Thursday, December 26, 2013

Comentario 4

Pens es al atoires.

* Eliminating thoikh funerary cannibalism. Funerary cannibalism is actually an idea I find intriguing, and apparently the fact many human populations are resistant to suggests it was once a widespread practice. But the thoikh (all of whom are psychometers) cannot abide to be in the same room with Foucaultian transgressivists, so having them practice any kind of cannibalism weakens the theme. Also cannibalism is over-played (e.g. the Bosmer in Elder Scrolls, although how they can still join Namira's cannibal-cult when for them it's the worship of an Aedra is never explained), which is kinda a freaky little fact about our pop-culture.

Had considered maybe having the thoikh have evolved as an apex predator (which, again, are the only things that can become sapient--which is not the same thing as saying all apex predators will become sapient), but then become herbivorous. There's and a..., that did that. Because they're still Carnivora (capital-C is a particular order, not just "any meat-eating animal", T. rex is a carnivore but not a Carnivore), though, they can't digest cellulose well and pretty much spend all their time eating and sleeping, which is why the bears are too dumb to breed and the mustelid-ishes are so dopily adorable.

Instead I'll have the thoikh have an African wild dog/Asian dhole type of social structure, where instead of having a dominance hierarchy they have a submission one--dominance isn't marked but submission is. That's not actually terribly unusual. On the flip-side some animals do it in reverse, cats for instance have absolutely no submission postures, a cat "submits" by ceasing to offer threat-postures. But I don't know of any gregarious animals with that behavior. (Incidentally, blind cats, who can otherwise survive okay due to their other senses being so good, tend to get the crap kicked out of them by other cats, because visual cues are very important in feline social interaction and a blind cat is the definition of "" and "", literally in that second case, "nun" is Korean for "eye".)

* Been watching Almost Human with my dad. It's, what, six episodes in? And it hasn't once pissed me off. Me being me, I begin to wonder, "what are they planning to spring on us?"

I kinda like how they have very Vangelis electronic pseudo-sax, and people walking around with neon-lit umbrellas. I mean hell, they were ripping off Blade Runner either way, they might as well do it with some freaking style.

I'm a call this thing right now, though, the captain is the real villain of the piece. She told Kennex he's special. Nobody but a villain tells your protagonist he's special unless he's obviously an alien or some such thing.

* I haven't talked about it here (now it's ending), but I liked this anime season. "Ky kai no Kanata"/"Beyond the Boundary" takes a little getting into, but your time is well rewarded. I like the siscon dude's sister, like when she replaced everything on her brother's iPod with yaoi drama-CDs after he signed her up for not-AKB48-at-all auditions without her permission. "Y sha ni Narenakatta Ore wa Shibushibu Sh shoku wo Ketsui Shimashita"/"Unable to Become a Hero I Reluctantly Got a Job"/Y shibu for short is also good, although its fanservice is inelegant and its girls' figure-drawing needs work. I just love the whole "trained to become a hero, now works in retail because he has a degree he can't use" aspect. Also the magic runes that look like circuit diagrams.

Probably the best series out this season was "Ore no N nai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Love Comedy wo Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru"/"My Mental Would-You-Rather is Really Interfering with My School Love Comedy"/N come for short. I enjoy a good severely messed up raunchy comedy, and this one probably had a higher rate of laughs than Baka Test (although Baka Test was stronger in other areas). The girl with the short silver hair is a new type, which I shall presume to name the "".

* Occasioned by something else similar, but there are people who complain when, e.g. during a Da person who had never encountered either before would, once acquainted with them, know their likeness.

* Got a fairly recent translation of The Tengu's Discourse on the Martial Arts, the one sold as "Demon's Sermon on etc." (a tengu is only a demon in the original Greek sense, "crow-fairy" would be a better description). It's interesting, basically a collection of fables illustrating a certain number of related points, but one sorta wonders if there has been some mistake, when even the translator refers to the themes the stories illustrate as being "Zen". To my knowledge, Zen, while it may be an odd combination of Pelagian and quietist, is still a type of Buddhism. Yet each of these stories is about not sweating reincarnation and the cycle of rebirth, because the life of everything is just as its karma dictates it should be. "Everything is properly born to the station its karma dictates, and must fulfill the law proper to its station" is not any kind of Buddhism I know of, since it happens to be Hinduism; "did away with the caste system" is something even Americans know about Buddha!

I'm guessing that the actual worldview informing the essays was not Buddhist, Zen or otherwise, but Neo-Confucian. Japanese Neo-Confucianism never persecuted Buddhism, and was almost as likely to quote Buddhist writings as Confucian ones. Part of that, though, was that Japanese Buddhism had already been partly tamed by K kai's identification of Amaterasu-Omikami with Mahavairocana Tathagata. To a degree, of course, the main form of Japanese Buddhism avoided being quite that deracinated (most of the Japanese populace has always been Pure Land, which is fortunately as devoted to "What is necessary to be saved?" as any altar-call Evangelicalism), but K kai's interpretatio japonensis filtered to other Buddhist sects from his own Shingon. While Pure Land Buddhists are still primarily concerned with soteriology rather than theology, Japanese Pure Land practitioners still thought of Shinto and Buddhism as the same religion (until the actual laws against it, at the Meiji Restoration). Nobody else in Asia ever did that; while everyone in China and Korea who worships the native pantheon will say "Buddhist" when asked what religion he is (because that defines his conception of the cosmos and his place in it), they don't identify Guan Yor the Dokkaebi-daegam as Buddhist figures.* The Japanese word "shumi" ordinarily means "hobby", but it's also the polite term for "fetish" (I actually get the logic there--fetish-subcultures are made up, if you think about it, of somewhat alarming hobbyists). It sometimes makes people in anime seem crazy, though. For instance, in Fullmetal Alchemist, at some point someone (Sergeant Brosch and Lieutenant Ross?) ask why Al's always wearing armor. Since he can't very well say "We tried to bring our mother back to life in violation of the strongest taboo of alchemy--also the laws of our militaristic police-state--and the armor is actually his body now", Ed says, "It's kinda his hobby." And the others react as if that was deeply disturbing, which doubtless struck most of the American audience as quite an overreaction. But remember: they might interpret it as "It's kinda his fetish." Their reaction is actually quite mild if you interpret it as "Sweet kindly Alphonse with the little-boy voice that belies his huge frame, is also a twisted gimp who goes everywhere in full-body fetish gear."

* I think a lot more aspects of the human condition are explicable by reference to ethology than most analysis seems to think, and without recourse to silly outrJust-So stories. Ownership is territoriality, (romantic) love is the creation of pair-bond, reverence is dominance behavior. Of course, all those things are colored by the fact humans are the only animal that knows it or anything else exists, and that can actually abstract concepts--being an animal, though, humans apply territoriality and dominance behavior to their concepts, exactly as if they were physical places and creatures. Also only humans, in the whole of Earth's biosphere, have a thing called "society", where unrelated conspecifics negotiate their territorial disputes rather than fighting over them.

That is, on the other hand, one of the dirty little secrets of animal behavior--everything we and animals share is transformed by our peculiar ability to abstract and conceptualize, and most of the things put forth as evidence we differ from animals only by degree is, on examination, only very qualifiedly evidence at all (when it's not just outright fake). The linguistic abilities of apes, for example, are generally grossly exaggerated, and often are more a combination of wishful thinking (and innocent pareidolia) with their trainers' insight (insight which anyone gains from interacting with any animal, whether it's been taught sign language or not). Even the most promising of bonobo language experiments have yet to demonstrate sentences more complex than "subject object location"--being very generous with our interpretation of particular juxtapositions of uninflectable symbols--and not even the faintest glimmering of abstract conceptualization has ever been even hinted at.
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