Tuesday, November 03, 2015

links from here and there

As someone who tried getting into Optic Nerve decades ago and couldn't, it's terribly gratifying to see a contributor at Hooded Utilitarian explain why Adrian Tomine has shown himself to be a capable but disappointing one-trick pony.  If you're into Tomine, hey, cool, but I'm perfectly happy to stick with Rumiko Takahashi as a matter of preference. If it's a choice between Optic Nerve and Ranma 1/2 or Maison Ikkoku then Optic Nerve always loses.

Some laments on how academic writerly conventions make bad writers of writers who could have been good.


Somewhat thematically related ... a case against subtlety.

Carl Trueman proposes that the slim inbred gene pool of The Gospel Coalition and company


... First, the major organizations involved in spearheading the movement, such as TGC, Desiring God and the CBMW, tend to have significant overlap in top leadership personnel.  This makes problems in one branch of the movement less likely to be critiqued by others.  Silence on key issues is easier to maintain when different groups share a common pool of leadership.  They thus have both a vested interest in that silence and a means of enforcing it: a virtual monopoly on the trusted media outlets where such critique might appear, and a powerful framework for keeping discipline among the lower orders -- platform patronage and jobs for the boys.  Break ranks and you lose your potential place at the table/conference/blog/bookstore.

Second, the powerful personality-driven nature of the movement also makes it hard for the rank-and-file to offer criticism.  Over recent decades, psychologists have noted a strange phenomenon relative to some financial scams: when people have invested so much in them, it becomes virtually impossible for them to stop giving money, even when they know they are scams, because the emotional cost of accepting that fact is simply too high a psychological price to pay.   It seems that a similar thing happens in religious movements when people invest in a particular organization or person: what has been notable about the various scandals surrounding the YRR is not that these have led the rank-and-file to a more sober and modest assessment of the movement’s leadership but that they have frequently generated even more passionate uncritical devotion to the cause, as anyone who has ever dared blog a criticism will know.

Oh boy, do we have some shared understanding on that point.  :)

Perhaps the saddest thing for me in my area is that after a few years of blogging about the problems I had with how Mars Hill leadership approached the interpretation of scripture and their doctrinal stances nobody cared, yet when I began to document the parade of real estate acquisitions and the associated upward trajectories of the men who ended up in ministry after playing roles in those real estate acquisitions, well, suddenly leaders at Mars Hill wanted to know who Wenatchee The Hatchet was and wanted to reach out.  But I left on wonderful terms with my campus pastor, who I still consider a dear friend and a brother in Christ. So I didn't exactly have a big reason to just go meet with leaders I'd never met before wanting to talk to me about blog posts about real estate and intellectual property.

Seen the theory about Jar Jar Binks?  Well, a fun piece at Slate (sometimes that still happens) ...

But to propose that Jar Jar was an evil genius, one has to accept that Lucas himself was a genius as well. Lumpawarroo portrays the director as a master manipulator, subtly planting almost unnoticeable details into battle scenes and dialogue sequences alike. In his auteurish ingenuity, he somehow managed to do so without letting the armies of animators and designers who worked on the films realize what he was up to. If you believe this narrative, Lucas was far subtler, and far more devious, than anyone realized, even as he remained almost comically clumsy. Lumpawarroo thereby leaves us with Schrödinger’s Lucas, a creature suspended in creative superposition, simultaneously brilliant and foolish.

But in reality, George Lucas has always been a good-natured idiot who stumbled into something larger than himself, screwing it up along the way but still getting to join in the celebration when it’s all over. This is, of course, also the role that Jar Jar plays throughout the prequel trilogy.

Ultimately, the Darth Jar Jar theory tells a story about fan desire. Almost accidentally, Lumpawarroo touches on this very point, writing, “If you are able to somehow change the nature of Jar Jar from embarrassing idiot to jaw-dropping villain, suddenly the entire prequel trilogy must be seen in a new light.” Appropriately, it’s “you”—you the viewer, you the fan—who has to make the change here. We embrace theories like Lumpawarroo’s because we love Star Wars, and because we want it to be good. But of course it has always been the fans that have made Star Wars great, perfecting it with their devotion.

I.e. Star Wars is a great big blank slate upon which we can read our judgments of ourselves and others.

I have this idea incubating about the difference between text, subtext and metatext in Star Wars but it might be a while before I get to writing it.

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