Αν είστε έστω και λίγο σαν εμένα, πιστεύω όλο και κάποια στιγμή θα έχετε αναρωτηθεί για πράγματα όπως τι θα συνέβαινε αν ξαφνικά η Γη σταμάταγε να γυρίζει, πώς θα ήταν η πτήση με αεροπλάνο πάνω από άλλα ουράνια σώματα του ηλιακού μας συστήματος, τι επίπτωση θα είχε η αφαίρεση του DNA απ’ όλα τα κύτταρα ενός ανθρωπίνου σώματος, ή πώς θα ήταν να έχουμε μικρές ποσότητες από κάθε στοιχείο στον περιοδικό πίνακα στοιβαγμένες σε σειρά.
Αυτό που δεν είχα αναρωτηθεί, ομολογώ, είναι μεταξύ άλλων τι ισχύ θα μπορούσε να παράξει ο Γιόντα χρησιμοποιόντας τη Δύναμη. Η απάντηση του Randall Munroe, αγνοόντας -«φυσικά!»- τα prequel και με βάση το ρυθμό ανύψωσης του X-Wing στην ατμόσφαιρα του Dagobah: 19,2 kW περίπου,
«ωστόσο, με την παγκόσμια κατανάλωση ηλεκτρικού ρεύματος να πλησιάζει τα 2 terrawatt, θα χρειαζόμασταν εκατό εκατόμμυρια κλώνους του Γιόντα για να ικανοποιήσουμε τις ανάγκες μας. Λαμβάνοντας υπόψη όλες τις παραμέτρους, η μετάβαση σε ένα σύστημα παραγωγής ηλεκτρικής ενέργειας τύπου Γιόντα δεν αξίζει τον κόπο – αν και σίγουρα θα μπορούσε να προωθηθεί ως «πράσινη ενέργεια».
Αν αυτή η απάντηση πατάει όλα τα σωστά κουμπιά για εσάς, έχετε μπόλικο πράμα να απολαύσετε στο Τι Θα Συνέβαινε Αν. Δεν ξέρω τι γίνεται το xkcd -έχω καιρό να το διαβάσω- αλλά σίγουρα με αυτή τη δεύτερη διαδικτυακή σειρά του που καταλήγει στα βιβλιοπωλεία, o Rundall Munroe συνεχίζει να δίνει ρεσιτάλ εκλαΐκευσης της επιστήμης με τον καλύτερο τρόπο που μπορώ να φανταστώ: το χιούμορ.
Τα εύσημα μου στον μεταφραστή Γιώργο Στάμου για την έκδοση στα ελληνικά: κράτησε μια απολαυστική ισορροπία μεταξύ ενός ορθού επιστημονικού λόγου με σωστή ορολογία και πολλές επεξηγηματικές υποσημειώσεις, αλλά και της κατάλληλης καφρίλας. Πρέπει να ήταν μια δύσκολη αλλά πολύ ικανοποιητική δουλειά. View all my reviews
Got out of my local The Force Awakens premiere and I can’t stop thinking about it and how Star Wars has grown, changed, or not. I’m not sure if TFA was a “good film”, but I enjoyed it quite a lot. All this talk about good films, fun films, blockbusters and the rest… What is the connection, the overlap, between a film being “good”, well-made and without plot holes, and being enjoyable and fun? What’s the perfect balance between nostalgia, fan service and introducing actual novelties that made the original movies so special in the first place?
I don’t know what it is, but TFA pulled off what three years ago we thought was ridiculous to even think of: a respectable sequel to the original trilogy that changed the world of cinema forever. It could have gone wrong in a million different ways, but then again… was that so difficult? If anything, I’d say that the we, the Star Wars crowd, have certain buttons that at the end of the day should not be so hard to find and push!
Then again, in retrospect, when Episode III came out I was pretty hyped as well. Only later did I realise that it was a mediocre movie at best and that it could have been so much more. Funny how this all works. Probably has a lot to do with growing up.
EDIT: I made another realisation: Star Wars is like a fairy tale, right? Fairy tales don’t go by the same rules other stories go by, e.g. novels. Plot holes don’t have the same gravity, if they have any at all. There is no reason to suspend disbelief, because disbelief is suspended to begin with.
The Prequel Trilogy as well as The Force Awakens wouldn’t stand critical scrutiny as novels or ordinary sci-fi flicks, but if you just follow them through as you would a fairy tale, then yes, they work well no matter what. If you left it to fans on the other hand, it seems they would turn it into something more complicated than it’s meant to be.
Would a truly properly plot-thick Star Wars work? Maybe the spin-offs will give us an idea.
The new trailer for Star Wars VII came out just yesterday and it’s racked up more than 30 million views already. Not bad eh?
Here it is for good measure.
I used to really, really love Star Wars. It was about the same time I really, really loved Harry Potter and Pokemon, give or take a few years. Today, as a more or less adult man, in the same way I will still enjoy but find it difficult to really get into Harry Potter and Pokemon for prolonged periods of time—even for nostalgia’s sake—, I cannot really get Star Wars the same way I used to anymore. It feels comfortable, it feels familiar and easy, but comfortable and familiar is not necessarily what I need or want. Of course I’ll enjoy the movies anytime (I had a blast re-watching A New Hope on VHS a couple of months back—seriously, give let’s VHS a chance— and listening to Verily, A New Hope immediately thereafter) and I’m sure that the SW fan lying dormant somewhere inside of me just waiting to be Awakened will duly do so two months from now, hand-in-hand with the rest of geekkind and the very Force itself, apparently. That much is a given.
But sometimes I do wonder what the world would look like without Star Wars. There, I said it.
Jodorowsky’s Dune. Here’s a link to the full movie. I can’t recommend it enough. Watched it on the train from Belgrade to Thessaloniki. The thumbnail with ole Alejandro sticking his tongue out doesn’t do it justice—or maybe it does. Depends on you.
Imagine a world where there was no Star Wars yet, no original sci-fi blockbuster. Imagine a world where Moebius, Pink Floyd, H.R. Geiger, Salvador Dalí, Mick Jagger, Orson Welles and others had all been gathered together by pioneering film-maker Alejandro Jodorowsky with the ambition to create a film that would change the world. A film to “simulate an LSD trip” and change young minds, redefine what was possible for cinema at large visually and thematically. A movie that would play the same technical and cultural role Star Wars played for us, just taking us down a completely different road. A more spiritual and artistic road if you will.
Even though it got as close to production as a film can possibly get without actually making it to the other side, Jodorowsky’s Dune indeed was never shot because of financing troubles: basically nobody in Hollywood possessed balls big enough and the right shade of gold to support the astronomical $15 million budget and all the associated risk. I don’t blame them really.
Think about it though. Star Wars is great, of course, we all love it, but it’s true that as a film it doesn’t exactly have any kind of message, it’s just a superbly made fairy tale with a generic fairy tale good vs evil plot. In fact it has grown into a marketing and merchandising monstrosity, especially in the last five years or so where you can’t throw a rock without having the rock come complete inside a Darth Vader helmet or better yet have it transform inside your hand into an overpriced Lego brick.
What if our Star Wars had been Dune? The documentary above draws all the parallels, ultimately how this spectre of a movie influenced Star Wars itself as well as other significant films in ways we’d never suspect—another reason I would encourage you to watch it. But get this: the universe where Jodorowsky’s Dune was made is the universe where not only Star Wars would have been completely different, if it had been made at all, but also one where we’d never have seen Alien or Blade Runner.
Would you rather stay in our universe with Star Wars, Blade Runner and Alien, or move to one where Jodorowsky’s Dune had been as successful as Star Wars in ours and had spawned all kinds of stories and ever genres we had never thought possible? If you believe that life imitates art, it would definitely be an interesting universe to experience in a broader sense. Would Muslims be seen under a different light? Would psychedelics or ecology play a more important role in pop culture or even make people vaguely more environmentally-conscious? Will we ever be able to traverse parallel universes and find out for ourselves?
If you enjoyed going down this mental path, I would recommend reading Replay, the book that inspired Groundhog Day, but basically spanning the 26 years between 1963 and 1989 instead of just 24 hours. There is a film in it too that gets big instead of Star Wars and changes the world.
Ah, page, we meet again. Hello. Today I decided to write. Express myself, as it were. I fought the distractions… Avoided starting Battlestar Galactica Season 4, despite the fact that Season 3 ended with a bang, it did; I decided not to play Planescape Torment, even though I’ve just started getting into it (and for this kind of games it means playing 10 hours or so). In typical qb style, I even fought off work! I had a nice, warm shower, lay in my warm bed (it’s winter… still hard to wrap my head around it), put some music on that phone that still hasn’t taken full control—I chose Vangelis’ Cosmos—and now I’m here in this right place. The phone proved its supposed smartness by reminding me not to put the volume too high so as to avoid damaging my hearing. As tonight’s token act of proving to myself I’m an adult, I heeded its advice. Maybe the machines aren’t out for us. Pah, who am I kidding.
OK, let’s go. Today I fucked up.
Or, rather, I should say yesterday. But only today did I realise, so it counts as today. Once again I let my overconfidence that everything will be alright cloud my judgement—that sounds suspiciously like a “write 100 times on blackboard” punishment at Jedi school. Sigh… It is one of my greatest weaknesses, and many have noticed, especially those that know me well enough to have pierced at my essence that is invisible to me, similar to a bird who’s only ever known flight can never imagine what it means not to fly, or what sort of happiness a snail might know. Tell a bird it might be flying a bit too much and it’s gonna cock its head inquisitively at you like birds tend to do.
I just aren’t careful. I either want to move fast to be getting to the next task or activity, or, in the face of what we’d call danger in this case, I take that annoying, solipsistic view: “it won’t happen to me, no need to worry!” This is personhood’s very own little facepalm—no, that’s not a good translation of αυτομούτζωμα. I like to take pride in my care-free attitude, or at least the appearance thereof; don’t I know I’m constantly anxious about an entire small museum’s collection of “must-dos”. But that’s another story. I like to say that people don’t really have “positive and negative aspects of their personality.” They only have a single hunk of personality, and according to what side you look at it from, you see different things and judge to whim. Hey, that’s almost exactly like saying that people have personalities and those personalities have positive and negative aspects.
But let met put it this way. Take for example myself. I’m careless and carefree, right? Yes. But these two aspects of me aren’t separate; they’re one. It’s like those digestive biscuits that have chocolate on top. The chocolate is the carefreeness and the underside the carelessness. The whole thing is part of my personality, and the whole box of carelessfreeness, quielation, friendiculousness or abstrant, openular mind is me. I’m this box of biscuits that look the same, because I look the same no matter which biscuit of mine you’re eating. You smell me and taste me the same, and you either love me or hate me… or you might also not particularly care about me. Do you like chocolate digestives?
When I began writing about boxes of biscuits a few lines ago, the point to which I wanted to conclude was that we all are assorted boxes of still different biscuits down a supermarket aisle. Then, however, I chose to pursue the realisation that came to me while writing that yes! People are like food.
Some are so sweet you get sick of them after just a few bites. Others are simple but fulfilling. Others yet are only to be had at parties or thrice-a-year family dinners. You can find each type of person at the supermarket, but there almost always exist the same kind of foodstuff produced locally and tasting better, like that amazing Greek artisanal Nutella that’s not only better, it’s also cheaper.
Some are fancy, others to be enjoyed as part of a familiar routine, some are fresh and organic, many are rotten and/or appear fresh solely because they’ve been peppered with preservatives. We have changing tastes in people and so do we in food. Maturing tastes, perhaps? Some are hot, some are bland. But! The too-bland ones can always spice themselves up; the hotter ones will probably just leave you in tears and gasping for air. But so do onions, at least the crying part. Similarly, there’s a whole lot you have fond nostalgic memories of, but regret every trying them again 20 years later to see if they taste the same. Others are like heaven consistently forever… I presume, I wouldn’t know.
There are hard people, soft people, sweet, bitter, sour and… salty people. Many, sadly, are just plain meat but, although a selective omnivore I may be, it’s sadder when they’re vegetables instead. This is starting to have a Dr. Seuss rhythm to it.
Finally, you would never, ever consider that it’s the broccoli’s fault that Roberto (that’s my Italian coordinator here), with all his exquisite and discerning palate, hates it. I can’t get my head around it: how is it normal for us to think that a person has anything to do with whether others like them or not? Anyway, broccoli can rest easy: I hated it, HATED it when I was a child, you know, it was the archetypical go-to yuck food. Nooow, however, I sometimes even eat it raw. I love it. Broccoli just used to be too sophisticated for my untrained taste buds. There.
One of Terrence McKenna’s famous quotes goes: “”. qb’s version: “the cost of being sophisticated in this society is being the person-equivalent of broccoli.” Or, while we’re at it: sushi. Lentils with yoghurt. NOT eggs: they could crawl back into the chicken’s ass whence they came and I wouldn’t spill water for the dead. Beans. I was damn near allergic to the things most of my life. Now I can eat them no problem due to my insistence to eat them no matter my stomach’s complaints. I can imagine it quietly giving in after all this time: “okay dude, I get it, you took that little song about beans and the heart a bit too seriously, I don’t agree but I can’t stop you… you should know though that this IS going to put a strain on our relationship.”
Wow. This really worked. Remember? Near the top of this text it says I wrote “I fucked up”. It’s even the title of the post. But I’m better already. All day I’ve felt like shit because the bike I rode yesterday for 25km up and down Montevideo’s Rambla and took the following video,
that is, Laura’s bike she hadn’t rode in years and I paid 1000 pesos to have repaired and use it and got it 4 days ago… well, that bike was stolen. All I did was just leave it outside the Posada. Given, it was locked, but with a lock that cost less than 5€ and could probably only protect anything of any value up to that amount. Only today did I notice that all the locked bikes that had caught my eye on the pedestrian street Calle Pérez Castellano during the day, all those bikes I had subconsciously noticed to give my carefreelessness an excuse to run wild, were nowhere to be seen at night, and so was mine by next morning. I can just imagine it sitting there, alone, singing in the dark: “I’m old and rusty, though orange with some new parts e.g. pedals and handles, I’m safe from harm and theft ♪!”
The worst part is that this bike had sentimental value to Laura, so having to tell her that I almost presented the her old bike to thieves and having to deal with questions such as “really, did you leave it outside?” was less than fun. The second worst part is this makes it the, what, 3rd time I’ve had my bike stolen. Last time was in Denmark, where I idiotically left mt bike unlocked going to Danish class, forgot about it for hours after the lesson, went around town, only remembered about it that evening when I had to ride it back home and was all disappointed that the mere act of remembering about it hadn’t been enough to protect it from theft or bring it back.
And there was this other time somebody vandalised my bike parked at Sapfous in Mytilini. I was totally Anakin bringing back his mother from the sandpeople that evening. Only I didn’t slaughter anyone like an animal. I’m civilized. I only ever hold passive-aggressive grudges.
Anyway, back to today. I went to the police office to report the theft as it was suggested to me I do, because apparently Ciudad Vieja is monitored 24/7 by video surveillance; by checking in their records from last night, the police might be able to find the culprit and track them from camera to camera, if they did stay within the boundaries of the Old Town, that is. I can tell you that if my bike is indeed located by the use of video surveillance tech, I’ll be hit by a small-to-medium-sized train of cognitive dissonance. I hate to be that guy, I know how fashionable it is to hate on the police (I don’t like them myself), but ever since my mum’s handbag was robbed and after declaring the theft and the police guys actually CALLING us home to tell us that the bag had been found at a place where “a lot of τσαντάκηδες leave their discarded prey”, it’s been easier for me to feel a tinge of empathy for people who support the police and are disdainful of anarchy. I mean, suddenly when it happens to you, it doesn’t seem so oppressive, does it?
Anyway №13 or something. I fucked up and writing this relaxed me a lot. Its intent was to be a kind of Post-It for futurue qbs to be wary of carelessfreeness, no matter how many times things turn out to be OK in the end, and to remember that it fucking sucks to let people, friends and yourself down and destroy their trust.
But hey, at the end of the day, I’m a chocolate digestive. Some will like me, some will hate me, some will simply not care about me, forget that I exist until I appear before them (at which point they’ll either choose to munch on me absent-mindedly or ignore me) and some will eat the last part of me that’s left in the box all crumbly and melted, but still like me and recognise that not all chocolate digestives from then on out will be crumbly and melty and that if next time I’m in no condition to eat on my own, just throw me on some ice cream or oats, that would be yummy.
HAN: —Nay, not that: The day when Jabba taketh my dear ship Shall be the day you find me a grave man.
GREEDO: Nay oo’chlay nooma. Chespeka noofa Na cringko kaynko, a nachoskanya!
HAN: Aye, true, I’ll warrant thou has wish’d this day. [They shoot, Greedo dies.] [To bartender:] Pray, goodly Sir, forgive me for the mess. [Aside:] And whether I shot first, I’ll ne’er confess!
I’m not a fan of Shakespeare. I don’t think I’ve never seen or read any of his plays. Since forever I’d thought that I would find the language or the story boring or something. You know how it is with some things; they rub you the wrong way once and you keep having an unexplainable prejudice against them for years thereafter.
Verily, I stumbled across this work while looking for Expanded Universe publications. At first I was skeptical for the reasons above but it didn’t take me long to discover the brilliance of this here tome. By the way, I read/listened to it in audiobook form, which felt much more like watching the play with the script at hand.
I shall try to be brief. William Shakespeare’s Star Wars not only is a masterpiece of genre mash-up, being something more than the sum of its parts. It made me laugh out loud (for real) with its deliciously tongue-in-cheek yet very serious and perfectly executed Shakespearean interpretation of the story we know and love: for instance, it’s written exactly like the script for something that would be put up in the Globe Theatre, with acts, scenes, entrances, exits, monologues — even Chewbacca and R2-D2 get a few [!!], plus it’s completely written in iamblic pentameter — quite an achievement in itself — and follows various classical drama tropes sublimely. It gave me new insight to the motivations of Han, Luke or Darth Vader; it even made me stop and think why I haven’t read Shakespeare before. In fact, the epilogue by writer Ian Doescher made me realise just to what extent good story-telling has been based on what Joseph Campbell’s introduced and explained in his work The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and how a cross between Star Wars and Shakespeare ultimately makes a lot of sense and can prove thoroughly enjoyable and illuminating.
If you like Star Wars, the English language or simply seeing how far-fetched yet creative ideas can strike gold when done right, I cannot recommend this audiobook enough, although apparently the printed edition comes with some clever and beautiful illustrations (check the cover).
Here’s a little snippet I’m posting here I couldn’t post on Goodreads. Just listen to Vader sharing his inner thoughts and motivations with the audience.
“Unique among SF novels… I know nothing comparable to it except The Lord of the Rings.” ~Arthur C. Clarke
I’ll begin with what I saw when I first checked what my Goodreads friends had to say about their experience with Dune:
Thank the gods it was Kivayan, my friend Kuba from Poland, who first made it clear to me how important it was that I read Dune, and not just the first book, no, the whole original series, because only then would I be able to witness the genius of Frank Herbert’s grand image (that there was my attempt to express “big picture” in a more fittingly epic way). Thank the gods it was him and not someone else’s opinion which would have left this book under my personal radar, where it had been for many years.
Scratch that. It hadn’t been under my radar. I’d been aware of it since I was little, mainly from video games or perhaps Karina—I just didn’t know exactly what it was about. All this desert, the sandworms… It looked boring. Like something too slow, deep or intricate for me to enjoy. And let me tell you, I wasn’t wrong: if I had dipped my toes in the spicy sand before I’d reached a certain point in my life, I’m confident I wouldn’t have enjoyed it at all. If I had to say, I’d place the point in question around the time I started watching Game of Thrones, playing alt-history games and reading books like The World Without Us or The Dark Tower.
I had started being able to enjoy books like Dune, only I couldn’t make the connection in my head and notice the switch. There was nobody to suddenly come up to me and tell me that the famous, apparently super-influential old SF book I’ve always thought I wouldn’t enjoy, actually involves loads of topics I’d find very appealing: religion, feudal politics, anthropology, psychology, history, ecology and many others, creating a narrative about how narratives, and historical narratives in particular, work, which I expect to discover further in the next books. Well, there was someone: it was Kuba. But if it hadn’t been for him and a few other people like Amberclock who told me about Jodorowsky’s Dune or JMG who often mentions Dune in his Archdruid Report posts, I’d still have the impression that the book is a boring classic, that it’s to SF what perhaps Proust is to modern literature: supremely influential and important, but not enjoyable.
Of course, I was wrong. I may be wrong about Proust, too. But that’s the point: we’re talking about preconceptions here.
What surprises me is that, for it’s alleged importance, very few people I talked to about Dune while reading it even knew of it. For a book that supposedly played an important role in the popularisation of ecology as a word as well as a term and for one which is among the all-time bestsellers of the genre, it is forgotten today by most. I’ll go down a path I don’t think it’s fair to go down on, but how many people know of Tatooine and how many of Arrakis, Dune, the Desert Planet that surely inspired it?
Nevertheless, I found its ambience as a contemporary read very comfortable, even if 50 years have passed since it was written. Water as a super-valuable commodity (with all related cultural conventions) feels right and is played perfectly. Arrakis is majestic. Reading about the Fremen was very interesting and convincing, and I thoroughly enjoyed discovering the book’s unknown world by looking up the juicy neologisms in the appendix (every book like this should have one!)
Not all’s perfect with Dune, don’t get me wrong. Its characters can feel one-sided or shallow, even Paul, who at times comes off superhumany… but then, hey, he’s supposed to be the one, isn’t he? The various political actors and the role of spice in all of this aren’t very clear, but you know, it’s one of these books you’ll read again and next time it’ll make more sense.
But the weak points don’t matter. Dune is a classic, period, and I’m happy for once to have truly enjoyed a classic because it’s a classic, not despite the fact. What can I say? Herbert’s foreword to the book reads:
“to the people whose labors go beyond ideas into the realm of “real materials” — to the dry-land ecologists, wherever they may be, in whatever time they work, this effort at prediction is dedicated in humility and admiration.”
CORUSCANT — Obi-Wan Kenobi, the mastermind of some of the most devastating attacks on the Galactic Empire and the most hunted man in the galaxy, was killed in a firefight with Imperial forces near Alderaan, Darth Vader announced on Sunday.