The Birdcage Archives

Monday 28 March 2011

Monday's With Mr. K (No. III)

Hello Gentle Reader

March has been a more chaotic month of circumstances that keep just going wrong. However I have been able to maintain the goal and the promise to keep posting "Monday's With Mr. K," once a month. I know this is probably the latest of the three now published "items," but part of that is done mostly out of the circumstances that had befallen me in March. At least its being published on a Monday is all I can say.

Please enjoy Gentle Reader


Tea time was Mr. K's favourite part of the day. By this time of the day he had the most visitors. People would visit him at tea time, because they knew he would be home. The guest or guests would come up the small thin stair way knock on the door, wait and sure enough Mr. K would answer. He would welcome them all in with open arms, firm handshakes and smiles. The guest or guests would take their seat or seats, and wait as Mr. K brought out tea. It was always the same kind of tea though. Peppermint or just mint. "It is the kind I love, and not at all expensive." How he made this tea, though shocked every guest that visited him. It was made in such a way that even those that do not like mint or peppermint tea, found it enjoyable. Mr. K would always smile and say: "There's no real proper way to make tea. It’s always bitter. It’s just a matter of knowing what to throw in to make it more enjoyable." When guest would ask what he put in it, Mr. K would smile affectionately. "A person of knowledge always feels compelled to reveal that knowledge. However the magician, is a person who has knowledge, and he never reveals that knowledge. So in this I am a magician and I cannot reveal my ticks." The guest would nod as if approvingly, but also wondered what was put in the tea. While Mr. K smiled like a content cat -- just like the one or two or three or four but no more, sitting at the window sill lowly purring in the sun.

Thursday 24 March 2011

The Beggar

Hello Gentle Reader

Do to some unforeseen circumstances last week I was unable to post a blog. However I was able to maintain reading in order to post a blog this week, if circumstances permitted me to get back to a computer with internet in order to post this review of a short novel I had the interesting enjoyment of reading by Naguib Mahfouz Noble Prize Laureate of 1988. Many will recognize the name Naguib Mahfouz from an earlier review of his novel "Palace Walk," which is the first novel in a trilogy of novels which is respectfully called "The Cairo Trilogy." "The Cairo Trilogy," is perhaps Naguib Mahfouz's most famous work of literary output, however his lesser known works, are just as good, in their own ways.

"The Beggar," a novel that is both dour and sad, and it wasn't even written by other novelists noted for dour and sad novels, of nihilistic bent or in some cases existentialist bents such as Thomas Bernhard, Kenzaburo Oe, Yukio Mishima, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Elfride Jelinek, and the list can go on. However here is an interesting tid bit of information. "The Beggar," is a novel that deals with some rather existential themes, but Naguib Mahfouz himself, was also one of the first Arabic writers to deal with existential themes.

What does that mean? To me it sounds like Naguib Mahfouz was/is one of the first contemporary authors in Egypt and writers in the Arabic language, which dealt with more themes of the age. In the 20th century themes of Existentialism, Absurdism, and Nihilism were kind of at their peaks of thought. Jean-Paul Sartre was the head of the Existentialist movement, while another French writer and philosopher of the 20th century headed the Absurdist philosophy thought. Neither one of these two writers and philosophers necessarily came up with the ideas. Both of which may have brought the idea's to a greater attention, but both did not necessarily come up with philosophies in which they promoted. However during the 20th century these philosophies were gaining wide recognition and wide thought. Playwrights like Samuel Beckett (who was also a novelist and short story writer) and Eugene Ionesco proudly presented the absurdism of modern life. While Jean-Paul Sartre in his plays like "No Exit," ("Hell is other people.") "Nausea." or Patrick Süskind and his short novel "The Pigeon."

Naguib Mahfouz was born in the year 1911, perfect timing to grow up in a world where these philosophical ideas were taking hold. Would it come to a surprise to many that Naguib Mahfouz may have written about some of these idea's in his writing career that had enveloped seventy years of his ninety-four long life? To me no.

So all that dribble leads us to this short novel by Naguib Mahfouz called "The Beggar."

"The Beggar," if I could describe it really simple terms, is a short novel about the failure to find meaning in existence, and its consequences. Meet our main character Omar, who is suffering from a "illness." This illness we learn as the reader, is sucking the enjoyment from Omar's life. Yet Omar has everything. He has a family, friends, a successful career as a lawyer, and yet he finds no enjoyment or happiness in life. Omar goes to the doctor -- and why shouldn't he? He's a man who can afford a doctor, but also has sense enough to see that something is not "right with him," and so a consultation with a doctor wouldn't hurt. So the doctor tells Omar, that he needs to go on a diet, and gets some proper excerise, and hey a vacation wouldn't hurt right?

Unfortunately Omar, does all that his doctor had suggested, but still feels the meaningless void of life, sucking him dry slowly and surely. Seeing as the doctor was unable to help him, Omar, decides that he'll self-medicate. Through illicit love affairs which at first begin to ease the pain of his existince, he soon finds himself, once again in the same old place that he was only a short period before. Omar then returns home, to his wife who through this entire ordeal of Omar facing a existential crisis, has stayed by him -- a devoted wife or a foolish woman? Anyhow returning home, Omar finds himself suffocated and estranged from his family, and friends but they are also happy to see him to a degree, knowing he is safe and alright. Things get interesting when we an old friend and compatriot by the name of Othman Khalil re-enters the life of Omar, this is when we learn of Omar's political past. He was a poet (something that was spoke about in the beginning) but also a socialist in his younger years. However Othman went to jail for his socialist political ideologies, and Omar did not, and even though Othman was tortured (most likely brutally) he did not reveal that Omar was also one of them. One can now only imagine what Othman feels to see his friend, reduced to an empty shell of what he once was, and also his once strong socialist ideologies, gone with his former self.

The novel ends with Omar once again leaving his family. He moves out to the country side, and lives there. Now this part of the novel gets a bit confusing. Omar is now in a state of delirium and delusions. So what is being said in these states of oddities like a bouquet of flowers which are not flowers but the heads of his family and friends, that chase him, among other interesting dreams create for a bizarre ending. At first I must admit that I thought the translation had just gotten really poor, but after perseverance, and re-reading all is set straight.

The ending leaves one with a sense of hope that Omar is going to be alright going back to his life in Cairo, but that is a fine line. There is a sense of optimism there, but as the novel had shown us before, he once feel that great feeling before, and then it was lost on him in no time. Yet it depends how the reader wishes to see it. Is Omar's life finally going to be alright or will he simply spin out of control, again and again?

"The Beggar," felt like an interesting novel for me at this current moment. At the moment I feel like I myself am facing a difficult feelings of inadequacy and wondering if my life will ever have meaning or what will I do with my life. Though I don't have the luxuries that Omar himself had, a family, a stable roof, money et cetera, there was a feeling that even with the basic necessities of life met for him, it wasn't enough. There was something missing. And though at the moment I have some of these basic necessities of life, and yet still able to enjoy the wonders of reading, writing and blogging, there still feels like there is something missing. What am I going to do with my life? Why does my life feels so incomplete? Will I ever see my life fulfilled, and lived for myself? All these questions and ponderings are something I find myself going through over and over again. Part of me tells myself that Omar and myself are not the only people feelings the nihilistic void around our lives. Facing existential crisis, and watching the absurd march of everyday life. Naguib Mahfouz with his novel "The Beggar," has written a tale of the hopeless account and desperation of a man trying to find meaning in his life.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Reader
*And Remember: Downloading Books Illegally is Thievery and wrong.*

M. Mary

Friday 11 March 2011

The Sound of the Waves

Hello Gentle Reader

I must be a writers rug, in which the writing bug has come and snuggled close or has bitten me. Either way, I am doing yet another blog. This time, a book review about the short novel or perhaps novella by the very famous and controversial author Yukio Mishima. Now here's an interesting question is Yukio Mishima, better known for his novels, stories, and plays || OR || is he better known for his rather controversial suicide Seppuku? What is Seppuku you may ask gentle reader; it is the Japanese form of ritual suicide. More or less this ritual suicide noted as "stomach-cutting," is performed by Samurai who follow the code of Bushido honor code, and commit this suicide as a form of dying with honour rather then fall into enemy hands. It was also however a form of capital punishment -- but that’s not what this is about. Yukio Mishima in 1970's committed this suicide ritual, to preserve his honour after he had failed his attempt at a coup d'état most likely seeing this as a form of dishonour, Yukio Mishima chose to die with honour. However doing his failed attempt at the coup, Yukio Mishima was not the only one to commit suicide. In fact, one of his partners in this political form of extreme even radical activism, also committed this ritual. The young man Masakatsu Morita, however did not cut himself deep enough to be fatal, but the wound itself must have been horrible. The reason this poor young man attempted to commit this suicide was because he had tried three times and unsuccessfully failed to behead Yukio Mishima as is the proper action (ritually speaking), however Mortia did die. But it was by his own beheading, by another of the partners in this act.

Yukio Mishima if I recall correctly, came from a family of Samurai -- which probably helped influence this act. However I think in another way his death is a form of symbolism of Ancient Japan mixing in with the new western influenced Japan of his day and age after World War II. These very theme's are present in his books (I have previously read "Confessions of a Mask," by Yukio Mishima). This gesture, if you ask me, gives me the impression that Yukio Mishima's death was more than just a way of dying in a honourable fashion -- fashion being the wrong term may I add; but also a cultural symbol to both Japan and The Western world that Japan's values, rituals, and culture is uniquely its own, and that Ancient Japan lives inside of its citizens.

"The Sound of The Waves," on the surface is a simple love story. However beneath this simple love story, surrounds a world of complexity. Beneath the minimalist style, is a complex landscape. By the way -- I am aware that I am getting of track here; Yukio Mishima's minimalist style if you ask me, is much different then that of Samuel Beckett's style. Beckett's style is heavily repitious and often you can find the same set of words, being repeated in different phases but each one going back to the same first line in some cases. Yukio Mishima on the other hand showers his novel with the superficial surface details -- even facts to a degree. When describing the distance of a boat, he may not say: "The boat seems to be twenty-five yards away," Yukio Mishima may just state for planning: "The boat is twenty-five yards away."

Is there such a life in this world that is simple? Is there such a thing as simple love? When a mouse scurries to get that sunflower seed that has fallen on the pavement by a garden or by a field or a park, does that mouse not have to go through obstacles and trails, in order to claim that prize that it so much as well desires. Hiding from people, running from cats or other predators, when the mice finally reaches that prize does that mouse not see the seed as a form of a gift or something that has well been earned -- and then the mouse is ran over by a car. Because I'm sick like that.

Welcome to the world of Yukio Mishima, where even in the simplest form, of the simplest love story, is there an undercurrent of emotions, complexities, cultural values evident, and a culture still uniquely its own.

We are introduced to the main protagonist Shinji Kubo, a simple fisherman apprentice. His mother is a diving woman -- I think a Ama (I'll explain in a bit). Shinji has a younger brother, whose name is Hiroshi. Shinji's life is simple. He has no father, for his father was killed by an American bomber when he was out on a boat. In the years since Shinji and Hiroshi were young their mother took care of them, by her living as a diving woman.

Ama is a form of diving in which woman dive without any form of scuba gear or air tanks. They may however now in modern days use wet suits, fins, and goggles -- of course that is depending on the region, and also if its a tourist attraction. The Japanese tradition holds truth that this form of diving is two thousand years old. I first read about this form of diving from national geographic. I can't seem to find the article online or the magazine myself, to tell you the year and the issue number -- I have so many, it would take me a long time to find. I should however one day with free time, catalogue them. Any how, so this form of diving, is where woman dive for pearls; but also food, such as seaweed, octopus, oysters, lobsters and other forms of food from the sea. I'd say that this form of diving is strictly a Japanese tradition I think, but I could be wrong. Oh I am wrong Korea has a form of diving woman called Haenyo. Which thinking back about it now that might be what the national geographic wrote about. So in this novel Shinji's mother made a living off of this, and supported her two sons of this living until Shinji is able to support his family -- his mother does dive of course as well still.

Shinji's life appears simple and he is content with his peaceful living. However one day at twilight when he reaches the shores at night after a day of fishing he sees a woman, that he has never seen at any time before. Soon after we learn that this woman is Hatsue, who is the daughter of the wealthiest man on the island in which Shinji lives. The reason why Shinji has never before seen this woman, before is because she was being trained as a pearl diver in another island. However after her brother’s death, her father brings her back. We are next introduced to the arrogant, stuck up, and other wise rude and selfish man by the name Yasuo Kawamoto. Yasuo Kawamoto runs the "Young Men's Association," (I hope I got that right) which Shinji also attends. Though he is quite quiet, at this and simply enjoys listening to the chatter and other conversations and of course gossip.

Gossip is the villages main attribute, in this book. Gossip is how the villagers find their pleasure in such world. Like it was stated by a character (if memory serves correct it was Shinji's mother who said it) "People are always minding other peoples business." Sounds oh so familiar, to me. When I find that I live with someone who deems it "their," reasonability to mind others business for them, because they are not "fit," to mind it themselves.

This is how things go from interesting to bad for this love affair of a poor fisherman and the wealthy daughter. Shinji doesn't know it, but he's also has the admiration, of someone else, close to him. The lighthouse keepers daughter, greatly admires and loves Shinji but see's herself as ugly. One day she see's Shinji and Hatsue walking arms linked by the lighthouse. Jealous and in a fit of rage, she decides to exploit the arrogant Yasuo by telling him that Shinji has taken the virginity of Hatsue. Jealous and enraged Yasuo makes the situation take his advantage as much as possible. Rumours spread, and gossip as anyone knows can spread like wild fire. Our loves become Romeo and Juliet. For the rest of the details read the damn book yourself.

Here's what interests me with Yukio Mishima. What is it with him? He's not a particularly great author by any means -- yet again I have to read an author who is a great author or is it more appropriate to say read a author? Well either way you get the point. But there is something about his minimalist style, that just works for me. Something about his, simple form and simple descriptions, and simple this and simple that, but with such complex undertones that seem to make up for lack of character psychoanalysis and motivations. There is just something about Mishima that I just like. I won't say he is as influenced by Western Culture as Haruki Murakmi or Kenzaburo Oe even, but I would say he shows, great influences of western writing, however, he also shows great, control over traditional Japanese form. Perhaps that is where his minimalism style comes from.

But this is a lovely love story. Everyone loves a nice love story once and a while. Of course, when I told my sister that it was a love story she laughed at me and said: "And soon you'll be reading Harlequin Romances." Which I scoffed at saying that Yukio Mishima had nihilistic tendencies and committed suicide, which the witty witch remarked: "Go figure you would read a romance by an author who commits suicide."

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read
*And Remember: Downloading books illegally is thievery and wrong.*

M. Mary

Thursday 10 March 2011

Piracy of Books -- The Time Has Come

Hello Gentle Reader

I appear to be in a lovely mood today so I decided I'll give you all a second blog to read. Aren't I enjoyably nice. Please hold your praise. So while I was just surfing the web as they say, I stumbled across an article about books that are being pirated. I thought I had written a blog earlier saying that Ursula Le Guin was outraged at the Authors Guild based on the fact that this Guild was not doing enough to protect the works of deceased authors, and allowing them to be uploaded on the computer, via google, without paying royalties to the estate or whoever owns the royalties. Anyhow, below is a link to Ursula Le Guin's letter of resignation based on her disagreement with the "Google Settlement," that had outraged her -- and rightfully so. Also is a article about this disagreement and how Ursula Le Guin is fighting back -- You Go Girl!

So today while surfing I found another article talking about pirating books. I mean in the day and age of E-books (why not I-books?) and Kindle (which I thought was a chocolate) people have found new(er) ways to find and read books. Hey its not bad if you're reading right? What the hell do I care if you are reading, or how you're reading. But apparently this e-readers are now being used to download books illegally, without paying proper royalties, to the authors that have written the book. Does this sound familiar? Do we remember the case of Napster versus the music industry? Well I do, not to mention that I didn't give a damn either; and that still goes on. So the music industry of superficial pop culture oriented songs, and otherwise, mind numbing music, was the first to be hit by this new wave of technology and the now "digital theft," that can be done in today’s world. Now television shows are pirated, and movies are being pirated, and music and books, its like the world has gone free! Except we still need money, we still go to our boring day to day jobs, come home deal with the mundane tasks, and go to bed, only do this repeating cycle with slight variations, tomorrow, and the day after that. So this idea that the world has gone free is not a utopian idea, but it has grinded the gears of a few people -- actors, directions, singers, musicians, and now authors.

Before I thought nothing of it. I didn't care, why should I care, music? television? movies? What I didn't care, and I'll admit that. But now that books are being pirated, it’s like someone has let a match under my ass, and I have picked up arms to go to war!

So now we must ask ourselves what shall we do, to stop this? How can we teach these young kids to read, and enjoy a good story -- even if it is crap; but pay for the books not just simply pirate them and steal them. Should we make commercials? Like the following:

I mean lets face it shall we? People wouldn't (or the majority) wouldn't steal a purse from a little old lady on the street? People wouldn't (again majority) would wilfully rob a bank, or steal a car. Why is illegally downloading media seen as an exempt? Or is it not seen as an exempt but rather just a way to do it. We have to question ourselves now how do we stop this? How do we prevent further destruction, and theft of books, music, movies, television, shows and other forms of media? Maybe there is no way. I remember supporting Wikileaks in a few blogs back, which takes stolen confidential documents, and presents them to the world, now I wonder if that is right, seeing as this whole pirating theft and other forms of digital thievery has become acceptable among today’s youth and other generations as well.

According to the article that I have read (and a link will be placed soon I promise) some authors like novelist Chris Cleave (author of "The Other Hand," and "The Little Bee.") Do not see these people pirating them as evil or nasty or mean, but rather look at them in a different sense: (From the article)

"I don't blame anyone. They don't do it [download books illegally] because they are evil but because they don't understand," he said. "In the music industry, when the price of music went down to zero – as it arguably now is because of filesharing - artists didn't mind that much. My music friends love it because they can make money through gigs and merchandising, they can put their faces on T-shirts. But I'm not a rock star and I don't have that as an option. If readers lose the habit of paying me for my work, I can't work. Writing is how I make my living."

And he is right this how authors make their living. Words are their living, writing is their living, entertaining and telling stories is their living. With pirating and thievery they are now taking away that living. As Chris Cleave pointed out authors don't have the option of doing gigs and selling merchandise. They don't go out selling shirts with their faces on them without a quote on the back. The merchandise they do sell is their books, which is now being taken away from them.

This what angers novelists and writers like David Hewson who said in the article that will be posted soon:

"I spent a year of my life working on [each of] those books," he said. "They cost me time and money. Hosts of people at my publishers, people who also have the right to be paid for their work, were involved. What gives some thieving toe-rag the right to take all that work we've put in, steal it, then regurgitate it for the masses?" He added: "They are not Robin Hood, taking from the rich to give to the poor. I find it offensive."

And David Hewson is right it is offensive, because when you work at something to make it perfect, to make it work, to entertain and to be enjoyed and that work is just tossed aside as simply meaning nothing or worth nothing, then it becomes offensive. Which is why he is angry that his work is making others money who don't bother to pay him any money back, for that work. Authors don't get to live in big fancy houses of mansions with three kitchens ten bathrooms and twenty three rooms only a small minority of authors are given that luxury and its time that, the public knows that you steal, you get no more. Because if authors cannot make their living off of writing then their stories that are left untold and unsaid, can no longer be produced because they are, unfeasible, and what’s the point of writing a new one, when they have to get a job to support themselves and do what they love -- its just not doable. Its just not going to happen. I look forward to reading the next David Mitchell book or the next Margaret Atwood book of fiction, or the next book by Nobel Laureate in Literature of 2009 Herta Muller. It is offensive it is wrong, and if you love books, don't steal them because easy come easy go.

As the new campaign against books being pirated says:

"People Who Love Books Don't Steal Books"

And the promised link:

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always Stay Well Read
Also Don't Steal Books


Video Games are they art?

Hello Gentle Reader

What a week it has been. Got some books I ordered, bought three more, and now I am just waiting for the last one, to be shipped to me. Upon reflection last night, I have many books from authors from around the world. Each book to me from around the world is like travelling. From Japan (Yukio Mishima, Haruki Murakami, Yasunari Kawabata) to Egypt (Naguib Mahfouz) to France (Jean-Paul Sartre) to Russia (Fyodor Dostoevsky) to England (Virginia Woolf, Doris Lessing, Kazuo Ishiguro) Canada (at least the Canada I have not seen) (Margaret Atwood) Romania/Germany (Herta Muller) all these books present a world that I have yet to see, and yet will someday enjoy seeing. But for now, reading these books from all around the world, I enjoy reading these novels. The characters may have different names, the cultures maybe different, the world around these characters are exotic to me -- and mundane to them; but the human condition, the universal themes are all the same. But they give different perspectives on the world, and the human condition, the meaning of life, what is love, what is this and what is that. All that is very interting to me. So reading to me is traveling, in time, and to different places. At least for now its an affordable way to travel.

The other day I bought a book, which is a short story collection by "Patricia Highsmith," I believe I read and reviewed her book "Strangers on A Train," here. I can't recall to be honest, either way it doesn't matter. Anyhow it was either on this book or the biography "The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith," by Joan Schenkar, that the Pulitzer prize winning critic Michael Dirda had said the following:

"Europeans honoured her as a psychological novelist, part of an existentialist tradition represented by her own favourite writers, in particular Dostoevsky, Conrad, Kafka, Gide, and Camus."

Of course, when i went to buy the selected stories of Patricia Highsmith at the book store naturally she is placed in the "Mystery," section, but I consider Patricia Highsmith, as a psychological novelist, not a psychological thriller novelist. Yes she deals with murder, she deals with, all that dark human soul like stuff. But she probes the mind. She goes into the heads of these characters, these amoral creatures, and dissects them so easily. She stands above the cranium of the characters the top of the skull removed revealing the brain, scalpel in hand, and slowly pulls apart the characters psychologically.

But this blog isn't about Patricia Highsmith, no quite the opposite really. This blog is about the Pulitzer prize winning critic Michael Dirda. Upon reading his statement about Patricia Highsmith, is where I got interested in Michael Dirda. Usually I don't really care to talk about, literary critics, and their views on works of authors. Though I wouldn't mind one day reading something by Maurice Blanchot. I usually don't like reading stuff by some critics because they come off as rather rude. I mean Harold Bloom a respected (that depends on who you ask naturally) literary critic, had moaned about Doris Lessing winning the Nobel Prize in Literature of 2007 as: "pure political correctness," and remarked that Doris Lessing was a author of "Fourth rate science fiction." That doesn't sound very nice to me. There is always a thin line with me personally of criticism and just being pompous, stuck up and just being all around reality rude. But my criticism of the literary critics cannot end with Mr. Harold Bloom, it should end with another critic by the name of Michiko Kakutani. Norman Mailer has remarked that Kakutani is a "one-woman kamakazi," who also "disdains white male authors." The next part by Norman Mailer is what I find/found most interesting is that he also remarks that she: "bring[s] out your review two weeks in advance of publication. She trashes it just to hurt sales and embarrass the author." Jonathan Franzen has called her "The stupidest person in New York." Which says a lot seeing how there are however many people in the city and metropolitan area of New York. But whatever. So it says a lot that, to me about a critic who gains the harsh criticism back from authors, because she dishes it out. Is it fair? I can't say; but is it also fair to write a horrible review two weeks in advance to simply humiliate an author for the sheer enjoyment of it? Not my place to say either, but proves my point on why I don't give much thought about critics.

But this blog is about the above critics, which is above all else irrelevant talk that has nothing to with what I was originally going to do, but seeing as I have found it fitting to fill this blog up with background information which is both pointless and meaningless, and generally fun for me to write, but of course I shall stop being self-centered, and get to the damn point.

So after seeing what Michael Dirda had wrote about Patricia Highsmith I decided to look him up, and so I did. After reading some stuff by him, and seeing his photo -- its always nice to put a face to the writer at times; I decided I was going to look for an interview with Michael Dirda. For once I may have seen a less angry critic, and so far, I have. What a relief that is.

So after looking for an interview I stumbled upon this interesting article:

Which is what I wanted to discuss today. Are video games art? This is exactly what this article is about. So first and foremost I wonder to myself, what the term "Art," really means. In school, art was painting, sculpting, drawing, crafts, and all that waste of time bull shit that I didn't care about. Which first and foremost, I am not skilled with working with my hands. I don't like folding paper, because the art of "paper folding," to me is stupid. paper is to be wrote on not folded into funny useless shapes and animals. Second, my paintings never turned out to the way I wanted them too. Neither did my drawings. So I have it instilled in my brain that art, is not anything outside of this narrow field of "painting, drawing, sculpting, paper folding," frustrating forms of waste of time for me. That means that I don't consider music, carpentry, architecture, Literature/writing, singing, dancing, or video games as "Art." I consider them separate forms all on their own. Which is usually why I scoff at musicians or dancers or actors or whoever saying "well doing this kind of art . . ." turns me off. Perhaps the word "Art," has a negative form or connotation to me.

But are video games art? To me no. Not because they are not in that traditional way of entertainment, and some are more interested in blowing people’s brains out -- hello cinema and theatre is too sometimes as is literature and music can too, also art can be violent; but because the term art, is not something that I deem anything outside of "painting, drawing, sculpting et cetera," as art. So its not an insult that I don't say video games are art, because video games are very entertaining and some are of a higher quality in visuals and storytelling, but I don't see it as art. Which of course is again not an insult to people who enjoy video games. I like video games, I quite liked Silent Hill games that I have played, but I still enjoy a good book. But that doesn't mean that video games are not enjoyed by people, to this day and are not a form of "low entertainment."

In this new world of different technologies, accessible information, and a world that is smaller by the day by how connected we are via the internet, and other ways of communication. Video games are nothing more than a new form of entertainment. Did cinema kill the book? Did comic books/graphic novels, kills the book? Did television kill the book, cinema, graphic novels/comic books? No, no, no, all of them are different forms of entertainment and all of them have pros and cons, and each one of them, is good in their own way. Each one should drive and thrive in the goal and accomplishment of the goal of entertaining the buyer, the viewer, the reader, and the listener. Each one should be able to make sure that person is entertained, and is given a broaden out look on life. That’s what all forms of entertainment should be for -- to entertain and to open up peoples minds to different ways of thinking, and I am sure that video games can do that.

Besides as the last part of the article said:

"BioShock was influenced by his [Ken Levine] interest in books such as Ayn Rand's, but he didn't want to cram that interest down the throats of people just looking for a good thrill ride."

So me being bias -- its not all that bad.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read


Thursday 3 March 2011

The First Blog of March

Hello Gentle Reader

This blog contains two different topics that I felt like talking about today. First and foremost I saw this neat show, on the discovery channel on . . . let’s see here, it was the premiere, and I think Monday was the day. Yes it was Monday, I do believe. So it was the premiere, as I had already just informed you, and it was called “Oddities.” The show is basically about this antique shop down in New York City, called “Obscura Antiques and Oddities.” So they sell some very interesting and peculiar and otherwise eccentric items. Of course this seems like my kind of store. Not that I am a strange or morbid person. Quite the contrary – and by contrary I don’t mean I have the sun shining out my ass! What I mean is that I present myself to the world in a rather normal fashion. I dress normal, I do normal things. And let’s face it the two people who own the shop called “Obscura Antiques and Oddities,” Are also normal people, with interesting tastes, much like myself. But instead of being narcissistic let’s continue on with this general idea here. So the shop sells, interesting things. Taxidermy(ed) animals, puppets and dolls, prosthetic limbs, straightjackets, coffins, skulls, gallstones, so on and so forth. So it looks like a very fascinating shop. If someday that I get lots of money and have a career, and am able to travel down to New York, I’d love to visit the shop and maybe buy something’s.

Any how here are some videos of the Shop for your enjoyment my Gentle Reader

(Just a observations but the early electroshock therapy machine kind of has the same look as the Scientology e-meter)

(The above one is perhaps my favourite. Edgar Oliver’s voice is just beautiful and very unique)

Here are some pictures and information

Part (ii)

Well the other day – Tuesday March first to be exact I went to the bookstore. Decided to order some books, and so I did. I also plan on going to another bookstore, where I can get three books that I want – rather than having to order them. So while I was at the bookstore I went with another person, as a ride. A friend of course. This friend just happens to be really interested in these ideas of spirituality and New Age thoughts and beliefs. Whatever is what I say? I think it’s nothing more than a hoax and a greedy way of raping and pillaging the eastern religions and philosophies, and the Native American/Aboriginal beliefs, and spiritual thoughts, which had long since been dead, and destroyed – or so was originally thought; by me. So anyhow my friend is there and is trying to find a book on “Crystals,” and their meanings. So any how she’s going through the damn book, and telling me all these things that I don’t care about. Like how the Amethyst was something of a birthstone of November, in the ancient times – how ancient I wonder; and how all this and that, adds up and blah blah blah, like I give a royal shit. But here is what almost sent me bursting out laughing. When it said in the Chinese zodiac she was a “pig,” she remarked angrily to the book I assume that no she was a “Horse.” Upon that, she set the book down and tossed it aside. She then remarked: “No matter what you read you always get something different.” – which tells me something, that you should probably take that kind of stuff with a grain of salt, rather than take it so seriously, but no she decides to take it seriously and so she does. Which of course, I pay no attention to or mind, to and just ignore it, as nothing more than a “Fashionable,” thing to be interested in.

But today I found something interesting. While looking through on Google for some criticism of New Age thoughts and belief I found myself, stumbling across two things. One is the following:

“NAFPS,” which stands for “New Age Frauds & Plastic Shaman.” The other interesting thing I found was a self-help author by the name of James Arthur Ray who is being charged with three counts of reckless manslaughter. My opinion on that is coming up soon. First and foremost, let’s talk about “NAFPS,” or “New Age Frauds & Plastic Shaman,” shall we.

“New Age Frauds & Plastic Shaman,” according to their website is an activist group compromised of Native peoples and their supporters of course – I don’t know does that count me? Anyhow, more detailed put this group is against the cult-like movement called “The New Age movement.” You know the people who worship rocks, speak to angels, fear that having a dishwasher, and a stove, and other modern day appliances is evil, and they talk like that author of “The Lord of the Rings,” has written their entire life for them. More or less, the Charles Manson Family – nah I am just being an ass, but in many ways their beliefs, are not far from Manson’s own odd set of beliefs, and able to control people.

Much like the common New Age belief that the world will end in 2012, Charles Manson believed that the world will end by his own predication of what he named “Helter Skelter.” His background on these beliefs, his tools for coming up with this prophecy? The band called “The Beatles,” and the Book of Revelations by the bible. That’s right everyone, Charles Manson used those two icons, and smashed them together, to make his own idea and prophecy. Much like the New Age beliefs have used the beliefs, of ancient times, from Native American’s/Aboriginals, to the eastern philosophies, religions, and schools of thought. The only difference if anyone could say there is much of a difference at all, is that this or these New Age idea beliefs, are just like the Manson Family, expect they haven’t killed anyone . . . yet. Oh wait that brings me to the second part of my critical analysis of the New Age thought belief, that this mystical hippie loving quacks believe in.

James Arthur Ray is a professional speaker and author. Let’s change that around. Is a motivational speaker, and a self-help author. What does James Arthur Ray have to do with this? On February 3 2010 was arrested with the connections with the death of some participants at a sweat lodge ceremony. Hence earlier I had reported to you, that he was being charged with three counts of manslaughter – I mean reckless manslaughter. Here’s what has reportedly happened.

From my favorite website for such information Wikipedia, has gathered this information for me:

“[from Wikipedia] [B]y the time the sweat lodge ceremony began, the participants had undergone days of physically and mentally strenuous events that included fasting. In one game, guru James Arthur Ray even played God. Within an hour of entering the sweat lodge, people began vomiting, gasping for air and collapsing. Yet Bunn says Ray continually urged everyone to stay inside." – All that came from a participant and Texas resident Beverly Bunn – when she spoke to the associated press.

So does that sound interesting or what? This “New Age,” believer taking advantage of the sense of control and may I say power over the vulnerable minds of the other people, that he is leading in spiritual exercises, does follow the protocol and gets 3 people killed and according the article I am also reading 15 others sick.

Hmm here is some interesting news that James Arthur Ray now a motivational speaker, and self-help author and now a man on trial for Manslaughter of the reckless kind, should learn:

“[again from Wikipedia] Traditionally, a typical leader has 4 to 8 years of apprenticeship before being allowed to care for people in a lodge. Participants are instructed to call out whenever they feel uncomfortable, and the ceremony is usually stopped to help them.” – Obviously the man leading this sweat lodge, did not listen very well to the cries of his people, and now three people are dead.

“[Again from Wikipedia] The Angel Valley owners announced they have accepted Native American friends' help to "heal the land". – I can only hope that this means that these people, will shut down the place, and admit they are frauds and that they had senselessly killed three people.

If you are considered in following this story of James Ray Arthur, and hope he is convicted of what he has done, as “Reckless manslaughter,” which to me is just a nice way of saying: “oops sorry I killed you.” Please follow the link that will follow, to read an article of CNN.

Thank-You for reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always Stay Well Read

M. Mary

P.S. Don’t follow stupid people’s ideas because they promise you meaning and they promise you help, and they promise you all these aspects of human life. Face the fact that we all come to realize these existential crisis’s, and that we all suffer the idea of “what is the meaning of my life?” but that is not for anyone to tell you what it is, that is for you to discover on your own. That’s for you to decide, and for you to find out. No one else’s.


CNN Article: