Monday, June 13, 2005

Revenge of the Sith (5)

"Luke sensed that the old man had no wish to talk about this particular matter. Unlike Own Lars, however, Kenobi was unable to take refuge in a comfortable lie."
Star Wars by George Lucas (*)

Obi-Wan: "Your father's lightsaber. Your father wanted you to have this when you were old enough."
Maybe. But he never expressed any such wish.

Obi-Wan: "(Your Uncle) didn't hold with your father's ideals. Thought he should have stayed here and not gotten (sic) involved."

It is hard to work out when Anakin could have told Owen what his ideals were, and when Owen could have expressed an opinion of them one way or the other. By the time they meet, Anakin is already a Jedi Knight, already expressing a wish to be omnipotent, raise the dead, establish a benvolent dicatorship, massacre the natives, etc. Granted, Obi-Wan only says that Owen "thought" Anakin should have stayed at home, not that he actually told anyone that he thought so. Perhaps we are supposed to imagine Shmie telling Owen that the boy Anakin had left Tatooine some years previously, and Owen expressing the view that he shouldn't have done. Even so, you have to work fairly hard to say that Anakin left Tatooine because of his "ideals".

Obi-Wan: "(Your uncle) feared you might follow old Obi-Wan in some damn fool idealistic crusade, like your father did."
At a stretch, the Clone Wars were a crusade and Anakin was following Obi-Wan on them. The plain meaning of Obi-Wan's words are that Anakin left Tatooine to join a crusade which Obi-Wan was leading, which is not what happened.

Obi-Wan: "When I first met him, your father was already a great pilot."
Well, already a small boy with a kack for flying pod racers

Obi-Wan"....but I was amazed how strongly the force was with him."
Read: "I discovered that he was the Messiah."


Obi-Wan: "I thought that I could instruct him just as well as Yoda."
Read; "Yoda didn't want him to be trained at all, but allowed me to do so when I informed that I would do so with or without his permission, because of a promise I had made to my former teacher."

Obi-Wan: "You will go to the Dagaobah system, and learn from Yoda, the Jedi master who instructed me."
Read: "I have temporarily forgotten that Qui-Gon was the Jedi Master who instructed me, although admittedly Yoda had a hand in training all the, er, younglings".


Obi-Wan: "I haven't gone by the name of Obi-Wan since, oh, before you were born."

In the scene which directly follows the birth of the twins, Yoda refers to Obi-Wan as "Master Kenobi". So, I suppose, technically....

Obi-Wan: "A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine before he turned to evil, helped the Emprie hunt down and drestroy the Jedi Knights. He betrayed and murdered your father."
Pants on fire! Pants on fire!

Darth Vader: "I've been waiting for you, Obi-Wan. The circle is now complete.When I left you, I was but the learner. Now I am the master."
This is a slip of the tongue on the part of the Dark Lord who was, after all, under a lot of stress. What he meant to say was "When you left me, I was but the learner". On this assumption, everything makes sense. Obi-Wan leaves Anakin to go on a mission, and they have a row about whether the latter can be on the Jedi counci without having the title "Master". Later on, after the fight, Obi-Wan leaves Darth Vader for dead on the volcano planet.

Luke: Do you remember your mother? Your real mother?
Princess Leia: Just a little bit. She died when I was very young.
Luke: What do you remember?
Leia: Just images, really. Feelings.
Luke: Tell me.
Leia: She was very beautiful. Kind. But sad. Why are you asking me this?
Luke: I have no memory of my mother. I never knew her.

Niether Luke nor Leia have can possibly have any memories of their mother: she died a few minutes after they were born.


(*) Presumably Alan Dean Foster

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50 comments:

Anonymous said...

Personally, I subscribe to the fanwank that when Leia speaks of her mother, she's describing Senator Organa's wife - after all, at this point Leia has no reason to believe the Organas were not her parents. The only problem with this solution is that it destroys the poignance of the scene.

But the other stuff, yeah, there's just no excuse.

Andrew Rilstone said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andrew Rilstone said...

It is always possible to draw a line between two points. If Text A says "A character called the Doctor has one heart" and Text B says "A character called the Doctor has two hearts" then Mr Expositor can says "How fascinating. At some point in their life-cycle, people of the Dcotor's race grow an extra heart."

Medieval literary criticism was very reluctant to believe that anything written down in something as precious as a BOOK could possibly be false. Given three obviously contradictory stories about Queen Guenevere, they were inclined to say "Good heavens! King Arthur must have been married three times!"

There is nothing at all wrong with this game, and some of the scar-tissue that has grown up on cracked structures like DC comics is rather attractive in its own right. (I can't bring myself to regret the fact that "Crisis on Infinite Earths" happened; although all copies of "Earth X" should be burned.) But it's a pity if we see the exposition first and can no longer hear what the original text says.

Yes, Leia might have been thinking of Mrs Organa. When Luke says "Do you remember your mother, your real mother" she might have thought "What is he talking about, my "real" mother, Mrs Organa was my real mother, but I won't press the point today, he seems to be in a funny mood." And when Ben talks about a Jedi named "Darth" Vader, he might have known that "Darth" was not a name but a title. And there might be some pyschological explanation of the fact that in their fight on the Death Star, he calls him "Darth" -- the first time he has ever called him anything other than Anakin. (Though if "Darth" isn't a name, it totally spoils the fact that his old Teacher is the only person who EVER calls Vader by his first name.)

We can believe all these things if we like: but let's first admit that they are things which we are adding to the text; not it's plain meaning.

Anonymous said...

Oh, certainly. That's the meaning of 'fanwank', after all - something the reader is forced to add to the text to compensate for the writer's errors/carelessness/apathy.

I just like this particular fanwank because it makes Luke look rather clueless and silly.

-Abigail

(That's me up there, by the way. I'm not used to this anonymous commenting.)

Dan Hemmens said...

As a classicist friend of mine observed after watching Revenge of the Sith: "It's just these sorts of textual inconsistencies that lead some people to speculate that more than one person wrote the Illiad"

Pete said...

Careful now: someone will use this to say Lucas has been compared to Homer...

The Iliad and the Oddysey: prime examples of fan fiction got out of hand. Frankly, these "expanded universe" versions of well known mythological stories just confuse matters. We need the Fates to declare, once and for all, whether they are canon or not.

Charles Filson said...

I almost...heck, I wish that the prequillogy had been written by somebody other than Lucas. Lucas, I think, seemed rather bored with his original story and wanted to recreated it, not just tell the back story.

Then there is the issue of a back story. The fun of Star Wars was the same fun of Tolkien: there was this huge back story that we were allowed to glimps, but not see in its entirety. Had Lucas been a better story writer, he might have given us the base back-story that we expected but used the prequiullogy to point to these earlier myths of the Sith Lord who could defy death and Qui Gon the everliving, and so on.

Maybe Lucas got hung up on the idea of wanting to show us Vader as a little boy, and show his morphing into a dread lord of darkness...and he wanted Obi Wan in all three and he wanted a ton of other inconsistancies and just didn't care that it made it all terribly inconsistant.

Tom R said...

In Lucas' defence, it's bloody hard work putting together a consistent, coherent story over a period of (now) 30 years, with parts of it released episodically, only very limited revision allowed ("Greedo fired first! No, Han fired at the same time!"), and (in the case of the 1977 movie), no guarantee he would ever have a chance to make the sequels.

Not that it would've been impossible to make them all fit (GL could have hired ten legions of fanboys to get an exclusive first peek at his script, before shooting, to spot any inconsistencies, such as what happened to Boba Fett's Nizzillindah iksint between "Clones" and "Empire"). But I think GL was tempted to improve on his story as he went, rather than pass up what he saw as improvements just to satisfy the hobgoblin of little minds.

Speaking of goblins, compare Tolkien who waited 15 years (137-51) before unleashing LOTR, almost instantaneously, on the world. And even then, he was constrained by some minor niggles (ouch) that had already been fixed in cold print by "The Hobbit". Had he held back all four volumes until they were completely consistent, he may well have changed "goblins" to "Orcs", "the Necromancer" to "the Dark Lord", and deleted the references to Hobbits having watches and postmen.

American Ronin said...

such as what happened to Boba Fett's Nizzillindah iksint between "Clones" and "Empire").


Which inconsistency has now been resolved through the magic of DVD. Twenty years from now, my children as yet unborn may never know what the original trilogy really looked like, before the dark times, before the special edition reworking.

I truly wish Lucas had found someone else to write the prequels for him. Ideally, one of the two or three expanded universe writers who could actually write, if only to preserve some sense of consistency (but that's my obsessive fanboy self talking, and I thought I had killed him in high school a few years back). Even Lucas as he was 25 years back, before he abandoned the concept of Good vs. Evil in favor of Good vs. Neutral, would be a vast improvement.

Dan Hemmens said...

But I think GL was tempted to improve on his story as he went, rather than pass up what he saw as improvements just to satisfy the hobgoblin of little minds.

And to a degree, I sympathise. I don't see the point in making things *absolutely* consistent I don't massively care whether - for example - Jedi are or are not allowed to use the Force to chuck people about. That sort of thing's important in an RPG, not a movie.

What bothers me is that the actual *themes* of the film get so shot to hell in the prequels. "Good versus Evil" is an interesting epic story, "Sith versus Jedi" is not.

To make matters worse, the "Good versus Evil" story contaminates the "One viewpoint versus another" story. Rather than it either coming across as "Jedi are Good, Sith are Evil" or as "Jedi and Sith are two ways of viewing things" it comes across as "Jedi are assholes who think they're Buddhists, Sith are just Evil but quote Voldemort's 'points of view' speech"

A lot of the original series is actually kinda lame in light of the Prequels. A lot of things that were poignant are now just lame (qv Leia's memories of her mother)

Anonymous said...

I subscribe to the fanwank that when Leia speaks of her mother, she's describing Senator Organa's wife
The most common fanwank I've read regarding Leia's memories is that she was some sort of magical force baby who could remember things from birth and/or she was so force sensitive, especially with regards to emotions that she got the memories of Padme from the people around her (the Organas). Of course, part of that theory also assumed that maybe Padme would get to hold Leia for a bit or at least see her longer than Luke. Now Lucas can probably just digitally change the dialog in Return of the Jedi and have Leia say something like "I don't remember my real mother, but everyone told me she was pretty and nice"

Tom R said...

> Which inconsistency has now been resolved through the magic of DVD...

Frakkin' heck. So now there's nothing left of Jeremy Bulloch in the Canon, other than an anonymous body beneath mask and armour.

Did Lucas Kiwi-ize the Stormtroopers as well?

"You don't need to see his identification..."

"Iffin' bliddy hill, filler, thuh Impuruh Humsilf rickins we gotta see ivryone's idintifikishin, eh!"

> magical Force baby...

Since Lucas has pilfered from almost every other work of space opera published since 1933, there's no reason he couldn't model baby Leia on Julian May's Jean "Jack the Bodiless" Remillard.

Pete said...

Bulloch's in ep III as, apparently Captain Colton, pilot to queen Perkypout, and has a spit & cough as an imperial officer in ESB. So not quite the Beria treatment, but still...

Andrew Rilstone said...

Do you realise I've spent all day trying to work out whether an Nizzillindah iksint is some kind of alien from the novels, or the official name of his space ship.

Tom R said...

Here in Australia, there was much mirth over the casting of a Kiwi as Jango Fett. "Which one dih yiz bliddy will choose, filluh -- thud Dark Side of the Force, or the Choice Side?" and so forth.

I suppose the nearest equivalent for an Englishperson would be, oh, I dunno, If Lucas had cast a Scot to play Obi-Wan kenobi...

Zoran Bekric said...

The entirety of one of Mr. Rilstone's posts -- the one beginning with "It is always possible to draw a line between two points." -- was copy-pasted over to a discussion at RPG.net by someone signing themselves as Wyvern. It can be found at: http://www.rpg.net/forums/phorum/rf08/read.php?f=3339&i=11&t=1

Since I responded to the comments there, I figure simple courtesy would also require that do so here as well.

Andrew Rilstone wrote:
-------------------------------
It is always possible to draw a line between two points. If Text A says "A character called the Doctor has one heart" and Text B says "A character called the Doctor has two hearts" then Mr Expositor can says "How fascinating. At some point in their life-cycle, people of the Dcotor's race grow an extra heart."
-------------------------------

Alternately, some people have an open mind and like to think, other people have a closed mind and assume they know everything already.

For those in the first group, new information will often prompt them to revise their ideas -- "Hang on. You mean when you tried it, the heavier cannonball didn't fall faster than the lighter one?! But... but... that would mean Aristotle was wrong! That... that... gravity is a force that effects everything equally..."

Those in the second group, new information either confirms what they already know or it's wrong -- "I don't care about fossils and geology. The Bible says the earth is six thousand years old, so anything that indicates otherwise is clearly incorrect. And the Bible also says that God created all the different species of animal, so these notions of evolution are obviously incorrect and no more than atheistic attempt to deny the glory of the Creator. So there!"

Which approach do you think leads to a greater understanding of things?

Regards,

Zoran

Anonymous said...

Baby Leia's eyes are open. She "remembers" her mother. She was pretty, but sad, what with having just got Force-choked and all.

Baby Luke's eyes are closed. He is out cold! He has no memory of his mother.

Leia knew she was adopted, which is why she didn't flip at Luke's question years later.

It is funny how a fan can make excuses. But what was up with slow Jedi Masters taking turns getting eviscerated by Sidious? Sabers drawn, fighting pose: Stand still and die.

Andrew I've been reading your stuff for over five years. I hope you never stop, at least not until I grow weary of your opinions.

X

Dan Hemmens said...

Alternately, some people have an open mind and like to think, other people have a closed mind and assume they know everything already.

Fanwanking is not a vital life skill. It is not evidence of some wonderous creative ability, or the capacity for advanced rational thought.

I like to think. I do not like to make excuses for other people who do *not* like to think. To take, in fact, your own example:

"Hang on. You mean when you tried it, the heavier cannonball didn't fall faster than the lighter one?! But... but... that would mean Aristotle was wrong! That... that... gravity is a force that effects everything equally..."

Which, to my mind, corresponds very nicely to "But when I saw the prequels, they contradicted huge swathes of the original movies?! But... but that would mean that Lucas was a talentless hack! That... that... he was just making everything up as he goes along."

When astronomers observed that the motions of the planets did not fit the Aristotelian model of the universe - earth at the centre, everything else moving around it - they reacted in one of two ways.

Some chose to accept the theories of Copernicus: that the sun was the centre of the solar system, and that everything else moved around it.

Others chose to accept the theory of epicycles. Because clearly the Earth had to be the centre of everything, there had to be some way to make the data fit their observations. So obviously the planets went around the earth, but they were also making little circles as they did so.

It is the latter group of thinkers - essentially a bunch of Aristotle Fanwankers - that you would say were "open minded" and "liked to think".

Which approach do you think leads to a greater understanding of things?

In the case of Aristotelian versus Copernican cosmology, the former.

Dan Hemmens said...

It is funny how a fan can make excuses. But what was up with slow Jedi Masters taking turns getting eviscerated by Sidious? Sabers drawn, fighting pose: Stand still and die.

What I find funny to the point of inexplicability is the degree to which fans can not only make excuses but in fact *pride themselves* on their ability to make excuses, as if saying "no, you see the reason Obi Wan calls Vader 'Darth' as if its a name is because he can no longer think of him as anything but a Sith" somehow makes you clever.

Zoran Bekric said...

Dan Hemmens wrote:
-------------------------------
In the case of Aristotelian versus Copernican cosmology, the former.
-------------------------------

A few things.

First, the system with the epicycles is generally credited to Ptolemy (Claudius Ptolemaus, fl. 140 CE) and is referred to as "Ptolemaic", not "Aristotelian".

Two, Copernicus actually said that the Sun was at the centre of the universe. He was wrong. It's actually a rather small, unregarded yellow star far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy, as Douglas Adams observed. So he was wrong too.

Three, all the people you describe were actually engaging in what you consider "fanwanking". Ptolemy took the data he had available and constructed the best model he could to account for all that data within the assumptions he had.

Some fourteen hundred years later -- gee, you think that the amount of observational information may have grown in all that time? -- Copernicus (1473 - 1543) came along and said, "Hey, if we swap the positions of Earth and the Sun in this Ptolemaic model, we can get rid of the epicycles and that would make things simpler."

Then along came a guy named Kepler (1571 - 1630) and said "Hey, you know those circular orbits in Ptolomy's and Copernicus's model don't work either. Assuming the orbits are elliptical fits the available information much better."

Of course at this point, people like would have just thrown up their arms and said "Elliptical orbits?! I suppose you think coming up with that sort of cludge somehow makes you clever. Well it doesn't. It's obvious that God is just some sort of hack and I'm not going to have anything to do with this universe any more!" Then they would retreat into the nigh-impenetrable narcissism and live happily ever after.

Meanwhile, the astronomers continued with their fanwanking. They accepted those elliptical orbits. Then a guy named Newton (1642 - 1727) "Hey, I've been working on the trajectories of cannon balls and, if these elliptical orbits are right, then planets behave just like cannon balls. Maybe there's some strange universal force that acts at a distance effecting them all. Maybe that force is gravity."

Had you emerged from you narcissism at this point I'm sure you would have said "Strange invisible forces acting at a distance?! Good Lord, they all gone completely insane. The cludging is getting worse. And their all congratulating each other as if they've just done something clever." Then you would have retreated back into your narcissism, convinced that your explanation that God is just a hack was clearly a superior explanation.

And so on.

As far as I can tell, what you call fanwanking has worked out pretty good over the years. No-one gets it completely right, but by being willing to revise old ideas in the light of new information, we seem to progress. And, yes, those of us who do engage in this sort of thing do take pride in our ability to do so.

I know that else where -- http://www.rpg.net/rf08/read.php?f=3339&i=35&t=1 -- you said "Nobody's disparaging anybody" but, gee whiz, you're sure doing a good job of faking it here.

Regards,

Zoran

Anonymous said...

I can't even begin to describe how disturbing I found that last comment. Where do I begin? With the inability to differentiate fact from fiction? With the equation of George Lucas with God? With insulting generations of hard-working, dedicated scientists by calling them 'fanwankers'? With the constant repetition of 'narcissistic' in order to score cheap rhetorical points?

Scientific inquest takes place in the real world. Over millennia, scientists have used their slowly accumulating store of data and their brains to develop better and better theories of how the universe works. It's the foundation of the scientific method - formulate a theory, see how it matches up to the facts, attempt to disprove it using more facts as they become available, repeat as needed. The entire system depends on the assumption that there is an ultimate truth out there which exists regardless of whether or not we know it.

Star Wars is fiction. It is the task of a writer of fiction to simulate a real world (for various values of 'real', of course). Since most writers aren't God, their simulations are naturally thin and unimpressive when compared with the real thing, but most readers are willing to give authors the benefit of the doubt, to varying degrees. What we call 'fanwanking' happens when an author does a bad enough job with his fictional reality that readers are forced to add their own text to make the fictional reality seem real to them.

We can argue about whether fanwanking is an honorable pursuit or simply a wasteful one. We can argue over who owns the reality, and whether an ultimate, 'true' form of it exists. But to equate this practice in any way, shape or form to scientific endeavor is... baffling.

To sum up:

1. There is an ultimate, identifiable truth about the nature of the universe. If there is an ultimate, true form of the Star Wars story, it exists as a philosophical, not physical object.

2. If there is an author to the universe, he is infinitely superior to George Lucas or any other person on this planet, and not given to error. George Lucas, on the other hand, is neither God, nor infallible.

For these reasons, fanwanking is nothing like scientific research.

-Abigail

Andrew Rilstone said...

I wish I hadn't ever used the term "fanwank". I meant it as quite a mild, self-disparaging term to mean "I know this is quite self-indulgent, but at the same time, pleasurable and harmless." e.g "I know this is a fanwank, but I really hope Nicholas Courtney appears in season 2 of Doctor Who." It's use has no spiralled out of control, and is on the point of meaning double plus un good.

When you are discussing something which happens off-stage in a film or a play, you are discussing somethign which is either non-existant or else totall inaccessible. When "Hamlet" is off stage, he isn't doing anything at all, because he doesn't exist. It is possible that Shakespeare imagined what he (Hamlet) was doing; but we can't get inside Shakespeare's head and find out. And even if we could: Shakespeare-as-artist DECIDED not to put those things in the play. "The things which Shakespeare thought about, but didn't write down" are not part of the play which he wrote.

I think that "The Star Wars Universe" -- as opposed to what is actually seen on the screen during the three, or, if you insist, six movies, is a non-thing, like "what Hamlet was doign when he wasn't on stage." I think that when you ask questions about it, you are essentially playing a game: a good, fine, honourable, enjoyable, creative game, but a game none-the-less. You are asking a question which literally doesn't have an answer.

I think that if you play this game to much, it becomes hard to see the films as anything other than material for exegesis. Some of the time, I play the game; but at other times, I want to look at the movies as movies, and try to work out how they work, what makes them tick, what their strengths and weak points are. (You may wish to say that the game of critical analysis is no more useful than the game of imaginary history, and I won't disagree with you. Not today, anyway.) With the critical hat on, it seems to me to be blindingly obvious that the Star Wars movies contradict each other, and that "Revenge of the Sith" has really very little to do with "Star Wars". With my game-player hat on, I can think of ways to explain away the contradictions: but I know that human ingenuity is such that regardless of what information George had given us, someone could have come up with an explanation which made it consistent.


There are 831 occurence of the term "fanwank" on google.
This website http://tvwiki.sytes.net/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Fanwank
contains some good remarks about the term, so good, in fact, that I am going to steal them:

"An awful lot of the fan theories which make their way into fanfic seek to "fix" something the writer believes to be "wrong" with the source. The fans usually put a lot more thought into this than the show's writers ever did (though show writers have gotten a lot more attentive in recent years, primarily because of the growth of this kind of fan activity), and often come up with theories to explain things which really should be inexplicable.

Naturally, these theories often venture way out into fantasyland. When the theory makes you say, "Oh come on!", the fanfic author has stepped over the line into fanwank.

When the show itself canonizes a wild theory, it's a Ret Con or a Re Vision. When a fan does, it's Fanwank."

Zoran Bekric said...

Abigail wrote:
-------------------------------
I can't even begin to describe how disturbing I found that last comment. Where do I begin? With the inability to differentiate fact from fiction?
-------------------------------

You scumbags just can't drop the strawman, can you?

Let me see, what have I written on this very subject over the past week? Well there's:

Second, the basic social contract of fiction is that we (the audience) accept the events being presented as if they were real for the duration. Obviously we know better -- I don't know of anyone whose ever pulled out their cell phone to report a murder while watching a production of Macbeth -- but we agree to pretend that we believe they are real and treat them in that light. So, among other things, we discuss a character's attitudes and motives as if they were real people rather than just artificial constructs.

From http://www.rpg.net/forums/phorum/rf08/read.php?f=3339&i=17&t=1 on Tuesday 21 June 2005, in reply to Mr. Rilstone's initial comments.

And there's:

1) There is a social activity called "fiction" in which some people tell other people things that aren't true. Within this social activity, there are specialised terms. Some of these are:
    i) the things that aren't true are called
       "stories".
   ii) those that tell the stories are variously
       called "authors", "creators", "storytellers"
       and the like.
  iii) the ones being told the stories are
       called "the audience".

2) Even though the members of the audience know the stories aren't true, they agree to willingly suspend their disbelief and to treat the stories as if they are true for the duration of the event.

3) When treating a story as true, all the information presented in the story is treated as information about actual events that happened to actual people somewhere.

4) This information is evaluated and analysed in the same way that actual information about the real world is analysed. Characters are treated as if they were real people and their attitudes and motivations are inferred from their words and actions. Locations are treated as if they really existed somewhere and details of their geography, climate and unusual features are noted. Unusual customs are treated as parts of actual cultures and conventions different to the audience's own. And so on.

5) We engage in this activity because we find it pleasurable. Those who do not find it pleasurable are expected to go off and find something else to do with their time, leaving those who do find it pleasurable to enjoy the activity.


From http://www.rpg.net/forums/phorum/rf08/read.php?f=3339&i=39&t=1 on Saturday 25 June 2005, in reply to Dan Hemmens similar mischaracterisation of the situation.

There may well be others.

If you disagree with my position, then why don't you actually address my position. I've stated it as clearly as I can. If there is anything obscure in the above formulations, please let me know and I'll try to make it clearer.

But none of you scumbags do that.

Andrew Rilstone fabricates evidence -- the whole Star Trek claiming to see Captain Sisko in the shadows when watching "The Trouble with Tribbles" -- to support an attitude that anyone who doesn't interact with fiction the way he chooses to must be mentally retarded.

Dan Hemmens manufactures his own alternate history of astronomy to support the fraudulent claim that there's a difference between those who supported the Ptolemaic model and those who supported the Copernican, when the truth is that both models accounted for all the observed data equally well. Initially, the Copernican model only had the advantage of being simpler. It was only as additional data accumulated that the Copernican model proved to be a better representation of reality. But, hey, Dan Hemmens doesn't care about any of that. No, he'll just re-write history to support his version of events.

And now, Abigail decides to jump on the bandwagon do her version of anyone-who-doesn't-interact-with fiction-in-exactly-the-way-I-choose-to-is-mentally-retarded. Mind you, she can only do that by ignoring everything I wrote on the subject to date. More fraud.

Why is it that none of you can make a point without resorting to falsehood? Could it be that the truth simply doesn't support your assertions, so you have to rely on fantasy. Sure looks that way.

-------------------------------
With insulting generations of hard-working, dedicated scientists by calling them 'fanwankers'?
-------------------------------

The term "fanwanking" as a description of "the process of revising previously held ideas in the light of new information" was introduced into the discussion by Dan Hemmens. If you don't like it, take it up with him.

-------------------------------
With the constant repetition of 'narcissistic' in order to score cheap rhetorical points?
-------------------------------

You mean as opposed to the constant repetition of the notion that anyone who chooses to abide by the social contract of fiction must be mentally retarded?

Still, let's be fair, what would you call the attitude that a reviewer's personal life and their feelings about a film that first came out twenty-eight years ago are a better guide to a current movie than the movie itself? Subjective simply doesn't seem strong enough.

-------------------------------
Star Wars is fiction.
-------------------------------

I don't recall ever claiming otherwise. If I have, please quote the relevant passage. Until then, this is another bit of fraud.

-------------------------------
For these reasons, fanwanking is nothing like scientific research.
-------------------------------

The term "fanwanking" is applied to things like saying "The new films reveal the Clone Wars were named after the troops employed by the Republic. Clearly my earlier interpretation that they were named after the opponents the Republic fought needs to be revised."

I have no idea why people like you find this process so disagreeable. But that's what the term "fanwanking" was introduced into this discussion to describe.

As I said, way back on Tuesday 21 June 2005 when replying to Mr Rilstone's initial comments:

Those who accept that there is a reality "out there" about which "evidence" can be gathered and who revise their models of that reality in the light of that "evidence", are also capable of employing those faculties when approaching a work of fiction. It's not that they think the fiction is somehow real, it's that they find it a pleasurable way of exercising the same abilities they need when dealing with actual reality.

If you do not find that kind of thing pleasurable, fine. Go find something else to do. But stop denigrating those who choose to engage in it.

Regards,

Zoran

Andrew Rilstone said...

Andrew Rilstone fabricates evidence -- the whole Star Trek claiming to see Captain Sisko in the shadows when watching "The Trouble with Tribbles" -- to support an attitude that anyone who doesn't interact with fiction the way he chooses to must be mentally retarded.

1: Whoah! I said "I've met "Star Trek" fans who watch "The Trouble With Tribbless" and imagine they can see Sisko hiding in the shadows" and immediately added a footnote "This is a lie; but it serves to illustrate the point." This may not have been either very helpful or very funny, but it certainly doesn't ammount to fabricating evidence.


2: Masturbation is currently only very mildy taboo in non-religious part of the UK; however, the word "wanker" remains a very strong insult.

Long books could and probably have been written about swearing vocabulary, e.g why it is that to call a man a "dick" is a very mild insult, where to call a woman a "c*nt" is a very strong one. I am reluctant even to type the second word because (used as an insult) it carries connotations of sexism, rather than mere vulgarity. In a similar way, I would probably write "It was alleged that he had called him a 'bastard'" (low abuse) but "It was alleged that he had called him a 'n*gg*r'" (racism). But I would happily type "There is a novel called 'The Nigger of the Narcissus'" (archaic vocabulary).

Rational or not, because the term contains connotations of (at least) low abuse, it would be better to drop the term "fanwank" altogether.


3: The only point at whcih I could possibly be construed as having attributed any kind of mental instability to Zoran was when her was getting his underwear in an uproar about the fact that someone had quoted (with attribution) an article of mine.

What I wrote was "You, sir, are quite clearly as mad as a mongoose." I intended "mad" in the American sense, cross or angry (*); and by "mongoose" I meant a sort of vicious animal that spits and eats snakes. I meant to say "You are getting as angry as a small, vicious animal, so I think I should back out of this discussion."

At any rate, that is what I now say that I meant. And since I am the writer and the words are mine, you have to read it that way forever and forget that you ever thought it meant anything else.


(*) "I had to shoot my dog."
"Was he mad?"
"Livid."

Is "mad" in this sense an example of an obsolete English term that is preserved in US usage, as opposed to a neologism? When Emillia says "Poor lady, she'll run mad when she doth lack it", she probably means "When Desdemona finds she lost the wedding present, she be angry" not "she'll be insane."

The English find "gotten" as an almost comic Americanism. In fact, it was good English in England in the 17th century; it happened to fall out of usage in the mother country but not in the colonies.

George Lucas presumably knew this, and when he had Old Ben say "not gotten involved". He was trying to make him sound archaic and 17th century; whereas in fact, for most English people, it makes him sound like a cowboy.


PERMISSION GRANTED TO REPRINT THE ABOVE

Andrew Rilstone said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Zoran Bekric said...

Andrew Rilstone wrote:
-------------------------------
1: Whoah! I said "I've met "Star Trek" fans who watch "The Trouble With Tribbless" and imagine they can see Sisko hiding in the shadows" and immediately added a footnote "This is a lie; but it serves to illustrate the point." This may not have been either very helpful or very funny, but it certainly doesn't ammount to fabricating evidence.
-------------------------------

When I first encountered that bit, I was willing to take it as a joke, but since then I've noticed that it's part of a pattern of behaviour. You will note that it wasn't the only example I cited.

Currently, my thinking is that your footnote "This is a lie; but it serves to illustrate the point." is a classic example of the adage "many a true word is spoken in jest". You apparently are quite happy to invent facts to support your thesis, rather than to adjust your thesis to match the facts.

-------------------------------
2: Masturbation is currently only very mildy taboo in non-religious part of the UK; however, the word "wanker" remains a very strong insult.

>snip<

because the term contains connotations of (at least) low abuse, it would be better to drop the term "fanwank" altogether.

-------------------------------

Fine with me. I'm not the one who introduced it into the discussion.

I will note, though, that you pointing out that "wanker" is a strong insult or, at least, a term of low abuse completely undercuts Dan Hemmens's assertion that "Nobody's disparaging anybody".

-------------------------------
The only point at whcih I could possibly be construed as having attributed any kind of mental instability to Zoran was when her was getting his underwear in an uproar about the fact that someone had quoted (with attribution) an article of mine.
-------------------------------

So the whole patronising tone when you wrote "The trouble is that the "Star Wars" universe isn't real: it is somethign which George Lucas made up out of his head, and there's no Father Christmas, either." was what exactly? You weren't talking down to me as if I was mentally retarded and needed the most basic and elementary things explained to me? Please don't compound the insult by continuing to treat me as if I'm stupid.

You're trying to fix the facts to fit your thesis again.

Oh, and just to be clear, I mean "fix" as in "to influence the outcome or actions of by improper or unlawful means: fix a prizefight; fix a jury.", not any of the other possible meanings.

-------------------------------
What I wrote was "You, sir, are quite clearly as mad as a mongoose." I intended "mad" in the American sense,
-------------------------------

Well, that may be the whole cause of the problem, because I'm not American. I live in Australia.

In local usage "mad" to mean "angry" exists on a scale, coming just above "cross" and just below "angry". To say someone is "mad as hell" still indicates a degree of anger less than saying they are "angry." "Mad" indicates a showy anger, "angry" indicates a quieter, and therefore more dangerous, type. Well, that's the case in Adelaide, where I live. It may be different in other states.

However, "mad" still retains the meaning of "insane", especially in formulations such as "mad as a mongoose". I think that's how most people would have interpreted your statement. I know that's how I interpreted it.

If that's not what you meant, just add an apology -- even of the "I'm sorry if you misunderstood me" kind that admits no blame -- to the explanation and we'll be fine.

-------------------------------
PERMISSION GRANTED TO REPRINT THE ABOVE
-------------------------------

Now, if you got into the habit of including this at the bottom of all your posts, so that when people appropriated them wholesale they could include it, we wouldn't be having the other argument.

Still, maybe we can all treat this as a learning experience.

Regards,

Zoran

Dan Hemmens said...

First, the system with the epicycles is generally credited to Ptolemy (Claudius Ptolemaus, fl. 140 CE) and is referred to as "Ptolemaic", not "Aristotelian".

Quite right. Sorry.

Two, Copernicus actually said that the Sun was at the centre of the universe. He was wrong. It's actually a rather small, unregarded yellow star far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy, as Douglas Adams observed. So he was wrong too.

And this is important why?

Three, all the people you describe were actually engaging in what you consider "fanwanking".

No. They were not.

Ptolemy took the data he had available and constructed the best model he could to account for all that data within the assumptions he had.

That is not fanwanking. Fanwanking is when you try to paper over the cracks in something that is obviously wrong, by making shit up.

Epicycles were - in essence - fanwank, invented to prevent people from having to revise their underlying model of the universe.

Of course at this point, people like would have just thrown up their arms and said "Elliptical orbits?! I suppose you think coming up with that sort of cludge somehow makes you clever. Well it doesn't. It's obvious that God is just some sort of hack and I'm not going to have anything to do with this universe any more!" Then they would retreat into the nigh-impenetrable narcissism and live happily ever after.

At which point you, in fact, are comparing George Lucas to God.

Please, please, for the love of God, tell me you understand the difference between "scientists revising their theories about the universe in order to better understand it" and "fanboys trying to paper over the cracks in their favourite TV show).

Had you emerged from you narcissism at this point I'm sure you would have said "Strange invisible forces acting at a distance?! Good Lord, they all gone completely insane. The cludging is getting worse. And their all congratulating each other as if they've just done something clever." Then you would have retreated back into your narcissism, convinced that your explanation that God is just a hack was clearly a superior explanation.

Are you honestly saying that there is something narcissistic about stating the opinion that a mediocre producer of Science Fiction Movies is somehow fallible?

As far as I can tell, what you call fanwanking has worked out pretty good over the years. No-one gets it completely right, but by being willing to revise old ideas in the light of new information, we seem to progress. And, yes, those of us who do engage in this sort of thing do take pride in our ability to do so.

What I call fanwanking - what, in fact, the wider community calls fanwanking - has never done anybody a lick of good. The whole point of Fanwanking is that you *don't* discard your old ideas, but instead come up with spurious logic to explain away the inconsistencies.

Perhaps we've been talking at cross purposes here:

To my mind "The Clone Wars weren't *against* the clones, they were the wars in which the Clone Warriors first fought for the Republic" is not Fanwank, it's canon. It's clearly there in the text.

On the other hand "When Leia says she remembers her mother, she's talking about Senator Organa's wife" is fanwank. It's perfectly acceptable fanwank, but it doesn't change the fact that there is an inconsistency in the text.

I know that else where -- http://www.rpg.net/rf08/read.php?f=3339&i=35&t=1 -- you said "Nobody's disparaging anybody" but, gee whiz, you're sure doing a good job of faking it here.

Can I just double check which one of us is throwing around terms like "narcissist" and "scumbag"?

Dan Hemmens said...

You scumbags just can't drop the strawman, can you?

I am beginning to loathe the term "straw man." If you present a feeble argument, it is not a "straw man" for us to highlight the reasons that your argument is feeble.

Let me see, what have I written on this very subject over the past week? Well there's:

Examples excised for brevity.

All of which examples, however, reveal that you seem to be completely incapable of experiencing fiction as fiction.

No matter how authoritative you try to be in your presentation of "the basic social construct of fiction," you are, in fact, just plain wrong.

If you disagree with my position, then why don't you actually address my position. I've stated it as clearly as I can. If there is anything obscure in the above formulations, please let me know and I'll try to make it clearer.

Okay. Please clarify the following:

How, under your definition of the "social contract of fiction" is it possible to actually consider a work of fiction to be inconsistent, poorly constructed, or just plain bad, without violating this "social contract"?

But none of you scumbags do that.

Andrew Rilstone fabricates evidence -- the whole Star Trek claiming to see Captain Sisko in the shadows when watching "The Trouble with Tribbles" -- to support an attitude that anyone who doesn't interact with fiction the way he chooses to must be mentally retarded.


A joke, dear boy, a joke.

Dan Hemmens manufactures his own alternate history of astronomy to support the fraudulent claim that there's a difference between those who supported the Ptolemaic model and those who supported the Copernican, when the truth is that both models accounted for all the observed data equally well.

Except that some still continued to support the Ptolemaic model even though the Copernican model existed.

Initially, the Copernican model only had the advantage of being simpler. It was only as additional data accumulated that the Copernican model proved to be a better representation of reality. But, hey, Dan Hemmens doesn't care about any of that. No, he'll just re-write history to support his version of events.

I seem to recall that your original version of events was "some people cling dogmatically to doctrine, while scientists present them with truth derived from evidence"

Which is also, essentially, rewriting history.

If you want a comparative essay about competing models of cosmology throughout history, then I suggest you google and find one. I am sorry that my original analogy (check that word - analogy) didn't bear up to your obsessive scrutiny; frankly I hadn't for a moment thought that you were going to *genuinely* use the history of astrophysics as a model for people's reactions to Revenge of the Sith.

And now, Abigail decides to jump on the bandwagon do her version of anyone-who-doesn't-interact-with fiction-in-exactly-the-way-I-choose-to-is-mentally-retarded. Mind you, she can only do that by ignoring everything I wrote on the subject to date. More fraud.

Frauds, thieves, scumbags, narcissists. You do us such an honour by consescending to interact with us.

You have repeatedly insisted that you have to interact with fiction as if it is real. This is, and I can think of no simpler, better, or more eloquent way to say this, just plain wrong.

And before you tell me to back up my position with evidence, your statements about the Social Contract of Fiction have been utterly arbitrary.

Why is it that none of you can make a point without resorting to falsehood? Could it be that the truth simply doesn't support your assertions, so you have to rely on fantasy. Sure looks that way.

Actually, I think it's because you're so obsessed with your ideas about evidence and truth and the Objective Reality Of the Star Wars Universe that to you, everything that doesn't support your teetering worldview looks like a lie.

The term "fanwanking" as a description of "the process of revising previously held ideas in the light of new information" was introduced into the discussion by Dan Hemmens. If you don't like it, take it up with him.

Actually the term "fanwanking" was introduced into this discussion by Abigail, to describe - well - fanwank. I re-iterated it, using the conflicts between Ptolemaic cosmology and Copernican Cosmology as an analogy because you seem so obsessed with using real world examples.

"The evidence does not fit my theories, so my theories are false" is scientific rigor.

"The evidence does not fit my theories, therefore I shall make up a kludge to fit them in" is fanwank.

You mean as opposed to the constant repetition of the notion that anyone who chooses to abide by the social contract of fiction must be mentally retarded?

This is why I can never take people who talk about Straw Men seriously - they always make such use of them.

Nobody has said "if you abide by the social contract of fiction is mentally retarded," we have said, essentially "always you use that word, I do not think it means what you think it means."

We do not accept that the social contract of fiction is what you define it to be. That you choose to define it so dogmatically does not mean that you "choose to abide by the social contract of fiction," it means that you "choose to abide by a particular approach to fiction, which many of us consider limited."

Still, let's be fair, what would you call the attitude that a reviewer's personal life and their feelings about a film that first came out twenty-eight years ago are a better guide to a current movie than the movie itself?

I, to use your preferred terminology, would call that a straw man.

I don't recall ever claiming otherwise. If I have, please quote the relevant passage. Until then, this is another bit of fraud.

You do, however, insist that anybody who actually chooses to treat Star Wars as fiction is "not abiding by the social contract of fiction" and therefore has no place watching it.

The term "fanwanking" is applied to things like saying "The new films reveal the Clone Wars were named after the troops employed by the Republic. Clearly my earlier interpretation that they were named after the opponents the Republic fought needs to be revised."

No it isn't. Never was, never has been.

The term "Fanwanking" is applied to things like "Hmm... Leia says she remembers her mother, but her mother died before she was born so either she was talking about Bali Organa, or she was a Magic Force Baby, and remembered Padme with her hyperkeen Force senses."

I have no idea why people like you find this process so disagreeable. But that's what the term "fanwanking" was introduced into this discussion to describe.

Please look at the first post on this thread.

It makes it pretty damned clear that (a) fanwanking is an attempt to gloss over inconsistencies and (b) we don't actually consider it particularly objectionable.

What I object to is your assertion that the good harmless fun of fanwanking is actually evidence of some tremendous ability to discern truth from falsehood.

As I said, way back on Tuesday 21 June 2005 when replying to Mr Rilstone's initial comments:

Those who accept that there is a reality "out there" about which "evidence" can be gathered and who revise their models of that reality in the light of that "evidence", are also capable of employing those faculties when approaching a work of fiction. It's not that they think the fiction is somehow real, it's that they find it a pleasurable way of exercising the same abilities they need when dealing with actual reality.


And it's as bit a load of nonsense now as when you said it on the 21st.

Your assertion seems to be that anybody who does not choose to respond to fiction in the exact same way you do is, to use your own term, mentally retarded. Anybody, according to your statement, who accepts that there is such thing as objective reality will respond to fiction in the same way as you do. So, according to your assertion, those of us who choose to view fiction as fiction are all a bunch of subjectivists.

If you do not find that kind of thing pleasurable, fine. Go find something else to do. But stop denigrating those who choose to engage in it.

I am not denigrating the way you choose to respond to fiction, although I consider it to be limited, fannish, and typical of all the worst elements of geek culture. It is you that has said that anybody who does not respond to fiction as you do has no business engaging with it.

Andrew Rilstone said...

Mr Expositor is a character in a "Pilgrim's Progress", who comes up with arguably far fetched and after the fact interpretations of scripture. I referred to Mr Expositor in a pre-lapserian state when I had not heard of Zoran Bekric. By writing "Mr Expositor says such-and-such about 'Doctor Who' " I intended the reader to infer "...and this approach is a bit like that which the character in 'Pilgrim's Progress' adopts toward the Bible."

When I said " 'Star Wars' is fictitious and made up by George Lucas, and there is no Father Christmas either" I fairly clearly intended the reader to infer "Coming to realise that your heroes are fictitious is one of those minor disillusionments of growing up, a bit like realising that there is no Father Christmas."

((I take it that Australian, Americans and people from Yorkshire know that "Father Christmas" is the normal name that English children give to "Santa Claus"?))

Actually, one could press the analogy much further if one wanted to. "Father Christmas / Santa Claus" is definitely "real", otherwise what are we talking about? The question is "A real what?" I assume that we can all agree that there is no person living at the North Pole and possessing magical reindeer. But there remain lots of interesting things that one can say about "Father Christmas" -- for example, that he is a game played between parents and children on Christmas Eve; or that he is a character in an improvisational drama played out by professional actors and small children in department stores; or that he is an allegory of the Holy Ghost. If I wanted to discuss "Father Christmas" I would probably start out by talking about what I remember of playing out the "Father Christmas ritual" with my parents; the emotional effect it had on me then (surprising numbers of children find Father Christmas a frightening figure, and of course, the older version of the character gave out punishments as well as gifts) and the emotional resonance my memory of playing the game has on me now. And whether Tolkien's version of the character is better or worse than C.S Lewis, and if Raymond Briggs has now eclipsed them both, and if so, why. The one thing that I would probably not do is try to work out how it is, on the assumption that Santa Claus is a real person, that he manages to get round all thouse houses in such a short space of time. It might be an interesting mental exercise, but it wouldn't tell me anything about Father Christmas.

Zoran Bekric said...

Dan Hemmens wrote:
-------------------------------
And this is important why?
-------------------------------

Because it shows that your construction of a choice between a right model and wrong model was simplistic and incorrect.

-------------------------------
No. They were not.
-------------------------------

Yes, they were.

Fanwanking: If Text A says "A character called the Doctor has one heart" and Text B says "A character called the Doctor has two hearts" then Mr Expositor can says "How fascinating. At some point in their life-cycle, people of the Dcotor's race grow an extra heart."

Astronomy: If one report says Mars was in the constellation Aries and another report says Mars was in the constellation Sagittarius, then Mr. Astronomer can say "How fascinating. Mars must clearly be moving around the Earth, appearing to be in different constellations at different times."

Ptolemaic Astronomy: If reports say Mars was in the constellation Gemini, then in Cancer, then in Gemini again, then back to Cancer, then Leo, then Mr. Ptolemy can say "How fascinating. Mars moves backwards sometimes. Clearly it must be following a more complicated path than just going around the Earth. It must actually be going around a point that is going around the Earth, moving in a series of epicycles, so that it sometimes appears to be going backwards."

Copernican Astronomy: If hundreds of years of reports say that Mars does appear to go backwards sometimes, then Mr. Copernicus can say "How fascinating. Perhaps Earth itself is moving and both are moving around the same object, the Sun, so that when Mars appears to be going backwards, it's at those times when the Earth has caught up to it and moved past."

How, exactly, are any of these processes different? Other than the fact that the astronomers aren't open to the standard "but it's all fiction" strawman, that is.

-------------------------------
That is not fanwanking. Fanwanking is when you try to paper over the cracks in something that is obviously wrong, by making shit up.
-------------------------------

How do you know something is "obviously wrong"? How do you know that apparent inconsistencies aren't a sign of a more complex structure than you have assumed?

-------------------------------
Epicycles were - in essence - fanwank, invented to prevent people from having to revise their underlying model of the universe.
-------------------------------

Except that epicycles did actually require people to revise their model of the universe. They had to accept that there were invisible attractors going around the Earth which various planets were orbiting rather than that the planets were orbiting the Earth directly. Quite a big difference.

-------------------------------
At which point you, in fact, are comparing George Lucas to God.
-------------------------------

Only if you assume that the source of the data used by astronomers is God. If you don't assume that, then, no, I'm not. If you don't care what the source of the data is -- which is pretty much my attitude -- then, again, no, I'm not.

-------------------------------
Please, please, for the love of God, tell me you understand the difference between "scientists revising their theories about the universe in order to better understand it" and "fanboys trying to paper over the cracks in their favourite TV show).
-------------------------------

Yes. One is a serious application of the process undertaken for the purpose of gaining greater knowledge of the universe; the other is a trivial application of the same process undertaken for the purpose of entertainment.

-------------------------------
Are you honestly saying that there is something narcissistic about stating the opinion that a mediocre producer of Science Fiction Movies is somehow fallible?
-------------------------------

No. I'm saying that the presumption that the details of the reviewers private life, childhood experiences and personal expectations about a movie are a better guide to the movie than the movie itself is narcissistic. I'm not saying anything about the producer of the movies at all.

-------------------------------
What I call fanwanking - what, in fact, the wider community calls fanwanking - has never done anybody a lick of good. The whole point of Fanwanking is that you *don't* discard your old ideas, but instead come up with spurious logic to explain away the inconsistencies.
-------------------------------

The first time I encountered the term "fanwanking" was when you introduced it to the discussion over at RPG.net to describe the process of fans revising previously held ideas in the light of new information. If that's not, in fact, what you and Mr. Rilstone mean by the term, then you have done a very poor job of explaining it.

-------------------------------
Perhaps we've been talking at cross purposes here:

To my mind "The Clone Wars weren't *against* the clones, they were the wars in which the Clone Warriors first fought for the Republic" is not Fanwank, it's canon. It's clearly there in the text.

On the other hand "When Leia says she remembers her mother, she's talking about Senator Organa's wife" is fanwank. It's perfectly acceptable fanwank, but it doesn't change the fact that there is an inconsistency in the text.

-------------------------------

If "fanwanking" is "not discarding old ideas", then the example of Leia talking about her mother being reinterpreted to mean that she was referring to Senator Organa's wife is not fanwanking, since it's clearly a case of discarding an earlier idea (Leia was talking about her actual mother, Amidala) and replacing it with a new idea (Leia was talking about Bail Organa's wife).

The one insisting on holding onto old ideas here would appear to be you.

While you may be right about there being an inconsistency in the text, I really don't see it as a deal breaker or why you would be so upset about it. Maybe Leia's memories are a manifestation of her Force sensitivity -- which is clearly there in the text, as is the Force's ability to allow characters to know things they would not otherwise be able to sense.

Beyond that, if you think it's "acceptable", then why are you using an abusive term like "fanwanking" to describe it?

-------------------------------
Can I just double check which one of us is throwing around terms like "narcissist" and "scumbag"?
-------------------------------

While you're double checking, be sure to look into (i) who it was that introduced the term "fanwanking" into the discussion at RPG.net as a way of disparaging ways of interacting with fiction that he didn't like, and (ii) lied when writing "Nobody's disparaging anybody". While you're at it, look into who it was that kept ignoring all the clarification I'd provided just so they could keep beating the "but it's not real" dead horse.

I didn't initiate the conflict, but neither did I back out of it when it came.

And then Dan Hemmens wrote:
-------------------------------
I am beginning to loathe the term "straw man." If you present a feeble argument, it is not a "straw man" for us to highlight the reasons that your argument is feeble.
-------------------------------

Since I never argued that the Star Wars universe was "real" it is a strawman to keep refuting that argument.

I have acknowledged, repeatedly, that it's not real. Apparently you aren't willing to accept that.

-------------------------------
Okay. Please clarify the following:

How, under your definition of the "social contract of fiction" is it possible to actually consider a work of fiction to be inconsistent, poorly constructed, or just plain bad, without violating this "social contract"?

-------------------------------

How is it possible to do any of that without engaging in the social contract of fiction?

Unless you agree to treat a piece of fiction is if it were an account of real events, then how can you judge it to be inconsistent? Consistency is a quality you expect to find in accounts of real events. If an account is not of real events, then the entire concept of consistency is irrelevant.

Similarly, you can find it poorly constructed in exactly the same way that you can find a newspaper story or a historical account or an essay about what someone did last summer -- all of which are about real events -- poorly constructed. If an account doesn't present it's information clearly, introduces details before establishing basic concepts, dwells on the trivial at the expense of the significant, and so on, then it's poorly constructed.

Or, by "poorly constructed", do you mean "does not conform to a set pattern" such that a limerick which is not exactly five lines and has a rhyming pattern that isn't AABBA would be poorly constructed? If that kind of Formalist approach is what you mean, then I will grant you can't make that sort of judgement within the social contract of fiction. But, within that kind of Formalist approach, the notion of consistency is also irrelevant.

As for "plain bad", you reach that conclusion in the same way that you conclude that events in the real world are "plain bad".

-------------------------------
I seem to recall that your original version of events was "some people cling dogmatically to doctrine, while scientists present them with truth derived from evidence"

Which is also, essentially, rewriting history.

-------------------------------

You don't need to recall. Just look up the page. You'll find my original version was:
Alternately, some people have an open mind and like to think, other people have a closed mind and assume they know everything already.

Nothing about science, dogmatism or truth in there.

-------------------------------
You have repeatedly insisted that you have to interact with fiction as if it is real. This is, and I can think of no simpler, better, or more eloquent way to say this, just plain wrong.

And before you tell me to back up my position with evidence, your statements about the Social Contract of Fiction have been utterly arbitrary.

-------------------------------

Why do you think anyone should accept anything you say just because you say so?

But if you're incapable of finding evidence to show that my model is wrong, that's okay. Just describe an alternate model and I can go looking for evidence to compare the two all by myself.

-------------------------------
Actually the term "fanwanking" was introduced into this discussion by Abigail, to describe - well - fanwank. I re-iterated it, using the conflicts between Ptolemaic cosmology and Copernican Cosmology as an analogy because you seem so obsessed with using real world examples.
-------------------------------

Sorry. I missed Abigail's use of it. I entered the discussion when Wyvern posted Mr. Rilstone's comments over at RPG.net. The first place I encountered the term "fanwanking" was when you introduced it into the discussion at RPG.net with "As I said in my reply to your post at Andrew's Weblog: Fanwanking is not an important life skill."

Allow me to apologise to Abigail for giving you credit for her term.

As for real world examples, I will just point out that your version of the conflict between Ptolemaic and Copernican models had nothing to do with what happened in the real world.

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"The evidence does not fit my theories, so my theories are false" is scientific rigor.

"The evidence does not fit my theories, therefore I shall make up a kludge to fit them in" is fanwank.

-------------------------------

"The evidence does not fit my theory that when Leia was talking about her mother she was referring to her actual mother, so my theory is false. Clearly, she must have been talking about someone else."

Which of the two statements above does this more closely resemble?

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This is why I can never take people who talk about Straw Men seriously - they always make such use of them.

Nobody has said "if you abide by the social contract of fiction is mentally retarded," we have said, essentially "always you use that word, I do not think it means what you think it means."

We do not accept that the social contract of fiction is what you define it to be. That you choose to define it so dogmatically does not mean that you "choose to abide by the social contract of fiction," it means that you "choose to abide by a particular approach to fiction, which many of us consider limited."

-------------------------------

Then why not actually say that? Why constantly retreat into a patronising tone as you explain, yet again, that the Star Wars universe is not "real"? That's the strawman I'm referring to. And it's the one you (and others) keep falling back on.

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I, to use your preferred terminology, would call that a straw man.
-------------------------------

The two reviews under discussion both dwell on details of the reviewer's personal life and their feelings about the original Star Wars. Neither spends much time actually discussing the movie ostensibly being reviewed. Both conclude that Revenge of the Sith is a bad movie based on their feelings regarding the earlier movie.

That's not a strawman, that's a description.

-------------------------------
You do, however, insist that anybody who actually chooses to treat Star Wars as fiction is "not abiding by the social contract of fiction" and therefore has no place watching it.
-------------------------------

No. I said you have no place condemning those who do not choose to go along with your Formalist agenda -- or whatever it is that you mean by "treat Star Wars as fiction". Pretending that those who disagree with you are somehow insisting that Star Wars is "real" and "true" is a strawman and you know it. That's why, instead of answering the challenge, you immediately tried to change the subject.

-------------------------------
No it isn't. Never was, never has been.
-------------------------------

Excuse me? I used the Clone Wars thing as an example in my very first reply to you at RPG.net. I can find no instance of you saying, "no that's not what I mean". Until now. So, as far as I'm aware, that's exactly the type of phenomena you were using the term to describe.

-------------------------------
The term "Fanwanking" is applied to things like "Hmm... Leia says she remembers her mother, but her mother died before she was born so either she was talking about Bali Organa, or she was a Magic Force Baby, and remembered Padme with her hyperkeen Force senses."
-------------------------------

So, let me see if I've got this right.

Not fanwanking: "Hmm... my earlier idea that the Clone Wars were named after the opponents fought is not supported by the information in the new movies, so I shall have to revise that. The Clone Wars were named after the troops used."

Fanwanking: "Hmm... my earlier idea that when Leia was talking about her mother she meant Padme is not supported by the information in the new movies, so I shall have to revise that. Leia was talking about someone else, probably her adopted mother, the wife of Bale Organa."

The difference between these two is exactly what?

Regards,

Zoran

Zoran Bekric said...

Andrew Rilstone wrote:
-------------------------------
Mr Expositor is a character in a "Pilgrim's Progress", who comes up with arguably far fetched and after the fact interpretations of scripture.
-------------------------------

Not having read Pilgrim's Progress I was unaware of that. Thank you for the clarification.

-------------------------------
"Coming to realise that your heroes are fictitious is one of those minor disillusionments of growing up, a bit like realising that there is no Father Christmas."

>snip<

The one thing that I would probably not do is try to work out how it is, on the assumption that Santa Claus is a real person, that he manages to get round all thouse houses in such a short space of time. It might be an interesting mental exercise, but it wouldn't tell me anything about Father Christmas.

-------------------------------

Actually I know a number of people who engaged in that very mental exercise when younger, and they found it told them a great deal about Father Christmas. Specifically that such a being could not exist in the form described because it was impossible for anything to visit all those houses in the time allotted.

As such, far from finding the discovery that there is no Father Christmas disillusioning, they found it somewhat empowering. They learned they could separate truth from falsehood through their own efforts rather than depending on others to tell them.

I also recall an interesting article and series of letters in Analog magazine back in the 1970s working out the energy requirements a Clausoid being would need to accomplish the feat attributed to Father Christmas. I found it interesting and amusing, though you probably wouldn't.

Regards,

Zoran

Anonymous said...

Allow me to apologise to Abigail for giving you credit for her term.

Oh, it isn't my term. I've been seeing it around fandom for more than a year now.

If you want to apologize, though, you can start by apologizing for calling me a scumbag.

-Abigail

Dan Hemmens said...

Because it shows that your construction of a choice between a right model and wrong model was simplistic and incorrect.

Quite right. Why is that important, given that it was an analogy?

And it was not "incorrect" merely simplistic. Most analogies are.

[Descriptions of fanwanking and different sorts of astronomy excised]

How, exactly, are any of these processes different? Other than the fact that the astronomers aren't open to the standard "but it's all fiction" strawman, that is.

Because the fanwanking (or "handwaving" or whatever non-derogatory term you want to use for it) is designed explicitly to cover up a flaw in the text. Essentially it arises for two reasons.

a) People like to have a bit of fun, cooking up spurious excuses for things. This is harmless.

b) People genuinely can't concieve of the idea that George Lucas made a mistake.

I quite admit that my use of Epicycles as an analogy was a little bit unfair to Ptolemy. However there really, really is a difference between scientific research and fan theories about TV shows.

How do you know something is "obviously wrong"? How do you know that apparent inconsistencies aren't a sign of a more complex structure than you have assumed?

Occam's razor. Or, more precisely, I don't.

I don't know that, when George Lucas originally wrote the dialogue between Luke and Leia where she talks about her mother, he didn't think "Hmm, well actually of course, Leia wouldn't remember her mother, because she died in childbirth, but she'll answer the question as if her 'real mother' was Bali Organa, because she wants to spare Luke's feelings," but I consider it highly unlikely.

This, I think, is where your position and my position diverge irreparably. Once again you seem to be saying (here comes your "straw man" again) that there is a "truth" of the Star Wars universe that has been unchanging for thirty years, which we are slowly uncovering.

Except that epicycles did actually require people to revise their model of the universe. They had to accept that there were invisible attractors going around the Earth which various planets were orbiting rather than that the planets were orbiting the Earth directly. Quite a big difference.

But they didn't involve accepting that Aristotle was wrong about the Earth being the centre of the universe.

But I really don't care. The minutiae of the history of cosmological theory don't interest me very much.

Only if you assume that the source of the data used by astronomers is God.

Or if I assume that you mention God explicitly in your post. Which you did.

If you don't assume that, then, no, I'm not. If you don't care what the source of the data is -- which is pretty much my attitude -- then, again, no, I'm not.

Hang on... you don't care what the source of the data is?

So, to go back to an example you used way back at the start on RPG.net if there was evidence which clearly showed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (which there was), but this evidence came from dissident expats with Iranian sympathies, who would say pretty much anything to get people to attack Iraq (which it did) would you say that the source of the data did not matter?

Yes. One is a serious application of the process undertaken for the purpose of gaining greater knowledge of the universe; the other is a trivial application of the same process undertaken for the purpose of entertainment.

But that's the thing.

Where you and I differ is this:

You do not consider the fictionality of Star Wars to make a difference. You seem to think that the fact that Star Wars isn't real doesn't stop you from being able to treat it like a period in history, or a discipline of science.

I know and understand that you know Star Wars isn't real, but your position hinges on the idea that the fact that it isn't real doesn't stop you - essentially - applying the scientific method to it. I maintain that it does. This is the "Straw man" that you keep talking about.

No. I'm saying that the presumption that the details of the reviewers private life, childhood experiences and personal expectations about a movie are a better guide to the movie than the movie itself is narcissistic. I'm not saying anything about the producer of the movies at all.

Okay. I thoroughly retract my statement that a reviewer's personal life was a better guide to a film than the film its self.

Would you like to remind me when I made such a statement, because I forget.

The first time I encountered the term "fanwanking" was when you introduced it to the discussion over at RPG.net to describe the process of fans revising previously held ideas in the light of new information. If that's not, in fact, what you and Mr. Rilstone mean by the term, then you have done a very poor job of explaining it.

I think the problem is this.

You have a problem with rabid Star Wars fanboys carping about Lucas "ruining their Star Wars." This is a perfectly legitimate complaint.

That, however, was never what I was talking about. It wasn't what Andrew's initial post, that Wyvern quoted, was talking about, and it isn't really relevant to this thread.

So, when you show up and say "some people like to think, and some people assume they know everything," I assumed you were talking about the things we were talking about on this thread, that being the one you had walked into.

Essentially we're just running across purposes.

If "fanwanking" is "not discarding old ideas", then the example of Leia talking about her mother being reinterpreted to mean that she was referring to Senator Organa's wife is not fanwanking, since it's clearly a case of discarding an earlier idea (Leia was talking about her actual mother, Amidala) and replacing it with a new idea (Leia was talking about Bail Organa's wife).

But the crucial difference is that the new idea is not in the text. With the Clone Wars, Lucas clearly says "These Are The Clone Wars" if you maintain that the Clone Wars are anything else, then you are clearly just wrong.

As regards Leia's mother, she could be talking about Organa's wife, she could have magical force memories, or it could just be a textual error. There is clearly no right answer.

The one insisting on holding onto old ideas here would appear to be you.

Not really. I just accept it as an inconsistency in the text.

Andrew goes a little further, and suggests that if you genuinely decide that Leia was talking about Bali Organa, then you are actually changing the original text.

While you may be right about there being an inconsistency in the text, I really don't see it as a deal breaker or why you would be so upset about it. Maybe Leia's memories are a manifestation of her Force sensitivity -- which is clearly there in the text, as is the Force's ability to allow characters to know things they would not otherwise be able to sense.

But that's the thing. I'm not saying it's a deal breaker. Indeed I'm saying the exact opposite. I'm saying that the fact that the text is inconsistent doesn't spoil my enjoyment of the film.

On the other hand, if I accepted any of the fan theories about it, that actually *would* spoil my enjoyment of the film, because that would remove the emotional impact of the scene. Not because it somehow "spoils my childhood memories" (I came to SW quite late anyway) but because if Leia isn't talking about Padme, then she isn't talking about Luke's mother, and the dramatic irony of the scene is lost.

Beyond that, if you think it's "acceptable", then why are you using an abusive term like "fanwanking" to describe it?

I don't consider it abusive. I have a lot of friends in the fanfic community, who use the term all the time to describe their own theories. It's a *flippant* term, but not an abusive one.

While you're double checking, be sure to look into (i) who it was that introduced the term "fanwanking" into the discussion at RPG.net as a way of disparaging ways of interacting with fiction that he didn't like, and (ii) lied when writing "Nobody's disparaging anybody".

Certainly.

[looks]

Nobody did. I introduced the term "fanwanking" into the discussion at RPG net to describe the phenomenon that I know by the name of "fanwanking". Therefore when I said "nobody is disparaging anybody" I was telling the absolute truth.

While you're at it, look into who it was that kept ignoring all the clarification I'd provided just so they could keep beating the "but it's not real" dead horse.

I have not ignored your clarification, it is just that your clarification doesn't make any difference.

I know you don't think Luke Skywalker is a real person. I know you don't think Tatooine is a real place. But you have said that the skills needed to appreciate a fictional world are the same as the skills needed to appreciate the real world. I maintain that they are not.

I didn't initiate the conflict, but neither did I back out of it when it came.

The first words of yours I read were "alternatively, some people have open minds and like to think." This was, essentially, a fairly direct suggestion that I was closed minded and lackwitted. From my point of view, you did in fact initiate the conflict. You may have found the term "fanwanking" abusive, but many people do not. On the other hand you have directly and personally called me a liar and a scumbag.

Since I never argued that the Star Wars universe was "real" it is a strawman to keep refuting that argument.

I have acknowledged, repeatedly, that it's not real. Apparently you aren't willing to accept that.


I have accepted that you do not think the Star Wars universe is real. However your actual argument hinges on the assumption that it can be treated as if it was.

It actually does. That's actually what you've said.

Therefore saying "you can't say that about the Star Wars universe, because it isn't real" is a perfectly acceptable argument.

How is it possible to do any of that without engaging in the social contract of fiction?

Please refrain from using the phrase "the social contract of fiction" to mean "what I, Zoran, consider to be the social contract of fiction."

Unless you agree to treat a piece of fiction is if it were an account of real events, then how can you judge it to be inconsistent?

Because, for example, it will say in one place that a character called "Leia" remembers her mother, and in another it will show that Leia's mother is a woman called "Padme" who died in childbirth.

I do not have to pretend that these events are real to know that they contradict one another.

Consistency is a quality you expect to find in accounts of real events. If an account is not of real events, then the entire concept of consistency is irrelevant.

Yes and no.

If an account of a real event is inconsistent, then you have to say "clearly, this account of events does not accurately reflect events as they really happened"

You can't do that with a work of fiction. There is no "what really happened" to measure it against.

Similarly, you can find it poorly constructed in exactly the same way that you can find a newspaper story or a historical account or an essay about what someone did last summer -- all of which are about real events -- poorly constructed.

But the way you construct a novel or film is completely different to the way you construct an essay about what you did last summer.

If an account doesn't present it's information clearly, introduces details before establishing basic concepts, dwells on the trivial at the expense of the significant, and so on, then it's poorly constructed.

But that's the thing. Fiction is more than just an account of events. It isn't just about conveying information. That's why novels read differently to newspaper articles.

Or, by "poorly constructed", do you mean "does not conform to a set pattern" such that a limerick which is not exactly five lines and has a rhyming pattern that isn't AABBA would be poorly constructed? If that kind of Formalist approach is what you mean, then I will grant you can't make that sort of judgement within the social contract of fiction. But, within that kind of Formalist approach, the notion of consistency is also irrelevant.

You do like your technical terminology, don't you.

If I read a newspaper article that says "ten shot dead in bank raid" then I think "gosh, ten people have been shot dead in a bank raid, how awful." If, on the other hand, I read what is ostensibly a novel about a bank raid, and it just says "there was a bank raid, and there were ten people shot dead" then I say "gee, what a lousy novel."

Factual accounts don't need believable characters, they don't need to pay attention to consistency, because they will just be relating a real sequence of events. You say what happened, and that's it.

As for "plain bad", you reach that conclusion in the same way that you conclude that events in the real world are "plain bad".

So if I read a book about a serial killer, then that book is "plain bad," because in the real world a series of murders would be "plain bad"?

Why do you think anyone should accept anything you say just because you say so?

Why do you?

But if you're incapable of finding evidence to show that my model is wrong, that's okay. Just describe an alternate model and I can go looking for evidence to compare the two all by myself.

So let me get this straight.

You present me with a model for the way people have to relate to fiction.

I tell you that I don't accept this model.

You tell me that I have to accept this model unless I can construct a different one and prove that it's true?

Models are deceptive. They're never complete, and only occasionally useful. I prefer not to rely on them unless I am forced to.

Sorry. I missed Abigail's use of it. I entered the discussion when Wyvern posted Mr. Rilstone's comments over at RPG.net. The first place I encountered the term "fanwanking" was when you introduced it into the discussion at RPG.net with "As I said in my reply to your post at Andrew's Weblog: Fanwanking is not an important life skill."

Allow me to apologise to Abigail for giving you credit for her term.


As Abigail points out, you might be better off apologising for calling her a scumbag.

As for real world examples, I will just point out that your version of the conflict between Ptolemaic and Copernican models had nothing to do with what happened in the real world.

Yes it does. It just didn't have pretty little dates all over it.

"The evidence does not fit my theory that when Leia was talking about her mother she was referring to her actual mother, so my theory is false. Clearly, she must have been talking about someone else."

Which of the two statements above does this more closely resemble?


And, once again (here comes the "straw man" again) your logic is impeccable if you view the Star Wars universe as a real place and time, into which we are allowed six glimpses. The second you accept that it's a work of fiction, and you accept the possibility that "what Leia was talking about" is an artefact of that scene in that film at that time, it all falls apart. Which is why your model doesn't work.

Then why not actually say that? Why constantly retreat into a patronising tone as you explain, yet again, that the Star Wars universe is not "real"? That's the strawman I'm referring to. And it's the one you (and others) keep falling back on.

It's the line we keep falling back on because your entire model relies on the idea that you can treat the Star Wars universe as if it is real. Which you can not.

Allow me, once again, to illustrate with an example.

"Don't touch Joe," says person A, "because he's got cancer, and if you touch him, you might catch it."

"Don't be silly," says person B, "Cancer isn't contagious."

"I know cancer isn't contagious," replies person A, "but if you touch Joe you'll catch cancer from him."

"But cancer isn't contagious," says person B again.

"I've just told that I know that," says person A, "but you scumbag, you just fall back on the same old straw man, pretending I think cancer is contagious. I know cancer isn't contagious, I've said that cancer isn't conatgious. If you touch Joe you'll catch cancer off him."

You have constantly said that you know that Star Wars isn't real, but you have also constantly said that you can treat it as if it is real. More than that, you have said that you have to treat it as if it is real.

The two reviews under discussion both dwell on details of the reviewer's personal life and their feelings about the original Star Wars. Neither spends much time actually discussing the movie ostensibly being reviewed.

Except. That they do. You are a liar and a fantasist, and have constructed a false reality to support your argument, which is not backed up by the facts.

Both conclude that Revenge of the Sith is a bad movie based on their feelings regarding the earlier movie.

Actually they conclude that Revenge of the Sith is a bad movie based on the fact that it's a bad movie.

That's not a strawman, that's a description.

Your straw men are descriptions, my descriptions are straw men. I'm beginning to see how this game works.

No. I said you have no place condemning those who do not choose to go along with your Formalist agenda -- or whatever it is that you mean by "treat Star Wars as fiction". Pretending that those who disagree with you are somehow insisting that Star Wars is "real" and "true" is a strawman and you know it. That's why, instead of answering the challenge, you immediately tried to change the subject.

You are insisting that Star Wars is "real" and "true" by stating. Stating absolutely outright. That you can gather "evidence" about it, and that you should treat it the way you would treat a record of a real event. That is your statement. That is what you have actually said. Repeatedly.

Excuse me? I used the Clone Wars thing as an example in my very first reply to you at RPG.net. I can find no instance of you saying, "no that's not what I mean". Until now. So, as far as I'm aware, that's exactly the type of phenomena you were using the term to describe.

It took me a while to realise you didn't know what I was talking about when I talked about "fanwank".

So, let me see if I've got this right.

Not fanwanking: "Hmm... my earlier idea that the Clone Wars were named after the opponents fought is not supported by the information in the new movies, so I shall have to revise that. The Clone Wars were named after the troops used."

Fanwanking: "Hmm... my earlier idea that when Leia was talking about her mother she meant Padme is not supported by the information in the new movies, so I shall have to revise that. Leia was talking about someone else, probably her adopted mother, the wife of Bale Organa."

The difference between these two is exactly what?


One is supported by the text, the other is not.

Nowhere in the movies does anybody say that Leia was talking about Bali Organa when Luke asked her about her mother.

Zoran Bekric said...

Abigail wrote:
-------------------------------
If you want to apologize, though, you can start by apologizing for calling me a scumbag.
-------------------------------

Certainly. As soon as you apologise for misrepresenting my position, which you could only do by ignoring all the clarification I'd provided, I'll apologise for calling you on it.

Regards,

Zoran

Zoran Bekric said...

Trying to focus on a few points here, rather than respond to every comment Dan Hemmens made. This will involve a bit of chopping and moving things around.


On Abusive Language

Dan Hemmens wrote:
-------------------------------
I don't consider it abusive. I have a lot of friends in the fanfic community, who use the term all the time to describe their own theories. It's a *flippant* term, but not an abusive one.
-------------------------------

It's not a very abusive one, but it is abusive. Calling someone a "wanker" may be only a mild insult, but it's still an insult.

If your friends use the term in a self-deprecating way, that's your friends. When you apply it to strangers, you can't expect them to react like your friends do.

-------------------------------
You may have found the term "fanwanking" abusive, but many people do not.
-------------------------------

It's not some personal quirk of mine. It's a term of abuse. I've even quoted a dictionary to that effect.

-------------------------------
On the other hand you have directly and personally called me a liar and a scumbag.
-------------------------------

Gee, you used an abusive term to refer to me and what I do, you kept insisting that I couldn't tell the difference between fiction and reality, and you made several posts at RPG.net under other people's names. How would you describe all that? "Liar" I think is the least of it. "Scumbag" barely begins to cover it.

-------------------------------
You do like your technical terminology, don't you.
-------------------------------

It allows me to avoid using abusive terms to refer to things. Also spares me from having to look like a complete idiot by saying "I didn't know it was abusive."


On the Difference Between the Clone Wars and Leia's Mother

Dan Hemmens wrote:
-------------------------------
But the crucial difference is that the new idea is not in the text. With the Clone Wars, Lucas clearly says "These Are The Clone Wars" if you maintain that the Clone Wars are anything else, then you are clearly just wrong.
-------------------------------

Ummm... no. The idea that the Clone Wars are named after the troops used is not in the text. Nowhere is that clearly stated.

References to Clones in the Star Wars movies:

Episode IV: A New Hope

Luke: You fought in the Clone Wars?
Ben: Yes, I was once a Jedi Knight the same as your father.

[...]

Leia: (holographic image) General Kenobi, years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars. Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire.

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

no mention

Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

no mention

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

no mention

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

In the episode title.

[...]

Dexter Jettster: This baby belongs to them cloners. What you got here is a Kamino saberdart.

[...]

Dexter Jettster: These Kaminoans keep to themselves. They're cloners. Damned good ones, too.
Obi-Wan: Cloners? Are they friendly?

[...]

Obi-Wan: The army?
Lama Su: Yes, a clone army. And, I must say, one of the finest we've ever created.

[...]

Obi-Wan: You mentioned growth acceleration...
Lama Su: Oh yes, it's essential. Otherwise, a mature clone would take a lifetime to grow. Now, we can do it in half the time.

[...]

Lama Su: Apart from his pay, which is considerable, Fett demanded only one thing -- an unaltered clone for himself. Curious, isn't it?
Obi-Wan: Unaltered?
Lama Su: Pure genetic replication. No tampering with the structure to make it more docile... and no growth acceleration.

[...]

Obi-Wan: Your clones are very impressive. You must be very proud.
Jango Fett: I'm just a simple man, trying to make my way in the universe, Master Jedi.

[...]

Obi-Wan: (holographic image) I have successfully made contact with the Prime Minister of Kamino. They are using a bounty hunter named Jango Fett to create a clone army. I have a strong feeling that this bounty hunter is the assassin we're looking for.
Mace Windu: Do you think these cloners are involved in the plot to assassinate Senator Amidala?
Obi-Wan: (holographic image) No, Master. There appears to be no motive.
Yoda: Do not assume anything, Obi-Wan. Clear, your mind must be if you are to discover the real villains behind the plot.
Obi-Wan: (holographic image) Yes, Master. They say a Master Sifo-Dyas placed the order for a clone army at the request of the Senate almost ten years ago. I was under the impression he was killed before that. Did the Council ever authorize the creation of a clone army?
Mace Windu: No. Whoever placed that order did not have the authorization of the Jedi Council.
Yoda: Into custody, take this Jango Fett. Bring him here. Question him, we will.
Obi-Wan: (holographic image) Yes, Master. I will report back when I have him.
The hologram of Obi-Wan fades.
Yoda: Blind we are, if creation of this clone army we could not see.

[...]

Ask Aak: (subtitled) The debate is over! Now we need that clone army...
Bail Organa: Unfortunately, the debate is not over. The Senate will never approve the use of the clones before the separatists attack.
Mas Amedda: This is a crisis! The Senate must vote the Chancellor emergency powers! He could then approve the use of the clones.
Palpatine: But what Senator would have the courage to propose such a radical amendment?

[...]

Mace Windu: I will take what Jedi we have left and go to Genonosis and help Obi-Wan.
Yoda: Visit I will the cloners on Kamino. And see this army they have created for the Republic.

[...]

Obi-Wan: I have to admit, without the clones, it would not have been a victory.
Yoda: Victory? Victory, you say? Master Obi-Wan, not victory. The shroud of the dark side has fallen. Begun, this Clone War has!

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Mace Windu: It is settled then. Yoda will take a battalion of clones to reinforce the Wookiees on Kashyyyk. May the Force be with us all.

[...]

Anakin: You wanted to see me, Chancellor.
Palpatine: Yes, Anakin! Come closer. I have good news. Our Clone Intelligence Units have discovered the location of General Grievous. He is hiding in the Utapau system.

[...]

Yoda: Obi-Wan, my choice is.
Kl-Adi-Mundi: (holographic image) I concur. Master Kenobi should go.
Yoda: I agree.
All the Jedi concur.
Mace Windu: (Holographic image) Very well. Council is adjourned. Obi-Wan, prepare two clone brigades as quickly as you can. If this report is true, there's no telling how many battle droids he may have with him.

[...]

Obi-Wan: Don't worry. I have enough clones with me to take three systems the size of Utapau.

[...]

Bail Organa: Were you able to get hold of a Jedi homing beacon?
Captain Antilles: Yes, sir. We've encountered no opposition. The clones are still a bit confused. It appears no one is in command.

[...]

Bail Organa: (holographic image) Master Kenobi??
Obi-Wan: Senator Organa! My Clone Troops turned on me... I need help.
Bail Organa: (holographic image) We have just rescued Master Yoda. It appears this ambush has happened everywhere.

[...]

Yoda: Master Kenobi, dark times are these. Good to see you. it is.
Obi-Wan: You were attacked by your Clones, also?
Yoda: With the help of the Wookiees, barely escape, I did.

[...]

Obi-Wan: There are several battalions of Clone Troopers on every level. Many are dressed as Jedi.

[...]

Obi-Wan: Not even the younglings survived.
Yoda: Killed not by clones, this Padawan. By a lightsaber, he was.

[...]

Obi-Wan: I've recalibrated the code warning all surviving Jedi to stay away.
Yoda: Good... For the Clones to discover the recalibration, a long time it will take. To change it back, longer still. Hurry.

That's it. Every reference to clones I could find. Kindly point to the bit of text that clearly states the wars were named after the troops used. To me it seems a reasonable inference given what is stated and shown, but then to me it seems a reasonable inference that if Leia could not have had any knowledge of her actual mother, then she either (a) was talking about someone else she thought was her mother, or (b) had was of gathering knowledge beyond the ordinary, such as use of the Force.

If there's a difference between the two, it's not that one is clearly stated in the text, while the other is not.

-------------------------------
On the other hand, if I accepted any of the fan theories about it, that actually *would* spoil my enjoyment of the film, because that would remove the emotional impact of the scene. Not because it somehow "spoils my childhood memories" (I came to SW quite late anyway) but because if Leia isn't talking about Padme, then she isn't talking about Luke's mother, and the dramatic irony of the scene is lost.
-------------------------------

It's preserved if you assume that Leia's knowledge was the result of her being Force-sensitive. Since Luke talks about her "real mother" before he tells her she's actually his sister, and Leia doesn't act surprised we're left with two possibilities.

1) Leia's had three mothers: Padme, her actual mother; the first wife of Bale Organa, who Leia thought was her real mother and who she was talking about; and the second wife of Bale Organa, who Leia accepted as her mother.

2) Leia has always known that Bale Organa and his wife weren't her real parents (just as Luke knew that Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru weren't his); such knowledge is a pretty basic and unconscious application of the Force (and both Luke and Leia are the children of the individual with the highest midi-chlorian count in the history of the Jedi); and for what ever reason, Leia retained some memories of her actual mother ("Just... images, really. Feelings."), while Luke didn't. If anything, the fact that Leia has such memories can be seen as confirmation that she is Luke's sister and, like him, Force-sensitive.


On the Social Contract of Fiction

Dan Hemmens wrote:
-------------------------------
Please refrain from using the phrase "the social contract of fiction" to mean "what I, Zoran, consider to be the social contract of fiction."
-------------------------------

Well, if it is, as you claim, my invention, then I have naming rights. If you think that the term actually means something different, why don't you actually explain what you think it means?

-------------------------------
b) People genuinely can't concieve of the idea that George Lucas made a mistake.
-------------------------------

Actually, I think the process is more likely to highlight mistakes than to cover them up.

Take the film version of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003). The characters are in Paris and need to get to Venice as quickly as possible. They jump into Captain Nemo's submarine, the Nautilus, and sail to Venice. Apparently valid, unless you stop to think about it. No matter how fast the Nautilus is supposed to be, how can it be faster to go via the Bay of Biscay, Atlantic Ocean, through the bottleneck at Gibraltar, through the Western Mediterranean, through the bottleneck between Sicily and Tunisia, through the bottleneck at the Strait of Otranto and up the Adriatic Sea than to go by train and road from Paris to Venice?

Near as I can tell, that bit of treating the text as if it were real has just revealed a flaw, not covered one up.

-------------------------------
Occam's razor. Or, more precisely, I don't.

I don't know that, when George Lucas originally wrote the dialogue between Luke and Leia where she talks about her mother, he didn't think "Hmm, well actually of course, Leia wouldn't remember her mother, because she died in childbirth, but she'll answer the question as if her 'real mother' was Bali Organa, because she wants to spare Luke's feelings," but I consider it highly unlikely.
This, I think, is where your position and my position diverge irreparably.

-------------------------------

Yes. You're wondering about what George Lucas may or may not have thought at some point in the process of creating Star Wars. I don't care.

Did Lucas change his mind along the way? Sure. The evidence is overwhelming that he did. Just look at The Annotated Screenplays (Star Wars, Episodes IV-VI) by Laurent Bouzereau. You'll see plenty of examples of Lucas moving around names, situations and relationships. He changed his mind a lot.

However, once the creative process is done and the work is completed, we (the audience) have that work and can investigate it. Thus, we (the audience) can read and enjoy the Middle English Sir Gawain and the Green Knight even though we know nothing about the author. Not even their name; scholars referring to them simply as "the Gawain poet". If I can approach that without knowing anything about the author, I can approach Star Wars in the same manner.

-------------------------------
Hang on... you don't care what the source of the data is?

So, to go back to an example you used way back at the start on RPG.net if there was evidence which clearly showed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (which there was), but this evidence came from dissident expats with Iranian sympathies, who would say pretty much anything to get people to attack Iraq (which it did) would you say that the source of the data did not matter?

-------------------------------

I distinguish between the "source" and the "reporter". If Galileo says he saw four moons going around Jupiter through a telescope, that's a report. What the source of those moons is -- who put them there and why -- I have no idea.

When dealing with reports, one gathers them from as many sources as possible and compares. If at all possible, one checks directly. Thus, if lots of different people report that there are moons going around Jupiter and I look through a telescope (as I have) and see that there are moons going around Jupiter, I accept that there are moons going around Jupiter.

If lots of people who would be in a position to know report that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, then that's enough to justify a body like the UN demanding that inspectors be allowed into Iraq to check directly. I've never said that sending in weapons inspectors was invalid. My objection came when the quite clear reports of those inspectors said there were no weapons were ignored in favour of launching a war. My objections intensified when continued searching after the war still failed to find any sign of such weapons. My frustration is with people who refuse to listen to any reports which might challenge their ideas.

-------------------------------
I know and understand that you know Star Wars isn't real, but your position hinges on the idea that the fact that it isn't real doesn't stop you - essentially - applying the scientific method to it. I maintain that it does. This is the "Straw man" that you keep talking about.
-------------------------------

How does it stop me?

There's one major difference between applying the method to reality and to fiction: the number of reports available. When talking about the moons of Jupiter or Hussein's weapons of mass destruction or the like, it's possible to gather multiple reports to compare and contrast. It's also possible to check oneself, or to send someone you trust to do so, thus adding their report to the list.

When dealing with fiction, there's only one report -- the author's -- and it's impossible to check directly. You have to have to take the author's word for it.

That's why there's a social contract of fiction. We (the audience) agree to ignore the fact that there are no other reports about the events described and that, especially in the case of something like Star Wars, every other report about the world contradicts some aspect of it. We agree to treat the single, uncorroborated report as valid and proceed from there. If we don't do this, I don't see how we can interact with fiction at all.

You keep talking about interacting with fiction as fiction, but if I'm not willing to accept that Princess Leia is a real person who actually had a mother and a father and all the usual attributes real people have, then the whole discussion of who she may have been referring to when she spoke of her mother doesn't make sense to me. She doesn't have a mother.

-------------------------------
I have not ignored your clarification, it is just that your clarification doesn't make any difference.

I know you don't think Luke Skywalker is a real person. I know you don't think Tatooine is a real place. But you have said that the skills needed to appreciate a fictional world are the same as the skills needed to appreciate the real world. I maintain that they are not.

-------------------------------

Then why are you incapable of answering simple questions about how Darth Vader got from a corridor inside the Death Star into the cockpit of a TIE Fighter in the space outside the Death Star?

As I've said, you want to convince me that your "treating fiction as fiction" approach is viable, walk me through a simple example like that.

-------------------------------
Because, for example, it will say in one place that a character called "Leia" remembers her mother, and in another it will show that Leia's mother is a woman called "Padme" who died in childbirth.

I do not have to pretend that these events are real to know that they contradict one another.

-------------------------------

What events? If you're not willing to accept that the character called "Leia" is a person capable of having memories about something that happened to another character called "Leia" (played by a completely different actor), then where is the contradiction?

A contradiction only exists if you buy into the notion that "Leia" is a person who has had a bunch of experiences and that her "memories" should reflect those experiences. That is, as if she were a real person and behaved like we know real people behave. If you're not willing to do that, then there's no contradiction.

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If an account of a real event is inconsistent, then you have to say "clearly, this account of events does not accurately reflect events as they really happened"

You can't do that with a work of fiction. There is no "what really happened" to measure it against.

-------------------------------

How do you know "what really happened"? In real life, I mean, not in fiction. In real life, outside of direct, personal experience, we only have reports about what happened made by others.

Which is exactly what we have in fiction.

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But the way you construct a novel or film is completely different to the way you construct an essay about what you did last summer.
-------------------------------

Both are telling a story. Both should have a beginning, a middle and an end. Many films are "based on a true story" -- so with those we don't even have to pretend. The way a good reporter and a good author structure an account is very similar. Documentary filmmakers use many techniques originally developed by fiction filmmakers, and vice versa.

The two are not as different as you claim

In fact, as with deliberate hoaxes, the differences between them can be so small as to be imperceptible.

-------------------------------
But that's the thing. Fiction is more than just an account of events. It isn't just about conveying information. That's why novels read differently to newspaper articles.
-------------------------------

Some novels do. Check out Dracula by Bram Stoker. Large parts of it read like a collection of diary entires, letters, newspaper articles, and so on.

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If I read a newspaper article that says "ten shot dead in bank raid" then I think "gosh, ten people have been shot dead in a bank raid, how awful." If, on the other hand, I read what is ostensibly a novel about a bank raid, and it just says "there was a bank raid, and there were ten people shot dead" then I say "gee, what a lousy novel."

Factual accounts don't need believable characters, they don't need to pay attention to consistency, because they will just be relating a real sequence of events. You say what happened, and that's it.

-------------------------------

How do you gauge whether an account is believable or not? I mean, there are hoaxers and liars and forgers out there. How do you know you haven't been taken in by one of their efforts?

If a story presented in a newspaper article was inconsistent or was reporting that people were acting in unbelievable ways, would you just accept it as accurate because it's supposed to be a factual account and factual accounts don't need believable characters and consistency?

-------------------------------
So let me get this straight.

You present me with a model for the way people have to relate to fiction.

I tell you that I don't accept this model.

You tell me that I have to accept this model unless I can construct a different one and prove that it's true?

-------------------------------

No. You introduced a different model all by yourself when you started talking about "treating fiction as fiction". I'd just like the details of that model.

If you don't have an alternate model, then just tell me how you deal with things like Darth Vader going from inside the Death Star to the cockpit of a TIE Fighter outside the Death Star. I mean, you've watched the movie. Just step back and observe your own mental processes as your watching and describe them to us.

The way you talk about Star Wars -- referring to characters and events -- is very similar to the way I talk about it. I know why I treat the material that way, but I don't understand why you do.

And, in all honesty, the way you keep avoiding the question, suggests that you don't want to answer it. That you actually treat it the same way I do, but for some odd reason you don't want to admit it.

-------------------------------
And, once again (here comes the "straw man" again) your logic is impeccable if you view the Star Wars universe as a real place and time, into which we are allowed six glimpses. The second you accept that it's a work of fiction, and you accept the possibility that "what Leia was talking about" is an artefact of that scene in that film at that time, it all falls apart. Which is why your model doesn't work.
-------------------------------

I notice that for all you huffing and puffing, you have ducked the actual question. Which of the two sample statements you produced did it most resemble? The "fanwank"? Or the "scientific rigor"?

-------------------------------
It's the line we keep falling back on because your entire model relies on the idea that you can treat the Star Wars universe as if it is real. Which you can not.
-------------------------------

You keep saying that, but every time you try to show that's the case, I demonstrate that, yes, you can.

After awhile, the fact that a model keeps passing the tests you set for it begins to count for something.

-------------------------------
You have constantly said that you know that Star Wars isn't real, but you have also constantly said that you can treat it as if it is real. More than that, you have said that you have to treat it as if it is real.
-------------------------------

How do you interpret the text unless you assume it's talking about events that occurred to characters in a place different to the one you're in right now? You keep saying that's possible, but every time I ask you to explain how, you avoid the question.

Okay. Star Wars is fiction. All the characters are really actors. All the locations are actually sets. All the spaceships are models or computer-generated images. All the events are scenes set up on those sets and performed by those actors.

Given all that, how is a question such as "Who was Leia talking about when she was talking about her mother?" even possible? Leia's not a real person; she doesn't have a mother. Carrie Fisher was just delivering a line in the script. You may think she delivered the line poorly or well, but it's just a line. Unless you think that line relates to some kind of underlying reality -- albeit a reality you know to be fictional -- how can you expect to be consistent with some other line in the text. It's all fiction and therefore, by definition, not true.

You keep saying it's possible to treat fiction as fiction, but you keep refusing to explain how.

-------------------------------
You are insisting that Star Wars is "real" and "true" by stating. Stating absolutely outright. That you can gather "evidence" about it, and that you should treat it the way you would treat a record of a real event. That is your statement. That is what you have actually said. Repeatedly.
-------------------------------

Yes. And you have said that's wrong. Repeatedly. And every time I ask you to explain how you deal with a simple transition in the story without doing that, you refuse to answer. You change the subject. You duck and dodge and weave.

If my approach is so wrong, why can't you answer the simplest questions about how to go about doing it differently?

Regards,

Zoran

Anonymous said...

I just thought I'd recap what's been going on here for the last three weeks.

1. As part of his ongoing series about Revenge of the Sith, Andrew posted an entry on his weblog detailing some rather egregious inconsistencies in the Star Wars films. Why did he do this? Who knows. Maybe he was trying to lambast George Lucas. Maybe he was making a subtle point about the distinction between fact and fiction. Maybe he wanted to make fun of millions of dedicated SW fans who regard the films as gospel. Maybe he thought it was funny (oh, and Andrew, 'Pants on fire! Pants on fire!'? Cracked me up).

2. I and several other readers of this weblog commented and started up a pleasant, if not particularly lively, discussion about various explanations for these inconsistencies.

3. During this discussion, Andrew posted a rather cogent and lucid comment about the processes involved in resolving these inconsistencies. He neither disapproved of this activity, nor did he consider its results at all inaccurate or unlikely. His only caveat was that we remember, when engaging in this kind of justification (I'm rather strenuously avoiding the use of the F word here), that the results of our efforts are "things which we are adding to the text; not it's plain meaning".

4. This post was copied by another and reposted (properly attributed) to a discussion board on RPG.net, where it became part of a discussion that, quite frankly, I took only a glancing look at. Zoran replied to it on RPG.net and reposted his reply here. From this point onward, I really don't care what was happening on RPG.net. For the purposes of the people participating in this discussion, it might as well not exist.

5. Zoran's reply was rather confrontational. To wit:

Alternately, some people have an open mind and like to think, other people have a closed mind and assume they know everything already.

In real world terms, this is equivalent to sitting in a café and, having overheard a discussion going on in the next table, introducing yourself by insulting everyone else around the table. You have the right to do this, of course, but you shouldn't necessarily expect to be well received when you do.

6. Andrew, Dan Hemmens and myself responded to Zoran at various points, and the discussion very quickly snowballed into acrimony and unpleasantness. While I freely admit that my own post could have had a more pleasant tone, most of the bad language was introduced into the discussion by Zoran.

Now, I don't know where Zoran hangs out on- or off-line, but wherever it is, I doubt that hurling insults is actually considered a valid rhetorical trick there. Thus, when he responds to my post by calling me a 'scumbag', I classify him as a troll and don't dignify him with a response. When he equates my misrepresentation of his argument (which he maintains was intentional and malicious and, if it did indeed happen, I must protest was wholly accidental) with his calling me dirty names, I find my willingness to humor him and even to subject myself to his posts rapidly decreasing.

One of the dangers of the impersonal forum of the internet is that it lulls you into the belief that barging into a discussion guns blazing and calling everyone in it an idiot is actually a good idea and will get you treated seriously. 'Aha!' you think. 'These people will be so awed by the power of my rhetoric, they will bow down before me and beg me to insult them further'. It's easy to forget that there are actual people on the other side of the discussion, and actual people tend to respond in the same way that they've been treated. Insult them, and they'll insult you back.

This weblog is Andrew's, and I'm not even a frequent commenter here, but I have to say, if it were mine, Zoran would have been out of here two or three iterations of this argument ago. He's been rude, insulting, unpleasant, and confrontational when he had no reason to. Sad to say, the discussion (and I'm including myself here) has sunk to his level. Maybe the other posters here are enjoying it, but might I humbly suggest that there are better ways to spend one's time and mental energy?

-Abigail

Zoran Bekric said...

Abigail's recap is more interesting for what she chooses to leave out than for what she elects to include.

Things like:

1. The tone of the exchange was set by Andrew Rilstone when he responded to a remark with "You, sir, are quite clearly as mad as a mongoose", thus quite clearly establishing that he preferred trading insults to discussing ideas.

2. That for all her prissy posturing about "bad language" and "dirty names", it was Abigail who introduced the term "fanwank" into the exchange here and Dan Hemmens introduced "fanwanking" into the thread at RPG.net.

As Abigail notes, if you insult people, they will insult you back. I really have no idea why she and Mr. Hemmens thought they would be immune to this principle. If you refer to an activity as "wanking" and to those who engage in it as "wankers", you really have to expect that they will be somewhat offended and may well insult you back.

3. No mention at all of what was being discussed. Abigail treats the entire exchange as being some content free stream of meep-meep noises. Nothing about any of the ideas brought up along the way.

The main reason I continue to participate in this discussion is because Dan Hemmens keeps holding out the possibility that I might learn something new, specifically how his "treat fiction as fiction" approach works.

The problem is Mr. Hemmens apparently has no interest in sharing the details of his approach. He'd rather keep it a secret. He avoids questions and refuses to describe how it works. That sort of I-know-something-you-don't-know nonsense gets frustrating after a while. When one can't get any straight answers to a simple, straightforward questions, one tends to get a little testy.

I don't know what Abigail, Andrew Rilstone and Dan Hemmens prefer to spend their time and mental energy on, but it doesn't seem to involve sharing ideas and insights.

Regards,

Zoran

Andrew Rilstone said...

Oh, just go away.

Zoran Bekric said...

Andrew Rilstone wrote:
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Oh, just go away.
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Just tell me how the treat-fiction-as-fiction thing is supposed to work and I will. Gladly.

I really don't see what you hope to gain by keeping it secret.

Well, other than preserving your smug sense of superiority.

Regards,

Zoran

Andrew Rilstone said...

Oh gracious Queen, we thee implore
To go away and sin no more
Or, (if the effort is too great)
To go away, at any rate.

Zoran Bekric said...

Given the time and effort I put into tracking down every reference to clones in the Star Wars movies? No, I don't think so. I'm not interested in putting any more work into this discussion, but I'm not willing to leave while there's something to learn.

Explain how this treat-fiction-as-fiction thing is supposed to work.

Or direct me to a source that does explain it.

Should be simple enough.

Regards,

Zoran

Andrew Rilstone said...

Go away.

Zoran Bekric said...

You (and your fellows) were oh-so-eager to refute and belittle me and my ideas way back when, but now when I'm willing to admit that I might be wrong and am seeking enlightenment, all you can say is "Go away"? Where's the wit and erudition now?

You (and your fellows) don't say "thank you" when someone tries to do you a good turn; you gratuitously insult them and then accuse them of introducing "bad language" and "dirty names" into the discussion; you fabricate evidence to support fraudulent points and you haughtily declare that they are wrong while refusing to share any knowledge about how you believe things really work; you let them do all the work in the discussion, making claims and when they've done the research required to refute that claim, you just change the subject. And now all you've got to contribute is "Go away"?

Given all that, I have every reason to want to go away. But you dangled the possibility of my learning something. And my desire for education is greater than my sense of aggravation.

So. I'm not leaving until you explain the whole treat-fiction-as-fiction thing. Or until I'm convinced that you don't know what you're talking about and just pulled the whole thing out of thin air. However, given how intelligent and knowledgeable you seem otherwise, that seems unlikely.

If you really want me to go away, all you have to do is explain how it works. Or point me to a source that does. That's it.

Regards,

Zoran

Andrew Rilstone said...

You are gibbering like a gibbering thing. No-one is reading this thread any more. Go away.

Abigail Nussbaum said...

Sad to say, I've been checking in here periodically, simply to see if Zoran was really going to keep coming back for more punishment.

So, in the interest of bringing this disaster to a merciful close, let me just say this:

Zoran, what do you imagine your reaction would be like if you witnessed a person - a complete stranger - receiving intense trauma treatments? I'm talking cracked ribcage, body fluids all over the room, tubes in every possible location.

What would you do if you saw someone get shot, or stabbed, or beaten? How would you react to a nasty car crash?

Now, what was your reaction the last time you watched a violent action film, or an episode of ER?

That's how you treat fiction as fiction.

Zoran Bekric said...

Andrew Rilstone wrote:
-------------------------------
No-one is reading this thread any more.
-------------------------------

And yet here are two separate replies to my last post, putting the lie to your claim.

If you didn't want to explain your approach, then why did you bring it up in the first place?

And Abigail Nussbaum wrote:
-------------------------------
Sad to say, I've been checking in here periodically, simply to see if Zoran was really going to keep coming back for more punishment.
-------------------------------

As they say: no strain, no gain. If "punishment" is the price to be paid for learning something new, then I will endure it.

-------------------------------
That's how you treat fiction as fiction.
-------------------------------

I'm going to assume you don't mean that one is solid and three-dimensional while the other is a series of flickering images on a screen. To make for a more equal comparison, it would be the difference between television program showing a person -- a complete stranger -- receiving intense trauma treatment with a cracked ribcage, body fluids all over the place, etc. and an episode of ER showing a simulation of a person -- a complete stranger -- receiving intense trauma treatment with a cracked ribcage, body fluids all over the place, etc.

As it happens, there have been television programs showing actual people receiving emergency treatment and I've seen some of them, so I don't have to imagine. I know how I react.

In one case it is real. In the other I have to suspend my knowledge that it's not real and pretend that it is.

Or, as Paul Brown put it:
That is where I was trying to go; the audience is engaging in what Orwell referred to in 1984 as "doublethink", i.e. the audience knows that the story is fiction, that it is not true, and at the exact same time chooses to treat it as if it were real.

That "doublethink" is what is meant by the term "pretend". In a real incident, it is real. When watching ER, one keeps one's awareness that it's not real in check and pretends that it is real. That knowledge that it's not real keeps the more extreme emotional reactions in check -- or, as I put it way back at the beginning of this discussion: "Obviously we know better -- I don't know of anyone whose ever pulled out their cell phone to report a murder while watching a production of Macbeth -- but we agree to pretend that we believe they are real and treat them in that light." Without the pretence, there's no emotional (or logical) involvement at all. It's just actors and sets and special effects.

Of course, actually being in an emergency room is different. In addition to sight and sound, you also get smell and touch, which bring much stronger emotional reactions into play. There's also the knowledge that you are not just a passive spectator; you can do things to help or hinder the treatment. That knowledge brings a sense of moral agency to the experience that accentuates all emotional responses. The detachment that is normal when one is watching a television program, whether of actual or fictional events, would be depraved indifference if exhibited when one was actually present at such events.

Or, at least that's the way I approach it. By suspending my knowledge that the events being portrayed aren't real for the duration and pretending that they are real. But I've already explained that. At length.

What I want to know is how this treat-fiction-as-fiction approach is supposed to work. How it differs from my approach. And why, in the light of this other aesthetic, my approach is incorrect.

Regards,

Zoran

Andrew Rilstone said...

This correspondance is now closed. Any further messages on this thread will be deleted by the owner of the site. People who are really interested in this kind of thing should go away and read "Mimesis" or Lewis's "Experiment". Or go away, at any rate.

Zoran Bekric said...
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Steve Austin said...
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jon said...
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