In which faithlessness and godlessness collide in Westeros upon the explosion of the Red Viper’s red head. Read more
Because boy, more than just about anything I’ve read this year, this is about me:
"There is something in these stories that children need, want: an imaginative trial of independence, a way out of life as they know it. For some children, though, they are more than that: They are life preservers."
"I write as someone who was left behind, as anyone who has read and loved a magical book is, marooned in the world we tried so hard to escape. We are Narnians bereft of Narnia, witches without wands, children who have grown old. I do not mourn for my lost childhood: let me be clear. Adulthood is another, maybe equally profound, form of escape, and one I relish."
“There is something about the stories we read as children that get at the root of a person, that have access to the rawest nerves. And when these books are as aggressively enchanting, and as full of hard, cruel things, as the Chronicles are — ambivalence can be violent.”
“This is a profound betrayal of Susan, and of the story itself. AuthorNeil Gaiman and fan-fiction writer E. Jade Lomax have both memorably taken up this question, in part because it’s the sort of egregious wound that demands stitching up.”
“This is all to say that none of this makes sense. It is all exception and no rule, a world where all your favorite stories coexist without continuity errors. Even in heaven, in those last horrible/tortuous/beautiful pages of The Last Battle, Professor Kirke, now “the Lord Digory,” murmurs under his breath (maybe because he knows how sacrilegious it is), that the afterlife is “all in Plato, all in Plato: bless me.” This is an Oxford don having his cake and eating it too.”
“Anyone who has read the Chronicles of Narnia before first trying Turkish delight is doomed to disappointment. This would be true regardless of what she offered Edmund: chocolate, ice cream, fruit. Nothing would taste right.”
"…There are few writers who capture the joy of food so viscerally. (‘There’s nothing to beat good freshwater fish if you eat it when it has been alive half an hour ago and has come out of the pan half a minute ago.’) I love and still think about the ocean of fresh, sweet water, carpeted by flowers, that lies at the edge of the world."
"The other great heartbreaker of the Chronicles is Calormen: a textbook Orientalist empire boiled down from The Arabian Nights, Lewis’ fear of strong flavors, and a smug sense of Celtic superiority.”
“Lewis softens this blow by rejiggering the requirements for salvation. Though it feels small, simple, logical — that a good man like Emeth gets to go to heaven — it’s a profound shift from Christian dogma, where the recognition in life of the savior (in this case a giant, if magnificent, cat) is absolutely necessary for salvation. Miller agrees: ‘[T]he Christianity in Narnia has been substantially, rather than just superficially, transformed — to the point of being much less Christian, perhaps, than Lewis intended.’”
"…These other kinds of politics — of class, of nation, of gender, of race — are ones that are intimately felt by the children who inhabit these books, and more especially by the children who read them. The fantasies of childhood, as much as in adulthood, are circumscribed by gender and class and race. What does Lewis ask of his girl readers when he dismisses Susan from paradise? What does Lewis ask of his readers of color when dark skin is equated with squalor and tyranny? It hurts, even (especially) as children, to be shown so clearly you don’t belong.”
“But this is the Chronicles’ greatest, redeeming strength: that sowed within are the seeds of their own dogma’s destruction. The machinery, the logic, of Narnia itself resists its author’s heavy-handed lessons.”
Gravity continues into its second weekend of box office domination and as the inevitable backlash winds up, Matt and Matt take a few trips around the planet in their space suits to talk about god, the lack of same, and how we ascribe meaning to our big screen counterparts by way of great filmmaking.
“Impudence is pretending to be Fek’lhr of Klingon!”
Is this the last episode from the treasure trove of (usually terrible) unproduced Star Trek Phase II scripts used on Star Trek: The Next Generation? I think so. I have a weird relationship with “Devil’s Due,” in that I’ve never particularly thought it was very good, but it’s so peculiar and memorable that it ends up in my head a lot when I think back on Next Gen in general and the fourth season in particular. Appropriately, it’s a highly “Old Star Trek” idea, with a premise that straddles science fiction and historical mythology (and courtroom drama). And one can’t help but wonder if Ardra – the Ventaxian devil figure who returns to trouble a superstitious people, and the Enterprise – and the poser “God” that Captain Kirk and company discovered at the centre of the galaxy back in Star Trek V ever get together to play cards.Read more
“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery — even if mixed with fear — that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man… I am satisfied with the mystery of life’s eternity and with a knowledge, a sense, of the marvelous structure of existence — as well as the humble attempt to understand even a tiny portion of the Reason that manifests itself in nature.”
“The Mintakans are beginning to believe in a god – and the one they’ve chosen is you.”
This Prime Directive morality play and anti-religious fable doesn’t play as strongly as I remember, although the pieces are all here. Picard and the gang accidentally reveal a camouflaged Federation observation post to a group of “proto-Vulcan humanoids at the Bronze age level” and in so doing, set Picard up as a god figure. The pieces are staged nicely enough (and Star Trek: The Next Generation’s first location visit to the Vasquez Rocks, used frequently on the original series, is nice) but all the characters come off more annoying than I recalled. The generally excellent Ray Wise, particularly, seems a downright lunatic as the Picard-obsessed Liko, though Karthryn Leigh Scott’s turn as village leader Nuria is more nuanced. It was a bit of a pleasant shock to realize that Liko’s daughter Oji, quite the Renfaire hottie in her Mintakan dress, is played by Pamela Adlon – Marcie fucking Runkle!Read more
“What a perfectly vicious little circle.”
“Pen Pals” has its heart in the right place but is a fairly boring affair; both of its plotlines are competent but uninteresting. In the A-plot, Data makes contact with a little girl on a dying planet, and drags the Enterprise into a debate about the Prime Directive when trying to determine whether they should intervene to save her. In the B-plot, Wesley is given his first taste of command, leading a team that is studying the geological instability of Sarjenka’s world. I should, at least, eat the B-plot up like candy, but it’s weakly done, and gets dropped halfway through the episode anyway. And meanwhile – there’s no point denying it – Sarjenka just creeps me out. She’s one of the less successful makeup designs on the show (bright orange, with overlong fingers and sunken, skull-like eyes), and one does well not to think too deeply about the modern-day equivalent of adult Data trolling the universe for little girls to cyber-chat with. That dog don’t hunt.Read more