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19/11/21: BookTok: The Aestheticisation of Books and reading to Consume

16/11/21: Indira Gandhi: A Modern Day Caesar

After studying both Ancient history and Modern history for the last two year, clear comparisons can be made in the course of history, Cicero puts it best saying "We learn nothing from history except that we learn nothing from history", but one place I didn't expect to draw comparison was with the presidency of Indira Gandhi in India and Caesar's rise to prominence and dictatorship; although it's not a play by play of Caesar's actions and life choices; Indira had a similar type of family background and employed similar methods to maintain power. Both figures were even assassinated by the people they work with. How fun!

Caesar and Gandhi both came from very political families, in fact, both families had been involved in the creation and myth of their respective "republics". Caesar's family was highly political, his aunt even married the great general Marius who fought the first civil war - setting the precedent for Caesar's own career. Gandhi on the other hand, had a much shorter political lineage due to the short lifespan of Independant India her father had helped create, despite this, the point remains; Nehru's involvement in the independance movement in India and his prime ministership that followed left Indira in a highly politically involved family.

A main point of difference between the two is found in their respective rises to power. Caesar went through all sorts of rings before ultimately becoming dictator; he formed the First Triumvirate, Conquered Gaul, and fought a Civil War. Indira Gandhi on the other hand, came to power more easily after the death of her father, their was a brief period where power was held by some other guy, but only about a year after her father's death, Indira secured the power of the Natinoal Congress Party fairly trouble free.

During the period of Emergency in Inida, Indira's methods do appear to resemble Caesar's. In declaring a state of emergency, Gandhi was able to maintain absolute control over her state as Caesar did when the Senate made him dictator for a similar reason. Gandhi proposed the civil unrest at the time with all the strikes and whatnot going on made it vital they maintain a stable government. Caesar was inducted as dictator a first time for very similar reasons, unstable government, and unstable people. Both political systems even had one or two single people who could enforce this decree of emergency/dictatorship. Gandhi sought the approval from the President who had power to declare emergency and VETO powers, and Caesar often conspired with the tribunes who had VETO powers too to get what he wanted.

In their style of governence, Caesar and Gandhi are incredibly similar in the way they maintain control and favour from the public. Both figures took a "benevolent dictator" approach. While maintaining absolute power which was basically unchallengable, they were increadibly kind and did lots of nice things for the people they were in charge of. Caesar was a known patrician (party of the people rather than Optimates who worked for the rich) and his reforms as dictator reflected this;

9/11/21: Brian and the Oranges

Brian lived at the top of a very steep hill. Brian lived alone, detached from all hints of civilisation, he did not receive running water from the water company, nor electricity from a local power station, if he were to injure himself, he was content to die a peaceful death. Brian kept an orchard full of orange trees, he spent his days singing songs and playing his guitar to them, having fruitful conversations with them, and looking after every inch of each tree. He loved these oranges with every fibre of his being, he showered in the orange juice, made his own toothpaste with the oranges, he ate orange for breakfast lunch and dinner, everything Brian needed, the oranges could provide, and everything Brian did, he did for his oranges, his friends.

Brian grew old and weary, his beard grew cracked and rusted, and his face grew beautifully affected by the sun that shone above him, you could see every smile he ever bore. Yet Brian continued to take care of his oranges, his oranges took care of him. The trees rustled in the breeze atop Brian’s steep hill, he sat to rest beneath his oranges and let out his final breath, tranquil and harmonious. The oranges fell on top of him, smothering him in what seemed to be a sublime, citrusy expression of love. The trees grew and wrapped their hard roots around him in a tight embrace, never letting go. The seasons rolled over, the years passed by, but Brian never left his oranges, and his oranges never left him.

a pleasant photo of Brian

6/11/21: The Internet and Stifled Creativity: A Response to Dying on the Internet

The Cinema Cartography's final video is a thought provoking and strong piece on creativity and the impact the internet has had on it, claiming it no longer exists because the internet is a void of consumption and repetition with no room for honest and original expression. The video rang true for many reasons; I do see the internet as often stifling creativity and as an often shallow place for rampant consumption fuelled by lack of individuality and need to fit in. However, there's a flaw in their argument, they blame it on "the internet" as if the issue is the screen, the not-so-physical nature of content, and the departure from the natural world that it signifies. The problem isn't the internet, it's who controls the internet, it's what makes people feel the need to consume and engage in content that doesn't make them have to think, it's the dreaded capitalism, the root of all evil. Reducing the problem to "touch grass" achieves nothing and is beyond reductive.

I personally think the internet could be a brilliant place full of open-source software, privacy, creativity, and a place to share and collaborate on ideas, but it's not. It's controlled and we are controlled by mega conglomerates that have sole interest in profit, and the effect that that has had it catastrophic.

I'd bother to write more, but I feel beyond guilty because I have an exam tomorrow and should probably focus on working on that instead. ;) <3

3/11/21: Revenge by Yoko Ogawa

This book leaves me feeling very neutral, some of it was trippy and way meta; I appreciate that, but I feel like it just wasn't enough to elicit a huge response, which honestly I thought was fairly easy, but I realised, I've really only read very good books til' recently. Maybe some of the meaning and KAZAM moments were lost in translation, because I found it a good book and captivating, but I just wanted a teeeny tiinyyy bit more from it.

I love a book where all the short little stories interconnect and weave into one another, and the part where it got ultra meta with that woman and the stories about the carrot hands did kind of give me a response, but it wasn't enough. I feel as though it should've been a larger part of the theme of the novel, or not included at all. The meta, reality bending just kind of dropped in and out and was hardly supported.

I did really enjoy the book however, it kind of reflects how different people percieve events, and how a butterfly can flap its wings in a forest and a whole chain of events will follow, affecting different people without their knowledge.

I don't feel strongly enough about this novel to really go ham on it. It's just so eh. It's got major potential, and I look forward to reading some more Ogawa, I trust she will leave an impact on me eventually.

18/10/21: Should Something Exist?: A Follow Up

I'll be quick; I'm all for questioning the existence of "art" when it's been made by a soulless company (Disney) for some money (Disney) and lacks any creativity and is just a re-hash of an old, succcessful story but with better tech or something (we are talking about Disney). I am all for remakes and retellings of stories, because often times, a director or writer will have an interesting take on it and put their own spin on, or implement their own style into the story to make it their own and something new. It's like how Eliot says you've got'to have an "interesting variation on the old" (he was talking about something else, but the point still applies). Yes I am going to say that the abhorrently shallow Disney remakes shouldn't exist, because it can barely be considered art, and was created on the fundamental basis of making money. How can something be worthy of existence when it's been created out of nothing but money. There is little to no artistic vision in these movies; the perhaps directors wanted to do something fun with it, but were cockblocked by bigshot Disney producers, or maybe not, and they really do lack the creativity.

Yeah so up yours Disney and shallow remakes of old things.

ALSO, I'm not saying you can't criticise art or hate books and movies because it's glorifying rape or something. Far from it, I love to hate art, but questioning a work of art's existence crosses the line.

15/10/21: In Defence of A Clockwork Orange: Examining Modern Day Forms of Censorship

In the past couple days, I have seen at least three posts questioning the existence of Anthony Burgess' and Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange or questioning the story's status as a classic/well-known novel, which is three more times than I've seen in the prior 17 years, and I've got a major bone to pick with this new form of undercover modern day censorship of art in the pursuit of goodness and fairness.

A Clockwork Orange is a story written by Anthony Burgess about Alex who is by all means evil, and goes around reeking havoc with his buddies until he is caught and brain washed into "goodness" by the state. The main themes of the story involve morality, what constitutes good/bad, and whether man can become good, or if he is born unchangeable SJW types on my Facebook and TikTok have completely missed these themes and decided to question the existence of the entire story because the character is problematic. O kay? Literature and history is spilling over with problematic characters. TS Eliot was a handfull, not to mention his personas who solicited prostitutes, in the Lord of the FLies the children kill eachother, Fight Club is full to the brim of fighting and violence - who'd a thunk it. The artist's purpose when showing violence is not to say "hey look isn't this cool? >:)" the artist uses the violence to communicate a deeper message whether it be critique, philosophical exploration of something bigger, character development, a whole range of things. A display of violence is never "yo this is sick :)" it's typically more along the lines of "yo, this is sick :(". Burgess never implies an endorsement of what his main character Alex is doing. He uses this incredibly fucked up character to more easily communicate ideas of good and bad by creating a huge constrast and having this guy be the epitome of evil. It also adds to the other theme explored; the morality of the state.

When it is revealed that Alex's friends have all become police officers who beat Alex up when he is finished with his punishment/treatment, the audience is forced (if they hadn't already been) to reflect and analyse the supposed good of the state. It pushes the question of how can our state be good and stand for our country when we see Alex's friends who've committed the same atrocities as Alex but simply were not caught are now working for a 'force of good'. This goes further when they beat Alex as if their violent tendencies have remained. SHouldn't they be good now because they're officers of the state? But how can that be when they are doing the same things they were, but all that has changed is the colour of their clothes. These messages and ideas would be lost should the characters' violence be tuned down or entirely removed. Had these characters not been problematic, the entire point of the story would be lost, and a good and fair critique and analysis never shared.

But Ada, the issue is the vivid portrayal of the rape and violence, it can happen off screen, or the reader could just be told it happened. No. That's just bad storytelling. Lesson one of creative writing class is "show, not tell". The gravitas of philosophical exploration and your belief in the story is lost if a character is just said to be a rapist. It's kind of difficult to believe and you're likely to forget about it. You end up reading about some poor guy getting tortured by the government for no reason because apparently he's a bad person. How do I know he's a bad person? Oh? The unreliable narrator said "I'm here because I'm a rapist and a violent man... Oh my bog, this filmdrome is making me bezoomy blub." Yeah that's going to have a lasting effect for sure. The reader has to see to believe, they have to witness the wrong doings to be hooked and understand the plot. In addition to this, the story is being told from Alex's perspective, so his perception of the violence is necessary. If the story was about the people conducting the experimcent on him, the depiction of voilence would be uselss sure. But it's not, and the meaning would be lost if it were. A book/movie never became a classic by saying "yeah look, this guy's mum died, and then he had a falling out with his brother, and then his girlfriend raped him, so now he is here at school getting into a fight, and next we'll be exploring grief". We don't know anything about this guy's experience except "Man that must suck!", we only know how we would react to that, but that's not helpful, because we aren't the main character.

Stories would not be told, ideas not explored, critiques not made if everything with a problematic character should have its existence questioned. All art that is trying to communicate a message or discuss an idea should not have it's mere existence questioned, it's absurd. Even if there is a piece of art I don't exactly agree with I'm not going to say it never should have been made because it communicates a bad message. Not only is that a form of censorship, it also makes people with those opposing views more aggravated and stubborn. The flack A Clockwork Orange has been copping is just one example of a phenomena occurring recently of books/movires being called out for having problematic themes and characters (typically men). This is frustrating, as the movies coming under interrogation are usually "male manipulator" movies like Joker, Taxi Driver, and The Wolf of Wall Street, called ale manipulator movies because they've become synonmous with men who manipulate women who also idolise the main characters. These men get called out for missing the point of the movie by idolising them (which they are, don't get me wrong, they're complete idiots). The men miss the point; the Joker needs help, Taxi Driver needs help, the Wolf is just a terrible human being. In criticising male manipulators for missing the point, Clockwork Orange haters also miss the point. All they see is an evil man who rapes, or shoots gun after shaving his head into a mohawk. There is a lesson to be learnt from stories like A Clockwork Orange and Taxi Driver when you look past the surface "he's not very nice is he?". People believe that if a main character exists, they are a role model and they have to be liked and looked up to. No. They don't, and that's good storytelling.

November 2021 October 2021 Year 12 Goofy fun stuff

11/10/21: Hello World

Hello, World!