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Re: [mythsoc] RotK Theory

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  • David S. Bratman
    William - I m glad you enjoyed the film Signs more than I did. I did enjoy its craft - it was superbly creepy and mysterious, up until the final scene where
    Message 1 of 63 , Apr 16, 2003
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      William -

      I'm glad you enjoyed the film "Signs" more than I did. I did enjoy its
      craft - it was superbly creepy and mysterious, up until the final scene
      where Shyamalan makes an exceedingly elementary mistake: he brings the
      alien openly and clearly on stage, where you can see that it's a CGI effect.

      But what Susan and I, and perhaps also Christine, were comparing the
      spirituality of "Signs" to was Tolkien. Tolkien does not have his
      characters "stand there quoting the Fathers in the original Greek or
      suddenly crying out that they have come to understand the answer to the
      question of free will vs. predestination." That is not what I mean by deep
      vs. shallow theology; nobody was expecting anything like that.

      What I meant was this, which is what I wrote:

      "[Tolkien's] Providence never pushes around characters, it merely lays
      opportunities out for them, opportunities which the characters then have to
      seize, and by doing so, prove their mettle. For instance, Merry and Eowyn
      fulfill a prophecy when they kill the Witch-King, but they are never forced
      or manipulated into doing it: they each have to seize their courage on
      their own initiative, and do so more than once each, in order to get into
      that position. There is never any sense that either was born to do this
      one thing, or provided with a specific character trait in order to do it,
      the way Shyamalan does with his glasses of water and baseball bats."

      - David Bratman



      At 04:08 PM 4/16/2003 , William wrote:
      >I have to disagree. I enjoyed it immensely. Besides being a truly unique
      >approach to the "alien invasion" movie (as he did previous unique takes on
      >the "ghost" movie and "superhero" movie) I found the spirituality of it very
      >touching and real.
      >
      >No, it wasn't a deep and intellectual theology, but it was real in that it
      >is the type of experience real, common, ordinary folks tend to have. They
      >don't stand there quoting the Fathers in the original Greek or suddenly
      >crying out that they have come to understand the answer to the question of
      >free will vs. predestination. They (what am I saying?) WE tend to have these
      >experiences at a basic, personal, human level. It is only then that they
      >become subjects for study.
    • David S. Bratman
      ... Yes. ... Bad can still be enjoyable. I know people who enjoy this stuff, but mostly because they read it in impressionable youth. That doesn t make it
      Message 63 of 63 , May 18 4:07 PM
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        At 07:09 PM 5/16/2003 , Ernest wrote:

        >It hardly matters anyway, because the plot of _Forbidden Planet_,
        >although obviously derivative from _The Tempest_, is not the same as that
        >of _The Tempest_ except in its broadest outlines.

        Yes.

        >Yes, E. E. Smith's prose was preciously purple, but is it really _bad_?
        >I think it's quite enjoyable, in truth.

        Bad can still be enjoyable. I know people who enjoy this stuff, but mostly
        because they read it in impressionable youth. That doesn't make it any
        less bad.


        >I honestly prefer Doc Smith's heavily stylized but exciting pulp style
        >to the styles that are in vogue today. I think I might have actually
        >finished (say) _Moving Mars_ if Doc Smith had written it.

        That might be in large part because it would be shorter and punchier if Doc
        Smith wrote it. Not for the quality of the prose. SF prose today may well
        be, as you say, largely mediocre: but mediocre is still much better than bad.


        >If you want bad writing, try rereading _Foundation_ or its successors
        >again. Oy! Asimov at his best was top-notch--I'll put "The Dead Past"
        >on the list of best short stories I've read, SF or no--but he was rarely
        >at his best.

        I've re-read the Foundation books, and I've re-read SF from the 30s. The
        Foundation books' prose, while still pulpish, is a significant advance over
        the typical 30s product. I agree that it's hardly worth holding up to
        praise, either, and Asimov himself in later life would not have done so.

        How to identify Asimov's better fictional prose: 1) he wrote it after 1950
        [that eliminates the original Foundation books, which despite their
        copyright dates were written & published in the 1940s]; 2) he did not write
        it at the behest of his publishers [that eliminates the dreadful late
        novels, which were all written because the publishers wanted new novels
        from him, as well as various lame series fiction]. His best fiction was
        some (not all) of his 1950s novels, and much of his stand-alone short
        fiction from circa 1950 onwards.

        The Niven piece on teleportion is "The Theory and Practice of
        Teleportation", in his 1971 paperback collection _All the Myriad Ways_, but
        probably not elsewhere. The ideas he discusses in this essay he put to use
        in a story a couple years later titled "Flash Crowd" (in his 1973 pb
        collection _The Flight of the Horse_, and probably elsewhere). This story
        is now considered somewhat prescient, as "flash crowd" is now an
        established term for crowds of people who form on extremely short notice,
        through word of mouth (spread not by teleporter but cell phone) where
        something interesting is happening.

        - David Bratman
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