Saturday, July 28, 2007


Watched Pan's Labyrinth. Great movie. With help from Harry Potter and Zompist, it's triggered a couple of thoughts.

The basic struggle--political, moral--is between those who think that people are equal, and those who don't. However. The very act of fighting for the prior conviction tends to convince people of the latter.

People in power, as a general rule, think they're better than other people. Why else would they be in charge? Those who challenge them, then, tend to hold the opposite conviction.

But revolutionaries are not average people. And it's one small step from "not average" to "better than average."

I don't know which side I'm on.

I don't know which side I want to be on.

I don't even know which side I'm supposed to be on.


  1. It seems to me that the basic struggle is between two parties who are out to further their own ambitions or help themselves in some way, but end up getting incidentally associated with ideals or philosophies that contrast in apatibility.

    The tyrannical king vs. the plucky peasant fighting for their people, or the rogue smugglers just trying to make a living against powerful enemies, none of the parties fight for ideals, they fight for themselves. In a story, that's what makes it believable, in real life, people are greedy.

    And there's a difference between "people are equal" and "people should be treated equally". The first is pretty obviously not true (although you could maybe say everyone is created equally), but I'm ambivalent about the second.

    I want to see a movie about anti-communist revolutionaries.

  2. By "people are greedy," do you mean that people won't fight for their values, only their economic gain?

    I don't quite get your point about what makes things believable in a story. Are you saying that, say, when Han Solo comes back to fight the Death Star--choosing idealism over personal safety--that's an unrealistic moment? That if Han Solo were real, he wouldn't do that? Or am I missing something?

    The only anti-communist revolutionary movies I know of are the reporter movies about South America--the contras, that kind of thing. The main character is always a reporter who has a long history of reporting in wars, usually Vietnam, and is either an alcoholic or sleeping with his boss's wife.

  3. I meant that ultimately, people have personal reasons for doing what they do, and ideals, philosophies, and greater goods are usually after the fact justifications for their actions.

    Sorry, poor wording. When I said people are greedy, I wasn't trying to justify the point about stories, I was juxtaposing a separate point about real life. And people aren't greedy so much as motivated by their own experiences.

    Most stories don't < very long rant > basically good" mentality.

    Nevermind, I'm sure your point would make more sense if I were thinking about plots instead of psychology.

    Wouldn't it be awesome if the protagonists were arrogant, self-righteous advocates of democracy fighting the borg-like, conformist communists trying to help common farmers through equality?! (But also maybe ... going to nuke America!)

  4. Ideals and philosophies aren't "personal reasons?" I think of experience as leading directly to values, not as mutually exclusive motivations.

    I'm also not sure how story is involved with this. I was making a point about real-world political cycles. This point was partially inspired by fiction, but the point itself is not particularly tied to story.

    How awesome it was would probably depend on how ironic it was. Maximal irony, or minimal irony: these are the two paths to awesome.