Friday Flotsam: Sensing Desperation in the News, then onto Godzilla and Dickens

1. I mostly ignore the news these days, except a few sources. News takes up too much ‘headspace’ without there being anything I can do about it, which is a very bad combination. My headspace is frankly too busy as it is between creative projects, looking for work, and depression, so I try to keep current events out of it. Not very successfully, but I at least don’t seek out any more news than I can help.

However, for what it’s worth the impression I get from what does slip in is of an establishment that feels itself to be on the way out. Not only that, but is desperately, frantically trying to cling to life. Look at how over-the-top their actions and rhetoric is becoming, how they seem to be getting more and more uncompromising even as their share in public opinion grows less and less. Whether in Church or State, the modernists seem to me to be trying to push back a wave of backlash by raw force.

It’s weird when you think about it; the trends and views that have held sway for two or three generations now somehow want to claim immortality for themselves even as people start giving them up. This in spite of the fact that they got their initial start by preaching ‘rebellion against the establishment.’

You see, the current establishment became so under the idea that it was the birth of a new age: a modern, progressive age in which the tired, out-dated traditions and modes of the past would be thrown over in favor of something better. This is one reason (I think a key one) why political and religious ‘progressives’ are so hostile towards traditionalists and so reluctant to face up to the real-world results of their policies. What people want most of all is to think well of themselves, and these people have staked their self-view on the idea that they are the future.

How could, say, an enthusiastically post-conciliar Bishop face up to the fact that not only is the modern Church a disaster, but that almost the only signs of life are in places where his favored changes were either reversed or never took place? To enthusiastically work for what you think is going to be a renewal, and then find out that not only did it cause great harm, but the real renewal came from the very things you were trying to change?

Basically, what must it be like to realize that your life’s work is going to go down in history as a colossal failure, at best a curious fad that came and went and at worst a key signpost on the way to collapse?

And the worst part is that if you are embracing these kinds of ideas in the first place, you’re likely the kind of person who thinks in terms of historical verdicts. The kind of person who advocates for kids to go out and ‘change the world’ and who thinks being left out of the history books somehow affects one’s satisfaction in life.

Hence their desperation, their frantic clinging to the ever more dubious idea that they are the future, that their ideas work, that they are on ‘the right side of history’.

History is an excellent teacher. It’s a cruel god.

This is, of course, assuming a modicum of good-will and sincerity in these people. But in either case, it seems to me that they can feel their own tottering credibility and are frantically trying to cling to it. What the result will be, I don’t know. The fact that they control most of the levers of society may mean that they have the power to hold off their own death for a long time. We’ll see.

Hearing these people talk makes me think of Batman’s comment to Ra’s Al Ghul in Batman Beyond, upon learning that Ra’s sacrificed his own daughter to prolong his life even further:

“Sure, Ra’s, anything to hold off the Grim Reaper for another few seconds. I take it back; you don’t cheat death, you whimper in fear of it!”

2. On a completely different note, everywhere that I’ve seen the Godzilla vs. Kong trailer (I mean literally everywhere), someone makes the comment:
Kong: “Save…Mothra!”

Guess we know what this brings to mind for people. At the very least, I think it’s a safe bet that this will be better than Batman v. Superman. If nothing else, we won’t have Jesse Eisenberg’s skin-peelingly bad interpretation of Lex Luthor (though if they announce him as playing the Controller of Planet X, then screw it: I’m out of there).

(Oh, God: I just realized that I need to do a full Batman v. Superman essay at some point, because I hate that movie so much it really needs a full tear-down. It’s on a short list along with The Last Jedi and Captain Marvel as one of my most hated films of all time).

Me, I’m hoping for something more like:
Godzilla: “Stay down. Final warning.”
Kong: “I could do this all day…”

3. I’ll just say it: at this point I really would rather have a Godzilla vs. Gamera film. I think there’s a lot more you could do with those two playing off each other. Plus there would be less, hm, adjustment needed to make it work. Kong needs to be dialed up so much to make him a match for Godzilla that he’s just shy of a different character whenever they meet. Besides which, attempts to the contrary not withstanding, Kong really only has the one story: attempts to use him in other contexts or give him other adventures always feel kind of haphazard and unconvincing to me. Gamera, on the other hand, is not only much closer to Godzilla in terms of size and power (though his abilities are very different), but like Godzilla he’s a serial character with his own adventures and rogues gallery, so having those two finally meet on screen would feel a lot more meaningful.

And just imagine King Ghidorah commanding a swarm of Gyaos…

4. Reading Nicholas Nickleby at the moment. Not the first time with the story, but the first time actually reading it (I listened to an audio version the previous two times. Actually started this time in audio as well, but switched to text about half-way through for reasons that make sense in context). I generally like Dickens. He’s a master wordsmith, and his command of the sound of English is almost without parallel. On the other hand, I find his caricature and exaggeration a little annoying at times, and he overdoes the pathos so much at times that it becomes sickening. Plus he relies on coincidence way too much: characters in Dickens novels keep just running into one another whenever he decides to introduce someone or bring someone back from an earlier chapter. But once get past that and he’s a lot of fun. Nickleby is a rollicking good time: a nice, solid melodrama. And I really like melodrama.

I especially appreciate Dickens giving the villain, Ralph Nickleby (our hero’s evil uncle) some touches of humanity, like how he genuinely is fond of his niece and actually feels ashamed of himself for exposing her to abuse at one point. Same with Lord Verisopht. And Newman Noggs is worth the price of admission all on his own. That’s one of the best things about Dickens; his chaaracters are so over-the-top and so odd that they’re often a ton of fun.

By the way, I can see Mrs. Nickelby giving Mrs. Bennett a run for her money in the ‘most obnoxiously troublesome parent’ event in the British novel Olympics.

2 thoughts on “Friday Flotsam: Sensing Desperation in the News, then onto Godzilla and Dickens

  1. You already wrote a “Batman v. Superman” review. 30 March 2016, remember? (Quite good, too. “That’s not Lex Luthor; that’s Heinz Doofenshmirtz!”)


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