The Age of Intellectual Property


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I’m feeling bored, so let’s talk about some broad-scale cultural conventions, art, and learn a new German word while we’re at it.

So, these days, I find myself more and more often having discussions about fictional worlds, continuity, and the apparent misuse of such things.  Most recently, I found myself discussing the particular case of Starcraft II, and its serious storytelling inferiority (and retconning) of the original Starcraft, but this subject has become more and more relevant in recent memory, what with the frequent rebooting in Hollywood (such as the J.J. Abrams reimagining of Star Trek and the upcoming Batman V. Superman movie), the upcoming Star Wars movie, the ubiquitous Marvel Cinematic Universe project, the now-fixed Zelda continuity, the much-maligned Moffat era of Doctor Who, and many other projects frequently scrutinized in the pop cultural awareness.  I have several friends who get worked up over numerous aspects of these various issues, usually to the effect of: “THEY’RE RUINING x” where x is whichever beloved franchise du jour is being apparently maligned by newcomers to the beloved artistic world in question.

My usual response, though, is not to be very concerned.  I don’t tend to think of art in terms of worlds, but in terms of individual works, and therefore my defense tends to be: “They cannot take y away from us,” where y is whatever original work began the franchise in the first place.  That is to say, Starcraft II cannot “ruin” Starcraft; The Phantom Menace does not “ruin” A New Hope; Man of Steel does not “ruin” Superman, and so on.  But I’m beginning to think that this might be an antiquated way of looking at things, based on an aesthetic that is more appropriate to the nineteenth century than the twenty-first.

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Video Games as Art: The Legend of Zelda – Majora’s Mask


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I’ve been writing heavy-duty posts on theological applications and tough issues since mid-July, and it’s time to lighten things up a bit.  So here’s a post in which I will proceed to gush over how much I love The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.

The late Roger Ebert once argued that video games could not possibly be art, by their very nature as an interactive medium, a point which I suspect stemmed from his lack of experience in the medium.  But one of his most compelling arguments on the subject was that video games have failed to produce a work as monumental or as powerful as the great works of other media, such as Anna Karenina among novels or Citizen Kane among movies.  And in some ways, I suspect he is right to say that.  Anytime I hear somebody compare a video game to these great works (and I admit I have done it erroneously myself) I am suspicious, and usually disappointed.  Whether it is because the business of making games interferes with their artistry, or because our age regularly fails to produce a work of that magnitude, I don’t know, but video games have yet to achieve something so rich and replete with insights into the human condition.

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Loyalty: Part Five – Loyalty to the Community


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After mucking about with various issues of faith and finally getting around to scripture last week, let’s finally get at the core matter of loyalty – loyalty to the local church, the church community, and the particular strain of faith operating in one’s backyard.

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Loyalty: Part Four – Loyalty to the Book


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Up until now I’ve been trying to treat all religions, faiths, and systems of belief from the dubious perspective of an all-inclusive objectivity.  No, though, we must change our perspective to treat Western, Abrahamic-based religion exclusively, by which I mean Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  The reason for this is that these religions demand an act of loyalty which is unusual among religions or other faith-based systems of belief, namely the act of total submission.

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Fiction Relocation

I have recently started a new site where all my fiction will be located from now on –  you’ll find a link at the top of the page for future reference.  The sheer quantity is a bit staggering, but there’s a lot of good stuff there, and if you’re interested, you should check it out.

I’ve also moved the story Eric McMallus’s Miracle there, and replaced it with my bachelor’s thesis: “The Moral Fiction Writer”, in celebration of the new organization.  I will continue to update both sites, so check them both out frequently for new stories, musings, and other philosophically-minded nonsense.  Generally, the non-fiction work or meditative musings will continue to appear here, but fiction will appear on the other site.

Happy reading!

Broken Art


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Perhaps a month or so ago my wife and I were watching one of her favorite old musicals – Summer Stock – which she enjoyed as a child and I had never seen before, what with being a complete ignoramus with regard to classic movies.  I rather off-handedly (and cavalierly) mentioned, at the conclusion of a musical number, that there was a rather suspicious lack of black people in the cast.  And though I suspect that I could’ve been more diplomatic about it (and should have been), the conversation that observation gave rise to was a worthwhile one that I have touched on before but would like to investigate more carefully now.  Namely: are there merits to works of art that do not practice or demonstrate the sort of equitable values we practice today?

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Loyalty: Part Three – True and False Faith


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Last post, I wrote (at length) about the necessity of submission to some kind of worldview, be it scientific naturalism, religion, a vague sort of philosophy, or some conglomeration of different viewpoints.  This time, I mean to tackle (again) the subject of good and bad faith – what differentiates a good system from a bad system.

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A Modern Parable


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Then, a seminarian approached Jesus and tested him, asking: “What do I have to do to receive eternal life?”

Jesus replied: “What does the law say?”

The student answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

And Jesus said, “That’s right.  Do that and you will live.”

But the student wanted to justify himself, so he said to Jesus: “Who, then, is my neighbor?”

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On Whether the Marvel Movies Have No Clothes


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On the whole, I’ve been a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as it has progressed.  I think their straightforward, crowd-pleasing style is a welcome and refreshing change of pace from the grimmer fare offered in the way of Christopher Nolan’s Batman and other ostensibly-mature superhero movies.  But after the release of Age of Ultron earlier this year and Ant-Man some few days ago, there seems to be some recent naysaying from the formerly-faithful.  Moreover, I’ve engaged in numerous conversations with skeptics of the project, who are looking for more substance from their superhero movies, or who question the critical acclaim they have received from the Internet/nerd community.  So I present an earnest opinion, based on what I’ve seen so far of the project: are the movies overrated?  Is their acclaim deserved, or the product of overzealous praise of mediocrity?  Have they outstayed their welcome?  Are they as good as we have been making them out to be?

First and most obviously, we need to make a clarification.  The Marvel stable now has some dozen movies in it, and they are all works of various merits, styles, and virtues.  It would be downright irresponsible to make any blanket statement about the lot of them (such as whether they’re good or bad, overrated, etc.).  Moreover, one of the primary virtues of the MCU project as a project is its diversity in genre (though we should well be wary of the lack of diversity in casting).  What is true of Captain America: Winter Soldier may not be true of Thor, or vice-versa.  However, I don’t think a systematic account of the virtues and vices of each is good use of the time and space here, either.  What is in question these days is the legitimacy of the project – the whole so-called MCU “experiment” rather than the merits of each individual movie.  As a result, I propose to examine the matter from a chronological perspective, examining each film in its place in the release schedule, and how it contributes to the work as a whole.  Along the way we’ll certainly discuss the merits and demerits of many of the films, but without getting bogged down in the petty details of each.

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