Dreaming of the Replication of Electric Sleep

This is the first time I’ve mentioned Blade Runner on this blog which is not surprising as it is one of those films that has had so much written about it that it is hard to come up with anything original. This post will likely be no exception though after recently re-watching it, I was inspired to make an attempt.

Before getting into the meat of the post I do want to briefly dwell on something I’ve been contemplating with regard to films like this and other media in general. Since converting to Catholicism, I’ve progressively come to notice how much inappropriate content is present — particularly in films. Not so long ago, any sort of nudity, sexual intercourse, profanity, violence or strong horror was strictly banned. Today, it can almost feel odd to watch a film where none of this is present. I used to think little of this but more and more I’ve become careful with what I allow myself to watch.

Blade Runner features almost all of this and I found myself averting my eyes from the screen on a number of occasions but I don’t think this is good enough. I have decided that this will be the last time I watch this and even other films I used to really enjoy. I can well understand that this would appear peculiar to modern minds but I don’t think my thoughts depart much from what used to believed by the vast majority. I also don’t think I can use “engaging in the culture” or film analysis as an excuse. It wouldn’t work for pornography.

This by the way also includes literature. I read Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 this year and multiple sections of that work were pornographic as were sections of Kafka on the Shore and A Wild Sheep Chase. These are the only novels of his I’ve read and Murakami is a genuinely great writer but I won’t be reading any more of his fiction unless sanitised versions are one day published.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the film.

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The Origins of Adventure

Over the last few years I’ve been discovering a lot of early fantasy and adventure that I previously had little or no knowledge of. This includes authors such as Lord Dunsany, George MacDonald, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard. The latter of whom I have now dedicated a number of separate posts to. One I was familiar with was H. Rider Haggard and I read King Solomon’s Mines about five or so years ago. What I didn’t know was just how prolific he was and after reading this article, I learned of his other arguably more famous story She: A History of Adventure. The linked article is highly recommended and perhaps the most interesting revelation is that I had never heard of this book yet it “sold almost 85 million copies, and has never been out of print since its initial 1887 release.” I soon found a copy of the book which included two other novels and the beautiful cover from this copy is displayed above. 

What follows is a review and some commentary on passages from the novel.

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A Review of The Penguin Book of Australian Short Stories

The Penguin Book of Australian Short Stories edited by Harry Heseltine,
Penguin Books, August 30th, 1976

Earlier this year I wrote a review of Modern Japanese Short Stories which was a collection by a selection of Japanese authors from the early to mid 20th century. A few months ago I happened to come across the similar collection of Australian short stories that were written within roughly the same time frame above. I mention the Japanese works because I will be drawing some comparisons in my commentary below so these posts will be related.

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Towards a Heuristic for a GREAT Game

This post is the culmination of something I’ve been thinking about for a while but have never put into writing after years of playing, reading about and reviewing games. There are obviously a lot of problems with gaming journalism as I’ve detailed in short and at length but one of these problems applies to other mediums as much as video games. This problem is the difference with how a product is received at the time and its lasting legacy. I’ve brushed this problem before with regard to film in these two posts but I don’t recall applying it to video games though it certainly applies. 

It can be amusing to look at reviews for many games going back decades and wonder how the reviewers came to the conclusions they did. There are games that have remained popular for decades that got middling scores and games that have been all but forgotten that received high praise. A good example is Diablo II which was recently remastered and has been widely loved and played since the original release over twenty years ago.  Yet, if you look at the reviews from the time, you’d wonder how that could have possibly come to be. There are games released every year to high praise that are forgotten soon after and the inaugural winner of the “Game Awards”, Dragon Age: Inquisition  is good evidence of that. Then there are games that for whatever reason are ignored at the time but gradually become better appreciated as time goes on despite their initial lukewarm reception.

This doesn’t mean gaming journalists are useless as games still need critical appraisal and can benefit from promotion at the time of release. A high quality game with a low advertising budget could be rescued by positive reviews. A lot really depends on the reviewer too. For all my criticism of his literary output, Yahtzee Croshaw has a good sense of what makes a good game and I’d say most of his Zero Punctuation videos hold up well though I don’t always agree with him. There are plenty of other individual journalists who have a similarly sharp critical eye. A lot of problems come with lazy reviews by critics uninterested in the genre or those who have to smash through a game on a deadline. This can lead anyone (and I’ve certainly been guilty of this), to produce hasty conclusions — negative or positive that later don’t hold up. I’ve had to re-evaluate my opinion on a number of games over the years that I later came to appreciate or realised weren’t so good as my initial enthusiasm supposed. 

So one really important consideration is time but this is in short supply when deadlines, embargos, advertising budgets, sales etc. are factored in. Time is not all though but it is necessary to consider what makes a game truly great. The heuristic I have come up with can be remembered with the acronym GREAT.

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Infernal Ruination

Stalin’s War: A New History of World War II by Sean McMeekin
Basic Books, April 20th, 2021

World War II is still largely considered a great moral crusade by Western peoples and portrayed this way in most historical works I’ve read. While the Great War is generally (and rightly) considered a pointless waste of life; the Second Great War is widely believed to have had a definite moral purpose in destroying two totalitarian and aggressive upstart empires in both Europe and Asia. The righteousness of this war is the founding myth of the world order since and as the reality and legitimacy of this current order continues to be called into question, so to does the story behind it. To be sure, the myths of World War II were questioned early; particularly discussing the morality of the use of nuclear weapons and there have long been dissident historians. But it was rare to see any historical revision in the mainstream until fairly recently.

The last book I reviewed on World War II was The Phony Victory by Peter Hitchens which paraphrasing from the synopsis, “destroys the myth that World War II was a moral war.” If Hitchens did this then Sean McMeekin’s Stalin’s War stomps on any remaining belief that World War II was a moral crusade against totalitarianism. Hitchens’ book was more narrowly focused on the war from Great Britain’s perspective. One might first assume from the title that this work is focused on the Soviet Union but this focus isn’t limited to the Eastern Front and also covers the US government, British government and the Pacific Theatre too. This will be something of a review but I am mostly just sharing and commenting on the books contents. I absolutely recommend anyone interested go and read it for themselves. 

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Dune 2021: Half-Way There

My first knowledge of Frank Herbert’s Dune came from the video game Dune II: Battle for Arrakis which to this date, I have never played. I had only heard of it and that was usually mentioned in conjunction with Westwood Studios’ follow-up Command & Conquer. The latter built on the gameplay of Dune II sans the source material and is far more successful and better known today — as a game, that is. Next was the 1984 David Lynch adaptation which I watched once over twenty years ago and have no plans to ever watch again. I  thought it was (and would still describe it as) weird and disgusting. 

This was a strange introduction to the franchise but on balance, it probably left me with a better impression of the 1965 novel when I first read it about a decade ago. I thoroughly enjoyed it though I didn’t read any of the sequels afterwards. A few months ago this year, I re-read the original novel and the first two sequels. I enjoyed the original even more but was less enthusiastic about the sequels (though they’re still good). The original novel really stands on its own and has some of the most immersive world-building I have ever encountered in a novel. Though it is usually classified as science-fiction, there are significant fantasy elements and this successful fusion is what appealed to so many readers. The blurring of genres has of course not been lost on critics and one thing Lynch did get right was that it is also very weird — just not his style of weird.

The subject of this post is not the novel or any of this but the 2021 film adaptation directed by Denis Villeneuve

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E. Michael Jones on Tolkien

I seldom read (or write) anything critical of author’s like J.R.R. Tolkien. This is partly because people that write about his works tend to be enthusiasts and are more interested in writing about what they love than what they don’t. On the other hand, you also have bores who try to elevate their own works (if they exist), by attacking his and I avoid these critics as much as possible. This is not to say there are no genuine criticisms to make as my last post on The Scouring of the Shire can attest.  Beyond this small example there is plenty of serious criticism — in the proper sense of the word. Tolkien would not have claimed any perfection in his works either; as can be established by the fact that he continued to work on Middle-earth until the end of his life and left much for his son Christopher to continue.

It was therefore of interest to learn that E. Michael Jones had written his own analysis of Tolkien some years ago around the release of the first of Peter Jackson’s exorbitant film adaptations of The Hobbit. Jones article is titled ‘Tolkien’s Failed Quest’ and graces the May, 2014 issue of his Culture Wars magazine. I will be quoting from the article but the issue must be purchased here to read in full.  Continue reading

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Daikatana: A Fascinating Failure

Many gamers quite understandably have a lot of nostalgia for the late 1990s and early 2000s of PC gaming. This was a time when many of the most well regarded games were released across multiple genres. At the same time software was becoming more streamlined which solved a lot of compatibility issues and 3D hardware acceleration was becoming standard. And the early results were much better than what was being produced on consoles. Just off the top of my head consider that Diablo, Half-Life, Fallout, Baldur’s Gate, Thief, Quake, StarCraftUnreal and Deus Ex were all released in this period. That is if you begin from late 1996 and end late 2001. That’s impressive for a five year period given that all of these remain recognised titles today and this is far from an exhaustive list. If I tried to do the same for the last decade while excluding games from existing franchises, I would not only have to give it far more thought, I’d be struggling to find comparably memorable games at all. 

One of the biggest names in the industry at the time was John Romero who along with John Carmack had a significant impact on PC gaming for most of the 1990s with games like Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D and most notably with Doom. I played all three of these games and later Quake but I had no idea at the time who was making these games. I didn’t even know they were made by the same group of developers. This was just as true for who was making the games I played on Nintendo and Sega consoles. Most of this would be learned later through various online articles on fan websites and later still after reading books like Game Over by David Sheff and Masters of Doom by David Kushner. When I was young, I simply didn’t care who made them — just that they were fun.

Daikatana was a game I found out about after the fact because I don’t recall any fanfare behind it at the time though I certainly played PC games. It was through websites like Something Awful that I got a sense of the notoriously negative reputation the game has and has continued to have since. I do remember trying the demo after learning about it and I even had the same issue installing it as shown in the linked article. After that short experience, I assumed it was just as bad as was generally claimed. In hindsight, SA had a very negative influence on my late adolescence and early adult life and I find that article (and the website in general) barely readable today. However, at the time it was very influential and a lot of what is considered part of “Internet culture” originated there. 

There I would have left Daikatana if not for the release of the unofficial 1.3 patch in 2019 which fixes a great deal of issues noted at the time along with some other enhancements. This made me curious enough to finally give this game a shot. 

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No STD for Straight Men

Whether or not you consider sodomy a sin, there is still a widespread and healthy disgust that exists — particularly towards male sodomites. Now of course, this is seldom spoken aloud anymore but it is still there. How do I know this, you ask? Well, one can infer simply by what the media is willing to show of it. Even today with children being groomed in public libraries and schools by degenerate freaks and public buildings and “churches” covered in pride flags; the media is still very reluctant to show the realities of any one colour of this rainbow of perversions. When a “gay” character is shown on television or in a movie, it is usually a very effeminate male and any sort of intimacy is avoided. When ever physical intimacy is shown, it is usually two attractive women which though still sinful and wrong, provokes much less disgust among people in general. And even this is an inversion as your average lesbian is generally more masculine than a gay man.

Now I’m sure people can come back with counter-examples and I must admit I avoid most media that might be different but I still see enough advertising and other imagery to know that this is still followed. And mainstream films and television shows that introduce “gay” characters still carefully present them to appear at least somewhat normal. Anyway, I don’t need to use reason to argue with people who deny the most elementary biological facts. And unlike conservatives, I don’t believe being permissive about any sin is up for debate.

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Symbols Matter

The worst kind of commentators and commenters (particularly within the so-called “conspiracy theorist” community), are the ones forever finding something wrong in any victory — however small. No matter what it is, there has to be a catch, a problem or some way things are still going according to plan for “the elite”. This would imply that the various enemies of humanity are  omniscient, omnipotent and have uniform goals in every nation in the world. In reality, they make mistakes all the time and their plans often fail. They’re also getting increasingly stupid but that is a topic for another post.

When things go wrong for them, their reaction is naturally never to admit fault or give up but make adjustments and sacrifice a minion or two. In rarer cases, one of their own will be but this will be avoided if possible. It shouldn’t be assumed that these people are allied the world over either. They all have different goals and motivations and will happily cross each other when it suits them. 

To give a recent example, I do believe the official nonsense that began in 2020 was planned but I don’t for a minute believe it went exactly as planned. I expect some aspects went better than they could have possibly imagined and other aspects went very wrong. We aren’t going to be finding out exactly what went on for a while but I very much doubt the people behind this were anywhere as smart as they imagine themselves. 

This brings me to the purpose with the post which is to take victories however small. Not because they alone will save the day but because every victory, however small does help.

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