Saturday, April 08, 2006

God and Free Will

Euthanasia: good or evil?
Abortion: murder or self-determinism?
Sex education: help or corruption?
Alternative healing: divine progress or the devil's work?
Genetic research: potential lifesaver or tampering with God's creations?

Is there a common thread to all these intense and complex debates? It seems to me that one thing is pretty central:
If we are God's children, what kind of father is he?
Is he the stern patriarch who knows everything and therefore must be obeyed and never questioned?
Or is he a laid-back parent who wishes first and foremost his children to be their own individuals who run their own lives and make their own mistakes?

Conversely, what kind of children should we be? Should we be quiet and obedient and never do anything if we have not been told that this is what Father wants us to do?
Or should be be rambunctious kids who always want to do things ourselves, and who sometimes get hurt or in trouble, but who learn fast and meet the universe head on?

Friday, April 07, 2006

"Garden of Earthly Delights"

[See the full painting at the bottom of this page.]
My friend Jim wrote to me:

"During my senior year in college, I wrote a thesis about the works of Hieronymus Bosch, the 'father of modern surrealism', which I think we have discussed. Part of that thesis was actually looking at the paintings in a detached way in order to take in the didactic message. Just look at the paintings for awhile before thinking about them and forming opinions, and the artist will speak to you! That was my theme. The 'Garden of Earthly Delights' center panel is obviously anthropromorphic in compostion, with the five surreal structures representing four of the five senses in a map of the human head...eyes, ears, nose, mouth. My paper became the basis for modern interpretations of the painting because my professor, who didn't like my radical ideas much, nonetheless passed the interpretation along into academic circles.

"Bosch depicted youthful, sexy, beautiful nude women in his paintings, along with their innocent sexual play and courtship with young men. I regret that I have never visited the Prado to see this masterpiece.

"We can only guess what the message was, and why this painting was an altarpiece in a church.

"When I photograph, the Renniassance art muse is always perched on one shoulder, and the dirty old man on the other. I try to satisfy both, but the grail is always truth and beauty."

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A small film recommendation

(You gotta love a blog for getting out small notes about anything that comes to mind, that some people may like, and others can skip if they wish.)

The film "Duets" is much overlooked. But I found it quirky, funny, and interesting. Also it turns out that Gwyneth Paltrow can sing. I mean she can really sing! Wow. Huey Lewis (who does a great job playing accross from her) says "she's a great singer. Not a good singer, a great one.)
Incidentally, it is an interesting phenomenon that when I Google an actress to find a picture of her, it is hard to find one which shows her with personality... Most of the professional pictures have been so "genericised" by make-up and computer retouching that they all look the same! It's disgusting.


Isn't it funny and remarkable how even the most powerful and exalted individual on the planet is more or less helpless in the face of beauty? You may suppress it (most can't), but it is impossible not to have an intense desire for a really pretty member of your preferred gender. You'd think you could elevate yourself about it, but no.


"Under-achiever"... "over-achiever"...
It is funny, in the US people look askance at people who are not "successful".
And in Europe, people look askance at people who are!
One might imagine that somebody might decide to let others just live their lives like they want?

Cat in the bush

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


I can just see it now: Billy-boy, going along the small country roads in his huge SUV at his usual 90 mph, suddenly seeing a hedgehog right in front of his car. He only has a split-second to react. Thoughts whip through his mind like a mid-winter rainstorm... - What a cute little thing... A pity to squash it... On the other hand it sounds funny when you do... But wait, there was this sticker on somebody's car saying not to... Better not do it!!
And in the last remaining thousandth of a second he boldly forces the car to the side, and crashes into an oncoming minibus full of blind nuns on their way to Sunday service.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Alicia Witt

I have long been wondering why Hollowood so severely under-uses so many of its young, talented, beautiful actresses.
For example Phoebe Cates. And for example all three young actresses in the nineties sitcom Step by Step. (One of those intellectuals love to hate, but I found it delightful and funny.)
And for example Alicia Witt. She is a world class talent, she's a redhead, she has a presence second to none, and you won't find a more beautiful woman, in my opionion. Yet she has basically been featured only in bit parts or small films. What a waste.
C'mon Hollywood, smell the coffee.

Snow tree shadows

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Age and erotica

Here's a loaded question: Do you believe that erotica is harmful to children?
I am struck by the fact that even liberal people tend to assume as a given that while erotica should be free, we should take care to keep it away from children. Even I feel that way sometimes. But I can't give a good reason for it.
In fact it is clear that the areas and countries which have a very laid-back attitude towards erotica (and nudity) are producing much fewer rapists than areas with very strict taboos.
Also, all kinds of therapists all over the world and in any culture agree on one thing: it is the thing which we hide (or hide from) which will harm us!
So the whole thing is a little bit puzzling.

Snow and tracks

I was begged for no more snow pictures. Well tough titty, I am not done with those I took. :)
As further evidence of the wonders of digital, here is the picture before editing.