Print Story Get your ass to Mars
By TheophileEscargot (Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 03:41:50 AM EST) Reading, Listening, Watching, Theatre, Whisky, WhiskyLive, MLP (all tags)
Listening: "Republic". Watching: "John Carter". Theatre: "Master Class". Whisky Live. Links.

What I'm Listening To
Finished a free audiobook of Plato's Republic. I've definitely read parts of it before, but not sure if I've gone through the whole thing.

There are definite advantages to reading the whole thing. There's a complicated overall structure where the characters symbolize the people of Athens. (The course I'm going through has a kind of Pokemon interpretation where the other characters are being levelled up from Bronze Men to Silver Men or Silver Men to Gold Men thanks to Socrates' influence.)

It's also interesting to see the developing analogies between the city and the soul, leading up to a symbolic description of the afterlife.

On the other hand, especially with the steady pace of an audiobook, there is something quite horrific about the pitiless rationality of the book, as Plato painstakingly removes art from the ideal city, and relentlessly attacks much poetry and art. I did end up agreeing a bit with Nietzsche:

When one finds it necessary to turn reason into a tyrant, as Socrates did, the danger cannot be slight that something else threatens to play the tyrant. Rationality was hit upon as a savior; neither Socrates nor his "patients" had any choice about being rational: it was necessary, it was the last resort. The fanaticism with which all Greek reflection throws itself upon rationality betrays a desperate situation; there was danger, there was but one choice: either to perish or — to be absurdly rational. The moralism of the Greek philosophers from Plato on is pathologically conditioned; so is their reverence for logical argument. Reason equals virtue and happiness, that means merely that one must imitate Socrates and counter the dark appetites with a permanent daylight — the daylight of reason. One must be clever, clear, bright at any price: any concession to the instincts, to the unconscious, leads downward.
I still tend to attribute most of the desperation to the political situation though. Plato and Athens were still traumatized, first by losing the gruelling Peloponnesian wars to Sparta; then by the brutal civil conflict between the oligarchic and democratic factions in Athens, one of whose casualties was Socrates. Plato was willing to pay almost any price for the promise of more stability.

The only annoyance with this version is that it doesn't state which translation its using: it's well read by Patrick Horgan whose voice sounds sonorously Socratic.

Overall, definitely an important work. Worth going through, but you do need mental effort.

What I'm Watching
Saw John Carter at the cinema. Liked it a lot. I basically agree with the io9 article and Michael Moorcock: it has its flaws, but they're well compensated.

It has lavish, romantic visuals. Also it has an old-fashioned atmosphere of romantic adventure; there's an appealing lack of cynicism and irony. It has a bit more than the usual skeletal action-movie plot, with the Mars story cleverly nested in the Earth story.

Flaws: it's a bit cheesy, it's slow-moving in places, and the dialogue could be better.

I never got into the books: think I might have read a couple as a kid but they didn't really sink in: don't think my library had a big selection. So I'm not sure how true or false the movie is to them.

Overall it reminds me a lot of the first two Indiana Jones movies: good old-fashioned retro fun. Worth seeing at the cinema for the spectacle, and in 3D.

Review, review.

Saw Master Class at the theatre. Play about opera singer Maria Callas, who is running a master class in singing in her later years after her voice has gone. Mixes scenes of harsh advice to the young singers, with reveries about her past.

Pretty good play. Good, intense performance from Tyne Daly as Callas. Some very funny moments as she casually humiliates the students, with a few interesting insights into opera.

Worth a look.

Review, review, review, review.

Whisky Live
Went to the Whisky Live tasting event this year. As usual, there's no spitting out at a whisky tasting so the later ones tend to have worse handwriting and less detail.

From my notes, three whiskies stood out as particularly good:

  • Glenmorangie Signet: made with a different variety of barley almost burnt, complex kind of espresso & caramel flavour, very good
  • Glen Moray Chenin Blanc: Only 8 years old but rich dark flavour, described as "rum and raisin" on the stand, cask strength 61%
  • Balvenie Portwood 21: Rich, fruity, bit of a burn
The rest of the notes:
  • Kings Ginger liqueur (not a whisky) very sweet liqueur, bit like Drambuie
  • Nikka Yoichi: peaty Japanese whisky, milder than laphroiag etc, pretty decent
  • Abelour 18: Sherry cask, good, sweeter and fruiter than the bit-bland 12
  • Ardbeg Corrybrecken: peaty, strong, heavy but ?
  • Old Pulteney 17: sherry cask, sweet, lighter than the 12
  • Compass Box "Hedonism", blended-grain whisky which is unusual, sweet, bit of a rough kick though only 43%
  • Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, smooth, not too sweet, 7 years old, bit raw
  • Kilbeggan 18 "The Sweet One", not actually that sweet, quite nice but overpriced
  • Monkey Shoulder: smooth but bland blended malt
  • Bowmore 15: Sherry finished, rich, sweet, good
  • Glen Garioch 12: ? ? OK, not much peat or fruit
  • Penderyn Sherry: Sweet, refreshing, pretty good
  • Penderyn Madeira: similar to sherry, pretty good
  • Glenrothes 95: bourbon cask, OK

Socioeconomics. Greece’s new bonds: Is another default coming? "For the often maligned Eurozone crisis strategy of ‘kicking the can down the road’, the events were an extraordinary vindication".

Budget. Child benefit cut botched. 45p tax cut is an act of bravery, not calculation. Burden should fall on those with the most character, says Osborne.

Pics. A life in shirts. Travel poster for the lazy. Abandoned East Berlin dinosaur park. Default photo icons. Flower X-rays.

Random. How to Use a Tourniquet to Control Major Bleeding. Alan Turing's school reports.

Articles. Neuro folly: the quest for biological bases for politics.

Video. Some unfair picking on Phantom Menace fight choreography.

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Get your ass to Mars | 5 comments (5 topical, 0 hidden)
film fight choreography. by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #1 Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 12:05:00 PM EST
I think the only unfair bit was limiting itself to a single movie. I'm pretty sure the first three had nearly the silliness (no wire-fu means a smaller range of stupid moves to choose from, not that they had to choose something effective).


There is no real consensus on the Rpublic by lm (4.00 / 1) #2 Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 01:41:48 PM EST
The mainstream views:

  1. The Republic is primarily about politics

    1. it a blueprint that political regimes should follow and, as such, it leads to horrific consequences.
    2. but it it recognizes that the ideal city is unattainable so it is about finding the measure by which non-ideal cities should be measured rather than serving as a blue print for actual cities.

  2. The Republic is primarily about the soul and uses the symbol of the city as a stand-in for the soul

    1. it is not about politics at all
    2. it is somewhat about politics but care must be taken to distinguish where it is about the soul using politics as an allegory and where it is speaking of politics as such
    3. it is about how what we mistake for being politics is not actually politics at all, the real politics is about the care of the soul

Something like (2a) or (2c) is probably the closest thing to a consensus view of what the Republic is about. But quite a few scholar still take one of the variations of (1). Karl Popper (author of The Open Society and its Enemies) is probably the most well known outside of the world of academic philosophers.

It's easy to see why it leaves a bad taste in the mouth of many moderns. On a superficial level at least, a structure of a nation like modern Iran seems to owe much to the sort of structure advocated in Plato's political works. It would be an interesting exercise to examine whether or not the parallels are more than superficial.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
Did you only see the 3d version? by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #3 Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 03:45:55 PM EST
Trying to decide if it's worth the extra dough.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Yes by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #4 Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 05:37:02 PM EST
I liked it though.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
seeing john carter in the cinema by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #5 Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:03:31 PM EST
i've basically given up; the local powers that be have decided that of course everyone wants to pay the markup to see it in 3D, right?
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
Get your ass to Mars | 5 comments (5 topical, 0 hidden)