Monthly Archives: September 2006

occupé…. occupé…. libre….

This is a dumb, silly totalitarian state, that can be brought down by one lousy P.I. with a handgun; if stories like Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World grimly anticipate that every human feeling will eventually be anticipated and neutered by science, Godard gleefully mocks the idea that science can manage anything, suggesting that attempts at totalitarianism will inevitably be undermined by the venality, short-sightedness and sheer human weirdness of the totalitarians.

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massive bear attack

How would things be if the 16th-century equivalent of Time-Warner had sewn up the copyrights to Shakespeare’s plays in perpetuity? The problem is not, of course, that re-interpretation is impossible, especially to established artists working within “the system” — the interlocked media production, publishing, and rights industries. If David Geffen does sign you on, what you get is not so much distribution (already available to everyone via the internet and CD burning), but a room full of lawyers to ensure that it’s okay for you to sample other peoples’ work and that no one samples yours. The problem is that the very idea that art is property restricts the healthy ebb and flow of ideas in culture. Independent producers without recourse to lawyers must either feel constrained from referencing previous works or work, essentially, outside the law.

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new wine into old wineskins

Can one imagine, indeed, if the Bahá’i Faith becomes, as we Bahá’is believe it will, the dominant religion on the planet? What then would be the effect on billions of devout Bahá’is if a future Manifestation of God were to declare that alcohol was now no longer forbidden? Impossible? But it is not written on alcohol, or on any other thing, “this is unlawful.”

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looking for authorship in the Christian world, pt. 6

And here we reach an insoluble point of faith. If we believe in the possibility of Jesus as a supernatural being, with access to the understanding and expressive ability of an all-knowing and providential God, then we are likely to believe that the passages with the greatest clarity and power are those closest to His historical words. On the other hand, if we take, as many secular scholars seem inclined to do, the presupposition that Jesus must have been an itinerant Jewish preacher, possibly millenarian, possibly with delusions of anointment, but in no way connected to a higher understanding (if we consider Him, as Metallica memorably put it, “The God That Failed”), then the reverse might almost be true: we might see the most sophisticated and unified passages in the Gospels, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the prophecies at Passover as developed by later Christian thinkers from the scattered and perhaps incoherent statements leftover from the true words of Jesus.

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discipline and punish

And here, for a while, the show starts to become less fun and unfortunately, peculiarly didactic. The show’s writers develop of particular brand of anti-humanism, an interpretation of materialism and “scientific” rationality that says that human beings are essentially selfish and ruled by their basest biological drives. That this philosophy is probably the result of too many Richard Dawkins books seems likely given the scene in “All In” where House distracts Wilson and Cuddy at the poker table by telling them that primate testicle size is inversely correlated to “the fidelity of their females”; we are, he says, “better and smaller than chimpanzees, larger and worse than gorillas.”

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