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The Wrong Kind of Monster (The New Moon Walkthrough Pg. 300-322)

November 29, 2011 Leave a comment

I know I’ve brought him up before, but of the most important philosophers in history one of them must be William of Okham. If only because you can ask a person “what’s Okham’s razor” and if they are even moderately read they will know what you are talking about. If they are well read they might even know that the “Okham” is a person. Either way they will know that the maxim of Okham’s razor is that one should never make things more complicated than necessary. I’m not going to rag on Meyer for adding werewolves to her little world. Okham, was speaking about reality, and writing fiction doesn’t apply–if only the author doesn’t mess it up–no this is directed at Bella. Bella has no reason to think that Jacob is anything other than a human being.

 

Nothing, aside from a growth spurt, has been unusual about him. The stories about the werewolves from the mythology of his tribe he downplayed as being just mythology, something that the elders passed down. Somehow she divines werewolves from his hints, just as miraculously as she divined vampires even though she had no proof to go on.

 

We’re now at the beach after a meaningless conversation at Jacob’s house with his father. Jacob, in what always amounts to a high point for his character, is yelling at Bella for being a hypocrite. She’s worried about Jacob because he’s a werewolf and that bothers him, “Well, I’m so sorry that I can’t be the right kind of monster for you, Bella. I guess I’m just not as great as a bloodsucker, am I?

 

The mysterious voice of Edward returns to offer yet some more advice that it can’t know to give.

 

The whole conversation is based on a misunderstanding. Bella thinks, rightfully, that Jacob and his pack (sigh) are killing the hikers. Jacob thinks Bella is upset because he turns into a wolf. It only gets settled because Jacob laughs it off and then explains that they don’t kill people. That’s right he laughs without explaining. It’s one of the many problems in the book(s), we’re set up with a genuine tense scene and then nothing becomes of it. Why not let her be mad for a couple of days forcing him or her to figure out what is really going on. Mystery would be a nice touch in a novel populated with mysterious beings. That would probably be a better book though.

 

The mystery with Laurent also gets settled as well, but that long ago left us because even a half assed reader could figure out what was going on with that one. It’s curious that Bella gets upset because she thinks Jacob and his crew are murdering people but she was genuinely relieved when she saw Laurent who she knew murdered people, and also never really cared that Edward wanted to. Jacob explains a little more of his nature, “If I get too mad…too upset…you might get hurt.”

 

Werewolves=The Incredible Hulk. I mean seriously, this is getting quite ridiculous. The parallels are there. Jacob is a normally decent person who refrains from getting angry, who visibly shakes when upset, but also turns into a larger than life being if it takes over? Please.

 

The murders are continuing, that we know. We also know why, without the explanation. That it’s Victoria. Again, Meyer fired the gun too soon, this story could have been a genuinely interesting mystery about what was responsible for all the killings, but it’s all been spoiled. The wolves have been hunting Victoria who has been hunting Bella. She tells Jacob this and then Jacob runs off for a second leaving a half conscious Bella alone on the beach. Alone, after finding out that a vampire has been desperately searching for her to fulfill some sort of revenge oath. Why did he run away? To communicate with the other wolves, not by howling, but by…ugh let’s just have him tell it, “but we can hear thoughts…thoughts–each other’s anyway–no matter how far from each other we are.”

 

Another creature with telepathy. Is there anything that anything can’t do in this story?

 

This is why I brought up Okham earlier. It’s not that the story is getting too complex, it’s just by piling on all these abilities it’s getting too simplistic. How do the wolves communicate? telepathy. How do the vampires know how to prepare? Prophecy. How does Edward know Bella is in danger? telepathy. It serves to destroy any tension that could be brought to the story, at this point if anyone dies I’ll just expect someone else to have a power to resurrect them. It’s sad but the abusive relationship seemed to be the only thing that was actually tension worthy in the story, and you have no idea how hard it was to write that sentence out.

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Wherein I Lose All Respect for Jacob (Pg. 278-300)

November 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Last week we ended on a relative high note as Jacob told off Bella, finally taking her advice to cease the torch carrying and move on with his life. I even praised him for it hoping that we finally had a real character doing something actual. I suppose one of the reasons that I like it so much is that it finally gives us what we’ve been told all along. Bella has repeatedly reminded us that she’s not worth the affections of Edward, or anyone for that matter, yet every guy that comes along attaches himself to her so virulently that it doesn’t match the words. We can forgive Jacob for him being so young which meant that last week’s entry was well done because it not only finally matched Bella’s opinion of herself but it also showed something that we haven’t seen in this book yet, growth.

 

Unfortunately for every rise their must be a fall…

 

In her room Bella hears a scraping noise and immediately thinks of Victoria, curious that she doesn’t think of Laurent given that she’s actually seen him, but springing to life from bed she goes toward the noise. Suddenly she realizes that it’s Jacob, which removes any sense of tension, plot, or growth that we read at the end of last chapter. How quickly everything disperses, negated to the democritean void. Before he is even in the room we know that he is here to apologize, and its utter bullshit. She might be mad but she is completely at fault. She was using him as a pseudo-rebound only to cast him away if even the most gossamer glimpse of Edward were to reappear.

 

Once in the room he actually does apologize. He’s sorry he hurt her, but he had to because, “Sometimes loyalty gets in the way of what you want to do.

 

Bella’s mistake was in looking for Jacob and finding him in front of his gang. Jacob’s a straight gangsta now, and since the bitch be trippin,’ makin him look like a buster in front of his homies he had to front. I tell ya, faithful readers, a gansta’s life ain’t fun.

 

Seriously that’s his reason, although he says it a tad differently (but infinitely less amusing then the way I put it). Jacob has a secret, a new secret, but he can’t tell anyone so this entire scene in Bella’s bedroom makes no sense. He asks her to remember the stories he told her on the beach “the first day we met.”

 

It actually wasn’t the first time they met, they have both acknowledged that, but it’s the first time we met them so I guess that counts? Great, now we have something new in this book: narrator/author confusion wherein Meyer as the author sometimes forgets that she’s not the narrator. Ugh. Jacob gets frustrated because Bella can’t remember the stories about the Quileutes, and frankly so am I. We know what Jacob’s getting at, he’s a damn werewolf, but Bella can’t remember and Jacob won’t tell her. Jacob’s got that omerta code after all, but apparently dropping hints is somehow different that he won’t fall under the “snitches get stitches” rule of gang life. I’m more impatient with Meyer on this one it’s almost like she has to meet a page requirement or the editor will fail her. I’m kidding of course, because there is no way that an editor looked at this.

 

After deciding that Bella is too tired to listen to him, he exits the window. Bella is reminded of how nice it was when Edward creeped in to watch her sleep at night (seriously) but then Jacob is gone. Bella goes to sleep having her usual shitty dreams that are way too prescient to be real. Of course she wakes up screaming, and awaits her father to come in the room. He doesn’t, he’s probably fell asleep with his gun in his mouth again. More accurately he’s probably getting sick of this happening every morning and has decided to ignore it. Finally Bella remembers the stories.

 

What follows is literally a page long flash back to the conversation from the last book. It doesn’t need the entire context only the important bits about the wolves that turn into men.

 

“Werewolf,’ I gasped.”

 

Yeah, no shit. I’ll give some credit where it’s due because Bella really does question her world view. “What kind of a place was this? Could a world really exist where ancient legends went wandering around the borders of tiny insignificant towns, facing down mythical monsters? Did this mean every impossible fairy tale was grounded somewhere in absolute truth? Was there anything sane or normal at all, or was everything just magic and ghost stories?”

 

Well Bella, about those impossible fairy tales–you’ve already established you’re an Intelligent Designer.* In all serious though, this is pretty good. It’s curious that she doesn’t go through this when she finds out about psychic vampires, or precognitive vampires. That’s apparently normal, but werewolves? That’s incredible.

 

WIth the knew knowledge of what Jacob is–eh, let’s hold up here for a second. She doesn’t actually know anything. Here belief that Edward was a vampire wasn’t fixed in reality either. She just made up a bunch of assumptions and then concluded from that. Here she’s doing even less than that, just going with a dream and then a story. That’s not knowledge, although I guess it’s a hypothesis since it can be tested.

 

She rushes out the door to see Jacob. Charlie stops her and in a situation totally ripped off of Jaws he warns Bella that a reward has been posted for the wolves’ carcasses and that there’s a lot of people with guns in the woods. Charlie leaves and Bella is conflicted. She wants to warn her father but she can’t because…she never says. She does however know that Jacob is a werewolf, “I could feel it.”

 

Feelings aren’t evidence. Sorry folks but they simply aren’t. Pseudo science feeds off of this notion that we are all experts because we think we are. As if reality changes because we think that crystals can heal cancer or whatever, but it doesn’t. Just because Bella feels they are werewolves doesn’t mean they are werewolves. That she happens to be right is immaterial to the message I’m trying to get across. She’s worried because people will be shooting at her friend (legitimate concern). Then she goes off on this diatribe about how the werewolves had chosen a path of murder as opposed to the ones that didn’t, i.e. the vampires. Yet, that doesn’t match up with actual reality. In actual reality the werewolves didn’t kill her, they chased off the one that was going to kill her. How much sense is this making?

 

______________________________

*Look, if she’s going to soft ball me these insults I’m going to take them. At this point, it’s really her fault.

Categories: Uncategorized

I hope this makes sense (Levinas Paper)

November 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Dichotomy

Essential to the understanding of how citizens can be compelled to ignore their duty to each other that they encounter is the tension that is an essential aspect of the state. Whether that tension exists between those that have and the have-nots as in Marxism, the more subtle haves versus wants of Machiavelli, or just simply the conflict of desires in Hobbes the tension that exists is a persistent aspect of the state itself. The tension, which breeds conflict is not a detriment to the development of the state but rather a necessary part of its evolution and development. Those political entities which attempt to deny such conflict through the imposition of conformity to a system or an ideal, seek a condition in which the state is already perfected thus stifling any sort of movement forward.

            There is a paradox here which needs to be unpacked. If progress only occurs through the conflict of competing desires then the assumption is that the desire to win totally is what drives the development. If this is the case then why ought not the victory of one side over the other not be a good thing? This is for the fact that progress toward a goal is more important than the actual goal itself. The supremacy of one idea leads not toward the infinite just as a painting cannot be produced with one color but rather the mingling of colors which produce the infinite spectrum. Unless those who have conflicting desires try to win, they can’t in other words “throw the game,” attempt for the elimination of the competing desires the state cannot move forward.

            Although it may be considered more civilized to use ballots, debate, and dollars rather than violence it can be argued that this type of conflict still places us in a mitigated Hobbesian state of nature.[1] The dialect, in which we recognize the conflict between each other, requires “the dialogue, contact, even struggle[2]” by which we can define ourselves through which we must recognize the importance of the other. Indeed, if we are to transcend the finite we must recognize that the “idea of infinity is produced in the opposition of conversation, in sociality.[3]” Only in a relationship with the other can any progress be made.

            What occurs in the realm of politics is a change in relationship. Politics is not simply about the self and the other, but many others and many selves. In the introduction of a third, “the other to the Other,[4]” there is a shift in the consideration of our ethical obligations. The question raised with this new other is in the understanding that while I am aware of the duty to “my other” do I have an obligation to the other’s other? It is in this new situation that the ego begins to ignore the other in that while I may have a face to face encounter I may begin to think that this other is someone else’s obligation.

            Incorrect as this is, the face-to-face makes that person our other, in a state our obligations are often imposed on the state removing our duty. The purpose of the state, it’s reason for being, ought to be the administration of justice. This conception means more than just the administration of the laws by which those who transgress the rules of civilization are punished more than just the enforcement and protection of property rights but also the well being of the citizens.

            For example, one familiar to anyone living in a city, in walking down the sidewalk I meet a man in shabby worn clothing, with matted hair, and dirt on his face and hands. This person asks me for money for food, instead of giving it to him I point him in the direction of a shelter or soup kitchen then proceed along my way. While I was perfectly able to give him what he was asking for, my thought process was that this other person who is in need can be supplied by a third other. While I assume that I did help in some way, I did not fulfill my duty in acceding to his request as my assumption was a third other would help. This is, of course, a violation of my responsibility. The existence of a third while not changing, in any way, my responsibility to the other has changed only my sense of responsibility. Ultimately I have failed, in this case, the other who requested of me and we see the eroding of my sense of responsibility. This is one way in which the duty toward the other is ignored.


[1] Pg. 149 Alford, C. Fred “Levinas and Political Theory;” Political Theory vol. 32 no. 2 April 2004.

[2] Pg. 154 “Levinas and Political Theory”

[3] Pg. 197 Totality and Infinity

[4] Pg. 155 “Levinas and Political Theory”

Categories: philosophy

Breaking Up (The New Moon Walkthrough Pg. 258-275)

November 15, 2011 2 comments

This book is a good example of when a writer needs an editor. Like a paragraph a chapter should end when a completely new idea is about to begin. Page 258 represents the beginning of a new part of the plot that should not be lumped in with the previous dozen of pages. If we remember from last week, we dealt with the aftermath of Bella and the wolves. Now it’s all about Jacob and maybe I’ll understand what all that Team Jacob and Team Edward crap from a couple of years ago was all about. Our only problem is that Bella still hasn’t heard from him.

 

She calls Jacob’s house the next day, completely shrugging off any fear of the wolves, Laurent, or Victoria…like it never happened. If it were me, I would probably still have the shakes about the wolves, or at least the vampire who has promised me that i was going to die (depending on which one I thought won the battle the other day). Never mind that though, Bella has man trouble and from what we understand after the last book that is the only trouble worth discussing. She dials up the Blacks, “Jake’s not here.”

 

What’s interesting is that she never once figures that she’s being blown off. It’s interesting because that’s basically what she told us we ought to expect in the very beginning of the first book. It’s also exactly what she told Jacob to do, the only thing is that Jacob didn’t tell her he was cutting himself off from her. He’s only 16 and fairly inexperienced so it’s entirely within character that it ought to happen that way. The point is that Bella is confused that Jacob is doing the very thing she told him to do the last time she saw him. I’m going to say it again, the very last time she even talked to Jacob she told him that he ought to not waste his time on her. Perhaps he listened?

 

Instead of making this kind of rationalization and going to her job (remember her job?) she decides to go to the reservation to confront Jacob. Instead of Jacob she sees Quil,* “I was sure it was Quil, though he looked bigger than the last time I’d seen him…were they feeding them experimental growth hormone?”

 

Or you know, since it’s been over a month since you’ve seen Quil it could just be puberty. We’ve never really gotten an age for Quil but it’s not entirely unreasonable he would be different. What’s also odd is that Bella has never paid attention to the details of a person’s size or appearance unless they were Edward. Now all of the sudden she’s a detective. Quil explains that Jacob has been hanging around with Sam lately meaning that Jacob’s joined the La Push gang, although he refers to it as a cult. Which is something that we ought to note although we don’t really know why we should note that. Just because Jacob was an outsider but now he’s in doesn’t prove anything.

 

Finally we get to Jacob seeing Bella in front of his house hanging out in her car. The first thing that Bella notices is that Jacob has cut his hair from the long pony tail to a short crew cut that is, “covering his head with an inky gloss like black satin.”

 

I’m not sure what that means so we’ll just skip over it.

 

There’s a brief confrontation with Jacob and the gang which causes Bella to get angry as Jacob is no longer the sweet friendly guy that he once was. He’s changed now, he’s fierce and that makes Bella sad. She directs her rage against Sam thinking to herself, “I wanted to be a vampire.-The violent desire caught me off guard and knocked the wind out of me.”

 

It caught her off guard? What part? The part where she wished to be the thing that she wished to become at the end of the last book and the beginning of this one? I swear the inconsistencies in this character are driving me to drink in the afternoon.

 

They were friends she pleads.

 

We were,” Jake replies apparently having taken the advice that she gave him earlier.

 

There’s some more angry conversation where Bella touches Jacob causing him to shirk away. This gives Bella the impression that Sam is abusing the gang, it’s unclear what she thinks is going on but she asks through her tears, “Is Sam catching?”

 

Now I’ve seen Oz enough to know that that means, but it can’t mean what I think it does, right?

 

Jacob begins to walk away in which Bella tells him, “I’m sory that I couldn’t…before…I wish I could change how I feel about you Jacob.”

 

That kind of regret is nice but it’s bullshit. She doesn’t like him, she’s been stringing him along. It’s time for her to move on from the non-boyfriend that she was just hanging around with for the time until Edward returned. The problem for me is that I’m supposed to feel bad for her but I just can’t. She’s been using him and now that he’s moved on I’m supposed to feel bad about it. Nah, that’s now it works. She actually deserves this.

 

Bella goes home telling her dad what happened. Her father, because he’s a decent human being who has a Harpy for a daughter, decides to call his friend and find out what was going on. Bella eavesdrops on the conversation making the conclusion that Billy blames Bella for what happened that, “I was leading Jacob on and he’d finally had enough.

 

Bella somehow views this with skepticism. Thus far that seems just about right, good for him.

 

_______________________________

*I actually get his name now, it’s not that stupid IF it’s merely a shortened form of his tribe Quelieutes.

Categories: Twilight

Two Types of Error (an extremely rough draft of a section of my Aesthetics Paper)

November 13, 2011 Leave a comment

The best indictment against strict intentionalism is introducing the concept of error into the debate. Strict intentionalism states that anything which appears in a work of art is there with the specific intention of being there. In other words it has a purpose. In many cases it leads us to uncover some very specific interesting facts about works of art, for instance, Michelangelo painting the mouth of hell behind the pope’s chair in “The Last Judgment;” a not so subtle indication of his dislike for the pope. We can only truly appreciate the vastness of such a work with the intention of the artist in question. Otherwise, using the same example, we may consider the location of the mouth of hell to be in an unfortunate spot relegating it to coincidence.

            We may also misunderstand a work without appreciation of the artist’s intent. Without knowing the reasoning behind Picasso’s “Guernica” a viewer may find the work to be unintelligible or worse we could miss the point entirely. Ray Bradbury’s Farenheight 451, largely taught as a story warning about the dangers of state-sanctioned censorship or McCarthyism, is denied by the author himself as having anything to do with either of them. Instead, he points, to the rise in radio, television, and the internet as being opiates in which the population is rendered ignorant by the “dulling effects of TV.[1]

            Conflicts of this sort add to the debate over intentionalism. What is commonly brought as evidence against intentionalism is to introduce a mistake, an error, and ask the simple question: “what kind of intent would there be in writing/painting this?” As stated earlier I feel that this question is often asked in error itself. The error the question commits most frequently is in failing to discern between two types of error that I will now elucidate.

            The first type of error, the more common ones, are what I term “accidental error.” The term “accidental” here is being used in the Aristotelian sense. Accidental errors are those in which the meaning of the work maintains, the author’s intent still carries through, but there is some mistake that is accidental to the work. To further explain if a work possesses an accidental error it would be the same work, have the same meaning, if that error was not present. The best examples of this would be if an actor skipped a word in a performance of Hamlet instead of saying, “to be or not to be” he exclaims, “to be not to be.” It would be doubtful if anyone in the audience would have caught the mistake and the meaning of the work itself does not change. Further examples might include the violinist skipping a note, or a bad camera angle in a movie in which we can see a camera man or some member of the crew. In each case it would be a difficult position to defend if one wants to say that the actor intended to skip the line, or that the violinist intended to miss the note.

            More difficult to express are those forms of art which are not perdurants as performances certainly are, such as films, paintings, and photography.[2] Norman Rockwell’s painting “People Reading Stock Exchange” is an example of a painting with an accidental mistake. In the painting four people and a dog are leaning over looking at a posting of the stock exchange, the man on the left with a red shirt (butcher perhaps) appears to have three legs. Two we can clearly see the back of, while the third he is resting his hand on.

Can we ascribe intent to this feature? It would be quite the feat to do so. Rockwell’s body of work, and especially his Saturday Evening Post paintings, are such that a person with three legs would be quite an anomaly, so much so that the painting might be titled “person with three legs.” Rockwell himself asserts that he “sort of put three legs on the boy[3]” giving us the impression that it was simply an error. To give any sort of intent to it seems implausible.

Secondly, we must ask whether or not the meaning of the work is changed. This, I contend is highly doubtful as the meaning of the work, portraying a group of people reading a stock exchange, is unchanged. We cannot consider the error to be anything but a mistake in light of the fact that it must sometimes be pointed out that it exists in the first place.

The second category of error are those that I term “essential errors.” These are errors that in light of their existence the work in question is changed with regard to meaning. The issue here, is that if the artist intended to make the mistake than it could not be considered a mistake as one cannot intend to make an error. The meaning of the work having shifted to something other than what the artist desired would mean that the intentionalism fails in this regard. Typically these types of errors are rare but they do exist. In film and literature these are often termed “plot holes” in which the narrative is rendered null due to some contradiction or absurdity resulting from the existence of the mistake. Another type would be that in which the meaning of the work is eliminated, i.e. that the intent of the author is not carried through the work in question. This is not to say that there is a failure of the audience to appreciate the meaning of the work, i.e. perhaps the audience is not well educated enough to understand it but that no audience would be able to grasp the meaning in question even after the explanation of the attempt. We would not say that the 1979 film “The Warriors” fails as a movie because most viewers did not understand that the movie is a retelling of Xenophon’s Anabasis.


[1]Johnston, Amy E Boyle; “Ray Bradbury: Farenheit 451 Misinterpreted” LA Weekly May 30th 2007 http://www.laweekly.com/2007-05-31/news/ray-bradbury-fahrenheit-451-misinterpreted/

[2] There may be some difficulty in using photography as a form of art that can have an accidental mistake. If a photographer takes a picture of the wrong thing we would certainly say that the work is essentially changed. If the image is developed and there is a mistake in the print of the photograph I would be hard pressed to say that the mistake was inhered in the photograph but rather in the paper of the photograph.

[3] Find source for the quote!!!

Categories: Uncategorized

Moving Along the Plot (The New Moon Walkthrough Pg. 246-257)

November 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Another pet peeve of mine with fiction, and especially this fiction, is when a character does something entirely out of the ordinary or against character just to make sure that we the reader understand that the plot is moving forward. It’s like breaking the fourth wall, only less on purpose. Think C3P0 in Star Wars, unless he is answering a request by another character his main role in the movie series is to remind us the movie viewer that the story is going forward or that there is some sort of obvious danger that we ought to be aware of. More often than not, he’s utterly useless. Another good example is the ship’s counselor in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Troi is mostly there to tell us what emotions we should be feeling but again, she’s kind of useless. In this story it happens arbitrarily to so many different characters that it’s impossible to really narrow down who we ought to be ignoring, so in the end we have to endure the eye-rollingly bad situations when it happens. It’s odd because instead of just moving the story along, Meyer has to tell us that it’s time to move the story along.

Bella has run out of the woods as five extremely large wolves have chased off Laurent. As she gets home she engages in some non-sensical banter with her father as he, I assume watches the game. Once he gets a good look at her he gets concerned, realistically concerned I might add. Then especially concerned when she explains that she was in the woods and she saw “the bear” that people have been reporting, only it wasn’t a bear but five huge wolves. First off Meyer has this problem and it’s a problem that I am all too familiar with: laziness. Here’s what I mean, “The rangers said that the tracks were wrong for a bear–but wolves just don’t get that big.

The laziness comes from Meyer’s reluctance to do any superficial research whatsoever. This blog has kept a running tally of all the times she has neglected to do the research. Twenty years ago this would be kind of forgiveable, but unless I find out that she writes on anything but a computer it’s just not. There is no way a forest ranger would let the chief of police assume it’s a bear when the tracks are clearly wolf. Size doesn’t matter if the track is a wolf track. As Hercule Poirot would say, if the facts don’t fit the theory ditch the theory. Google it up, bear and wolf tracks aren’t similar. The number of toes is your first clue.If it’s a large wolf then it’s a large wolf.

Bella actually does well here, because she lies about where she saw the wolves. It’s a shitty lie because the Rangers will investigate and either won’t find the tracks or will find the tracks in a different place but she does it for the right reasons. She’s worried because she still thinks Laurent is out there and doesn’t want to risk anyone’s life. Once in awhile she seems to stumble upon a good deed. It’s a nice scene because rarely do we get to see Charlie caring about his daughter without her snide remarks or false persecution.

Then the scene is ruined, “Didn’t you say that Jacob was gone of the day?”

Huh?

Your daughter was just witness to five wolves that were so large that people have been thinking they were bears, she ran out of the woods scared to death, and this is the follow up question? But hold on it gets worse, “I could tell he was worried–watching me jump at any loud sound, or my face suddenly go white for no reason that he could see. From the questions he asked now and then, he seemed to blame the change on Jacob’s continued absence.

How about this detective? Your daughter just had a near death experience. Now, it’s not the near death experience that you think she had, but still…This is what I was talking about in the opening. After a genuinely tense scene with the wolves (ruined by the telepathic/memory voice of Edward) we are reminded that this is a story about Jacob and Bella. Bella, of course, being the female girls should aspire to simply because she feels that she is worthless without a man. There’s alot of bullshit in this section about Laurent and Victoria. The troubling thing is that there is a really good subtext going on here that gets put on the backburner because we need to be reminded that there are vampires in the area and that Jacob hasn’t been around.

Bella calls her dad because Jacob hasn’t been around and she’s worried about the La Push gang. Charlie doesn’t care because Billy has vouched for Sam and Sam is generally a nice guy. Charlie though can’t talk because he has police matters to deal with as two tourists have gone missing in the woods. Bella remarks, “What I’d seen in the meadow just got stranger and stranger–more impossible to understand.”

She’s referring to why Laurent ran from the wolves rather than kill them. We know that the vampires in this world hunt wolves, that’s Edward’s favorite I think (I’m not looking back to figure that out). Despite their size it shouldn’t have been difficult for Laurnet to kill them. That’s what’s been occupying Bella’s worries about Jacob and her father for the last ten pages. She figured that Laurent had fell back but nevertheless killed the wolves. Now that two people have just gone missing due to the wolves, she’s puzzled. Frankly, I’m rather impressed that it even comes up at all.It would actually be a decent mystery if I didn’t already know how it was going to be explained. I suppose all that’s left now is for her to figure it out.

Categories: Uncategorized

Aesthetics

November 4, 2011 Leave a comment

In the five semesters that I taught philosophy I never broached the subject of aesthetics. This was for two reasons, the first being that I new relatively nothing about it. Obviously if you are going to stand in front of a class and profess on a subject you should probably know what you are talking about. This was my problem in trying to teach Spinoza. The second was the reason for the first: I just never found it to be worth the effort. Simply but, and I do mean “simply,” aesthetics is the study of the arts and why they are considered art. That’s about as basic as I am going to be able to put it without getting into the various nuances of the word along with the various sub-disciplines involved in it. Attending the class now was motivated by the need to fill out the semester. It was, as the rest of my classes aside from the bioethics class, a class chosen out of necessity.

The class now, however, piques my interest greatly. For the reason that I disagree with several of the prevailing theories but more importantly with the method of their illustration. I consider myself relatively cultured. I’ve attended plays for more than just a date or a class assignment, I’ve visited museums for the simple reason of wanting to see the things in them, occasionally I listen to classical music yet with all that in consideration I still feel like a boor in class.

In some ways I get it. The papers and books are written by a type of person for the same type of person to read. So the examples are all in such a manner that they appeal to a shared experience. Citing Brahm’s 8th symphony (I have no idea if that is a thing that exists) makes sense for the type of reader that it is more likely to read that type of article. However it is this type of writing that alienates new people to the subject. I’m not going to attempt to plunge myself through pages and pages of music appreciation literature, or delve into the canon of English literature, just to understand one writer’s example of how intentionalism works with regard to book X.

A further problem is that if we just concentrate on what is generally agreed to be high art, then the theories may not actually work. A philosophical theory, like a scientific theory, should be one that works in all cases. So if a theory is right for Hamlet it would have to also work for Mamet or even some play that’s five minutes long and only plays during the Buffalo subversion festival. Using the five minute play possesses its own problems as well: I get the examples have to be relevant to wide audience so something ultra specific will not work. It just seems though, that sometimes, the authors are bragging about having read the books, seen the painting, or listened to the music just for the sake of doing so.

In this age of instant culture access and almost an entire generation having been raised on pop culture influences, I think the study of aesthetics could use a bit of the low brow. It would also give quite a shot of relevance since the pop culture types would be a bit better in picking examples.

Since the beginning of class I have had quite a beef with one particular example that has been used to disprove the theory of intentionalism. Briefly, intentionalism is the concept that any work of art can only be understood as being representative of the author’s intention in creating it. An easy one, and a little high artsy, is Picasso’s Guernica painted to reflect the horrors of the Spanish Civil War during the 1930s. The example used in the arguments is that of Sherlock Holmes.

So far I am in agreement. The character is well known enough that it would be hard to find someone who at least didn’t understand what the character stood for. The author’s using the example refer to a strange error in the texts themselves, which places Dr. Watson’s war wound in his arm (in the first book) and later refers to it as being in his leg. Yet it is explicit that Watson was only shot once. Instead of chalking this up to an error on the part of the author, arguments against the intentionalism idea state that the author must have had a reason for doing this. I suppose that this is to be taken as a devastating argument but I just can’t see it because the example is so trite, even ultimately being a non-issue since all we have to understand is that Watson was wounded in Afghanistan but since the wound never factors into the story why should we ascribe any intent to it at all?

If we are going to argue the same point we need a better example. During the course of the literature it is not Watson nor Holmes that can figure better but Moriarty. Since he is a central figure and entire plots revolve around him using his example would work much better. In one story Moriarty is an elusive figure that remains an entire shadow at the center of all of London’s crime, so that only Sherlock has discovered him (“The Final Problem”). In another story that takes place before that one, but written after, both Watson and Inspector Lestrade had heard of him (“The Valley of Fear”). The argument should then be centered around that.

Or perhaps using the example of how Marge Simpson flew on a plane perfectly fine during their trip to Washington DC in season two but in season 5 she had a crippling fear of flying. What kind of intention are we to ascribe to that?

Instead we wade through examples in which the relevance may be lost on the upcoming generation. What makes the class interesting is in trying to figure out where to remove Brahms and Bronte to replace them with Homer and Hannibal. Perhaps its an age thing but if philosophy is going to try and make itself relevant to the public at large it needs to start doing this, and aesthetics is a good place to start.

Categories: philosophy