Category Archives: Philosophy

Philosophical Discussions

What we can learn from Pixar

It is easy today to get lost in everything that is offered up to us. From social media to a high budget Hollywood films to episodic literary fiction there is so much to distract us, to placate us that I believe we have forgotten what we are capable of. I grew up with the internet, and love its potential… but I hate its reality. The internet and all its crowd sourcing power has changed the way we view the world ever so slightly, but in that slight change it has had a significant impact. We don’t trust the expert anymore. In the past news came from those who, through countless years of discipline, had earned the right to deliver it to us. Music was achieved through hard work and rigorous study…not song editing on youtube. And art… art was painful nuanced process that through careful analysis and inspired emotional revolution developed a modern sense. But it stopped there, it stopped because the world didn’t understand that modern sense and never tried to. Today we live without it, lost in a continuous recreation of the modern art world, not realizing that has already happened… multiple times.

Here is where PIxar comes into place. There is an underlying message in their films, and underlying push to challenge what is expected, what is believed to be wanted, and instead pushes for the new. Most literally this comes from Ratatouille where Anton Ego gives his review of the delicious meal he enjoyed. Additionally you could say that it came from an earlier scene where Remy confronts his dad about the ideas of change and nature. The message is clear that conformity and preservation are inadequate for a successful society. We must change and we must fight for that new change. Pixar may not have been directly attacking museums and our arts institutions with this film but I am. If we preserve art as something to be preserved we will lose it forever.

Let’s continue this. I have no link to explain where Wall-E fits except the credits. The credits tie the film to exactly what I have always seen it represent. The culmination of Disney’s dream, emotion through animation. For a large portion of the film dialog isn’t used to convey the plot, rather we visually follow the developing romance of two robots. Disney believed in the power of animation as a tool to convey emotion and he gave himself to his characters. In times past Disney has honored this tradition, the eyes in Pocahontas for example, but recently they lost sight of it. Wall-E set them back on the path by taking inorganic objects (robots) and giving them the emotion enough to convey an entire love story to us.

At the end of Pixar’s short Day and Night we find a radio broadcast defending just how beautiful the new is how scared we are of it. This example might be my favorite as the animation behind it is rather ingenious. Seemingly two dimensional characters are interacting for the first time and at first fighting but by the end are friendly. What makes it near breathtaking is the three dimensional environment that makes up their bodies, one filled by a daytime scene while the other a nighttime scene. As the two move throughout the film we see the environment their bodies are windows on change between day and night. Again Pixar uses no dialog save the radio announcement at the end of the film but is still very capable of telling a story.

Pixar is screaming at us to embrace the new, to fight for it and honor it. I imagine part of their interest is in their own image as the new, which isn’t far from the truth. They allowed for Disney’s second renaissance which is still going strong and pushed the boundaries of computer animation to such an extent that it now makes up the mainstream. But at the same time when in control of Disney’s animation studios, revived and expanded them to re-imagine the cartoon short.

Though this very well may be obvious to many I still wanted to gather my thoughts in one place and encourage further discussion on them. Pixar to me is a beacon of newness that is both pushing the boundary and making it popular at the same time. We need this level of creativity and risk to infiltrate more of the arts and move away from the idea that the arts is something to preserve. The arts is something that should challenge us and push our abilities both to create and to contemplate.

This is what I believe we can learn from Pixar.

 

-Huysmans

 

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The Return

This post exists simply to say that we exist. Though this may be an obvious observation it is nevertheless true and deserving of some public awareness. We exist and we are publishing and we are back. In terms of categorical information, such as what will we be covering on the turn of the CBF we have few answers. Philosophy has engulfed the shores by which the Right Hand of Nixon lives where as I am caught up in the battle of the achievement gap or as it is known by most of the world, teaching. Through both these “categories” we do plan to continue our focus on art, or not-art, depending on how one wants to look at such things.

Thus we say welcome back and join us as we take on the world in a battle for total domination.

Be ready.

-huysmans.

Perdurance, death, and leaving something behind

It’s a few years old, but I just stumbled across this post (from Philosophy, et cetera) about J. David Velleman’s paper “So It Goes” (the link to the paper in the post is broken, but here is a PDF), which attempts to explain the Buddhist idea that the idea of an enduring self is an illusion that causes suffering in terms of Western thought, and in particular, in the framework of the neo-Lockean philosophy of Derek Parfit.  I will leave it to the links to explain the distinction between endurance and perdurance, but I had some thoughts on how this all relates to death.

To start, I would point out that the demarcation of an object in space is really a matter of arbitrary definition.  I’m unsure if this is the case for a consciousness, since I’m inclined to believe that consciousness is something that happens and not something that exists in space, but it certainly is arbitrary which atoms we choose to consider as part of our body – the air in our lungs, for instance?  But if we see consciousness as a particular type of process of perdurance that happens to our physical being, extending it in time like a crystal growing in one direction, we could just as well expand what we consider to be our physical selves to include, for instance, the things that we create, or others’ impressions of us.  In this case, we do indeed still perdure, often in an expanding way, after death.  If what we want is to extend ourselves as far forward in time as possible, then this means that leaving something behind that is in some way a part of us that will continue to exist is enough.  Of course, it’s also arbitrary what exactly we value in terms of perdurance – and I do think that the particular type of purdurance that is consciousness has a value in itself.  But, all that aside, I don’t think that death can be characterized as a ceasing to exist altogether unless one identifies “I” as the process of consciousness.  I am honestly not sure whether the “I” should be the process itself, but either way, all we can say after death about the thing that consciousness was happening to is that it has ceased to expand itself in the way that it had been expanding itself before – not that it has ceased to exist.  And depending on how we define it, it may continue to expand itself in other ways.

I’m hesitant to now conclude that we should view a work of art that remains “alive” after its creator’s death as a way around the implications of that death.  An absolute end will come eventually, regardless of what pieces of oneself one leaves behind, so if what we want is still to be never-ending, simply telling ourselves that we will “live on” in some way in the world does not solve our problem.  However, the idea that death is simply the end of a process of growth of, if you would, the main stalk of one’s being, rather than the sort of absolute oblivion that the heat death of the universe will guarantee, could at least provide a bit of comfort about the particular moment at which our consciousness ends, which taking care not to value the eternal over the ephemeral doesn’t help much with . . .

~therighthandofnixon

The right video game influence or giving in to sin.

Globeandmail.com published this moralistic Call of Duty story.

Is this the answer to the violence question? Or does this further connect real violence with video game violence? In that case  could scenarios like this lead to more “real” violence as a result of video games? But on the other hand couldn’t this be seen as parenting taken to the next level–> not a fight or struggle but a compromise and a teaching moment.

And to bring this to the whole artistic element of a video game–> is this in essence limiting the full artistic experience the true artists of this game designed? Can’t this be seen as a new type of censorship, similar to the idea of watching R rated films altered for a PG audience? Then couldn’t this moralistic addendum be seen as an alteration or rather a limitation to the true artistic experience possible with this game work of art?

What’s this public think?

-huysmans