Saturday, 22 October 2016

David Lynch on Meaning

You may say that people look for meaning in everything, but they don't. They've got life going on around them, but they don't look for meaning there. They look for meaning when they go to a movie. I don't know why people expect art to make sense when they accept the fact that life doesn't make sense.
~David Lynch, source:

Thursday, 14 July 2016

John J. Collins, "The Zeal of Phinehas: The Bible and the Legitimation of Violence"

關於從聖經看暴力, 關於信徒必須與暴力割蓆的講法, John Collins咁講:

 "In short, violence is not the only model of behavior on offer in the Bible, but it is not an incidental or peripheral feature, and it cannot be glossed over. The Bible not only witnesses to the innocent victim and to the God of victims, but also to the hungry God who devours victims and to the zeal of his human agents... The Bible does not demystify or demythologize itself. But neither does it claim that the stories it tells are paradigms for human action in all times and places.

 The least that should be expected of any biblical interpreter is honesty and that requires the recognition, in the words of James Barr, that 'the command of consecration to destruction is morally offensive and has to be faced as such,' whether it is found in the Bible or in the Quran. To recognize this is to admit that the Bible, for all the wisdom it contains, is no infallible guide on ethical matters. As Roland Bainton put it, in his survey of Christian attitudes to war and peace, 'appeal to the Bible is not determinative.' But historically people have appealed to the Bible precisely because of its presumed divine authority, which gives an aura of certitude to any position it can be shown to support; in the phrase of Hannah Arendt, 'God-like certainty that stops all discussion.' And here, I would suggest, is the most basic connection between the Bible and violence, more basic than any command or teaching it contains... Perhaps the most constructive thing a biblical critic can do toward lessening the contribution of the Bible to violence in the world, is to show that that certitude is an illusion."

 ~ John J. Collins, "The Zeal of Phinehas: The Bible and the Legitimation of Violence," 2002 年 Society of Biblical Literature 年會主席演說.

Friday, 23 October 2015

David Foster Wallace: "Everybody worships"

In the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship -- be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles -- is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth.
 Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.
 Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful, it's that they're unconscious. They are default settings.
 They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing.

~David Foster Wallace, This is Water

David Foster Wallace, What does it mean to learn to think?

Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.

~ David Foster Wallace, In the Water

David Foster Wallace: To think is to be just a little less arrogant

There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness. One of the guys is religious, the other is an atheist, and the two are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer. And the atheist says: "Look, it's not like I don't have actual reasons for not believing in God. It's not like I haven't ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing. Just last month I got caught away from the camp in that terrible blizzard, and I was totally lost and I couldn't see a thing, and it was fifty below, and so I tried it: I fell to my knees in the snow and cried out 'Oh, God, if there is a God, I'm lost in this blizzard, and I'm gonna die if you don't help me.'" And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. "Well then you must believe now," he says, "After all, here you are, alive." The atheist just rolls his eyes. "No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp."
 there's the whole matter of arrogance. The nonreligious guy is so totally certain in his dismissal of the possibility that the passing Eskimos had anything to do with his prayer for help. True, there are plenty of religious people who seem arrogant and certain of their own interpretations, too. They're probably even more repulsive than atheists, at least to most of us. But religious dogmatists' problem is exactly the same as the story's unbeliever: blind certainty, a close-mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn't even know he's locked up.
 The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded.

~ David Foster Wallace, In the Water

Friday, 16 October 2015

Dale Allison: "We all see what we expect to see and want to see"

我一向都很欣賞Dale Allison的坦誠, 佢會更正自己之前寫過的嘢, 亦會對自己本來信奉的嘢提出疑問. 最近喺佢一篇文入面, 見到呢段文字, 是很真實的情況:
Imagine with me a young graduate student in a department of religion. She becomes convinced, let us say, that Albert Schweitzer’s reconstruction of Jesus was close to the truth—or, as the case may be, not close to the truth—because a revered professor, whose arguments she has not the means to rebut, persuades her of this. Once her paradigm about Jesus is in place, a cognitive bias will also be in place. We all see what we expect to see and want to see—like highly prejudicial football fans who always spot more infractions committed by the team they are jeering against than by the team they are cheering for. If we hold a belief, we will notice confirming evidence, especially if we are aware that not everyone agrees with us. Disconfirming evidence, to the contrary, makes us uncomfortable, and so we are more likely to miss, neglect, or critically evaluate it. We do not see things as they are but as we construe them to be. After a period of time, then, one might anticipate that our graduate student will have collected her own evidence for her professor’s belief and become all the more persuaded of its correctness. As soon, moreover, as she communicates her views in public fashion, say by tutoring undergraduates or publishing a paper, she may be set for life—especially as one’s self-perception as an expert, the psychologists tell us, typically enlarges self-confidence. The prospect of embarrassment from publicly admitting error can make it hard to admit error to oneself, to undertake the difficult cognitive task of rearranging data into a new pattern after one has long been looking at an old pattern.
In my own case, my picture of Jesus was developed long before I much worried about the details of method, and long before I went on record as espousing this or that view of the criteria of authenticity. Moreover, and as one would cynically expect, the method that I developed later led straight to a Jesus congenial to the judgments of my youth. This I find disturbing, and my history cannot be atypical. Surely no one started with method. The implication seems to be that developing and deploying our criteria serve less to help us make truly new discoveries than to help us to confirm inclinations already held in advance.
 Dale C. Allison, Jr., "How to Marginalize the Traditional Criteria of Authenticity," in Handbook for the Study of the Historical Jesus (eds. T. Holmen and S.E. Porter; Leiden: Brill, 2011) 3-30.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Batman: Arkham Knight


搬來香港住之後, 都唔係好多時間打機, 最新開始習慣少少時間分配後, 開始有返尐打機的生活. 首先玩埋喺溫哥華買的Order 1886先, 跟住第一隻喺香港買的game就係Batman: Arkham Knight, 出的第一日就放工行去灣仔買, 價格合理啦, 由於唔使俾稅, 仲平過喺溫哥華買少少.

 雖然大家都鍾意Arkham City, 但其實我係覺得第一集Arkham Asylum多尐, 因為故事比較刺激, 有追看性, City就太散了, 太多嘢做, 係一般玩大版圖遊戲的通病, 多嘢玩到都忘記本身故事係講緊乜. 玩Arkham City嗰時, 我skip咗好多side quest, 感覺果然好好多, 主線故事好吸引, 幾個角色都好好睇, 小丑、蝙蝠俠、Poison Ivy、Arkham Knight、Gordon個女, 都係好睇的角色. 玩到故事完結時, 感覺好滿足, 呢隻喺我心中取代咗第一集, 成為我覺得最鍾意的蝙蝠俠game.

 好多人話唔鍾意用蝙蝠車的部份, 我都可以理解o既, 不過又未至於令人難受到頂唔順, 有幾部份其實都覺幾型的, 只係有幾個位會好易死, 的確是瑕疵, 不過可以忍受的. 我玩完Arkham Knight之後, 開返隻Arkham City玩幾嘢, 先發覺畫面原來差好遠! Arkham Knight係整得好靚的, 落雨同飄花瓣的效果都好靚, 最可惜係我而家喺香港部電視好廢, 我覺得直頭係浪費咗隻game.