Tag Archives: Klavan

Vanity

It has been so long since blogging, so long since writing what I wanted to write that I am full up of ideas and don’t have the time or patience to write them all out, so I made a list, a list of things that are true.

1) The grass is green.

2) The snow is white.

2b) The snow is crystalline, therefore purified, water.

3) The night sky is black.

4) The tyrannical impulse of the nannies in this world is almost to the point that I could be permanently branded a racist for points 2 and 3 above.

5) Old people being nostalgic inspires exactly zero young people.

6) To restate 5, your ‘good old days’ never existed.

7) I am sick to exhaustion of people telling me ‘Conservative should do X, Y or Z’ or “don’t enjoy Star Wars, it is ‘unredeemed Pagan’”. We enjoy Star Wars because it is a riot while ‘The Children of Hurin’ is soul-crushingly sad. As a corollary, those pimple-faced wimps that everyone complains about, that de-masculinization of the American man, not sure I buy the premise. I think the reality may be that in the past the weak died, and now we can feed everyone. I think its possible that the only way to have a society of a bunch of really tough people is if 10% of the population dies every few years to plagues and wars. I for one am willing to make the trade. Also, a lot of those ‘pimple faced kids’ care more about life and joy and their liberty that you old curmudgeons who want to dictate what they can enjoy or say or do ever feel.

8) Is it any wonder that no young person wants to be an adult? The country, the church, the communities are all run by the ancient who treat them with disdain and dismiss them as incompetents. There is almost no place in this world, where the old hold on to power with the grasp of a miser, for the young to stretch out and be at liberty to be their own adults.

9) Increased oil production drives down prices, even on a global scale.

10) Given the chance, the free market will kill the cartel every time.

11) Liquid water is mighty wet stuff.

12) Accusations of any crime must be supported by evidence. The magnitude of the accusation carries no weight outside the kangaroo courts of tyrants.

13) False accusations that ruin someone’s life should have weighty penalties attached, otherwise the witch-hunters point at anyone they don’t link, shout ‘Witch’ and the innocent burn at the stake. (See: ‘Salam’, and ‘Duke Lacrosse’)

14) That I believe that 12 and 13 applies to accusations of rape as well as any other accusation of any crime apparently makes me a rape-denier or worse rape-apologist to some people.

15) Irrespective of what people in 4 and 14 think, the truth matters.

15b) There can be no such thing as a lie told to illustrate the truth. Its a lie,                      and  it cannot point to the truth.

16) Eventually, every worldview, every set of beliefs that is not founded upon truth will itself be crushed into tiny fragments by the truth.

17) Sometimes 16 takes a very long time.

18) There are whales in our oceans and trees in forests because of the exploitation of oil.

19) Wind farms slaughter birds and bats.

20) A philosophy of truth that does not include the ability to communicate that truth is fundamentally useless for science: the mass adoption of such a philosophy will return science to the black magic of a priestly caste, i.e. the state that Christian men found science in to begin with.

21) Andrew Klavan is almost always right.

22) If you are unmarried and without children you must put massive effort into serving others, otherwise you are becoming more selfish and self-centered every day.

23) Having a family is sanctifying, because you are constantly required to surrender your wants to the needs of your family: and this is very good.

24) Babies are great, but toddlers are awesome.

25) This morning Leonidas was saying ‘stumble trip. Stumble trip…’ (while moving his feet up and down) ‘WHATS THAT??’ (while pointing) and then in a near roar ‘A BEAR!!!!!’ ‘Raaaaar!’ (With his hands up like bear claws)… Toddlers are awesome.

26)  I probably made 20 paper airplanes over the weekend, at the incessant request for ‘Airpane… airpane’ from a little boy holding yet another flat piece of paper… He even threw a couple such that they flew a little…Toddlers are awesome.

27) The campaign against ebola amounts to nothing more than whack-a-mole… every time the disease lets up a little, we scale back our efforts as if trying to ensure it becomes endemic to the region. If it starts to recede, we should be doubling or tripling our efforts in order to stomp it out of existence…

28) Fighting terrorists should be done the same way, when they are losing, hit them even harder until they are crushed. The goal of campaigns against Ebola and terrorism isn’t containment, the goal is elimination.

29) Ebola doesn’t have to get out of control, it merely has to outlast us. It (obviously) doesn’t know it, but if it lasts long enough those socities will break down entirely and then it will explode out of control.

30) The terrorists, on the other hand, know this full well. ISIS is the ‘exploding out of control’ phase.

31) The grass is green.

Let us end with a fantastic poem from Chesterton.

Ecclesiastes: G. K. Chesterton

There is one sin: to call a green leaf grey,

Whereat the sun in heaven shuddereth

There is one blasphemy: for death to pray,

For God alone knoweth the praise of death.

There is one creed: ‘neith no world-terror’s wing

Apples forget to grow on apple-trees.

There is one thing is needful – everything-

The rest is vanity of vanities.

 

PS. If you want to argue about any of these… I’d be happy to do combat in the comments.

Haunting Melissa

I don’t want to say too much, except this: if you have an iPhone, iPad, you should buy Haunting Melissa. Ok, you also have to like ghost stories. There is so much to complement from the outset, but I was waiting until I saw more of the story. First off, in an age full of instant gratification, here, in the Haunting Melissa app, you have to wait. You get doses of the story based off of some kind of timing mechanism from when you download the app, so everyone is on a slightly different schedule. One of the things I definitely believe about art is that it’s very form reflects the beliefs of the artist. In this case, Andrew Klavan and his pals have made something whose form is a unique expression of the truth. Here we have every viewer experiencing truth in their own way, however, there really is only one truth about the story, the viewer doesn’t affect the truth by viewing it, but the viewers do, in fact see it differently.

On a story level, the Haunting Melissa app/movie thing… has so far managed to avoid the number one fatality of suspense/horror ghost stories. As soon as the audience thinks: ‘Why don’t they just leave the cat…?’ or ‘If you know the place is haunted by malevolence, why stay?’ or the very basic ‘Just leave you idiot!’ This, I think is a major accomplishment through effective storytelling, unique pacing, and giving Melissa a compelling reason to stay. The story is almost entirely devoid of classic spooks, yet it spooks the viewer. And I think the more attentive the viewer, the more spooked you will be, yet almost never by the make-you-pay-attention-and-then-have-a-skull-jump-out-at-you kind.

For instance, the story takes place in Melissa’s home, while her father is away (so far). Her mother basically went crazy and died there. (I will certainly try to avoid anything that cannot be inferred from the trailers.) In her insanity, Melissa’s mother was obsessed with crosses. They are all over the house, and there are probably around twenty in the room she died in… yet, her tombstone looks like this:

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That weirded me out.  Why no cross? I will leave out my speculations, not because they are well informed, but because I am uncannily accurate in predicting plots with very little information. (By the way, the picture’s link will also take you to the Haunting Melissa official website, because I think you should get it, if only to support an innovative entertainment option.)

Also, it is just plain cool to get a piece of the story at unpredictable intervals. That is because the other main problem for ghost stories is that in 2 hours the move is over, and frequently you gag at the ghost at the end it is just too dumb. (The most egregious version of this is Signs, even though that’s an alien.) here, I don’t know how it will turn out, but there is only excitement, no disappointment. And I cannot skip ahead, no matter how much I want to know, and no matter how attention deficit I feel. I get just that one piece at a time. Here watch a trailer:

Anyway, I have always liked Klavan’s idea of a ghost story (see Ghost Story and Agnes Mallory) This just continues the winning streak. I hope both for more ghost stories from Andrew Klavan, and for more entertainment apps like this.

Damnation Street

Time to celebrate! I hope it turns out well…

Andrew Klavan

This is coming to theaters! (at some point)

Agnes Mallory

It has become official; I am on a Klavan kick. I have now read 4-5 of his books, which are all well put together and enjoyable. Some are better than others, of course. The Identity Man was good, Corruption was just ok. The Uncanny was quite fun, as was Hunting Down Amanda, the first unpredictable and the second predictable, but both very enjoyable nonetheless. However, there is this one  that I have found to be excellent literature. I don’t think it falls for certain in any genre, but I suppose it would be classified psychological thriller perhaps. Agnes Mallory, I think, should, and perhaps will be remembered as an actual classic. A book whose content, storytelling, plot are so captivating, so well done: a book whose philosophy strikes so true, that it is can stand the test of time.

The narrator of Agnes is a loathsome man, Harry, who had been a relatively typical boy when he actually knew the eponymous Agnes (who is Agnes Sole as a child).  As one reads the book, you are ‘treated’ to the present day Harry, a man whose respectable outer shell has been removed, who has collapsed in on his own depravities as a recluse. You also get glimmers of the past, when as a child, Harry spent time with Agnes.

As I mentioned before, the narrator (and dare I say, the main character) is an ‘inner man’. He has many characteristics of Dostoevsky’s ‘Underground Man’ (Found as the nameless main character and narrator in Notes From Underground: a chillingly accurate look at the nature of man.) He is entirely self-absorbed, he is petty. He is… unmasked. In all too much of modern writing and movies, the false facade that people put up is considered the worst part of a person which is based upon the idea that societies constraints make a person untrue to themselves. This last is, perhaps ironically, true. The true nature of the man without the socially enforced facade of kindness, selflessness, and forbearance restraining the ‘inner man’ is one entirely consumed by corruption and petty, or not so petty, evil.

The other very important person is Agnes (of course). Agnes is a brilliant sculptor, and also, well, crazy. The book does not give reasons for her insanity, but instead shows glimpses of shadows of reasons. I believe that Agnes is crazy because she cannot reconcile the greatness of mankind with its utter depravity. (Seen in the contradiction between the art of the West and Auschwitz.)

In the end, Harry is unable to save Agnes, and the books real power comes with the realization that even if Harry had been a good an, even if he had not been incessantly thinking of sex, and the repercussions of his moral and political corruption, he would not have been able to save Agnes. In fact, no man or woman could have done so.

I do not want to talk at all about the plot in any more detail than this, the book deserves to be read and found afresh, without someone else’s imprint. Agnes Mallory is spooky, is unpredictable, and beautiful in the paradoxical, sad, beaten, and yet still glorious fashion that depicts so well the state of man: simultaneously made in God’s image and cravenly fallen.  The book is worth the time and worth incomparably more than the money. Give it a read (or two) sometime.

The Uncanny: Andrew Klavan

This is a good book by an author I recently discovered. The story dances a line between mystery, horror and thriller, and does so in the best of ways. The Uncanny is a story about vocation, about freewill and fate, about evil and deception, all wrapped up in a well written intriguing plot about good people doing battle with evil. The good people, though, are like good people really are: complicated, sinful, and good. This state of being that Martin Luther called being simultaneously saint and sinner.

The plot revolves around an evil modern cult leader, who has discovered that a particular alchemist’s magic does indeed procure eternal youth. However, there are a few ‘catches’ the major one being that it must be regularly re-used and if it is not reused in time the user dies horribly. Now there  are two parts to the system and the main problem is that a ‘blue crystal’ must be used for which the villain in this story only has a limited amount and no way of making more. This is because the recipe was lost… except that the recipe was preserved in a triptych of paintings that the villain is after.  I refuse to go further into the plot because I believe that based on the plot alone, the book is worth reading. It is rather uncommon to find new authors who tell unique stories. By that I mean that if I can predict the plot and its major twists and turns after reading the first 10% of the book, I am greatly disappointed. In this case, the plot twists, but not for the sake of twisting.

The other main reason that I admired this book, and by extension its author was the accurate and well said portrayal of many foundational Christian beliefs. It is not uncommon for authors to write either without showing their knowledge of their faith (if they are Christian) or showing a lack of knowledge of their subject (if they are not Christian). Here, however, is a story that is almost apologetic in its depiction of mankind, evil, and faith. It shows beautifully or at least realistically several key doctrines. Also, for the sake of the fiction, it is important to note that this is done effortlessly, and without any pretentiousness from the author or out of character monologue from the character.

For one example, the book cuts to the text of a medieval manuscript written by a previous user of the alchemists system for indefinite youth. This sub character writes about the effects of the stone, and very poignantly about damnation. In his writing, essentially his last words, he reveals his knowledge that he is damned, and also his knowledge that with repentance, Christ’s sacrifice and love would redeem him despite his horrible crimes (and believe me, they are vile) and he rejects salvation, through pride and fear and loathing of God, and willfully chooses damnation. This scene shakes the reader, makes the reader tremble with the awfulness of damnation, and effortlessly shows the orthodox Christian understanding that humans damn themselves.

Lastly, the characters are deep, and yet the book moves inexorably like a train, barreling down full speed down the tracks of the uncanny. I do recommend the book, but not for the faint of heart. Although it shows nothing nearly as bad as some books (like Stephen King’s dark half) it implies many evil things. I think it does an excellent job showing evil as evil as it really is, without showing too much, or subliminally inviting the reader to participate in the evil. But still, the alchemist is very evil, and the book has an aura of frightfulness and, well Uncanny about it. It is not long, so go forth, buy, rent from the library, and enjoy The Uncanny, give it to your friends and there will be much to talk about. (There is a theme here for me, I think, perhaps the best books are the one that you not only really enjoy reading, but that you want to spend hours discussing later…)