On the Uses of “Use,” “Usage,” and “Utilization”

Real grammarian hours; who up?

“Usage” (n.) and “utilize” (v.) are often poorly used, generally in an unconscious effort to fluff up diction. In most cases, those words can be replaced with the simpler “use” (n. or v.)  to no ill effect.

They do have legitimate uses, however, owing to slight differences in connotation. (more…)

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Excerpts from Plato’s Republic

david - the death of socrates

I’ve been reading through parts of Plato’s Republic and was shocked at how prescient some of his words seemed. Of course, it’s likely that the same men who existed in ancient Athens are the same men who existed today (i.e. Plato observed rather than predicted), but I think that universality makes his insight all the more important. These short excerpts chiefly concern the nature of man under democratic rule. (more…)

Yume Nikki

Created by Kikiyama (2004-07)Yume Nikki Waiting Room

Yume Nikki (lit. Dream Diary) is a Japanese freeware doujin1 game based around the exploration of an intricate dream world. Despite having been made in RPG Maker, it doesn’t feature character progression, combat, or even dialogue. It’s a bizarre game. One that is original and unique.

Its sheer strangeness, along with a commendable level of polish (evincing a “labor of love”-type production), explains how Yume Nikki attained a relatively popular cult status, especially among Western fans of doujin games. It is a brilliant example of creativity within the doujin scene. (more…)

More Thoughts on Infinite Jest

Infinite Jesting

I’m just past the halfway point of Infinite Jest, and I have some more thoughts that I feel like writing down. This could be considered a continuation of my previous post, but really, I’m just working my way through the book and linking together some key concepts.

The novel has spoken multiple times of a psychic “inner world.” That of the Entertainment, or of Schtitt’s tennis court. In the case of the former, the inner world is all-consuming, leaving its inhabitant “empty of intent” (p. 508). It is a place where the wants and needs of the individual are not only meaningless, but non-existent. Just as the player’s bad ankle does not factor into the abstract game of tennis, so too are the functions of the television viewer’s body made redundant.

Relationships, aspirations, memories, etc. are all necessarily incompatible with the present reality of the inner world. (more…)

The Fly

Directed by David Cronenberg (1986)
Based on the Story by George Langelaan (1958)

The Fly

The Fly is a disgusting movie.

Now, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For a horror movie, it’s probably what one would expect (demand, even). I had a difficult time watching this film; at a number of points I felt myself inching away from the screen in revulsion and suspense. Which is, I suppose, the intended physical reaction.

It succeeds as horror entertainment in that respect. However, I ultimately think that The Fly is not simply disgusting to the body, but to the mind as well. (more…)

God in Three Persons

Created by The Residents (1988)

God In Three Persons Album Cover

“They called me Mr. X indeed”

Avant-garde Louisianan music group The Residents operated within a very odd cultural space during the 70s and 80s. Showing flagrant derision for popular music while simultaneously embracing it in a transformative po-mo sort of way, they sought a unique sound with each project. The greatest commonality between their albums being: they’re fucking weird. (more…)

Thoughts on Infinite Jest

ij

So I’m currently reading David Foster Wallace’s novel Infinite Jest (1996).

I am more and more realizing that, for all its complexities, it is not a very complex book.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that Infinite Jest is a rather simple book. And it’s clear that it was written so according to DFW’s design. Every section in the novel seems reducible to the same basic thesis he outlines through Schtitt on pp. 82–83: that the modern American pursuit of happiness is ultimately myopic and self-defeating.

More nuanced than that, sure, and the manners in which DFW presents this idea are no doubt compelling. I do enjoy the book a great deal. However, my conclusion of its simplicity gives me pause in its praise. (more…)