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Each October, I have a tradition in which I read several short stories of Lovecraft and, under misguided notions of creativity, maybe even try to write a short horror story of my own. (We’ll see if the short story I’m writing currently gets finished by tomorrow. Maybe I’ll post it up. Maybe not.) Sadly, the few Lovecraft stories I got around to reading in my busy life were rather dull.

The Transition of Juan Romero is, well, while rather well-written (everything by Lovecraft is well-written; he is one of my inspirations for style of writing), clichéd in that Lovecraftian way that only a Lovecraftian tale can be. Perhaps most surprisingly, it’s also one of his earliest stories. I could really only recommend it for Lovecraft completists or those with a special sympathy for Aztec mythology, but otherwise you’re not missing anything.

Beyond the Wall of Sleep, on the other hand, is quite provocative and appeals to those elements of the fringe fantastic that any Lovecraftian fan is a Lovecraftian fan for. It really shows off the elements of that down-the-rabbit-hole dark mythos which would be more fully developed in later decades. Lovecraft’s style is on full display, and is just so luridly descriptive in a way that begs to be read out loud:

The sound of weird lyric melody was what aroused me. Chords, vibrations, and harmonic ecstasies echoed passionately on every hand; while on my ravished sight burst the stupendous spectacle of ultimate beauty. Walls, columns, and architraves of living fire blazed effulgently around the spot where I seemed to float in air; extending upward to an infinitely high vaulted dome of indescribable splendour.

This sort of gothic appeal to depth and height make it a pity that Lovecraft never saw fit to provide an interpretation of The Divine Comedy in his own style, since truly his own style of writing was a match for the scenery. Can you imagine a Lovecraftian Paradiso, let alone a Lovecraftian Inferno?

But Lovecraft is not the only media I took in for Halloween. I happened to watch Hannibal, a sequel to the suspense horror Silence of the Lambs, a true masterpiece of cinema. Sadly, it is overshadowed by the movie it is supposed to be picking up from. It is certainly decent by itself, though I must warn that it has a few gross-out scenes near the end that are sure to induce a few shudders. While, like Silence of the Lambs, it subverts some horror tropes, it also gives in to a few which I felt weakened the overall atmosphere. Its subscription to a few key tropes here and there made it suffer from the “You fool! You’re in a horror movie!” feeling one would certainly like to impress on the characters.

I must recommend at this point a few favorites of my own that always give me shivers and make me feel like I need to watch my own back.

Herbert West–Reanimator is certainly my favorite piece by Lovecraft. It is a bit lengthier than his other stories, but it has great pay-off, and you can really feel the terror gripping the protagonist.

The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges is, I grant, a more intellectual piece, and presents a horror to those of a more philosophical constitution. It is short, succinct, and cerebral. Borges, an Argentine writer of the 20th century, is definitely an artsy-fartsy type, but he’s also good about it so that, rather than being cryptic, he is critical.

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison is a classic which I feel is most likely to have been read, but I must recommend it in case there are any who haven’t given it a read yet.

Lastly, as far as film goes, the original Paranormal Activity remains captivating. While the sequels were certainly silly (though I did enjoy the third film, and I haven’t yet seen the fourth though I hear it is very silly from a trusted source), it is definitely the truest kind of horror that a film can impress on one. It is not interested in jump scares, but inspires a dread that can surround only a truly inscrutable and malicious entity. I don’t want to give anything away, though I will note that when I first watched it I couldn’t sleep that night…

What is it about horror that is so captivating? I’m not sure, but I got a good story I’m writing, so I’ll have to give more analysis on it if I get it finished by tomorrow here.

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How Not to Be Humble

In a discussion with my friend about how I’ve decided to re-evaluate some personality traits of mine:

Me: So I’ve decided that I need to try being more humble.

Him: That is certainly a good thing which you could use.

Me: I know. I’ve been very arrogant, and I fear that it has harmed some relationships of mine.

Him: That seems a clear possibility.

Me: Yeah, but, if there was anyone who could back up his arrogance, it was me!

This may or may not have been a real discussion.

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Just a short aside from the theorizing and conceptualizing. Our (ir)regular broadcasting will return soon! This is part preview on the subject of upcoming posts, part sharing of present preferences.

I started watching Cowboy Bebop again. The first time I tried I only made it halfway through the series. Just listen to this intro!

It features a great assortment of jazz pieces. The reason I didn’t make it through the first time is because I find myself preferring series with an overarching story arc; after all, if I finish an episode and I’m not left with a question about what happens next, it’s hard to find the motivation to continue. I watched Samurai Champloo before this, which has a much more linear story arc while benefiting from the emphasis on a stylistic presentation.

I’m also watching Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. I watched the original anime, which departs a great deal from the manga, and this is supposed to stay closer to the manga. Not having read the manga, I can’t tell you how much closer it resembles the manga, but there is a definite difference in storylines after the 12th episode in FMA:B.

On the down times, otherwise known as those times in which I’m just stressed out or can’t imagine putting any more work into something, I watch a little cartoon called My Little Pony. *sigh* I blame my friend Chris for this. “Just watch one episode! You have to at least give it a try before you write it off.” Then before I knew it I was humming Winter Wrap Up walking down the halls at my school. Luckily, no one recognized it. I have to admit, the show is awfully bright and cute.

This semester I submitted a proposal to get funding in the spring through my school to work on a project. I’ve decided to analyze the “rationalistic elements necessary for scientific inquiry.” It is generally a philosophy of science project in line with some thoughts on how we’re able to induct knowledge about the world that I wrote here. In preparation for that I’m doing some reading of Kant, since I utilize his concept of intuitions for that project. A Critique of Pure Reason. So just a warning that posts dealing with that subject matter will most likely come around in time.

I’m near the end of Detlev Schlichter’s Paper Money Collapse, which, despite the name’s popular-seeming intent, is mostly a treatise on effect on production structures caused by government manipulation of the currency, with a judgment cast on the sustainability of the present system based on that framework. I will be going over the same content in The Rate of Savings and the Rate of Interest, so if you would like to be presented with a concise summary of the relevant information in that book, just be sure to stick around and catch my posts on that.

I am also near the end of The Line of Polity by Neal Asher, which takes place in a post-singularity scifiverse. It is Book 2 of the Agent Cormac series, with two other series taking place in the same scifiverse. The first book, Gridlinked, was really good, while this second entry is a little meandering in comparison. For that, it is definitely enjoyable as an example of scifi were the scifi suits the purposes of narrative. While it doesn’t really bring up interesting questions about the state of future humanity, and the narrative suffers from intrusive amateurish philosophizing on religion here and there, it is certainly a solid hard science fiction series.

Unlike Freedom. Over the summer I read Daemon by Daniel Suarez, an interesting near-future scifi what-if story about a deceased game company mogul worshiped like Steve Jobs who tries to change the structure of society by subverting it through a complex computer program that reacts autonomously to news stories and sets up a decentralized society of individuals who are persuaded by his vision of a society in which… well, that’s the problem. For as intriguing as the premise was, that premise was all dried up by the time it came to the implementation and end of such a program. It turned into a mushy and preachy eco-Marxist’s wet dream. I couldn’t finish Freedom, the sequel. It’s really quite a bother for a scifi premise to be so bound up in a petulant and annoying ideology. For as hard as the premise was, I would classify Daemon and Freedom as a soft scifi series simply because of its mushy political preaching.

I just finished reading Chaos Theory by Robert Murphy, a handy little tract which presents in a very simple fashion how law and defense would be provided in a purely voluntary society. I will certainly be getting around to the ideas presented in it, but before then I would recommend to anyone interested in the topic. It is easy to read and easy to understand. You won’t need a background in political philosophy or economics to digest it.

I’ve been spending more time lately listening to the bands Pinback and Sleep Party People. They are much at a contrast. Pinback is a chill indie rock band good for listening to in the car and driving around. Here’s their laid back tune “Fortress.”

Sleep Party People, on the other hand, is a postrock group ideal for putting on in the background. Relaxing but haunting, their music seems like it was born of the made-to-be-a-cult-hit Donnie Darko, and their getup seems directly inspired by the character Frank. Here’s my favorite tune of theirs, “I’m Not Human at All.”

Finally, I think I’ll leave with some succinct details and such.

I want to write something on space fantasy and space princesses, much in reply to John C. Wright’s writings on space princess scifi.

Law, order, and defense in an anarchical society is probably a few months away yet, as there are several books I want to read before I open my yap anymore on the topic.

I’m thinking about moving my blog to a new domain, as “amtheomusings” no longer fits so well., but that is several months into the future yet. I will probably also get an email dedicated to the blog at that point. I have a name picked out at this point, but I’m not telling you because I don’t anyone swooping in to occupy my niche.

I want to establish an anti-Marc Barnes club, just because he’s younger than I am and already much more successful; I can’t be having my midlife crisis already! My friend Eric over at RPG Catholic is a member, or at least so I have inducted him, possibly against his will. He is also to blame for the ponies, I’m still sorry about that.

My 21st birthday is coming up soon, and if anyone has recommendations of beer and liquors to try, I would love to hear them.

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Today marks the day that I have been Catholic for 3 years.

Yes, really, 3 years. That kind of surprises me.

It doesn’t feel right to say that I’ve been Catholic for 3 years. If anything, I was Catholic for about a year and a half, before any investment I had in the religion dropped off. Not that I haven’t been going through the steps (for the most part) and maintaining the ethics (for the most part), but the spirituality upon which I was borne into the Church simply departed some point right in the beginning of my freshman year.

Despite this, I feel it would be wrong to characterize this spiritual negativity as indicative of some deep problem. At least, not essentially. There is a certain sense in which the spirituality propagated by those in the “very Catholic” blogosphere is gaudy and ornamental. I don’t think its wrong, but it doesn’t harmonize with my own spiritual aesthetic. I prefer simple short prayers to long, rote ones (though I will take out the Rosary every once in a while). I prefer good philosophy to poring over the Bible. These things provide a deeper connection for me between the world, my life, and the reality of Christ Risen. A beautiful liturgy certainly has its merits, but reason penetrates my soul in a way that flowery devotions never do. I can see the world laid out before me when I grasp an excellent line of reasoning, whereas a sermon just seems to be, well, preaching to the choir.

Is it barren? Perhaps. My spirituality is rather desert-like, opposed to the bountiful springs of holiness that, if you would believe it, pervades the life of certain spiritual beings. God is an abstract principle, but then, so am I. Or at least, His concrete reality is beyond my own concrete reality, so an ascent can only occur by gathering myself along these abstract lines and moving by them through life.

That said, it is fair to say that I haven’t been behaving nearly Christ-like enough. In my interactions with others I have been haughty, arrogant, and egotistical. I’d like to pretend I haven’t been such, but you have to own who you’ve been to become a new person. My morality, I’m not even going to get into that; this is a blog, not a tabloid.

So here is a new dedication, an attempt to live the baptismal vows I took on 3 years ago.

Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

Luke 15:10

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This is My 400th Post

Let’s do some meta-blogging; blogging about blogging, that is.

I’ve been in the blogging works since March 2008, I think. That means I’ve been blogging for 3 years and 8 months. At 400 posts over this time period, that’s 9 posts per month. Although, my posting pace has been higher for the second half of this duration, so it was probably closer to 4-5 posts per month for the first half of this blog’s existence, and 15-20 posts per month for the second half of time.

I got into blogging cuz I wanted to talk theology. This tended to focus on interdenominational theological differences, but slowly branched out into a wider discussion on philosophy and religion in general. Lately, I have been bringing forth some economic thoughts, and I expect to increase the amount of economic thoughts that I bring forth.

The most popular two posts are my Lewis’ Moral in The Great Divorce and The Woman from Revelations 12 (sic), which seem to be very popular via Google searches. I’m proud of my essay on The Great Divorce (which I highly recommend reading), while I think my Mary posts have been subpar. But eh, you take what you get. I suppose this means that if I want to become more popular I should talk about C.S. Lewis and Mary more often. But I’m tired of talking about Mary, and have been for awhile, especially considering so much talk about Mary is purely emotional and vehement, Protestant or Catholic. I’d be willing to talk about C.S. Lewis more, but first I’ll need to read some more of his books.

The series of posts I’m proudest of are probably The Absolute Self, which stretched over 9 parts. The next best series of mine (in my opinion) are The Many-Worlds Theodicy (5 parts if you include the addendum), Epistemology and True Ontologies (again, 5 parts).

I have had 22,670 all time views as of this moment. The day with the most views remains May 26, 2010, when Victor Reppert linked to my post The Pre-Reflective Cogito and the Argument from Reason. At this point in time, he hasn’t given his comment on the argument, though perhaps I should update and revise it and submit it to him, and see if I can get his opinion (Reppert is essentially the loudest defender of the Argument from Reason), and perhaps some views for my blog at the same time.

Why do I blog? My ideas, maybe if they could be contained within my mind, shouldn’t stay within my mind. There is something about the process of committing my ideas to words on paper (or internet, what have you) that makes them stronger, more sensible. My commitments become clearer, and through clarity, stronger. Besides, ideas ought to be shared for their own sake. And even if I am hardly a successful blogger by ordinary standards (I’m no William Vallicella, or Victor Reppert, or DarwinCatholic, or Edward Feser, or John C. Wright, all of whom seem to have dedicated audiences), I find it hard to mind. I’d like for my ideas to have greater publicity, but then again, perhaps that would bog me down with people who like to make their objections known, and most of them (as a general rule of the internet) not very good objections. In fact, looking on my life, I’ve generally been a person who worked in the background. And I like it. Then again, I’m human, and I like people to say “I really like your idea.” My personality, like all things in life, is subject to a certain tension. But live with your whole being in what you do, and you don’t worry about these things too much.

How long until I reach 500 posts? Probably not too long, I suspect. More ideas, more writing, more blogging, more posting! And on we go.

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If I Were an Atheist

I’d still think the same things about God. All my life I’ve thought about God, and I’ve known that, if I wanted to be an atheist, in order to truly justify my atheism I would need to know what it is that God must be and then have some reason why such a being could not possibly exist. But that would require a great deal of thinking about God.

I have thought a great deal about God, and I know that, if I were to be an atheist, I would think the same things about God, because I have a pretty good idea for what God must be like and why He must be like that, such that, were I an atheist, I would still argue that God must be omnipotent, omniscient, and so on, all while not believing that such a being existed who was those things. But how I think about God is what makes me unable to imagine that He might not exist; so if I were going to be an atheist, and I must have the same thoughts, I would necessarily become a theist.

So I suppose that is why I believe in God.

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