Sunday, July 22, 22:41 CDT
Eric pointed me to a
piece by David Brin, doing some heavily unflattering criticism of
Star Wars. Think I linked to this a while back,
but it was worth reading over. I can't exactly say I agree with him
wholeheartedly, but Brin says plenty that's worth thinking about. (Not to
mention entertainingly written - which only makes sense, if you've read
much of his fiction.)
Then there's this
review of sorts, also by Brin, which I can't remember reading at the
time... Well written Phantom Menace bashing, anyway.
I think Brin's opinion that SW is morally misguided is a far more
interesting one than repetitive assertions that the films are simplistic,
cartoonish, overblown, badly plotted, poorly acted, or whatever. Such
complaints are at best irrelevant, and mostly false - As is self-evident from
my own deeply felt enjoyment of every one of the films, the intensely flawed
Episode One included. And yes, dammit, I'm serious about that last bit. At the
end of the day, a great story is one that I love; not one that I'm told I ought
On the other hand, what Brin has to say is interesting because it demands
some deeper thought about the subject, and about SF in general. I do
wonder if George Lucas hasn't lost track of something in SW's original
direction, or let it be supplanted by something less worthy of its status. I'm
afraid this much is probably true, though I'd love for the next two
installments to prove me emphatically wrong. It's not really too late,
midichlorians and virgin births aside.
I don't expect to win this argument any time soon. As Joseph Campbell rightly
pointed out, the ways of our ancestors tug at the soul with a resonance many
find romantically appealing, even irresistible. Some cannot put the fairy tale
down and move on to more mature fare. Not yet at least. Ah well.
There, I think, is where I part company with Brin. I'm a true fan of the SF
he depicts in stark opposition to a tradition that includes Homer, Star
Wars, and William
Blake. I'm arrogant enough to believe I understand it
as well as nearly anyone. But I can't believe that we need to leave the fairy
tale (in all its myriad shapes and guises) behind in our journey towards
maturity. It can't be the sum total of our spiritual sustenance or our
entertainment, but it's a thing worthy of more respect and understanding (not
to mention more fun) than casting it as a relic of a dark and nightmarish
past allows for.
(Ok, I also take issue with Brin's casting Star Trek in direct opposition
to SW. Sure, Trek may be more egalitarian and democratic in spirit - then
again, taking more than a superficial look at the Trek-verse seems likely to
dredge up much the same sort of ugliness that he's pointing out in SW. Not to
make blanket statements or anything... But I'm not sure I buy it.)
No doubt I'm overstating and simplifying some things here. Ah well, it's
late, and I should most probably go get some sleep.
This would be a good place to mention an American Gods review,
since Gaiman is a modern master of the fairy tale, and said book certainly
touches on the subject at hand, but I haven't yet *written* that review.
How about a gallery of stuff by the guy who did the cover art for
AG, which seemed rather stylish?
Sunday, July 22, 16:43 CDT
I'm messing around a bit with GnuPG.
GnuPG stands for GNU
Privacy Guard and is GNU's tool for secure communication and data storage. It
can be used to encrypt data and to create digital signatures. It includes an
advanced key management facility and is compliant with the proposed OpenPGP
Internet standard as described in RFC 2440. As such, it is aimed to be
compatible with PGP from NAI Inc.
Er, yeah. Anyway. Why not? Encryption is cool, right? I've been wanting to
play with it ever since I read Cryptonomicon, and
Stephen just mentioned it in an
e-mail, which was enough to distract me from whatever it was I was doing before
Anyway, if I ever figure out what I'm doing, I'll stick a public key on this
page. Seems like a good idea, even if in practice the reason that most people
(even those who know it exists) don't use encryption on a regular basis is that
it's just too much effort.