Check out the animated show Bat out of Hell on Kickstarter!

“Natural order? You sound like one of those insane Neo-Catholics.”

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…is an actual line of dialogue from Altered Carbon, Netflix’s dense and gorgeous sci-fi series about life after death has been digitally defeated. Consciousness has been codified, so you can get “spun up” into a new bodily “sleeve” for all eternity — provided you have the means. But wouldn’t you know it, there’s this weird bunch of religious zealots who object — who make noises about soul and body having more to do with each other than ghost and machine, who think it devilish to deny death and what comes after. Who make noises about human dignity. Remarkable.

It’s chock full of sex and violence, and the dialogue isn’t always the strongest, and the acting isn’t always spot-on. But there’s a lot there, and I’m kinda fascinated. It’d be fun to see some smart Catholic critic dig into it. Heh.

Happy Belated Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas!

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Stay classy, city of origin for WD-40

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I tend to think that’s not a typo at the bottom there. It’s its own enemy sometimes; in this case, it’s simply a victim of its own Man Size Pressure Pack.

Kierkegaard Bit

Existential Comics: Kierkegaard Relates to the Common Man

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Postmodernist/Pragmatist Conceptual Framework

Postmodernist/Pragmatist Conceptual.Framework

Jonathan Sacks on Rediscovering Our Moral Purpose

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, this year’s winner of Great Britain’s distinguished Templeton Prize, delivered an exceptional acceptance speech on “Rediscovering Our Moral Purpose”. He begins with the concept of outsourcing, of all things, tracing its development in history and in the progress of the West in particular. And then contrasts this outsourcing with a necessary spiritual Korrektiv, insourcing.

Here is an excerpt; read the whole thing here.

Our computers and smartphones have developed larger and larger memories, from kilobytes to megabytes to gigabytes, while our memories, and those of our children have got smaller and smaller. In fact, why bother to remember anything these days if you can look it up in a microsecond on Google or Wikipedia?

But here, I think, we made a mistake. We confused history and memory, which are not the same thing at all. History is an answer to the question, “What happened?” Memory is an answer to the question, “Who am I?” History is about facts, memory is about identity. History is his-story. It happened to someone else, not me. Memory is my story, the past that made me who I am, of whose legacy I am the guardian for the sake of generations yet to come. Without memory, there is no identity. And without identity, we are mere dust on the surface of infinity.

Lacking memory we have forgotten one of the most important lessons to have emerged from the wars of religion in the 16th and 17th century and the new birth of freedom that followed. Even to say it sounds antiquarian but it is this: a free society is a moral achievement. Without self-restraint, without the capacity to defer the gratification of instinct, and without the habits of heart and deed that we call virtues, we will eventually lose our freedom.

That is what Locke meant when he contrasted liberty, the freedom to do what we ought, with licence, the freedom to do what we want. It’s what Adam Smith signalled when, before he wrote The Wealth of Nations, he wrote The Theory of Moral Sentiments. It’s what Washington meant when he said, “Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people.” And Benjamin Franklin when he said, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.” And Jefferson when he said, “A nation as a society forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society.”

Would-be director of The Moviegoer set to release The Voyage of Time


It’s ridiculous to say there are amazing visuals here – of course there are – most of them familiar, or as it now needs to be said, “Malickian”. I’m looking forward to seeing both versions, the IMAX narrated by Brad Pitt and the feature narrated by Cate Blanchett. I have to admit, I’m somewhat more excited about the latter, as I’m looking forward to knowing more about the content. To say nothing of Blanchett’s voice.

Regarding the content, we know Malick was/is fairly interested in Heidegger (which may well have been what drew him to Percy, if not versa-vice), author, of course of Being and Time. He has an early book called “The History of the Concept of Time”, and it’ll be interesting to see if Malick draws on this at all, or deals with the chicken-and-egg question of whether it is Time or Being that is primordial (Heidegger’s big question in B&T).

If we speak of Time (as primordial), do we not assume that Time “is”? If we speak of Being as primordial, does Time then become illusory (or perhaps even non-being)? In short, why the voyage “of” time, rather than “through” time? If time itself is the Voyager, through or by what does it actualize itself (or become actualized)? Well, Being, perhaps. I would like to see if/how Malick will reveal these questions visually.

As I’ve noted here before, film and music are mediums uniquely fit for exploring these ideas, as they themselves exist (rather than simply being represented, à la Dali in The Persistence of Memory) in time.

And of course Augustine. What a treat to hear Cate Blanchett read from chapter 11 of Confessions!

One mild evening in early fall somewhere in the middle of God’s country…

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I made a drink

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and a diverse group of Catholic gentlemen talked a little Plato.

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We talked and talked and drank and drank and talked and drank …. until the horse came home.

Two Short Poems on Political Philosophy

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For Principalities and Powers
Only a devil could—gleeful—scrawl so bleak
a speculum principium of pure realpolitik.

Kingdoms of Darkness
Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, named
for an unspecified thalassic
monster, is a political science classic
which can itself be blamed,
at least partly, for the miserable fates
of several European states.

From the YouTube Music Video Archives: Thus Sprach Zarathustra, by Richard Strauss

The most abstract idea conceivable is the sensuous in its elemental originality. But through which medium can it be presented? Only through music. Kierkegaard, Either/Or

Along with a few Beethoven symphonies, Handel’s Wassermusik and Messiah, and Pachabel’s Canon in D, Zarathustra is one of the most well known pieces of music ever written. So thank you, Stanley Kubrick, because it really is worth knowing, and by “knowing”, I mean the whole thing. The sunrise is awesome and beautiful, but it’s worth listening all the way to convalescense and night wandering. And spiritually speaking, it’s worth hearing Wagnerian exvess (Strauss is counted among the greatest conductors of Wagner who ever lived) brought to heel by Nietzschean megolamania (Strauss obviously a fan of the philosopher), and thus closing a chapter in the history of music, or simply history, period, in which a majority of Germans were drunk and distracted enough to immolate as many Jews as they could—Jews, the people who, spititually speaking, made the whole European project possible.

Good thing we’ve moved beyond all that, right?

Listen, and feel triumphant.

Einleitung, oder Sonnenaufgang (Introduction, or Sunrise)
Von den Hinterweltlern (Of Those in Backwaters)
Von der großen Sehnsucht (Of the Great Longing)
Von den Freuden und Leidenschaften (Of Joys and Passions)
Das Grablied (The Song of the Grave)
Von der Wissenschaft (Of Science and Learning)
Der Genesende (The Convalescent)
Das Tanzlied (The Dance Song)
Nachtwandlerlied (Song of the Night Wanderer)

See also: Eumir Deodato’s funky electronic version from 1972