Thursday, 18 October 2012

Venn diagrams are fun

It occurs to me that the same people who enjoy fundamentalist bible stories cannot be the same people who enjoy detective fiction. Or at least, if you drew a Venn diagram of the two sets, those in the intersecting portion would constitute a small number, say, less than seven.

Example A (biblical story): the Earth was created. By who? By god. The end.

Example B (detective fiction): The detective walked slowly around the parlour, taking every one of its occupants in with a broad, sweeping stare. Many of the people gathered felt it hard to return the stare, and turned their gaze elsewhere; some to the lush persian rug, others to the ornate sculptures atop the mantel. But one man returned the detective's gaze levelly. The detective stopped before this man, and began to speak, outlining the events of the previous nights, and how he had accumulated evidence before finally deducing that the killer was the mad old widower from the town bakery!

Interruption by Example C (mix of the above two): The detective walked slowly around the parlour, taking every one of its occupants in with a broad, sweeping stare. Many of the people gathered felt it hard to return the stare, and turned their gaze elsewhere; some to the lush persian rug, others to the ornate sculptures atop the mantel. But one man returned the detective's gaze levelly. The detective stopped before this man, and began to speak, outlining the events of the previous nights, and how he had accumulated evidence before finally deducing that the lord works in mysterious ways and we really shouldn't question it or try and seek explanations, because that is the surest way to damnation. Beside him, Watson sighed and put his head in his hands. Nobody ever found out who the killer was, and they were content with that (except for Watson, who decided he needed to seek out better detective company; a move which, incidentally, turned out rather well for him in the end). The end.

I'll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions about which are the better stories, but imagine if there were true stories about nature and atoms and the beginning of the universe. That would be great, wouldn't it? I can't imagine anyone would ever be satisfied with an Example A ending to those stories. Can you?

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Prejudice

It occurs to me that there is an unchallenged bias which runs through society, a bias so intrinsic to human nature that we don't ever really think about it at all. I'm not talking about pretty people, although that is an issue which bears examination. No, I am talking about the fact that whenever there is a disaster of some kind and people are killed, the media are always quick to point out how many of them were children. Now, on the surface this seems very rational: children are often innocent of any real crime or malice, and they have their whole lives ahead of them. But when you dig a little, the idea becomes a bit murkier, if I may be permitted to mix my metaphors.

Think of it like this: if your premise is that a child dying is worse than an adult dying, then where do you draw the line. Does a person's life suddenly decrease in value as they achieve the age of majority. 'Happy 18th Danny, you are less important to society now.' And, if that is the case, does this formative moment differ in territories where the age of majority also differs. Is an eighteen-year-old's worth the same in one place as a twenty-one-year-old's in another.

There also arises an interesting mathematical question: is the age of a three-year-old more valuable than that or a four-year-old; is the life of a girl worth more than a boy, given the longer life expectancy, or is it the other way around. Is my life, as a man in his late twenties (ok, early thirties) worth more than a pensioner. The dividing line suddenly seems very arbitrary indeed. I can't imagine anyone saying that a three-year-old and a four-year-old have differing values, but there isn't really a place where one can draw the line and feel comfortable, is there?

On another level, it's kind of insulting to think that people give more of a shit about a child simply because it hasn't had enough time applied to it yet; however, knowing this, I too still feel the irrational sadness whenever I hear that a busload of kids fell off the side of a mountain, more so than I would if it were a busload of adults. Is it reasonable for me to do so, based on nothing more than human emotion. In and of itself, I suppose it is, since my small emotional reaction to a disaster makes no difference to the event itself. But if it could, would I decide to cast the lots randomly, and let everyone take their chances, or would I choose to save the children first?

Imagine if you were on the Titanic as she slumped beneath the Atlantic, and there was one spot left in a lifeboat. You have to choose whether to give the spot to a two-year-old, or a seven-year-old. Is it, 'sorry seven, life is tough'? What if you had wounded on the lifeboat and a qualified doctor standing next to you? Of course, I don't have answers to these questions, but I find it interesting to think about (if not, perhaps, helpful). Take from it what you will.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Retellings


The O.Z.

For god so loved the world that, instead of, like, clicking his fingers and making everything ok (which, being god, he probably could’ve done; unless, being the only thing around when he was named, he was logically ‘supreme’ compared with everyone else), and also getting rid of cancer and tourettes at the same time (which, also, he presumably could do, if the mantle of ‘god’ means anything at all), he instead decided to send his son (who was also somehow himself (cloning?)) to die to put right the errors of the error-prone humans he’d created (seemingly having no idea of how justice works, strangely); and also, at the same time coming up with a story (about his son/self coming back from the dead) so ludicrous that only morons/those with a keen interest in zombie literature could ever be expected to take it seriously.

I heard the other day from Some Guy (so you have no way of verifying my story), that George A. Romero has been approached by a major studio to make a movie in his inimitable style, about the above strangeness; it's already being billed as the father of all zombie stories, and is the moment when humanity first realises that crucifixion doesn't kill a zombie. Depending on success, the studio is aiming to have the film be the first in a three-part series which they hope will spawn a new 'crucifiction' genre. Monty Python frontman Terry Gilliam was imagined by someone to have said 'well, the whole genre was started by us, really.'

The second movie is likely to be a prequel based around the character of Lazarus, who, despite returning from the dead, nobody ever thought to ask what it was like. Scientists have since confirmed that the most likely reason for this, is that nobody really wants to get close enough to a zombie to ask these things. The lack of any real eloquence on the part of a zombie is also prohibitive.

The third movie will likely be a pre-prequel, which would deal in some way with god accidentally biting the inside of his mouth while eating an ice-cream, spitting out a piece of flesh, and thereby creating his zombie son. The boy, who he eventually came to care for enough to send him away to be killed, was called Jesus because that was the expletive god used when he bit the inside of his mouth, creating a strange causality loop. Romero's agent has yet to release any statement, though I'd be surprised that if one is released, it doesn't go something like '...what?!'

Finally, if the franchise takes off a teen version for TV (tentatively nicknamed The O.Z. - original zombie) could be next to hit our screens. Some Guy told me that a lot of the zombies' lines would be lifted straight from episodes of The Valleys, for a nominal fee. It is thought that Joss Whedon would be the logical point of call for the director. I, for one, hope that Some Guy hasn't just made all this up. The world needs more Whedon, and that's for true.

Moses vs Pharoah

And Moses said unto Pharoah: let my people go innit.
And Pharoah was like: or what? You don't know me. You don't live in my pyramid.
And so Moses was all like: you best believe I'ma bring some pestilence and blood and frogs and shit all up on yo shit if you ain't do what I says.
So Pharoah be like: is that all? That's Mondays around here bitch. Dis is the ghetto.
So Moses said: how about I get my boy G to the O D to kill ALL your first-born sons.
And so Pharoah was all: that seems REALLY excessive, man. Those are just kids. They didn't even have anything to do with it.
And so Moses was like: well, the G in GOD stands for Gangsta, so let my motherfuckin people go or he's busting caps in all those boy bitches!
And then G made Pharoah say no. And then he blamed him for saying no. And then a lot of young boys got killed.
This is the Word of the Lord. Or maybe just me. But it's fairly similar.