A Dark Chest of Wonders

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thisislearning:astreamofconciousnessesqueessay

Today, in my English class, we were given a prompt for which we will write an essay on tomorrow. We’re about to start 1984, a book that has been on my to-read list for some time now, and I think that this is the perfect setting to do it in. To be sure, I have always taken the books we read–anything in English–quite seriously, because above math, above science, English teaches you to be human, truly. For this matter, every essay where we only had to answer the prompt accordingly, I took it as an opportunity to really take a look at the literature that we were reading, and this is mostly because I believe one day, people are going to want to read my little High School essays. Not to mention, I’m allergic to mediocrity, therefore, to only do the bare-minimum doesn’t sit well in my gut. Why use only one color paint, or only a small part of the canvas, if you have the whole canvas to do whatever you want? Why would I only do what is required when I can do what is required plus one in order to satiate my questions, my considerations. The point of it is, not many people English–school for that matter–as seriously as I do, but English mostly. Anyways, the prompt we’re given asks us to create an argument based on a critics views of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984, which is that, Huxley’s dream of the world to come is more relevant.

Considering that which was given to us, one finds that Huxley is obviously the true Nostradamus.  Orwell’s vision of the future is one that is construed with paranoia and simple lecturing; Orwell feared the day that the world turned over to Communism. In a patriotic kind of way, as an American, I can root for Orwell and say, yeah, down with big government and secrecy, but that’s as far as I can take it. Orwell’s prose is very archaic, or maybe it’s simply that I find it to be non-literary. Huxley’s very first two paragraphs are littered with language that anyone could admire, while Orwell has the kind of addictive quality you get out of the cheesy and redundant YA novels of the era, and I suppose that’s where they get their cliche from. This is not to say that Orwell was not a convincing nor a non-compelling author, rather, he was just not very effective with his language in the way that he could have been with a novel like 1984, especially with a predecessor like Brave New World. All this is to say, though, that Huxley is more alike to a professor, a scientist, or a philosopher; Orwell reminds me of the guy who rants in front of your college, on his soapbox, as he pounds his fist in the air crying out his favorite phrase, “DOWNWITHBIGBROTHERDOWNWITHBIGBROTHERDOWNWITHBIGBROTHER”, Orwell’s vision is archaic and only, truly, good from a historical stand point. While Orwell manages to create compelling arguments on the idea of government spying and secrecy on its people in order to keep them in check, which is certainly relevant in the modern age, it’s but a stepping stone of what Huxley envisioned. Huxley looks at the whole of the picture, not only a small part of the canvas as Orwell does. In this way, we find that Huxley’s vision might be the correct one, in the long run. Brave New World addresses the problem of community and society today: teenagers–my pupils–are consumed by themselves, we are consumers are consumed by ourselves, we are as much a product as the products we buy on late night infomercials and the ads on the sides of your screen catered just for you by AdSense. We are not ourselves!

Chuck Palahniuk tells us that we are not our car, our job, our wallet, yet we are! People would rather know that they have everything that they want, that they are comfortable before they are uncomfortable, rather than knowing that the world is not centered around them. Many people take a stance against my generation, when we are only a product of the world for which the previous generation helped to create. We are self centered because the technology that we used is centered around us. Siri asks us what we would like to be called, we can choose what we want Siri to sound like; we are told that our parents took up a second job for our benefit, we are told that we are being forced to do this and this for our benefit. Do you understand? We are constantly told that this is the ME generation, and thus we have been indoctrinated into the Cult of Self. This is our great transgression, our great demise: the things we love, what we believe to be “us”, is what’s killing us, as Huxley feared. We’ve all be diagnosed with Stockholm Syndrome and are in love with our captors, our iPhones. In these ways, one can only agree with Huxley.

YET! As I listen to a podcast–Ear Biscuits with Rhett and Link, Good Mythical Morning–the guest being the co-creator of reddit, Alexis Ohanian, they’ve started talking about how the internet, social media, is a reflection of society as a whole. While there is a large group of people who would try and misuse sites like reddit, Vine, Instagram, and Facebook for porn, there is an even larger group of people who would oppose it, and an even larger group still who are decent human beings. We find that, overall, as a society, we really do only want to advance, and the way that we advocate this is through social media. By cultivating virtual communities where we congregate to talk about cheese melts, Doctor Who, and suicide, we are creating a society where we are not captive at all: we are our governors, we are our own masters, we are, in a sense, the vision of communism realized. The Internet is in fact the utopia for which writers such as Orwell and Huxley have been searching for. There are those who may try to thwart it–that is the issue of net neutrality–but you simply cannot. In this way, I agree neither with Huxley or Orwell, or more aptly, the critic who contrasted the two to begin with, since that is what the prompt ask.

This is learning. This is what I think the purpose of school is: to make you truly think about the subjects for which you are being compelled to write about, not for a grade, but for the thrill of exploring such topics and how they will effect you. This is how we are created. Some of my pupils only come to make true those things for which Huxley predicted: they have become the captives of their iPhones, they have become the captives of their own filtered reflection. This is my confliction, but, I have never been more pleased to be conflicted.

We only have forty minute to write the essay, by hand, and I wrote this in something like 10 minutes. Let’s hope I can come to some stance by tomorrow.

Growing Up: When you Shed a Genre

Childhood is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age
The child is grown, and puts away childish things.
Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies.

I recently sold off one of the last pieces of my old YA collection–and I had no remorse whatsoever. In fact, a couple of months ago, I sold the Divergent Trilogy, including a signed copy of the final book Allegiant; before that, I sold my entire Cassandra Clare collection (that one was asking for it, what an awful waste of paper and space). Before even that, I sold a shit ton of others–and I’ve never looked back. Somehow, I was able to let go of that whole world I’d thrown my self into years ago when I first began reading seriously. I won’t say that I didn’t enjoy the ride, but I wish I would have ridden another coaster in that time; I guess a remembrance of things past does no good against the persistence of time. This may sound like I’m mourning, but I’m not, there’s just no pleasure in either rehashing those old memories, nor scolding those memories since they helped to build me up to where I am today. For this matter, I think there comes a time in everyone’s life where you shed a genre.

Suddenly, you stop watching romantic comedies and you’re really in on dramas; suddenly you stop watching dramas and trade your couch for sitcoms; suddenly, you stop reading YA and move into serious literature, and you begin to get a feel for what you actually like.

In short, when you shed a genre, or you stop doing something in exchange for something else, you’ve been born again. Eventually, we all grow up and grow out of our old shoes, so we have to get new ones, and this is not a bad thing at all: isn’t it always fun to go to some store, maybe a very expensive store, and look around. Now that you’ve sold all your old shoes, you have plenty of money to invest in better shoes–shoes that will make you stand up a little taller, shoes that will give a little bounce to your walk, make people turn and say, “Christ, what is he wearing?” But you just keep on walking. You’ve never been more comfortable in your life.

While I am now quite against the whole genre, I can’t say, totally, that it did not shape my taste for what I do and do not like to read and write today. I don’t like overtly supernatural stories, but I love high octane social commentaries like Fight Club, A Clockwork Orange, American Psycho, and other books all of the like. Times change, so do you, and there’s nothing at all wrong with that. Just know that if you stand for something, stand for it; if you stand against it, be prepared and brace for the tidal wave that will come against you.

Why Fight Club 2 was inevitable

Chuck Palahniuk, last year at Comic Con, revealed that there would be a Fight Club 2, the sequel to the original novel (obviously). Some fans were estatic, others were not so enthusiastic about the announcement, per Chuck Palahniuk’s most recent track record of books: Damned, Doomed, Snuff, Tell-All, Pygmy, Haunted and others. They fear that Palahniuk is going to ruin what many consider to be his magnum opus in terms of books, since Fight Club not only propelled his career, but was a precursor to many ideas that he would present in his subsequent works. It was the foundation for the Cult. For this matter, to know that an aging (the man just turned 53, but some feel that might be old enough to start going senile) Chuck Palahniuk will be revisiting the book is deflating. But here’s the thing: Palahniuk had a sequel in mind this whole time

If you’ve ever read the original Fight Club before you saw the movie, you’d know that there’s actually something that happens after the credits roll in the film: a 30th chapter, in which Joe (Jack in the film) is institutionalized, but Fight Club and Project Mayhem isn’t quite dead yet, with one of the male nurses saying to him, “We miss you, Mr. Durden. Everything is going according to plan…we look forward to bringing you back.” When the synopsis of Fight Club 2 hit, you will remember that it goes something like:

The sequel will be told from the– at first– submerged perspective of Tyler Durden as he observes the day-to-day tedium of the narrator’s life.  Because 20th Century-Fox created the convention of calling the protagonist Jack, I’m calling him [Sebastian].  He’s living a compromised life with a failing marriage, unsure about his passion for his wife.  The typical midlife bullshit.  Likewise, Marla is unsatisfied and dreams of accessing the wild man she’d once fallen in love with.  She tampers with the small pharmacy of drugs that her husband needs to suppress Tyler, and– go figure– Tyler reemerges to terrorize their lives.

And those are the words right out of Palahniuk’s mouth. Therefore, Chuck seems to be right on track with what he might have planned. Suddenly, Project Mayhem is back on after 10 years, and everything is going according to plan. Anyone who objects to Fight Club 2 seems to have missed that whole last chapter of Fight Club. Palahniuk left the ending open because he had the intention of possibly one day revisiting it and writing the second part to the story that never was. If at all, this should be incredible news–track record or not–for anyone who enjoyed Fight Club, since we will likely finally see Tyler’s grand design for a new world truly realized. I’m geared up and plan to buy each of the 10 issues, maybe even 2 copies of them no matter how much they cost, in the same way that I intend to purchase 2 copies of Go Set a Watchmen in July.

Will you be reading Fight Club 2? Or any other “surprise” sequel this year?

Spoilers Don’t Exist

Dude, you only spoil your self.

You cannot be spoiled by someone simply telling you how a story ends. Someone saying, “This happens to person X and Y, person B and D hook up finally, person T and L kill person D, person B commits suicide; person A rides off into the sunset, and person Z goes insane.” is not the same as the author saying, “This happens to person X and Y, person B and D hook up finally, person T and L kill person D, person B commits suicide; person A rides off into the sunset, and person Z goes insane.” In the end, you will still have to experience the way that the author wants to present that information to you, whether you know it or not. Knowledge is power, so use a spoiler in your advantage and maybe start thinking about how that could possibly happen to person A, who’s a horrible, horrible creature of a man, yet somehow made it out of the storm alive. Maybe person A is redeemed, maybe the author just likes to have a bitter ending for people who hated the villain, maybe person A will be killed in an epilogue by a protagonist who comes back to life, etc. Knowing does nothing, it will not take away from the experience that the author will give you personally. There are only a few cases where knowing were less than lucrative when it came down to it, such as if you saw the Fight Club movie before you read the Fight Club book, because there’s only a slim difference between them, and that’s the 30th chapter, which is only in the book: the film covers chapters 1-29, but never the last chapter where Jack (Joe in the book) is institutionalized. Oh,

Sorry.

Spoiler alert.

Lines for lines

So…you’re telling me I’m in line…

to get into another line? 

Know Your Craft

Know your craft, 

Love your craft, 

but never be your craft, 

and never let your craft be you. 

Beautiful is so Ugly

I just realized how much I hate the word “beautiful”; maybe it has something to do with people using it all the time now to try and sound sophisticated (I guess), in such contexts as, “Oh, the plot was so beautifully woven.” I don’t know why, but it just crawls under my skin.

On another note: I’m done with American Horror Story, simply because a) I’m sick of the goddamned musical numbers; it was fine in Asylum, it was downright disrespectful in Freak Show and now that it’s going to be in the fifth season apparently (because Ryan Fucking Murphy just loves musicals and season five is supposed to be about some musical hotel) I don’t think I can do it, b) I have little faith that what could be a thriller like that of Hitchcock, I doubt they’ll be able to keep it up and we’ll be left with some half baked piece of crap about ghosts, and c) the writing for the show is actually pretty bad; as the opinion goes and holds true, Murder House and Asylum were excellent seasons, very well written; Coven and Freak Show, I think some people got dropped from the team because…why? I’d like to know.

Either way, with an ensemble cast of a degrading Jessica Lange, Lady Gaga, and Evan Peters among others (truly, the only reason I might even consider season five is fro Sarah Paulson and Finn Wittrock who actually have a decent amount of talent that they seem to be able to apply with any material they’re given. What could have been a truly game changing horror show has turned into a Broadway debacle I don’t want to be a part of any longer.

All I Need Is Shades 

Sometimes you go so hard

Bitches be like, 

I need shades in this MF. 

There’s nothing better than that feeling of being on point and just getting everything done and being like no troubles, all bout that bass, no trouble. 

Push

When no  else will push you, you have to push yourself–because no one else will. 

The Pop Formula, or What Happened to Family Guy

So, uh, anyone remember when Family Guy was funny? Why did it stop? How did a really good show that had some very genuine moments start to simply fester off and die? It stopped being about Family. Believe it or not, there was a time when Meg was not simply a punching bag, Stewie was not full on gay, Peter wasn’t that stupid among other things. Furthermore, there was a time when the episodes actually had decent stories that really did move along well. Looking at the first to most recent seasons of Family Guy on Netflix, and the acute viewer might notice that while the visual aesthetic of the show has gone up, the plot, writing, and actual hilarity of the show has gone down a toilet (cue cutaway gag). While I have always liked Family Guy, and to an extent I still do, I think one can see how a small viewer ship (those first couple of seasons) actually may have benefited the show. It’s a strange thing with popular culture that seems to be more a rule or some kind of formula:

  1. Create something that totally flips the script, it’s totally original, genuine, and has incredible quality.
  2. It starts to amass a small niche audience.
  3. The niche audience starts tell their friends about it, and people say, “I guess that sounds alright”
  4. The sequel comes out: the next season, the next album, the next book in a series, or a new film by a director, or a direct sequel to the first film within a series.
  5. People watch the sequel and begin to go back and look at how it all began, and now the thing is really picking up traction, it grows and swells, and by the time the third part of this thing comes around, a decent audience has built up. This is the exposition of the pinnacle.
  6. Now that the Thing has become a legitimate thing, the creator of the Thing is getting a bigger paycheck than he was in the beginning, so now he’s spending time doing one of a couple of things: a) he’s not a douche and he spends a decent amount of money on the show to make it a little bit better without sacrificing quality. b) He’s still not a douche, but he’s starting to invest in other things: maybe another show, a movie, something that they’ve always really wanted to do. c) This guy is a douche, and he decides to spend his paycheck buying yachts, tigers, and whores to fill his heart while he complains viewers are complaining at him because he left the goddamned show to rot and fester in its luminescence without realizing that it’s dying now. More often than not, you will get Type C. This is the climax of the pinnacle.
  7. Now the Thing is on autopilot: the creator is back every week, but now he has a room of writers, animators, and creators. He contributes a little here and there, tells them the general idea of where everything is going to go. He has a seven hour work week for the most part; the rest of the time, he’s at home watching a show better than his. He keeps getting more and more royalties; his audience continues to amass, and people who just got on board and surprised that it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be, while those loyal, dedicated fans continue to watch the slow death of their favorite thing.
  8. Now, the Thing is really going down hill. The Type C creator is off doing other things, he’s spending about ten minutes a day, maybe not everyday, more like every other day, sitting down to talk about this thing while his lackies do all the work for him. He’s being recognized on the street, he’s walking red carpets, he even has his own scandal. The show continues to suffer greater and greater blows, each season, while amassing more regular viewers, is flatlining in fart jokes and murder plots.
  9. The viewership has flatlined. The quality has flatlined. Every week, it’s the same basic, mundane, mindless thing. Every episode costs 1.5 million, but you could make this at home in your bedroom with 30 bucks, and to be sure, it might even be a little bit better. Blog posts and articles are talking about you wanting to end the series to go on and do better things even though you’ve been saying you’ve been doing better things for years now, and none of it was all that great. Your movie flopped. Your book flopped. Your fashion line and restaurant flopped. Your show is all that you have left, but you’ve gotten so fed up with going into the studio for thirty seconds a week that you just wish it would end. The show has been renewed for 10 more seasons. You weep.
  10. It’s the final season. At least. And yet, you’re sadder than you ever thought you would be. Not because where the show once had 300M viewers, it now only has 3, not because reviews have panned your show as a total bust, no one takes you seriously anymore, and you have more money than you, your grandkids, great grandkids, and their kids, plus Bill Gates could ever spend in one lifetime. You weep because you lost the thing you once cherished so much. You lost it all. Now you do it all again, for the high, for the money, for the fame. You’ll do it all again.

And they do it again and again, and somehow we all fall pray to it; we succumb to the mediocrity and the idiocy like it’s the norm. I suppose that nothing gold can ever really stay.