Tag Archives: mythology

Beyond Good and Evil

21 Apr

At Quaker Meeting some weeks ago there was some interesting discussion of good and evil. When you’re a pacifist, what is the best way to confront evil? When does inaction become an active stance? Can you slay a monster without becoming a monster yourself?

On that last query, our modern myths seem to tell us that only evil can destroy evil, because destruction is itself an evil act.

They tell us that if you are good and you slay a monster, even with pure intentions, you will lose part of yourself in the process. You will be forever altered, injured, damaged, different…

Harry Potter can’t destroy Voldemort without dying himself. Anakin can’t destroy Darth Vader and Palpatine without destroying himself. Luke can’t help him without losing his hand. Gollum can’t destroy the ring without destroying himself. Frodo can’t help him without losing his finger.

If good and evil/dark and light/yin and yang are simply two sides of the same thing, then one cannot exist without the other. We cannot eliminate the Dark Side, or evil, because without them we would know not The Light, or the good. This is mythological wisdom.

But can we move past mythological wisdom? Can you imagine a world where it wasn’t true? Can you imagine a reality where good, in a vast continuum of degrees and complexities, is all there is? Where there are challenges and disagreements, but never violence, and never evil?

If you can’t imagine it, will it ever come to pass?


On blogging, Summer Movie Write-up 2007

16 Aug

     So, clearly I’m not very good at the whole keeping a regular blog thing. I was good for about a week or so there… and now not so much.
      If I stopped demanding so much quality of myself I’d be able to update more. Actually, I’d be able to create a lot more if I stopped demanding that everything I make be of a certain caliber. The problem with my high standards for art/movies/writing is that if I never meet them it means I never actually create anything.

I never even finished the summer movie write-up. Of course since it’s still summer, and I never set a deadline, I’m not late.


     Live Free or Die Hard was, surprisingly, pretty awesome. Obviously it’s better than the second one, but that’s faint praise. I’m not going to think too hard about the actual premise ’cause I’m pretty sure it’s mostly implausible, but… moving on! Kevin Smith’s character is in a different movie, and in that different movie he’d be really funny, but in Die Hard 4.0 he just feels sort of out of place. Perhaps that’s the point, but it still took me out of the movie when I watched it. Those two quibbles aside however, the movie is really quite fun.
     Once the hacker/terrorist’s plan is put into effect the sudden excitement from realizing that the world may actually be forced to change is pretty awesome. It feels like a big deal. It’s not confined to a tower or a plane like the first two, it’s more broad, so it feels like there’s more for Bruce Willis to overcome. There’s something to be said too for the way in which they made this feel like an action movie from the 80’s (like the originals) and not a new fancy one from today. There’s no hyper-fast editing, no fancy colorizing, no slick computer generated camera moves, and thus the action is really easy to follow. I don’t tend to walk around wishing that I could see someone launch a car into a helicopter, or fly an F16 into a freeway in an attempt to disable a big rig truck, but they’re still cool things to have seen.


      If the ancients had made movies about Zeus and Mt. Olympus instead of telling stories and putting on plays, they would have made Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.
      From what I gather I am among the minority in my liking of the third Pirates movie – but I’m also in the minority for my relative disliking of the first two. I mean, the Curse of the Black Pearl is ok, entertaining enough I suppose, and it does have two things going for it in Captain Jack Sparrow and the special effects/underwater skeletons. It’s really hard to impress me with special effects, and the Pirates movies are by far the best of modern day cinematic spectacle. But special effects do not a movie make. The second one is… well, more of the same. More mediocrity, more awesome special effects, and more Captain Jack Sparrow, but instead of underwater skeletons (who were obviously the coolest part of the first movie) there are gross looking half sea-creature half-corpse dudes. Oh, and Davy Jones. He’s a pretty cool looking marvel of special effects but he doesn’t do much other than play the organ. But just look at him! And there was a Kraken. That was cool too.
Davy Jones
      But the third movie had weight to it. If you want to ascribe meaning to At World’s End it will hold up to it where the first two don’t, but at the same time it doesn’t betray the fact that it’s the cinematic equivalent of a Disney theme park ride.
      In addition to the cool stuff from the first two, Pirates 3 had awesome extra weirdness (crabs, dead people in boats, islands made out of shipwrecks, ships falling off the edge of the world, up is down, more crabs, etc.) and, perhaps more significantly, it treated its storylines like an ancient myth. Of the trilogy it’s by far the most entertaining to watch.
      Will, Elizabeth, Jack, Barbosa, Davy Jones, Calypso et al turn out to be modern day Zeus, Aphrodite, Hades, Apollo, et al. Some have more power than others, and just like their ancient counterparts their foibles conflict with their virtues, so they’re basically pawns for the derivation of meaning. This aura of epic mythology didn’t exude from either of the first two movies, but At World’s End is clearly different right from the start when a song with Orpheus-like power serenades the murder of the young boy who started singing it. The whole intro is brilliant, by far the best opening of the three (and if you don’t believe me you can watch it right here on YouTube).
      Now I actually long for a sequel that follows Jack and Barbosa on their neverending (and never-succeeding) quests for immortality and Black Pearl captain-hood. It’s The Epic of Gilgamesh combined with a new Epic Cycle for a new generation.

     There. Now I finished the Summer Movie Write-up. Unless I see The Simpsons Movie (which I hear is actually really funny and good) and/or Stardust.