Friday Flotsam: Free Thinking, a Review, and the End of the World

1. One of my co-workers has a sticker on his computer that says ‘Danger: Free Thinker’. I don’t want to jump to conclusions, and he seems like a decent guy, but in my experience legitimate ‘free thinkers’ (to the extent that such creatures exist) do not proudly identify themselves as such.

‘Free thinker’ or ‘think for yourself’ tends to be nothing but a form of branding; a way to lend unearned weight to opinions. It’s the intellectual equivalent of ‘organic’ or ‘made with natural ingredients!’: usually not true and of dubious utility when it is.

When someone describes himself as a free thinker, he usually means that he is free of long-outdated forms of popular opinion and instead follows one or another contemporary trends without realizing it’s a trend.

2. It is one of the odd traits of a culture such as ours, which prides itself upon its advanced nature and defiance of ‘established modes’ that its people usually fixate their critical faculties, not on genuinely established opinions or current dogmas, but on those that were or are supposed to have been held several generations before.

This, of course, is inevitable; a society needs an established creed to guide its actions and values, and you can’t have the populace legitimately in perpetual revolt against the current climate of opinion, otherwise it wouldn’t be the current climate. So a society that holds independence of thought and rejection of dogma as its defining characteristics and feeds its people on myths of bold reformers who courageously stood against tradition will have to have a kind of false bogey ‘establishment’ for the people to feel they are boldly defying.

Hence the phenomenon of ‘free thinkers’ who all think according to how those in power wish them to think. Hence too the even more ridiculous assertion that children do not learn to think for themselves from their parents, but from the paid indoctrinators of the State.

3. I’d say I’ve only encountered a few writers whom I would class as legitimately independent thinkers. That is, who actually appear to me to subject all or most of the ideas that come under their view to critical examination and draw conclusions from that. They tend to draw the ire of both ‘sides’ of the actual establishment and to critique those assumptions that are held to be unquestionable by all.

In any case, they do not usually boast of being ‘free thinkers’, they simply offer their observations and let them stand or fall on their own merits. Rather like how if you get freshly-slaughtered pork from a homesteader, he doesn’t feel the need to put ‘organic’ on the package.

(By the way, none of that was meant as a back-door attempt to assign myself the label. Though it is hard to declaim it without seemingly invalidating everything I say. “One cannot be too careful not to think about it,” as Prof. Lewis put it).

4. If I were to tell you that I spent some time watching an old man spreading goop around, you would come away with the idea that I had perhaps spent time with a senile relative, or even in a mental institution. You’d likely feel pity and sympathy for me.

If I were to tell you that I had spent time watching M. Bouguereau paint (ignoring the time factor for the sake of the example), however, you would react with awe and envy to find that I had been privileged to see a genius artistic hand at work.

Yet the two statements are both true versions of the exact same subject. Indeed, the first one is a more factually specific, describing the action rather than containing it in the more abstract concept of ‘painting’. Nevertheless, the second is the more accurate way of describing it, because it conveys the nature of the event more correctly and evokes more appropriate responses.

Similarly, I think that, whatever the factual sequence of events that made up the creation of the world and the descent of species, it will always be more accurate to describe it as “in the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth,” and “God formed man out of the clay and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.”

5. The Terror has gotten an entirely-too-flattering review from Caroline Furlong. Read it and then check out her blog if you haven’t already.

6. Some people say, and have been saying that it’s the end times. Technically, it’s been the end times for 2000 years now: with the coming of Christ we’re in the final age of the world regardless. But as for whether we’re approaching the actual Last Judgment, well, my own thoughts are, why would that matter? What difference does it make? We’re all heading for judgment, final or personal, and it can come at any time for any of us. We’ve been told that repeatedly. Worrying and wondering about the end times seems to me a waste of time. The important thing is to be ready and have our lamps timed and full of oil when the time comes.

(For what it’s worth, personally I don’t think we are, but again, who cares?)

Batman: The Terror pt 3. The Final Night

The final installment of The Terror is now up at fanfiction.net!

Terror lays thick over Gotham. As another night falls, Batman vows that the killings will end before dawn. But who among the dwindling population of supervillains is the murderer? Is it perhaps the Riddler, who claims to know all? Or the Joker, orchestrating events from the shadows? Or is it someone else: someone Batman is loathe to even suspect?

Read the thrilling final chapter here!

Read Part Two here

And Read Part One here

Batman: The Terror pt. 2: The Second Night

Part Two of The Terror is now up at Fanfiction.net! And just in time for Halloween, too.

Night falls again over Gotham and the Terror continues. One by one, the rogues of Gotham fall, each death more brutal than the last, yet each suited to their crimes. Meanwhile, Batman races to try to uncover the truth behind the killings before it’s too late. But as the body count rises, the mystery only deepens.

Read the startling second installment here.

And if you missed it, Part One can be read here.

Stay tuned next week for the conclusion.

Batman: The Terror pt. 1: The First Night

Just up at Fanfiction.net:

It seemed a night like any other in Gotham City, when word reached Batman of a death: one of the city’s rogues found brutally murdered. Then comes word of another. And another. A new terror is stalking Gotham, preying upon the city’s supervillains. But who is it? And what do they want?

Read the thrilling first installment here.

Parts Two and Three to follow.

Friends and Monsters Part Three

I finally published the last part of my My Little Pony-Godzilla crossover story! 

G v MLP2

Sample:

Godzilla’s arrival in Manehatten was accompanied by a massive tidal wave as his bulk displaced enough water to swamp the docks and flood the whole waterfront. He strode ashore, streaming seawater off his flanks as his feet crushed the wharves and warehouses. He was as tall as most of the skyscrapers.

“Remember,” said Twilight as she and Fluttershy flew close beside his head. “We need you to subdue, Mogu; not kill him. If you kill him, King Ghidorah’s spirit will be set free and still be able to menace Equestria.”

Godzilla snorted, then roared a challenge across the city.

“He understands,” said Fluttershy. The two ponies retreated to the Ponyville balloon, with which they had led Godzilla to Manehatten and his showdown with Mogu.

“Well, now we see if this works,” said Applejack as Twilight and Fluttershy rejoined the others.

“It will,” said Rainbow Dash, who had been receiving magical medical treatment from Starlight and Twilight along the way. “I’m definitely betting on the Big G there to win. I mean, I’ve fought him.”

“We all fought him,” Applejack reminded her.

“I really don’t think you can call what you did ‘fighting,’ AJ,” said Rainbow smugly.

“Girls, that’s not really the point here,” said Twilight a little testily. She was nervous, and Rainbow and Applejack’s usual bickering was not helping.

Godzilla roared again. From the top of the Equestrian State Building, Mogu gave an answering cry and sprang into the air.

The dragon flew straight at the monster, lifted his head, and unleashed his heat beam. It lanced across Godzilla’s chest, and the monster roared in pain and stepped back, but stayed standing. His dorsal plates blazed blue as Mogu flew past him, banked, and turned to make another run. The Atomic Ray burst from Godzilla’s jaws, slicing across the skies after Mogu. The dragon yelped and put on a burst of speed, trying to escape the destructive beam. The ray cut through a skyscraper, blowing off the top floors. As Godzilla cut his ray, Mogu banked and flew straight for him. The monster roared in rage and charged up Harness Boulevard to meet the oncoming dragon. Mogu struck him head on, sinking his claws into Godzilla’s gills and pivoting around to dig his back claws into the monster’s side.

With a howl of fury, Godzilla twisted his head around and bit hard into Mogu’s arm, at the same time pummeling the dragon’s body to dislodge him.

Mogu shrieked under the terrible blows and tried to fly away, but Godzilla maintained a bulldog grip on his arm, twisting and pulling him around and slamming him into a hi-rise apartment. The impact shook Mogu free of the monster’s grip as the building collapsed about him. Godzilla closed in, seeking to finish him off, but Mogu’s tail swept out and slashed across his face, giving the dragon the chance to take to the sky once more. The dragon banked and flew at him from behind. Godzilla twisted his head to follow his progress, but seemed to make no move to avoid the attack.

Idiot, Mogu thought. Looks like he’s too slow to keep up.

Don’t underestimate him, fool! Ghidorah snapped.

Come on; he’s not even turning…

Then, just before he reached him, Godzilla suddenly ducked and twisted, swiping the air with his huge tail. It slammed into Mogu and sent him careening through the skies and into the side of an office building. Before he could recover, Godzilla’s massive fist slammed into the side of his face, smashing it back into structure. Steel beams bent and concrete shattered as Godzilla pummeled Mogu, pushing him further and further into the building until, at last, it collapsed into rubble on top of him.