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  • mandragora
    Guest replied
    Originally posted by grumbler View Post
    I guees my response to this would be that JMS did not say, and did not attempt to say, anything "new" about these concepts. He was simply reflecting them in a new light, that of a serial SF TV show.
    I agree. I still think it would be worthwhile to put a bit more thought into these things - compared to other series, like Star Wars, Harry Potter, even Star Trek, IMO there is a noticable lack of serious secondary literature. And it's not like those added anything "new" about these concepts. There are a number of articles scattered all over the www on B5, but the only volume actually collecting articles of this kind I'm aware of is the conference volume "Parliament of Dreams".

    Given that there are "about 6,780,000" Google references to "Babylon 5" this might be a tall order, but I will support any effort you make, and would be glad to contribute.
    With respect to the links issue, I've already collected quite a number. With respect to articles, I was thinking more about putting together one's own thoughts based on literature than researching countless websites - for instance, as you might know, I'm very interested in Jung's psychology, and I find a lot of ideas, not just the Shadow theme, reflected in B5. For an example, the four elements theory, the "chemical wedding", the entire hero's journey concept (the John and Delenn site did some good work in this area), the relationship to the Arthur saga ... there are some articles on these ideas, but nothing like e.g. www.sagajournal.com, a site that collects articles like that on Star Wars and archives it, or like numerous sites for Harry Potter. Not to mention secondary literature in print (if I've just missed them, please refer me to them). I've just recently re-read an old article by JMS where he expressed his disappointment that people focus on SFX rather than the mythological and literary themes. I too find that regrettable, as I think there's more than enough food for thought in the series for it.
    Last edited by ; 05-05-2008, 04:10 PM.

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  • grumbler
    replied
    Originally posted by mandragora View Post
    Digging out this thread again ... I have to say that the lack of secondary literature on the philosophical (in the broadest sense) themes and motives used in B5, other than episode guides, technical manuals and the like, is something that sort of bugs me. I'm talking about secondary literature like Kevin Decker's "Star Wars and Philosophy".
    I guees my response to this would be that JMS did not say, and did not attempt to say, anything "new" about these concepts. He was simply reflecting them in a new light, that of a serial SF TV show.

    There are a number of essays on the John-and-Delenn site, and a couple of others scattered all over the nets. The only volume in print devoted to B5 explicitely I'm aware of is the out of print and difficult to get conference volume "Parliament of Dreams".

    Given the depth of the series in such themes, and JMS' educational background, I think the show deserves better. I for one see a lot of material worthy of that sort of investigation in it.

    I have a suggestion, or actually two: One, would it be worthwhile to collect links to internet addressing such themes, and put together a thematically structured list? and Two: what about the idea of writing short essays on such themes of our own and making them available online? I've seen such endeavours succeed in other fandoms. I think the show provides more than enough material, and it would be a great tribute to the show.
    Given that there are "about 6,780,000" Google references to "Babylon 5" this might be a tall order, but I will support any effort you make, and would be glad to contribute.

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  • mandragora
    Guest replied
    Digging out this thread again ... I have to say that the lack of secondary literature on the philosophical (in the broadest sense) themes and motives used in B5, other than episode guides, technical manuals and the like, is something that sort of bugs me. I'm talking about secondary literature like Kevin Decker's "Star Wars and Philosophy". There are a number of essays on the John-and-Delenn site, and a couple of others scattered all over the nets. The only volume in print devoted to B5 explicitely I'm aware of is the out of print and difficult to get conference volume "Parliament of Dreams".

    Given the depth of the series in such themes, and JMS' educational background, I think the show deserves better. I for one see a lot of material worthy of that sort of investigation in it.

    I have a suggestion, or actually two: One, would it be worthwhile to collect links to internet addressing such themes, and put together a thematically structured list? and Two: what about the idea of writing short essays on such themes of our own and making them available online? I've seen such endeavours succeed in other fandoms. I think the show provides more than enough material, and it would be a great tribute to the show.

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  • Harrdy
    replied
    Nothing can be considered "unproblematic" with a consensus. But capitalism is way, way, way, way, WAY more preferable than any system, especially to that of the entitlement culture of modern Europe. Most European countries' less than forty-hour work weeks, extended vacations, guaranteed lifelong employment leave its citizens feeling empty.
    I don't know where you get your knowledge from, anyway... Austria (my home country) is part of Europe, and even part of the European Community (while our turnhead politicans still want to stay out of the whole military concept). We have not only Capitalism, but a "burning" Capitalism. Public owned companies and monopolies (as eg. Electricity, "Public" Transport, Mail System, Healthcare, etc.) are sold and privatized. I work 42 hours a week, and my last holiday was beginning of the year, the last two years before I had none. And the funny thing is, the more I loose my free time the more I feel "empty". Only a working part in a big machine, a "spring" or maybe a "screw"(ed).

    Something like 60% of Europeans feel negative about the future, compared to 20% of Americans.
    Please do not look onto Europe as a cultural unity, there is just no way to compare Austria even to Germany, though we have much in common with them. While true that in Austria many people are chained to the past (the big Habsburger Monarchy (c'mon guys, thats like.. middle ages... *g*), Nazi regime (honestly, they beliefe it to be better to "use the steel broom", stupidheads) or the times when Social Democrats reigned supreme (Kreisky, where is a Kreisky when you need him..). To think yesterday was better than today is for sure one of the reasons why so many are depressed in Austria nowadays. But we have our share of overly optimistic "YES"-sayers, too. From our very public ex-finance minister Grasser ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl-Heinz_Grasser ) through nearly the whole host of politicians of both wings, through the managers and public workers (those who are left) down to the supermarks sales person grinning manically and telling you how nice the day is.

    Ok, I think I might have been a little bit one sided with the above statement, I just get mad when somebody tells me that everything will be good when we just *do nothing*. That's the kind of attitude that got us the Nazis and the Monarchy and all other kind of bad regimes. Has nothing to do with the general idea of the future being better but is only an excuse to sit around and enjoy living, without thinking about consequences.

    edit add: I just googled some statistics and found this: ( http://www.unece.org/stats/trends/ch6/6.9.xls )

    Suicides 1990: Austrian Women: 11,6; American Women: 4,8; Austrian Men: 33,9; American Men: 20,7
    Suicides 2000: Austrian Women: 8,8; American Women: 4,0; Austrian Men: 27,7; American Men: 18,1
    (Per 100 000 standard population)

    So while the progress is "down" there seems to be a "core difference", I'd guess has to do with culture or "general outlook". Granted, the numbers are not up do date and also suicides do not show only the "negativity"...

    I think that the secular, post-Christian Europe hasn't been able to find a spiritual compass to guide them through "tough times."
    Let's see, the new Papacy... check. Rising fundamentalist churches and sects... check. Rising population of "spirit stones" and other spiritual trinkets selling shops... check. The *only* thing thats on the decline are the "official" church members. We have to pay taxes for being a member of an "official" church (complicated procedure, straight from Nazi-regime, where they tried to "dry out" churches) so many are official non-members. Heck, we even have our share of "Jedi", regarding the last counting.

    It's really sad, as Europe was once the hub of all things advanced in the world.
    "Was"? What the heck, you overblown Ex-European *gg*
    Again, as I stated earlier: When one is chained to how big the country/culture once was (e.g. *Great* Britain) one is forced to feel insignificant today, even while his country/culture is progressing. Don't compare, just *be*, would/should be the motto here.

    Almost anything and everything worthwhile was discovered or invented in Europe.
    I think that is a little bit unfair... just because Europe was the "winner" the last couple of hundred years doesn't make it "better". E.g. fireworks (and thus black powder) was used in China much earlier than in Europe, and that's only one example. One is lead to belief that Europe was culturally more "potent", but only check the muslim culture of 200+ years ago.

    Now the continent wallows in the muck of depression, anxious despite their big government support. It's this failed humanistic experiment that is at the very heart as to why they are so negative about their futures. Nothing seems real.
    I think you throw the East Germans and the Russians into the same bucket as rest of Europe. The Nordic States have less depression while they have *even more* government support (and thus taxes). It has nothing to do with "how much state", honestly... (I know I say the other most of the times... it's because I have an agenda, like most human beings *g*)

    After a century of warfare, they overcompensated when trying to prevent such a thing from happening again and are now paying for it. And I think the primary reason for the negativity is that everyone knows in their heart that the entitlements are indeed "too good to be true." In another generation or so, there will not be taxpayers in sufficient quantity to pay for it all.
    Ok, I can follow you that we tried to overcompensate the last two *WORLD* wars. But I can see no "negativity" in that. Are you trying to say "war is positive"? Are you trying to tell me that killing a lot of people is going to make the world "better"?

    Regarding the tax payer: There are some stupid things in progress atm. Like we cut pays down and let government pay the difference, which is in turn generated by the taxes... they are trying to make a perpetuum mobile atm, and that just will not work (IMHO). But I'd guess the discussion about taxes would be another thread, as taxes are neighter "good" nor "bad" and for sure nothing in touch with Babylon 5 9-)

    As for the issue of good vs. evil, the answer to that one is simple...right and wrong is always written by the victors. Unfortunately, Europe's future looks to be written by victors whose version of "good" is along the lines of the history of lands stretching from Libya to Pakistan.
    No. Amerika won in Irak and Afghanistan. But they are not "the good guys", at least in Europe. So why not? Don't hurt yourself while thinking 9-)

    PeAcE
    Last edited by Harrdy; 05-21-2007, 01:34 AM.

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  • I love Lyta
    replied
    "The problem with religious concepts of "good and evil" is that they start with the concept that either people are god/evil, or acts are good/evil. Such is not the case. The very same person or act can be good or bad depending on the circumstances."
    See, this is part of the point I was trying to make.

    But always the human race has risen again, conquered the darkness, and come out stronger for it.
    So the Shadows' concept of evolution was right then?

    Something like 60% of Europeans feel negative about the future, compared to 20% of Americans.
    While I have to admit that a good part of the people around me rae indeed, do you have any source for those numbers?
    Last edited by I love Lyta; 05-21-2007, 12:41 AM.

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  • Dr Maturin
    replied
    Anyway, that view also fits on some of the (IMHO) problems of modern Capitalism.
    Nothing can be considered "unproblematic" with a consensus. But capitalism is way, way, way, way, WAY more preferable than any system, especially to that of the entitlement culture of modern Europe. Most European countries' less than forty-hour work weeks, extended vacations, guaranteed lifelong employment leave its citizens feeling empty. Speaking of which...

    So you got yourself a new can of beer, when you saw the twin towers crumble? You gleefully smile when you hear of more and more unemployed? You feel nothing bad at all, when you remember that all the nuclear bombs and rockets *still exist*, and just wait for a new enemy? I don't know if that is the described "deep angst", but I sure as hell are afraid of the modern world.
    Something like 60% of Europeans feel negative about the future, compared to 20% of Americans. I think that the secular, post-Christian Europe hasn't been able to find a spiritual compass to guide them through "tough times." It's really sad, as Europe was once the hub of all things advanced in the world. Almost anything and everything worthwhile was discovered or invented in Europe. Now the continent wallows in the muck of depression, anxious despite their big government support. It's this failed humanistic experiment that is at the very heart as to why they are so negative about their futures. Nothing seems real. After a century of warfare, they overcompensated when trying to prevent such a thing from happening again and are now paying for it. And I think the primary reason for the negativity is that everyone knows in their heart that the entitlements are indeed "too good to be true." In another generation or so, there will not be taxpayers in sufficient quantity to pay for it all.

    As for the issue of good vs. evil, the answer to that one is simple...right and wrong is always written by the victors. Unfortunately, Europe's future looks to be written by victors whose version of "good" is along the lines of the history of lands stretching from Libya to Pakistan.
    Last edited by Dr Maturin; 05-20-2007, 09:36 PM.

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  • grumbler
    replied
    Originally posted by I love Lyta View Post
    Errr, isn't the better part of B5 about forces of good and evil and about what is perceived by which society as right or wrong?
    I would argue that what B5 showed was that the common concepts of "good and evil" have little utility in the real world. The "good" Vorlons and "bad" Shadows turned out to be nothing of the sort. Good resulted, in the B5verse (and arguably in the real 'verse) from good intentions combined with dispassionate consideration of the consequences of one's actions. Bad resulted from the lack of one or the other.

    The problem with religious concepts of "good and evil" is that they start with the concept that either people are god/evil, or acts are good/evil. Such is not the case. The very same person or act can be good or bad depending on the circumstances.

    The "modern angst" issue is, IMO, overblown. Sure, angst exists in some people, but that has always been true. There are some people for whom the future always seems dark because there is always some issue that one can point to and say "it could turn out bad and I don't know how to stop it from turning out bad." Sometimes it does, indeed, turn out badly. The Darkness had, indeed, fallen, and likely will again.

    But always the human race has risen again, conquered the darkness, and come out stronger for it. It sucked to be a Dark Ages person, no matter the dark age referred to (and there have been many), and yet even during a dark age people found truth, beauty, and goodness, whether they believed in a divine being who provided it or not, thus invalidating Enloe's assertion that
    "In Babylon 5, truth, beauty, and goodness, the three faces of culture, are functions of social consensus, not loving, sovereign divine care. This is, of course, a profoundly irrational and self-defeating principle...
    The bottom line is that B5's message is that, so long as most people approach life with good intentions and a modicum of care for others, things will work out for the best in the long run, even if there are serious "bumps" along the way. This is not inconsistent with most religious teachings, so long as one keeps in mind that "good intentions" and "care for others" are subjective. Attempts to make them objective result in mere "inconsistently [religious] (and shallow!) trinkets that are here today and in the landfill tomorrow."

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  • I love Lyta
    replied
    Auch Leute in kleinen D÷rfern haben Computer und brauchen Support von Zeit zu Zeit.
    Even people in small villages have computers and need support every now and then.

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  • Harrdy
    replied
    Just some general remarks to Jan's posting... One of the problems of the modern times is that finding an identity is hard, to begin with. When you are living in a small village it is easy to find your "identity", to define yourself. Today in big cities it is really hard, what part of your body can you change to be different, which hasn't already been changed. Of course the real identity is in the inside, and most people learn that, but even there we have problems. Every agenda and every idea is already out there (or so it seems), when you where still living in small villages you could (not quite) easily have a new idea, a revolutionary idea even. Today progress is more in little steps, altogether much faster and revolutionary then before, but also less "personal".

    Altogether I find that one of the problems the modern citizen encounters is "decreased control". When you are living in a 200 person city and you vote for the mayor, you have 1/200th of the "control". If you are one of several *millions* you start to think: "I have no control, why should I even bother". That is IMHO one of the reasons why so many don't go voting, and one possible course against that would be to make the areas smaller, so kinda like your system with those voted voters (but with better representation of the population, but who am I to critizize a voting system, living in AUSTRIA, where voting is cosidered "dirty" nowadays).

    Anyway, that view also fits on some of the (IMHO) problems of modern Capitalism. The CONSUMER has the real power, if he doesn't buy the company can't sell. Not through the workers (Gewerkschaften) but through the consumers we could have a corrective, IF the consumer would see his influence (and stopped using the price as the only quality criteria). But again: I am one of millions of Coca Cola buyers, what difference would it make if I wouldn't buy that brand.

    So yes, I agree that you can influence the world around you, and I applaud to your initiative and will to change that, but that doesn't change that humans where not evolved for big cities, and we have to find ways to adapt to that environment. IMHO we are still in that phase, and violence, depression, borderline and anxiety disorders are on the rise because we have not yet adapted, but are stressed. That stress (and the feeling of "singularity", or even total anonymity) is - for me - one of the sources of the "deep angst" of the modern time. And those few friends who moved to the country all got much more "rooted", and self-assured. Maybe I should move to the country as well, only if they needed IT-workers there 9-)

    PeAcE

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  • I love Lyta
    replied
    Originally posted by FCBertrand View Post
    And do you see any of this at all dramatized in Babylon 5??
    Errr, isn't the better part of B5 about forces of good and evil and about what is perceived by which society as right or wrong?

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  • Jan
    replied
    Originally posted by Harrdy View Post
    The less we knew of the world the more we thought we can control it, the more we know of the world the more we understand how small an insignificant we are...
    Maybe that's why I'm not 'angst-ridden', then. I never thought I could control the world and I don't feel any anxiety that I can't. I also don't feel any insignificance. Rather than be afraid of the modern world, I love living 'now' rather than even a hundred years ago.

    Even if I hadn't learned the 'serenity prayer' at an early age, B5 also illustrated the cure to that 'deep angst'...DO something. Maybe you can't control the world but you can make a difference and have an effect on the part of it around you. And these days, 'around you' can be pretty big.

    Lochley was right, you don't have to solve every problem all at once, you can do it in smaller pieces. If you let that angst overwhelm you, you'll never even start, though.

    Jan

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  • Harrdy
    replied
    WHO feels 'deep angst'?
    So you got yourself a new can of beer, when you saw the twin towers crumble? You gleefully smile when you hear of more and more unemployed? You feel nothing bad at all, when you remember that all the nuclear bombs and rockets *still exist*, and just wait for a new enemy? I don't know if that is the described "deep angst", but I sure as hell are afraid of the modern world. There is a asymmetry between what we know and the amount of control. The less we knew of the world the more we thought we can control it, the more we know of the world the more we understand how small an insignificant we are...

    PeAcE

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  • Jan
    replied
    Hm...I typed a reply but must've exited insted of sending.

    FCB, all of what I've been saying is my own worldview (I'm not fond of the term apologetics) no other person or groups. I said from the beginning that I don't have any more use for Mr. Enloe's views than he has for mine. Therefore, I have nothing to say about what he wrote.

    As for B5 dramatizing the difference between right and wrong, it did that constantly and showed the process of the characters went through better than any other show I know.

    Most of what we've been doing is defining our terms without which we can't really have a conversation at all. Things like right/wrong/good/evil have different dividing lines for everybody.

    To address your question of:
    What credence can we give, then, to his argument about Babylon 5 representing "...the deep angst we moderns feel", etc.?
    None. It's a silly line. WHO feels 'deep angst'? I sure don't. IMO, it's one of those lines that people write to make themselves look 'deep' but which don't actually mean anything.

    Jan

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  • FCBertrand
    replied
    Apologetics or Worldview?

    So, Jan and I Love Lyta, is this little sidebar discussion your own personal apologetics or worldview, as Mr. Enloe would have it??

    And do you see any of this at all dramatized in Babylon 5??

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  • I love Lyta
    replied
    Originally posted by Jan View Post
    I tend to shy away from absolutes but there are probably a few actions/situations that I might designate absolutely 'good' or 'evil'. I believe in good and evil *people* but not 'beings' such as angels or demons.
    I thought as much. But the way you wrote it, at first I read into it that you meant that you don't need gods or devils to tell Good from Evil as absolutes.

    Originally posted by Jan
    Can you expand on that some? I've never really grokked the concept of 'forces of good/evil' or even 'force of history'. To me that seems to stipluate some form of predestination and I'm all against that.
    Well, as opposed to what most people would think of when they talk about forces of good n evil like angels or demons or a band of priests trying to prevent the apocalypse while some satanists want to bring it upon us, I think of more rational things.
    Let's stick with satanists for a moment, though. They would consider themselves a force of 'Evil' as would the church. But in the end of the day they're just a bunch of idiots trying further their own inferior motives like being richly rewarded and/or gaining power and control.
    On the other hand let's think about holy crusaders. They'd consider themselves a force of 'Good' and so would the church.
    But they'd break the commandment "Though shalt not kill." So in an objective way they can't hardly be considered doing good, because they break their own god's commandment, can they? IMO they'd actually be the equivalent of a 'fallen paladin' .
    Or -for not riding the religions train all day- let's talk a group of people who dedicate their lives -or are assigned to- assassinating people who are considered evil like dictators or child rapists. Society would call them a force of 'Good'. But what if one of em kills someone who is actually innocent?

    All this has nothing to do with predestination. But it's like the inquisitor said. So many people think they have a destiny.

    Originally posted by Jan
    Mmm...maybe. But society has a vote in that, too.
    Which one? If he lives in a village of sectists who all share his mindset this society would approve. Ours wouldn't. Only our own values make us think that OUR society is right. But so does theirs.

    Originally posted by Jan
    And that's where the fanatic and I (and society) would part ways. Taking your statement at face value, there is simply NO excuse whatsoever for whipping anybody of any age with a belt. ...
    In the above case, it's really immaterial what the father's or the church's perspective is, it's wrong by the rules of the society we live in.
    Absolutely. But apart from this particular example, how often do we hear the words: "Sometimes the end justifies the means." Even if our society says "Yes", does it automaticially MAKE it 'right'?

    Originally posted by Jan
    I want to specify that there's a difference between what you wrote, 'whip' and 'spank'. There are times when a spanking is appropriate but, done properly, a spanking stings but does no harm.
    I know and agree. But I DID mean 'whip'.

    Originally posted by Jan
    As quality of life has improved, historically so has acceptable conduct generally become...gentler, for want of a better word.
    And this is about the only reason why there might yet be hope for mankind surviving the next hundred years IMO...
    Last edited by I love Lyta; 05-15-2007, 03:19 AM.

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