Category Archivepointless recursion
pointless recursion Posted by JP Stormcrow, 19 Oct 2007 06:46 am
Pathetic earthlings. … If you had known anything about the true nature of the universe, anything at all, you would’ve hidden from it in terror.
- Emperor Ming
I have carried the title** of this post around in my head for a few years as the label for some musings on “knowability” and the limitations on our ability to really get our heads around “reality”. And since blogging means never having to say you’re sorry for inflicting your wandering sophomoric ramblings on your readers - here it is. (But not to worry. Judges say: “That’s OK! they
roll big joints have trouble focusing too!”)
My jumping off point is a simple one: A dog will never learn calculus. Nor will dogs collectively ever master calculus. I hope all can agree on that. (And I exclude here some imaginable cyber-augmented dog, or intelligent critters that dogs might potentially evolve into over the next 50 million years.) They just don’t have it - in fact they don’t even know they don’t have it - their “wetware” is just not capable.
So, let’s move on to Canis lupus familiaris’s favorite fellow social mammalian companions - humankind.
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By Michael Bérubé
OK, so I’ve now seen the final minutes of the final Sopranos episode for a second time. And a third and a fourth and a fifth time. Then I went back (once I remembered that I have DVR and that Janet actually knows how to use it) and watched the whole thing again, and talked it over with Janet. And you know what? I’m no longer convinced that the final ten seconds of dull black screen (and I counted– it was ten, not twenty) signifies Tony’s death. I still think that’s a plausible reading (though I’ll mention a few caveats), but I don’t think it’s at all certain. But then, even when I suggested the Tony-gets-clipped reading over at Digby’s place, I hedged my bets, as any ordinarily pusillanimous literary critic should, by suggesting that “We’re left to wonder whether we’ve been duped into thinking that Tony dies because all the staging in that final scene– the brief shots of each of the restaurant patrons, the focus on the guy going to the men’s room, the closeups of Meadow having trouble parking the car– feels like the generic suspense-creatin’ mechanisms that precede a catastrophe. We stop and ask ourselves how much of our reaction depends on those narrative mechanisms.”
And yet, and yet. If indeed we were supposed to conclude, from those final sequences in Holsten’s, that Tony’s life will just go on and on like that damn Journey song, why not cut just when Tony looks up, just before Meadow enters the restaurant? Why give us that brief blackout?
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I have been working on a film script to counter claims that the WAAGNFNP unfairly concentrates on nuclear destruction over other forms of apocalypse. A précis follows. [I have the idea pretty well fleshed out, but am looking for some help from readers on a few details.]
Working title: Triumph of the Snark.
The movie, set in the indeterminate future, starts with an unnamed narrator (later in the movie we hear him referred to as “Doc”) describing the cynical and barren life that he lives in a cramped underground city: What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered? That about sums it up for me. There is nothing of beauty in this city, the residents (who sarcastically refer to themselves as Morlocks, and the city itself as Turgidsonville) are mean, spiteful, rude and condescending. Most spend their days online, trading acerbic barbs and ridiculing anyone who advances any positive agenda for change. A great catastrophic event in the past is hinted at, and the viewer at first assumes that it refers to some manner of nuclear, ecological, or epidemiological disaster. Instead, it is revealed that people were merely driven underground by their own perverse thoughts, their insistence that anything “nice” or “cheery” was bad - a “New Nihilism” had swept the world, sapping people’s will to live and reproduce, and leaving a small embittered remnant ensconced in their digitally-enabled tombs.
Doc’s job as an electrical engineer takes him to the surface on occasion to look after the power grid. The surface is a pleasant enough place - though it is evident that Doc himself is utterly unimpressed with it. There are a smattering of automated farms and mines providing raw materials for factories producing mass quantities of Mountain Dew, junk food, electronic components and other essentials. Working on the surface one winter day, Doc is drawn away from the solar grid he is repairing by a vision of a giant rabbit who tells him that “death will come from the sky” in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds. Following the vision causes him to miss being crushed by a falling jet engine that lands precisely where he had been working. Nearby he finds an injured teenager lying in the snow, mumbling Schlachthof Fünf over and over again. Doc brings him home, and although the boy can only remember his name - Donnie McLightly - he has a relentlessly cheerful nature which proves infectious. Inspired by the song Mr. Blue Sky from a CD Donnie finds in his pocket, he convinces Doc to help him form a club which he calls Electric Light Orchestra Illuminati (ELOI) club. Tapping a hidden, seething vein of optimism in Turgidsonville, the club soon grows in number, despite what seem to be self-limiting set of rules.
The first rule of ELOI club is that you do not blog about ELOI club.
The second rule of ELOI club is that you do not blog about ELOI club.
If this is your first day at ELOI club, you have to logoff and go topside.
[?aedi eno siht fo tuo teg I nac egaelim hcum woH]
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