Percentages of Suffering and Death

Steven Pinker’s theory of decreasing violence is worth taking seriously. There is an element of truth to what he says. And I do find compelling what he calls the Moral Flynn Effect. But I’ve long suspected violent death rates are highly skewed. Depending on what is being measured and how, it can be argued that there has been a decrease in the rate of homicides and war fatalities. But there are others that argue these numbers are inaccurate or deceiving.

Even accepting the data that Pinker uses, it must be noted that he isn’t including all violent deaths. Consider economic sanctions and neoliberal exploitation, vast poverty and inequality forcing people to work long hours in unsafe and unhealthy conditions, covert operations to overthrow governments and destabilize regions, anthropogenic climate change with its disasters, environmental destruction and ecosystem collapse, loss of arable land and food sources, pollution and toxic dumps, etc. All of this would involve food scarcity, malnutrition, starvation, droughts, rampant disease, refugee crises, diseases related to toxicity and stress, etc; along with all kinds of other consequences to people living in desperation and squalor.

This has all been intentionally caused through governments, corporations, and other organizations seeking power and profit while externalizing costs and harm. In my lifetime, the fatalities to this large scale often slow violence and intergenerational trauma could add up to hundreds of millions or maybe billions of lives cut short. Plus, as neoliberal globalization worsens inequality, there is a direct link to higher rates of homicides, suicides, and stress-related diseases for the most impacted populations. Yet none of these deaths would be counted as violent, no matter how horrific it was for the victims. And those like Pinker adding up the numbers would never have to acknowledge this overwhelming reality of suffering. It can’t be seen in the official data on violence, as the causes are disconnected from the effects. But why should only a small part of the harm and suffering get counted as violence?

It’s similar to how one looks at all kinds of data. In the US, blacks now have freedom as they didn’t in the past. Yet there are more blacks in US prisons right now than there once were blacks in slavery. And in the world, slavery is officially abolished which is a great moral victory. Yet there are more people in slavery right now than there were during the height of slavery prior to the American Civil War. Sure, the imprisoned and enslaved at present are a smaller percentage of the total population. But for those imprisoned and enslaved, that is no comfort. For each person harmed, that harm is 100% in their personal experience.

It’s hard to argue that an increasing number of the oppressed is a sign of the moral arc of history bending toward justice. Morality isn’t measured in percentages. Suffering is a total experience.

* * *

Sex at Dawn
by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá
p. 185 (from A Fistful of Science)

Only one of the seven societies cited by Pinker (the Murngin) even approaches being an immediate-return foraging society … The Murngin had been living with missionaries, guns, and aluminum powerboats for decades by the time the data Pinker cites were collected in 1975 — not exactly prehistoric conditions.

None of the other societies cited by Pinker are immediate-return hunter-gatherers, like our ancestors were. They cultivate yams, bananas, or sugarcane in village gardens, while raising domesticated pigs, llamas, or chickens. Even beyond the fact that these societies are not remotely representative of our nomadic, immediate-return hunter-gatherer ancestors, there are still further problems with the data Pinker cites. Among the Yanomami, true levels of warfare are subject to passionate debate among anthropologists… The Murngin are not typical even of Australian native cultures, representing a bloody exception to the typical Australian Aborigine pattern of little to no intergroup conflict. Nor does Pinker get the Gebusi right. Bruce Knauft, the anthropologist whose research Pinker cites on his chart, says the Gebusi’s elevated death rates had nothing to do with warfare. In fact, Knauft reports that warfare is “rare” among the Gebusi, writing, “Disputes over territory or resources are extremely infrequent and tend to be easily resolved.”

Steven Pinker: This Is History’s Most Peaceful Time–New Study: “Not So Fast”
by Bret Stetka, Scientific American

Still, there are many ways to look at the data—and quantifying the definition of a violent society. A study in Current Anthropology published online October 13 acknowledges the percentage of a population suffering violent war-related deaths—fatalities due to intentional conflict between differing communities—does decrease as a population grows. At the same time, though, the absolute numbers increase more than would be expected from just population growth. In fact, it appears, the data suggest, the overall battle-death toll in modern organized societies is exponentially higher than in hunter–gatherer societies surveyed during the past 200 years.

The study—led by anthropologists Dean Falk at The Florida State University and Charles Hildebolt at Washington University in Saint Louis—cut across cultures and species and compared annual war deaths for 11 chimpanzee communities, 24 hunter–gatherer or other nonstate groups and 19 and 22 countries that fought in World Wars I and II, respectively. Overall, the authors’ analysis shows the larger the population of a group of chimps, the lower their rate of annual deaths due to conflict. This, according to the authors, was not the case in human populations. People, their data show, have evolved to be more violent than chimps. And, despite high rates of violent death in comparison with population size, nonstate groups are on average no more or less violent than those living in organized societies.

Falk and Hildebolt point out Pinker’s claims are based on data looking at violent death rates per 100,000 people. They contend such ratios don’t take into account how overall population size alters war death tallies—in other words how those ratios change as a population grows, which their findings do. There is a strong trend for larger societies to lose smaller percentages of their members to war, Falk says, but the actual number of war deaths increases with growing population sizes.

Slow Violence
by Rob Nixon, The Chronicle

We are accustomed to conceiving violence as immediate and explosive, erupting into instant, concentrated visibility. But we need to revisit our assumptions and consider the relative invisibility of slow violence. I mean a violence that is neither spectacular nor instantaneous but instead incremental, whose calamitous repercussions are postponed for years or decades or centuries. I want, then, to complicate conventional perceptions of violence as a highly visible act that is newsworthy because it is focused around an event, bounded by time, and aimed at a specific body or bodies. Emphasizing the temporal dispersion of slow violence can change the way we perceive and respond to a variety of social crises, like domestic abuse or post-traumatic stress, but it is particularly pertinent to the strategic challenges of environmental calamities. […]

The long dyings—the staggered and staggeringly discounted casualties, both human and ecological—are often not just incremental but exponential, operating as major threat multipliers. They can spur long-term, proliferating conflicts that arise from desperation as the conditions for sustaining life are degraded in ways that the corporate media seldom discuss. One hundred million unexploded land mines lie inches beneath our planet’s skin, from wars officially concluded decades ago. Whether in Cambodia, Laos, Somalia, or Angola, those still-active mines have made vast tracts of precious agricultural land and pastures no-go zones, further stressing oversubscribed resources and compounding malnutrition.

To confront slow violence is to take up, in all its temporal complexity, the politics of the visible and the invisible. That requires that we think through the ways that environmental-justice movements strategize to shift the balance of visibility, pushing back against the forces of temporal inattention that exacerbate injustices of class, gender, race, and region. For if slow violence is typically underrepresented in the media, such underrepresentation is exacerbated whenever (as typically happens) it is the poor who become its frontline victims, above all the poor in the Southern Hemisphere. Impoverished societies located mainly in the global South often have lax or unenforced environmental regulations, allowing transnational corporations (often in partnership with autocratic regimes) the liberty to exploit resources without redress. […]

Our temporal bias toward spectacular violence exacerbates the vulnerability of ecosystems treated as disposable by capitalism, while simultaneously intensifying the vulnerability of those whom the human-rights activist Kevin Bales has called “disposable people.”

Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World
by Timothy Morton
Kindle Locations 2154-2174

When we can see that far into the future and that far around Earth, a curious blindness afflicts us, a blindness far more mysterious than simple lack of sight, since we can precisely see so much more than ever. This blindness is a symptom of an already-existing intimacy with all lifeforms, knowledge of which is now thrust on us whether we like it or not.

Parfit’s assault on utilitarian self-interest takes us to the point at which we realize that we are not separate from our world. Humans must learn to care for fatal substances that will outlast them and their descendants beyond any meaningful limit of self-interest. What we need is an ethics of the other, an ethics based on the proximity of the stranger. The decision in the 1990s, rapidly overturned, to squirrel plutonium away into knives and forks and other domestic objects appears monstrous, and so would any attempt to “work” it into something convenient. Hyperobjects insist that we care for them in the open. “Out of sight, out of mind” is strictly untenable. There is no “away” to throw plutonium in. We are stuck with it, in the same way as we are stuck with our biological bodies. Plutonium finds itself in the position of the “neighbor” in Abrahamic religions— that awkward condition of being alien and intimate at the very same time.

The enormity of very large finitude hollows out my decisions from the inside. Now every time I so much as change a confounded light bulb, I have to think about global warming. It is the end of the world, because I can see past the lip of the horizon of human worlding. Global warming reaches into “my world” and forces me to use LEDs instead of bulbs with filaments. This aspect of the Heideggerian legacy begins to teeter under the weight of the hyperobject. The normative defense of worlds looks wrongheaded. 39 The ethical and political choices become much clearer and less divisive if we begin to think of pollution and global warming and radiation as effects of hyperobjects rather than as flows or processes that can be managed. These flows are often eventually shunted into some less powerful group’s backyard. The Native American tribe must deal with the radioactive waste. The African American family must deal with the toxic chemical runoff. The Nigerian village must deal with the oil slick. Rob Nixon calls this the slow violence of ecological oppression. 40 It is helpful to think of global warming as something like an ultra slow motion nuclear bomb. The incremental effects are almost invisible, until an island disappears underwater. Poor people— who include most of us on Earth at this point— perceive the ecological emergency not as degrading an aesthetic picture such as world but as an accumulation of violence that nibbles at them directly.


Mark Fisher’s Suicide

Mark Fisher died earlier this year. I didn’t even know about it. He wasn’t much older than me. But similarly he suffered from severe depression, having struggled with it for a long time. That is what finally got him, by way of suicide. He was an interesting writer and no doubt his depression gave an edge to his way of thinking and communicating.

His book on capitalist realism was insightful and brought difficult ideas down to ground level. He had a talent for explanation, connecting the unfamiliar to the familiar. His descriptions of capitalism in some ways fits in with Corey Robin’s theory of the reactionary mind, but with his own twist. Here is Fisher from Capitalist Realism:

“When it actually arrives, capitalism brings with it a massive desacralization of culture. It is a system which is no longer governed by any transcendent Law; on the contrary, it dismantles all such codes, only to re-install them on an ad hoc basis. The limits of capitalism are not fixed by fiat, but defined (and re-defined) pragmatically and improvisationally. This makes capitalism very much like the Thing in John Carpenter’s film of the same name: a monstrous, infinitely plastic entity, capable of metabolizing and absorbing anything with which it comes into contact.”

I always appreciate writers who can connect intellectual ideas to pop culture examples. It’s one thing to call something reactionary but it’s a whole other thing to offer a clear image of what that means. That which is reactionary is also dynamically creative in that it can take in anything — not just co-opt but absorb, assimilate, and transform anything and everything it touches (or that touches it). Portraying capitalism as the Thing makes it more real within the imagination.

I just bought his latest book that also just came out this year in the US. I’ll have to prioritize reading it before all else.

In Memoriam: Mark Fisher
by Dan Hassler-Forest, Ellie Mae O’Hagan, Mark Bould, Roger Luckhurst, Carl Freedman, Jeremy Gilbert

Mark Fisher’s K-punk blogs were required reading for a generation
by Simon Reynolds

Remembering Mark Fisher
by David Stubbs

An Unknown Life

Here is one of those incidents that happen without getting much attention, Iowa City woman found in Iowa River identified (Lee Hermiston, The Gazette). The woman died, probably as she lived, largely unknown. A passing stranger in the world. Her death is a mystery and probably will remain a mystery, although there may be people who know something and are afraid to speak to authorities.

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office is running into an unexpected problem in investigating the death of a woman whose body was found in the Iowa River last week.

“We know that people are not answering the door when we’re standing at them,” Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek said Friday.

Pulkrabek believes people are not talking with his investigators in the death investigation of 30-year-old Darling Yosseli Acosta Rivera because they are concerned the questions will turn to their own immigration status.

My brother thinks he saw this lady before she drowned. Working for the City Parks department, he and a coworker were locking up bathrooms in Terry Trueblood Recreation Area, along the Iowa River. Someone was inside one of the bathrooms and, after knocking, a woman came out a few minutes later. She had a backpack and he assumed she had been sleeping there, indicating she was homeless.

They later saw a backpack that looked like hers stashed under a bridge near the river. It had been there for a couple of weeks and had been rummaged through with the contents strewn about. My brother’s coworker checked it out. In it, there were things that identified her, including a passport and a badge for a local temp agency. The coworker brought these to the temp agency where he was told her body was found in the river.

It seems highly probable that it was a suicide. If she were an undocumented immigrant and if she were alone and homeless in a foreign country, she obviously was hitting a low point in her life. But it could have been homicide, as being a homeless woman is not a safe situation to find oneself in. There are many ways to come to a tragic end as either an undocumented immigrant or a homeless person.

Like so many other things going on in the world, it makes me sad. We live in a heartless society. There should be somewhere to turn to for help, for people like this woman. Instead, she seems to have been forced to seek temporary refuge in a public bathroom during an Iowa winter. One could imagine she lived in fear of the authorities and other systems of help, as do many people in that kind of situation.

It’s likely she was a refugee from the US-promoted violent conflicts in Latin America, as she had a Guatemalan passport which is one of the major places of civil unrest and mass violence. Being deported might have seemed worse than even being alone during an Iowa winter. Whatever the cause of her death, it was surely preventable. She likely had come to a point where she had few options left and found herself in a bad situation.

Such suffering exists all around us. Yet few ever see it. These are the invisible people, unheard and unacknowledged. They go on with their lives largely unnoticed and they disappear unnoticed, at best local media reporting that their body was found. But that body once was a person who had friends, family, and a home. Someone somewhere cared about her and will miss her. At least, she has been identified and so will be buried with a name on her gravestone.

On Not Caring About Lives Sacrificed

Did you know that about the same number of people died because of the Vietnam War as have died because of the Iraq War? That death count is a bit over a million for each war.

The main difference is that a fair number of those Vietnam War deaths were US soldiers whereas only a tiny fraction of Iraq War deaths have been US soldiers. The other difference is that the Vietnam War included a mainstream media that did its job by regularly reporting those deaths, the very thing the present mainstream media fails to do.

As long as Americans aren’t dying and don’t have to be reminded about those who are dying, most Americans don’t care and often get irritable if anyone suggests they should care. The US government could kill millions more innocent people and it still wouldn’t break through the moral indifference and blissful ignorance of the American public.

That is the brilliance of the elite in ruling the American empire. They’ve figured out how to keep the imperial subjects unaware and docile, even in this age of mass media where so much info is available.

Real Threats

“If you added up all the women who have been murdered by their husbands or boyfriends since 9/11, and then you add up all the Americans who were killed by 9/11 or in Afghanistan and Iraq, more women were killed by their husbands or boyfriends.”
~Gloria Steinem, as quoted by Corey Robin in Violence Against Women and the Politics of Fear

“Americans are a whopping 29 times more likely to die at the hands of a police officer than they are of a terrorist attack. It’s impossible to say for certain how many people are killed by cops each year, but the best estimate is anywhere from 600-1,000. Contrast that with the 30 police officers who were killed in 2013.”
~Caleb G., Why American Police Departments Are More Of A Threat Than ISIS

People are notoriously bad about assessing personal risk.

I’m an American. Like most Americans, I’ve spent my whole life in this country and don’t travel outside the country. The genuine threats that should concern me are in America. I’m more likely to be killed by my own government than by a foreign government. I’m more likely to be killed by a Christian than by a Muslim.

Also, I’m “white”. Like most whites, I live in a white neighborhood in a white community. I don’t spend much time with non-whites. As the data shows, whites such as myself are more likely to experience crimes and violence from other whites. Blacks have more to fear from whites in this country than vice versa, since most of the police, judges, etc are white.

Being a white American, I’m way safer than the vast majority of people in the world. I have little to realistically worry about. I have no reason to fear terrorism, ebola, or much else.

I have more reason to fear being run over by a car or having a heart attack. Why doesn’t the news obsess over the things that actually will kill me?

McDonald’s unhealthy food is one of the greatest threats to my life in the immediate vicinity. Why doesn’t the government spend millions of dollars to fight that menace?

My rights are more likely to be taken away by the ruling elite of my own country. Why don’t we Americans fight that enemy?

The Spirit and Spirits of the Season

The following is my response to Matt Cardin’s post, ‘This myth is realized today in us’: On the deep meaning of Christmas.

 * * *

I listened to an interview with Varla Ventura on Coast to Coast AM. She was discussing her book about Christmas stories and folklore.

Between Varla Ventura and the people calling in, it was an interesting show. I was familiar with some of what was brought up, but it’s easy to forget about the other side of Christmas and it is good to be reminded. Most of Christmas has little to do with Christianity. And a lot of the folklore of this time of the season is rather dark.

Our modern tradition of celebrating joyously is only half of the story. It’s the darkest time of the year, the time of short days and cold, when in the past there was little food available and many dangers. It’s when the sun stands still and spirits, ghosts and ghouls come out to haunt and torment. It’s a time of fear when those who have been bad are punished, when those who venture outside can come to untimely ends. And in America we forget about Santa’s not-so-friendly sidekick. (For example, read these from Varla Ventura: Beware the Scandinavian Christmas Troll & The Christmas Troll.)

Plus, there is all that cool stuff about Siberian shamans, magical mushrooms and flying reindeer. We forget the magical part of Christmas, the supernatural, the awe-inspiring unknown of the dark time of the year. Santa is the demi-god of the season, a manifestation of the divine; and his workers, his minions the elves exist behind the scenes of our reality doing whatever it is they do.

We celebrate as an act of sympathetic magic, hoping that the sun will rise again and warm days will be around the corner. When something ends, it isn’t known what will begin, in this case what the next year will be like. In making our New Year’s resolutions, we pray for good fortune that will be bestowed upon us, we ask that the forces beyond the human sphere will assist us instead of blocking and antagonizing us in our hopes and aspirations.

The Christmas celebration is ritual magick, an invocation of a seasonal spirit, a bringing down of the divine into this miserable earthly realm and an appeasing of the cthonic beings that live among us. We put out the milk and cookies so that the hungry elves and spirits will be sated. We sacrifice evergreen trees, a symbol of eternal life. We light up our houses to keep the darkness at bay and to ressurect the solar deity that has died, standing still on the solar cross. We tell stories of the newborn king who shall save us all who worship him. We give presents to celebrate the ideal and hope of goodwill, the archetype and spiritual force of bounty.

Even in our consumerism, we are practicing ritual magick. We buy and we give, the flow of money an act of faith in our society and our way of life. Most retail businesses make most of their money during the winter holidays. Some may see this as mere gross materialism. Yes, it is a celebration of material life, but there is nothing wrong with acknowledging that life is material, that the world we live in is material. The only thing to criticize is how often we forget the magical quality present in our stories and traditions, in our rituals and celebrations. There is real power in such collective actions and intentions when they are focused by ancient symbols and rites.

We collectively envision the world as a better place, envision ourselves as better people. We watch movies that teach us about lost souls learning the meaning of Christmas, the reason of the season. Even when we easily are overcome by anxiety and fear, greed even as shoppers compete and we spend money we should be saving, we do so because we feel a compulsion to ensure that everything is just right, to ensure the ritual is a success. Maybe once the family gets together there will be complaints and arguments, but it’s more important about what we strive to be. We put on our best clothes or our best faces and we try to get into the holiday mood… and the social expectations of it all may feel overwhelming. Still, we all play our part. Even many atheists and non-Christians join in the festivities. We may not know why it is important, but we know it is. That is the nature of traditions, especially those with deep religious significance.

To see it as a battle between baby Jesus and the Satanic forces of capitalism (God and Mammon) is to miss the point, so it seems to me. Christians, maybe more than anyone, too often miss the real Spirit of the Season.

Christianity is based on an ancient solar myth with Jesus as the solar god-man who has taken many forms. Darkness and light are like Yin and Yang. Jesus descends to Hell to save the damned before rising to Heaven. At this time of year, we focus so much on the birth of our savior that we forget that death precedes birth in the spiritual realm. It’s at the Winter Solstice that we are reminded that God as Jesus was born into this world, that spirituality isn’t just about being saved in the afterlife. It’s an opportunity to see God as being a force on earth and throughout mankind, among family and friends, among neighbors and communities. We manifest God by taking care of each other, by helping the poor, by giving freely. The Divine is here with us, all around us, the world alive with Spirit and spirits.

Love: Tragic & Otherwise

Love: Tragic & Otherwise

Posted on Dec 15th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
Access_public Access: Public 13 Comments Print // Post this!views (120)  

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 4 hours later

Nicole said

wow, all this pain. Too much for me today, I’m afraid, my friend.

So, it looks like the commenting situation has improved/been resolved?

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 6 hours later

Marmalade said

That is funny. I didn’t intend it to be painful. I was initially just thinking of some of my favorite songs and movie scenes, and I realized that a large proportion of them involved tragic romance.

I’m not surprised. I often forget that one of those pivotal books in my life is Wuthering Heights. lol There are 3 fiction books that I read in highschoolwhich had long-term impact on my whole sense of life. The other two are Hesse’s Siddhartha and Hardy’s Jude the Obscure. Thinking about it, both of those also have their tragic romances.

This is a highly personal collection.

The Bonnie Tyler song is from my brief college days when love and life in general seemed like a sad pipe dream. That song reminded me of my own buried emotions. The first video is from Legends of the Fall. Its a somewhat cheesy movie, but I watched it at a time(after dropping out of college)when I was feeling pulled between a desire for home and a desire for escape. The epic scenery resonated with the Arizona landscape where I was briefly living at the time.

Moulin Rouge was a movie that I became obsessed with during a deeply troubled romance, my first love in fact. It was this love of mine who made a collection of songs for me which included Bjork’s All is Love and Dido’s White Flag. I particularly love White Flag and can listen to it endlessly.

The rest are just movies that are some of my most favorite of favorites. All of them touch me deeply.

I’m sure if I thought more about it, there are other scenes and songs I could add.

I wanted to add some other scenes from Legends of the Fall. When Tristan is leaving, Suzannah tells him she’ll wait for him forever. Of course, after years have passed, he does return but she has married the brother. She tells Tristan that forever was too long, and then she kills herself. I couldn’t find any video for those scenes.

Nor could I find a scene I like from Dark City. The female lead tells the protagonist that even though their memories are false their love is real because it feels real. Its nice logic, and its actually not a tragic movie.

I almost included in this collection another song from a musical. The song I speak of is from Jesus Christ Superstar. Mary is singing about how she should love Jesus. Its not exactly a romantic love song, but it has the same feeling to it… a complex lovefelt towardsa person who is doomed.

Well, Nicole, come back again sometime when your tolerance for pain is a bit higher. There is some great beauty amidst the above sadness.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 10 hours later

Marmalade said

Hey Nicole – BTW I was wanting to point out that not all the videos are sad. The 4th and 5th videos are quite happy I’d say. In particular, All is Full of Love doesn’t even have the slightest undertone of sadness. Its simply a sweet song about love.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

My fault, I randomly started by trying Finish It, but couldn’t make it all the way through the clip.

Yes, you’re quite right about All is Full of Love, I’d seen it before. That song from Jesus Christ Superstar is very touching – “I don’t know how to love him…” It has haunted me since I first heard it as a child.

And I agree that there is great beauty in all this. I feel more cheerful today so will tackle them.

I haven’t seen Legends of the Fall – I remember being terrified by the previews 🙂 it seemed way too sad for me at the time (yes, I am over-sensitive, and I was much worse then!).

So, Dark City is safe to watch eh?

You discover a lot about a person by finding out what books and movies they like, and what songs they enjoy. Up till now, we’ve mostly discussed books and movies. The songs help provide another dimension.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

1 day later

Marmalade said

Interesting. What attracted you to start withFinish It? That is from The Fountain which probably is my all-time favorite movie… but it is quite the tragic story. Still, it doesn’t feel tragic to me.

All is Full of Love is one of those songs that makes me such a fan of Bjork. Even though she doesn’t tend towards the tragic usually, Dancer in the Dark is an extremely tragic movie. Most of her songs though are more playful and upbeat, and she often has great music videos.

Jesus Christ Superstar is great all around, but there issomething about that particular song. As a spiritual person, the question that Mary asks is so central. I like that musical because it focuses on Mary and Judas. The other movie that brought Jesus story alive for me is The Last Temptation of Christ. People have a love or hate reaction to that movie. That Jesus is portrayed as a tragic character on the level of Job.

As for Legends of the Fall, its probably the least worthy of being included. Its a tad dark and in parts violent. I’ve always had a man-crush on Brad Pitt and tend to like anything he does. All the actors in that movie are very good. Anyways, I suppose its not a movie for you. 🙂

Is Dark City safe to watch? Hmmm… well, it is neo-noir which is dark as the title itself proclaims… but it isn’t as dark as most neo-noir. It has its moments of violence which very well might be too much for you. The reason I don’t consider it tragic is because it has an existentially optimistic ending. Its a story about the indomitable human spirit.

Yeah, I guess I don’t post as much about music. Probably because I really don’t listen to music much. I just have particular songs I enjoy. The problem is that many of my favorite songs are ones I hear on the radio and so I often don’t even know the name of or the band. I’ve joined Last FM recently. Maybe I’ll be able to collect some of my favorite music together. I’ll give it some thought and I’ll see if I can put blog post together about it.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

1 day later

Marmalade said

Let me add another comment. The song from Dancer in the Dark that included above is just absolutely beautiful to the point of being heart-wrenching. I think it might be the best song in the movie and I sometimes find myself listening to it repeatedly.

It might just win the prize for being the most tragic of my favorite movies. Wuthering Heights is tragic, but Bjork’s charachter draws out such a deep sympathy from me. She is living such a difficult life and you can feel her loneliness, but that isn’t what she focuses on. All that she sees is beauty and her love for her son is more important than anything including her own life.

It is a hard movie to get into. In order to set up the mood, it starts out very slow…. but the emotional intensity just keeps building until the very last moment. It is a story about love. She loves her son and the man in the video clip loves her. He is trying to woo her, but her response is that she has already lived her life and there is nothing left for her. She wants to save her son from her own fate and she stoically accepts her responsibility.

The movie, overall, is too dark to watch too often. However, certain scenes I feel drawn to watch again and again. The song I included is one of the most emotionally beautiful of any song I’ve ever heard. Its where she first explains herself to another. Its just awesome.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

2 days later

Nicole said

I’m not sure why I started with Finish It, because it was an emotional impulse, not thought through. The only explanation is that there was something in the freeze-frame that really drew me in – my best guess is that he reminds me of someone who is very dear to me.

As much as I have always loved books and as powerfully as movies affect me, music is a more over-riding force in my life. I tend to think songs, feel songs, music is so much a part of the fabric of my life.

I will probably end up watching the Fountain as people keep recommending it to me, though I know I will probably cry a lot. Can’t be helped 🙂

I haven’t seen the Last Temptation of Christ, but can understand its appeal.

So, you like Brad Pitt eh? And the other actors in the movie are good, but it’s not for me? Oh well 🙂

Hmm Dark City has an optimistic ending does it? I think from our PKD discussions we have a somewhat different idea of optimistic so I’ll take that under advisement :):)

I would very much like to read a blog about your favourite music if you are so inclined to write it…

I’m very intrigued to hear that song from Dancer in the Dark now that you’ve explained about it, will do that now…

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said

I used to listen to music more, but then I got into talk radio. Somehow speaking voices soothe me.

These days, the music I’m interested in is whatever my friend is playing because we share a similar taste and music from movies. Actually, I’ve discovered several songs I like recently from commercials. Advertising may not influence my buying habits much, but apparently it can influence the songs I’ll listen to. lol

In reference to a potential blog about music, we’ll see how that goes. It probably wouldn’t be for a while because I’m focused somewhat elsewhere. It sounds enjoyable and so I’ll probably get around to it… eventually. 🙂

Dark City is fairly typical neo-noir, and so it depends on whether you like that genre. It doesn’t seem like a genre you’d be attracted to.

Come to think of it, Dark City isn’t exactly typical neo-noir, but has many typical neo-noir elements. Its more of a cross-breeding between neo-noir and SF with some Kafka influence thrown in. Its a darker version of The Truman Show and has some of the feeling of a PKD story.

It was made shortly before The Matrix and has similar themes. Its darker than The Matrix in being more claustrophobic (more focused on one character in a more enclosed world), but its much less violent. It doesn’t have as much of that over-the-top violence that The Matrix loves to emphasize.

Its maybe equally dark to A Scanner Darkly. Scanner doesn’t have much violence at all, but Scanner is maybe more depressing on the subjective level of psychological disintegration. I’d say that Dark City has an ending that is more optimistic… all is relative though.

All in all, I’m pretty sure its another movie not for you. Its hard to tell though. I have a friend who tries to be very positive and isn’t attracted to depressing entertainment. He considers Dark City to be a very emotionally moving movie. He seemed to consider the ending positive. Then again, he also likes superhero movies and so he is probably less effected by violence than you are.

Yes, please let me know what you think of the Dancer in the Dark song. Some people just don’t like Bjork’s voice… fools that they are!

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said

well, unfortunately, i am one of those foolish people who doesn’t like Bjork’s voice. I admire what she does, which is trailblazing for the genre, but it just doesn’t work for me. I spend too much time with classical music, I guess… That said, the organist at my church likes Bjork a lot and he is ultra into classical singing, was even married to an operatic soprano. So go figure 🙂

If I get brave I’ll try out some of those movies and see if I survive 🙂

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

I wonder why I like her voice so much. Two things come to mind. She has pretty good range in how she uses her voice. But more importantly she expresses emotion well. She can be a passionate singer something like Meatloaf. What I’d love to hear her do is some folk ballads. She has a good voice for folk and she would definitely make any song her own.

Hey, guess what I’m doing? I’m on Last FM perusing the music. Its a pretty cool site that I’d recommend. At the moment, I’m listening to T.V. Carpio sing from Across the Universe… another bittersweet love song. She has a really really nicevoice. ❤

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said

Well, hopefully she will take you up on that, and do some folk music. I’d like to hear that too.

Last FM is a good site, but it’s been a while since I’ve used it. 

Marmalade : Gaia Child

5 days later

Marmalade said

In case you want to check out what I’m listening to, I have an accunt on Last FM. I’m MarmaladeSteele which is a variation of my name I often use when the username Marmalade is already taken.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

6 days later

Nicole said

Thanks, I’ll have a look!


Last Words

Last Words

Posted on May 20th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
Sierra Club Home Page

Last Words
May/June 2008

A western diamondback sinks its fangs into a green jay in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas.

“It is told that Buddha, going out to look on life, was greatly daunted by death. ‘They all eat on another’ he cried, and called it evil. This process I examined, changed the verb, said, They all feed one another, and called it good.”

-Charlotte Perkins Gilman, author and lecturer, from her 1935 autobiography

Access_public Access: Public 3 Comments Print Post this!views (120)  

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 12 hours later

Nicole said

dewdrop world, dewdrop world, and yet and yet…
sigh… it’s so hard, Ben

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 12 hours later

Marmalade said

A friend of mine sent this to me, and I thought the picture was so beautiful.  The intensity of life at the brink of its ending… or, rather, changing forms.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 15 hours later

Nicole said

it is very beautiful and intense… and terrible