Monday, August 30, 2010

Evaluation: Ananke 7

Guh. I'm more or less over that strangling feeling that I can't write, which is probably brought about because I think I know how to get to the end. But damn, it's been hard finding time. I was sucked into an endless vortex of forums, webcomicsa and blogs (the usual, that is) but also fanfiction and manga. Yes, fanfiction. Namely, Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality blew my mind in twelve different ways, thirteen if you count "Wait, there's good HP fanfics?". Go read it now if you like super-scientific child prodigies, attempts to make understand and abuse magic, and poking fun at Harry Potter. As for manga, I got my hands on twenty previously unread chapters of Hunter X Hunter, which is somewhere around Death Note and Fullmetal Alchemist in the competition for best ungoddamned thing to ever come out of Japan. Mind further blown. So, my point is, I have stuff to write but little time to do it.

Good news is, 7dash! Another character I've been wanting to write for some time made his appearance. I also censored myself and gave him trousers, mostly to avoid having to think about whether he has cyborg genitalia. Which, come to think of it... nope, you don't need to know my fetishes. Move right along.

More good news is that I like how the passage describing him and his lair turned out. I'm not sure if it's something anyone else would like, but I do. Bad news is I have trouble describing the seen that follows, mostly because it's too, I dunno, normal. Quirks of my brain. I'll figure it out, though. And I have good ideas for the conversation following it, though that will make me annoyed at how I write conversations yet again. Fucking dialogue.

I want to write this, and I can write it. If I find a way to make the time... I'm not saying it'll be done by next week. But I am saying it could be done by next week. Or the next one. Or possibly the next one. And that makes me giddy with anticipation. I will finish this, and then edit it, and then publish it, and laugh at the part of me that says I could not, and then nobody will read it but that their problem, not mine. Then I'll write something else. It may take another two months, but that's ok, I'm writing and it's awesome and I'm creating an ungoddamn universe and raping the English language with run-on sentences. Sorry about that.

Point is, this is a good time. I like being alive right now. It feels... like it should.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Evaluation: Ananke 6

And so, at the not terribly impressive rate of about one scene a week, Ananke marches on. Yes, I used to write about four times faster, but I'm busy with other things and honestly, I don't see the point in rushing myself and thus not enjoying the actual writing. I feared that I'd eventually just give up on the project as I did with any other story that took longer than two weeks, but apparently this evaluation thing works. At least, it seems to be working. Now's definitely too early to declare victory.

I got a name for Icarus (the name, in case you're wondering, is Icarus), which is so far my favourite character that hasn't had a single appearance yet (she got a mention though). Samarkand got a name far earlier, by comparison, and I'm still not quite sure about him and might end up not writing him at all. His only role so far was taken over by Icarus, and while he might get another so far he's not crucial. Why am I talking to my hypothetical readers about characters they know nothing about since they haven't had any appearances yet? Who knows, the answer's probably "It's fun". Also that nobody reads these so who cares what I write about. Seriously, as far as I remember my logs show nobody but me ever clicks an evaluation, but they for some reason read my ramblings in languages they (probably) can't read about random idiots sending letters to the editor. So yeah.

I also found a nice way to introduce another scene that's kinda important to the overall story, if not this particular chapter of it, and the ending is solidifying. I think I can trace a path between where I am and the ending, which means the hardest part is almost over. Don't get your (my) hopes up, though. It still needs work and I might spontaneously lose interest. I'll do my best not to, that's the most I can say.

Flaws! Dialogue annoys me to no end. I never know if it's possible to follow it but I don't want lots of Machi said and Ananke said every time. It also keeps sounding fake to me, but no idea what to do about it. And I keep having to reconsider minor plot details because they are inconsistent. Or at least don't get along too well. Which means that there are probably other plot holes I'm not seeing and might only notice when it's too late. I'll have to ponder more.

I have another story I want to work with, but it's far too Whateley for my tastes. Less superheroes, but more special school for whatever. I want original ideas! Why do I keep getting the ones which I know I'll hate to write because I'll keep thinking "You're ripping them off, you fucking copycat!". So fuck it, it's getting put behind the queue. I have Dusk and Thesis to write, which I know makes no sense to anyone else but it's for me so that's ok. I have a little other thing which has a character I love but almost no plot yet. The sequel to Graduality, which is still very early in planning. And then time travel, gender-bender, pseudophilosocrap, mystic crap, gender-bender, gore, creepy, parody, and gender-bender. Yes, Journal was only scratching the surface of that particular interest of mine. In any case, demonschool is put on hold until the plot develops enough it's not a ripoff. Perhaps not to the end, because it's fun to work with and has more plot than most of those, but it certainly won't be next.

And, er, that's it for now. I hope you imaginary people reading this enjoyed the look into my works in progress.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

El valor de la vida

Y aconteció que por vez número ya perdí la cuenta, leí una carta de lectores del diario.

El aborto y la UBA

Se­ñor Di­rec­tor:

"Como graduado de la Facultad de Ciencias Sociales de la UBA siento vergüenza por la decisión de esa casa de estudios de apoyar la legalización del aborto en la Argentina. Y más por hacerlo en nombre de los derechos humanos. ¿Hasta dónde puede llegar la perversión humana si quienes se ocupan de pensar los valores sociales se definen a favor del peor de los crímenes y llaman a eso un derecho humano?

"El 3/8, el consejo directivo de Sociales aprobó por unanimidad el proyecto de ley de interrupción voluntaria del embarazo (Nº 0998-D-2010), para ser tratado en el Congreso, que afirma que «no hay una única manera válida de enfrentar el dilema ético que supone un embarazo no deseado» y sostiene el derecho de las mujeres a decidir sobre el propio cuerpo. Lo curioso es que no se habla del derecho a extirparse el hígado o un riñón, sino que alude a un ser humano en gestación, persona desde la concepción, culpable de no haber sido deseado. ¡Vaya a saber cuántos de nosotros pudimos no haber sido deseados, no sea cosa que estemos viviendo casi sin merecerlo!

"Que el derecho básico, primario, el derecho a la vida, se encuentre sojuzgado en nombre de los derechos humanos es una fatídica contradicción o el signo de que avanzamos hacia una sociedad en la que la vida ya no tiene un valor irreductible."

Javier García Moritán
Lic. en Ciencias de la Comunicación
DNI 28.417.408

Más que nada, me llamó la atención el último párrafo. Todo derecho se encuentra limitado por otros derechos. No existe tal cosa como un derecho absoluto, ni a la vida ni a nada más. Eso, sin entrar en detalles sobre por qué un puñado de células tiene más derechos que otros.

Pero también, la parte sobre el valor de la vida como "irreductible". El hecho es, ya vivimos en una sociedad en la que el valor de la vida no es irreductible. Empecemos por lo obvio. Todo ser vivo, como cualquier otro sistema, necesita energía para funcionar. Y, a menos que tal organismo sea capaz de fotosíntesis o quimiosíntesis, tiene que matar a otro ser vivo para conseguirla. Todo ser humano mata para vivir, y a nadie le parece mal (y si ese es el caso, me pregunto como vive). Ergo, "la vida" evidentemente no es tan valiosa.

Pero, quizás, el lector se refería no a la vida en general, sino a la vida humana. Un caso algo más interesante. ¿Es la vida humana intrínsecamente valiosa? Bueno, no es por asumir que tengo la respuesta a un interrogante de tal magnitud, pero, erm, eso es exactamente lo que voy a hacer.

Mi apéndice es vida humana. Está vivo, ciertamente, y cabe suponer que es humano dado que es el apéndice de un ser humano. Nadie piensa que una apendicectomía es un asesinato, sin embargo.

Entonces, queda claro que simplemente la combinación de "vida" y "humanidad" no es suficiente para dar un "valor irreductible". Lo cual de por sí demuestra lo que dije al principio, pero vayamos un poco más lejos. Obviamente, se considera que hay una diferencia entre el valor de un feto y un apéndice. La pregunta es, ¿por qué?

¿Es acaso el hecho de que un feto puede crecer y convertirse en una persona? Porque lo mismo podría decirse de un óvulo. Dada las circumstancias correctas, es cierto tanto de un feto como de un óvulo que pueden llegar a ser personas. Sin embargo, nadie (o casi nadie) considera que una mujer que no está embarazada es equivalente a una mujer que aborta. A pesar de que en ambos casos se previene a una vida humana de llegar a convertirse en persona.

Entonces, tampoco alcanza la combinación de "vida", "humanidad" y "potencial de persona" para dar un valor irreductible.

Se podría pensar, entonces, que el valor de la vida del feto proviene de alguna propiedad de lo que es y no de lo que será. El problema es que, bueno, un feto humano no es de por sí muy diferente del feto de, digamos, un chimpancé. Sin mencionar que un chimpancé adulto es más cercano a una persona que un feto humano. Y sin embargo, matar a un chimpancé tampoco es asesinato.

Entonces, me pregunto yo, ¿si el valor de un feto no proviene de su vida, su humanidad, su potencial, o de su personalidad, de dónde carajo viene? ¿Qué mierda es tan importante acerca de esas células en particular y no de otras que superan el derecho a la autonomía sobre el propio cuerpo?

Seguiré buscando una respuesta, pero algo me dice que no hay ninguna.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Evaluation: Ananke 5

An evaluation on a Monday? Three consecutive days of posting? Who the hell am I and what have I done with, er, myself?

So Ananke is progressing nicely into what is almost certainly going to be the longest Psychflare so far. I say this because it's five pages long already and I'm barely starting. Good news is, the plot has been thoroughly introduced, I'm making way with setting down groundwork for future Vurok stories, and I'm closing up a few loose ends.

Bad news is I still don't like the style, I still have no idea how to end it, and there's a part coming up that I will definitely fuck up in some way. Plot-wise, that is. I simply don't know enough about a subject, and I can't think of any way to research it, so I'll have to make it up on the spot and hope it makes enough sense. A specific ending seems more and more tempting, but I can't figure out how to build up to it. Odds are that's what's going to happen, since A) I tend to work backwards from endings whenever I have the chance and B) It leads to a nice intro for whichever next Vurok story. Probably from Machi's point of view this time, I think I'm neglecting her.

I'm not quite sure about how much exposition on Ananke's powers I should do, because I don't know if they make sense to anyone else from the descriptions I've provided so far. They make sense to me, but then I've been thinking about them for quite a long time now. Longer than Void's powers, cause his keep changing. Which reminds me, I still haven't introduced Void's signature power yet. Though I'm sure I can work a chance for it, it'd have to be an action scene, which means no explanation of what's going on until later. I'll find out a way around it.

In not quite psychflare related news, I'm kind of happy with the new version of Untheism. The religion, not the blog. It makes more sense than the original. And, after reading a lot of Discordian stuff, I find it kind of funny how Ungod has a superficial equivalent in Aneris. Makes me wonder if I should give zir an antagonist...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Because he is Muslim

So someone linked me to this thingy. And I'm conflicted.

On the one side, yes, Muslims get a lot of underserved shit. Every religion has their share of fucking crazy assholes, and claiming that every suicide bomber is representative of Islam is quite simply bullshit. It's the kind of stereotyping I hate everywhere else.

And burka bans and similar measures don't help the situation. Yes, some women are indeed forced to wear burkas, but as it turns out others aren't. And banning the symptom of the oppressive mentality does nothing to improve it. I'd argue it only fucks them over worse.

This whole "Mosque at Ground Zero" thing is an obvious example. Let's ignore it's not really a mosque and not really at Ground Zero for a bit. The entire argument against it is, what? That somehow the entirety of Islam is to blame for what individuals did in its name? That it upsets people, therefore it's evil? Would they argue that people shouldn't build churches anywhere in the Middle East that was affected by the Crusades?

So yes. Islam often treated as some sort of hive mind where every Muslim is an undercover Osama bin Laden, and every time any one of them does anything that someone might dislike it's "If we let them exist then the terrorists win!"

But. You can't ignore that Islam does have a part to play in what Muslims do. You can't ignore that some Muslims do horrifying things, sometimes because of Islam, in the same way that some Christians do horrifying things because of Christianity, Hindus because of Hinduism, and etcetera. And nowadays, because of a number of reasons, Islam is the best (worst) example of the evils religion can do.

To quote Greta Christina:
Of course religious wars and hatreds are complex -- multi-factorial, as the social scientists say -- with lots of causes feeding into them. But to deny the role that religion plays in religious conflicts is a textbook example of ignoring the elephant in the room. It's like looking at an enormous steaming pile of elephant shit in the room, and going, "My goodness, where could all this elephant shit have come from? It must have been brought here by a greedy, selfish, power-hungry elephant trainer. Elephant? No, I don't see any elephant here."
The key here, is that Islam is not inherently worse than all the other superstitions. At least, not by any significant measure. The sociological factors at work right now, in the countries where Islam is prevalent, means that worse aspects get shown. It's worth remembering that other religions were (are) just as horrible sometimes. And it's also worth remembering that you can't pretend that Islam plays no part in what is done in its name.

Or, at least, that's my obviously biased view on the matter.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Untheism revisited

Some time ago, I had a burst of inspiration. "What if," I thought to myself, "there was a god that not only did not exist, just like the rest of 'em, but also found that not existing was not the crippling disability all the others think it is?"

It was a pretty simple concept. Ungod is the god of things that don't exist, so not existing doesn't bother zir at all. In fact, considering how many things don't exist, that makes zir a rather powerful deity.

And thus I developed the idea and a religion called Untheism was born. Eager to share this brain excretion* with the world, I decided to create a blog. This blog, as a matter of fact. Of course, nowadays it's more about my attempts to suck less as a writer than about theism of any kind, but it's the same basic process of "get weird idea -> develop -> write about it-> share with the universe -> reflect on how stupid the ideas are -> try to improve them"
*I prefer to call them psychflares nowadays, but still, it was excreted from my brain.
On that last point. This was rather obvious to me from the start, but it became more and more annoying with time; the basic fallacy of Untheism is that it treats non-existence as simply an alternative characteristic to existence. This leads to logical contradictions, because I'm basically saying that that which cannot exist logically is on an equivalent state with that which can but does not. I handwaved that by saying untheist logic is different from regular logic, which is simply bullshit. Not an explanation, just a vague reference to an explanation that might exist but is not described at all.

So, lately, I figured it was time to take a serious look at the joke/thought experiment that gave birth to this blog, and see if it can be improved. The amount of flaws that jump out given a critical eye is astounding. Considering how readily I find flaw in other religions, it's nothing but a show of obvious bias that I didn't see them in one I created.

So to hell with it, let's start anew. In my official capacity as High Priest(ess) of Ungod, I declare that:
  1. The previous interpretation of the Revelation of Ungod, as shown in May 2008, is not an accurate representation of the realities of Ungod, and the Church of Ungod, acknowledging this, hereby finds those teachings void as untheist doctrine.
  2. In our quest to find the truth or closest equivalent, we have agreed upon a new interpretation of the Revelation of Ungod, which is to be detailed below.
  3. The new interpretation is hereafter to be considered the doctrine of the Church of Ungod, until such time that it is declared void and replaced by another interpretation.
  4. Whoever disagrees with any point expressed here is free to come up with their own ideas about the subject, it's not like we're gonna enforce orthodoxy.
  5. The use of first-person plural pronouns in point 2 above is not to be taken to mean that the Church of Ungod has more than one member. It's just that zie likes to argue with zirself.
And now behold, for I am to share with you the Revelation of Ungod, in its new and hopefully less mistaken interpretation:

The Revelation of Ungod

As understood by the Church of Ungod at this point in time

As we all know, there are things that exist. As most of us also know, there also things that cannot exist. But as most of you don't know, some things that don't exist still have a measure of reality greater than others. And the key to this lies in the mind.

The worlds of non-existence (from this point on "the wones") don't exist, as their name implies. But their non-existence is such that, from a certain perspective, they can be considered to exist. This perspective being of those within each wone, who might not exist but still have a right to an opinion, I figure.

Where does the mind come in? Well, as it turns out, the wones are shaped and inhabited by minds. When a mind thinks it often comes up with ideas, some of which are things. And when that happens, those thought-things begin to not-exist in a wone (as opposed to not-existing nowhere)

Each wone consists of ideas given reality (from this point on "nemis") that can cohabit with each other. By which I mean that, well, some nemis cannot by definition be in the same world. Say one nemi is a singing bull and another a natural law that states that bovines cannot sing, both nemis are incompatible and thus will never be found in the same wone. In addition to nemis, wones have minds, which are sometimes nemis, but sometimes aren't. That is because every mind that came to be in the existing world, like say you or me, will eventually end up in a wone. That happens when the mind ceases to exist, usually death.

A nemi is only as real and complete as the mind that created it can make it. That means, you can think of "a sheet of paper with a demonstration of Pythagoras' theorem", but that won't fully manifest in a wone as described unless you actually know a demonstration of Pythagoras' theorem. "Someone who knows everything" will be similarly incomplete unless the creator mind actually does know everything. The resulting nemi might act as if it did know everything, but it most definitely will not. Etcetera. This also prevents that which cannot exist from becoming a nemi. Thinking of square circles is fun and all, but since you can't actually describe how something is both a square and a circle, it doesn't appear.

Some nemis are not the direct result of a mind, but rather a side-effect of other nemis. If I imagine an animal that can reproduce, for example, the young will also be nemis, but I didn't actually think of them, only the circumstances that gave them origin. Likewise, if I imagine a time machine, I am also creating a rule that allows time travel in that particular wone, as a side effect of my time machine. If that wone already has a rule against time travel, then it will have to appear in another one. A new wone might appear for that very purpose.

All these rules about wones and nemis are embodied and in a sense enforced by an entity known as Ungod. Ungod is the only mind that was born neither existing nor nemi, as simply a fact of reality. Ungod has power over nemis and wones, to create them but also to uncreate them, to move them around as zie wishes, and to know as much about them as possible. Possibly others, but those are the ones that zie told us about. It is possible that it was Ungod who created existence as a special kind of wone, but zie has not confirmed nor denied that.

The core of Untheism is Ungod. That is, the belief in a god you know doesn't exist, but doesn't find non-existence a problem. Everything else is a matter of each untheist's interpretation of what existence means and how it works. The Church of Ungod offer their views in the matter, and some advice on what to do based on this knowledge, but it is our responsibility to inform you we are most likely wrong in at least some aspects of it.

There are no untheist sins, no point in praying to Ungod, and no known way to find out if we're right or not other than dying, which we do not recommend. You'll die eventually, no sense in rushing things. We do recommend thinking about it, and other things. If you're gonna spend an arbitrarily long period of time after death as just your mind, then practice in using it will come in handy.

Furthermore, it has been said that Ungod likes interesting ideas, and as far as we know that's true. And being in the good graces of the one entity that can permanently uncreate you is, we think, a wise course of action. You, however, might decide that you don't care what Ungod wants or not. Fair enough, I suppose, ultimately the decision is yours to make.

There is one more reason to encourage development of your mind. Actually, there's plenty of them, most of them mundane and not linked to Untheism. In any case, this one I'm not sure it's a good idea to talk about just yet. There's still some thinking that needs to be done on the subject. Don't concern yourself with it.

That was the latest version of the Church of Ungod's interpretation of the Revelation of Ungod. It's bound to undergo correction at some unknown point in time, and it is certainly not complete. Some is unknown, some is left unsaid, and some I forgot. So do keep that in mind.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Evaluation: Ananke 4

Yes, as any hypothetical regular readers would have noticed, it's once again not Monday and about two weeks after my last evaluation. Blame rap music or something if that bothers you.

So I wrote yet another page of Ananke, and about the one thing I have accomplished is realise how much I like to make characters ramble on various subjects, in this case the morality or lack thereof of their actions. Apparently I have recurring themes! Who knew?

OK, I also managed a little bit of character development. Namely, Lightedge is the "new guy" (an ad hoc decision to justify a bit of exposition) who is still uncomfortable around the the sociopaths he has chosen to surround himself with and Machi, erm, isn't. That was important, actually, because the conversation was first written with their roles reversed and I noticed it clashed with my mental ideas of who the characters are. I had no idea I had managed to develop personalities for characters who aren't Void. Hurray for not being as shitty a writer as I think I am! (This is the point where I am reminded that Void doesn't have a personality and that I make Stephenie Meyer look like the lovechild of J.R.R. Tolkien and Ursula K. Le Guin)

And that's it. I might, might, interrupt the work on Ananke to write another psychflare that will most likely make no fucking sense at all. Personal reasons.

Oh, and I finally got around to getting a Creative Commons button on the blog. Not that I expect anyone to ever want to reproduce or alter my work in any shape, way or form at any point in the future, but if they do, they now know they can! (Provided they mention I'm the original author, it's for a non-commercial purpose, and they share under those same conditions. Or personally ask for an exception to any of those rules which I'll probably be too shocked to deny)