Sentential Links #202


:: Generally, the annual lice letter goes something like this:

Dear Parents,

This letter is to inform you that you a student in your child’s class has lice. Please check your child’s head frequently and be alert blah blah blah etc…

HOWEVER, it does not matter what is actually said in the lice letter, EVERY parent reads it like this:

Dear Parent,
Panic. Panic loudly and any language is appropriate. Flail your arms around a little. Yeah, that’s the way. Good. Your child has lice.

:: Yes, it’s probably blasphemy to put the Claremont/Byrne era of the X-Men this low on the list, but trust me–when you actually go back and read them, you find that all of Claremont’s annoying little tics as a writer (his over-narration and purple prose, his borderline creepy obsession with his female characters, his habit of having everyone reiterate their major personality traits for the reader every few pages) didn’t start when he returned to the series in the 21st century. (Isn’t that the truth. When I re-read the “Dark Phoenix Saga” a few years ago in the Marvel Essentials volume which contains it, along with a whole bunch of issues preceding it and a few coming after, I was struck by Claremont’s tendency to have Wolverine say things like “And now to use my unbreakable Adamantium claws!”, or Cyclops say things like “Whoa, that was close! Thank God I have this ruby quartz visor to contain the awesome lethality of my optic blasts!”, or Storm say things like “I must be careful when I summon the fury of the weather against my foes lest I kill my teammates with the lightning that I control!” in every single issue. Maybe this was to make it easier for people just joining the story to figure things out, but wow, when you read a whole bunch of those back-to-back-to-back-to-back, it gets awfully tiresome.)

:: Nevertheless, I remain convinced that in principle, video games cannot be art. Perhaps it is foolish of me to say “never,” because never, as Rick Wakeman informs us, is a long, long time. Let me just say that no video gamer now living will survive long enough to experience the medium as an art form. (I’m not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination, but let me say that I found Ebert’s arguments on this subject unconvincing several years ago when he first advanced them, and I find them unconvincing now, mainly because in all of his eloquence, I just can’t see where Ebert’s criticisms of video games as art don’t simply reduce to “I don’t like them, ergo, they are not art.” I think what’s ultimately at work here is that considering games art is to open a new concept of art as non-passive on the part of the person experiencing it, and that’s a big part of Ebert’s discomfort — he seems to prefer a definition of art in which a creator or group of creators produces a work of art complete in itself, and then the viewer — or listener, or reader, or whomever — experiences the work, complete in itself. Games-as-art requires a view of art that allows for a much greater degree of participation on the part of the player in shaping the artistic experience than has really ever been the case before in art. Unlike Ebert, I am not prepared to rule out the idea of games as art on that basis. I’m rather more interested in the idea of where that takes art in the future.

But still: can cooking be art? I’ve always thought it is, and yet, the diner exerts a great degree of control over their perception of the final dish, simply in the order they take the bites, how long they linger between bites, how often they sip their drink in between bites, et cetera. I’m being serious here. Cooking, to me, is art whose goal is to stimulate the sense of taste, which doesn’t seem to me qualitatively different from music being an art whose goal is to stimulate the sense of hearing.

Of course, I’ve always worked on a pretty inclusive definition of art as “any activity whose primary goal is the provoking of an aesthetic response”. By that metric, it certainly seems to me that games are art.)

:: It seems to me the entire world has learned more and more about less and less, and in doing so, we have allowed ourselves to become more and more less and less.

:: Writing about the Catholic Church feels like piling on, but it seems to me that there are a few points that some people are missing.

:: I mention all of these other issues because I believe these aren’t just individual events, bloopers of a thoughtless politician or pundit, but rather a pattern of racial insensitivity that needs to be continually looked at in the broader context. (Maybe instead of having “Confederate History Month”, we can just roll up every American traitor in history into an “American Traitors Month”, so we can “honor” the deeds of Timothy McVeigh, John Walker Lindh, Benedict Arnold, the Rosenbergs, and all the other traitors alongside those who took up arms against their own country so their states could continue to own slaves. Seems fair to me.)

:: I left KFC feeling as though I had won. The sandwich had proved to be a much easier, tastier foe than I had imagined. Little did I know that the war was still raging on inside my stomach. Over the next few hours, stomach cramps and lethargy washed over me. My only option was a nap. (I swear to God that I will never eat one of these. I just can’t bring myself to this level of culinary insanity. The Double Down shall never claim me as a victim!)

More next week!

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3 Responses to Sentential Links #202

  1. Erin says:

    I have my own theory about the relationship between abuse and celibacy in the Catholic church. Of course, I have no way of demonstrating it to be true or backing it up…

    Anyway, I don't think the relationship is causal (celibacy leads to abuse), but I do think there is a relationship. Part 1-I think that people who have what they consider to be "abnormal" sexual urges (which, in the realm of Catholicism, would certainly include but not be limited to homosexuality, and would definitely include pedophilia) are attracted to a celibate lifestyle, believing that they can stifle/ignore them. Part 2-it has been demonstrated, repeatedly, that abusers gravitate toward professions (or other positions) that give them access to children while also appearing trustworthy.

    Sorry, I appear to be hijacking your comments. 😉

  2. Roger Owen Green says:

    Well, then April SHOULD be the traitors' month – OKC was in April, after all.

  3. Roger Owen Green says:

    5 of my favorite shows and 2 I've never seen.

    The NYPD Blue was very informative. I have no rcollection of Justine Miceli whatsoever, but everyone else, I do.

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