Archive for August, 2017

GOD IS WATCHING YOU

29. August 2017

This isn’t going to be one of those atheists tracts against Christians I promise. There is no point in beating a dead horse(1). I know that Orwell himself viewed the Anglican church in a positive light although he had a visceral hatred towards the Catholic church (2), both of these opinions are justified but that is a topic for another time. Orwell’s novel itself presents a pro-Christian view –  in a godless dark world where the past has been rewritten to paint the English clergy as an oppressor, as a force for evil that the Party and the state has now ridden of and freed England from, the portrayal of Christianity in Animal Farm, that is to say in Soviet Russia is less flattering although a counter-point to that would be that Orwell set Animal Farm in England so that its analogy would not exempt the English.

However all that said, as Orwell himself pointed out in ‘Shakespeare, Tosloy and The Fool’,  a text has often got an implied meaning as well, a counter argument to this claim of course would be that that ‘implied’ meaning is actually an ‘extracted meaning’ that the critic/reviewer conjurs from the text so that he(3) can use the work of fiction to catapult to push forward whatever agenda passes through his mind. With that preamble out of the way let me begin by pointing out that the Devil is an Emanuel Goldstein. A scapegoat for all the evil and pointless suffering which could not of course be caused by the Party nor God but could not be prevented because of Goldstein and his imp.  Even more straightforward, and often pointed out is the obvious parallel between how Big Brother is watching us and looking out for us and punishing us for thought-crime just like God. The miraculous statistics are akin to the miracles that Catholic propagandists point towards as evidence to have fate in the Party, I mean the Church.

Another parallel that could be extrapolated is that since Big Brother is sort of meant to represent Stalin and Emanuel Goldstein represents Trotsky, then Trotsky is The Devil and God is a Stalin/ist (or if I am being a bit cheeky ‘God is Stalin’ or ‘Stalin is God’, the latter being the worse).

Basically:

God = Stalin/Napoleon

Goldstein= The Devil/Satan/Trotsky/The Jews (Goldstein sounds Jewish both because of the ‘Gold-’ and because of the ‘-stein’ and the Jews killed Christ aka God(4) i.e. betrayed the revolution, the Jews have often been thought of as treacherous.)

Room 101= Heaven/Hell. The torture in Room 101 is hellish that is to say on point, but the brainwashing leads to Winston loving Big Brother just like in heaven one has to love and worship God forever. Ofcourse from Winston’s perspective he is happier than he has ever been now that he loves his God who has given him everything and who always looks out for him like a loving father/Big Brother that never goes away. This corruption of familial ties by the state and religion has always been very disturbing to me, to be honest more by the state as the church has a more limited reach to the private lives of church goers (unless of course it is one of those charismatic exclusive-club-like cult-like churches that do more harm to the standing of Christianity than ‘militant’ atheists could ever do) than the state has access to the lives of its citizens.

The Party and Party members= The Church and the Clergy (I admit this part of the analogy is weak). The Party’s obsession with the evisceration of sexual love is more of a direct parallel to some feminist thought that Orwell objected to. After all even the Catholic church is okay with sexual love within the married family – I mean between the parents of course. The point is that if you are a Christian you can still have more of an allegiance to your family more than to God and the church you belong to. Then again the bible, well Jesus, does say to abandon (and so betray) your family and loved ones for Big Brother(5). Muslims with their ‘regulations’ regarding the number of spouses one man might have and the shameless take a more practical approach in that context which is to be expected coming from some war lord more concerned with placating the pent-up frustrations of his men. I don’t think that The Party applies at all to them as they lack a central authority like say the Catholics do, well perhaps this is different within several Muslim nations like Iran and our noble ally and friend East Asia, I mean Saudi Arabia(6).

The Proles = Christians? Catholics? Once again, it is tempting to cast off one’s opposition as sheeple unless that is how they self-ascribe, I mean I wouldn’t want to offend them by telling them that they are not. All jokes aside, no, an unthinking group like the proles can only exist in a society with no free speech and where the past has been completely erased. I cannot find a parallel – in fact Christianity is part of the past that has survived into the present. As for group thinking – in which the proles do not take part in as they do not think at all either because their stomachs are full or empty – this is an entirely different phenomenon. And besides atheists can and do just as well turn into ‘a herd of independent minds’ e.g. ‘Oh I am independent minded, oh you agree with me, so you are independent minded as well, that person/group does not agree with us, how close-minded, right?’ Yeah, right.

Winston Smith= An atheist? No that would be a bit much. Well, perhaps an atheist in many a Muslim country might feel like he was Winston Smith.

O’Brien = Rene Descartes. This is an odd pairing, I admit, however there is a similarity in their arguments. The similarity is that they both believed that there is no objective reality outside of the mind.

Notes:

(1) As Orwell puts it so long as people are more afraid of death than of hell then Christianity at any rate in England and by extension most of the former Christiandom is dead. When it comes to Islam it is another story as thousands are willing to kill, rape and be killed for God and for nothing else. I think that the current wave of ‘anti-theism’ is a direct result of 9/11 and Islamic population growth(mainly due to higher birth rates and immigration not because the death of Christianity has caused some vacuum for superstition that needs to be filled as Peter Hitchens and Freud seem to suggest).

(2) Going as far as to suggest that the Famiglia Sagrada INSERT NAME OF THAT BEAUTIFUL CHURCH IN SPAIN should have been burned down by the Republican side before they retreated. I suspect this was also because he could see a link from Catholicism to fascism, at any rate I can see one, no I am not saying that the Catholic church is fascist because it is isn’t but the transparent catholic propaganda, conjuring tricks and popishness are not that far from the histrionics of fascism (and communism for that matter, sometimes the differences between fascism and communism are in effect paper-thin, they are both collectivist anti-individualist ideologies) and the popism of its leaders.

(3) With all due respect none of which is due, it is immaterial which gender pronoun I use, use ‘she’ or ‘they’ if you like to make your text unreadable for the sake of virtue-signalling, I couldn’t care less but don’t ask me to.

(4) Interestingly many figures linked to the decline of Christianity in the Europe (aka ‘The Death of God’) are also Jews, for example Karl Marx, Freud, Albert Einstein(I know Einstein was a Pantheist but that too is a step away from God and what matters is the effec), Darwin etc… perhaps the Anti-Semites(well the Christian Anti-Semites anyway there as many types of Anti-Semites on earth as there are Jews) may be onto something… even a broken clock… Yes I shamelessly poached this footnote from Christopher Hitchen’s memoir. ‘SHAME… SHAME… SHAME…’ like that RC meme goes.

(5) Christians keep your sophistry of being able to serve your family and God at the same time to yourself, a man can’t serve two masters at once. As Orwell said the choice is always between this world and the next. Just repent for loving your family more than God and hope you will not end up in hell with the all atheists and people from other religions who rejected Christ.

(6) We have got to accept our friends warts and all, right? Especially if we can’t afford any better. East Asia is an evil oppressive dictatorship that we must erase off the surface of the earth of course.

Writer’s note: Did this article turn into an anti-Christian tract after-all? Oh well, old habits die hard (tips fedora) and I am not bothered to write it again, not that that could change anything.

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Reflections On the Craft of Reviewing Fiction and Anime in Particular as Well

27. August 2017

“He is a man of thirty-five, but looks fifty. He is bald, has varicose veins and wears spectacles, or would wear them if his only pair were not chronically lost. If things are normal with him he will be suffering from malnutrition, but if he has recently had a lucky streak he will be suffering from a hangover. At present it is half past eleven in the morning, and according to his schedule he should have started work two hours ago; but even if he had made any serious effort to start he would have been frustrated by the almost continuous ringing of the telephone bell, the yells of the baby, the rattle of an electric drill out in the street, and the heavy boots of his creditors clumping up and down the stairs. The most recent interruption was the arrival of the second post, which brought him two circulars and an income-tax demand printed in red.” – Confessions of a Book Reviewer, George Orwell

What is the point of book/anime/game reviews? Well, they are recommendations (i.e.‘read this book, don’t watch that anime for it is trash’). The reason people read reviews at first is just because they want to know what to watch and what to not watch to save their time as well as their patience. The obvious danger of relying too much on reviews and on other people’s opinions about fiction is that you will effectively have your opinion about fiction dictated to you (Examples of this include the visceral hatred many seem to display for the Twilight saga and the Transformers films). Another more subtle issue is that the relationship between you and that work of art ceases to be purely personal and it instead becomes communal. This has been made worse by the internet I think as you are only a google search away from other people’s opinions about fiction, even obscure fiction. There are many advantages of course to this communal environment for example if you use a listing website with user reviews like myanimelist or rottentomatoes you can quickly gauge if a title is so bad that it isn’t worth checking it out and for the more creative souls there is an audience to display their fan creations on websites like fanfiction.net, youtube, archiveofourown etc… I think that perhaps what push people to take this extra effort is not just the work of fiction by itself but the opinions surrounding it, one way to judge a piece of fiction is to look at its fandom, this is rather unfair I think because the work of fiction should be able to stand on its own. For example the rampant speculation and fan theories in the Evangelion fandom perhaps reveal that the show was not clear enough on its themes or plot (Don’t crucify me I love Eva but I don’t like how one has to look at outside sources from the series to understand what is going on). All of this said I think that the biggest thing lost by reading reviews is that element of surprise, of opening a book and not knowing whether you will like it and then being pleasantly surprised, of starting to watch an anime without knowing what it’s going to be about, not a single plot point and then being mesmerized by a beautiful story, of picking up a manga just by glancing at its artwork etc… I have personally gotten used to reading reviews and do not watch anything unless it has been recommended to be by at least a half decent source like a MAL rating a few months after a show has aired. I have a low tolerance for trash shows, eight years ago I watched and read anything that I could get my hands on and I enjoyed it but now my tastes have become much more restricted after watching too much anime.

So far I have only talked about reviews from the perspective of the reader but what about the reviewer? I think that writing a review, just as writing in general, helps to cement a certain a view about a piece of work and also other similar works although at other times reviews are nothing more than bookmarks in time as your opinions may vary over time out of your control (the scary thing about changing your mind, as Peter Hitchens puts it in a different context, is that often you can’t stop it,). I have seen people regret their opinions in reviews they wrote a long time ago (e.g. Gigguk on his negative Evangelion review although I am not certain of this, I am basing this on some comments on his video about saying that on a Podtaku podcast).

Should you read reviews of the stuff you are going to review?

Well that is a tricky question, reading reviews can lead to simply restating other peoples opinions in your reviews, in which case – what is the point(unless you are getting paid for it)? So I would like to say no but it is very tempting as you are sitting there wrecking your brain unable to start a review to do a simple google search to ‘look’ at what others are saying and then be disappointed that what you thought was your own original insight has already been pointed out by many before you even set it down in ink on paper or in pixels on a screen. I think it is alright to read some reviews before you watch something but not as you write the review, unless of course your review is a reply to someone else’s review.

Some people have different criteria like ‘sound’ ‘animation’ ‘plot’ ‘characters’ as a sort of guiding checklist to keep your review on point, I think MAL does have such a criteria which is regularly ignored and I can see why – I don’t really know that much about ‘sound’ or ‘animation’ and so on so my anime reviews often read like book reviews only concerned with the themes and the characters and plot unless the animation and sound aspects are so spectacular or so bad that even a lay person like me has something to say about them – this ‘book review’ effect is exacerbated by the fact that I am almost invariably reading subtitles when I watch anime because I do not know Japanese and I would rather listen to the saccharine squeaks of Japanese anime voice-actors rather than to Americans speaking in American (I am British), I am joking of course it’s just that the English dubs are not always available and they are not just translations but also adaptations of the Japanese source material, I wouldn’t exactly call myself a Japanophile (as I am primarily interested Japanese anime/manga/LN/VN/WN otaku culture and a little about the post-war politics, economy and the current demographic crisis and the geo-politcs brewing in the background or is it the foreground of it all?) but I guess I am otaku enough to want to know the untranslated references in anime, if it’s a series that I particularly like I will watch both the dubbed version and the subbed version provided they are both good (like the Steins; Gate dubs and subs) in some cases I also prefer dubs but I will address the old dubs vs subs debate in a separate post (although I admit I have nothing much to add to it but just to be thorough and for the views I will probably write about it). Any way the point is that ‘pre-set criteria’ approach to reviewing doesn’t work for me although I can see it works for reviewers like ‘GRArkada.’ I prefer a more ‘review based around one or two main themes of the work of fiction plus some comments about the characters and plot’ kind of approach – following my A-Level literature teacher’s advice to write a lot about a little – this can of course degenerate into pretentious overthinking where the reviewer/critic uses the fiction as a prop to talk about whatever he likes but if he keeps in mind that he is trying to tell someone whether to watch something or not I think that can lead to a more honest assessment of the fiction rather than a detailed checklist-like assortment to see whether a work of fiction meets certain ideological requirements of the reviewer.

Finally I would like to talk, well write about the ‘leach’-like nature of the reviewing business. When it comes to the internet and blogs in general the bloggers are leaching off some other ‘real’ medium, for example like how most internet alternative news outlets use traditional news outlets as their sources for information, a very similar thing can be said about the craft of reviewing as the reviewer in effect acts as a publicist for the shows he likes by recommending to the audience as a sort of middleman sorting out the good from the bad which is something useful but this doesn’t change the fact that they are not producing anything other than analysis and critique, and the question as to whether they would be able to create something that they could objectively exalt according to their own standards remains open, i.e. unanswered. I wouldn’t exactly call this hypocrisy but something less which I don’t have a word for but which is embodied in the thought ‘If you know what it takes for a great story then why don’t you make one? Oh is it because you can’t.’ Perhaps it is unfair to ask them this for it is not their role and so I haven’t but I can’t say I haven’t thought it and asked it from myself (which resulted in that dreadful novella I wrote and posted on this blog a few months ago and which perhaps for the best no one has read – no I am not indirectly asking you to read it using reverse psychology- don’t read it and don’t accuse me of asking you to). As you may have noticed all anime reviewers I have mentioned above (GR Arkada, Gigguk) are video bloggers on youtube rather than bloggers and that is because most popular anime reviewers are youtubers, this isn’t surprising given the visual nature of the anime medium and of course it is much more comfortable to listen to someone than read small text on a blog like this. Mother’s Basement(another anime reviewer on youtube) recently made a video noting how illegal anime streaming services like KissAnime are leaching off of the anime industry and I think he is right but in a way I think that bloggers and reviewers who depend on the anime industry are also in a way leaching off of it just like Journalists could be said to leach off of miserable events for their ratings and views. Of course it is different – anime reviewers are publicists for anime while illegal streaming websites… well they are popularizing anime as well, in effect a significant portion of Mother’s Basement viewership would be gone if websites like KissAnime would be gone because that is where his viewers go to watch anime. I guess then that it would be fair to say that Mother’s Basement and all other anime reviewers are leaching off of the illegal websites he was lambasting – KissAnime being the main one. But what is the point of this all? Well, I was watching a Japanese drama series called ‘Starblazers’ about Hideaki Anno et Gainax and a mangaka who saw himself as Anno’s rival when he was in university and I have read some interviews given by the self-proclaimed ‘Otaking’(not Anno but the guy who directed Otaku no Video) at the MIT website (Just search for ‘Rei anime MIT’ and you will find a page with all the links to the interviews), I guess it could be classed as an ‘inspirational story’ I mean the story of Studio Gainax rising above from nothing amid innumerable financial and other hardships and what struck a chord in me was his comments on how otaku in the age of the internet and computers feel that it is enough to create websites and create commentary because they can easily get that communal aspect of their hobby without exerting themselves to create original creations themselves. I think he was spot on, I do not deny the hard work done by the youtube reviewers sinking hundreds of hours into their work to make anime more accessible to mainstream audiences but are they really satisfied by being publicists for other people’s work? And secondly I don’t really think that video reviews which are time consuming to make really add anything substantial that is not present in written reviews except of course the ability to reach a larger audience which matters of course but just like modern anime the only thing that cleaner animation has provided only a shinier surface to the same(or worse) scripts.

The next paragraph is a short run-down of the deviations of my opinions about anime ‘classics’ and ‘masterpieces’ from the majority of critics I have read. I suggest you to skip it if you don’t know that much about anime.

My tastes are pretty conventional although there are times when I do disagree with the majority of the anime ‘community’(that is one word I hate) for example ‘Your Name’ (and for that matter ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time) are both silly simple romantic comedies with cute girls and with time travel as an unexplored plot ‘convenience’ device and nothing more (Watch ‘Steins;Gate’ one of the only good time travel anime which bothers to conjure up some sort of explanation and agency other than time travel for plot convenience) and most of Hayao Miyazaki’s works are to be blunt either environmentalist propaganda (even at his best I think in Princess Mononoke) or plainly boring ‘pretty colours’ like Spirited Away and lets not talk about his later bland works for which reason I think he retired. Or that ‘Ping Pong The Animation’ was aside from its unusual style was just the usual low stakes sports anime that has been done and redone worse since that baseball anime called ‘Touch.’ Finally ‘Kaiba’ is just another one of those shows that puts style over substance to mesmerize the senses of its viewers with its weird minimalistic cartoonish visuals in contrast with its ‘edgy’ ‘mature’ themes who will be distracted by how ‘forward looking’ ‘avant-garde’ it is to hide the poor boring characters, the quick and vague explanations etc… And let’s not even talk about that awful romance anime about cannibalistic monsters where the world was ending but the tension felt more fake than when watching a Hollywood blockbuster as I didn’t care about that fake world and even less about its two main characters. I think the problem that this director (and Miyazaki too to an extent) has is that he makes his characters run around too much to explore the weird settings which overshadow his characters whereas when he deals with a small cast in a confined setting he is much better like in the ‘Tatami Galaxy’ which for me was only rescued through its excellent ending(the last two or three episodes). Akira was just beautifully animated shock factor, to be frank it felt like an advertisement to read the much superior manga from which it was adapted from – but that’s not even an excuse, there just wasn’t enough time and the movie felt too long. The second Ghost in the Shell movie was just an exercise in quote mining different philosophers for a substitute for a proper script and some pretty colours, it wasn’t even that pretty.

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On Pessimism in Political Discourse

26. August 2017

Behind the mask of every pessimist there is the face of a disappointed idealist.- George Carlin

I have often heard it said that one must not come to a conclusion merely because it is convenient to oneself but what about coming to a conclusion merely because it inconvenient to oneself? Isn’t that just as invalid? Peter Hitchens once said, I can’t remember where, that one perk of being a pessimist is that one may occasionally be pleasantly surprised, perhaps so, but would one really be willing to readily admit and accept that one was wrong? Imagine all those times that the pessimist was ridiculed by the optimists(most people) for his views, would he really be eager to admit he was wrong and that they were right? I doubt that.

I have been reading some of Orwell’s essays lately and I noticed that he was sick of the age he lived in and with good reason too. Now I do not for once suggest that we live in such an age as that tumultuous period in the twentieth century but it is easy to succumb to a sense of futility when looking at some crude piece of journalism or politics. The lies just keep on piling up. The noose around liberty’s neck gets a little tighter everyday etc… There is something certainly attractive about turning into a misunderstood prophet when one realizes that there is little that one can do to sway events in the direction that one wishes to and since things will eventually sway the other way, well, one may be tempted to ask, ‘What is the point?’ ‘Why bother?’ I guess if you are a journalist or a political activist making a living out of this there may be a material need to keep on finding things to be annoyed about but that is just my cynicism speaking. At times like these it is quite easy to don the hollow mask of stoicism and spew some optimistic motivational humbug. There is no good answer to this, it is immaterial to point out the few instances (relatively speaking) that individual effort has directly lead to great social change (leaving aside that many of these individuals were merely riding the currents of their time), I think at some level one has to pretend, to live and write as if it mattered what one writes and does hoping that it will one day really matter. But this leads to another problem… and that is that it is hard to be genuine in any sense if one knows that it effectively what one thinks does not matter to the outcome of the events that one comments on, in which case this may lead to the most outlandish exaggerations and conduct that can only be afforded by those who have no power.

‘Symbols are for the symbol-minded’ – George Carlin

As TJ Kirk, aka The Amazing Atheist noted in his latest video ‘Divided as One, United Apart’, lately there has been an explosion of political posturing – petty acts done to ‘send a message’, ‘to make a statement’ due to an inability to actually change anything making the whole thing look like some theatrical performance rather than anything real thus the political actors too appear like actors, attention seeking, popularity seeking actors playing the role of revolutionaries that they learned about in school and in colleges, in one word ‘LARPING’(live action role playing). I remember Tony Blair has been constantly constantly accused of trying to play the part of Winston Churchill by casting Saddam Hussein as Adolf Hitler, I do not know enough about the Iraq War to comment on the validity of this accusation, but then what does that make the social commentators (including myself) are we too not just trying to play the role of George Orwell/Winston Smith or some other ‘last sane man/prophet’? This is the problem with role models but I digress, at any rate the point is that once you start looking for posturing, virtue-signalling and the like, it soon all starts to look like a performance, a gag, an act, a sketch, things done for attention (not even for effect) and in doubting the sincerity of others one it may lead one to doubt one’s own sincerity, this is not a bad thing but not entirely good thing either, it can be extremely debilitating but it can also have a clearing effect leaving only what one really believes in, if one really believes in anything.

In a wider, more loosely political sense there can also be a pessimism of the kind that ‘the pendulum always goes forwards AND backwards/ the political universe is cyclical in its nature’ and that ‘human beings are the same only the surface of things has changed and so to live is to fall into decadence’ etc… To the former point what I would say is that it is abject fatalism, that there is a certain direction that history moves in for better or for worse at any rate at a scale that makes sense to a human’s life and to the latter I would say that most human beings are fine the way they are, morally speaking, and that a world of either selfless saints or entirely selfish devils would be worse than this one because without selfishness selflessness has no value whatsoever as those for whom the self-sacrifice is been done for do not care about themselves either and a world of only selfishness would be hell for obvious reasons. I think it is sensible to be pessimistic about trends but there is some hope to be had in that they are trends.

Finally there is also the possibility that one may bind one’s disappointments and dissatisfactions about life in general to politics creating a sort of shared fate with how well some brand of ideology fares. I would refrain from accusing someone of this as it is charge that can neither be refused or proven, it would just be speculation, much better it is to point out the wrongness of their arguments if they are wrong. And of course there is the possibility that a political outcome may be already tied to one’s well being whatever one may think of it.

I don’t know how to end this blog post. So thank you for reading.

A Sarcastic Twit Who Is Right Sometimes (Short Story)

20. August 2017

There weren’t many other people at the dock with me. John was a carpenter and Addler was a tourist from Alfonisia. By twelve O’Clock we had all boarded the ferry. There was a short of announcement welcoming us aboard which were recorded, that much was obvious by the cheery tone of the voice. One of the lifts, the one nearest to where I parked my car, was broken, and so I had to climb up the stairs. It was an old ferry, not decrepit but not new either, everything looked worn out – the carpets, the chairs etc… there weren’t any crew members on sight, and the advertising and PR all seemed out of date by ten years, back during the boom days. At any rate we sailed off the coast of Rostansia without a hitch as expected. I suppose this is where narratively speaking I should be meeting some interesting character but no such thing happened and the journey came to an end in just as an unmemorable a way as it began. It was a boring and sterile journey but at least it was always punctual, or at least the times I have done it. Without any delay I drove down the main motorway. I am too absent minded to drive so I let the car drive itself.

I looked for the news on my phone – more to entertain myself than to inform myself. I had long given up placing any personal feelings in the outcome of things I could not affect, now it was just a matter of satisfying my curiosity. It didn’t take much long to find something that would outrage me to the point it was enjoyable. Although I see no point in even bringing up what the news article was about. When I looked infront again the car was taking a turn to the left out of the motorway. Suddenly it dawned on me that what I was here for was funeral. It’s always so easy for me to be distracted by the news. Although any sentimental thoughts had long vanished the plane of my consciousness, again, because – what would it change? It was still an odd thing that I still had no idea how to act when I will meet my brother and my sister and worst of all when I’ll meet my mother. I was never that close to father but neither was I that far either – I didn’t have any strong feelings for him either way (Insert some joke about the Humour of Moderation). We did talk a bit from time to time, nothing personal, just the usual pleasantries and practical matters. I didn’t expect him to die but I was prepared for the possibility in as far as one can be for such things– though to be frank it didn’t bother it as much as I would have liked for it to when I was told about it by my brother, Jack. I distracted myself with some factoid about how in some cultures people wear white clothes at funerals instead of black ones. The car parked itself in its designated area, well I had to shift it a bit, these things weren’t perfect yet although I am surprised that we have them at all, when I was a young man these things seemed so far away – oh there I go again chasing some random line of thought.

My mother greeted me with open arms and I embraced her and muttered a few lines of greetings with a subdued tone of voice avoiding eye contact and the subject at hand – I didn’t want to be the one to bring it up. There was a small cue of mostly old people. I bowed myself out of the company of my mother and headed for that cue, I quickly reached the front and there he was, my father, or perhaps I should say his corpse in a suit as I had never seeing him lying in a wooden coffin. I quickly pretended to say a quick prayer with my head down and slowly but not too slowly walked away. I was glad that my brother volunteered to give the small speech – there was nothing that was not a platitude that I could say. My father lived a very unhealthy lifestyle towards the end of his life, I guess I should take a clue from him and abstain from my existence entirely sustained on coffee and junk food. Some things happened of a religious manner that I am not bothered to recount and then my father’s remains were buried in the same cemetery as grandpa and grandma, not too far away from theirs in fact. Jack told me that he heard some voices complaining about my absence during the ‘immediate aftermath’(to use a phrase used in the news) of my fathers death, my brother then attempted to wash away my sins by citing my busy work, I said nothing. Those voices were right, I simply couldn’t be bothered, it wasn’t as if I was any busier than usual, I could have come but I still didn’t feel any guilt about the matter and was glad that it was over and done with, to my credit if such a thing were to happen to me I didn’t expect others to rush to see my carcass either, not to be edgy, but all of this felt like some comedic meaningless ceremony out of Gulliver’s Travels. I didn’t voice any of these opinions of course and instead acted like Gulliver would have, or in other words I played along because – why bother making a scene? If it makes them feel better I will play along.

There was a beach nearby, well if you are on the island of Alfonsia you are never too far away from the beach, but this one was a particularly uncrowded one, so I headed there. It was evening but the temperature during the day was 38 degrees celsius so I figured the water would not be too cold and I was right. I swam a bit farther then I was comfortable with, people have been known to be taken and drowned away by the sudden currents in these calm seas, but any way I swam back much closer to the coast and looked up – now there is nothing about the night sky that I could say that would not be cliché but suffice to say it was purple, there were an aeroplane’s flickering varied coloured lights moving across my vision and two black moons. Unfortunately none of this was going to tell me anything about what I should do although if it did give me a clue about what I should do then I would be whinning about how it takes away my ability to decide which action is the right one. Useless! Useless! Just as I was drowning myself in self-pity while being intoxicated by self-righteousness(or is it the other way around) my phone started ringing. It was one of those waterproof models(Although I didn’t know if it was resistant to the sweet sea water). Oh shit it was that ringtone which means it was my wife, it was too late I had already answered it by the time I had realized it was her. I could have saved myself so much grief if I wasn’t so absent minded. I met her when I was studying law at Fauxbridge, well actually I met her when I was gone out in a drunken stupor at a Wapanese convention near Downtown Abbey but lets not fuss over the details lest we find the devil in them. I have never been good with puns but that hasn’t stopped me from using them.

‘Hello, it is me.” She said.

No shit.

‘Are you listening to me.’ I knew her well enough to know that that wasn’t a question but anyway I answered:

‘Yes.’

‘Do you know what that swine, that sister of yours has been saying about me! How dare you mingle with that family… after all that!?’

Chirst! It couldn’t be any more obvious that technology has gone too far when a man can’t get away from his wife’s badgering after traveling two thousand miles away!

‘Answer to me! I know you are still there!’

Impervious to reason as she was perhaps it was only polite to to answer her pleas with the obvious.

‘This has got nothing to do with Helen’ I said. ‘And everything to do with my father. And you know this as well as I do. I have broken all contact with my sister’s family for you and I haven’t spoken a single word to her since I came here.’

‘How dare you say that you did for my sake as if that were a burden… The things she said about me… And you are there!’

Useless! Meaningless! Well whoever the hell is watching if anyone is of course, can’t say I didn’t try. ‘And then there is the little factoid that there is more than a little truth in those rumours spread by my sister, Helen.’ I only said that in my mind of course, I am not one to add fuel to fire. Although it would give me the temporary satisfaction of having verbally bested her this would only last very shortly as she would be sure to reply with innuendo and threats of divorce – marriage is a joke these days, I know, but my property and my money aren’t. I have always voted cuckservative my whole life.

‘Look, I am sorry about this, let’s talk about this later, my father is dead and –‘

‘We both know you didn’t care about him.’ Ouch she got me there. ‘Just like you don’t care about anything or anyone in particular!’

Well, half of what she said was right so I will let her have it. I just wanted a way to end this conversation.

‘Anyway this isn’t about Helen and her lies about you and even if I didn’t particularly care about father you must know how in grief my mother is please don’t be a reason to further that.’

‘No this has everything to do with that woman. The reason that you went to the funeral of a man you didn’t care about is so that you could spite me!’

Hold on didn’t she just say that I don’t care about anyone or anything in particular if that is the case then why would I be bothered to stir a shit storm to spite her? Oh well, a broken clock is still wrong 1438 times a day.

‘Listen to me-’ she started and right then the battery of my phone died. Thank goodness technology hasn’t reached a point where you can always rely on the batteries of those West Korean phones.

After my little swim I drove back to my parents house in the dead of the night. Just as I was about to turn away from my car I heard a voice.

‘So she was fine with you coming here despite me being here.’ It was Helen.

‘Yeah right.’ I replied.

‘You know that she –‘ I raised my hand to stop her.

‘I just had a swim and I am feeling cold so let’s not talk about this now.’ I said as I turned around to face her voice.

‘Don’t worry, this is the last time I will ever talk to you about this, it’s your life George, but why are you still with that for a lack of a better term, whor-’

‘For my children.’

‘But couldn’t you keep them?’

‘I spend most of my time working, I don’t think that I stand a chance.’

‘And then you wouldn’t want to part ways with half of your stuff.’

‘Yes and then there’s that too.’ Half of the stuff I have earned I might add but I was not generally in the mood for an argument tonight.

‘So how is Wesley?’ I tried to change the subject.

‘That sure wasn’t exactly a subtle attempt at changing the topic, George, you aren’t half as clever as you think you are, but you are right, it’s none of my business’ she said.

‘Then why did you bring it up?’ Said my face in so far as it could speak without actually speaking but fortunately there wasn’t enough light for her to see this.

‘Since you asked, although I doubt you want to know, Wesly is doing his finals to go to university next month.’

He is doing them again? Oh well did I accidently step onto a landmine? Oh father if you are up there please stop this, it’s not like I hated you or wronged you or mother.

‘What about your chicks?Wait… What were their names? What are they up to?’

She doesn’t even pretend… Or is it on purpose? Or both? Oh well I know the answer to that after all she is still my sister or should I say ‘After all I am her brother’? or both? The third answer is my final answer. Well, lets give her what she wants which after all also happens to be what I want (Read: Entertainment).

‘Well lets see… Mary is fucking that foreign drug dealer with questionable mental health, Isabella is part of some left-wing cult at her campus but she will hopefully grow out of it once she has to work and Emily is a NEET wasting away her youth watching soppy West Korean dramas, Wapanese cartoons and dating simulators while spending her days alone. And that my dear sister is what my little ‘chicks’ are doing.’

‘Thank you.’ Helen says as she cracks into a mocking laughter. ‘Your candid responses are always a breath of fresh air if a bit cringy George.’ And then she left.

Well actually Mary is engaged to the son of a businessman I know very well. Isabella is a studying a STEM degree away from the ideologues in the not only worthless but actually harmful humanities and Emily is… into a lot of weird stuff but is otherwise a kind and happy child. But if this entertains Helen and makes her feel better about her loser son… what’s the harm? Some how I feel that this lie will come back to bite me in the ass at a later date however I will not regret this until then.

Edit: If you want me to write a ‘Part 2’ for this story leave a comment in the comment section because I don’t want to write a story that at least a single person won’t read, or in other words I am willing to write as long as a single person (other than me) reads what I write.

Note: The opinions of the characters are not necessarily my own.

Nobody really cares about ‘liberalism’ and ‘democracy’

6. August 2017

During the last few years I have seen too many instances where I have heard someone say that we should suspend freedom of speech, the assumption of innocence until guilt is proven, democracy etc… when it advantages their political opponents. I suggest we should stop trying to pretend we care about things like ‘liberalism’ and ‘democracy’ and instead just set up rival militia and murder each other. That would be a much more honest way to practice politics today. Everyone just thinks that it would be better if tomorrow all of their political enemies would be wiped off the surface of the earth or sent straight to hell right away. But why won’t we do just that? Because we are cowards. No one is willing to even put themselves in harms way for what they believe in hiding behind the protection of liberty when it suits them and then disregarding all such principles as soon as the chance to strike at their opponents arises often doing both things simultaneously. Honestly it is disgusting. No wonder foreigners don’t take our ‘liberal principles’ seriously. It is all but an open fraud. In effect Erdogan was the only honest politician(and I use the term politician in the most broad and inclusive manner possible) when he said that democracy is a bus that he gets on to get to a destination and then gets off of when he has arrived there.