Friday, June 25, 2010

Everything within the state, nothing without. Also games. Lots of games.

Today's thoughts:

Today has not been a day for independent or original thought, since I have been preparing for my Politics exam. It is very important to me to do well in this exam, and to prove how well I connect a desire to succeed with actual study, here is a list of all the things I did instead of studying:
Played on guitar
- Bassline from The New by Interpol
- Henrietta by the Fratellis
- Thick as Thieves by Kasabian
- British Legion by Kasabian
Played on piano
- The Pink Panther by Henry Mancini
- Easily by Muse
- Hysteria by Muse
- Futurism by Muse
- Kids by MGMT
- Random improv
- Pussy by Rammstein
- Haifisch by Rammstein
Games played
- Oblivion
- Medieval: Total War
- Deus Ex
- Minesweeper (oh god, so much Minesweeper)
- Solitaire
- MS Pinball
- Hearts (these last four were when I almost studied for a bit)

However, some study must have happened because I learned stuff. Totalitarianism differs from authoritarianism in that the latter only seeks or manages to control the government. Totalitarianism seeks to control society, from arts and culture to the hearts of minds of the populace. Furthermore, while Fascism, Nazism and Stalinism are all totalitarian philosophies, the USSR in the post-Stalin era was not totalitarian but simply an "authoritarian bureaucracy".

Elements of a totalitarian regime, according to Friedrich and Brzeznski, are
- single party system, usually with a single leader
- ideology promoting the creation of the "new man"
- terroristic state police
- inwardly directed economy (desire for autarky or self-sufficiency)
- state control of media and aggressive use of propaganda

Deus Ex truly is an excellent game. Despite the archaic graphics, the world it creates manages to be entirely immersive and believable. It is set around 2052 and while democracy still exists it has withered and corrupted; the people are dying of plague; terrorism is rampant and the government's response has eroded individual freedoms. You play as a nanotechnologically-augmented agent, a prototype in a world where mechanically-augmented humans are common but considered freaks. The game questions whether democracy is inherently flawed and corruption inevitable, whether augmented humans are the next evolutionary step or simply the destruction of the individual and whether terrorism can be justified in the pursuit of liberty. I highly recommend it if you can get a copy of it.

Oblivion is excellent also. Truly a beautiful work of art as well as a compelling gaming experience. But goddammit. They introduced a levelling system which had not existed in previous titles, the idea of which was to make enemies and treasure in the game improve as the player improves so that there is always a challenge. However, the result is that there is no tangible improvement in the player, and if you don't work really hard to exploit the game then enemies will soon become far more powerful than you. The levelling of treasure and items ruins any semblance of immersion the game offers, which is kind of the point of it. Bethesda Softworks, lift your game. Also, thankyou for lifting your game in Fallout 3. I'm looking forward to New Vegas.

Did you know, I deliberately have not bought Red Dead Redemption so that I might possibly pass at least one exam (also, it's apparently the most misogynistic game ever) but my capacity (or rather my burning, unremitting desire) to seek constant stimulus means that this was an empty if noble gesture.

That's it for games. Sorry, that's where my thoughts have been.

Oh, Toy Story 3 is great. If children are all as cute as Bonnie I may reconsider my blanket ban on any children within a 20-foot radius of me at any given time...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It's a Rammstein kind of day

Today's thoughts:

Neitzsche devised (or consolidated, at least) the philosophy of nihilism which bases itself off the principle that there is no intrinsic value or meaning in existence. To me, this is quite demonstrably correct but it seems more of a starting point than the focus of an entire philosophy. Philosophy necessarily starts from the premise that "God is dead" because how can a lover of wisdom believe that which is demonstrably untrue?

I like the word "demonstrably".

Rammstein's videos are all watchable, but some are more watchable than others. They can be divided into three categories:
Supremely watchable Includes videos such as Haifisch, Ich Will and Pussy
Reasonably Watchable Includes videos such as Du Hast, Sonne and Mutter
Watchable Includes videos such as Ich Tu Dir Weh and Links 2 3 4

I do not argue against the existence of a God or gods or any other conceivable higher power when I say that "God is dead". Instead, I mean that God in a Judeo-Christian-Islamic sense cannot be taken as literally true - even if there is a higher power, our contemporary understanding of it is based on interpretations of a series of books that were written and compiled by people as a means of explaining their own existence in a frequently hostile and inscrutable world. This is all readily apparent simply by objective reading.

This is not to say that all religious texts are evil - there are some passages that are quite humanitarian and indeed form the basis of our own legal system. However, once you start to pick and choose from a religious text the passages that suit you best, you cannot possibly accept that as an objective reality. You can persuade yourself otherwise, and many do, but ultimately you are simply describing the reality you would like to live in, not the one you do live in.

Reflecting on a discussion with Anna as to whether female feminists are entitled to sometimes hate men. We agreed that it was understandable but I felt that it was counterproductive to the feminist cause. Anna felt that this was irrelevant as not everyone can be a political entity at all times and that sometimes people have emotions.
The overwhelming perception of feminism (among men, at least) is that it is comprised of bigoted man-haters who blame men for all problems experienced by women/all of humanity ever. This has some basis in fact but in no way represents the huge majority of feminists, yet it sticks in people's heads because it is so exceptional and noticeable. As a result, the cause of feminism is set back by alienating so many potential supporters.

If a woman has had a bad experience with a man/men, and chooses to blame ALL men for this, this is understandable. However, from a feminist perspective, should she be expected to move beyond this and create a more realistic, inclusive viewpoint? In my belief, she definitely should. First, to do otherwise is contrary to the definition of feminism. Second, if a woman cannot be expected to be bigger than her personal prejudices, then we cannot expect the same from men. If neither side refuses to meet the other halfway and set aside personal feelings instead of shared ethics, nothing gets achieved. Feminism will never achieve anything meaningful until men become feminists too, and if some of the most vocal feminists are those who openly despise men then we cannot expect men to sign up under their flag.

Till Lindermann is a really excellent individual.

Love is there for everyone. Hate is there for those with an excessive preoccupation with themselves.

Feminism really needs a name change. It's hardly an inclusive and egalitarian title for a movement whose entire purpose is to be inclusive and egalitarian.

Name change and existential repurposement...

Having done nothing for a while, and not been particularly happy with what I've done so far, I pondered the existence and purpose of this blog. I love long, thought-provoking blogs (see Blag Hag and Jabberwock) and wanted to create my own, on the entirely cavalier assumption that words would flow from my fingertips with the same ease and grace as they appeared to from my idols. This proved untrue.

But then I realised that the most likely cause behind this was that my mind simply works in a different way. Namely, it's all over the fucking shop (the layman's term is hypomania) and as a result, my thoughts never quite consolidate themselves into "ideas" because I'm always three thoughts ahead of myself. Incidentally, that wiki article makes hypomania sound like a really great thing to have but in my case it has only ever brought me grief. Sod it.

Thus my blog has been repurposed, hopefully to the delight of all: I'm simply gonna list all the random thoughts I can remember having throughout the day, and maybe even show my train of thought for the general amusement of all. Here goes...