[Work: Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, 1899]
A Controversy Worth Teaching:

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and the Ethics of Stature

 

Introduction:

Chinua Achebe Sketch - Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness - An Image of Africa - racism, writing

Caricature Sketch by M.R.P.
[High-res prints available here]

By far the most enduringly famous of Joseph Conrad’s literary works (with the possible exception of Lord Jim) is Heart of Darkness, a novella that has encountered boundless acclaim and boundless disdain in the century since its release. Its proponents highlight its contemporary progressivism; its impressionistic prose style; and its thematic depth. Its opponents highlight its confusing, vague, and slow-moving plot; its backgrounding of Africa and Africans behind a story about Europeans; and its intermittent direct characterizations of late 19th century Africa and Africans as primitive and uncivilized.

In my estimation, both camps are correct. Conrad was an English prose master as well as a confusingly vague writer. Conrad was a progressive as well as a racist. Heart of Darkness is a deeply troubled book. So, was professor and novelist Chinua Achebe correct when he wrote that, in light of its flaws, Heart of Darkness should not be so widely taught nor so highly lauded?

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[Work: Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, 1899]
A Controversy Worth Teaching:

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and the Ethics of Stature

was last modified: December 21st, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski

[Topics: Decision-making, Logic, Metaethics]
Moral Decision-making, and Navigating Philosophy:

How Both Consequentialists and Deontologists Actually Make Choices

 

David Hume Engraving 1754 - consequentalist - deontologist - decision-makingThis is a post about moral decision-making, but it is not a post that engages at length with the particular theories involved. As the title is meant to imply, this article discusses a more general point about how any given philosopher uses philosophy to inform both the ises and the oughts of their perceptions and practices.

In the first post in this series, I argued that moral anti-realism may be true and yet have a functionally objective morality nested within it (as a feature of our evolved minds). Across the past few thousand years, compatibilists have argued that determinism may be true and yet have free will nested within it (as a feature of our freedom to act in accordance with our determined motivations). And, as I will treat briefly below, there is a general strategy available here of reconciling two halves of a dichotomous debate by attempting to understand what aspects of each side are really supported by the relevant evidence for each side. In particular, consequentialists and deontologists might make a more compelling case if they ceased to see their views as mutually exclusive.

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[Topics: Decision-making, Logic, Metaethics]
Moral Decision-making, and Navigating Philosophy:

How Both Consequentialists and Deontologists Actually Make Choices

was last modified: January 2nd, 2016 by Daniel Podgorski

[Film: Red State, Kevin Smith, 2011]
A True View Askew:

On the Merits of Kevin Smith’s Red State

 

Michael Parks Sketch by M.R.P. - Red State, recommendation, Kevin Smith

Caricature Sketch by M.R.P.

Introduction:

Kevin Smith’s personal anecdotes are more entertaining to me than any of his supposedly comedic films. I like his attitude, and I like his perspective, but I don’t like his writing. When his writing is not pandering to below the lowest common denominator or disproportionately praising George Lucas’ weakest films, it is still generally a set of superficial observations about malaise or adulthood dressed up as profound insights. But Red State is a curious case.

Red State, the story of a group of teenagers’ run-in with a fanatical and violent cult, is totally unique among Smith’s films. For one thing, unlike nearly every Kevin Smith movie, it’s quite good. It’s tense, interesting, and there are only two or three minor actors who don’t give excellent performances. Further, it is one of the few films in his filmography which do not take place in the meandering boredom of his so-called ‘View Askewniverse.’ Red State fails as both an action movie and a horror movie, but it succeeds as an interesting film.

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[Film: Red State, Kevin Smith, 2011]
A True View Askew:

On the Merits of Kevin Smith’s Red State

was last modified: February 28th, 2018 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: FTL: Faster Than Light, Subset Games, 2012]
Style by Necessity:

On FTL: Faster Than Light, and Pixel Art as an Art Movement

 

Introduction:

FTL: Faster Than Light bead sprites - pixel art analysis - Subset Games

Bead Sprites by The Gemsbok

The artistic movement of Cubism has had an incalculable influence on the art history of the past century. Its temporal and spatial fluidity was new and exciting, and carried art yet further along its strange journey of influence from Impressionism toward Abstract Expressionism. Some formal attributes of Cubism, such as flattened perspective plane, an emphasis on forms and experiences over realistic minutiae, a reduction of realistic complexity to geometric simplicity, and sharply contrasting regions of intense color, are also present in a much more recent art form: pixel art.

One recent game which uses pixel art to great effect is Subset Games’ acclaimed strategy roguelike, FTL: Faster Than Lightpixel art analysis - FTL: Faster Than Light - Subset Games. By taking a quick look at some of the art in FTL, one can acknowledge and remark upon the meaning it carries, in the hopes that others will go on to do the same for pixel art that interests them.

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[Game: FTL: Faster Than Light, Subset Games, 2012]
Style by Necessity:

On FTL: Faster Than Light, and Pixel Art as an Art Movement

was last modified: June 1st, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski

[Work: The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas, 1844]
The Electronic Serial:

5 Lessons for Internet Writers from Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo

 

Alexandre Dumas Sketch by M.R.P. - writing advice - The Count of Monte Cristo

Caricature Sketch by M.R.P.
[High-res prints available here]

Introduction:

It would not be too much of a stretch to say that the serialized format for creative writing has made a comeback in the internet age. Blog writers, video essayists, fanfic writers, youtube educators, web comic artists, online journalists, and many other content creators operating in various formats are working on and releasing smaller pieces of content at frequent intervals.

Novelists, especially from 100 years or more back, are no strangers to serialization. One of the all-time masters of the serialized format was Alexandre Dumas, whose international success as a writer has continued into modern day with the enduring popularity of such tales as The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. Paying attention to one of his works (for our purposes, the epic tale of the Count) provides an internet writer (or artist or videographer) with plenty of good advice. Five pieces of that advice are listed below.

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[Work: The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas, 1844]
The Electronic Serial:

5 Lessons for Internet Writers from Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo

was last modified: February 22nd, 2018 by Daniel Podgorski