It’s Hard to Do Vocabulary Drills in Personal Languages

language blobs

  I read Douglas Hofstadter's Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking a few months ago, and, although I wouldn't recommend it as enthusiastically as Gödel Escher Bach, there was one section I was delighted to read.  It felt like Hofstadter had crystallized a very important part of my thinking process and set it down on paper. We would like to offer a simple visual metaphor for thinking about the words of a language and the concepts they represent. We begin by suggesting … [Read more...]

The Selfishness of Playing to Your Strengths

brave

Calah Alexander has a post up about her frustrations with Disney storylines, where plot can warp around the characters to make sure they get whatever they wanted at the beginning of the movie.  Ariel's father is portrayed as tyrannical, not prudent, when he tries to forbid her from chasing after Prince Eric, even though her choice puts her entire kingdom at risk.  Magic abounds to help characters realize they've been special all along, and that they deserve their happy ending.  She writes: See, … [Read more...]

Peeta Already Kicks Ass, No Blood Needed

peeta

In the run up to the release of Catching Fire, the second Hunger Games movie, the director sat down with io9 to discuss some of the changes they made to the second film.  For instance, they bowed to fan outcry and swapped Prim's cat so it looks more like the book one.  An exchange at the end of the interview caught my eye.  (Spoilers if you're unclear on the premise of the new movie, I guess):One of the things I really enjoyed about Catching Fire was a change you made. In the first movie Pe … [Read more...]

Disenchanting the Villain

house_of_cards2

First Things has a review up that I liked very much of a Macbeth that the reviewer did not like very much.  Kate Havard watched a Macbeth that took all the tragedy out of the Scottish King, reducing the title character (played by Ethan Hawke) to a stumbling, unpleasant man.  She writes: Yet there’s something right about making the Scottish tyrant so vulgar and unromantic. It reminds us Macbeth is ultimately a butcher, not a hero. True, in a more nuanced Macbeth, we’d see him as both: a fallen he … [Read more...]

All Parenthood in a Day

living-by-faith

In his memoir Living by Faith, Dwelling in Doubt, Kyle Cupp tells two interwoven stories: the development of his Catholic faith and the death of his daughter Vivian, who was diagnosed in utero as being unable to live for much more than a day after her birth.The story is harrowing to read. Cupp doesn't sugarcoat the grief he, his wife, and their son experienced, but he also shows how they kept looking for opportunities to show Vivian and each other love.  He writes: I came to the conclusion … [Read more...]

Mormons, Genre Fiction, and (No) Full Frontal Snogging

kissing book

In Mark Oppenheimer’s most recent column in the New York Times, he speaks to a number of Mormon authors to try to figure out why so many of them write genre (F/SF) or young adult fiction. One of the first hypotheses is that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints prefer to eschew the darker themes of literary fiction: “When I was an English major, then getting a master’s, most of the literary fiction I read was tragedy,” said Ms. Hale, whose “Princess Academy” was a Newbery Ho … [Read more...]

The Ones Who Walk Away from Dresediel Lex

two serpents

Max Gladstone's Two Serpents Rise, is his second book in the Craft sequence and falls chronologically before his first book, Three Parts Dead.  His first novel took place in Alt Coulomb, a city where at least one god is alive and when and living on the faith of his worshippers.  The new novel, set in Dresediel Lex, is in a city where the gods have been replaced by something a good deal more industrial.Before the Dresediel Lex's gods had their place usurped, they were of the feathered serp … [Read more...]


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