Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hunter Davis [chat]

Ian McKellen impersonator doing 'Charles in Charge'

His picture in the video was freaking me out.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Zero Punctuation: Monster Hunter Tri

So, I now know what "Monster Hunter" is.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lost: The Problem of Interpretation

If you want to understand the problem of Interpretation, the problem of Literary Criticism, the problem with engaging in any conversation regarding the subjective understanding of what X means, stands for, can be understood to be, "is", etc., then all you need do is read any webpage which attempts to explain the finale of Lost.

The finale of Lost ends with a group of actors standing in a church. Words are said, actions occur, and then the series ends. The question some ask, of course, is what the church means, what the church is, what the church stands for. And this is the question which results from a chronic case of the dumb, an inexplicable affinity to ask more than can be answered. But, presumably, you think these questions sensible. So, let's inspect some answers to the question: What is the Church in the finale of Lost?

The Church as Purgatory

According to the Church is purgatory, populated by the characters of Lost all of whom are dead:

"When Jack meets his father, Christian, in the last few moments of the finale, he suffers the revelation that they both are now dead. But as Christian explains to him, they’re not the only ones dead in the church, with everyone currently awaiting him in the pews having undergone their own deaths either before or long after Jack."

So, the scene in the church can be understood as the "final moving-on-to-the-afterlife scene" as the church is a staging ground, a purgatory, a location between life and death, for the characters.

The Church as Lost & Found bin
According to Maureen Ryan, the final scene in the Church

"was a hymn, it was an emotionally cathartic sendoff, it was a beautiful reunion and a testament to what the show was about: Creating your own world. Creating your own fate. Creating a community of people that you can't exist without -- in any sphere, before or after death."

So, the Church was a self-created, self-sustained opportunity for self-manifestation of world and fate. Maureen includes a quote from Christian, "This is a place that you all made together so that you could find each other." So, the Church was a glorified Lost and Found bin, a spatio-temporal collection box made by the characters within which the characters could "find each other", because the characters were Lost, you see.

The Church as the Kingdom of Ends
According to Ryan McGee the Church was the Kingdom of Ends:

"He created something that Immanuel Kant called "The Kingdom of Ends," a place created by rational people that make decisions based on "universality." "Universality" stems from something called the "categorical imperative," formulated as such: 'Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.'"

So, the Church is The Kingdom of Ends, the actualization of the Kantian notion of a fully rational, moral society within which all persons act in accord with the categorical imperative.

Oh Shits! X, ~X, and Kant!
So, now we have ample material with which to start ranting.

According to the Principle of Contradiction, thanks to Aristotle, it is impossible for a thing to be both X and ~X at the same time, in the same way. So, it cannot be the case that "The Church" was Purgatory, a Lost and Found bin, and The Kingdom of Ends, all at the same time, all in the same way, given what each of these terms mean. So, what was the Church, and how can one know?

The initial reaction some may have to this question is perhaps best said by Ryan McGee:

This isn't meant to be THE definitive version of what went down, because the beauty of the finale lies in its open interpretation. Just as the church in the sideways world features iconography from many of the world's major religions, one can approach the last sequence of the show from a multitude of perspectives.

But that sentiment is, of course, moronic.

To engage the question of "What X is", "the meaning of X" is not to seek anything subjective. There is a difference between "The Church is X" and "The Church, within a particular context, with regard to a particular perspective, can be argued to be interpreted as possibly, maybe, subjectively, X-ish." The former is sensible, the latter is an infinitely expanding, unending, unrestricted cesspool of nonsense. Nonsense because it is, quite literally, not sensible.

Think of it this way: If we operate within a system which allows for a multitude of interpretation, a plethora of subjective understandings, then we have in this post four things:

1) The Church
2) Purgatory
3) Lost & Found Bin
4) Kingdom of Ends

If we operate within a system within which every discrete particular has but one meaning, one true manner of being, then we have in this post one thing, The Church, and a wealth of unrelated, nonsensical stupid.

The problem with the four things, the subjective account of interpretation, is that, by definition, none of these websites are talking about the same thing; there is no common referent. There is the noumenal Church out there, unknown, and each particular interpretation articulated by each particular observer; there is no commonality, there are only estranged, unrelated accounts of unrelated interpretations. There cannot be a common point of reference, The Church, as, given what has been said in these posts, that which is known is the interpretation and never the thing. Since each interpretation is separate and distinct then, well, we're fucked.

That's the problem with subjective interpretation, with highfalutin post-modern nonsense criticism: There is no common, shared referent by which true communication can occur. I do not have access to The Church, you do not have access to The Church, Ryan McGee and Maureen Ryan do not have access to the Church. Rather, each particular observer has naught but its own particular observation, its own skewed and subjective interpretation of an unknowable Church. We cannot talk about "The Church", because no one can get to it. See Nietzsche's syphilitic nonsense.

Leaving aside the question of knowability of the Church, we have the much more difficult question of how to assess these interpretations: What constitutes valid, justified, true evidence for a particular interpretation? How can interpretations be assessed against one another? What constitutes objectively valid evidence within a system of subjectivism and contradiction? If Player A argues for Kingdom of Ends, and Player B argues for Purgatory what could possibly constitute evidence for either interpretation? And if we have a mutually agreed upon criteria for evidence, if we have an objective standard for what constitutes "good" interpretation, then how can we not move that objectivity one step prior and get to the objective meaning of the thing being interpreted? If we can all agree that X is good evidence and Y is not evidence, then how is it impossible to agree that X is what the Church is and Y is stupid Kantian bullshit? Either we have commonality and objectivity, or we have radical, exclusive, estranged individualism and subjectivity.

It cannot possibly be the case that there is one standard, objective rubric for assessing evidence for interpretation yet the interpretation itself be necessarily subjective. Either everyone has their own evidence for their own interpretations, with no commonality by which critique can be made, or we have objective standards, mutual and communal rights and wrongs, which then allows for objectivity with regard to the things in themselves being discussed.

The solution to the problem is, of course, to not interpret.

In each of the above accounts of what the Church "means" there seems to be a common referent: In the final scene of the last episode of Lost a bunch of actors are standing in a Church. If it is the case that it is the case that there is a Church in the last scene? Hot damn, we have objectivity; there is a Church. If we attempt to go beyond, and our going beyond manifests subjectivism, contradiction? Then we simply abstain from going beyond, where "going beyond" means "making shit up". See Positivism.

If you want to maintain that there is a meaning of the Church then feel free to deduce the meaning from necessary, self-evident, a priori truths; or feel free to intuit the inherent nature or essence of the Church. If somewhere "within" the Church there exists meaning then utilize whatever objective criteria there are to clearly and distinctly discern that meaning. Objectivity, Clarity, and Universality are not problematic.

The problem occurs in the subjective, in the interpretation, in the X and ~X style of fabricating bullshit founded upon nonsense and maintained via absurdity. The Church is The Church. If we can discern clearly and distinctly, objectively and universally, that The Church is Purgatory, and Purgatory is the Church? Then fine, awesome, fantastic. So long as X is X we are fine.

But if we engage in any activity, system, or project which results in The Church being Purgatory and the Kingdom of Ends, X and ~X? Then we have a problem, we have nonsense, we have a complete lack of meaning and intelligibility. And we need to shut the hell up and read our fucking Aristotle again:

“It is impossible that the same thing belong and not belong to the same thing at the same time and in the same respect.” (1005b19-20)

“No one can believe that the same thing can (at the same time) be and not be.” (1005b23-24)

“The most certain of all basic principles is that contradictory propositions are not true simultaneously.” (1011b13-14)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Happy Towel Day