terça-feira, 9 de outubro de 2018

The Songs of Willian Blake


The purpose of this essay is to discuss the first illuminated –that is, illustrated- work of writter Willian Blake: The Songs of Innocence and The Songs of Experience, which were later compiled into a single work.
        These books are collections of poems; the first one, The Songs of Innocence, is presented as a collection of poems for children and has a very uplifting tone, talking about the joys of childhood and the Love of God towards all living beings. Even poems like “The Little Black Boy” and “The Chimney Sweeper”, that deal with slavery and child labour, respectively, are very opmistic.
        The Songs of Experience, however, is more cynical. It is supposed to be “the truths of the world”, sang by a wandering bard. It deals with themes like poverty and the efemerity of youth, but especially it makes attacks against religion. Among the messages of the poems there ir the recurring theme that religion prevents people from enjoying the joys of life. “Earth’s Answer” tells that God is a jealous tyrant who envies humanity for its pleasures. The collection tells how the Church tyranizes people.
        When put together, the two anthologies can be interpreted as how our views about the world change as we get older. We start to see the “ugly” side of the world and realize that we must face problems in our lives.
        It’s time to grow up.

Dravot’s Ambition

Ambition: Oxford dictionary defines it as “a strong desire to do or achieve something” and “desire and determinations to achieve success”. The philosopher Friederic Nietzsche calls this desire the “Will to Power”; it is with this will, this desire, that we manage to get a promotion at our jobs or save money to buy a new car. Its also with this desire that empires are made. In “The Man Who Would Be King”, a short story by Rudyard Kipling, who also wrote the adventures of wild boy Mowgli, two men decide to go to Kafiristan – today part of Afghanistan- in order to become kings. What caught my attenttion the most in the story was the character Daniel Dravot. He is the mastermind of the plot, leading his friend, Peachy Carnehan, in the adventure of conquering the tribes of Kafiristan and building a solid nation. Dravot speaks like a visionary; his words are able to inspire anyone who hears to fight your way to glory. However, everyone has their own form of ambition, their own peculiar goal in life. Dravot’s ambition isn’t to create his own empire but rather to gain the title of Knight of the Victorian aristocracy, a goal he attempts to achieve by uniting the Kafiristan tribes into a single army under service of the Victorian Empire. Dravot can be regarded as a symbol. A symbol that no dream is too big or too small if you are really willing to fight for it.

The Power of Speech

Charisma: A mysterious hability to enforce your personality on another person and make them feel attached to you. It is a great weapon to make someone do what you want. But IF you want to influence lots of people at the same time, you will need more than that. You will need rhetoric. Rhetoric is the art of oratory, the art of making a good speech. All the great leaders of human history were skillful in this art. A good example is Adolf Hitler, who managed to convince a whole nation to support his nefarious ideology of National Socialism. Despite writting a book that inspired people, the “Mein Kampf”, Hitler acknowledged that the true Power lyes in the spoken Word. Another man with this Power was Winston Churchill. Churchill made arousing speeches to inspire people to fight for their rights and when they were hopeless, to not give up and combat the Nazi Germany. It is said that speech is the finest of the forms of art, because it requires that the performer has knowledge of all the other arts and the world around them. I’m not surprised by this affirmation; before people could write, paint, or even sing, people could speak.

Why Sci-fi?

What’s the importance of science fiction , you ask? The genre of science fiction, which some people even go far enough to claim it is the most important ever. But what is so special about it? Let’s go back to the roots of the genre, in the 19th Century. A woman named Mary Shelley publishs a novel titled “Frankenstein”, about a scientist that creates na artificial living being. Even now the story is still used for people to consider the consequences of meddling too much with the forces of life and consciousness. Another writter who influenced the genre was Hebert George Wells. Some of his works include “The Time Machine”, “War of The Worlds” and “The Island of Doctor Moreau”, which deal with themes like class division, imperialism and vivisection, respectively. A relatively more modern example is the original Star Trek show, which not only inspired people to become scientists but also opened their minds to social tolerance. Wether it is by pointing out the errors of today or by showing what may come tomorrow, science fiction always drives us to progress, to a brighter future. Did I answer your question?

[Censored Tile]

What’s the difference between Right-wing politics and Left-wing politics? According to George Orwell, none. Once a communist fighting against fascism in the Spanish Civil War, Orwell realized that no side was better than the other. To illustrate this point he wrote “Animal Farm”, a story about farm animals that revolt against their human masters and “seize the means of production”; a clear allegory to Socialism. However, once in Power, the pigs who lead the revolution start to behave like their former human oppressors, representing the dictatorship that socialist countries inevitably become. However, its most influential work is “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, a novel featuring a dystopic future where the government controls every aspect of society, including the very thoughts of people. This story popularized words like “Orwellian”, “Big Brother”, “Thought Police”, “Newspeak”, “Doublethink”, among others. You might be thinking: “Good thing this is all just fiction”. Well, think again. Biased people are already controlling how people should talk or act, how they should treat each other and even how, you guessed, they should think. These people are the postmoderns, also know as “SJW” or “Social Justice Warriors”. For people who see themselves as paragons of justice, these folks are doing a great job at destroying Western society. But as the saying says, “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions”.

On Frankenstein

Before we start, I would like to note that “Frankenstein” is the name of the scientist, not the monster. Although the creature is sometimes called “Adam Frankenstein” – the first name being a reference to the biblical man, Who was created from Clay by God; the last name referencing the fact that the monster is Frankenstein’s “child” – by the some people, it was never referred as such in the novel. The novel Frankenstein is considered the first gothic novel – a literary genre intended to induce intense emotions on the reader, specially fear – set outside the Middle Ages as well as the first true science fiction story; this isn’t that surprinsing when you learn that Mary Shelley, the author of the book, was associated with both the Romantic and the Enlightenment movements. Shelley was just eighteen years old when she wrote what would become a classic. The Idea for the story, like of many other horror stories, came from a nightmare; what is appropriate, considering that the lifes of both scientist and monster become nightmares trough the course of the story. The subtitle of the novel, “The Modern Prometheus”, is a reference to the Greek myth of the eponymous titan that steals fire, a holy element, from the gods and gives it to humanity. This subtitle refers to the role of the doctor Victor Frankenstein, who, by creating the monster, “steals” the Power of giving life from Nature. The result of his trickery is a foul creature, a being so abominable that our hero can barely look at. However, it must be noticed that Adam isn’t the sole monster here. Instead of assuming responsibility for his creation, who just wanted to be loved, Victor shuns him and forces him to leave his house, solely because Adam wasn’t good looking. The monster is then attacked by everyone who meets him, out of prejudice against his appearance. Embittered by this miserable existence, the creature decides to make the life of his creator just as bad as his own. The resto f the story is a great conflict between creator and creation, with Adam killing everyone Victor loves and Victor finally deciding to end this. The relevance of “Frankenstein” to modern days comes from its social commentary about the ethics of science: How far are we allowed to go in the name of progress and the quest for knowledge? Whenever scientists meddle with Biology, people say they are “playing God”, just like our “hero”. In fact, “Frankenstein food” is even a pejorative name used to refer to genetically altered food, implying they are dangerous to humans. Another topic raised by the novel is the concept of artificial life. WHat will happen when robots become inteligent enough to be considered “living”, sentient beings? Will we be prepared for that? Whatever the case, we must learn from Frankenstein’s mistakes and assume responsibilities of our meddlings.

domingo, 7 de outubro de 2018

Tokusatsu

The roots of the tokusatsu genre date back to 1954, with the first Godzilla movie. Godzilla stood out because of two things: First, the technique used to create the monster, called “suitmation”. Suitmation consisted of an actor wearing a costume of the monster; it was a cheaper alternative to stop-motion, the “CGI” of the time. This technique revolutionized Japanese film-making, and it is still used today, as Power Rangers can show. In my opinion, this is much cooler than stop-motion. The other factor to the King Of Monsters’ success was the fact that the movie is an allegory to the atomic bomb, a tragedy that ravaged Japan. Godzilla is a destructive creature, obliterating everything it encounters while leaving a trail of radiation where it passes. However, it does not do so out of malice; the big lizard is a victim of atomic bombs just like the Japanese people, it is in pain just like everyone else. Godzilla started a trend in cinema called “Kaiju Boom”, with many giant monster movies being made. Some years later, in 1966, Tsubaraya Productions released Ultra Q and Ultraman, two shows that transported the kaiju genre from the movies to television, and the latter even spawned a number of imitators, creating the subgenre of “kyodai hero”: Giant heroes fighting giant monsters. Then, in 1971, came Kamen Rider. Kamen Rider revolutionized the tokusatsu genre in many ways: First, it feature a regular sized hero fighting humanoid monsters (the “kaijins”). Second: The hero, despite already having a body much more powerful than the average human, had to train in order to become a proper combatant. Third: Both hero and monsters had the same origin: They were genetically and cybernetically altered humans, created by the evil organization Shocker. This overlaps with the fourth item of the list: The monsters are victims of Shocker just like the hero and the very people they kill. The only thing that prevented Kamen Rider from becoming a kaijin under Shocker’s command was the fact that he managed to escape from Shocker’s laboratory before suffering brainwash. This makes the hero reluctant to fight the monsters, and regretful in destroying them. Four years later, in 1975, came Himitsu Sentai Goranger, a show featuring a group of five color coded heroes fighting monsters that become giant after being destroyed. This is the first show of what would become the Super Sentai franchise, which would in turn have its shows adapted to western audiences as Power Rangers. My interest for the tokusatsu genre started with the shows Madan Senki Ryukendo and Kamen Rider Dragon Knight – and adaptation of the Japanese show Kamen Rider Ryuki. Although I have already known about Ultraman, it were these two that sparked my liking for the thing. I think what made me so involved with those shows was the solid and mature storytelling they provided –even Ryukendo, that is very comedic-. Since I met these shows I began to research about tokusatsu on the internet to learn more about the genre. After some time, I decided to create my own tokusatsu hero. At the time I thought the word “Slash” sounded pretty cool, so I decided to call my hero “Slashman”. Slashman was created as a comic book, since I used to make a lot of -terrible – comics at the time. I made a total of sixteen issues that you can read here: http://hfablogs.blogspot.com/search/label/Slashman I spent my whole teens working on this story, until the day I realized I was running in circles. Fortunately, now I have –or at least I think I have- a better understanding of how things work and I hope I will to finally find the destination of my journey, wherever it may be.