Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s term for a society based on humility towards what can be known. It is the sort of utopian idea that causes one to reconsider one’s own mental processes rather than draw up a blueprint for how others ought to behave.

He has also inspired me to read some Montaigne. Odd that I never have.

Gilgamesh is Fascinating.

Short, as epics go. And one certainly feels something got lost in translation. But there’s a marvelous universality to it at the same time, and a quaint reflection of a world more enchanted and more innocent. And the way it ends bespeaks a kind of tragedy-of-time, a luminous lamentation, that reminds me of Beowulf.

I don’t know why it took me so long to read it, but I’m glad I did.

Word of the Day: Benignant

1. kind, especially to inferiors; gracious: a benignant sovereign.
2. exerting a good influence; beneficial: the benignant authority of the new president.
3. Pathology. benign.
Definition: Dictionary.com
Where I found it: The Orphic Hymn to Ares
To lovely Venus [Kypris], and to Bacchus [Lyaios] yield, to Ceres [Deo] give the weapons of the field;
Encourage peace, to gentle works inclin’d, and give abundance, with benignant mind.

Hermeneutics of Suspicion and the Problem with Film Critics

The Sunrise Motel makes note of the same Film School Rejects article that I did, and pulls a good description of the puritanical urge to sieve any piece of art for wrongthink, “hermeneutics of suspicion”. I might go a step farther than this, and say that a great deal of criticism is done not for the sake of art, but simply to create barriers to enjoyment, that one may status-signal.

If you enjoy the same sort of thing that the masses do, and in the same way, then you aren’t a critic, you’re a press agent. It’s thus in the best interest of the critic to find reasons to find fault with things. A Hermeneutics of Suspicion will do as much as any other.

No doubt a certain degree of Exposure Effect is involved. If you watch movies for a living, you become inured to the common storytelling tropes and they cease to surprise you or have any effect on you whatsoever. So your experience of film, hoping against hope to be surprised, is vastly different from the average film patron, who is expecting merely an entertaining story for a few hours. The tendency to embrace absurdism and aesthetic extremes for their ability tweak the tropes is thus explained.

In other words, criticism has a problem.

The War for Art is Fought Within You

Good post by Christian Mihai.

The thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that which must also make you lonely. – Lorraine Hansberry Most people loathe solitude. Silence. The empty room. Nothing but their minds for company… But, to paraphrase John Steinbeck, all great and precious things are built in solitude. They grow out of it. […]

via Exceptional — Cristian Mihai

An Update, Brief and Modest

So Party at the Last Tomorrow has had its moment. I got some good feedback on it, and I’m pleased that it picked up as much interest as it did. A Kindle Countdown deal suggested to me that I’m pricing these novellas too high. I’ve already dropped the price on The Devil Left Him to $3.99, I may drop Last Tomorrow as well, and price Void accordingly when it comes out.

In other news, I’ve shuffled something of my Medium profile around, removed some publications that weren’t doing anything, and created a new one: Pop Culture is Filth, to review and discuss the various arts. The title is ironic, I think.

Here’s a discussion of Silence by Martin Scorcese to open it up:

This is a more relevant story that it might seem at first glance: the film doesn’t just cut into the difficulties of being a missionary in a foreign land, or in the clanging misunderstandings of East and West. It cuts right into the question of how far a culture can go to defend itself. Japan in the 16th century attacked Christianity largely because it judged Christianity as too foreign to gel with its existing conception of itself. Japan would not be Japan if it was Christian, the Tokugawa shoguns determined, and those that felt otherwise were brutally suppressed. The film highlights the sufferings of poor Japanese Christians who suffered for the sake of a vision of a deity that lifted them up.

In the process, however, it rather failed to give its heroes the strength of their best possible argument, and so somewhat undercut itself.

There’s some significant changes happening to Unnamed Journal, too. More on that later.

View at Medium.com