Thursday, December 31, 2009

Infinite Jest: The Film

Infinite Jest is clearly influenced heavily by film. Many of the sequences are highly filmic in nature. Some of the surreal elements of the novel are reminiscent of David Lynch's work. And of course, the central driving plot element around which everything revolves is a film. Much of the content of Infinite Jest deals with films and directing, specifically everything involving James Incandenza. Him directing films, people watching and interpreting those films, etc. Certainly one of the central themes of the novel is entertainment and why we watch what we do, what it says about us, etc.

With all that said, an adaptation of Infinite Jest for the screen would seem inevitable, right? Well, not really. Much of IJ is so overtly literary in nature that it just couldn't be made into a film and retain all of it's structure, power, meaning, etc. However, I do think you could make a film of the central narrative threads of IJ. It just couldn't really be what IJ the novel is. But it could be something very cool, unique, intelligent and entertaining.

Some of the most filmic elements of IJ (mild spoilers):
* The opening chapter. Use of perspective so that Hal's seeming external dialogue is revealed to really be internal dialogue, and the 'switch-over' that comes at that moment. Would be tricky but could definitely be done.
* Eschaton. Like a microcosmic Lord of the Flies meets War Games. It would be awesome.
* Gately destroying the 'Nucks. This is a no-brainer. Gately could be played by Mickey Rourke. Think of a less-cartoonish version of his character from Sin City. Big, sensitive oaf, who is capable of mass destruction out of loyalty, duty or in defense of others.
* James Incandenza's visiting Gately's hospital bedside.
* Hal at the 12-step meeting near the end. It's kind of a Fight Club-esque scene (beginning of Fight Club), but more surreal and absurd than those in FC. And of course it would be hilarious.
* The mildly futuristic elements, i.e. IWD dumpsters being launched into the convexity, ATHSCME fans in background etc.
* All of the wheelchair assassins movements and activities

And many other parts, but with these sticking out particularly in my mind.

There are some things that could be omitted without losing too much. Such as long chapters about ancillary characters/events. These are necessary in the novel and don't feel like excess at all, but for length purposes chapters about Ederdy, Kate Gompert, the psychological reasons behind the failure of videophony, obsessive technical detail about everything, a shortened meeting between Marathe and Steeply etc. Much of this stuff is extremely well done and adds depth and texture to the novel, but would be simply untenable in a film.

I Survived Infinite Jest!

The ending of the novel is pretty spectacular, almost as much for what isn't there as for what is. So many questions in terms of the narrative and what happens, exactly, are left open ended. Questions drive the intrigue in the narrative throughout the book. Elements, characters, places, events are introduced abruptly and without much background, which immediately leads to questions. Infinite Jest is continually hitting us with questions and shrouding the answers in mystery. Why is Hal the way he is in the opening chapter? Who is Joelle van Dyne? Why does she wear a veil? Why do members of AFR have no legs? Who are John Wayne and Don Gately, and why do they go with Hal to dig up Hal's father's head? Some of these questions are introduced early in the narrative and most of them get answered, either fully or partially, as the book moves along. These questions are always lurking in our mind, and as we get answers, more mystery is injected. But the pacing, and structure of the question/answer ratio keeps your senses fully alert at all times. The narrative is wonderfully structured.

Yet, even after the last page is read, many other questions that have since been introduced, have gone 'unanswered', at least directly. Certainly this is for a reason, and with explicit purpose. I'd like to list some of the questions that are foremost in my mind right now, just so as not to lose them. Many are very fresh in my mind, and I don't want distance to get between me and my memory of events, though the events of this book will be very difficult to forget. What a haunting, profound piece of work this is.

Questions (and therefore perhaps some spoilers):

-Did Joelle really think JOI was joking about making a 'perfect, terminal' entertainment? If not, why lie to Steeply about it? If she's not lying, how come his film really DOES have that affect? Or is she just confused?

-Is there some supernatural, or meta- connection between Hal and Gately? Or any other type of connection? They're effectively the 2 central characters, yet they never meet within the events of the book. Hal mentions digging up JOI's head w/ Gately at beginning of novel, presumably looking backwards. Gately envisions that same scene near the end of the novel, presumably in a premonition, looking forwards (see: 'annular' nature of book, below). Also, Gately, when feverish from pain, has ghostwords come to his mind which only Hal would know and use. Or perhaps they're just JOI injecting the ghostwords.

-Why does JOI's ghost have interest in Gately? Just because Joelle does? As a wraith he had to wait a long time to interface w/ Gately. Why does he care about Gately? Gately killed DuPlessis, then later beat up some other separatist 'nucks (both accidentally), so perhaps JOI sees him as some important player in the intercontinental struggle, or whatever it is. JOI himself also seems to be a key political player, and also in an incidental, indirect way.

-Hal seems to have near out of body experiences. Is this JOI's ghost pulling him out of his body, like, by force? As JOI attempted to do in life with the samizdat? That is; JOI feels Hal is an empty shell of a person, which mirrors Himself. That's what drove him to suicide; Hals anhedonia, and soberly seeing a reflection of himself in Hal. He wanted to bring him out of the shell w/ the sazmidat and failed and now wants to bring him out so he haunts ETA and Hal?

-Did Hal end up dropping DMZ w/ Pemulis? He didn't seem very interested in the idea in his last interface w/ Pemulis. If not, what caused his condition? His condition goes far beyond simple marijuana withdrawal (animal noises, seizures, disconnect between his outward actions and what takes place in his mind i.e. not realizing he's hysterically laughing when he is, thinking he's answering a question eloquently when he's making animal noises and flailing about). Possibly a delayed effect of the samizdat? Why is Hal immune to the samizdat? JOI's ghost claims he showed it to him. Perhaps Hal's being possessed by JOI? Some of the 'symptoms' that Hal exhibits are starting to show before the chronologically later events of chapter 1. That is; Hal is already experiencing disconnect between his inner and outer self (laughing hysterically, not realizing he is). So at least THAT aspect of how he's behaving in chapter 1 can't be explained by him possibly dropping DMZ, but rather by something that has already happened or is happening. Though the seizures/noises could still be attributed dropping DMZ, which I think is most likely (Hal: "Call it something I ate").

-Orin and Avril?

-Is the adult 'Mikey' at the end of novel at AA an adult Pemulis? A flash-forward? I assumed so. Though the adult Mikey is such a dullard, and Pemulis was pretty sharp.. but perhaps that fact is supposed to illustrate the degenerative effects of the drug use.

-Why is AFR (and everyone else) so concerned about a master copy of the samizdat? They already have copies to use to kill people with. It's unlikely, and there's no reason to believe there is, any 'antidote' to be found.

-Who does Hal see outside sitting in the snow on exhibition day? It seemed as though it was a person of importance, but nothing comes of it.


-Annular fusion ('annular' means having to do with rings) is a theme throughout the novel (the way ONAN is seemingly energy dependent through this process of waste-energy recycling, that JOI invented). Cycles and circles recur throughout the novel as well. This all seems to be a metaphor for the structure of the novel itself, which also seems to be circular in nature. As soon as the novel is completed you feel a very compelling need to go back and read Ch. 1, and when Ch.1 is done you feel like just going on to Ch. 2 again etc. Even though you just took multiple months and countless hours to read this novel once to begin with. Clearly Wallace has structured the novel to be 'annular', intentionally, as a kind of literary samizdat in structure. This isn't much of a revelation; the title of the book is the same as the title of the samizdat. Clearly the novel functions as a meta-novel in various ways, and this is one of them.

- JOI didn't like AA because AA didn't tolerate his abstraction. Hal goes to check out AA, but his nature is that of JOI's, and he has a similar aversion to it. Parent-child cycles, and more allusions to the 'annular' themes within the novel. The 12-step meeting that Hal attends is so bizarre and surreal I'm tempted to think that JOI's ghost is attempting to steer Hal away from it, encouraging Hal to use so that he can go on 'functioning', and making him see the meeting as more bizarre than it actually is. JOI's quitting alcohol, combined with a sober view of his son and himself, is what drove him to suicide. So now he is trying to 'save Hal', and he knows, or believes, that Hal needs substances to function. And Hal does, seemingly, need them to function competitively, and possibly just in general.

-Connected with this, after Gately comes into contact with JOI's ghost, at the very end of the novel he starts reliving past memories of drug use. He says he's doing this to 'Abide', and I don't know much about recovery personally, but it seems to me that dwelling on past drug use is not a healthy, normal part of recovery. JOI could be functioning as an agent of 'the Disease' to Gately.

-Wallace has referred to 'Infinite Jest' as a 'failed entertainment'. In the novel James Incandenza moves from area to area in life, after he 'masters' something he takes up a new challenge. He ended his life still directing films because he never became a successful filmmaker, Hal says. 'Infinite Jest' the novel was intended to be the "perfect entertainment", but Joelle says this was tongue-in-cheek.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

On Eschaton

I'm 91% done with Infinite Jest and I'd like to make a rough theory about the end of the novel before I get there and see if my theory has any predictive power. My theory is basically this: that the Eschaton game, somewhere in the middle of the novel, is an allegory for the structure of the novel Infinite Jest, specifically w/r/t the ending. It just so happens that I read Surprised by Hope concurrently with IJ, and in Surprised by Hope the subject of 'eschatology' is addressed. 'Eschatology' is the study of the end of things, finality, death, judgement etc. I was unfamiliar with the term until I read Surprised by Hope, and shortly thereafter I read the 'Eschaton' chapter of IJ. I don't recall whether within the Eschaton chapter there are any references to the root of the word 'Eschaton' or whether the game itself is said to have anything to do with endings, but it's my stance that it likely does. Not just endings in general, but with the end of Infinite Jest

So given this, what can I predict about the end of the novel? Only some rather vague things. But within 'the map' of Eschaton, in this particular run of the game, it doesn't reach a logical conclusion. Presumably previous years of Eschaton games did end orderly, and logically, within the map of the game. But in this run, the end game is approaching within the map of the game, elements are aligning, the end is approaching, and before we get there chaos erupts outside of the map, and prevents the game from ending within the map. The game does abruptly end, but not due to the rules and the parameters of the game. Thus the real elements of the game are left in limbo. All the while Hal is observing this and is dumbstruck, frozen, watching the events occur as though there is something profound about them that he can't pinpoint.

All this leads me to believe that certain narrative elements will be drawing to what seems to be a conclusion within the novel (i.e. within 'the map'), and that Hal will likely transcend the narrative in some meta- way and observe them from 'outside' the parameters of the novel itself. That the narrative elements won't reach what seems to be their inevitable, logical conclusion, but will rather abruptly end due to 'external' forces (i.e. some meta- consideration).

Recall that the beginning of the unraveling of this game of 'Eschaton' was snow falling in real life onto 'the map'. 90% through the novel and snow has just begun to fall on E.T.A. Insane amounts of snow. I had already suspected 'Eschaton' was an allegory for the end of the novel, but the snowfall just triggered that suspicion.

As to Hal transcending and being, or becoming, external to the events of the novel, there are some hints that something along these lines is occuring already. Feverish Don Gately (within 'the map'), is becoming conscious of words that only Hal (or maybe Avril) would know and use. Is Hal the author of the novel Infinite Jest that we are reading, perhaps as a tribute to his father, attempting to create a literary sazmidat? And inserting himself as a God like figure into the narrative? Clearly the language used by the author of Infinite Jest is language that Hal, and perhaps only Hal, would use. Note that the author of the novel we are reading uses phrases that the characters themself use. The author refers to people 'eliminating their map' when referring to suicide or homicide. He uses 'interface' colloquially, as do the characters within the novel. As well as various other phrases and words that only people within the world of Infinite Jest use. And, of course, the author has a massive vocabulary, as does Hal. Also, single, rather than double, quotation marks are used throughout the novel, perhaps to indicate that the entire novel is in double quotes, i.e. DFW quoting Hal, Hal the author of the largely autobiographical Infinite Jest. Recall the end of chapter one, where someone asks Hal "What's your story?" I don't know about any of this exactly; it's all very highly speculative, especially since I'm not done with the novel, but it does seem to make a lot of sense.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Infinite Jest's Structure/Length as Metaphor for Life/Addiction

I found a funny old 'review' of the book, that is highly ironic in light of the chapter I just read. Here's an excerpt from the non-review review:

"It sits there like a dare, like a reproach, like a doorstop. It is 1,079 pages long. It's a terrific book, I'm sure -- all the other reviewers tell me so. But right now INFINITE JEST (Little, Brown, $29.95), the defiantly dense new novel by the intriguing young writer David Foster Wallace, sits on my desk like an infinite burden. I cannot lift the thing to crack its wonders, and I'm beginning to despair.

Carrying the 3-pound, 2.7-ounce book to read while commuting is out of the question; I might as well heft dumbbells in my backpack. Propping it on my knees to read in bed or in the bathtub is tricky: Too much concentration and left-hand grip strength is needed to prevent the tome from toppling over while turning the pages. It is occasionally possible to read 20 or 30 pages at a clip while sitting at home in a special chair, but then I look up, realize there are 900 or 600 or even 400 pages to go, and fall into profound dyspepsia, longing for an unedited Joan Collins manuscript. Skimming isn't possible. Reading the last page first reveals nothing."

I definitely sympathize with the reviewer's sentiments (though, thanks to Kindle, my version isn't as impenetrable, physically). I'm about 89% through the book now, months after I started it, and interestingly just as I read this review Infinite Jest responds to the criticism within it's own narrative, metaphorically. Don Gately, a recovering alcoholic, talks about a time when he had to do jail time and was forced into white-knuckle withdrawal, and the only way he could endure it was to live inside of every second. In this section he's looking back on the experience from a hospital bed where he has to endure intense pain, and again can only get through it one second at a time. If he thinks about the millions of seconds that lie ahead of him lined up, each second filled with pain, the idea of that pain, for that amount of time, becomes almost unendurable. But each second in and of itself is not unendurable. And he talks about times that he or others had relapsed, or people that he know committed suicide, and how those things happen because that person was not living in the now, but was getting too far ahead of themselves. Another character talks with Gately about this and says how she used to count her days of sobriety, and after she got to a certain number of days, say 14, the idea of 100 more days, or 800 more became too frightening, and caused her to relapse. [note the structural similarity of the sentence I just wrote to the bolded sentence of the review]. Which is why, for the addict, and properly understood, the AA slogan 'One Day At a Time' isn't a trite cliche, but is actually kind of profound. You do have to take it one day at a time, literally. Or one page at a time, as it were.

I can't really do justice to the chapter in summary, but the advice it gives for dealing with the daunting task of life and/or addiction can be translated to dealing with the daunting task of reading Infinite Jest. I don't know if the intention was to anticipate and preemptively respond to critics of the novel's length in some meta- fasion, but it does function on that level whether it was intended to or not, which I found interesting.

Friday, December 25, 2009

David Foster Wallace on Cormac McCarthy

Just stumbled across this conversation between the two and found this part of the interview interesting since Cormac McCarthy is my favorite living American author, Blood Meridian is my favorite book of his, and Wallace is quickly becoming one of my favorite modern writers.


GVS: Who are some of your favorite writers?

DFW: You're really wielding the old baton on this aren't you? To be honest... my faves?

GVS: Yeah.

DFW: Ones that people don't know all that well? Oh, that's right this is a British magazine so they won't have heard of a lot of these. Cormac McCarthy, have you read "Blood Meridian"? It's literally the western to end all westerns. Probably the most horrifying book of this century, at least fiction. But it is also, this guy, I can't figure out he gets away with it, he basically writes King James English, I mean, he practically uses Old English thou's and thine's and it comes off absolutely beautifully and unmannered and ungratuitous. He's got another one called "Suttree," God that one, God that would make a fantastic movie.

GVS: (perks up) What's it called?

DFW: It's called "Suttree."

GVS: How do you spell that?

DFW: S-u-t-t-r-e-e. It came out, oh golly, mid 70s. But it's about a down and out college educated man named Cornelius Suttree who has kind of abandoned everything to live in a houseboat in Knoxville, Tennessee in the late 40s and early 50s and all of his friends in his entire world are derelicts and retards and twisted people. It's about four hundred pages of the most dense lapidary prose you can imagine about characters who are at the level of functional idiots and are drinking rot-gut. "Suttree" is the book that got him a MacArthur grant and he used the MacArthur to go to Mexico and do the research for "Blood Meridian."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Infinite Jest excerpt

I'm 72% through Infinite Jest. So far it's been a thoroughly entertaining and engaging read. Wildly different than any other novel I've read, and experimental in a way that works incredibly well. The structure is somewhat similar to other pieces of literature and film we're all familiar with. With a sprawling cast of characters with seemingly disconnected lives and plot lines that come to intersect and intertwine in various ways. What is wholly original is Wallace's dense, intelligent writing style, narrative gear shifts, the complex characters, and the genius ways in which the characters stories intersect.

Anyway, came across a passage today that I thought I'd share:

It’s of some interest that the lively arts of the millennial U.S.A. treat anhedonia and internal emptiness as hip and cool. It’s maybe the vestiges of the Romantic glorification of Weltschmerz, which means world-weariness or hip ennui. Maybe it’s the fact that most of the arts here are produced by world-weary and sophisticated older people and then consumed by younger people who not only consume art but study it for clues on how to be cool, hip—and keep in mind that, for kids and younger people, to be hip and cool is the same as to be admired and accepted and included and so Unalone. Forget so-called peer-pressure. It’s more like peer-hunger. No? We enter a spiritual puberty where we snap to the fact that the great transcendent horror is loneliness, excluded encagement in the self. Once we’ve hit this age, we will now give or take anything, wear any mask, to fit, be part-of, not be Alone, we young. The U.S. arts are our guide to inclusion. A how-to. We are shown how to fashion masks of ennui and jaded irony at a young age where the face is fictile enough to assume the shape of whatever it wears. And then it’s stuck there, the weary cynicism that saves us from gooey sentiment and unsophisticated naїveté on this continent (at least since the Reconfiguration). One of the things sophisticated viewers have liked about J.O. Incandenza’s The American Century as Seen Through a Brick is its unsubtle thesis that naїveté is the last true terrible sin in the theology of millennial America. And since sin is the sort of thing that can be talked about only figuratively, it’s natural that Himself’s dark little cartridge was mostly about a myth, viz. that queerly consistent U.S. myth that cynicism and naїveté are mutually exclusive. Hal, who’s empty but not dumb, theorizes privately that what passes for hip cynical transcendence of sentiment is really some kind of fear of being really human, since to be really human (at least as he conceptualizes it) is probably to be unavoidably sentimental and naїve and goo-prone and generally pathetic, is to be in some basic interior way forever infantile, some sort of not-quite-right-looking infant dragging itself anaclitically around the map, with big wet eyes and froggy-soft skin, huge skull, gooey drool. One of the really American things about Hal, probably, is the way he despises what it is he’s lonely for: this hideous internal self, incontinent of sentiment and need, that pules and writes just under the hip empty mask, anhedonia.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Surprised by Hope review/response (long)

I'm a little late on this. I just got around to reading Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright, which some people recommended to me a few years ago. I thought it was a good book, with some very good observations on our apparent misconceptions (as both Christians and non-believers) about death, resurrection, and the afterlife. I agree with Wright's interpretation of bodily resurrection, and the hope of a new Earth and a new heaven. I take no issue with the content presented in the book, or the case presented for this interpretation of resurrection and the afterlife. Wright makes an extremely strong case for his perspective, and I believe this perspective corresponds most closely with the truth. Although the bulk of this article will be negative my overall response to the vast majority of the book was positive. I just don't have a lot to add to the stuff I agreed with other than saying that I do in fact agree.

All that being said, I do take issue with one of the central themes of the book. Specifically the issue of 'Does this matter?', and/or 'Is this significant, and if so, how significant?' Wright explicitly answers these two questions in part 3 of the book with a definitive 'Yes', and 'Yes, very', respectively. But I'm not convinced that it is AS significant as Wright claims that it is. It is significant in that it reveals a truth, and that's important enough in itself to justify writing the book and clarifying the issue for people who are obviously confused or uneducated on the subject. However, Wright claims that the significance extends beyond simply knowing what is true. He claims that understanding these truths will, or should, drastically transform how we live our Christian lives. Which I don't necessarily buy, though I understand and appreciate the case that he makes.

To illustrate what I'm getting at, let us take two Christians. Both of these Christians are crystal clear about what the Bible says about who Jesus is, about what his commands are, about how we as Christians are to live and treat each other, about the fact that Jesus died in our place and rose for our sins, conquering death etc. Also, both are at a similar place in their walk with Christ. That is, the 'strength' of their faith at this point in life is similar. The only place where these two Christians differ is that one (we'll call him #1) understands the afterlife correctly, the promise of bodily resurrection, Christ literally defeating death in a physical sense, a new heaven and new Earth joined together etc. while the other (#2) holds some common Platonic misconceptions about the afterlife, such as that of a disembodied soul leaving the body at death, ascending to heaven, leaving behind this doomed Earth forever etc.

Given this, what should we expect to see in the way of 'fruits' from these two Christians? It's my contention that their fruits, the degree to which they live a Christian life, should be roughly exactly the same, with neither bearing any more significant fruit than the other on average. But Wright argues (implicitly) that the latter Christian will most often bear significantly less fruit. That holding the beliefs that the 2nd Christian does will, in most cases, result in the Christian not caring enough about this life, not trying to change this world for the better, and just patiently awaiting the next, completely separate, disconnected and better life. Despite the fact that Jesus directly commands his followers to be concerned with this present world, and clearly lays out the ways to go about doing that. Regardless of the Christian's depth of understanding about the way in which afterlife and resurrection function.

If Christian #2, despite not correctly understanding the promise of bodily resurrection, understands and puts into practice Christ's commands, and follows his example, then his lack of understanding on that issue shouldn't affect his actions. Jesus said to help and care for the poor, so Christian #2 tries to do it as best as he can, end of story. Jesus said to follow him, to spread the good news of him and the salvation that he offers, and to love others, so that's what Christian #2 tries to do. Christian #1 does the same. If both Christians understand the example of Christ, and His words, to the same degree (and they find themselves at a similar node in life, with similar backgrounds, life experiences, etc.) then their actions should be approximately identical. We wouldn't expect to see any more from #1 than we do from #2.

Why then is it of utmost importance that a Christian fully comprehend these truths about the afterlife and resurrection (other than truth for truth's own sake)? If a Christian can live a dedicated, full Christian life under the misapprehensions of a disembodied soul ascending to heaven (which they can, and probably tens-to-hundreds of thousands do), then why is it so crucial? The elevation of the issue to such a level seems like a kind of intellectual elitism. The idea that only those of us privy to specific scholarly interpretations of the Bible can lead a fully realized Christian life. Christ is Lord of all, including the largely dull-witted masses incapable of parsing this issue effectively for themselves. Christ is even Lord of illiterates, for that matter. Which is not to say that rigorous study of the Bible shouldn't be done, of course it should be. But if it requires a working knowledge of multiple languages, historical cultural traditions, cultural differences, rigorous cross referencing of scripture given knowledge of the original language and what various phrases/words meant in different contexts, etc. to divine a particular truth then I can't very well believe God would intentionally make an essential truth relatively esoteric. And when I say 'essential' I mean that it's essential to understand the truth in order to live a full, Christian life. While the truth of the resurrection itself is certainly essential, I don't think it's essential to understand the exact machinations of that truth in order to lead a Christian life.

Let's be clear, Christian #2 still believes in the resurrection, still believes Christ died and rose (literally, bodily) for our sins, still believes that it is only through his work on the cross that we are saved from death and reconciled with God, still believes in and understands the importance of helping the poor and downtrodden, still believes that what he does or doesn't do in this world will have eternal consequences for himself and those around him (thus that this world is very important, and not wholly distinct and separate from heaven) etc. etc. Even if he is not fully cognizant of the machinations of hope, so to speak, even if he is mistaken as to the metaphysics of body-soul duality, even if he doesn't realize that Jesus 'conquering the grave' is not only Christ's literal defeating of death, but also a defeating of literal death for humanity etc. Even if he doesn't understand these things he can still lead a fully realized Christian life and do so just as easily as someone who does understand them.

A second, though not entirely separate, bone I have to pick also occurs in the third part of the book and also has to do with the implications of fully understanding these issues. Wright takes aim at Christian conservatism primarily in the US, and declares that a proper view of the resurrection and the Christian hope necessarily leads to the conclusion that global debt remission is the greatest moral crisis in the world today. Which I find to be a non-sequitur, though, to be fair, he states that he doesn't have space in this book to make that argument fully.

He goes on to straw man Christian conservatives by stating that they are happy about things such as acid rain, pollution and ecological damage. Or at least that they are not worried about them because of the temporary nature of this world. As well as stating that they believe that God must be happy about these things as well.

First of all, the Christian is commissioned to be a good steward of the Earth and all that is in within it even if they hold the false belief that the Earth is temporary and soon to perish. So whether or not they understand the reason why they should be a good steward, if they aren't being good stewards then they simply are not obeying God's commands. So I don't buy the argument that "If only they understood the 'WHY' then they would obey". No, they disobey because they are sinful, fallen humans, and they would disobey whether they understood the 'why' or not. You can be obedient without understanding and you can understand without being obedient. Comprehension is not a prerequisite for obedience.

Secondly it simply is not true that Western Christian conservatives like acid rain, or are ambivalent about pollution in the first place. Our perspective on the issue (if I can be so bold as to speak for us) is that it's an unfortunate byproduct of human progress, innovation, and increased standards of living for all people. And that God has created the Earth in specific preparation for us, fully capable of handling our pollution. Which is not to say that we shouldn't be good stewards and attempt to reduce our polluting activities as much as possible, clearly we are commanded to do just that. Only not at the expense of technological advancements that are, all factors accounted for, good for humans. Even if we could eliminate every trace of pollution from the planet along with every technology that created it, and therefore revert the human condition that has been dramatically improved through such technologies, we emphatically SHOULD NOT do it. It would be an act of supreme wickedness and an infliction of massive death and disease upon the human race if we were to do that. This is the argument that Christian conservatives make regarding pollution, yet Wright acts as though he's never heard the argument or at least hasn't understood it as he interprets the argument to be pro-pollution, or anti-responsibility-for-the-environment when it simply is neither.

Wright also states that, in light of the truth of bodily resurrection and all that goes along with it, somehow the economic policies of the right are also misguided in some way, though, again, this is more or less asserted and not at all supported by any argumentation that he provides. As far as I could see.

I am undoubtedly giving off the impression that I dislike the book or that I disagree with it's fundamental arguments, but I don't really. I very much appreciate the scholarship of Wright and the manner in which he organizes his arguments. I think the truths he reveals have the potential to be powerful apologetic tools as well. Many secularists, or just seeking non-believers, have complaints about Christianity that simply dissolve in the light of many of these truths, so that was also an invigorating aspect of the book, I found. I don't want to downplay the importance of what the book gets right, which, when it comes to the substance, is pretty much everything. I only take issue with some of the supposed implications of the various truths.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

More Poker - Up ~$26,000 in 4 days

So sick. So so sick. I'm running absurdly good. Playing well also but especially running soooo good. So after my $11k 1st on Saturday i didn't play at all on big tourney Sunday because of prior responsibilities.

On Monday I had a brutal day at tourneys down somewhere around $600 w only 1 small cash out of like 10 tournies. However i was up $1200 at pot limit Omaha cash games on the day for a net of +$600. Then tonight. I only played 3 tournaments tonight; a $109 turbo, the nightly $162 and the nightly $55. I busted out of the $55 pretty early on. In the $109 I got 7th out of 500 people for $1600. That was slightly disappointing. And in the $162 I got 3rd out of 800 people for $12,000! Which wasn't disappointing except that the hand i went out on was my AK losing to A6, where i was a big favorite to win and be heads up and win at least $16k with a shot at $22k. However I was satisfied.

The last 4 days have been amazing, as have the last 4 months of poker or so. I'm very focused, playing excellent and running insanely well. I love poker.

An updated look at my sharkscope:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Another Big Tourney Score - This Time a WIN!

I just won a poker tournament! I got first out of a field of 570 players.

It was exciting. When it was down to two the guy i was playing against was a total spaz. He sucked out on me in two big pots, if I won either I would have won, but I had to fight some more. Finally he went all-in w/ KJ when I had AA and I held up. My game really feels on right now. Feel like I'm in the zone and the results just keep coming to verify it.

Here's a picture of my lifetime Pokerstars tournament graph (though it only tracks sit-n-gos and not MTTs before a certain point, a point that's pretty visible in the graph).