Monday, May 18, 2015

Update 31

A Thought

Do you think that things like Facebook, Twitter, and instantaneous communication actually enable us to get any more done, or are we just busier about it? I know I'm not the first one to ask the question, but it's been occurring to me recently. I will say this though: without instantaneous communication, it isn't at all clear I'd have the chance to do the kind of work I want to do at all.

Progress Report

I begin to understand the appeal of being a hermit. Not that I would want to give up my family or my other work; certainly not. But, I imagine it's quite a bit easier to get things done when you're by yourself in the desert. But, alas, I am not, and things related to other work press upon me. 

On a positive book-related note, someone recently found my draft in progress and began reading it (without my permission, but I forgive them) and said they couldn't bring themselves to put it down. So, that's a hopeful sign, yes?

I hope to have a little more for you next week.

© 2015 John Hiner

Monday, May 11, 2015

Update 30

A Thought

The other night I watched about the first half of Edge of Tomorrow, a 2014 sci-fi movie starring Tom Cruise, in which a soldier repeatedly dies in a battle and wakes up the morning before, with his memory of the coming battle intact.

I can't judge the film as a whole, considering I haven't finished watching it. The reason I mention it is that watching as much as I did made me feel quite good for a surprising reason.

Several of the people watching the movie with me were friends who do not play video games. During a certain part of the film, when Tom Cruise's character is attempting various feats over and over again, dying and trying again, everyone (including me) was laughing. It was a strange combination of lighthearted and brutal, and it was a lot like playing a video game.

The movie did a good job conveying that experience of repeating a scenario over and over until you get it right. It had the same kind of excitement, anticipation and then comedic surprise at failure. What pleased me so much was that, without realizing it, my friends who don't play video games were enjoying something very video-gamey with me. It was a cool connection to make with them, and amusing to reflect on the fact that they weren't aware of it.

Progress Report

I continue to read through everything, attempting to find those places that I can tell need more fleshing out in Part 1. During this most recent reading, I think I figured out how to bring things back and tie all the subsections together, so that's good. I'd like to think I'm actually approaching the point when I'll want a few other people to read this thing, and tell me how much more is missing than I realize.

© 2015 John Hiner III

Monday, May 4, 2015

Update 29

An announcement

I've concluded, upon reflection, that I'm going to have to discontinue releasing longer form articles on the first Monday of each month. Last month I had a good excuse in that it was Easter break. Today, however, I admit that having to prepare a longer article simply slipped my mind. Since I've started writing for Pixel Dynamo, I've been a lot busier and the way I use my time has changed considerably. If I'm going to keep pace with my work over there, as well as write this book, I have to admit that there are only so many hours in a day.

I'll still be writing here every week, giving updates on the book's progress and offering some thoughts about things in general, but the longer articles are on hold for the time being.

Progress Report

I've compiled everything I've written for the book so far into a single document, so that I can take a look at how things are going over all. I read it through today, and I was surprised both by how good some of it sounded and by how much more there is to do.

The plan now is to finish up a couple sections, make a few passes through Part 1 to expand things, and then get some people together to tell me how all this is sounding. Then, once Part 1 is in some kind of order, I've got 10 commentaries to write, plus the 5 sections of Part 2. It's quite a task, but I will soldier on.

© 2015 John Hiner III

Update 29

An announcement

I've concluded, upon reflection, that I'm going to have to discontinue releasing longer form articles on the first Monday of each month. Last month I had a good excuse in that it was Easter break. Today, however, I admit that having to prepare a longer article simply slipped my mind. Since I've started writing for Pixel Dynamo, I've been a lot busier and the way I use my time has changed considerably. If I'm going to keep pace with my work over there, as well as write this book, I have to admit that there are only so many hours in a day.

I'll still be writing here every week, giving updates on the book's progress and offering some thoughts about things in general, but the longer articles are on hold for the time being.

Progress Report

I've compiled everything I've written for the book so far into a single document, so that I can take a look at how things are going over all. I read it through today, and I was surprised both by how good some of it sounded and by how much more there is to do.

The plan now is to finish up a couple sections, make a few passes through Part 1 to expand things, and then get some people together to tell me how all this is sounding. Then, once Part 1 is in some kind of order, I've got 10 commentaries to write, plus the 5 sections of Part 2. It's quite a task, but I will soldier on.

© 2015 John Hiner III

Monday, April 27, 2015

Update 28

Another Excerpt


"So, knowing what a classic is, we can see that no one who ever painted a picture, sculpted a sculpture, or wrote a book, play or piece of music knew that what they'd made was a classic, because it wasn't one yet. They might have thought it was good. But, whether it was an enduring master work of the human mind simply hadn't been tested yet, and declaring your own work to be so would be, to say the least, cheeky. 
 
This means that anybody who made the kind of art this book is concerned with, like Shakespeare for instance, made it without knowing it was a classic. He might have wanted it to be, but he made it in any case.

And that is what pop-culture is. It's what people are making now in response to the same human condition and the same world that all the classic authors and artists were dealing with. It hasn't been tested, it might not be right, but it is humanity's ongoing wrestling match with the universe and, hopefully, there are some classics in there waiting to be proven."

 © 2015 John Hiner III

Monday, April 20, 2015

Update 27

Here's a continuation of the discussion of pop-culture and the great conversation from last week:

"So, to understand the place that pop-culture can have in this big human conversation, we have to understand something about the concept of a "classic". 

The word "classic" means something approved as a model or of the highest class. In culture (without the pop on the front) one of the test these classic works have generally had to pass is the test of time. Some contemporary of a work may have identified its importance and genius at the time it was written, but real classics generally endure a long period of scrutiny before they're accept as such. 
Gandalf, for instance. He's very old and has a lot of
wise things to say. Also, if you don't respect him, he could
certainly destroy you.

This makes perfect sense because culture, being an endeavor shared and passed on by people from generation to generation, has the time to spare, and we wouldn't want  something of inferior quality to sneak by and be approved as a model. Once it was, it would drag the bar down and our standards would get worse and worse. 

Time isn't a sufficient standard but, the longer something has had to prove itself to be useful, and the more criticism it has had to endure, the more likely It's something worth listening to. 

It's similar to respecting one's elders. Respecting one's elders isn't some arbitrary moral injunction designed to oppress the young. It's good strategy. 

The mere fact that people have lived a long time doesn't ensure that they're wise and worth listening to. They may not have learned a thing after they were eighteen years old. However, you KNOW eighteen year olds haven't learned anything after they were eighteen years old. At least an older person has had a chance to figure things out, so it's worth respecting them enough to listen."

Where pop-culture fits into this comes next.

 © 2015 John Hiner III

Here is where I got the nifty image above.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Update 26: Belts

Some Thoughts

A belt
I've been thinking about how to start the chapter on pop-culture. I've already started writing it, and I think I've shared a little of it here. But, in the bit I've written, I make very casual reference to something like the great conversation of humanity. This concept is very familiar to me, and has had a lot to do with my education, but it might not be very familiar to other people. So, how do I explain the idea? 

I think I'll talk about belts. Belts have been made by human beings for a long, long time, probably as long as there have been pants (because the damn things don't stay up on their own). But, who invented the belt? Who owns the patent? No one. The idea of the belt is the common heritage of all human beings, handed down from generation to generation. 

This is true of the belt even though anyone could have thought of it. It is a very basic tool that serves a function common to all people everywhere: keeping clothes on. This is even true where climate makes the clothes largely ceremonial. Anyone could invent the belt, but they might never get around to it. They might never wear pants, or be too busy fighting for their lives, or any number of things. And yet, we still have the idea, because it's been passed on and passed around. 

The great conversation of humanity includes belts. It also includes written and spoken language, mathematics, and the concept of the soul. All of these are things that arise because they have to do with what is important to human beings as human beings. People have learned them or figured them out, and then shared them with other people. Many of them could have been figured out by anyone, because they concern our common condition, but we don't need to work at it from scratch because people before us and around us let us know what's up. 

That's roughly what I mean by "the great conversation". I mean all those things and ideas people have been making, taking, modifying, rejecting, reconsidering and handing on. How pop-culture fits into this is the subject of the chapter on pop-culture.


© 2015 John Hiner III