Jan. 15th, 2009

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ART105 was canceled today because the professor was sick. (She certainly sounded like it during the past three classes, poor thing!) Since I hadn't been planning on attending HON301 today, I don't have any reason to go out into the freezing cold. It's -9*F, for fuck's sake. Rawr. Although we don't have it as bad as parts of the northeast. Holy fuck, -32*F?!

Other random links:

Wii Sports dethones Super Mario Bros. as the best-selling video game of all time. Yes, the article does address the fact that Wii Sports is bundled with a Wiimote, which may be a factor in high sales.

PETA (a.k.a. People Educated in Total Assholery) is going on a campaign to rename fish as "sea kittens." Someone, somewhere, has made the argument that PETA is nothing but a large-scale exercise in modern performance art. I can't take these guys seriously, I'm sorry. Besides, I find fish cute and cuddly (they're my favorite animal!), and I still eat them! (Psst - found Nemo!)

Here's something that's not safe for work, and probably not safe for your keyboard if you're drinking something. In Korea, there's a park full of giant wooden penises. They were erected (snerk) to appease the bitter spirit of a local virgin girl who apparently died at sea a long-ass time ago because she got caught in a storm and her fiance couldn't save her.

I laughed way too hard at this icon of Azula.

One of the biggest problems in pagan spirituality - or any sort of spirituality/religion, actually - is telling the difference between a legitimate spiritual experience and serious psychological problems such as hallucinations or delusions. The essay Between Sanity and Madness discusses this issue from the standpoint of a current Wiccan (...Neo-Wiccan?) high priestess, who has heard otherworldly voices and has had otherworldly experiences since she was young.
By contrast, the psychic experience could seem hallucinatory but is not considered an illness. The psychic experience is distinguished by a resourcefulness, an elasticity, and an ability to return to normal after the experience. She also said that schizophrenia is usually frightening, nightmarish and shattering, projecting harshly critical and negative parts of the self. She said she had never heard of a positive experience in schizophrenia, that it always carried a sense of negative energy. The important distinction between that and even a frightening initiatory shamanic experience is in the recoverability. Schizophrenics will continually insist on an experience of everyday reality that just doesn't fit, Nancy pointed out, such as the CIA having wired their teeth for sound. "Thought disorder, which can be relatively subtle distortion of logic, language and meaning, is virtually diagnostic of schizophrenia, and is not found in shamanic or psychic or altered state experiences, " she said.

(I'm a painfully ordinary pagan/witch, it seems. True, I've had some experiences, but they've been pretty minor up 'til now; more like little elusive taps on the window getting my attention and teasing me than completely crashing through the window brandishing an AK-47. But considering the amount of things that already go round and round in my mind, I suppose if I did have the supernatural equivalent of a person crashing though my window with a gun, I'd probably lose it completely for a while. Despite being an HSP, I find myself spiritually and psychically dense, and I can't decide if it's because I simply don't have the talent for noticing such things, or if it's a partially-unconscious defense mechanism against being overstimulated.)

[livejournal.com profile] matociquala, a.k.a. F&SF author Elizabeth Bear, discusses writing The Other in fiction. This particular quote from her pretty much explains why I myself tend towards F&SF:

Please note, as a fantasy and science fiction writer, I spend a lot of my time writing things that are really Other--intelligent wolves and giant talking stag-headed ponies, for example. Also angels (fallen and otherwise), hyperintelligent supercolloids, virtual winged dinosaurs, and other stuff. So I keep thinking, well, if I can write something that doesn't even have the same senses I do, how hard can it be to write a Jewish former Army Captain from St. Louis?

Well, the problem is, I'm much more likely to run into a Jewish former Army Captain from St. Louis. And she'll tell me I'm getting it wrong. The talking stag-headed flying ponies don't have much of a lobby here on our planet.

Her main point is that The Other is not, well, The Other. They're us - that is to say, people. They have emotions and feelings and thoughts just like us. The problem, though, comes in getting down the specific, particular details that engender those kinds of thoughts in someone from a particular set of backgrounds. For me as a writer, it's easier to make up those details (based on general life experiences) than it is to find them. Bear gives some pointers in her post for doing the research for real life details and experiences that may be completely foreign to you.

Finally, we've got the first glimpse of exoplanet atmosphere from Earth.

there's no need to melt my frozen heart


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Reileen van Kaile

April 2010


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