Morality and Super Heroes

Français : Icone pour Vallect, logiciel libre ...

Français : Icone pour Vallect, logiciel libre de lecture au collège ( (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


In a superhero movie, the hero is considered moral while the villain takes on the role of immoral. Let’s first define what is moral in this particular context. A proper definition would be “principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.” Being moral here stands for protecting the people under your authority, whether they like your vigilance or not. Essentially, the superheroes have to distinguish between the right and the wrong. We’re talking about fictional characters here so we can freely look at things from a moviegoer’s perspective and not an absolutist perspective. So what is morality? Well, whatever is right from the point of view of the audience. If a villain is setting up an explosive charge under a bridge at peak traffic to mass murder — it’s immoral. A superhero discharging the explosive and saving everybody is the right thing — it’s moral. If we just stress from the moviegoer’s perspective then we can clearly define what sort of emotion we’re discussing here when echoing the word morality.

Source Essay here.

Civil War

On the morning of February 27, 1937, which began cold and gray, a few hundred Americans waited to storm a hill southeast of Madrid, near the Jarama River. They were volunteer soldiers, drawn to Spain by a noble cause. Germany belonged to Hitler, and Italy to Mussolini, but there was still a chance that the Spanish Republic—governed by an unstable coalition of liberals, socialists, and anarchists—could fight off a cabal of right-wing generals who called themselves Nationalists. The previous year, the Nationalists had tried to take over the country, touching off a civil war. Leftist volunteers from around the world flocked to the Republican side, seeing the war as a struggle between tyranny and freedom that transcended national boundaries. The fight felt almost holy—“like the feeling you expected to have and did not have when you made your first communion,” Ernest Hemingway wrote, in “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” The Americans had been brought to Spain by Comintern, the worldwide Communist organization, but, to disguise their allegiance, the troops had been given an irreproachably non-Communist name: the Abraham Lincoln battalion.

Entrenched at the top of the hill, behind a shot-up olive grove, were Moorish troops, flown in from Spain’s protectorate in Morocco in planes furnished by Hitler and Mussolini. The Moors were known to be especially formidable. “It was terrifying to watch the uncanny ability of the Moorish infantry to exploit the slightest fold in the ground which could be used for cover, and to make themselves invisible,” a volunteer later recalled. “It is an art that only comes to a man after a lifetime spent with a rifle in his hand.”

From The New Yorker.

Porn on brains – 2

English: A advert banner of a electric (instal...

English: A advert banner of a electric (installation , …) company named “Porn”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A recent post on porn and brains argued that porn was messing with the brains of young men. Dr. Marty Klein counters those claims in this recently published piece:

In eSkeptic for April 13, 2016, Philip Zimbardo and Gary Wilson outlined the many ways that they believe “porn is messing with your manhood.” I personally know Phil Zimbardo to be a compassionate and energetic man who is generally positive about sexuality (I don’t know his coauthor Mr. Wilson). And everyone knows that Dr. Zimbardo is a world-famous social scientist, but in my opinion this article is short on facts that are reliable and relevant. Before we get to that, however, let’s note that we agree on several things. Yes, a majority of adolescent American males look at pornography. Yes, some of them report sexual difficulties. And yes, some of them report a compulsive quality to their attachment to porn viewing. Finally, there’s plenty to be concerned about when an entire generation of young men get a substantial amount of their sex education from Internet porn.

Read the article at eSkeptic.



VIU presents: leaders on learning

 Dr. SteveVIU Presents:

Leaders on Learning

“The Leaders on Learning Series is a new offering coming out of the Successful Student Learning Initiative – now in its second year supported and led by the Office of the Provost. There are 11 sessions over the next several months that showcase VIU leaders and their perspectives on learning as related to the topics that surfaced during the initiative. The one-hour sessions include the leader sharing a story, personal beliefs or a learning experience – and then an open conversation takes place on the topic. All sessions are video-captured and will be made available for all of the campus community.”

Series information here.

Watch Dr. Steve Lane’s contribution here. (Yes. I am the proud father of this contributor.)

Porn and brains.

Finding a needle in a haystack would be easier than finding an adolescent male who hasn’t seen online porn. Surveys indicate the average boy watches roughly two hours of porn every week with porn viewing becoming common by age 15.


The most popular porn site—PornHub—reported that the average Millennial porn session lasts 9 minutes, while the average age young people have sex for the first time is 17 years old. This means the average boy has had about 1,400 porn sessions prior to having real life sex. So why aren’t more people asking what kind of effects porn is having on these young viewers?

Read the piece here.

Sunday’s Sermon: On Reading Poetry


This image is a single page scan from my own c...

This image is a single page scan from my own copy of Burgess’s The Lark, published in 1895. The page contains a poem; I’m using it to illustrate an article about Gelett Burgess, who wrote the poem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Bob Lane

“Talking does not make the world or even pictures, but talking and pictures participate in making each other and the world as we know them.” Nelson Goodman in Languages of Art: An Approach to a Theory of Symbols has pointed correctly in this statement to the inevitable association between works of art and the language used to talk about those works. In the last century, it was believed that the exclusion of subject matter (landscapes, people, family scenes) from painting would disentangle the image on the canvas (or the words of a poem) from literary associations and clear the way for a direct response of the eye to optical data. The hope was to reduce art to speechlessness. An “Art of the Real” exhibition recently at the Museum of Modern Art described its selection as chunks of raw reality totally liberated from language. “Modern art,” writes one recent critic “has eliminated the verbal correlative from the canvas.” Perhaps. But if a work of today no longer has a verbal correlative, it is because its particular character has been dissolved in a sea of words.

At no time in history have more words been written in defence of art, in explanation of what it “really is,” in defence of its “uniqueness,” in the production of manifestoes of explanation and genesis. To describe a striped canvas and a striped tablecloth in the same terms is to commit an artistic faux pas of great proportion much like the child who, because he didn’t understand the rules of the game, remarked that the emperor was naked. The language of art criticism today is a subtle and abstract means to create the idea of art works in conceptual framework of theories instead of in the perceptual framework of the senses. Recently two young artists in Latin America contrived a Happening that was reported in detail in the press but never took place, so their “work of art” consisted of their own news releases and the resulting interviews, accounts,, and comments. Here the “work of art” was only what was said about it. There was no “picture” only “talking”.

Other “artists” are using nature as a canvas. By rearranging rocks (or grinding up bottles to cover a B.C. Island) and making trenches in the dirt, they hope to show that there is no real distinction between a work of art and natural objects. But, like the child in the “Emperor’s Clothes” this is to function without knowing the rules of the game. “Art” implies artifact. Its Indo European base is from “ar ” which means to join, fit together. Certainly Goodman is right when he says that talking does not make pictures (or by extension any work of art, except, of course, in the obvious way that talking makes, e.g. oral poetry, where the act of talking is the art form) but participates in making them. One need only look at any history of art book to note the way in which words about pictures are used to classify and categorize those pictures. But the pictures are real. The works of art are there in time and space, have an existence of their own carved out of the flux of that time and space. Talking and pictures are married, but form allows the marriage.

In literature, the art form closest to me in terms of training and interest, one finds not only the primacy of words, but also words about words.

“I got to use words when I talk to you”. Perhaps, at least on this point, all literary critics would agree. A simple statement. Yet implicit within it are the very problems about which the critics storm and rave. “I”,, “talk”, “you” or poet, poem and audience these three parts of the poetic experience are the basis of all critical arguments. Where does one place the emphasis? Which is to be considered most carefully? Is each of equal import in the communicative process referred to as the poetic experience? Do we study a poem to investigate the complex maze of the creative mind, or to discern its philosophical statement and place it in the history of ideas, or do we concern ourselves with the emotional impact of the poem on the reader, or are all of these ingredients of the poetic experience?

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