Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Soul Stomach

I seem to be feeling a lot better to-day. Sorry if I freaked anyone out, but I was pretty freaked out myself and I kind of needed to talk about it.

Apparently I got better eating a lot more and watching things to get my mind off what was going on. In Japan, the stomach is traditionally regarded as a shorthand for a person's essence in much the way the heart is in the west. This has always made more sense to me since the stomach usually has more influence over emotions and vice versa. So I've always suspected that watching certain movies, reading certain books, viewing certain works of art, that have bits that give you a good feeling in your gut, can be actively conducive to good health. I watched Thief of Bagdad before I went to sleep last night, which I think did a lot for me. I barely need to follow the story, just the beauty of that movie's design does a lot for me. The close-ups on Jaffar's eyes, the draped, translucent costumes the Princess wears, and Sabu's oddly sincere yet light performance. It's all great.

Earlier, also helping to get my mind off things, I watched the pilot episode of Caprica. I liked it, though I guess it felt a bit thin. Maybe that's just in comparison to the original Battlestar Galactica miniseries, which introduced so many elements simultaneously. But I enjoyed Caprica's more languid atmosphere. It was certainly better than BSG's series finale--none of the characters felt forced, and I'd thankfully forgotten a lot of the Cylon lore. I found myself trying to remember, "Okay, this is when they develop the final five. No, wait, these people were made by the final five and they're secretly Cylons. Or don't the Cylons make the final five?" So I could enjoy the story of teenage Zoe and her sort of Second Life cult without that baggage. The virtual reality system portrayed on the show is actually a lot more crowded than SL, though it is filled with lots of naked female avatars one suspects are controlled by boys. If they wanted something a little closer to life, it needed to be a lot goofier.

But as with BSG, culture is always very modestly established, and often avoided except for plot points, as one character apparently belongs to some rough approximation of the Italian mafia and worshipers of Athena are established as being somewhat more feminist nuns. Meanwhile, hair and clothing styles seem to have changed very little in the 58 years between Caprica and BSG except the men are seen wearing thin brimmed wool fedoras with feathers, one of the few types of fedoras relatively easy to find in department stores nowadays.

The purpose of downplaying culture and fashion distinctions, I think, is to highlight the ideas presented in the dialogue, in this case dealing with the idea of whether concepts of good and evil exist independently of humans, and there's some minor attention paid to the question of whether or not souls exist. This latter point is explored ineffectively in respect to useful contemplation, but rather effectively in respect to spookiness when Eric Stolz' character summons Joseph Adama's daughter back from the dead in the form of an avatar and she suffers severe emotional trauma at the materialisation and the absence of her heartbeat. Confusingly, Joseph takes her distress and lack of heartbeat as a positive sign that she's not real. This after he'd committed to the project in a "selling ones soul to the devil" style plot that brings together the vague mafia-esque organisation with the vague attempt to explore the validity of morality in a muddled and impressively empty way. Basically, Joseph agrees to deliver a message that amounts to a threat to a public official in exchange for the mafia organisation stealing an important piece of equipment for Eric Stoltz' AI project. Joe hopes to resurrect his daughter, but is wracked with the guilt of . . . having to deliver a message that may or may not be related to someone killing the corrupt official for turning his back on debts he owes a criminal underworld. It's not hard to see that if Joseph hadn't delivered the message, it would've been delivered anyway--in fact, his participation seems hardly equal to the cost in terms of risk the group's taking in procuring the item.

I guess the most interesting point the show makes is in showing the potential for destruction belief in one's superior knowledge of morality can create. Mainly, I think I just appreciated the pretty people talking and usually not sounding stupid. And I liked the character Eric Stoltz played. I guess that about sums up the state I was in yesterday.

I did get some drawing done. I might get more done to-day, except my head really hurts from lack of sleep. Though, for once, I lost sleep merely because it was extremely noisy in the house to-day.

Last night's tweets.

Real beauty lines the walls of a wormhole.
Torn windows living regardless of health.
Bloody nets bind a flesh engine and soul.
There's always an excuse to blame yourself.

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