Saturday, October 28, 2006

Egypt, Greece, New Jersey

Went to the Ancient Egypt,Greece and Rome exhibit at the Glenbow Museum on Friday afternoon. It was very good although I was a little miffed reading a museum display promising that Greece was replaced by an "even greater" empire: Rome. Im not sure exactly how to measure an empire but I'd put Greece up against Rome by virtually every measure that is virtuous. Of note to House of Leaves mavens was some wonderful Minoan bowls with the labyrinth pattern proudly embossed. Its very spellbinding to be in the presence of things that are made by human hands nearly 4 thousand years ago.

And speaking of, there was a case of burial statues called shabti. These were carvings of workers you would need to help you in the afterlife. It was very sophisticated and it seemed as though every aspect of organizational behavior was thought of as there were even shabti to organize shabti. Presumably so they don't goof off in your afterlife. As I peered through the glass thinking about how I would pull off a spectacular cat burglary of the place to a Chemical Brothers soundtrack when it struck me how similar this was to Second Life.

Indeed, everyone on secondlife is creating avatars (not unlike the mummy masks) creating imaginary jobs and goals and entire virtual lives. It seems that the Egyptians were doing the same thing by burying with them the same undigital trappings of the secondlife community. Though the tools have changed, little else has changed in the hearts of men for thousands of years.

Speaking of change, I've been enjoying the New Jersey court defense of gay marriage. Of course it has social conservatives explaining the ills of "activist judges." Even the president has used this favorite catch phrase of the right. Lets us forget for a moment that this is really just a synonym for "I disagree with" Part of the rhetoric is that judges are appointed and therefore essentially undemocratic. I guess this doesn't apply to Donald Rumsfeld, Rice, et al? Rumsfeld's acerbic disdain for nearly everyone would assure him of never reaching office if he had to secure the will of voters. Why do we not hear of "activist defense secretaries?" Many Canadians envy the Americans ability to actually vote for their leader (presumably they envy the few who bother turning out to vote for the president) but at least every one in the Canadian cabinet had to face the fickle mob of at least a constituency.
But back to my point, its curious that in all the whoopla of how great American Democracy is( I learned that on CNN,) everyone on the social right doesn't question the content of the decision- they question the institution of the supreme court itself. The American social conservatives share this skepticism of its institutions with the least stable of democracies in the world. When democracy and democratic institutions are not yet habitual in emerging or crumbling democracies, people don't question policy or decisions but the very institutions themselves. Witness common reactions around the world that chose to throw out elected regimes because they don't like them. In stable democracies, people at least separate unpopular policy from the institutions. Its true, stable countries like Canada have been tinkering with our institutions but not because of unpopular decisions, rather to make the country more equitable. Questioning the independence of the courts (perhaps one of the most important metrics in the assessment of a healthy democracy) is just another in a series of disturbing trends in America in the Bush era.


The Commisioner and McKay said...

Silly museums.

And the Minoans were not Greeks.

I suggest we storm this Glenbow Museum you mention, free the hostages and kidnap the curators.

And damn the Bishop of Worcester.

rainswept said...

Well, I can't see calling either Greece or the Minoans an empire.Huff.

Yay labyrinths. Want to learn how to draw a seven-circuit labyrinth?

Is there any Questing in 2nd Life?

How come there are no capital numbers?

Is a single-party state a democracy just because one candidate wears jeans?

The Commisioner and McKay said...

Bisect a 7 circuit labyrinth latitudinally and what to you have?

Alas but what of Lixos!

Cheers and Good Mental Health.

The Commisioner and McKay said...

My apologies for polluting this fine post by Mr. Daviditron with what may be an irrelevant comment but I have a message for the good Mr. Rainswept as I was unable to post on his forum which I also look forward to reading with barely restrained anticipation:

I appreciated very much the comment that you left on my blog. While I am not familiar with the amazing race, in my loneliness, the thought of three wet kittens on a porch and the obvious poignancy of a distressed father daughter relationship left me rather touched at your thoughtfulness. As I write this, my upper lip has only just now stopped trembling and my eyes remain moist with emotion and gratitude.

Perhaps you may take comfort, oh Wet and Windy One, that I was not alone on Sunday and have posted an account of the event. But I must apologize in advance, for the rather distressing events of Sunday prevented me from posting what I had intended. But I do extend an invitation to you and the good Mr. Daviditron to read it at your leisure and your comments would be most warmly received.

As for beverages, I am rather partial to Hemlock.

Cheers and Good Mental Health.

The Commisioner and McKay said...

Ahhh, Mr. Rainswept,

My apologies again, Mr. Daviditron, perhaps you may appeal to the good Mr. Rainswept to permit me to post on his forum. In the meantime, I shall, assuming your consent in advance, temporarily use your forum (and mine) as the medium for communication with him.

I have had a chance to briefly review your posts, Mr. Rainswept. They are rich in content and pleasing to the eye.

But much of what you speak I thought at first was that which was technically unfamiliar to me and filled with terms that I could not understand by default of my not being learned in the technical affairs which you describe.

But then I re-read the posts and researched Dungeons and Dragons and Second Life and realized that you spend your leisure time enjoying fantasy worlds of your own creation. You insert yourself in these fantasy worlds. By controlling the fantasy, one can remain safe. By adding rules to the program, one can artificially create disruptions to this world thereby creating risk and excitement.

Does time exist in your world? Does the ticking of binary data mark time? Or does your brain, perceiving the sensory output of the fantasy world interpret that time for you. Of course it is the latter. But your brain places primary focus on time interpretation of the fantasy world within which you are engaged and not the real world. The time spent in the real world is spent thinking about the fantasy world. But is the real world just as false as the fantasy world, given that it is all just sensory input interpreted by our brains?

It is an interesting idea to turn over in one's mind.

Living as I do in a discontemporaneous world of the past and future bound as one, I receive my sensory stimulation from books, museums, travels to ancient sites and the internet and create the historical fantasy, bound up within my present state and interpretation of the present.

We are not very different in that respect you and I.

"Having such a mug, Olympicus, go not to a fountain nor look
into any transparent water, for you, like Narcissus, seeing
your face clearly, will die, hating yourself to the death."

Cheers and Good Mental Health

The Commisioner and McKay said...

“The Commisioner and McKay” strikes again with another contextually contorted, temporally twisted take on popular entertainment!

Run, don’t walk to “The Commisioner and McKay” for all the HILL-ARIOUS antics TODAY!

Cheers and Good Mental Health and Damn the King, the Soldiers are all Slaves!