The Manufactured Experiences imposed on us... : LUSENET : Aeon Flux : One Thread

Discussion of the sci-fi novelist Philip K. Dick in the Ayn Rand column by Peter Chung led me to contemplate the following words of Peter Chung: "The problem with so many VR stories is that virtual events often lack real world consequences. We spend most of our lives in virtual reality whether we call it that or not. Living in civilized society our cultural, legal, financial and moral structures are artificial. Our thought processes are the result of mental conditioning by the schools, the government and the media..." The nice thing about the arts is an artist has a chance to try to break free of this conditioning and make a statement. The difficult thing is reaching inside and 'seeing' in order to do so. Artistic colonies working together to see 'beyond the invisible' are rare.

-- Barb e. (, June 09, 2002


Climbing creek rocks and walking through caves down to the base of the natural bridge in Payson just to feel a waterfalls cool spray at the end of the struggle was a wonderful 'authentic experience' for me today actually. Funny how nearly sliding off a rock to your death makes one authentically cherish one's mortal coil, (and how beautiful life really is when you do reach a pristine place after so much work). I've never heard of Alain Robbe-Grille, but I totally intend to look him up. It's hard to find these original sources and not the same tired old copycat 'artiste'.

-- Barb e. (, June 09, 2002.

Your mom's a wise woman. I've always found it interesting that the insane cannot be hypnotized because they are so 'logged off' the mainstream. So it's artists and madmen...maybe that explains Madhouse's name.

-- Barb e. (, June 09, 2002.

If an artist creates with the audience reaction in mind he loses his ability to remain in touch with himself and who he is all about, his art becomes meaningless. The mystery of our minds is that we create sub-levels (the subconscious) where we hide our real feelings and thoughts from ourselves. It is the clear minded and sincere individual who is analytical in his art. It's important for him to weed out the seeds of thought of others, otherwise his art is becomes the squawk-talk of a parrot, an 'imitation' of ideas imposed on him.

-- Barb e. (, June 10, 2002.

So then your philosophy is 'may the sun set on man's reason and let the Donkey Serenade begin'? You would never even have heard of 'atoms' if it wasn't for a scientist using his mental abilities, but yet you discard the discovery of that as meaningless. Peter Chung is an artist who created Aeon Flux due to his philosophy of art. You appreciate that and set it apart from the schlock out there that is made up of repetitive 'manufactured realities' from so many other shows but you don't even know why. Is this what you have to show for your ideas that we should give them merit? Jim Morrison called t.v. 'a vast wasteland' and you are the soul heirs to squatters rights there with that thinking.

-- Barb e. (, June 12, 2002.

Peter, I've seen the small artist squeezed mercilessly by larger studios for their talent, and the studio got the bulk of the return in gold. The artist is driven to work for steady money, and it can become the driving force for their career, the creative process starving in the process. The masses when consumed with greedy desires can ruin all hope for a renaissance in a culture. If that's the premise for her book I can well understand the devoted following she has.

-- Barb e. (, June 12, 2002.

Looking up these sites was interesting Peter. Personally I don't try to interpret the bible as a literal source of information since it's origins are obscure and cultures have changed tremendously over hundreds of years. I think its crazy to believe in it as the fundamentalists do. I don't see that it contradicts itself, (and yes I've seen the examples of where they say it has before) but I would put that down to misinterpretations of scriptures. As for the references to biblical vulgararities or obscenities it depends on ones interpretation of obscene. I see people naked everday at work and I don't think it obscene but I do think sometimes reactions to nudity can be obscene. Interestingly the bible can be viewed as a very large source of virtual reality when viewed as a source of fiction. It seems that when some readers return to the real world their behavior is that of one who has let it fade away. As for my own puzzlement of artificial experience-how many more times will I shed tears for the beautiful Tuptim who never did get that kiss in the sunlight.

-- Barb e. (, June 13, 2002.

I'm a priest.

-- Barb e. (, June 14, 2002.

If we look to one another for proof of God the church's will all go broke, hence the need for an alternative plan, (Bingo).

-- Barb e. (, June 15, 2002.

As far as manufactured experiences go I have to say I am just dying to see Animatrix, oh one who is not sure he qualifies as a celeb. BTW if you are the actual artist writing drawing and other authentic experiences then I suppose making a movie is not a manufactured experience? Yes?

-- Barb e. (, June 15, 2002.

Leaving that to the scientists. I just try to be more in tune with God.

-- Barb e. (, June 15, 2002.

Recently I went to the White Mountains with a friend. We pulled into town at night and in the middle of main street Springerville, Az we saw a tall luminous being shaped like a human (featureless) floating in the middle of the road. It was brighter than the street lights and faded before our eyes and my car(I was too stunned to step on the brake)! What the heck was that? Science is honest. Religions are cycloptic. Reality is mysterious. We don't know who or what we are.

-- Barb e. (, June 15, 2002.

Peter, I love the way you think, no wonder I loved Aeon.

-- Barb e. (, June 15, 2002.

Ooh Peter you have a wicked sense of humor. Knowing my beliefs and the biblical story of Herod (Acts 12:22,23) I think this could be a set up for me.... So how do I answer this? Well, in the tradition of your favorite movie LOTR (..) I leave you a riddle: If you are an atheist then why would you worship either Aeon or me, since neither are divine? Hint: Although one of these two IS close to perfect.

-- Barb e. (, June 18, 2002.

O.k. I'll give the answer to the riddle. Aeon's the nearly perfect one. For an example of Aeon's nursing skills watch the Demiurge, (nurse from hell scene). It will explain to you why she no longer works even during a nursing shortage, (yet she is indomitable, to her credit). Since I don't carry a fug under my scrubs I'm still working. No one has erected any temple's to me there but I'm sure it would create a lot more atheists if attempted.

-- Barb e. (, June 18, 2002.

As strange as this sounds and putting personal feelings aside, (religion, tastes in the film industry, books) I think we are all honest thinkers here and see the genuine need to open our minds beyond that of what we have been conditioned to think and feel in honest pursuit of advancement. Thomas Jefferson, who was prejudiced against the black race, saw beyond his limitations and fought for the freedom of a population held in bondage. I think that is our common ground and the source of our real interests. This is a time of strange conflicts and we need the clearsightedness of great minds for sure.

-- Barb e. (, June 19, 2002.

Many men have condescended to sleep with a woman.

-- Barb e. (, June 20, 2002.

"If we did a good act merely from love of God and a belief that is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the atheist?...Their virtue then must have some other foundation other than the love of God". Thomas Jefferson (letter to Thomas Law June 13 1814.

"I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent". Thomas Jeffereson (letter to Francis Hopkinson March 13, 1789)

"In every country and in every age the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own". Thomas Jefferson (letter to Horatio G. Spafford March 17, 1814)

"We hold these truths to be self evident-all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights-that among these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness".

-- Barb e. (, June 21, 2002.

Off the original occurred to me after the discussion of Jefferson that I admire elite, fastidious, intelligent, aloof and complicated males. How many animations depict this type? Sure; I'll watch cartoons.

-- Barb e. (, June 24, 2002.

You guys are funny. Saw Metropolis, didn't see anyone in it even remotely attractive. I have not seen Vegeta or Bateman. Speaking of writers creating virtual events and not seeing the consequences I know someone who swears women read Harlequin romances, watch tv and movie romances and think they are the very definition of love. Certainly this has its consequences on public expectations.

-- Barb e. (, June 24, 2002.

Boy is that a confusing sentence to me. You want to know who I don't find attractive with the same specs of those I do find attractive? that category I can only think of Pinkerton from Madame Butterfly, and he's not made into an animated character yet, but when they do he will have to go 'anime', since he is truly an American in Japan.

-- Barb e. (, June 25, 2002.

President Bush went to Springerville Az yesterday on account of the White Mountain Apache fire. This is the same one horse town where I saw a luminous being floating in the middle of Main street during a dust storm only a few weeks ago. Weird, (and no I wasn't eating mushroom pizza or anything).

-- Barb e. (, June 26, 2002.

I drove right up to it before it faded. It had the beautiful white- silvery light of a very bright moonlight and was about 6 feet tall. I wasn't able to see through it and there was no source for the light other than it's own shape which was in the form of a human being. The bottom faded into nothing about 12 inches above the road. My heart beat very fast from the minute I saw it, I'm not sure if that was excitement or shock at seeing something so inexplicable.

-- Barb e. (, June 27, 2002.

Whoa it's quiet here. Didn't mean to creep anyone out, but I love ghost stories-real ones included. Maybe this is the time to bring this up, (and then I'm done with ghosts)...Remember Aeon saying 'Man alive Goodchild, you give me the Hinks', there is a place in England that is a very well known haunted castle, called Hinxworth Place. I've always wondered if it's related.

-- Barb e. (, June 27, 2002.

Chung's claim seems to be that all experience is inauthentic, but if that is the case, then what is authentic experience? And furthermore, how will we know it when we see it? I think virtual realities lack of real world consequenes is one of its strongest assets. Once it does begin to have real world consequences then your virtual experience just becomes another district of reality subject to all its rules and regulations and limits on your freedom. That sounds like pretty shoddy escapism if you ask me.

-- Logo (, June 09, 2002.

Logo, I said MOST, not ALL of our experience today is contrived. It's for that reason that there is such a thirst for "authentic" experience. And people search for it through religion, or contact with nature, or mind expanding drugs, or art, etc.

And who said anything about escapism? I was referring to the use of virtual reality in works of fiction in regards to the strength of Dick's work compared to the work of cyberpunk authors such as Gibson or Sterling. The problem I've found with virtual reality stories is that when we return to the real world, the events in VR fade away like a dream a la Alice in Wonderland/ Wizard of Oz.

Reading a book or watching a movie are themselves methods of simulation. So to tell a story where fictional characters then proceed to enter yet another fiction within the story seems counterproductive. I prefer stories that understand this inherent aspect of fiction and freely bend reality -- much the way the fictional VR is supposed to affect the characters. It's kidding yourself as a writer/filmmaker to claim that there is a "reality" in your story from which characters can then "escape". Artists like Dick and David Lynch understand this charade and expose it.

-- Peter Chung (, June 09, 2002.

As an avid reader of a majority of the Philip K. Dick library, I can tell you that the realities of his novels and short stories are even more unstable, paradoxical and disorienting than any of the worlds of Æon Flux. One of his primary themes was the idea that reality and our perception of that reality are very malleable and inherently uncertain. Many of Dick's novels involve the warped world of the drug addict, the unwitting passage to the worlds of the dead, even the utter mutation of one's own reality and being wiped from the memory of the universe. The boundaries between reality and false perception, between authentic and simulated, between true and false, are EXTREMELY ambiguous and subject to the whims of an indifferent universe according to Dick. His novels focus on the average man - with his own flaws, emotions and false perceptions - placed in a fantastic unreality which he must attempt to deal with and escape, if possible.

But often times that escape is NOT possible. Novels such as Ubik and Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said feature characters who are either dead and attempting to solve the puzzle of their world's deterioration, or trapped in a world where they have suddenly ceased to have ever existed. In Dick's later novels focusing on his religious experiences in 1974, our entire present world becomes a false impression and a psychological prison forced on us by a deranged Demiurge. The nature of Dick's reality is not simply that the virtual becomes a world in and of itself, but that one cannot distinguish between the authentic and the virtual. The world is an inherently unstable place, impossible to escape or even perceive properly. So if Chung is saying that all experience is inauthentic because of our limited perceptions and the bizarre nature of our world, he mirrors Dick more closely than ever (I've always found some major similarities between AF and Dick's works :), and that "shoddy escapism" becomes a commentary on the limitations of our perceptions and the numerous trapdoors that are inherently potential in our reality and every reality.

Blargh, sorry that wasn't very clear, but I just woke up not too long ago O_o

-- Brian Davis (, June 09, 2002.

For the best example of literature-as-virtual-reality experience, read Alain Robbe-Grillet. Especially Jealousy, In the Labyrinth, and The Voyeur. (Most especially Jealousy.) His early novels are some of the most meticulously crafted, rigorously descriptive evocations of consciousness ever written.

-- Peter Chung (, June 09, 2002.

BTW, Mr. Chung (or anybody else here, for that matter), if you haven't read any of Dick's novel other than Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, you're missing out on some of his best and most intriguing works. Ubik, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch and Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said all focus on the instability of reality and perception; VALIS, Radio Free Albemuth and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer are all based on his 1974 religious experience, and are powerful explorations into the possibilities of Gnosticism and on its impact in the light of one's own imperfections (i.e. schizophrenia or an inability to fully realize emotion because of overconditioning to an academic mindset); A Scanner Darkly deals entirely with the perception- twisting nature of drugs; and The Man in the High Castle is the novel for which Dick won the Hugo award.

Dammit, this always happens when somebody gets me started on PKD... I can't stop! ;)

-- Brian Davis (, June 09, 2002.

I think we're making the same point, but from two different ends. What you consider to be an inherent aspect of fiction (or virtual reality), i.e. the fact that it is simulation, is also an inherent aspect of reality itself (as stated by you). According to what you said, the essence of simulation has permeated every aspect of society. Or to put it another way (if I'm putting words in your mouth please correct me) society IS simulation. If that's the case though, then what is real? If simulation is our reality, then any attempt to experience the real, or the authentic, is fruitless because all our experience is filtered through our false reality.

So basically your point about how artists depicting fictional characters that can escape into another fiction are fooling themselves, is right on with what I am saying. But at the same time, aren't people who believe that they can escape the inauthentic and experience the authentic also fooling themselves? And in that sense, any art depicting such an attempt would only be mirroring real life.

I only mentioned that bit about escapism because that's what I consider entertainment to be. And what is virtual reality and fiction, and animated TV shows if not entertainment.

-- Logo (, June 09, 2002.

I've read a few of Dick's books and the problem I have had with all of them (except of maybe Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) is that they deteriorate to a point where it becomes a chore to read. The first half is usually really good, but the second half becomes too chaotic for me. That's just me though. Maybe the more willing you are to let go of your reality, the more you will enjoy his books.

-- Logo (, June 09, 2002.

"Entertainment"? huh?

-- Peter Chung (, June 09, 2002.

Logo, you reveal much in your penultimate post. If you regard all animation and fictional works as "entertainment" or "escapism", then you are assuming to understand the authors' intent a priori. For most artists/authors, to entertain is only the method, or means used to make his work engaging to the viewer. It is not what drives the artist to create.

I personally know many professional people in the film industry who scoff at the suggestion that films (let alone animated films) should ever be thought of as works of art. Talk about being stuck in a manufactured definition of experience...

-- Peter Chung (, June 09, 2002.

I believe his original point was that there exists a weakness in the idea of virtual reality being "unreal" and having no effects on the characters outside of the "online world." After all, human brains are writing code and processing information all the time, and virtual reality is one more kind of input into the brain. That input will create new programs and modes of thought that will spill over into the offline world.

As well, the offline world is like the virtual world in that it has set positions, ranks, and titles that must be achieved through set ends. This hierarchy is completely manufactured, and there is little difference between learning the methods of ascending corporate hierarchy and ascending a video game hierarchy. (In fact, this was a way my mom taught me about dealing with personnel departments "Treat it like a videogame, no matter how ridiculous it seems, do it.") These roles and titles and requirements are defined by people other than us, and we merely 'plug in' to them and use them, rather than define our own roles. In order to do that, we'd have to 'log off' and create our own society/world.

-- skye (, June 09, 2002.

Original intent and final outcome are often two very different things. That being said, I don't think it negates the artistic merit of your oeuvre to call it entertainment. You may think of the entertainment value of your work as a trogan horse to get your philosophical point across, but at some point those disaparate aspects of the piece will become inextricably bound. And is this really a bad thing? I can't imagine what Aeon Flux would be like without the entertaining aspects. (I'm not even sure if that sentence makes sense since entertainment is such a subjective thing). As the creator of a show that oozes style I find it hard to believe that you would be anything but pleased to hear your show described as entertainment. What's the point of using the animation medium if not to entertain? As for whether the work is art first and entertainment second or vise versa, it is all a matter of perspective. And in the end does it even matter? The worth of any work of art is proven in experiencing it, and the experience will be the same no matter what arbitrary label you give to it.

-- Logo (, June 09, 2002.

It's an interesting thing that skye said:

"These roles and titles and requirements are defined by people other than us, and we merely 'plug in' to them and use them, rather than define our own roles. In order to do that, we'd have to 'log off' and create our own society/world."

I think that's exactly what makes virtual reality and fiction and animated TV shows, etc, so appealing. We can escape the confines of the real world and, to a certain extent, become the authors of our own narrative in a way that is not normally possible in the real world, if only for a limited time. To me, bringing real world consequences into the virtual world would ruin that illusion. But then again those that prosper in the fictive world of virtual reality would have no reason to want it to remain an illusion would they?

-- Logo (, June 10, 2002.

Logo, I also find the word "entertainment" to be amost useless because it is so subjective. So, yes, in a way, I don't care one way or another if that label is applied to my work. However, since you equated entertainment with escapism, I raised my objection. Having my work (and the work of other artists) called escapist is inaccurate and it does bother me. Art, at its most vital, is the opposite of escape. It is engagement and confrontation.

Of all the artificial structures we place on experience, language is the most pervasive.

-- Peter Chung (, June 10, 2002.

"To me, bringing real world consequences into the virtual world would ruin that illusion. But then again those that prosper in the fictive world of virtual reality would have no reason to want it to remain an illusion would they? "

But this is the point: they exist. Real world consequences DO come from virtual reality. To merely write it off as "escapist" is foolish. When I play, for example, Ragnarok Online, I am constantly operating in a dual mode of thinking, and my ways of thinking and EXPERIENCE are being added onto and changed. Ultimately, subjectivity is the only measure of what occurs in our lives, because we are unable to see from other's perspectives. This I think is completely focal to Aeon Flux: the ability of subjectivity to alter 'events' and give them meaning. Remember what trevor said at the beginning of the Demiurge, events have no meaning in themselves, merely the meaning our minds attach to them. Thus, anything our mind attaches meaning to is an experience and HAS AN EFFECT beyond itself. That effect is often impossible for us to follow, because it occurs in our own consciousness, and many (if not all) people are incapable of perfectly monitoring the very mechanisms that allow them to think.

"That being said, I don't think it negates the artistic merit of your oeuvre to call it entertainment."

Now not to steal words from your mouth Peter, but didn't you decry the creation of things that are 'only' entertainment, and don't provide any deeper insight into the person or society that created them? I mean, if a show, for example, is utterly devoid of deeper thought and insight, and doesn't provoke thought, it is just 'entertainment.' However, a piece of creative work can be entertaining at the same time that it exposes and illuminates. Merely because a piece of art is entertaining doesn't mean it can't also teach and provide another viewpoint. However, if a creative work is created solely to entertain, rather than provoke a reaction, to dull the senses rather than sharpen them, then we may say it is merely entertainment, rather than art.

skye, enough rambling for one night, eh?

-- skye (, June 10, 2002.

I believe that art can be both the act of angangement and confrontation and the end result of such a dialectic. In that sense then art is also release; both for the artist and the viewer. This is the way in which I meant that watching Aeon Flux is a form of escapism. For a brief twenty minutes the reigns of my hum drum existence are loosened and I am free to roam the alien landscapes of your creation without a care. When the experience is over and I am forced to return to the real world I am certainly not unaffected. Tbe act of escaping provides me with the much needed emotional release that aides my day to day functioning. At the same time though, my time there is not spent in idle masturbatory delusion; I am changed by what I experience. A subtle lesson has been learned, a spark of deeper understanding has been lit; if only subconsciously. The point is, though, that I can be effected and still have fun too. My mind can be expanded and entertained at the same time without diminishing the value of the lesson being learned, and without demeaning the author of the work in question. Ultimately though, escapism is as subjective as entertainment. Some people escape into books about philosophy and history and some people watch porno. And I'm sure there are a plenty of people who do both, but that doesn't diminish the value of the philosophy because it serves a similar (yet fundamentally separate) purpose as the porno.

After X amount of posts on this forum I'm suprised I even have to say this.

-- Logo (, June 10, 2002.

It think all artsists must consider their audience, if only in an attempt to piss them off. And how can they not help but be influenced by the thoughts of others? Not only do those ideas that are imposed on us define who we are, but art as engagement and confrontation must necessarily take those ideas into consideration if it seeks to go beyond them.

-- Logo (, June 10, 2002.

Words like "art" and "entertainment" can be anything one wants them to be. The importance comes from its subjective meaning. A sculpture, painting, or animation (at that point) is irrelevant and the physical object takes on a new purpose all its own; like a child brought into this world by its mother. What it can do from there -what it does, or did; what it stands for, or what it proves; whether it is real or fake or engineered, is unimportant. Such an aggressive search for truth leads us to the deduction of all that is superfluous in life -beauty and subjective meaning. I believe that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. The further you try to understand this issue, and anything else, the less sense it will make. We can reduce an octopus down to atoms, but at the most fundamental level, all meaning is removed and everything begins to resemble everything else -it is no longer "identified" or significant. ("Human beings aren't so unique; only a random arrangement of amino acids" -Trevor). Yes, this may be an over- simplification of the matter, but such reductionism leads us to a cold, hard, objective world; one that wouldn't be worth living in...

But that's just my opinionHahhaha!! :D ;) two cents!

-- cynical (, June 12, 2002.

Barb, the allure of cynicism is that it doesn't set one up for disappointment.

-- Peter Chung (, June 12, 2002.

All meanings are subjective. Can things and events mean something if there is no one there for them to possess meaning for? ("What is the meaning of Life?" needs to be preceded by addressing the question "What is the meaning of Meaning?")

Having said that, the act of dialogue ought to be practical-- with the understanding that language is a tool and that words are a convention designed to make communication efficient. Just because reductive analysis bears the hazard of sapping life of its richness doesn't mean that we should reject it outright. That would be to abandon the challenge of exercising judgment. We may live in a quantum universe, but we still get to the store on mechanical bicycles.

Sure, "art" is just a word. But the fact that we're all here reading and writing messages on this board makes us participants in this game. (It doesn't make you a better chess player to point out in mid-play that the rules are arbitrary, so why bother?)

On the other hand, the struggle, the exhilration, the pain and the joy that accompanies the creation of the work that we indicate by that word are real. We wouldn't get very far in understanding one another if we had to keep referring to a complex process by describing it each time out, when words exist for that purpose. "Art" is created by a very different process than a work of "escapism". Otherwise, why the hell did I leave my job at Disney?

-- Peter Chung (, June 12, 2002.

For a heartfelt examination on the topic of the artist's role in a society driven by the needs of the masses, I suggest Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. An entertaining read.

-- Peter Chung (, June 12, 2002.

"Such an aggressive search for truth leads us to the deduction of all that is superfluous in life -beauty and subjective meaning."

On the contrary, such an aggressive search for truth led einstein to one of the biggest discoveries of last century: subjective meaning is the *only* truth.

Indeed, this is important to keep in mind. Physics has said, more or less, that there can exist no objective truth (unless you follow some of Hawking's wilder theories about 'imaginary time'), because time passes differently for each of us. Even reductionism gets us down to "we don't know whats going on and possibly never will."


-- skye (, June 12, 2002.

Didn't mean to upset anyone; that was merely flamebait for Logo! ;) Anyway, to defend my post, the hope that there is a right answer (and possibly dying for it if the chance arises) or a hard, cold, correct truth to anything may just lead to a big let- down. Like I said before, some things just might not have a purpose - maybe things just exist and we impose reason on it. The main point I wanted you to remember from my post is that the sum is greater than its parts. I know what I said came off as "you can't see the forrest through the trees" and "reductionism is the devil!!!" -I didn't mean it that way; reductionism isn't a waste of time (I really do enjoy science), but I guess that's the way most of you read it. If only I could zap to you what's inside of my head.... =(

skye said:
On the contrary, such an aggressive search for truth led einstein to one of the biggest discoveries of last century: subjective meaning is the *only* truth.

I'm sure there is an objective world out there, but we can only touch it subjectively.

-- cynical (, June 13, 2002.

For Barb: I wouldn't even know about atoms if some guy didn't think about them -this is true. But the fact that you called them 'atoms' is still interesting. I merely used the word "atoms" because you associate the word with that smallest component of matter, which is actually a blur made out by the angular momentum of sub-atomic particles. For all I care they could be called fondu. The point I was trying to make is that we are more than the sum of our parts. There are emergent properties. If we focus only on that which is "scientific," we often forget about our human values, our subjective interpretation, our POLITENESS (good God), our faith, and most importantly our analysis of the bigger-system; the more synthetic world-view.

-- cynical (, June 13, 2002.

I'm gonna catch hell for this, cause I'm reading over what I just posted up there. Shit. Don't dog me for the technical details, ok? Had a long day today. Don't argue it, just please consider it. If it needs more explaination simply ask for more explaination -I know it's fuzzy. =( Don't mean to be a jerk, but I don't want you all replying in huge blocks on regarding a position I'm not even taking... *sigh* Peter knows what I mean... ;)

-- cynical (, June 13, 2002.

Cyn, do you know anything about the lateral thought process?

-- Sam (, June 13, 2002.

"some things just might not have a purpose - maybe things just exist and we impose reason on it."

But if we define "purpose" as that meaning which humans endow on things, then those things DO have a purpose. In fact, it's meaningless to use the word otherwise.

(Although we can point to nature and say "the purpose of a rabbits' long ears is to alert them of predators"-- this is a peculiarly human perspective. The observation's meaning changes when stated as: "rabbits have long ears as a result of natural selection.") We are an integral part of the world we observe. Contrary to the account in the Bible, the world's creation did not end on the first Saturday (or was it a Friday?). We continue to participate in the creation of the world day by day. The creative drive of artists, philosophers and scientists comes from the human need to define our place in the world. Otherwise, who will do it for us-- God (read: religious leaders)?

Feel free to point out the contradictions here from my earlier comments about the artifice of most of our experience. As Yul Brynner once said: "It is a puzzlement!"

(And yes-- I've been thinking a lot about these issues lately as my Animatrix episode deals with the effects of virtual experience and simulated consciousness.)

-- Peter Chung (, June 13, 2002.

"The creative drive of artists, philosophers and scientists comes from the human need to define our place in the world. Otherwise, who will do it for us-- God (read: religious leaders?"

I don't know about you, but I think there must have been some pretty great artists and philosophers working on the Bible. Maybe even some scientists since the word science would have meant something completely different back then. The Bible is just one narrative among millions. Its validity as potentional truth stems from the fact that so many people believe in it, nothing more. The question is, what is the agenda of the artists, philosophers, and scientists of today. Is the truth that they espouse any more valid than the Bible's and is their agenda any more pure? Is anyone really justified in making their narrative the sole narrative? Is the complaint of artists and philophers just sour grapes at their own impotence in the face of such omnipotent organizations as the State and the Church. Would the world be a better place if we all worshiped at the Temple of Aeon?

-- Logo (, June 13, 2002.


I'm not saying in the least that the task of defining ourselves belongs to an elite class of lofty individuals (Ayn Rand, again). Just that if we don't use our innate capacity for self-definition, there are others, usually in the name of religion, who will be more than happy to do it for us. Even your simple act of formulating arguments and posting here shows that you are engaged in personal inquiry.

And there is a big difference between the claims of truth contained in the Bible and those of science and the humanities. The Bible's claims of truth reside in the authority of God. These "divine truths" are further claimed to be unchanging and eternal. They are claimed not to be the words of mortal men-- and that is simply a lie (or a delusion, but that's almost as bad).

In answer to your last question-- if Aeon is a useful symbol for the indomitability of the individual over the forces of domination-- then, yes. (blushing.)

-- Peter Chung (, June 13, 2002.

God's Word 1

God's Word 2

-- Peter Chung (, June 13, 2002.

Whats your job Barb?

-- Sam (, June 14, 2002.

When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, And thou seest amoung the caotives a buetiful woman, and hast a desire unto her...thou shalt go unto her... -Deuteronomy 21:10-11, 13 Do you consider RAPE obscene Barb? I always have. Prehaps i am interpreting this passage too litterally; maybe you can offer me some metaphorical explanation. This is not the only passage of it's sort, and there are certainly passages condradicting it. The fact that the Bible is no longer relevant in today's "culture" is just evedence that it was made up at the time to suit the time. Certainly not the work of an all lasting, all knowing God.

-- Sam (, June 14, 2002.

Jeeze im not so condescending. That last post is not mine, my friend was using this computer and forgot to change the name. His name is Emmet, hes my age. Thats all.

-- Sam (, June 14, 2002.

Oh no, the bashing of God/religion... I should step up and defend the belief structure and God... or something... :( Carry on... :(

-- cynical (, June 14, 2002.

"I'm sure there is an objective world out there, but we can only touch it subjectively."

Herein lies the most fundamental aspect of human consciousness: although the human mind is capable of processing and interpreting the vast glut of data that assaults it from day to day, it can only process that according to its own limitations and the arbitrary systems of human classification, semiotics, semantics and solipsistic purpose. Stanislaw Lem's novel Solaris focuses on the consequences of these cognitive restrictions: how can we know and acknowledge something truly alien (i.e. Solaris itself), even scientifically, without fully understanding the functions and limits of ourselves? Lem proposes that even scientific understanding of something truly Other is impossible due to the preconceptions and conditioned world structure that exist in our minds. Thus, even our scientific classification of things such as "atoms" and the like are limited by our inherently subjective and arbitrarily formatted cognitive functions. What one must really remember is that, viewed objectively, science is no more inherently correct than any other discipline in that it is a manmade institution and mindset. It is a discipline of logic, derivation, theory and physical proof, which seem to us to be concrete and unshakeable; yet no objective, concrete proof exists that these systems of thought and practice are the only criteria by which to judge a situation, or are any more inherently correct than religious beliefs and the like. Science has, however, proven its subjective worth to us by relating directly to the things that we can perceive and providing an explanation via logic.

So even before answering the questions concerning Art and Entertainment, one must analyze the institutions we believe are concrete and unshakeable. One must analyze and define the world in terms of subjective proof and practice - which is the only real way to judge anything that can be perceived by our minds - before attempting to move outside that subjective realm in order to observe it in practice. At the heart of that matter is the question of Meaning itself, which in purely subjective terms can be defined as the motivation and desired outcome one perceives in thought, action and interaction. So how does one define meaning in something as abstract and personal as Art and/or Entertainment? In the end it comes down to a subjective assessment judged by arbitrary criteria that differ from person to person.

Not that I'm trying to say all debate is meaningless (that would be a misuse of the term Meaning), I'm just saying the debate can get pretty hairy once you get really in-depth into the matter. :)

-- Brian Davis (, June 14, 2002.

"I'm sure there is an objective world out there, but we can only touch it subjectively. "

The word objective has, ironically, an entirely subjective meaning. Relativity literally states that everything exists only in comparison to other things.

Of course, I could always get *really* picky and point out that the existence of an objective viewpoint would contradict the Heisenburg Uncertainty Principle, which would prevent the universe from existing the way it does.

Also, Peter, do you mind if I submit you to the Celebrity Atheist list? I wouldn't want to do it without your asking, but I think you deserve a spot on there.

skye, an ordained minister.

-- skye (, June 14, 2002.

Barb-- hahaha. Perfect answer. Actually, one reason I lost my faith was precisely because of the behavior of the Christians I knew. "By their works ye shall know them." I don't think that's quite what Paul had in mind, though...

Skye, I'm flattered that you think I qualify as a celebrity... Out of curiosity, is there a place where the list is available to see?

-- Peter Chung (, June 14, 2002.

So what exact belief do you people (Peter, Logo, Barb, Sam, Dangerboy(!), skye) subscribe too? I'd love to hear what intelligent people believe in. :) Honestly - My smile there denotes happiness and not reverse-psychological spite or sarcastic-malice or anything -I love you people, you know.

-- cynical (, June 15, 2002.

In regards to the creation of human beings and the earth, that is.

-- cynical (, June 15, 2002.

I agree with Brian Davis that science is also a manmade belief system. And it is no better or worse than religion; both rivaling sides seek a monopoly over “truth.” Science is, as Davis pointed out, a more precise method of understanding the universe. The benefits of science have been enormous, both in increasing our understanding of the universe and in increasing our control over the physical world. But nothing is without a price. And there are some of us who believe (subjectively) that the price is simply too high –that in exchange for empirical knowledge and technological progress we have traded in our souls. Literally. Science’s pursuit of “hard,” “cold,” “objective” knowledge has taken away from us life’s soft, warm, subjective meaning. Science has destroyed the old myths that gave us comfort and cannot provide a suitable substitute. In a scientific world, we are an accident / creation of chance / a random, insignificant occurrence in an aging universe’s lifespan. We are merely existing here on this planet, stranded in a sense, without a purpose, without hope.

Critics of science argue that religion can offer humankind meaning; it affirms the importance of human values and human experience; it provides comfort and solace –and quite possibly purpose. The only problem is that religion can offer us comfort, but at the expense of truth. Religionists turn away from the unpleasant realities revealed by science, to seek relief in made-up myths and fairy stories, so to speak. And thus, the battle lines are set.

-- cynical (, June 15, 2002.


As far as religions go, the Universal Life Church ordained me. But as to what I believe? I'm an atheist through and through. Growing up with/around scientists really affected my worldview. I used to believe... But it just evaporated when I developed abstract thinking. Nothing I had ever seen confirmed anything that any religion taught me. So I came to the conclusion that they were bunk. Then as I learned more about the world I came to a second conclusion: either there was no god, or, more horribly, the god that existed was cruel and vindictive. Thinking back, there is another conclusion, that there is more than one god... But in any case, being an optimist, I picked atheism. I didn't want to think of humans kowtowwing to cruel gods.


-- skye (, June 15, 2002.

I'm going to steal and twist einstein's words a little, but I came up with this while walking the dog: Science without wonder is empty, wonder without science is blind.

If you don't pursue science precisely because you find the world beautiful and worthy of exploration, then you probably will only find "cold hard facts." The scientists I've met and work with often view the universe as a giant masterpiece that they are given the honor of exploring. Formulas and experiments are just as beautiful to them as the things they represent.

skye, where I work: (They have some really beautiful images of Earth there.)

-- skye (, June 15, 2002.

Since most of you setup camp with science, I will do my best to debunk the scientific-view on human creation, and then try to debunk that. Since some of us don’t even know what it is we’re believing in –myself included, from a religious standpoint- this may help us understand our situation(s), or possibly... confuse us more. :)

Jacques Monod (French microbiologist) is convinced that the nature of life, even human life, can be fully explained in terms of the materialistic scientific worldview. As a microbiologist, his field of research does not, unlike that of modern physicists, transcend the normal boundaries of our patterns of thought; at the quantum mechanical levels, for example, physicists have begun to question whether, at its deepest levels, the universe really can be understood by human beings –or whether J.B.S. Haldane may not have been right all along –that things are indeed odder than we are capable of imagining. Monod’s discoveries, which revealed the precise clockwork interaction of physical and chemical events within cells, have greatly enriched our understanding of living organisms. And his discoveries have convinced him that life itself has evolved through the interplay of chance and necessity alone. No internal vital forces and no external guiding principles exist. THe forces at work are none other than those that govern inorganic chemical reactions. Chance reigned supreme in the universe until random encounters of molecules created the first self-replicating macro-molecule (DNA), the blueprint of life so-to-speak. From this point forward, the necessity of repeating the same combination (originally arrived at by chance), combined with the consequences of error in the replication process, began to diversify and enrich the universe in a new and systematic way. The evolution of life was and is something different from the nonliving processes that had occurred for billions of years before the first living things emerged, because it is directional. In the nonliving world, we see structures constructed and then dissolved, the cycle repeating itself over and over: tectonic forces thrust upward, creating mountains which are then eroded away over millions of years. Although the creation of complex elements from simple ones through the unimaginable heat within giant stars can be conceived as a directional process and is often concluded in the concept of evolution, that process comes to an end after only a few steps, with the radioactive disintegration of the heaviest elements that are created (uranium, thorium, and so forth). For billions of years, these elements are created and destroy themselves –endlessly, senselessly.

However, organic evolution, is truly directional in a completely new sense: no limits are set for the increase in complexity. Although cycles of life and death occur, constantly new and unexpected variations of organic construction continue to emerge. Most of these are not viable, but some of them turn out to be more successful than anything that existed before. This is the process of genetic variation and natural selection. Because simple organisms have already made use of all the opportunities open to them, survival chances of new forms of life depend in general upon their greater complexity. Evolving life is thus driven onward from simple to complex –naturally, automatically, without being directed through a higher mind or higher plan. Monod is careful to emphasize that true creation, or true emergence (the process I just described), which occurs only through a first-time chance combination of genes, differs significantly from epigenetic emergence, which is encountered during the development of an organism. Epigenetic emergence occurs according to a plan. The genetic blueprint contained in the DNA of successful survivor of chance creation instructs its descendants to develop the same form and internal organization. When these blueprints are altered through the impact of the radioactive particles that pervade the universe, or through the mixing effect of sexual reproduction, new elements of chance are injected into the evolutionary process. In the world of Monod, it is that endless interplay of chance and necessity, and nothing else, that thrusts evolution forward and leads to the continual emergence of new combinations and qualities, and to the incessant individualization of living organisms.

While epigenetic and true emergence might appear to have a superficial similarity, they are fundamentally different. Epigenetic emergence is guided not by chance but by chemical laws and affinities and is thus predictable and goal-directed. However, true emergence – the chance creation of various genes to begin with –is unpredictable. The probability of any particular gene being created is always practically zero before its combination, because an almost infinite number of possible chance combinations exist. Only after a gene has been created can its existence be explained through natural law. Monod therefore believes life may have arisen only once on earth and that once destroyed, it may never again arise. The odds against it are simply too great.

To be sure, other scientists argue that the emergence of life under conditions existing when the earth was young was almost inevitable. The odds against any one particular gene being created, they admit, were enormous; but, they add, any one of a large number of possible patterns would have been satisfactory, not just the particular combination that arose on the early earth. Some go so far as to maintain that the emergence of intelligence is simply follows from competition among living organisms. But even if that is so, our position is still a precarious one; for if intelligence is a product of competition, then according to the chemical physicist Aaron Kupperman (sp?), it becomes doubtful whether intelligent beings anywhere in the universe could have survived the dangerous stage of technological progress without “blasting themselves back into the Stone Age –or beyond.” The very fact that intelligence is the product of ruthless competition makes it unlikely that anything but competition can be conceived of as desirable in the minds of intelligent beings, not only on the earth but anywhere that life has arisen (a nod to the movie Independence Day, starring Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum [in the movie aliens were hostile and super- intelligent {again, very subjective, but that’s what I derived from the movie}.].) “Intelligence is the most dangerous product of evolution,” Kupperman argues, and he believes the unbreakable connection between intelligence and competition will seal the fate of our species –unless we concentrate all of our efforts and use the limited time allotted to our species on earth to contact other planets and learn their secrets. Alone, he believes, we are doomed. (These arguments reflect the traditional, materialistic world-view of science, stripped of all superfluous baggage and pursued to its logical conclusion.)

Scooby-doo-type recap of the whole post: Three alternative positions are possible: We might agree with Monod that true “creation” –the initial emergence of self-replicating molecules– is extremely rare and that life may have formed only once on earth. We might agree with other scientists who argue that life is common but the particular set of circumstances needed to produce intelligence is very rare. Or we might agree with Kupperman, who sees even the emergence of intelligence as a matter of course, but who sees intelligence infected, in its very evolution, with the germ of its own destruction.

No matter which position we take, the world-view of science seems uniquely suited to impress upon us the fragility of life on earth and hence to point to the necessity of safeguarding it. Here, however, we run up against the cardinal question to which materialistic science has no answer: Why should life be valued?

(Taken from various scientific journals and websites that I didn’t bother to write down. Please don’t ask for a works cited list because I don’t have one prepared. Please correct any scientific inaccuracies.)

-- cynical (, June 15, 2002.

Why is killing human beings wrong?

The answer to the question lies not in science, but in the realm of human values. Science trudging along blindly is our undoing. Theodore Kaczynski was a brilliant man –there’s no question about it (I read his manifesto). But, you see, he lacked human values and so he allowed himself to bomb universities in an attempt to impede technological advance. I share his passion for careful moderation, but I do not share his violent feelings. I believe in the methods of science, but I believe in God more. I hope you don’t find me to be stupid or jaded because of my belief in God -because I really do believe in Him being an external force governing our lives. Yes, there are inaccuracies in the Bible, but that doesn't mean we should scrap the whole thing. I know there are those of you who think I am diluted but I guess that, for me, that is the price of my faith. But I don't want to preach to you guys too much because you're all pretty much grown-up and everything with minds already made up. I just think that in this day and age, a soul would be a very good thing to have.

And since we're doing this now...
cynical, student of computer science and artificial intelligence

-- cynical (, June 15, 2002.

Sorry for drifting so far from the original sub. I'll try to steer it back into place..... yeah, whichever belief you subscribe to is a manufactured reality. Yeah, uh, art is not free from the influence of both rivaling world-views.... or is it? =D

-- cynical (, June 15, 2002.

"No matter which position we take, the world-view of science seems uniquely suited to impress upon us the fragility of life on earth and hence to point to the necessity of safeguarding it. Here, however, we run up against the cardinal question to which materialistic science has no answer: Why should life be valued?"

Because we are capable of valuing it. The problem with the existence of god is that god or gods obviously do *not* value human life. Human life is inevitably given its value in death, save for very few religions, and most of them very early (like the Norse 'Hel' religion). Christianity, at its heart, preaches that human life has no integral value other than serving god. Indeed, until St. Augustine came along and said suicide wasn't allowed, there were many christian suicide cults. Can we find evidence of the value of human life? Not really. Not in my experience.

It is only when we acknowledge how rare intelligence is, and extend the feelings of self-preservation and self-value we feel to all humanity, and perhaps all life, that we can truly value our subjectivity. I am reminded of a scene in the incredible "Watchmen" when Jon, the human-turned-god questions himself why life has any more value than non-life. He makes the realization that each human life, in its complete improbability is a "Thermodynamic Miracle." An event so ridiculously unlikely that its very existence should be treasured, like lead spontaneously turning to gold.

I heartily recommend "Watchmen", by the way.


-- skye (, June 15, 2002.


"Scooby-doo type"-- I won't argue with that. Why are those the only three alternative positions? We could say there is an equally strong connection between intelligence and cooperation. Thinking animals realize that survival of the self is better achieved through measured altruism and deference than by outright selfish behavior.

Why I cast my lot with science rather than religion: the claims of religion are not verifiable. The very nature of religion is that it values blind faith over knowledge. I don't disagree that the scientific viewpoint is a human invention and that it also requires faith in its method. (Living in faith is not a bad thing either.)

But it's wrong to conclude that any viewpoint requiring faith is therefore equally deserving of that faith. I won't say that science has an absolute authority for truth (science itself don't generally make that claim- unlike religion)-- just that I have greater faith in it to reveal truths than I do in religion (in which I have none).

-- Peter Chung (, June 15, 2002.

"And there are some of us who believe (subjectively) that the price is simply too high –that in exchange for empirical knowledge and technological progress we have traded in our souls. Literally. Science’s pursuit of “hard,” “cold,” “objective” knowledge has taken away from us life’s soft, warm, subjective meaning. Science has destroyed the old myths that gave us comfort and cannot provide a suitable substitute."

I'll only briefly note the contrived, amusingly circular phrasing of the above statement; subjective meaning is "soft, warm"? Subjectively speaking, of course.

There are books written about this type of critique of science:

Unweaving The Rainbow

I haven't read this book, although I've enjoyed Dawkins' book The Selfish Gene and the commentaries of his I've come across. (I don't agree with the premise of The Selfish Gene-- it's reductive thinking taken a bit too far-- but it's highly informative, clearly written, and offers a consistent train of speculation.)

The rainbow, according to the Bible, is a sign of God's promise to Noah that the deluge would never be repeated. Aside from the logical absurdity of this (see God's Word 1 above), it doesn't even make sense if the deluge was God's way of deterring men from evil. What good is a punishment if one promises never to use it? And is this meaning of the rainbow-- a reminder of God's act of global genocide-- "softer, warmer" than Newton's explanation based on the analysis of the light spectrum that all white light consists of wavelengths of different colors? I'll take "hard, cold, objective", thanks anyway.

-- Peter Chung (, June 15, 2002.

I've always wondered why science and religion are almost universally viewed as mutually exclusive. Granted, science and religion are two very different ways of viewing and explaining the universe, but they need not be inherently combative. As subjective disciplines that service humanity's needs, science and religion each perform two primary duties: Science seeks a logical explanation and understanding of the universe within which we reside, and betters our lives materialistically; Religion seeks an explanation and understanding of the universe within which we reside, but addresses the moral and emotional aspects of humanity in order to better our lives. Of course, both institutions have come upon many shortcomings and self- destructive cycles in those pursuits - consider that science is most driven in times of competition and war, and that religion is nearly viral in its methods of expansion and self-preservation, and that both have destroyed many lives in the process - but the primary social function and intent remains the same. Yet despite the many similarities the two share as manmade social institutions, they are inherently believed to be mutually exclusive. Why must this be true? Many aspects of our existence which are considered to be exclusive to one or the other can be illuminated in a new and vastly different sense when looked at from the other. For instance, why are such universal mathemtatical constants as pi, e and the like, which are inextricably, structurally built into our universe, set at such bizarre, arbitrary values? Might these be design flaws or eccentricities created by some kind of creator, or perhaps even "easter eggs" (as the novel Contact by Carl Sagan suggests) meant for us to find some kind of "message" within them? Why do the laws of quantum physics seem to defy our traditional notion of logic? As was mentioned earlier, many scientists who study these marvelous "quirks" within the universe have developed a kind of reverence and almost spiritual attitude towards these phenomena. It is not at all impossible that, whatever God exists, works through the physical criteria that he (although "he" is a misapprehension of anthropomorphization, it's the easiest word to use here) designed into the universe when he created it. God may work through scientifically verifiable means and make his presence known not through vast, showy miracles, but through the tiny miracles that are integral to the structure of the universe. It's the "science with a sense of wonder" attitude again, and I can't imagine being able to study the vast sciences of our existence without it.

Also, consider that while scientific and religious views exist simultaneously, neither inherently negates the other. Religious fervor doesn't prevent atoms, microbes and the like from existing, nor does it destroy that kind of understanding; at the same time, science has not determined that religious and spiritual theories and ideas are fundamentally incorrect or insubstantial. Each maintains its own burden of proof in its own terms, but cannot disprove the other.

While I am not a vehemently religious person in any sense, I believe some kind of "higher presence" (or whatever you wish to call it) very likely exists, and works though the physical and logical means that science investigates. His spiritual and gnostic qualities are totally up for grabs - personally I don't believe in the existence of a conscious, "Benevolent Father" deity, as that seems to contradict all the physical signs that I've seen - but I consider it entirely likely that a "religious" being can exist and at the same time follow the physical paradigms which it has set for the universe.

Just thought I'd throw out another viewpoint to further complicate the current argument. ;)

-- Brian Davis (, June 16, 2002.

I recently read a short article about Jules Vern. He was somewhat of an amateur scientist, although I believe he was formally trained in the law. Growing up though he had a great interest in science and his books reflect a concerted affort at scientific accuracy that was unusual at the time. It turns out that one of the reasons the science in his fiction was so accurate and detailed was because at the time the french school system was run by the catholic church and the church had barred the teaching of science to school children. In creating his fantastic stories, Verne's intent was to educate as much as entertain.

As for this question of the main event, Religion Vs. Science (live on pay per view, for all eternity) maybe it's not so much religion, but Christianity. My knowledge of world religions is extremely limited, but I do know that in the eastern part of the world religious belief and scientific fact do not conflict nearly as much, if at all. In fact in some cases they actually complememt each other, such as cases where the belief that all things are imbued with a life spirit makes the belief in the authenticity of "artificial" life a no brainer.

If Christianity and Science are irreconcilable (and I'm not saying they are) I'm sure it has a lot to do with the fact that Christianity's agenda is so blatantly self-serving. The hierarchy that exists in the vast majority of Christian organizations (certainly the most popular ones) is that of a business or state. And as an organization, the church is naturally concerned with its own self-preservation, a self-preservation that it sees as being threatened by scientific inquiry. Not only that, but within the church hierarchy itself, individuals are dehumanized and subjugated to the will of the ruling authorities for the good of the organization. The church is one of the oldest bureaucracies, and bureaucracy is anathema to the warmer, jentler, spiritual element that religion is supposed to champion. So maybe religion is not the problem child; maybe it's just Christianity that can't seem to play nice with science.

-- Logo (, June 16, 2002.

I also used to be a Christian. I think I was about 9 when I become otherwise. Watching cartoon re-enactments of the lord causing genocide did actually freak me out a little (thanking equivocal bible class teachers here). I remember deciding that god was all too often unjust and inappropriate in his actions and that I would rather have nothing to do with this apparent tyrant. It also seemed like a particularly logical choice at the time, as my parents were atheists, I figured I'd clued into their reasoning. Naturally I changed my ideas and such through time. I'm still an atheist though.

What belief do I subscribe to? I believe in existence. Beyond that is beyond me.

-- Sam (, June 16, 2002.

Skye, Wow-- you work at JPL? I've been meaning to visit, but don't know anyone there. Could it be arranged, once I get back to L.A.?

Also I really enjoyed the site. Good to see some of my favorites listed there, and read their quotes. I'm not sure I'm ready yet to be sharing space with the likes of Brian Eno, Greg Egan, Richard Dawkins, Pierre Boulez and Ingmar Bergman. (Although I did also notice Nina Hartley, Micky Dolenz and Ron Reagan Jr....) Ask me again after I make my big atheistic animated epic feature film.

-- Peter Chung (, June 16, 2002.

Last one, I promise (requires Realplayer):

Holy Land

-- Peter Chung (, June 16, 2002.

"Skye, Wow-- you work at JPL? I've been meaning to visit, but don't know anyone there. Could it be arranged, once I get back to L.A.? "

*gasp* Could it be arranged? Oh definitely! I'll talk with my boss about getting a tour or something. The only thing that might be an issue is if you have citizenship in Korea- JPL has to maintain a semblance of security. I think we can head off any suspicion by saying you're looking into a movie or idea based on space. They love attention from the movie industry! Luckily, I don't work in the interesting/cool part. I'm a computer jockey for the people that do :). I'll be heading back off to school in the fall, but even if I'm not there when you're in LA, I can hook you up with people. I can dig up some other Fluxoids on the lab.

What kind of stuff are you interested in, by the way? If its Mars I can direct you to the director of the Mars program, or robotics, I know a couple in the robotics section. If you just want to meet interesting people, well, I know a whole heck of a lot of them!

Whew, sorry, this is a big surprise. I mean, I am considering writing an anthropology thesis based on your work... I never thought I'd meet you!


-- skye (, June 16, 2002.

Remember that science isn't so much a body of knowledge as it is a method of investigation. You form a hypothesis, then try to prove or disprove it through experience. It doesn't necessarily have to deal with the natural phenomena, it can be applied to everyday life. My personal Bible was written by a psychologist named Dr. Robert Anthony. As far as religion goes, I'm all for it but against fundamentalism (right now I'm reading this book: )

-- Kristine Rooks (, June 17, 2002.

Barb is ur email down?

-- Lady Morgan (, June 17, 2002.

"What belief do I subscribe to? I believe in existence. Beyond that is beyond me."-(I hope that doesnt make me sound narrow minded.)

"im a priest" Does that mean you'd rather not say Barb? I'm genuinely interested here. Actually I think it would be pretty interesting to know what all the frequenters of this board do or have done for work or fun. For work I just muck around in some cafe. I have a lot of hobbies; one of them is drawing, I have yet to attempt anything Aeon based though.

-- Sam (, June 17, 2002.


Barb is a nurse. A truly irreproachable profession. Maybe we'd be better off worshipping at the temple of Barb?

-- Peter Chung (, June 17, 2002.

Because being an atheist you do not believe in divinity as such in the first place?... But who's to say Aeon is not of supreme excellence and worth anyway. You seem pretty on to it as well Barb.

-- Sam (, June 18, 2002.

What an interesting thread. I've been away from the net for a couple of months (hence my absence from the board). Perhaps I'll join in later once I can sit down for awhile and organize my thoughts.

-- Mat Rebholz (, June 19, 2002.

What are you talking about? Thomas Jefferson had more mullatos running around his estate than there were representatives at the continental congress. And guess who daddy was? That's our common interest only if you're interested in populating the south with your bastard children.

-- Logo (, June 19, 2002.

Yeah, but they usually don't make the women call them massah when they do it; while championing the notion that all men are created equal, no less.

-- Logo (, June 20, 2002.

well, Jefferson was no John Adams, its true. But he acknowledged the irony of supporting equality under god at the same time that he owned slaves. it makes me sad to think of the precedents Jefferson failed to set, as I hold him in very high esteem otherwise.


-- skye (, June 20, 2002.

I agree Barb, honesty and clarity go hand in hand.

-- Sam (, June 20, 2002.

I don't understand how Barb can champion the virtues of honesty and clarity when the man she uses as the model for those virtues was in fact a racist and a hypocrite. I mean, talk about being blind to the manufactured experiences imposed on you...

Or maybe you just don't care about the hypocrisy that Jefferson represented.

-- Logo (, June 20, 2002.

I never doubted that he had the gift of language or that he was a talented orator. And certianly his words carry a meaning that we should all take to heart. However, all politicians are easy liars and the man himself was much less than her purported to be. In the case of slavery (and most likely many others) his actions stood in bold juxtaposition to his words and so I label him a hypocrite.

But my argument seems to be falling on deaf ears since, apparently, you do not consider the issue of slavery to be important enough to tarnish his gilded reputation.

-- Logo (, June 21, 2002.

Wow, I leave for a couple days and it shifts from Monod and Kupperman to Thomas Jefferson!! =D

-- cynical (, June 22, 2002.

Back to the original topic, I just posted a review of Minority Report (based on a Philip K. Dick story and, in my opinion, about artificial realities) in the Art of Film Forum, here. I'd be really interested to know what you all thought of this film.

-- Mat Rebholz (, June 23, 2002.

Barb, what do you think of American Psycho's Patric Batemen?

-- Sam (, June 24, 2002.

Oh right, animation. How bout DBZ's Vegeta. Or uh, the baby off the Family Guy, Stewy right? Im sure he's a play on H.Lecter.

-- Sam (, June 24, 2002.

Barb, have you seen the new Metropolis Anime? It has a guy I think you'd dig. Of course, its an incredible anime in its own right.


-- Skye (, June 24, 2002.

I was trying to think of characters to meet your specs that you would not find attractive.

-- Sam (, June 24, 2002.

I wish I knew if I was correct in my choices.

-- Sam (, June 25, 2002.

Did you get a closer look at the luminous being?

-- Sam (, June 26, 2002.

Literally seeing beyond the invisible? I have yet to have my world turned upside down by such a phenomenon, but I know a few who claim to have seen ghosts and such.

-- Sam (, June 27, 2002.

We define the points at which we decide are the beginnings and ends of any moment. They are the products of our will. Descriptions of a collection of acts of will are easily allotted into categories fit to summarize behavior as a trait. Adjectives or "titles" of this sort are specifically chosen to validate one's own perception or what one wants to believe to be true of what they conceive to be reality; a selection of beliefs in the interpretation of others. An individual act can be "seen" complementary to other acts that fit a self-imposed criterion. Comparing one perception to another and seeing a similarity/difference between them may be coincidental if not deliberate. Every act is a choice nonetheless, no matter how common it is to deflect responsibility and how easy it is to avoid consequence, and how safe it is to offer (throw) a proposition that allows no response. Because how can a thought (which can not think) question one's authority? E

-- etal (, June 30, 2002.

"I've always wondered why science and religion are almost universally viewed as mutually exclusive. Granted, science and religion are two very different ways of viewing and explaining the universe, but they need not be inherently combative. "

I've been lurking here for some time, and as soon as the conversation turned towards science versus religion, my first thought was that they do not need to be mutually exclusive. Thank you Brian. The more scientist delve into the atom and subatomic particles the more they realize that it is all entirely subjective. The act of observing influences the observation, hence the dual quality of light as both wave and particle. How can it be both? Are the two not mutually exclusive? This depends on how it is observed. I'm sure you all know this. What I'm getting at though is that physics is becoming more and more like Eastern philosophy and spirituality. Anyone interested should read "The Tao of Physics"... I forget the author.

I would also like to add a fourth option to cynical's "Scooby-Doo recap.": The emergence of intelligence is a matter of course. It is not Intelligence which is its own destruction, but a lack of balance between intelligence and spirituality. (by spirituality I do NOT mean organized religion, but whatever higher-power, or universal connection, or creative consciousness, or whatever you want to call it that you believe was the origin of all that is). I have to say that a cyclic balance seems to be the only theme that I can see and our ignorance of that balance will be our undoing. Not only are science and religion reconcilable, but they are necessarily so.

-- Loki (, July 11, 2002.

I just remembered that 'Sword for Truth' depicts that male type. Sucks though.

-- Sam (, July 14, 2002.

No no I take it back, probably not that fastidious at all.

-- Sam (, July 14, 2002.

Actually Ninja Scroll depicts that type quite well I think. Talking about Yurimaru here, my favourite character of the movie. He was also gay.

-- Sam (, July 14, 2002.

For anyone interested in touring JPL...

Advance reservations are required for all tours.

Tours commonly include a multi-media presentation on JPL entitled "Welcome to Outer Space," which provides an overview of the Laboratory's activities and accomplishments. Guests may also visit the von Karman Visitor Center, the Space Flight Operations Facility, and the Spacecraft Assembly Facility.

Visitor Day Tours

Several times per month, including weekends, we offer Visitor Day tours for individuals and families (up to nine persons). These tours begin at 9:00 am, 10:00 am, 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm and last approximately 2 - 2 1/2 hours. You must call in advance to reserve a space.

Group Tours

Group tours are available throughout the week and are booked by an initial telephone call to make a tentative reservation. The tour is considered confirmed after a letter and complete roster is received by the Public Services Office from the requesting organization.

Please be advised that tours involve a considerable amount of walking and stair climbing. Wheelchairs can be accommodated with advance notice.

There are no restrictions on photography while on the tour, so please feel free to bring your camera. Also, don't forget to dress for the weather ? the tour will proceed rain or shine!

Contact info: Kay Ferrari Mail Stop 186-113 Jet Propulsion Laboratory 4800 Oak Grove Drive Pasadena, CA 91109-8099 USA

Telephone: 818-354-9314 Fax: 818-393-4641 Email:

If I'm around (and that will probably be all the time after next december) you can reach me via email at


-- skye (, August 05, 2002.

I'm sure this topic has been addressed countless times before in these posts, but I have yet to hear it talked about in depth. The topic being that of cencorship and the eternal struggle between artistic integrity and the bottom line (or good and evil as some people like to depict it). I don't want to make a definitive comment one way or the other, but I think it's interesting how we malign the interference of the "suits" when it comes to any form of art, yet that very interference has had a very bold hand in shaping our artistic reality. For instance, where would Michelangelo be without the Sistine Chapel? Yet I'm sure he had to deal with the "suits" of his era, i.e. the Pope and the very strict laws governing decency at the time. In fact, some of the nudity in his work was actually painted over in an attempt at cencership. Of even greater importance however, is that fact it is more often than not the great faceless omnicorps that are the biggest patrons and sponsors of art. Michelangelo never would have had a shot at the Sistine Chapel if the church hadn't built the thing and commissioned him. I only bring this up here because I think it relates to the original topic of how our reality is filtered (also because of that last post in the Matrix thread). The nature of art is that of a syncretic process of change and the ability to express certain concepts within certain limitations. If the censor's influence has been an omnipresent invisible hand making subtle alterations to the canvas, then what might it mean to remove it? The inspiration for many artists has been the repressive times in which they live. From an artist's standpoint, would true freedom of expression be a eutopia, or something else entirely? And how might such unrestrained art be perceived by the common man?

-- Logo (, August 09, 2002.

This reminds me a little of a play I went and saw 2 days ago called 'Travesties'. I liked it a lot.

-- Sam (, August 09, 2002.

Logo, you are one tough customer :) All I meant by my previous post was that in art, second-guessing by Marketing Men as to what "the public" wants to see is best kept to a minimum. As for producers, exec-producers, co-exec-producers: as long as they're focused on supervision and seeing a project through, rather than "selling" it, I'm happy.

-- Inu (, August 10, 2002.

Censors are our friends. Imagine Beavis & Butthead if Mike Judge hadn't had to find so many creative ways of sneaking fire references in ;)

-- Inu (, August 10, 2002.

What I said wasn't directed at you Inu. It's just that the wording of your Matrix post triggered something that got me thinking. I've tried to broach this subject before, but nobody has taken the bait. It's not that I think the censors have our best interests in mind (they are just doing a job carrying out the orders of an even larger source of authority and legitimate coercion), but their influence can't be ignored in the final product that we are exposed to, whether it be in physically changing the final product, or in simply creating the kind of intellectual environment in which that product is meant as a direct critique to. It's essentially an issue of struggle and satisfaction. In getting his own way all the time, will the artist find himself ultimately feeling vapid and unfullfilled, or will such freedom open the doors to new modes of expression? Personally, I think a little censorship is alright since it often fuels creativity ("Thanatophobia" is rife with creative ways of depicting sex, which really adds to the whole repressive, subversive nature of the episode and the sense that things are not as they should be), but I don't know if Chung would have gone with that decision regardless of the censors. And this is certainly easy for me to say since I'm not an artist who has ever had to deal with censors tampering with my work. Of course I'd love to hear the artist's opinion on this topic. Chung, Mark Mars, or any other artists out there who have something to say about their original vision and the final fruits of their labor.

-- Logo (, August 10, 2002.

Aeon flux, producing state of the art vectors in the controversial field of meme transportation!!! +_+

-- Sam (, August 11, 2002.

Mabey if there were true freedom of expression for visual artist's, works could become more comparable to literature ("Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia" E. L. Doctorow). Writers seem far less bound by censorship, an example would be something "necessarily repellant" like 'American Psycho'. I suppose that if the movie of that was no different from the book it would be far to horrifying for many people to watch (of course the book is along similar lines). If this sort of thing were the case then mabey some artists would loose jobs through being unable to sustain an audience due to a lack of censor control(bloody eccentrics :). I recall Peter Chung saying in an interview someting about the use of tactile images to imply sexual penetration and this being because they were obviously unable to show the real thing (I could be relaying this all wrong, I just wanted to have an AF related example). Were the "suits" keeping dirty ol Peter (jokes) in check here, keeping him from offending some people and therefor helping to make AF more accessible? For some artists, perhaps the only thing a lack of censorship would entail is more visible genitalia. Censorship being not as much a constriction as is the mind of someone who requires something like clever irony to laugh at before they recieve something like meaning.

-- Sam (, August 11, 2002.

I agree with you Logo. I believe that the influence of censorship adds a dynamic to the artist's environment that can be beneficial in comparison to an environment without any outside influence. The "tortured" fuels the "artist". In the way that censorship is the influence on the artist to make their art more accessible, it's impossible to remove that influence entirely from the artist who makes their art for public mass consumption. Something will always be there to influence that side of it, be it the diverse public response, or simply created in the artist's head (which I guess is no longer an "outside" influence). Then there's the aspect of censorship that it creates a demand for what is censored, which adds a whole new aspect to the art itself. Could you consider a censor an artist in their use of the eraser?

-- scott (, August 11, 2002.

Probably not because their working with pre writtin specs. Keeping things in line. But what kind of line is this?

-- Sam (, August 11, 2002.

"Art, at its most vital, is the opposite of escape. It is engagement and confrontation." And connection? If entertaining anyway?

Truth equals knowledge equals power equals freedom equals human desire? Does anyone agree? I was thinking, christianity talks about human temptation and the sin of wanton desires. Christ says, "you shall know the 'truth' and it shall set you free" (or something like that). Well, talk about wanton desrires. Of course it is natural to desire the truth, but you've got to be logical right? Reasonable even? Could someone please tell me what happens when people are wanton in their pursuit of the truth? Is it wanton to demand and expect and ultimate truth?

Just the Teenager desperate to learn :) Please, anything at all.

-- Sam (, November 10, 2002.

who knows.

-- (, November 10, 2002.

Do you create a religion?

-- Sam (, November 11, 2002.

This is a magnificent thread, which I read through most carefully. I don't feel the need to add anything to the earlier, quite complete and very thoughtful discussions, as I think you hit all the bases. I was especially pleased that someone (In fact I think it was Peter) hit on the ultimately subjective nature of all experience - the consciousness itself is the most stringent censor we will ever enounter.

Anyway, I'll just latch onto the immediately previous post. Do you create a religion - SNARF! Duh. Yes, of course. Genuine enlightenment (or rapture or divine connection or whatever you want to call your spiritual maguffin) occurs in private or near-private circumstances. It's something that happens like a tiny atomic explosion inside the mind. It affects one person. If that person is wise, intelligent, eloquent, and personable, he can pass the fruits of his experience to a very small group of pupils. Twelve, say. Maybe.

Religions, on the other hand, are formed for profit. Prophets are in it for the long green. I qualify this solely by saying I haven't studied the roots of the Hindu, Shinto, or Taoist faiths too closely - but I feel fairly certain that between every single enlightened messiah and his legions of faithful in the far future exists a cadre of slippery, narrow-eyed, profit-lusting bastards. The asses who preached the master's message and required massive donations for it, who delighted in fancy dress costumes and gold fittings for the temples, who commanded death in the name of god, who slaked their lusts as necessary on the youths and innocents... the most insidious threats to a shepherd's flock are always the wolves who can make themselves look like sheepdogs.

Faith and spirituality are beautiful, powerful things. It is the eternal tragedy of the human condition that they are soiled at every turn by organized religion.

-- Charles Martin (, March 06, 2003.

Out of remote interest I was wondering if anyone would say no. Ofcourse rhetoric all the same - thanks Charles.

-- Sam (, March 06, 2003.

i create my own polymorphic truth,not religion.peter is very right in saying that language is the most oppressive censor,because we think with words.fnord i've often wondered if people who speak different languages think fundamentally different than i do.does speaking english predetermine one towards materialism?(non-philosophical)does knowing latin predetermine one to believe in scientific empiricism? chinese to confucism?italian to catholicism?probably not,since most of the languages came about before the would be like saying speaking russian fosters communism.the first one still stands,because love of wordly goods is very old thing.on the other hand,if language is evil,it is a very necessary one,since civilization and possibly even consciousness are a result of it.

the biggest manufactured experience,i think,is time's based on our orbit around the sun,which revolves around the milky way,which revolves around...what?we are basing an overriding principle of our lives on something which amounts to unknown,x.that's like believing the bible is true because x says so.what about aging and decay?those are surely the result of time on matter?no,those are the result of the second law of thermodynamics.i'm not saying that irreversible chemical processes aren't real or don't happen.i'm saying that the way we choose to view them,in a one-dimensional straight line that moves in one direction only,is a very limited,though not necessarily flawed way.example:say if the rate of entropic decay changed,or stopped,or reversed itself,for whatever reason,would we,blinded by what we know as time,recognize it for what it was,or even perceive it happening at all?of course,it's also debatable as to whether or not the human mind can function without ordering its experiences into an easily containable and memorable sequence of "NOW" rackles me that such an abstract concept is taken as natural law,making up half of the scientific godhead of space/time.

-- alex (doesn't, May 03, 2003.

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