontinue traversing backwards in time ending the experience while another Michael would continue experiencing things and living as he otherwise would?  Or would we finally have a key example of a philosophical zombie?  That which appears in every way to be a sentient entity – or at-least as sentient as twelve year old with a roughly average intellect is – but in reality is not though can never be objectively verified all-the-while his mind has been jettisoned from his body, or rather his body still theoretically going forward in time, travelling backwards in time towards oblivion.  Or is the period of time following the moment he fell asleep the night he flipped the Cuckoo bird essentially “destroyed” or never going to occur because existence itself really is going backwards and only he is the one who is aware of it?  So if such were the case, with his mind being destroyed would reality continuing going backwards in time until the beginning of the Big Bang and theoretically before it?  Or would time continue going forward again day-to-day until Michael once again flipped-around the Cuckoo bird starting the process again ad infinitum?  Nietzsche would definitely understand this concept, though he might feel somewhat shamed that a children’s author found a potential plot-device for his Eternal Reoccurrence much better than he could – a Demon, really?  Wow really clever there Nietzsche, having the same ingenuity – or lack thereof – in analogy that Descartes, a philosopher you rail against, had.  You call John Stuart Mill an idiot but he never reverted to simplistic religious analogies to make his points.  But of course Nietzsche only meant it as a theoretical concept to express his Existentialist version of Kant’s Categorical Imperative.
How could he begin to “prove” or give evidence that he is truly going backwards in time?  He tells his parents but they expectedly disbelieve him.  This is a fascinating idea.  He knows the future, but since those who he is trying to convince haven’t experienced it – obviously – and every day spent begins a day further into the past he cannot go to the happenstance in question and show to others that he knew it would happen.  But he can do it day-by-day until he goes back to the third grade.  So he has three days to explain or rather show to his father (or possibly mother though she isn’t the one who bought the clock and likely wouldn’t know where to purchase it) that he’ll be able to predict what others will say and do if no other variables are altered.  Though all the crucial scenes of the furthest back two days (the underwear embarrassment day and the beaten bloody day) don’t involve the parents at-all.  Somehow Michael telling his Dad, “Hey, I’m going to be beaten up today because of my sister,” or, “Yo Pops, I’m going to be embarrassed in-front of the girl I have the hots for because of your daughter,” doesn’t seem like convincing arguments for time travel or clairvoyance.  Except if my son said either of these things I may half-believe him only because what reason besides pulling a rather odd prank of foolery would he have for actually executing these things?  Or rather why would he know of these things and clearly have no incentive or desire to have them happen?  But considering his parents are morons who believe everything the sister character says and immediately distrust the son as if he were a multiple felon how could he convince them of this even if he does predict his sister’s nefarious actions?  They’ll simply deny it.  I find it hard to believe they would believe him unless they could scold him for touching a clock they don’t have and didn’t know they would.
But why did the sister trip him differently on his birthday?  Nothing else was different; he stupidly went along with everything else, even showing the other boys his newly marked bike – that he allowed his sister to scratch again, though I suppose you could say he allowed it because any attempt to explicitly prevent his sister would result in a scolding from his parents for not “being nice” or sharing; though of course he could simply, I don’t know, sit on the bike he just was given so his sister couldn’t.  But I suppose conceiving this only proves I’m brighter than a twelve year old; and RL Stine if he didn’t think of this – even though he knew that his sister was tearing the wrappings on his presents as a result of him not being there.  I don’t recall him being told by Doc Brown that he can’t interfere with the time-space continuum thus risking a creation of a paradox and destruction of the universe (or merely the destruction of our local galaxy – it doesn’t make any sense, but it’s still a humorous line).  So why does this kid act so goddamn stupid?  Not only with this, but in taking so long in trying to find the cuckoo clock, waiting until Day Five when he is in the second grade to play hooky and try to find it in an attempt to reverse his own personal (once again though, is it only affecting his mind?) time-reversal.  When essentially anyone by the second day would think, “What if this keeps on happening?  Oh shit.  Better find that fucking clock.”  Though Tara is a candidate for the Cunt of the Year Award – a special event, tonight only, commercial free due-to our friend McDonald’s: I’m lovin’ it – she is right about one thing:  Michael is without a doubt dumb.  “But I couldn’t stand to admit that I’d ever been so stupid.”  I think that sentence speaks for itself.  Make your own joke if you wish.
Another thing to consider is if this is in another time stream or in the same one he’s always existed in only now altered.  There really is no way of knowing which would be the case.  Also if he was successful in breaking the window – I honestly like that Stine has the main character attempt to do this – it’s unlikely that what he perceives to be the present would instantaneously manifest itself.  He would need to flip the cuckoo back in its proper position and could be caught by the police (or rather an adult who would restrain him and call the police) who would send him back to the custody of his parents.  We would then assume time would go forward in intervals hopefully speedily – though theoretically he would need to experience every day after the one in question again – until he returns to what he conceives as “modern day” then return to a steady rate of day-to-day as we experience our lives.  So he could feasibly have a police record at the age of seven thus altering his entire future and the state of the “modern day” he would return to.  Maybe Tara wouldn’t be such a bitch and Mona would flash him a seductive look-or-two (Did I really just write about a twelve year old girl giving “come hither” looks?  Insert Deandra’s sing-song explanation of never wanting to fuck any children though she just sang a song about molesting a boy here.) if he was a hardened preteen with a history of vandalism under his Power Ranger belt.
And of course when he narrates that his arm is “The arm felt fine.  Perfectly normal.  Completely healed,” it’s rather that he never experienced his arm breaking because he was assumingly knocked-out when he hit the ground.  But whether or not his arm actually was broken at-all is what would be worthy of discussion.  If time is rewinding with him, then theoretically he could be creating a future for himself where he never did climb the tree and thus never broke his arm.  Or it could be that he’s breaking his arm in that moment “for all time” or perhaps is only a moment away from breaking his arm with the theory that he is creating a time loop where time is eternally going forwards-and-backwards beginning with the destruction of his consciousness and ending with the moment he falls asleep after he flipped the bird.  Or it could be that he himself never breaks his arm because after his mind goes past the point of birth he becomes a “Philosophy Zombie” so he as a truly sentient entity never breaks his arm, only he as an entity that acts in a way indistinguishable from a four year old that is easily swayed by his female peers does.
It’s a brilliant coincidence that a duck is what is on Michael’s blanket.  Because of course the duck-rabbit is the Wittgensteinian example of a thing which could be either of two (or more) things because it’s merely something to be interpreted by our minds.  Time travel particularly of this example is a perfect expression of this sentiment.  Is his mind going backwards in time or is all of existence?  If he fails to return the cuckoo to its original position will he fade out of existence or will time simply either continue going backwards or return going forwards until he reverses the cuckoo “once more” or rather for the first and only time?  Because we are temporal beings it is almost impossible to say which is the case “objectively.”  Nietzsche’s Perspectivism is clearly of significance here.  Could any possibility or perception be proven in a way that would disprove the other and what would be the distinction if it were one over the other?  We could give rationalistic answers to the consequences of one version over the other, but since we know essentially nothing about time travel and its actual theoretical functioning we must confess that realistically we know nothing of the consequential logistics of any method of his time travel.  Especially considering the close-to impossibility of his consciousness being retained throughout the events being described making a “realistic account” of these events essentially impossible.
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Though he retains the consciousness of a twelve year old, as he grows younger (grows younger?) he adopts the “instincts” and impulses of his biological rather than “phenomenological” age.  He is capable of tying his shoe strings when he is five – his Dad mouths “finally” but isn’t five the proper age if not slightly early for expecting shoe-tying? – though this gives us no new information since we already knew he had the knowledge and consciousness he had when he was twelve.  Though skills like shoe-tying at-least in-part are located in a different part of the brain, so it shows that he perhaps retains the motor skills and brain development of a twelve year old as well-as the consciousness and memories.  But then when he is younger he is impelled to cry when he is four and Mona is rude to him and is unable to speak in coherent sentences when he is one.  So this would be evidence for him not having the brain of a twelve year old though he would somehow retain the mind of one.  And considering a five year old still is developing his motor skills, but is at-least somewhat likely to have those required to tie their shoes, it could very-well be his five year old motor skills were sufficient to allow his twelve year old mind to tie the shoe at-ease.  As a side-note I’d like to add I find it humorous that the Dad thought his son was slow when he isn’t exactly the brightest bulb either.  But then again, since he is talking about his genetic lineage, the fact that the father is slow would be evidence to the fact his son is as-well.  So though his description may be accurate – which certainly seems the case considering how long it took him to try to save himself – he certainly isn’t one to judge.
Does the shopkeeper attempting to prevent Michael from spinning the cuckoo around affect him as an ethical being at-all?  What of the notion of us stepping on microscopic civilizations without our knowing or understanding?  Humans base their understanding of ethics rightly upon cause-and-effect and we believe we can gain a grasp or understanding of ethics by understanding the causal relations of our natural world and the social orders we construct.  But what if there are always going to be things beyond human comprehension – a likely possibility.  Does our ignorance of alien life prevent us from culpability when we colonize the Galaxy and wipe said life out?  Ultimately we need to conclude yes as long-as it’s not used as an intellectual or psychological rationalization for remaining in the veil of ignorance.  For if ethics is to be functional, it must be based on our understanding of how things function.  Otherwise we could never leave our homes because we would speculate that doing so would create or alter an alternate universe were an evil version of Charlie Chaplin became “effectively” Adolf Hitler and extinguished humanity.  If we don’t know anything about alternate universes and its relation to our own we have to confess it’s possible, as is this fictional scenario where a shopkeeper preventing a baby from playing with a clock is effectively murdering the mind of a twelve year old (and that’s what we have the public school system for!  Zing!) considering our ignorance of time travel.  Now obviously these things are incredibly unlikely to the degree of being effectively impossible (just as Hume said we should not relay on inductive logic, but effectively not only could but must rely on the sun raising every morn for we have seen it countless times before) and we should rely on our understanding of empirical studies and causality in-relation to the field of ethics.
However, once knowledge is presented after a given otherwise immoral event, actions must be taken to correct what was done in ignorance.  For example, the Europeans (though most weren’t exactly concerned with the plight of the Indian) caused many Native Americans to become severely ill and die from having immune systems ignorant of the bacterium the Europeans brought with them.  Though there actions regarding the red-toned people are of course abhorrent and without excuse, this is not something to fault them for.  What is however is them not studying and in the mean-time quarantining themselves from the Native American population to prevent further risk of exposure.  In this case, a treaty of hunting and farming space should have been negotiated between the various tribes and colonies, keeping in mind that the Indians have “first grabs” or primary concern for space in-effect for they have been there for centuries while the Europeans chose to colonize.  However, if the Native Americans were right, and the Earth is a communal supplier of resources and space owned in common fraternity and use, then the Native Americans would have no right to deny the Europeans access to an adequate amount of land and resources as long as they had no knowledge that they were using said goods for immoral purposes and ends.  Denying the European gunpowder to kill his fellows with would be a good cause to refuse trade or graciousness for example.  This is quite different than the Government forbidding drug use however.  In one example you have the Native Americans in-effect on or surrounding a resource that can be used for destructive means (the destruction of others) while the Government forbidding the use of marijuana or cocaine is to forbid personal freedom.  If the Government owned pot plants or cocoa reserves and wanted to prevent the sale of it to those they have reason to believe would use the drug in unethical conduct, then this would fit the analogy properly or at-least far-more closely.
After he discovers that his sister is gone he promises that he will “maybe” get her back.  But how would he even go about doing this, and how exactly was she erased from existence in the first place?  The novel explains it as a year missing on the clock, leaving us to assume that a year in time simply failed to transpire so as did the event of the child’s birth which occurred that year.  But does that mean that all of the events of an entire year are wiped from existence?  And why is it that people aren’t cognizant of the fact that (if memory serves) 1992 was immediately followed by ’94?  Wouldn’t this be, or rather create, a worldwide crises?  Also wouldn’t he be a year younger (as would everyone else who exists) than he would be otherwise with a year missing in the time-stream?  And if he is still celebrating his twelfth birthday party, why does that year continue to manifest consequences (like an eleventh birthday party leading to a twelfth) but not the supposedly inevitable or naturally occurring event of his sister’s birth?  Or does everyone know a year has been ripped from their lives and simply choose to not consciously show awareness because of the unwillingness to confront the existential and intellectual quandaries that confront them and the moments and possibilities they theoretically have lost? But that’s another thing, and if our understanding of causality has any hold on time travel and alteration the most-likely of scenarios:  that said year has been ripped out of the Universe, and no one knows that the year is gone as long-as the “editing” is seamless.  Could it be that 1994 became the new 1993 because no one knew that year was deleted from the time-stream?
In the beginning of the book he talks about “what he did” and why it was necessary or justified to do whatever he’s referring to.  He never explicitly claims or it never becomes blatantly obvious what he’s referring to.  But are we to assume that he’s in-effect stating that he with moments to spare in saving his own existence decides to erase his sister’s?  Ballsy move, a little too risky for my tastes, but I have to give him credit for risking it all to remove the little brat.  But does that also mean – as of course it would necessarily – that he’s telling us the story after-the-fact as Alex is in A Clockwork Orange and he’s already aware of all that is determined to transpire?  The distinction in first-person present-tense and past-tense seems at-times ambiguous, unless it’s made explicit in the story.  Alex makes far-more  meta-references than Coo Coo Clock of Doom such-as his needing to be alive though he thought he would surely die because he needs to be alive to tell the story he’s telling us (insert Kick Ass telling us to stop being “smart asses” and that there is plenty of movies where narration takes place after the characters death:  Sin City, American Beauty, that Blvd. movie I saw but can’t remember the name of – Hollywood Blvd? – that’s referenced in numerous television shows and movies that 95% of the audience are ignorant of.  Also there’s an episode of the Twilight Zone that seems to have token a large chunk of the movie’s plot as material if memory serves.  But then again does every movie about an aged movie star living in the memory of her career which is a dead medium a rip-off of that movie?  Is J’onn J’onnz a rip-off of Superman because they’re both alien immigrants whose species is more-or-less extinct asides from themselves?  Is every story about teenage angst and the troubles of rich kids living in the 50’s who have a sibling die in the family a rip-off of Catcher in the Rye?  I’m making it very specific for comedic effect but you get my point.) but does that distinguish past-tense from present?  Theoretically one could have the ability of clairvoyance to the degree that the future feels like the present to him, so he’s narrating his present days as a past-tense account.  Ooh, Sci-fi idea, I call dibs.  Law of Dibs trumps copyright law by the way.
The statement that no one ever dies in his children stories needs to be reconsidered in-regard to this story.  Technically it holds as long as being “unbirthed” out of existence (and technically he still likely exists in the time stream – though his sister does only to the extent he remembers her, and does this mean she still exists in some alternate reality? – only his particular consciousness is being reversed past his birth, and since it’s just almost as impossible for the consciousness of a twelve year old to exist in an infant as it would be to exist without a body you might as-well have it exist past the point of his existence in-respect to some Eastern notions of the “Soul”) doesn’t qualify as death.  Which I feel it’s safe to say it doesn’t.  Death is the end of an organism’s functioning i.e. life.  Unbirth would be to either undo or reverse the birth of an individual.  Technically if he still exists he’s merely a fetus in the womb, dependent on the mother but still a functioning organism at-least to some extent.  And if not it would not be “death” because the life processes do not cease as much as they are removed from ever happening.  Just as choosing not to have a child isn’t “killing” the child that would have existed if you were successful in an attempt to have one.  That of course isn’t “unbirth” either, unless you had a child but then somehow could reverse time to give a temporal abortion.  The ethics and ramifications behind this seem like an incredibly fascinating concept and ripe material for a science-fiction novel or movie and is something that deserves refection.
Is erasing the existence of a bad person – in this case a bad child which also deserves to be considered – justified if it makes the world a better place?  No Utilitarian argues we should kill someone simply for the common good of having one more prick no-longer with us, but perhaps they would (and overall I feel I would as well) argue that if we could theoretically remove someone seamlessly from existence and reap the benefits of his lack of presence we should do so.  Remove the temporal fact that this person already exists from your mind.  If you were either expecting to have a child or told you were to have one when you did not expect or want it (but for the sake of this philosophical conundrum whether or not you desire to raise a child should be removed from one’s judgment) and told that this child would commit no grand crime of injustice, but existence as a whole would decrease for his being in the world, would you choose to not have said child be born, raised and grow into the terrible person he becomes?  And further:  would it make a difference to you if the world suffers due-to his poor character or lack of intellect, or because of mere happenstance that has nothing to do with poor qualities on his part rather than misfortune transferred unto the species and other life?  That is, say your theoretical child would through no fault of his own create, or initiate a chain of events that would create a disastrous oil spill that would harm and kill Man and animal?  Rather it be through his apathy and him being a Capitalist who profits from poor energy regulation in America.  Though it would make a difference to me in my conviction and attitude behind the decision, I must confess that my decision would remain the same.  And would you make this decision not only for your own theoretical child but for any currently non-existent person?  If you would not, what stops you from making the decision for a nonexistent person if you were a person who decided to erase the existence of your theoretical child?  Do you claim that a child is a parent’s property?  And if you are someone similar to me who was willing to do it to their theoretical child, why would you not do-so just because this person happens to exist?  You’re doing the same thing – not murder, this must be made clear – by removing a person from ever existing in our Universe.  Only in one scenario the person would come into existence without your say otherwise, and in the other the person already exists but wouldn’t in a complete and utter way that would improve the net utility and happiness of the world. 
The reasonable exception that I feel a follower of John Rawls brings up is what if this person whether or not they currently exist may make the world as a whole a worse place, but they performed one act of kindness, courage or intellect that drastically altered the fate of even one soul.  The person who accidentally (or not – if he bombed an oil refinery would it alter your decision even if the effect was identical?) caused an oil spill (and yes I know an explosion in an oil refinery and an oil spill are two radically different things, make-up your own hypotheticals if you don’t like mine you lazy bastards.  Cause all I hear is criticize, criticize, criticize!) which kills much marine life and perhaps several human casualties also through an act of bravery saves a young child’s life.  This scenario seems to weigh in-favor of erasing his existence as-well, at-least in my estimation but you can see how the framework for a un or anti-Utilitarian argument has begun.  What if an incredibly unpleasant and hostile person (a vitriolic Christian Conservative who is hateful and constantly ranting about gays and foreigners for example) saved the life of several when he causes no death only unhappiness to potentially thousands?  Is the fate and character of those he saves significant?  That is, if he saved the future inventor of a machine that can conjure limitless energy, rather than several children that would live completely ordinary and unexceptional lives, would this alter your decision?  But in a situation where one is saving the life of a complete stranger (assuming he doesn’t know the people he’s sparing from death) how could one possibly know whether one would become the first Socialist President or a meth addict?  Doesn’t this man remain in the realm of ignorance effectively and can we decide whether or not he should be alive to save a life depending on the character and destiny of that life?  My instincts have me responding “yes” but we too remain in the veil of ignorance of knowing all the relevant details and of course we are ignorant of the theoretical technology that would allow us to experiment with these ethical hypotheticals perhaps this is for the best.
Another aspect of the novel that is worth commending is its brilliance in portrayal of stupidity of average life and monotony of existence.  Similar to the genius of Groundhog Day (though nowhere near to the extent of the masterpiece by the dearly deceased Harold Ramis – you may now activate your proton pacts in salute).  The children may seem bland and dull to him because he’s a twelve year old in a young grade-schooler’s body, but for me it portrayed that most people are by nature these uninteresting children going through the motions of life, stuck in the fabric of their day-to-day existences, when in a way Michael is a interesting representation (and a far-better one I might add) of Albert Camus’ Sisyphus.  True, Michael isn’t happy doing the exact same thing that would make him miserable (nor should he be) but he is existentially aware of himself (in analogy, but he actually is more self-aware than the other children by being more developed and intelligent) in a way his fellows aren’t and is seeing the world in a sentient and self-conscious manner outside the realm of day-to-day thought and routine.  Though he isn’t free from his body in some form of astral projection, he is outside looking-in in the sense of a conscious being looking at the fabric of time and his own unique existence in its nature and self-defined purpose.  Michael’s self-defined purpose is one that most would consider (maybe not Schopenhauer, but he has a goofy hairdo so fuck him) rational:  to exist.  So he breaks free from the routine and chronology of his “former self” and becomes “radically free” as Sartre might put it to attempt to save himself.  Though I would of course argue that though his consciousness is “artificially” inserted in an eight-year-olds body he still is privy to the laws of cause-and-effect and has a consciousness that isn’t “radically free” the way Sartre would have us believe.  Though the mechanics allowing a preteen’s mind to exist in a one-year old would be something to be studied.
Returning to Red Rain (Yeah, this essay was, or is I’ll tell you what’s the right opinion later perhaps, supposed to be about that novel isn’t it?  Well the title does read, ‘On Red Rain – And Other Things,’ if you didn’t read that as me telling you I’m going far into left-field with this one, that’s your… well I would say loss but you’re still reading my writing so how could you possibly be at a loss?) I found the concept of going back in-time four years and then further and further backwards in-time, having no way of proving it far-more frightening than demonic twins with glowing eyes.  How the mind control was later orchestrated with blue paint when before it required Samuel’s searing red-hot demon eyes is simply idiotic and I never felt connected to any of the characters asides from perhaps Mark to a minor extent.  What makes this novel different from Children of the Corn other than the twin’s superpowers? 
I remember a lot of the set-ups in the Goosebumps books being far-more frightening in its potential than this book and I don’t think it’s merely because I read those books when I was an adolescent.  Just as in Breaking Bad I cared far-more about Walter White’s story when he was simply trying to sell Meth and keep his activities secret from his wife then when in the later season’s they had far-more “action-packed” events that didn’t get as much of a reaction from me.  Instead of every single unfortunate or disturbing thing in the novel be about death – the brainwashing of Ira was one of the few unsettling parts of the book if not the only one – it should have had stakes that would impact the protagonist.  Death just is rarely frightening to me unless I feel like I’m moments away from it.  Then of course my evolutionary impulse to survive kicks-in, adrenaline starts flowing, yadda yadda, but Slashers involving mutilating teenage girls doesn’t do it for me as I think is the case for most people; just as most would agree with me that Season Two of Breaking Bad was the best asides from the Final Season – or half-season depending on how you look at it.  The Goosebumps books were great because it RL Stine couldn’t kill off his kiddies so instead he had to find more creative things for children to be afraid of.  Whether it was playing piano for eternity or finding out you’re a vampire Goosebumps had an Epicurean nature in realizing that Death is not to be feared.  It merely is the end of our lives.  When we are, it is not; when it is, we are not.
The characters in Red Rain are even more stupid than Michael in Coo Coo Clock of Doom.  How Mark doesn’t figure out that his two little evil shits for adopted children are behind at the very least the murder in the driveway if not all other murders and going-ons in the story is unbelievable and frankly poor writing.  When the character – and by extension you considering we are meant to identify with the protagonist at-least to some degree and certainly in these types of stories – have to be a moron to not piece together what is going on it stultifies all character development and removes all interest in the plot.  Yes I know we have knowledge of scenes all-other characters don’t being the “Gods” watching the story and having a full or nearly full perspective of the story – but it’s still obvious.  And to the line that no one would ever expect a pair of children to murder anyone I quote Sherlock Holmes (or his creator depending on your perspective):  Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however unlikely, must be the case.  Now yes, technically it’s possible someone else could have ran-up the drive way, stolen Mark’s blow torch (that’s another thing, Samuel has flaming eyes but he used Mark’s blow torch to frame him?  I suppose that’s clear but it just seemed an odd coincidence that we of course all assume such is the case and then, surprise! It’s revealed he has heat-vision) killed the guy and ran away, or that Mark could’ve done without his knowing – at-least it wasn’t that tired-old plot – but considering the twins were last in the yard with the first victim the rest should be rather easy to piece together, especially with, I don’t know, fingerprints (!) telling us all that the little bastards did it and contradicting the story that the twins were in the guest house at the time.  Maybe I didn’t use that Sherlock quote appropriately, but considering it’s impossible for anyone to be so stupid as to not highly suspect the twins what must remain is this is a poorly written horror novel.  And that does seem unlikely considering how much I loved reading Goosebumps growing up especially as I grew older the Choose Your Own Scare paperbacks.
However: however unintentional it may be there is a brilliant analogy throughout the novel that needs to be stated.  The twins brainwashing Ira and later others shows the Machiavellian nature of Capitalism with the twins wanting the children to paint arrows on their cheeks representing their desire to “go up” while painting the arrows on their cheeks actually makes them the twins’ slaves.  Creating un-egalitarian mindsets of social status and wanting to climb the rungs of a social latter that wants you to take pride in arbitrary things like Nationality similar to the Principal making it a sign of School Pride after she’s been manipulated.  Ira seems like he is more free when he isn’t concerned about what his father tells him or expects from him, but in actuality removing these constructive boundaries and guides from his life and adopting the mentality of “anything goes” Right-wing Libertarianism actually decreases his freedom and threatens his life; just as unregulated Capitalism creates millions of death a year and decreases the standards of living throughout the world.  His father is analogous to Socialism in the sense that his Father gives him the ability to pursue his goals and grow as a person while creating the boundaries (like making sure he doesn’t pick on other children, or any children don’t abuse or harass him) for the best-likelihood of the greatest development.

The novel brilliantly shows the true force of Machiavellianism in the Twenty-first century.  Of course modern politicians are corrupt and in-part that corruption is corporate based, but the main essence of nefarious and dishonest appearance and the main root cause in other forms of insincerity in our world is in-effect Business-interests or the ideals of Libertarianism.  The Free Market Libertarians contend that we would all be free if we merely have Negative and not Positive Liberties, but what some are too stupid to know and others too cunning and wicked to tell us is that when we relinquish the material conditions to better our lot in life in a fundamental way, we our in-effect relinquishing ourselves; both who we could ideally be and the very essence of who we are which erodes and is twisted when society is contorted by corporate interests.  The State may be corrupt but it’s the ignorance perpetuated largely by economic interests that prevents many from seeing all forms of corruption and injustice perpetuating ignorance or even worse malice upon society’s victims.  And we can’t wish away the existence of those guilty or go back in-time.  We have to act on our convictions rather than diddling ourselves and being a helpless ignoramus in a cheap horror novel.  Otherwise the price we pay will be unimaginable for the imagination of many will be stifled by things far-worse than bad fiction – the evils of reality and our apathy towards them.

Friday, March 14, 2014

On Nonstop

Non Stop (it is two words yes?  Because whenever I searched for it otherwise I got nothing but results for something, well, other than what I was looking for.) is one of the better action movies I’ve seen.  Probably one of the best when you remove sci-fi action movies from the list.  It’s an intelligent, witty, well-constructed and ideological action movie along the lines of Die Hard, which I consider to be the best in this category.  I analyze the political themes contained in the Die Hard films in-length in another essay; in this one however, I’ll assume people have seen the movie – I’ll only be comparing the film to the first Die Hard – and picked up the most obvious message of it.
Seldom do Action films have you guess who the culprit(s) behind the bomb plot or whatever it may be is (are) – and this film does it extraordinarily well.  I was convinced almost until the end that one of the pilots was behind it or one of the people behind it.  It seemed perfect considering that he was spending all his time asking the passengers to empty their pockets, show their cell phones and were being monitored by Liam Neeson at almost every moment.  To have the co-pilot texting him while everyone in the audience is playing elimination with the passengers would have been genius – I’ll have to start working on the plot or would if I didn’t have such a massive audience I just gave away my major plot twist to.  Who the terrorists are, the distinction ‘tween the two and how they orchestrate this however is also brilliant and deserves to be commended. 
There are few actors that have been in as many intelligent films well-executed in its ideological message or representation of the world and humanity.  Taken is a rather bland and stupid action movie with a vague anti-European message.  The Grey is a brilliant existentialist and even explicitly atheist movie about the human condition and us being alone in the Universe to fend for ourselves and make our own lot in life.  Unknown is a work of genius in its expression of both Anti-Capitalist ideals and have us question the nature of identity, being and whether a split personality should be punished for what his other personality long-gone has committed, much like the Edward Norton law movie (or Total Recall to some extent) but without the twist – absolutely brilliant by the way – of having it be a farce the entire time, with Total Recall of course the farce would be not of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s personality and motives, but of the very plot of the film at a certain point within it. 
Returning to the comparison, in Die Hard however we know almost immediately Hans Grubber is the villain though our hero John McClain isn’t privy to this knowledge.  Not only this, but his (or their if you’re considering the motive of the entire crime group) motive of base profit and not the release of significant Communist figures from their respective prisons is revealed to us almost from the get-go as-well.  The analogy of course being that we are led to believe that the Communist Boogie Man or terrorists are our main concern or problem to deal with; but it’s really a thin charade constructed by people who profit from bamboozling others to believe this and only care about said financial gain.
In a way Non Stop is the ideological successor to Die Hard.  Die Hard shows us that Capitalists who care nothing about ideals with create fear of “Leftist Radicals” so they can rob us blind.  Non Stop expresses that Right-wingers to have their own ideological narratives and extremists, seen in the façade of only wanting cash being implemented to further the security that the Right-wing extremist thinks is desperately lacking.  Of course people die more from undercooked food, other food-related deaths, driving, smoking, drinking, pharmacy drug abuse or simply overdose, police brutality and for all I know dog attacks more than terrorists hijacking planes but Right-wing extremists aren’t exactly the most level-headed or reasonable of blokes so telling them this probably wouldn’t do much asides from perhaps initiate your own execution. 
There are two orchestrators of the bomb-plot in Non stop’s storyline.  One is clearly deranged and believes what he is doing is in service to his country.  This represents the Fascist/Tea Bagger Terrorist mentality of being delusional and willing to sacrifice his life for his warped perception of the common good; whether that be blowing up a plane or hiding in the woods and “taking back” the Government out of paranoia of massive gun seizures taking place or money going to help the unfortunate, ahhhck, excuse me, defile God’s will and everything every God-fearing Christian holds dear by funding Planned Parenthood, making abortions not a thing of shame and making birth control accessible.  The “Techie” in the movie however, while he is mildly Conservative, and believes in the cause he started, clearly cares more about the money than about “showing something” or completing his mission at the expense of his life.  This clearly shows the base self-interested side of Right-wing ideology and psychology and having the two work together and support the other to complete their mission of creating death and ignorance (in the form of creating a false narrative to support their political goals) shows how the two main elements of the Right aid the other.  I.e. how Fascism and Capitalism go hand-in-hand.
The Capitalists help the Christian Right by creating the conditions of ignorance and intellectual poverty to make people more pliable to Right-wing and religious modes of “thought”; while the Christians support free-market ideology, selfishness and several dozen people having the same amount of money as billions, contradicting the main essence of their teachings, to both create the suffering needed for people to be religious, the need for private religious charities rather than more-effective state-run alevement programs to create the false-perception of religion being a force for good in this world and to receive the funding of the Capitalists they wouldn’t receive if they were true to Jesus of Nazareth’s teachings.  The Profiteers need the Mystics and the Mystics need the Profiteers (once technology and other secular forces are allowed to some significant extent to aleve the plight of human suffering.  But of course this plight cannot be eradicated to a large degree, because then what you would have is people free and intelligent enough to see past religious or financial hierarchies and you would have – both in the effect of this and simply by what it means to properly aleve human misery – Socialism.) in our modern world the degree one exists is almost entirely dependent on the health of the other; like two parasites that most work symbiotically to effectively drain their host’s blood.  Whether ideology or hoarding of capital is the main culprit in the modern world is revealed in a distinction between the two films.
Having the villains of Non Stop work in the shadows, while Hans Gruber has taken over the Nagasaki (look up name of building) building is also a representation of how the Right functions.  The motive of profit is plain for all to see and they only thinly hide their selfishness and apathy towards human suffering occasionally by organizing charities that if legitimate don’t counteract a hundredth of the suffering and misery they’ve profited from.  However until recently their ties to Far-right wing religious, anti-abortion, anti-minority organizations was under a shroud.  Chick Fillet may proudly proclaim their bigotry and hatred towards gays, but Salvation Army and various other organizations are also thirsty for the blood of The Third Reich, and not out of thirst for vengeance.  The profit whoring and squandering of resources is open for all to see but is hidden through the stupidity and apathy of the public.  The strongest perversions and sickness of the Rich however is deliberately hidden. Their intense dislike of health care, minimum wage and improved schooling; any loosening of suffering on any group of people outside their class anywhere is something they view as a threat to not only their earnings but the economic, political and cultural power that allowed such earnings to manifest in the first-place.  Such can only come to pass through perpetuating ignorance and apathy towards others in the half-way intelligent and blatant miss-information, hatred and raving Right-wing Christian fanaticism in the stupid.
Whether or not the film is coherent with the text messages between Bill Marks and the two high-jackers is something to consider however.  Even when Marks has bound the more zealous terrorist and he has placed his phone into the lawyer’s pocket he receives text messages, assumingly from the greedier terrorist.  It is essentially impossible to see which of the two was texting him before but we assume the more delusional one due-to both the wording of the text messages and the ringer-virus setting off his phone, not the phone of his accomplice.  However, the accomplice must have somehow been able to send text messages with the same number so it would show up as a message coming from the same phone, or rather so it would be in the same stream of text messages.  This is technically or at-the-very-least theoretically possible but why his phone doesn’t go off then is mysterious.  If he had his phone on ringer instead of silent when the virus was being sent – theoretically to both phones with the same number – would it turn it to silent while the other phone’s ringer is being set-off?
Having the films hero be named Bill Marks is also potentially part of its ideological narrative.  To save the passengers he moves them all out of “business class” and to the back of the plane.  Essentially destroying the business class by having no one reside within it.  The Right-wingers want to frame Marks as the real terrorist by making him look horrible and demented out of some more-or-less trivial character flaws.  As someone who went insane after his daughter died – but though he seemed to have no exit strategy wanted to force the air line to transfer one hundred and fifty million dollars into his bank account?  That’s the main flaw in the film.  If Marks was going to be believed to be the terrorist, if he detonates the bomb and kills himself he can’t get the money he’s demanding.  You could argue that those in charge after the explosion would piece together a narrative that he was going to try to escape via parachute or some other means but failed to do so; but the fact remains that if he blows up the plane and escapes he essentially loses all leverage to steal millions from anyone.  Also If the account is in a trust couldn’t the Government of the EU or America look up whose accounts said money will go to?  It could all be fake names, but they still could be traced back to the actual people fairly easy it seems.  And finally I thought the line “Are you bribing me?” from the little girl was a poor attempt at humor which didn’t make any sense.  With a ribbon?  Yes, he’s bribing you with a ribbon.  It’s all yours kiddo.  Your cup runneth over.
The zealous terrorist’s line of “you can only change the world with words if you’re writing in blood” is nonsense.  People hear about violence, car wrecks, the sick, and the miserable (to a much diluted degree) every day and yet change even in level of concern fails to occur.  People are conditioned into apathy and Nationalism – not concerning themselves with the plight of foreign lands – and hearing the facts of reality does almost nothing.  What does is gaining the education and the faculties of critical thinking and analysis to examine how and why the awful things in the world occur and how to instead foster tranquility and progress rather than violence and overall decline.  Ultimately showing the major difference between a ideological narrative based off of force, intimidation and more subtle social pressures while still holding to increase the net-value of humanity (i.e. Capitalism and religion) and a materialist one that actually shows how evil originates (at-least in some of its facets) and how we can effectively confront it in a preventative rather than combative manner an example of which is the security precautions that Marks wanted to implement.  The major distinction of course being that Marx thought that we must be combative to attain the social conditions in-which we can use resources rationally and implement them in a precautionary manner and one based overall on utility and rationality.

A final note:  It adds to the humor of Marks’ line, “what money?” when told he needs to give it back when one considers that Karl Marx was poor and asked others for money throughout most of his life.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"I’m scheduled to go to return to return to St. Petersburg in about a month."  I'm not sure how that's going to be done but good luck with that.  

Here's what could have been written for this to make sense:  I'm scheduled to return to scheduling to return to St. Petersburg in about a month.  I couldn't fit the go-to anywhere.  Four tos all one word apart.  I wonder if there's a list of interesting brainburps for this to go on.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Without a doubt one of the best things I've written.  I don't want to sound egotistical but I'm very proud of this.  Hope you enjoy.
On In Fear

In Fear may be the most brilliant horror movie ever made.  In fact I’m willing to make the slightly hyperbolic statement that so many people do (best this, worst that) and proclaim it as the best horror movie in depth and plot, certainly that I’ve seen, but perhaps of the genre’s history.  The beginning depictions of Lucy and Tom talking to one another and of course Tom’s awkward and nervous voicemail to her depict realistic human relations with a degree of depth that most Horror movies fail completely at.  How their fears are conveyed throughout the movie also seems realistic and I enjoy this Horror flick as one of the few that doesn’t worry about body count or have the standard formula of starting with six or seven people and slowly killing them off one or two at a time. 
With the standard Slasher Flick we have Intro, Sex Scene, Murder, Minuscule Story Development, Dual Murders, Sex, Sex, Final Confrontation, Conclusion, each scene being in a sense stand alone films almost as if each reel (or even more fragmented than that) had its own individual story segmented into an episodic hodgepodge; but with this film we have an eighty minute movie that plays essentially all-the-way-through.  That is, with no jump cuts to another teen’s house where a promiscuous red head takes off her bra and then is gutted by a machete wielding murderer underneath the bed  teaching teens the implicit values of Puritanism.  If you never go out of your way to try something new or enjoy life you won’t be murdered by psychopaths – good to know.  I always thought it was funny that Conservatives hate violent movies (but love violent wars, guns and complain today’s kids are too weak) when it’s the Action and Horror genres that typically convey the most Right-wing messages.  It’s Science Fiction and Intellectual Indie movies that Conservatives should be bitching about if they knew what their real ideological opponent in cinema is, but then they essentially do something worse by ignoring these films entirely due-to their anti-intellectualism and calling them “weird.”  But back to the film.
The film builds up suspense quite well and leaves us guessing how things will be resolved or even if this hotel exists.  When we run into Max, who is portrayed in an astounding manner by (please insert actor’s name here via Google search; thanks, so kind.) we wonder how many people are out there and whether or not he is “one of them” though honestly Max’s character – that is the façade he depicts and story of being jumped and cut by madmen – was something that was transparent immediately for me; though I thought he was working in allegiance with others.  Yes the film has minor plot holes with something slamming Lisa’s door and then ten seconds later Max is standing behind Tom only to disappear into the darkness several seconds later.  Also the car’s car alarm going off and keys magically appearing where Tom can find them is questionable, it is possible that he really did just drop them and Max is controlling the alarm with some type of customized second electronic key that’s fixed to Tom’s car’s frequency.  But these minor flaws should not deter viewing in any regards nor did it even subtract enjoyment from my own.
However the film doesn’t become brilliant until we discover – once again “discover” – that Max has rigged this whole charade and he seemingly puts a knife to Lisa’s skull giving Lisa the choice to decide whether she or Tom will die.  I won’t describe any of the scenes in the film in-detail, because I want everyone reading this (all two of you) to see the movie before reading this to both fully appreciate the film and this article in that order.  And yes, that’s a cheap rationalization for being lazy and not wanting to describe the last half hour of the movie to you with the hope of discussing it more comfortably – you caught me.
Essentially the Hotel that they never arrive at can be seen as the fantasy “Pie-in-the-Sky” ideal that the foolish and desperate base their lives on whether it be Heaven in the case of the Christian or superfluous luxuries while others are lacking (millions have to be poor to create the desire and social perception of opulent luxury over others as an ideal) and social status in regards to the Capitalist ideal.  This is their goal while they aimlessly go through life on a road predetermined for them by economic and ideological factors as-well-as the basic and base nature of human beings.  People are conditioned – though it doesn’t require much considering basic human nature also contains deep superficiality and ignoring of human suffering – to be apathetic consumers to play by the rules in both a Puritanical and Capitalist game, and when either their house is foreclosed on (the injustice of the Capitalist system or persecution strikes them) or when their faults of being uncaring to the plight of others or not truly caring about right-and-wrong are mentioned their psychological response is something akin to a line Tom utters:  We haven’t done anything wrong; we’ve followed the signs.
When Lisa has nothing to lose personally she does the morally correct thing and doesn’t tell him to go on.  What’s also crucial I find is that though telling him to stay wouldn’t be immoral, she neither tells him to stay or go, essentially refusing to take moral responsibility for Tom’s actions.  Now of course Tom is the one driving, not Lisa, so Tom has been put into the more difficult position of having to choose (though of course Lisa isn’t exactly deprived of the opportunity to make moral choices by the end of the film) but that’s a perfect metaphor for what life hands us.  Some people don’t have to make difficult decisions in their lives, or at-least they don’t present themselves as immediately and pressing as the scenario with Tom and Lisa, and some people are often in circumstances where they need to decide as Dumbledore said, “between what is easy and what is right.”  An example of Lisa doing the “right thing” when it is trivial is Max asking her to open a water bottle for him.  How Max must’ve swelled and felt justified in his dark depiction of humans when seen is a perfect example of people masquerading as “moral agents” when it comes to opening water bottles or doors, but when it comes to a legitimate decision with significant consequences for the other party and perhaps ourselves, we choose to ignore the problem if we can, if we can’t ignore we rationalize, and if we can’t rationalize we choose our lives and luxuries over others and feel guilty over our reprehensible actions for about the same amount of time one might suffer from indigestion.
Also, Tom’s asking of her to decide whether or not to go forward is much-like Max’s demand to choose between her life and Tom’s.  Both are putting her in the position to make the decision and adjudicating themselves of moral responsibility (though Max of course isn’t trying to rationalize his choice the way Tom is, and is merely trying to play a game the way the Joker would and show to himself that all people are fundamentally immoral, but merely lacking in empathy and are self-serving rather than malicious or violent, that is being explicitly immoral) and when Lisa has something to lose – namely her life – she chooses to sacrifice Tom so she may live rather than doing what she did with Tom and simply not respond.
Perhaps the most brilliant aspect of the film is when Lisa’s decision to essentially kill Tom by leaving him for dead in the woods is given its true weight and shown as-such in-terms of causality when she herself becomes the officiator of what physically kills him.  This is a perfect metaphor for people who would like to classify their actions as right or justifiable simply because they aren’t evil.  Just because she wasn’t the one who put Tom in the trunk, doesn’t make her leaving him behind in a situation she had no voluntary part in defensible.  Human history is wrought with examples of humans suffering out of result of weather, disease, poverty – which once existed due-to earthly rather than deliberate economic reasons – and other things that they themselves had no say in, but as Thomas Paine eloquently put:  These are the times that try men’s souls.  And Thomas Paine due-to his adamant objection not only to slavery but apathy of it would understand that just because you yourself did not put the ball-and-chain around a man’s ankle or connect your potential love interest’s mouth to a tube connected to his car’s exhaust doesn’t make you right in leaving either to suffer and die.  Ethics isn’t binary.
Returning to the analogy of the Hotel representing either Heaven or a vision of material wealth that creates a social status that necessitates human suffering and poverty for it to exist, most if not all of us to some extent are guilty of doing in-effect what Lisa did; only like Lisa the immoral actions we commit we believe are justifiable (Getting out of that particular situation though you’re still lost, chased by a madman and now alone. Analogous to others shunning those who are different or the “other” to receive affection and esteem when they still are in the same vicious social circle or economic system that perpetuates alienation in either the social or economic sense creating physical suffering, depression and existential deficiencies.) because we do not begin the “chain of evil” to use a slightly moralistic expression, and we’re willing to momentarily prosper while others suffer out of fear of rocking the boat and apathy derivative of both human nature and Capitalist society.  That is not to say that Capitalism is the realization of human nature.  Capitalism has created a new form of human nature in-part, but there are also aspects of humanity while being pliable to molding and manipulation; the specific traits being result of the epoch and society one lives in (see Marx, Nietzsche and Freud among others) but the raw essence which can be molded to a degree dependent on the particular trait and the particular individual are as innate in man as the number of rows of teeth you’ll find in the mouths of Tiger Sharks though that number is pliable to a pair of pliers.
The distinction between the situation Lisa is in in the car and the one she makes in the woods to me is crucial.  In the car she must theoretically make the binary choice of her life or Tom’s being spared; this is rationalistic, and only in literature and film do these type of moral conundrums present themselves.  The problem of being lost in the woods with a lunatic and friend does however accurately represent the hard dilemmas that many – including all of us to varying extents – must make a choice on.  Do we take the “easy way out” to the illusion of a safe haven and leave our companions to be oppressed, suffer or die, or do we stay with them even though we may face the same grisly fate as theirs though the outcome remains uncertain?  This is seen in political and economic struggles for people’s liberty and prosperity.  Black people or homosexuals receiving all the rights of human beings just as the poor receiving the right to prosper and grow in a society that affords them the resources and tools of doing so does not diminish the rights of white people, nor does living in a well-managed society relinquish profits from anyone other than the Capitalists whose only “inalienable right” is to alienate and profit off the toil, suffering and genius of others.
The film ends with Lisa driving at Max full-blast wishing to kill him for torturing her and Max and putting her in the position to sully her conscious and take-part in murdering him.  She essentially is given the opportunity to murder the guilty – but then wouldn’t she need to kill herself?  I’m not saying that she deserves to die for leaving her friend, but she certainly isn’t in the position to execute the guilty when the blood is on her hands to a significant degree as well.  The desire to punish evil is in-part the impulse to see justice done, but in many, and in this scenario I argue, it is primarily the psychological compulsion to absolve one of one’s “sins” – of their immoral deeds and apathy by placing blame on a Scape Goat whether they are responsible for the plight they’re being charged with bringing or not.  When we too did a heinous act by watching suffering occur with indifference and therefore are not completely culpable.  We – who are rational enough to be Anti-Capitalist, for others I could provide an example of persecution by Federal Law or discrimination and bigotry based on commonly held prejudice – rationalize our apathy and cowardice by saying “I’m not a Capitalist doing all these evil things; I’m just trying to make a living.”  But in effect we are trying to rationalize a supposed goodness by not being evil.  Simply not committing evil acts does not mean you made the right ones.  Not making the worst decision doesn’t make the one you made right or virtuous.
Though in general it seems to me that since no man or woman or even child is guiltless we all can reasonably hold moral superiority and the wish to enact vengeance and retribution on those main actors who have made the world as it is; namely those in major places of economic and political power.  Only Jesus argues that one must be guiltless to pass moral judgment – though I do like his message of not being judgmental of others – and Christians are typically the most judgmental people on the planet for the most arbitrary things such as sexuality and appearance while proclaiming morality is sacrificing your “good” for everyone else’s as if all moral problems were so simple or constructed so one must merely give what one has to improve the lot of others.
We don’t need to cut our wrists (suffer) to help those in need.  In fact cutting our wrists won’t help anyone in the slightest.  Don’t confuse my statement that suffering itself does nothing to improve the lot of mankind (in fact it will only diminish Mankind’s net enjoyment of life both due-to the moment of suffering and the psychological and physiological ramifications of said suffering) with portraying ethical decision as something of ease. Making an ethical decision and helping others can have dire and even fatal consequences in ages of persecution, ignorance and economic interests.  Those who have the strength of mind and conviction to openly protest the evils of the Capitalists and then are beaten within an inch of their lives or murdered by their Holy Protectors are an example of this.  Another obvious example being in the 60’s, ethical white people had to make a stand with minorities for their rights; though they weren’t treated as harshly as the black people defending their rights, they did suffer as a result of doing the right thing rather than passively allow those around them to suffer for the color of their skin or any other factor preventable or curable by today’s medicines or knowledge to cure suffering for that matter.
And that brings me to the most important and horrifying aspect of the film, namely its accurate depiction of the human condition.  When presented with a moral problem Tom tries to “pass-the-buck” onto Lucy.  Lucy effectively kills Tom to save herself.  When presented with what she has done she weeps and bemoans Tom’s death, but while she was making the decision to leave Tom for dead, she rationalized her decision as, “better him than me,” or, “better one of us survive than both of us being massacred.”  And while I’m writing this, while I’m depicting a fundamental aspect of human nature; our apathy and ease of rationalizing leaving others to suffer as long as we aren’t the ones directly instigating the suffering (though we encourage it with our consumerism and tacit approval of Capitalism if not through more explicit means displayed essentially in Conservatism) I myself have very little impulsion to alter my behavior and become a radically better person.  Maybe I’ll treat people slightly nicer today, maybe I’ll open a few doors for people and make sure to say my please and thank-yous which I tend to do anyhow – because it doesn’t take any effort or have any cost on my part. 
Plato was wrong in saying that reason alone brings us to right discourse.  David Hume wrote that “Reason is and ought to be slave to the passions” and he would be right if only we could be regularly impassionate about science, philosophy and the plight of others – but we’re not.  Well I am on the second and to a minor extent the first but I can’t look at my computer screen while I’m kissing my ass so I’ll hold that off until later.  We as mammals aren’t designed to recognize the suffering of those in Nigeria, Moscow, Argentina or even very concretely the person next door.  We might have fleeting moral impulses to help those in our tribe, only for reasons of collective self-preservation, but even this is frail when apathy and consumerism has been programmed into us from our births. That’s the horror of life.  That we are the monsters.  We are the fiends.  It’s not Michael Meyers or some chainsaw wielding maniac that’s the real problem in the world.  The real crime is that every single one of us knows that unspeakable crimes are committed systematically everyday and we do nothing to stop it. 
Some rationalize it through political and religious ideology to actually convince themselves of the rightness of some of these actions, many choose to ignore the unpleasant realities of life and the human condition that they are implicitly enforcing through complying with evil, and most hear of these things and implicitly know that these things are wrong and they should do something for at-least one tragedy or another – of course the reality is that just as preventative medicine is the best way to keep a body healthy, demanding better education and living standards is the best way to prevent earthly horrors, rather than railing against them, starting a food drive and calling Man evil because he has Original Sin as the religious do – but deem themselves utterly incompetent to do anything when of course there are hundreds of examples of people banning together to fight for the collective and individual interests of all people, whether it targeted towards a specific demographic or not.  The Civil Rights movement was not a movement for “black rights”, just as to stand up for homosexual rights to marriage and all-the-rest isn’t to fight for “gay rights” every single stand for every single group of the population even if it be one person, unless it was perverted by the concept of “racial rights, tribal rights, religious rights, etc.” is the fight for human rights; for the dignity and profound potential value in every man, woman, and child.  That human beings have the capacity to be profoundly intelligent and moral creatures that no other beings we’ve yet to witness in the cosmos can even resemble; who can love, experience joys and sorrows, and dream dreams that no other being could duplicate identically even if they did have a similar degree of intellect.  That’s the horror.  We’re inches away from being angels, from living ideal lives of universal plenty, knowledge and fraternity but in reality most remain small-minded near-sighted self-interested animals and all of us turn a blind eye to the suffering of some spiky-haired guy on the street wearing mittens and rattling a tin cup.  We’re all Steve-Os who simply have forgotten how to feel disgusted by our own lack of caring unless sad-eyed children are on the television.  We’re particles of stardust who are the most unique things in the Universe – possibly – who have forgotten how to treat those who have always treated us well and been there for us.  Instead we look for new and larger ways to further the manipulation and exploitation of love to base desire, of disenfranchised to Pizza Franchises, of gullibility to those who preach piety, of intellect to those who would have us live in ignorance and intellectual poverty, of good to evil; and ultimately of those who have the strengths and morals to create a perfect placid world to those who construct a perfectly plaintive one that’s become so dull and plain that people are too sad to feel sadness and too wooden to be wistful for love, knowledge, purpose, courage, beauty or anything unless it’s for the new grease pie at Pizza Hut.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Masters of Sex Being a Freudian Masterpiece

Masters of Sex is the only TV show that I know of that is an effective and brilliant representation of many of Freud’s ideas, as well-as representing the repressive nature of “Leave it to Beaver” society far more-so than Mad Men.  Sopranos mentioned Freud half a dozen times, and had moments of repressed memories, but overall it seemed to be insufficient as a piece of work depicting Freud’s ideas of social restraints (Tony has sex with whomever he likes and there is little if any conflict ‘tween him and his wife about it until the divorce, and they reconcile at the end of the next season.), religion, Ego, the dangers of loving what we can’t control, failure and the conflicts between individual happiness and social norms and hegemony.  One could argue that The Sopranos does have a somewhat unique representation of the last point, but ultimately it is the characters own misdoings in a clearly immoral way in almost every occasion that breeds their downfall, or voluntary close association with those individuals I’ve described; seldom if ever does social constraint established by closed-minded representatives of the Church or those who embody their constraints prove a barrier to the mob men.  And if anything these men due to their Italian roots find a deep sense of solace in the Church, Tony’s wife though a loving woman is the archetype Conservative “Catholic Grandmother” which there will be less of in the world approaching and the Church most-likely would consider The Sopranos to be “pillars of the community” for their donations.  But back to Masters of Sex.
There’s the obvious commentary on women being in a secondary and submissive position of society and homosexuals being demonized.  There isn’t much worth commenting here that isn’t obvious to the average viewer of even moderate political leanings – that is anyone who isn’t a raving religious fanatic or someone with psychological maladies which would cause someone to hate either homosexuals or women.  I could into detail step-by-step with each individual example, but the basic point for this element of the show is that Conservative values are detrimental and immoral because they encourage prejudice and closed-mindedness as does religion.  Big surprise.
Johnson represents the sexually liberated and intellectual women; the women who has “liberated herself” or more specifically her very nature is that of a free individual both in terms of expressing her sensual desires and realizing her academic aspirations. Both Ethan (I forgot his last name) and Dr. Masters – oh it’s Hauss, not sure if I’m spelling it right but I just looked it up – both crave Johnson but for different aspects of her liberation.  Hauss himself is repressed due-to his inability to confess his Atheism, instead saying simply, “I’m nothing.”  Masters however holds religion with a level of contempt that is excusable without him being fired for blaspheming in public.  Masters in-general represents Freud’s anal-retentive man and Freud’s thought in various aspects.
The most obvious explicitly is the scene in the first episode where he describes the greatest works of art, literature and music being sexually inspired – if you don’t think of Freud when you see that scene then I have doubts you think much at-all, or have knowledge of major historical figures at-the-very-least.  The most direct example asides from his anal behavior overall not stated as bluntly being his low sperm count being a metaphor for his repressed sexual urges due-to  his childhood, or at-least that’s very-likely to be the Freudian analysis.  I realize that this show is based on real events, so very-likely is his infertile semen is factual, but that does not remove it from the realm of making analogies of just because the show did not explicitly intend it.  Freud would argue that redirecting his sexual impulses on his work – which ironically is of a sexual nature – is the healthy form of coping with it rather than repression which causes psychological maladies.  It is not until he has sex with Johnson that he is acting on his sex-drive in a direct way and begins to show various aspects of his personality seen in his writing of Johnson’s performance review (of her work, not how she is in the sack for those who haven’t seen the show) and in other scenes.
Dr. Hauss’ Id in the beginning of the show is repressed and his Super Ego of being professional and the archetype Man of His Age is representing himself.  It is only until he acknowledges that he is an Atheist and he should “believe in something” that is follow his own ideals, nature and interest rather than merely blindly doing what his parents or society expected of him that he is capable of being the man to Johnson that he needed to be to be with her.  To quote Nietzsche he “becomes who he is.”
Master on the other-hand gives in to the need for Professionalism and sense of duty to his wife when he gives Johnson the money for their sessions of sex under the guise of study; showing that he wishes to make it merely a business-esque transaction of mutual self-interest and gain rather than an act of eroticism and love that he clearly experiences it as.  Johnson even states it for us so the guess-work doesn’t need to be done.  I usually don’t like it when the work speaks of the characters motivation for us, especially when it is something at-least somewhat opaque and should be dissected by the audience; but Johnson is in a position of distress and expresses her understanding of his hurtful action in a way that is realistic and furthers the plot in revealing her understanding of Masters’ feelings.
His feelings and sexual desire for Johnson shows that Masters sexuality is one not of purely sexual characteristics (though I suppose you could try to argue that Masters just doesn’t like blondes, but I’d like to meet the Sophist who would make that argument while looking at the actress playing Mrs. Masters) but of psychological aspects of attributes that Johnson possesses; this I feel is a proper representation of a more nuanced view of Freud’s idea.  Yes sexual release is pivotal to healthy human functioning both mentally and in-terms of biological purpose, but sex is not only a form of lust but more importantly it is to many an expression of love.  Those who would want us to never have sex with those who are nearest and dearest to us out of religious commandment are the most thickskulled primitive “people” who are in effect the most anti-intellectual, anti-joy, anti-human flourishing goons lacking an understanding of morality and humanity I wouldn’t otherwise believe possible.
Johnson shares with him the love of Science and discovery; of knowing new things and reaching new heights not yet traversed.  Libby on the other hand sincerely questions his motivation (not what they are but how and why they are) and constant yearning for knowledge, seen as a potential analogy of Camus’ description of science as a never-ending quest which can be seen as a type of religious devotion to know the fundamental nature of things not possible.  This is seen in Libby’s minor form of anti-Intellectualism in her agreeing that sometimes it’s easier if you “think less.”  To her life is a matter of living to others’ expectations and rearing children out of her need to be a parent due-to her scarred childhood and motherly nature.  She views science only in its Utilitarian role of servicing human needs and is incapable of understanding the joys of deeper and more profound levels and forms of understanding; seeing it with a type of alien bewilderment and frustration the way the more tolerant religious might see the Non-believer:  not with hatred or contempt but with confusion and irritation.
Masters choosing to end his sexual relations could also be interpreted as cowardice – though it happens after he discoveries Libby is pregnant so the main motivation whether its conscious or not is most-likely out of a sense of duty to his wife – as Freud speaks of the dangers of loving something external to the self.  Love and passion is in-a-sense the most risky business on the planet for with it comes the possibility of rejection and failure as Freud mentions.  This is one reason why most shun greatness of spirit and action and instead stick to the “creature comforts” of Hedonism and mediocrity that Nietzsche and a minor extent Freud despise.
On the question of whether or not Masters is Narcissistic is an interesting one.  He easily lies and exploits all those around them to get what he wants and has no feelings of remorse firing countless secretaries for what to most would be minor errors to be expected in new employees.  He comes to blows with Hauss when he has been lied to even when this lie benefits – if he truly wants a child which it seems he does not especially considering he has fallen in love with Johnson and has fallen out of love with his wife if he ever truly did love her; he could have been using her as the perfect trophy wife, evidenced by the scene where his mentor (the homosexual character, can’t remember name) tells him he’ll need a wife to gain the respect and reputation needed to get the free-room to perform his Sex Study – him and his wife and it is his wife that asked for him to do it.  However, Freud’s understanding of Narcissism is someone whose Ego is overactive in their perception of themselves without attaining this esteem through valuable work, and Masters would not fit this description.  He is a genius; and he is someone who assigns his value to his work which is groundbreaking and does deserve all the approbation possible rather than being put on indefinite probation which essentially is what happens at the end of the season.  He also does not wish to hurt the feelings of Libby or Johnson and weeps when his child dies showing that he is capable of adequate amounts of empathy.  It could be argued that he simply wishes to continue using Libby and Johnson in whatever way they suit him, and while this certainly is true I don’t think this excludes him from handling things in a way that shows he cares for these people and legitamately and sincerely wants them to do well and be happy.  Masters is a good example of distinguishing the Egotistical from the Narcissistic.  The Narcissist will do whatever it takes to achieve his rather narrow goals aimed usually only at the increase of his own sense of power whether it’s through the outlet of money, political power, sex, reputation, rank, etc.  The Egoist however is someone who wishes to attain his goals for other motivations – the desire to achieve in the fields of science and the feeling of discovering the new and revolutionary for example – other than mere self-aggrandizement but is self-centered and will do whatever it takes with the exception of doing serious harm to the innocent to achieve his or her goals.  Egoists also state their views without the fear of being frowned upon for having an unpopular opinion, seen in the irreligious aspects of the show; Narcissists however will disguise their views in a Machievellian way to achieve the esteem of others.  We need Egotistical people in the world, we have enough Narcissists.
That desire to achieve the new and unconventional is the Nietzschean aspect of the show which also deserves to be mentioned to the unfamiliar and commended by those who have witnesses it; whether in-regards to the show or in this life.  Those who would side with the standard-quo and possess the “Slave Morality” Nietzsche speaks of are those who are villainous and will do any misdeed and crime to continue the ignorance, repression (both psychological and political, the latter being one cause of the former) and suffering of those while proclaiming to be altruistic, they being the ones “under attack” for simply allowing distinctions and diversity of opinion and mentality to foster, needing to take the immoral steps that they perform to demonize the “other” and having only the best moral intentions in-mind.  It is either the essence of pure creation and discovery or at-least a respect for it for its own sake that all the “good characters” possess and what is quintessential to the nature of greatness.  Though they at-times give in to cowardice and fear (seen in the blonde not wanting the doctors to see her body or her being mean to Lester but ultimately fostering a love interest with him) they will overall express this love of Nietzschean sentiment I’ve described.
All the major characters of the show suffer in one form or another due-to their nature and its relation to society, expressing a fictional representation of Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents.  Masters due-to his ambition to discover of that which Christian Puritanism says is better left unknown as well-as telling him it would be morally reprehensible to leave his wife to be with the woman he loves.  Johnson in her being a woman wishing to take on a “man’s role,” having multiple lovers despite societies Conservative notions of proper sexual conduct especially in-regards to women as well-as sharing in Masters form of condemnation.  The character with cancer sharing in Johnson’s form of societal conflict though in a different fashion.  Hauss in his Atheism and sexual desires.  Burton – who I felt fondly for and quite liked that he began as the archetype establishment figure but was given depth and humanity as the show progressed – with his homosexuality and conflicts with his wife whom he feels deep Platonic love for.  And the lesbian character – she’s early on in the show so I can’t remember her name – for her, well, Lesbianism.  Hmm, Lesbianism is actually a word.
This expresses the more accurate Freudian rather than Hobbsian method of curtailing free expression and archetypes of character and mentality not parallel to the current Epoch.  Hobbsian control is simple and overall in-effective, seen in America’s increased drug use despite old Conservatives giving harsher penalties for conviction of the offenses which are not even proper crimes asides from to the Self which the Government cannot effectively penalize.  Fate Herself will punish those who waste their time with these substances, the same with alcohol and legal drugs – i.e. prescription drug use – and it is the petty child, the envious school brat and tattle tale who wishes to punish those for enjoying themselves with substances one has not tried for good reason or not.  Instead societies going back to very-likely the beginning of humanity have used psychological rather than judicial forms of control and legislation of behavior.  Ostracizing those who do not conform to the hegemony of the group has always been one of society’s worst aspects and methods of destroying individuality and creativity.  Though not physically destructive, this form of policing can destroy as many masterpieces from being created just as easily as judges throwing the book (or books?) at creative youths for doing LSD.
This distinction between the Hobbsian and the Freudian is seen most-clearly in Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange.  In the beginning Alex fears, avoids and ultimately fails to avoid capture from the Police and their threat to lock him in jail for all the heinous actions he’s committed – the conventional model of punishment even in the world today.  However, it switches from the obviously barbaric and simplistic to the ingenious form of barbarity and punishing methodology when it switches from laws and prisons (the Hobbsian) to punishing through painful nausea and difficulty to breathe (a metaphor for the intense anxiety and panic attacks some feel when they experience the fear of being ostracized which is commonly experienced in a much smaller degree of course but still feeling quite significant and being decision-altering for the common person) being the Freudian.  Not that Freud advocated this as Hobbes did his solution to crime in his “State of Nature.”  The author foolishly believes that this is an argument for Free Will when nothing could be further from the truth.  It is instead a depiction of one form of punishment and then another; Alex is still living out his sentence through punishment, only through psychological and neurochemical tortures rather than merely the agonies of boredom, deprivation from sex, good food, freedom and so on.  The tragic error of the book is some simple-minded audience may actually interpret it as a valid argument of the Kantian mentality or rather the argument against rehabilitation and for the “sovereign” responsibility of the individual as a thing who must suffer rather than be helped; that because we have this thing called “Free Will” all who do wrong must be primarily punished not rehabilitated, when of course a Consequentialist model is the only one for a truly healthy society both in the functionative and psychological sense.  And of course focus on true rehabilitation which all Civilized Governments (that is, not the United States of America) are currently practicing prove themselves to be incredibly effective and not the Utopian “Hippy-Dippy Commie” measure of the impossible and “too loving of the underdog” that Conservatives depict it as.
 Ultimately, though there are many Freudian aspects of the show, it is the unstated and unlegislated prohibitions of society that curtail the achievements and instincts of Great Men (and Women) that the show gets across as its main message or essence.  This is seen in the works of The Cynics (though with some distinction), Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud and arguably Marx though again in a different “unNietzschean” light.  Societies perception of ethics curtails and demonizes what the legal code will not, this is one of the greatest breakthroughs of Freud, that and the psychological effects it will have for those who aren’t the standard archetype of the society they live within.  The show also serves as an Aristotelian, Nietzschean, Freudian argument against the Christian notion of “love for its own sake” being a benefit to anyone.  No one in the show is expected to love everyone, in-fact this absurd Christian virtue has never even tried to be implemented by any society due-to its sheer impossibility.  But the show does show and is a potential critique of love being a good thing just because it is love.  Much of the time love can be a destructive thing, and not because of society forbidding it like in some grand drama such-as Romeo and Juliet.  Some people are simply incompatible and when together create violent – in the physical or psychological sense – reactions and consequences to the other or themselves the way two chemicals may create combustion.  Love can be foolhardy and short-sided, the way Dr. Hauss is with Johnson before he begins to be far more patient and less overtly emotional in dealings with her.  Love, like even joy, can when acted out poorly or derived from a poor source can foster the destruction of its host whether it be psychological, Existential (“spiritual”) or physical death.

And of course the show has a historical element of the realization of Freud’s dream of a less strict, religious and Puritan society.  Freud knew that a certain level of psychological conditioning to produce a limited degree of behavior modification, alteration of behavior necessary to not have people stab each other over petty indifferences or squabbles, was necessary; in a sense he agrees with Plato – though is a more complex and nuanced version of him who may be more aligned with Hobbes.  That if people are allowed to do whatever they wish then they will perform immoral acts that society must forbid and prevent – how it will prevent such deeds however decides on the thinker and mentality of them.  But Freud also saw in his society a form and degree of religious sentiment and control namely prohibition on natural and healthy human instincts which were producing many – if not most – of the maladies he was writing on.  This show functions as a precursor to the sixties and the sexual liberation Freud should have been reanimated to witness – and take part in.  A Revolution of sentiment, thinking, ethics, relations of individuals and ultimate being in some way more radical and freeing than the American Revolution and seen in its utmost realization in the slow inevitable death of Puritanism and Religious Authority today.