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Shade_Jon
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As an example from Interstellar, try seeing that Murph did not get a message from a future Cooper; she acually had figured out the equations already, but she hadn't been able to bring them to the surface. All of the tapping of the books and the watch were just psychological boosts she imagined to unlock her mind.
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Since all time travel stories about "pulling oneself by one's bootstraps" have the same problematic plot device - the future you could only exist to assist the current you if you make it to the future, and you can't make it there unassisted - and since you find the movie uninspiring to Earthlings since it is some future "alien" versions of humans that do the assisting, try thinking of it thus: When a story uses a "future self" to assist a current self, it's actually a metaphor. It is US (current humans) who must be that future self to pull us out of the problem. That's what the story is saying. That future self is who we aspiring to be Right Now. The very fact that this future self is US is a metaphoric means of telling us that everything we need to survive is not some deux-ex-machina, but is ourselves; we already hold the key to solving our problems. The metaphor tells us that we can't see it now, because we are full of prejudice, ignorance, and despair, but our future selves, who will have solved these problems, are looking back at us; we should not let them down. Our future selves will look back and say "You past selves, your problems were so important, and the answers right in front of your faces, it is a wonder that you didn't see it while you lived it. It is a wonder you wasted so much time on prejudice and ignorance. If only we could go back in time and give you our insight (or courage, or clarity)." These stories, then, are a fantasy means of bringing the future back to our present in order to inspire us to get there.
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I read the linked articles, and also the synopsis on Sunrise which I haven't seen. There is a difference between your criticism of Interstellar and my criticism of Marvel movies. In your criticism of Interstellar, which points out subtle plot holes - which I agree with, but did not notice until you pointed them out - you maintain that the movie suffers because of a philosophical gap. The movie aims to inspire space-travel, but because the problem that the movie uses to justify the characters' need for space travel could have been resolved more easily by having them build bio-domes, therefore he movie fails philosophically. I think the argument is specious. Yes, the problem should have been written more rigorously, but that doesn't mean that it will fail to inspire young people who watch it to become astronauts. Early space adventure programs like Lost in Space and so on inspired astronauts and space exploration not because of the plot. per se, but because of a) the idea of viable, peaceful existence off-planet, and b) the heroic, smart, and good looking people who live there. These were the parts of Interstellar that mattered most, not the mcguffins that drove the plot. While the movie had subtle plot holes (by subtle, I mean plot holes that I didn't notice until you pointed them out!), it didn't have plot holes so laughable or science so ridiculous as to make the unbelievability unwatchable, at least for me. Which brings us to my criticism of Marvel movies. My criticism is not on philosophical grounds, and it's not on realism or sense (except for when it is egregiously ignored, like Thor's hammer, Iron Man's suit falling apart, etc). It's because the movies contain nothing interesting but action scenes. The movies are enjoyable and entertaining, because of the action, the costumes, and the humor, but they are Bad Movies, because they reveal nothing about humanity, contain no character growth, and have no interesting stories, have boring unrelatable characters. The only thing they might inspire are little kids to playact as the heroes and teens/adults to draw comic books. I don't think you can say that about Interstellar. Yehuda
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All movies have plot-holes and problems, and "pull yourself up by the bootstrap time travel" sci-fi has its premise as its first plot-hole. Your issue that it makes no sense that we could create a viable biosphere around Saturn if we can't on Earth makes sense, and it's a plot-hole. But I don't see it as supporting an erroneous mythos, it's just a plot-hole. Your issue that the movie presents physicists who can solve a problem but doesn't explain why biologists can't is simply unexplained in the movie. It might be a plot-hole, or it might be answered in "the book", who knows? It's okay to point it out, but hardly a failing of the movie. Your issue that technology is presented as useful while glossing over that it was also a likely cause of the problem is answered similarly: it might be answered in "the book". Just because an already three-hour movie doesn't present a deep explanation of what caused a problem and why it can't be fixed doesn't point to a philosophical problem. It's a director's/screenwriter's prerogative to ignore these issues, just like it ignores other back-story issues. It's a stretch to present the movie as presenting a philosophy - and then claim that the philosophy doesn't hold up. Other than the philosophy of "hope", "love", and "physicists can do some good", the movie doesn't claim to present much else. By claiming that it presents philosophy X, and then that it fails to present it well, you're using a classic straw-man argument. I might as well claim that the movie presents an argument for corn-base diesel fuels and then explain how the movie fails at this argument. Who says that the journey is an allegory of life? Who says that the movie is lauding technology as a panacea? Yehuda
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Ping
Toggle Commented Jun 25, 2014 on The Meta-Campaign at Only a Game
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Thank God it wasn't worse. Wishing you a quick recovery with as little pain as possible. Yehuda
Toggle Commented Aug 28, 2012 on Falling Down the Stairs at Only a Game
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Clicking buy it now pops up three links to pre-orders. Sorry, not yet available. Yehuda
Toggle Commented Jul 11, 2011 on Imaginary Games Out Now? at Only a Game
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I'm also flattered, and congrats. Definitely looking forward to it. I was just talking to someone about how, no matter how voluminous, read, and influential one's blog is, one really needs to have an edited, vetted, published book to be taken seriously. I should really get cracking on one of my own. Yehuda
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Chris, Thanks for your reply. I can always count on you paying attention, at least! I'm sorry to say that the crux of your response is woefully misplaced: you're picking on the fact that I failed to consider several aspects of passive and active entertainment, and you're entirely right. Strategy is not the opposite of passive, and my using the word in that location was incorrect. I meant only "active" decision or performance, not strategy specifically. That I left out physical skills was also an oversight, but not one that seriously detracts from my article, which was about the fact that there are different genres of games that are so distinct in appeal as to make it difficult to compare them without knowing what someone is looking for. That "performance" (such as trivia or a test of strength) is different than "decision making" also doesn't detract from the article. It just means that I wrote hastily and left out some areas of "active" in the article. So you're being picky. Or rather, you're hoping that I re-write the article more completely and accurately, so that it is worthy for academic publication. Maybe I will. As to your argument that passive is not so passive, I don't understand your argument that there is more investment in the outcome of a dice roll than whether Ross is going to marry Rachel. In either case, investment, energy, emotion, and so on are not what I mean by active. I think it's pretty clear what I was talking about: watching to see what happens - however exciting, or even tiring, that may be - is passive entertainment, in the colloquial sense of the word. As to role-playing games, the reason people identify with their character is, uh, because that that's the definition of "role-playing", and has nothing to do with either passive or active entertainment. Hypnosis, or reading a good book, could also cause one to passively experience something as if one was the character. This discussion is tangential to my article. I do think that people will feel a stronger identification if they pull the puppet strings; in this case, they are the ones actually doing something, only by proxy. Like ordering men into the field. As to the gambler, the gambler is constantly making very important decisions: whether or not to play the next game. That's entirely active decision making, regardless of whether or not the game itself entails making any decisions. Regards, Yehuda
Toggle Commented Dec 10, 2009 on Open Letter to Yehuda at Only a Game
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