Saturday, April 30, 2005

Mass doses of culture

On Thursday I got a bit more culture than I normally do. Not only did I go to a movie, I also went and saw a play.

The movie was Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. I was a bit worried that things would not be well with this, as I tend to be very dissappointed by people who try to make books into movies. Be Cool, a movie I saw about a month ago, was a shocking example of this. But the hitchikers movie was good. It was different to the book, but the book was different to the radio show, the tv show, the computer game and the towel, so making changes for the new medium is not something wrong for the guide. However, when the opening titles started I was reassured. The song is brilliant, and works so well. I was a bit dissappointed by Zaphod's two heads and third arm, but overall the movie was good. Magrathea was marvelous. All round a good film

The play was The Taming of the Shrew. I managed to pick up some free tickets so off I went. They set it in 1940's New York rather than italy a few centuries ago. It worked rather well I thought.

End of Post
Writing time: 20 minutes

Monday, April 25, 2005

end non-chronological posting

Current posting resumes.

Stop attrocities because they make me feel bad

I'm currently in Kanchanaburi. For those whose knoledge of geography derives from movies, think the Bridge on the River Kwai. And of course there are museums wiht info on all of this, how many people died, where the railroad went, etc. One thing I did learn was teh the Netherlands were involved in the war in the Pacific, which kind of makes sense when you remember all the stuff about the Dutch East Indies and so forth, but I guess most of the time everyone concentrates on the big 5, England, America, France, Germany and Russia. I suppose the Netherlands also to part in the war in Europe, but I have no idea what it was.

The thing that most affected me though was walking throught the PoW cemetary. In the cemetary are buried nearly 7000 people who died during WWII. I thought I would be able to have a leisurely stroll throught eh cemetary, read the names, look at the monuments etc. But the place got to me. Normally, I'm ok with all things militaristic. I like things that make big bangs, and I know a few ways of making big bangs. But stuff like that brings home that no matter how fast the things fly or how big the bangs, the things should not be used.

Although people die every day, no one should hasten the rate at which it happens. That is the greatest tragedy. Not the ruined buildings, or any other destruction. The taking of so many lives is horrendous, and should not be allowed.

Confessions of a reader

I've recently read an extracted version of the Confessions of St Augustine. One of the reasons I picked it up at the airport was because my high school was named after St Augustine. Since then I've learnt a bit more about the life and writings of St Augustine, and so when I saw it at the airport I was intrigued enough to buy it.

The book was a bit different to what I was expecting. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it was a lot more preachy than I thought it would be. As an autobiography it was ok, but the thing I didn't like was St Augustine's attitude toward God. It's very much "all the worthwhile and good things I've done are all God's doing, and the bad things just examplify the areas I need to become closer to God".

The thing I don't like about this kind of attitude is that it ignores the abilities and the accomplishments of people. In Augustine's case, his transformation from a freewheeling rebelous youth to a respectable holy man. Regardless of what inspired Augustine, he made the decision to change and improved himself, and is worthy of respect for that and his other acts. His worth is his own, not just because in a few small ways he resembles God.

I tend to believe that what a person does is more important than the motivations. Recently deceased Pope John Paul II, a very pious and honorable man, accomplished many great things during his life, and you would have to go a long way to find someone who would say otherwise, even if they, like I do not share his beliefs. He was a good man because of what he did, not why.

As a contrast to the writing of St Augustine, I have also recently read some work of Friedrich Nietzsche's, the rather modestly entitled "Why I am So Wise". A brief essay on how Mr Nietzsche feels he's so much better than the rest of us, especially the Germans. Given that my previous knowledge of Nietzsche come's from a faction in a sci-fi show known as the Nietzschiens, who were a rather self serving bunch of people with a very narrow point of view. Anyway, overall I wasn't that impressed by the writing of Nietzsche, so must only assume that his other work is of slightly more merit than this short work.

A few chronological notes

For the past 3 weeks I'v been visiting my sister in Thailand, and generally having a look see about the country. Unfortunately, one consequence of this is limited internet access, and no access to my own computer. As such, not much has been added to this blog. The entries following (above) this one were written by hand (novel concept) and will now be typed up for entry. More on the trip overall after I type these up.