Since this is really a general interests blog, I thought I would go back to talking about history, culture, comics, and movies. As a breaking off point, here are a bunch of random thoughts:
- Plato’s Charmides is an excellent dialogue. The primary thesis is that knowledge of good and evil is required by man to attain happiness and goodness. The central argument, however, is on the definition of temperance, and as in so many of Plato’s dialogues (the Euthyphro’s discussion of piety, for instance), that project finds itself in a series of dead ends as Socrates reveals contradictions in every definition. Raphael Demos in his introduction to B. Jowett’s complete translation of Plato tells us that “Plato, in his dialogues, is not giving formed and finished ideas to the reader.” His description of Plato’s philosophy is not in fixed/definite terms, nor resting on Socrates ultimately being correct in everything. Rather, Plato’s philosophy consists of a dynamic and persistent approach. The worth of Plato, in some sense, is therefore to perceive the problems of definition which Plato does, and to reappraise the definitions rejected by Socrates in his rigor.
- I recently reviewed Police Story 2013 and was reminded on some level of New Police Story. Like the later film, Jackie Chan is undoubtedly the highlight of the film, as whenever he’s off-screen it feels suddenly kitschier (although it admittedly doesn’t get a lot more kitschy than the computer game introduction to the movie.) The earlier Police Story spin-off fails in that, unlike the latest effort, there are really no other actors in the film on Chan’s level.
- The new-ish Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, is an entertaining character whose comics, for once, manage to broach cultural subjects in a satisfying and moderate way. The future was looking dark for non-white super heroes until pretty recently.
- So-called two-dimensional Minecraft clone Terraria is a pleasure to play, and I’ve been doing so with a relative pretty regularly. I like it better, because to me Minecraft is a game about creating fantasy environments whereas Terraria is about locating, exploring, and surviving already existing and extremely distinct environments.
- I am still the worst player in history, but I got a few Chess games in with a good friend recently.
- Academic Hasa Azad hit the nail on the head when it comes to extremist Islam’s concept of modernism. It is sometimes difficult for Western observers to accept the current state of Islam as, in many ways, being the direct result of foreign intervention, but that is simply the case.
- Before the semester kicks up in about a month, I hope to dig in to Thomas Wright’s biography of Richard Francis Burton. In many ways, Wright’s biography constitutes a polemic against the self-proclaimed sufi and so-called Arabian Knight. Unfortunately, although I love Burton, his stances on and attitudes towards other cultures are ethically problematic. Wright, however, attacks him on literary/linguistic ground, where he has no traction whatsoever. I also want to finish Friedrich Heer’s The Medieval World: A Period of Change and Ferment: Europe 1100-1350 which argues first and foremost that Europe in the 12th century was an open society, at every border and in most every way, with greater social mobility in and between societies than would be seen in the coming 13th and 14th centuries. Finishing with the first run of Jonah Hex comics, a few more Plato dialogues, and getting a good ways into Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica would be great, too.