Batman Occupy Wall Street Rises

*Warning* Minor Movie Spoilers

Richard Weaver once wrote, “One may be accused here of oversimplifying the historical process, but I take the view that conscious policies of men and governments are not mere rationalizations of what has been brought about by unaccountable forces. They are rather deductions from our most basic ideas of human destiny, and they have a great, though not unobstructed, power to determine our course”.

This view that, “Ideas have consequences” is nothing new. The cross we bear as a culture is failure to see past our own selfish understanding to what becomes of others (including entire generations) when we fail to realize that our ideas echo across the world, with sometimes horrible ramifications.  The best panaceas to decadent ideas are the lessons of history and culture. We see ideas like socialism in our society, and wonder why they wouldn’t be good for everyone. Then we see what ideas, taken to their truest form mean for a free people and a society. The end of socialism, in its truest form is godless entropy, as seen in the French Revolution. People fail to see past their own understandings, and what ideas, taken to their most pure form would mean for everyone.

With that being said we also have lessons from our culture.

Batman the Dark Night Rises is such a lesson. It warns of the veracity of what anarchic control such as the Occupy movement would do if carried out fully. What do the people of Occupy stand for?  The Movement stands by the facts that if the wealthy would share, everything would be fine. That the rich prey on those less fortunate, that our economic society is some kind of zero-sum game. While all of these premises are false, this very real movement fails to see the consequences their ideas can have on a society.

I cannot illustrate these points more clearly than with the new Batman movie. The villain, Bane, is the walking embodiment of what Occupy stands for. And, Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman is the allegory for the misguided hoi polloi of those who fall prey to dangerous ideas.

There is a scene early in the movie when Catwoman is dancing with Bruce Wayne. She tells him that he has no idea how the world works. Because he is rich, he does not understand the toil and hardship the rest of the populace must endure just to get by. Catwoman thinks there is no hope for her situation. She has resorted to crime, and justifies it with, “the wealthy already have too much”.  She sticks to her “Robin Hood” principles and embodies someone who deals the thin gray line between what she knows to be true, and what she wants to be true.

Then comes Bane, There are two very telling sequences in the movie that show Bane as the Occupy man he is. The first comes when he takes the Gotham Stock Exchange hostage, implementing his part of a master plan at the cost of the “rich”. But the most telling scene comes while he stands in front of a government building. As he stands in the umbrage of stone steps and columns he says he only wants to give the city back to the people. He wants everyone to have their “fair share”.  He plans to give Gotham their city back, so they can finally have what they “deserve”. The rich have no more rights as far as Bane is concerned. Though notice that the only one who gets the good end of this deal is Bane, who gets to rule over the “free” populace.

He accomplishes his scheme with violence and mayhem, and for a time his plans succeeds. Gotham becomes cut off, and anarchy rules. People can do as they please. There are no courts of corrupt lawyers and judges anymore, only a chaotic and violent form of punishment set in place by Bane himself.

As we come to see, when people get their fair share, they get less then what they had. Not only do they lose what possessions they may have, but they live in fear of violence from others.

One of the most important ideals to take away from Occupy in its truest sense is this: When people give their liberty for a shoddy form of freedom they end up not with a better society, but with a much more grim society. The film teaches that you cannot give up liberty to get liberty; you give up liberty for tyranny.

As Catwoman sees the effects of what “fair share” means she realizes how wrong she’s been. She understands that the true nature of evil comes not from the rich, but from the acquiescence of liberty for something people feel they deserve. Catwoman sees that taken to its truest sense, the Occupy movement is just as chaotic and violent as totalitarian regimes before it, and that she’s made a mistake in believing the lie.

What can break this tyranny?  Well, Batman of course, in the form of a rich, man giving what he has to those less fortunate because he has the means to do so. Batman embodies what the free market and the ideals that come with it are.

There is a young cop in the movie named Blake who can be seen as the person who believes if they work for what is true and right can make it, just like Batman. He is the embodiment of the true American spirit, which is alive today. His story in the movie tells us that it may be hard, and it may not be fair, but with the principles we have to guide us it is more than possible.

The film ultimately teaches that the only way to gain true freedom is to work for it. There is no such thing as soft tyranny, only tyranny. In the end, it’s capitalism that saves the day from Bane and Occupy. It’s those who want something, working hard to get it, not waiting for it to come to them. Batman many be able to save us from tyranny on screen, but we must do it ourselves in this life. We must stand against those who would bring down the most successful principles the world has ever seen because of a misguided cause.

Those kinds of ideas are bad ideas.

 

And all ideas have consequences.

“It is always better to have no ideas than false ones; to believe nothing, than to believe what is wrong.”

~ Thomas Jefferson

“Classics” That Fall Short of Their Mark

We can all name the “classics”. The books, plays and poems that have shaped generations; books that have taught us morals, history and all those fancy literary terms like alliteration and iambic pentameter. These books have been preserved for good reason, they have shaped and influenced for hundreds of years. They are the inspiration for countless spinoffs and they are attributed as the harbingers and bearers of what fiction can be if done to a point of perfection. I agree that this is the case in most instances. What set the classics apart is the narrative that’s written into them. The themes, characters and plots that have been used countless times in innumerable ways in other media. The classics are books where we get some of our more obfuscated words think “Kafkaesque” or “Wow man, that does seem to be a Catch -22”.

Most of these classics deserve our praise and adoration. However, there are a few that seem to be lumped in with all the others because generations of professors have taught from that particular book. The literary circles need to be careful with the word “classic”. It seems that when you label a book as such, to question that becomes a sin. It seems that a classic is sacrosanct, and that if you think it may be lacking in quality or theme there is something wrong with you.  You also hear the phrase, “You don’t read classics, classics read you”. That’s a short way of saying “you’ll never change my mind”. We all know that books read you as much as you read them. We read books (not just classics) because we want a view of the world. We want to see how others (even if they’re imaginary) deal with struggles and joys.

The point is we don’t want to get lazy with our classics. If they are truly the beacon of great literature then they should meet criteria and strict guidelines for literary excellence.

That being said, here is my list of “classics” that should never have made the cut.

 

Jonathon Livingston Seagull (Richard Bach) Regarded as a classic of “self-improvement fiction and philosophy” Seagull has been on the reading list since its inception not long ago. The challenge with such a book is its overt, artsy nature, and its anthropomorphism of the Seagull into the philosophical struggle of the human. You read the book and feel cheated. First, you find that it reads like a children’s growing up book, and second, you wonder if it’s not actually a photographic book of seagulls. The book takes itself too seriously, with Jonathon seeking out the meaning of his existence in an inept story filled with hoi polloi writing at best. Also, here’s a fun fact: Richard Bach said that a demon told him to write the book and he doesn’t actually remember writing it!  And you said you don’t like to read horror.

 

 

A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess) Literary critics get sidetracked with violence. There is a growing number of people who ascribe to the belief that if you put grotesque violence in a fiction book, that means you’re “fearless”. (For some reason this does not translate to the horror genre) The violence in the book is defined as an allegory for, “the depravity of man, the decadence of society or ‘insert reason for evil society here’”. I’m not saying that classics can’t be violent, but when books are violent just for kicks, it’s not a classic. People will argue saying, “well it shows the impetuousness of youth and the need for better education”. Yea, no that’s wrong. Have you ever noticed in real life that really violent people tend to stay that way?  They don’t just grow up. Kids do dumb things and make mistakes, but unadulterated violence and reeducation is a lifelong problem. Some don’t like Orange because it’s hard to understand. The main trio of boys have their own language called Nadsat, which Burgess got from mixing English, German and Polish. I don’t think this is where the book falls short. It is creative, and many gangs of today have their own code. The main problem with the book is the perpetual violence and the unjustifiably illogical end. However, if you read this book, at least you’ll have a cool code language you can use with your friends!

The Space Trilogy (C.S. Lewis) I love C.S. Lewis, but his only adult work of science fiction falls short of the magnitude of everything else he’s written. Though full of very interesting religious philosophy (If you go to another planet and find alien life, are they under the umbrage of mans sin?) it is poorly executed with cut and paste characterization. The third book in the series, That Hideous Strength can be read as a standalone, and is decent by itself. Critics tend to fall into the, “classic author” trap. That being, if the author has written another classic everything they write is considered one. This is a prime example of such a trap.

The Sound and the Fury (William Faulkner) Few classics fail on so many scales, but Fury happens to be one of them. Though prized by high school English teachers worldwide, this book is a farce. It lacks essential quality and plot, and the characterization is a little hackneyed. The fault comes from the authors writing more than anything else. Faulkner is one of the few southern, American writers who failed to capture the imagination or his time as well as others like Hemingway. How good of a writer can he be, if he did so when he was drinking?  Fury is the “wolfs in sheep’s clothing” of the classic world. It looks like a classic, acts like a classic, but is really not a classic.

Pride & Prejudice (Jane Austen) I know I’ll get flak for this one. Prejudice suffers from an overblown syndrome. Though Austen is a good writer and has some valid points in relation to love and relationship, too many movies, and critics have bastardized this book into way more than it actually is. Prejudice is like the Gossip Girl of its time. Both Darcy and Elizabeth are characters who suffer from ignorance and dishonesty. Their love is something of a letdown, and they’re story of finally ending up together is full of literary potholes. You can almost see Austen writing the first book of romantic fan fiction with Prejudice. In the end she creates a story that leaves everyone unsatisfied and unfulfilled. Sure there’s happily ever after, but who actually cares? If you want a true story about lovers may I turn you to Austen’s counterpart Bronte.

“The way a book is read, which is to say, the qualities a reader brings to a book can have as much to do with its worth as anything the author puts into it.”

~ Norman Cousins

Thoughts on Meat

Let me start with an aside. If you know anything about the China Study read the link below first. Campbell’s study has been debunked six ways to Sunday, and he even admitted that he cherry picked facts for his study to make it sound more appealing. The other challenge with it comes from the fact that more and more studies are proving him wrong. I don’t really want to get into that now, since this is a post on meat, but the link below is a good dissertation on why Campbell and the China Study is bonkers.

http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/07/07/the-china-study-fact-or-fallac/

First, let me tell you that I do get a lot of veggies. I eat them with every meal, and I agree that they are needed. They contain lots of good nutrients and vitamins. That being said, meat is better for you than veggies. There are a couple of reasons for this:

Meats have more nutrient content that people need than veggies do. Think of it this way – if you had to survive on either lettuce or beef for the rest of your life you could only do it with beef. The reason for this is that of the macro nutrients that keep cells dividing and carrying oxygen veggies have 4. Meat on the other hand has ALL of them.

Second, meat, unlike veggies has wonderful amounts of saturated fat. This is the perfect gasoline for the human body. It does so much for you, and is very healthy. People who eat a lot of saturated fat are a lot less likely to develop cancer or have heart disease. I won’t go into much detail hear, but there is a fantastic interview with Dr. Eades (insulin resistance doctor) on all of the great benefits of eating saturated fat.

http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2009/06/06/saturated-fat/

This begs the question, well how come there is so much cancer, heart disease and obesity?  I’m glad you asked because the answer comes from two locations. “health food” and “processed food”.

http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?doi=10.1001/archinternmed.2011.2287

When everyone decided that animal fat, which we’d been eating for thousands of years was unhealthy they came up with the vegetable oils. These poly saturated fats were the new panacea for all of our diet woes. The problem is it was the worst thing that could happen. Poly saturated fats cause huge spikes in insulin and insulin resistance is what causes weight gain, diabetes and all those other nasty, nasty things. My best advice to you would be to make sure you throw out all that canola oil and start eating more chicken skin and bacon!

The second, is processed foods, but do we really need to go over why they’re bad?

“But the fact of the matter is that all scientific evidence would show, based upon what we know about this disease, that muscle cuts – that is, the meat of the animal itself – should not cause any risk to human health.”

~ Ann Veneman

A Horror Movie Worth the Money

This may be a niche post to begin with, but I find that it deserves a written shout out as it were.

 

When was the last time you saw a good horror movie?

 

That’s what I thought.

 

I went to the theater the other day, because I was tired of not going to the movies. I am a horror buff for those who read the blog, I’m sure you’ve deduced that by now. Though I stick to my ideals through thick and thin, and I will be the first to tell you that 97% of horror movies are terrible. Just terrible.

 

These days it seems like Hollywood is trying to keep the companies that make fake blood in business, instead of making a good horror movie.

 

That being said, I’d like to direct your attention to a movie call “The Cabin in the Woods”  I will tell you that the movie itself is not scary, but the horror philosophies it deals with make it very enjoyable for anyone who has watched horror throughout their life.   The movie deals with the roots of our nightmares and has an ingenious plot. The writing is what makes this movie the one to see. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but what it does give you is a peek into what good horror writing can do for a movie. You will find the same kinds of plot lines as you would in other horror movies, there are zombies and werewolves, but I’m not here to spoil it for you, I’m merely making a suggestion. If you have some time and a little money to kill, I believe you’ll be pleased by this horror pleasantry.

The movie deals with horror in a very clinical yet extraordinarily real way. You’re able to view the movie from more than one perspective thanks to the plot and that makes you nostalgic to the days when horror, as a genre, was an allegory for the human condition. It has the right amount of humor and darkness, but at the same time has the philosophy that so much horror lacks today. Today it’s horror for horrors sake (how many gallons of blood can we put in this movie?)  “The Cabin in the Woods” seeks to answer some more primal questions it seeks to answer one of the questions we all have which is are monsters real, or does it just take some time to find the zipper in the back of the costume.

 

I will leave you with this, if you like horror, you’ll like this. It gives hat tips to some of the classic films in the genre (Hellraiser for instance) and for all of you Lovecraft fans out there, this may be as close as we’re going to get to a Cthulhu movie for a while.

“As a small child, I felt in my heart two contradictory feelings, the horror of life and the ecstasy of life.”

~ Charles Baudelaire

My Love for You Will Still Be Strong, after the Books of Summer are Gone

With summertime just around the corner it’s time for literally everyone to break out their summer reading lists. There are so many recommendations from so many different sources that it’s like looking on at the legions of hordes of Orcs at Helms Deep. It can get crazy pretty fast, doing an internet search brings up thousands of pages of what you need to read this summer, let alone the big hitters like Oprah, NPR or Barnes & Noble. What makes a good recommendation and what should you read this summer?  Who should you trust and where do you need to go for the best type of summer book?

Here you won’t find another list, and you won’t find a list of the lists you should choose from. I’m here to help you find the books that are full of meaning, and will help make your summer that much better.

Always remember, that you should never trust reviews. There are those books that everyone will like and have universal truths. But, there are also books that speak to you and another select group instead of everyone. Those who don’t see themselves in the book they’ve read will put it lower on this list (if at all). This is why you should only look to all those summer lists for inspiration, not guidance. Another reason everything becomes muddled is that everyone has different criteria for what a good “summer read” is. Most of Barnes & Noble’s books are the classics. There is nothing wrong with the classics, but just because they’re the classics doesn’t make them good summer reading. Do you want to sit down on the beach with War and Peace?

What makes a good summer book?  Is it that it takes place during summer?  The characters and the plot revolve around sun drenched islands, and mild nights of July and August? Just because the characters in the book are getting a tan, doesn’t make it a good, “summer read”.  You could argue that summer reading is a perfect time to read books that take place in winter. They will keep you intellectually “cool”.

Here is what I believe a “summer read” is:  A book that makes you think about the warmth of life and those you share it with –  the memories of the times when you grew up and the feeling of bare feet on a grassy lawn or the chilling fun of jumping into the pool for the first time that summer. Books that remind you about the passion that comes from good deeds, great loves and the best of circumstances winning out.  I challenge you to look beyond the veil of summer and find books that speak to the inner summer in you. Read books that remind you of your first crush, the first time you saw the ocean or any of your warmest memories. The book can take place in the dead of winter, but whatever warms your heart is the true telling of a good summer story.

Go into the bookstore and look. Open your senses to the books that speak to you. Find the books that spark warmth in your heart. Find books that remind you of the warmest and most splendid times in your life, even if they were brief moments. Summer is a time to celebrate what’s alive, good and pure. Summer is a time to remember all of that which made you who you are and the good you’ve glimpsed in this life. A summer read may teach you something new, but the best of summer reading comes from the books that remind you about how you are now and the amazing things that have happened to you. Whether its memories that are bittersweet or books that remind you of the magic that once was, a true summer is one where the characters and plot warm your heart, not walk on a beach.

“Ideally a book would have no order to it, and the reader would have to discover his own”

~ Mark Twain

Are You Among the very Young at Heart?

Do you remember what it was like to be a kid?  I’m not saying a young kid; I’m talking about the magic age.

The magic age actually encompasses a very short time period of your life. This is what makes it so magical. You’re old enough to appreciate the world around you. You’ve spent years cultivating your imagination and now it bears fruit in that small time period right before middle or high school. There is a time where you’re too young, whether you haven’t picked up on hobbies, or you haven’t explored the world through books. Then there is a time when you’re too old. You move up in school, join school sports instead of parks and rec baseball. Maybe you get a part time job. The moment I’m talking about lies in the middle of these two areas.

This is the sweet spot. It’s the spot where we all believed magic existed. Our bikes were transports that could take us across the neighborhood or across the world. Our friends were part of our platoon. We did everything with them, thick and thin, and we grew into such friendships that adults forget they ever had. During this magic time a forest was place where wizards or trolls may lay, movies were things that were plausible instead of fiction, the decrepit house down the street wasn’t an eyesore, it was haunted, and unseen monsters roamed its halls.  Do you remember how the summer wind felt on your face then?  Do you remember how the last ring of the bell for summer break meant absolute, undaunted freedom?  The world was a place to be explored. We knew it was scary then, but when you’re in the magic moment it’s not tragic scary it’s wondrous scary.  How about the pool or the lake that was near you?  Not only was it an oasis of relaxation and a sanctuary of bliss, it was the possibilities it held. What was underneath the surface? Perhaps dinosaurs still swam beneath its depths. In the end that didn’t matter, our world was magic. It’s that time where you start to notice girls or boys. Not in any prurient way. It is innocent, you just realize that they no longer have cuddies and maybe they would be fun to hang out with.  We knew then that we were in a wondrous place where triumph and tragedy held themselves as standards for what is and what could be.

I often tell myself I will never forget what it means to be that age, in that magical state. It becomes harder and harder the further you go along. Your own parents or at least those in roles of responsibility tried to get you on the narrow path. They saw the scraped knee as an infection waiting to happen. They saw the house in disrepair as a testament to the lack of city funds. They watched the news and picked sides. We didn’t. We felt they were looking only at a small part of a gigantic map. But, little by little, we grow up. We get part time jobs. We get steady boyfriends or girlfriends. Then it’s off to college. Little by little we forget the magic that was. We forget the magic that could have been.

Don’t let this happen to you. I encourage you to use this spring and summer to look back on the magic that was. Whether you get it from a book, or by walking and thinking, or by just sitting in your favorite chair and closing your eyes, please don’t forget. The magic may have been fleeting but the memories of who we once were can help us become better at who we are now. The world is still wondrous; we just forgot how to look at it that way. The world still contains monsters. The world still contains wonders. Don’t ever think that you were “just a kid” though you were young you can argue that you at that age had the right outlook on life.

It’s something to think about. Please remember what once was. When bikes where transports and your summer was a wondrous and glorious thing.

It’s magic – never forget that.

“All of us have moments in our childhood where we come alive for the first time. And we go back to those moments and think, this is when I became myself.”

~ Rita Dove