I finally watched the 2012 4-episode BBC series which adapted "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" and "The Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul", by the author of "The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy".

This is a science-fiction comedy about a fast-talking con man. He peddles self-serving conspiracy theories, but each time, his scheme is foiled when he turns out to be accidentally correct. He really is psychic; he can perform real hypnosis; it's really aliens. Ghosts. The Illuminati. He'd get rich, if only he could come up with a lie so outre that it doesn't turn out to be true.

As a private detective, Dirk is not a genius-- at least in the conventional sense. When everyone else is satisfied with the surface appearance of a solved crime, Dirk saves the day with his stubborn insistence that any explanation of the whole crime is incomplete until it is a bizarre tangle of circumstantial evidence. Every coincidence in the universe is connected by threads of cause and effect. Following the threads will lead to the same conclusion every time: yet another dubious rationalization to give Dirk money.

I adore how this franchise parodies the absurd scenarios in every detective mystery. The second thing it parodies is the hero-worship glorification of "Sherlock". Both shows concern a obnoxious private detective in London with a straight-arrow partner. And yet, in "Dirk Gently", the writers do not fawn over their protagonist. No one comes crawling back to Dirk. No one in Dirk's life begrudgingly respects him. No one even pays him. No one loves him. Except, I guess, me. :)

Expectations are low for television adaptations of beloved books. To my surprise, I enjoyed every moment of this series. Part of the appeal of the novels was a convoluted plot which rewards multiple readings, revealing ingenious levels of interconnection, foreshadowing, and big ideas. That was impossible to directly convert to episodic format, so the elements of the story were extracted individually, then rearranged to be more accessible. But the show-runners understood the appeal of the source material and successfully channeled its spirit. Bravo!
nemorathwald: (Matt 4)
How much of the way of life that a person chooses has to do with crafting an identity, a persona?

Take for instance those who join the Society for Creative Anachronism, dance to "Under A Harvest Moon" by a Celtic acoustic band, protect the environment, shop at Whole Foods Market, collect fantasy art, worship aboriginal pantheons, study geneology, pay for alternative traditional remedies, and pine for the simpler and more romantic days of yore.

Consider those who attend science fiction conventions, listen to highly-produced electronica, live entirely on Hot Pockets and Breakfast Toaster Scrambles in the car, read WIRED Magazine, collect art of artificial eco-habitats floating in outer space, scorn the religions and heritages of the world, donate to genetic engineering and artificial intelligence research, would implant their cell phone in their ears and an internet-equipped PDA in their eyes if they could, and can hardly wait for life to get faster, prettier and more complicated.

I could name other categories than these two, but is it really ideology? Such as that between past and future, between nature and technology, between gods and man? How much of the difference between counter-cultures is just ... a fashion statement? A series of "identity purchases" that cultivate a "Total Personality LifestyleTM"?
nemorathwald: (Matt 3)
I picked up this meme from [livejournal.com profile] jeffreyab and [livejournal.com profile] rikhei. Take the timeline and fill in the story of your past and your plans for the future.
Read more... )
Here is a link to a wonderful letter written by artificial intelligence researcher Eliezer Yudkowski, describing his reaction to the death of his brother. It moved me to tears. I felt very similar to what he expressed, after the death of my beloved grandmother last year. Mr. Yudkowski is one of the six or seven people worldwide who I wish I could meet and personally befriend. I admire this small set of folks for consistently inspiring me to live a better life with amazing philosophy. This letter was no exception. I thought someone that insightful must be 75 years old, and was surprised when [livejournal.com profile] rmeidaking revealed to me that he's younger than I am.

I am a transhumanist. It would be great if you were one too, but that's OK. If you want you and your own loved ones to die and go to heaven, that's your business and I totally understand. It will suffice if you just don't want me to die, for an enjoyable two-hundred years or so, or as long as possible after that. Not so much to ask of you... but it's difficult for most people. Oh well; I'm satisfied with society taking baby steps. There's very little point in a transhumanist freakshow like me being evangelical about it in a society that is so screwed up that we depict death as a cute goth girl in Sandman comics. Please don't hate me for saying this, but I find that character obscene. The Grim Reaper is our enemy, not someone to befriend. Death is not a transition. Not a learning experience. Not justice. It is the ultimate enemy, an even worse enemy than mindkind is to itself. War pales in comparison. This is one of those issues on which even the nicest people tend to be terrifyingly misanthropic and then expect to be praised for it. "I want you and me and everyone you love to die," they are saying to me. "Eventually. Not now." "Why thank you for such generosity," I would acidly reply.

What has happened is this: the coping skills that were developed over the centuries are backfiring on us. We refuse to do the work of overcoming that with which we are coping. This is illustrated in The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant by one of the leaders of the World Transhumanist Association, Nick Bostrum PhD from Oxford.
In my discussions of marriage law (which are frequent) it amazes me to hear gays tell me how conservative they are. You want to hear an irony? Socially, gay-marriage advocates tend to be conservatives who are romanticizing the stone age.Read more... )we should not allow the state to acknowledge ANY relationships with the special designation of "legal marriage," meaning "this relationship is acceptable to the State but that one is not." Instead they should all be "civil unions" in the eyes of the state, and whether or not you're "married" depends entirely on what your church/synagogue/coven says, if any. The state shouldn't even ask about that. In this I include Christian heterosexual weddings and their "gay-inclusive" update.Read more... )

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