Sunday, August 29, 2010


More books I might want for Christmas:

A Theology of Liberation by Gustavo Gutierrez
Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved? With a Short Discourse on Hell by Hans Urs von Balthasar
God in the World: A Guide to Karl Rahner's Theology by Thomas F. O'Meara

Books that I'll be reading in the next semester of college:

Five Women Who Loved Love by Saikaku
The Narrow Road to Oku by Basho
Quicksand by Tanizaki
Kokoro by Soseki
Wild Geese by Mori
Something by Akutagawa whose title I can't remember.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Also, Rage Yun.

Why yes, I AM blogging mainly for the benefit of Simoun fans these past couple of days, thank you for noticing.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Unlike other Simoun-themed advisors such as Inner Strength Aaeru or Romance Floe, who may lead you astray, Courage Mamiina WILL show you the way to greatness.

Monday, August 16, 2010

What I Want for Christmas by Nathan Turowsky, Age 17 (BY NO MEANS FINALISED SINCE IT'S ONLY AUGUST)

In the Hands of a Happy God: The 'No-Hellers' of Central Appalachia

The minute I learned that there exists something called the 'Primitive Baptist Universalist Church', I gained a tiny bit of faith in the underdeveloped mountain South.

Maria-sama ga Miteru (at least Season 1, I'd hope Season 2)

THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I HAVE EVER ASKED FOR A 'SOCIAL REALISM' ANIME, ONE THAT IS NOT SOME KIND OF SCI-FI OR FANTASY. Yes, it's set in an all-girls' Catholic high school. Yes, there is a reason for this (it's apparently to strip the setting of extraneous elements that would otherwise interfere with the character drama, since Japanese faith schools tend to discourage things like cell phones). Yes, according to everybody I know who has seen any of it including me, it has relationships and drama that rival Ibsen at his best (it helps that it's based on Actual Text Novels). Yes, part of my alleged masculinity dies every time I watch some of it or somebody brings it up to me. Yes, I am TOTALLY FINE WITH THIS.

The Little World of Don Camillo

It's about the friendship between a conservative priest and a communist mayor in postwar Italy. How could I not love this??

In which I explain why I want Etsuko Makioka to be my firstborn

Name a fictional character you would like as your child
Makioka Etsuko (The Makioka Sisters)

(This is actually a picture of the character in question's mother (second from left) and aunts.)

Etsuko is a little like D.W. from Arthur, except older (six to eleven in the story's timeframe), a bit more intelligent and lot more compassionate, and smarter about her brattiness. Also, she lives in pre-war Japan, so that makes some difference as well. I adore Etsuko and she needs somebody to take care of her and smother her with hugs after her aunt Yukiko--who's functionally a second mother or a much-older sister--gets married to Lord Mimaki at the end of the novel. I mean, they imply that Lord Mimaki will let Yukiko more or less do whatever she wants since it's a marriage of convenience, but World War II is also going on. Etsuko will need extra hugs and love as she goes into puberty while bombs fall all over her country.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

For God's sake, Mr Fry, no no no.

I mean it's perfectly obvious that if there were ever a God he has lost all possible taste. You've only got to look - forget the aggression and unpleasantness of the radical right or the Islamic hordes to the East - the sheer lack of intelligence and insight and ability to express themselves and to enthuse others of the priesthood and the clerisy here, in this country, and indeed in Europe, you know God once had Bach and Michelangelo on his side, he had Mozart, and now who does he have? People with ginger whiskers and tinted spectacles who reduce the glories of theology to a kind of sharing, you know? That's what religion has become, a feeble and anaemic nonsense, because we understood that the fire was within us, it was not in some idol on an altar, whether it was a gold cross or whether it was a Buddha or anything else, that we have it.

--Stephen Fry, acting like a prick.

The idea that 'religious people aren't creative any more' has absolutely no possible justification or basis in reality outside of the heads of Stephen Fry and people who already agree with him. It's deliberately small-minded ostrich-thinking. Kajiura Yuki is Shintoist and rather devout about serving the gods. Mashimo Kouichi, her frequent collaborator, is Catholic and in a position for the title of 'modern Dante' as far as I am concerned. If he wants to talk about music, and visual art? Philip Glass. Religious omnivore. Olivier Messiaen. Catholic. John Cage. MOTHERFUCKING GAY BUDDHIST ANARCHIST, HELL YEAH. And...honestly, I think most modern painting is bankrupt anyway, but I'd be pleasantly surprised if anybody can point me in the direction of some good stuff.

Let's extend this to the relatively recently deceased in the world of writing. Philip K. Dick and Marion Zimmer Bradley, perhaps a bit surprisingly, were both churchgoing Episcopalians (although both were a little crazy also). Christopher Fry, the greatest modern playwright, was a Quaker who deliberately let it influence his writing. Very surprisingly, Jorge Luis Borges was also a Quaker, at least for some of his writing period. Getting back to the living, we have Catholics Les Murray and Seamus Heaney in the world of poetry and Umberto Eco, who is lapsed but far more disdainful of people like Stephen Fry than he is of the Church, in prose.

For God's sake. I could go on and on.

It's just.

This really pisses me off.

When Mashimo Kouichi gets his hands on lesbians with guns, religion happens.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Church and State

In light of recent legal developments in the United States, a question in law called ‘rational basis’ has seen a lot of discussion both by legal scholars and in the general public. Rational basis is the least stringent test for determining whether or not a law restricting people’s behaviour meets the due-process requirement of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. The stricter level of scrutiny revolves around something called ‘compelling state interest’, but it can be generally held that if a law does not stand up to a rational basis test it will not stand up to a compelling state interest test either, simply because rational basis is the lowest and loosest level of scrutiny in such cases[*].
            In the case of the recent developments in case law, which have occurred mainly in the US District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco but also in the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, the rational basis and compelling state interest tests have been much discussed as regards the institution of civil marriage. The immediate question at hand is ‘Is there a rational basis for or compelling state interest in restricting civil marriage to couples of the opposite sex?’; the broader question that has to be answered first is ‘What is the state’s interest in registering marriages anyway?’
            Marriage was for most of human history a distinctly ad-hoc and theocratically organised institution—as, indeed, were most institutions, including government itself (the nation-state emerged as a concept in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and was only substantially divorced from the religious authorities of the country in question from the eighteenth century onwards). Religious organisations performed nuptials, which were then granted a certain legal cachet by relevant authorities, chief among which were property exchange and heritability and, in the next generation down, the right to not have to inquire too deeply into who exactly one’s parents were. This system, since it was administered by religious law, was (and in many jurisdictions still is) defined solely in religious terms. Common church interests in marriage (in Europe) included legitimising sexual behaviour, keeping track of family units for the purpose of parish registers, and advancing what was seen as a series of divine mandates related to reproduction and biological parenthood. Obviously, these interests were at the time and to a large extent even to-day only served through the marriage of opposite-sex partners.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ideals of Womanhood and Pride and Prejudice as a Conservative Text

And the third, what my professors (though not me) considered my best paper in my first year of college.

Ideals of Womanhood and Pride and Prejudice as a Conservative Text
By Nathan Turowsky

Feminist readings of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice tend to go in one of two directions. The first reading is that with the character of Elizabeth Bennett Austen sought to create a subversive female figure who belies the gender roles of the time by ending up in the best possible marriage on her own terms (Brown). The other is that Austen was a deeply conservative and antifeminist writer who sought to vindicate traditional marriage and female subjugation to the whims of men (Handler and Segal). Both perspectives take as a fundamental given the idea that there was a generally accepted order in Britain at the time, in which men uncontroversially exercised the upper hand.
            But Britain at the turn of the nineteenth century was not a socially monolithic country and even the most conservative parts of society were not as conservative with regards to gender roles as modern feminists seem to imagine. When Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, she was addressing it to a Frenchman, Bishop Talleyrand, from a Britain in which questions of things like education, job opportunities, and social standing for women were already more relevant and heavily debated than in any country since time immemorial (Wollstonecraft; Dedication to M Talleyrand-Périgord).

Buddhism in Contemporary Japanese Society

The second of three reposts of papers from my first year of college that I remain proud of even now.

Buddhism in contemporary Japanese society
Nathan Turowsky

            Buddhism, especially forms of Buddhism imported from China and adapted to the Japanese cultural and spiritual consciousness, has played an important role in the history of the nation and people of Japan. From its nascence in Japan in the fifth century, through its legitimisation under the Suiko Empress, all the way up to its militaristic state lip service in the Taisho and early Showa periods, Buddhism has been the Boswell to Japanese history’s Johnson.

Plato's Soul and the Concept of Guf

This is the first of three reposts of academic papers from my first year of college that I'm particularly proud of now, a month from going into my second (after a false start last year).

Plato’s Soul and the Concept of Guf 
Nathan Turowsky

            Plato’s dialogue Phaedo is notorious in some circles for apparently putting Plato’s thoughts in Socrates’ mouth, unlike earlier dialogues that are generally thought to serve as more accurate representations of Socrates’ own thinking. Phaedo’s Socrates talks about the ideal forms, argues explicitly for the immortality of the soul and the existence of an afterlife rather than making the best of either eventuality like he does in the Apology, and generally uses the infamously circuitous logic of the student rather than the clear, linear thinking of the master.
            Unlike Socrates, Plato feels comfortable in positing highly complicated metaphysical realities if he feels that there is a good reason to do so. One of his major arguments is that all learning is done by recollection—remembering and forming patterns from things previously seen. He demonstrates this by having Socrates talk to a slave who has never studied mathematics and coax out of the slave a correct understanding of how squares and square roots work. Since the slave could not possibly have learned this in this life, and since Plato does not admit of the possibility of new synthetic truths being formulated, he concludes that before bodily birth the slave (and, thus, everybody capable of learning anything) must have existed in the world of ideal forms, Plato’s Heaven, where you can see moral, mathematical, and semantic truths face-to-face.

Monday, August 2, 2010

All Hallows' Eve by Charles Williams: Chapter by Chapter

Chapter I

(aka Haibane-Renmei meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Good Version.)

'On that apparent bridge, beneath those apparent stars, she stood up and she knew it....Her heart had not [before] fallen--ever, ever--through an unfathomed emptiness, supported only on the fluttering wings of everyday life; and not even realizing that it was so supported. She was a quite ordinary, and rather lucky, girl and she was dead.'


(Now we know where Nasu got it, whatever 'it' is.)