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Author Topic: Pseudopod 157: Wave Goodbye  (Read 10173 times)

Millenium_King

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Reply #25 on: June 09, 2010, 08:08:25 PM
I don't want to detract from Ben's thread, but I'll suggest that there's more happening in this story than the last sentence in the quote above. It's been a while since I listened to it, but IIRC, the ghost mother in the story is problmematic as a protagonist, and there's intentionality behind that, which makes her actions less-than righteous, and therefore something other than a manifestation of liberal white guilt.

Again, you're free to disagree, and we welcome that. I'm just asking you to be mindful of other people's opinions :)

Agree.  I would like to apologize to you, Ben and to the author.  I came across a little harsh and personal on this one because I am closer to the subject matter than normal.  I felt the story had a deliberate bias and intentionally downplayed the woman who was suffering (which would have been the best way to provide a counterpoint to the ghost's tormenting).  Perhaps I am wrong, perhaps there is something deeper here, but I did not enjoy this one at all.  Again, apologies if I have come across as harsh - when you're as close to the USS Abraham Lincoln as I am, criticisms of "Western apathy" are pretty enraging.

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Alasdair5000

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Reply #26 on: June 09, 2010, 09:01:28 PM
Hello Alasdair!  Many apologies if I came across as belligerent; I was upset and heated when I wrote my response to this story, and my agitation I probably did not realize how inconsiderate I was being.
   Hi:)  That's okay.


I did not so much think your in/outro was bad, so much as I was disappointed when you did not provide some badly needed balance to this story.  Usually you provide something of a counterpoint or deeper insight, but in this case you seemed to simply carry the author’s flag.
   Well, sometimes cheerleading an author is something I feel motivated to and this one pushed a couple of my buttons.  Plus I sometimes worry I go so far outside the ballpark that I need to tie the odd outro to the actual story:)

I realize the irony in criticizing you for being shallow, then providing my own shallow rebuttal.  I was just trying to shorten an already long rant.  Let me give you my counterpoint:  You suggest that in a “better world” there “shouldn’t be any” charities, because there would be no disasters.  You say “things should be better, for everyone.”  I think the major flaw in your reasoning here is that you are ascribing moral characteristics to a universe which has none.  You seem to describe the disasters as “bad” – but that is a theistic concept grounded in Western religious thought.  Nature’s actions are not bad: they simply are.  This is exactly what the revenant in the story failed to grasp.  Her death was not “bad” nor was it “tragic” and it certainly was no one’s fault: it simply WAS.  I had been hoping you would illuminate this, or a similar concept to our readers.

   Ah, Western religious thought.  That'll be the Anglican/Catholic/Spiritualist upbringing talking.  I'm actually working on approaching things from a different viewpoint to that.

Much of human suffering results from our outrage over the actions of a universe which makes no moral judgments – the universe makes no sense to us, only because we expect it to make sense.  I had hoped you would see the tragedy in the ghost’s selfishness and put it in perspective for us: natural disasters are bad to us humans, but to the cosmos they simply ARE.  The ghost needed to realize that her death was not the result of a moral judgment, and ergo it deserved no righteous retribution in return.  The ghost (and all of humanity) need(s) to accept that what we see as “natural tragedies” are simply part of Nature’s grand scheme – they are not cruel punishments upon us.  We should help the survivors, mourn the dead, but most importantly ACCEPT that the world is the way it is and that Nature both destroys and creates without holding one higher than the other.  To wish for a world without this cycle is to live in a state of denial and disharmony.  Ergo, we have invented superstitions like “gods” or “spirits” to explain how these terrible (to us) things happen.  We ignore the absolutely commonplace fact that life is just as meaningless as death – and, ergo, just as important.  One must realize that if everything is meaningless and unimportant, the reverse is also true – everything is just as meaningful, and just as important.  Your birth is on equal footing with the genesis of the Pleadies Cluster.  Your death carries all the cosmic weight of a supernova.
   Those last two lines in particular are fascinating and actually rather beautiful.  Thanks for that.

I do not mean to be rude here, but I felt your outro was solidly grounded in theistic, moral, Christian thought.  Where disasters are seen as negative, sinful and undesirable.  In a sense, they are actually positive, glorious and desireable:  they allow the cycle of life to continue, they make more life where there was none, and they provide the strife which is just as important as the peace.  But, in truth, they (and Nature) are none of these things: they simply ARE.  Ergo, it is absurd to judge them.
   True and like I say that's my upbringing.  I think the point that interests me about this is what happens when we don't try and ascribe meaning, when we try and accept what is.  That's actually rather alien to me.

I feel for you and your family, I truly do.  I am not here to offend, but only to offer counterpoint.  You view your friends’ deaths as “pointless” because your worldview demands everything have a point.  This ties into what I was saying earlier: disasters, to you, are bad because they MUST have a point.  And, since they are negative to humans, their point must be negative – their existence is negative.  Life does not have a “point” – life simply is.  Enjoy it while it is here.  Keep your friends memories in your heart and cherish them, but to not rail against “capricious” fate for taking them from you.  Simply accept that their lives are over now – neither for good, nor for bad, neither important to Nature, nor unimportant – but important to you.

This brings me to my final point:  in the universe, no thing is of greater or less importance than another.  No thing holds more or less value.  To Nature, the death of Jesus Christ was just as unremarkable as the birth of a gnat; the birth of Hitler just as remarkable as the death of a galaxy.  But in the Temple of your mind, your Will is absolute: you alone determine what is important and what is unimportant.  You alone determine what is Right, and what is Wrong.  Those things are not inherent, and they are not for Nature to decide.  If you declare the death of a thousand Indonesians in tsunami unimportant, then they are if you declare them important then it will be.  But only to you.  Not to the universe, not to Nature.

In this manner, we can see that the Will alone determines the shape of the moral sphere.  Man is center of his solar system, he is “heliocentric force on two legs.”  To allow the doctrines of others (be they Jehova or Christ, Zues or Olympus, Muhammad or Allah, Buddha or Lao Tzu) to determine or shape your course of action is utter folly.  Life and death are both opposite sides of the same coin.  Nature determines the result of the toss, but only you determine where, when and to who it is important.

And assign meaning as needed, or not.  Everything's relative, you shape the world as you choose and, like I say, I find the idea of changing that world view, of taking a step back attractive.  Stuff to think about.

Apologies for the length of this response: it turned out to be something of a dissertation on my world-view, rather than a plain rebuttal.

Nothing wrong with that.

I am not a nihilist.  I do not hold that life has no value or purpose.  I will not for one moment pretend that the loss of one’s loved ones is irrelevant.  One should always fight to preserve himself and those who are so near and dear to him that they are a part of himself.  But one must also accept loss.  Failing to protect a loved one is a terror, but death itself?  Let that not be a Terror in your mind.  Be fearful of losing them whilst they are here, but once they are gone, just keep their memories close and accept.  Do not shout “Why did this happen?”  You will only drive yourself crazy – the universe has no answer.

   Oddly a priest told me almost exactly the same thing last year.  It's a laudable ideal and, like I say, it's one that due to some of the things I've experienced, a worldview I suspect is cut off from me.

I apologize if I have offended you: it was not my intent.  I just seek to remind you (and our ghost) that the endings are just as equal and important as the beginnings.

Oh you haven't offended me.  You're clearly passionate about your beliefs and I wanted to find out why.  Thanks for laying that out, reminds me a lot of Taoism.

Thank you for responding and for indulging me in my rant.  Apologies if I have seemed mean or heartless, again none of that is my intent.  I hope I have given you something to think about.

And don’t worry, I enjoy about 99% percent of your in/outros – one or two is bound to disappoint sometimes!

   You certainly have:)  And hey, you didn't like two out of the two hundred I've done so far.  That's a pretty good batting average:)



Millenium_King

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Reply #27 on: June 09, 2010, 09:30:31 PM
Thanks Alasdair!  I was just hoping I could give you something to think about.  I do not mean in any way to deride your world-view.  I certainly respect it.  Often, it's a good idea to take a step back and look at the big picture: it makes the little picture that much more important, eh?

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Reply #28 on: June 15, 2010, 04:23:40 PM
There is an entire character, the child, which as far as I can tell exists in this story solely to point up what a monster (in the classic, irrational-monster sense) the POV character is.  Al points this out in the outro, as well, in a part I guess you may have missed.  It's true she is also a symbol of the guilt of which you speak, but see the above.  (It's an easy misunderstanding, to be fair. The point is a subtle one, and yes, the story deliberately pokes away at a controversial topic.)

Ben hit the nail on the head here.  This struck me initially as a message-driven anti-American story, but the child throws a wrench in that view--she is also dead, also from the same country, same family, yet she is ready to forgive and move on.  Her light casts shadows across the mother's personality, who embodies a revenant quite well, an irrational rage not necessarily directed at the most logical of targets.  This is a viewpoint into the mind of a monster, killing for reasons she believes are justified, vision clouded by rage, but her daughter sees more clearly and realizes that they should just move on and get on with the afterlife.



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Reply #29 on: June 15, 2010, 04:32:23 PM
Quote
To Nature, the death of Jesus Christ was just as unremarkable as the birth of a gnat;

Interesting philosophy, but can you imagine if fiction followed this rule?  Many stories have centered around the death of Jesus, and many more were intentionally and metaphorically referencing the death.  While gnat-births have a shockingly low occurrence of stories based around them.  Is this species-ism, a disrespect for our insectile brethren?  Probably not, it's just that gnat birth isn't all that compelling to us humans.  Yes, we define tragedy and comedy, but we're also the ones reading the stories.  I can say that a natural disaster, because it is caused by Nature, is a beautiful thing, but my view is not going to be the same if my friends and family die in one, and I certainly won't feel that way as my lungs are filling with ocean water--which is the mental moment that the mother is stuck in and may be stuck in for a very long time.  This story and every other are irrelevant to Nature, but it's not irrelevant to humans.  The tragedy of death is a common theme in stories because it is a common theme in life--if I can't write a story about death as a tragic thing then I am shutting myself away from a very human point of view, one which most people can relate to from personal experience.



Millenium_King

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Reply #30 on: June 15, 2010, 05:34:01 PM
While all that may be true, I think I thoroughly let my initial point run away from me and become muddled.  I am basically making two seperate points:

(a) While I appreciate Al's urging us toward charity and hoping for a world with no disasters, I was hoping he'd show a little of the "big picture" to put this "small picture" story in context.  I, personally, felt the ghost's real tragedy was clinging so tightly to life that she became a hateful, unreasoning revenant.  Not to dispairage Al or act like I can do his job better, but I would have pointed out the bigger picture if I had done the outro to help put things in perspective.  It's better not to hope for a world without disasters (since that would require Nature not to exist), it is better to hope for a realistic goal such as working to change what we can, and accepting that which we cannot... even death.

(b) As for the story itself, my real issue is not so much with the content of the message, but with the fact that there is virtually no plot there.  The best defense I have heard is that the child provides a sense of conflict with the mother, but the way I heard it, the mother was so much more powerful than the child and so heedless of her words, I never seriously considered she'd actually listen to her (and the child was not powerful enough to force her to listen) - ergo, no conflict.

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Reply #31 on: June 15, 2010, 05:56:38 PM
While all that may be true, I think I thoroughly let my initial point run away from me and become muddled.  I am basically making two seperate points:

(a) While I appreciate Al's urging us toward charity and hoping for a world with no disasters, I was hoping he'd show a little of the "big picture" to put this "small picture" story in context.  I, personally, felt the ghost's real tragedy was clinging so tightly to life that she became a hateful, unreasoning revenant.  Not to dispairage Al or act like I can do his job better, but I would have pointed out the bigger picture if I had done the outro to help put things in perspective.  It's better not to hope for a world without disasters (since that would require Nature not to exist), it is better to hope for a realistic goal such as working to change what we can, and accepting that which we cannot... even death.

(b) As for the story itself, my real issue is not so much with the content of the message, but with the fact that there is virtually no plot there.  The best defense I have heard is that the child provides a sense of conflict with the mother, but the way I heard it, the mother was so much more powerful than the child and so heedless of her words, I never seriously considered she'd actually listen to her (and the child was not powerful enough to force her to listen) - ergo, no conflict.

And I don't really disagree with either of those points.  And the second post about philosophy was more food for thought than any real argument:  I for one, can't wait until Jesus Gnat Superstar hits Broadway.  ;)