Accumulated summer miscellany

This was originally posted on Facebook as a Note on August 17, 2008.

Each of these items probably could be expanded to fill a whole Note by itself, but I’m not feeling quite up to that.

  1. Some months ago, for the first time I deliberately clicked on a Facebook ad. This led me to WEbook (to use their oddball capitalization — what is it with people these days?), a social networking site for writers, readers, and editors, where people can post their work, read others’ work, and the most popular work (during a voting period, the most recent of which closed a week or so ago IIRC) has a chance of being published (the editors at the publishing-house side of the site select some—maybe only one—from the top 10% or so). Since my statement that writing is my vocation, along with my hope to eventually become a professional author, comes from these stories in my head “wanting to get out” rather than from any dream of avarice or anything like that, this is in theory a nearly ideal setup for me. [Update, March 2013: After using WEbook as a backup for much of my work, entering several poems and novel-first-pages in the PageToFame contest that replaced their “voting” mechanism, and intermittently doing what I felt was my civic duty and reading others’ work, WEbook went down—having, I learned later, run out of money—and I started running into cautionary warnings from people who’d read the Terms of Service more closely than I. Some others brought the domain back up and are apparently working to bring the content back too, but I’m cutting my ties to the site—particularly since I’ve found more intimate, more helpful communities elsewhere on the Web.]

  2. In the middle of July I joined my family at the Original Dulcimer Players Club annual Non-Electrical Musical Funfest in Evart, MI. This is one of the highlights of my hear, every year. (I’m still hoping to run into some of my friends from there elsewhere sometime.) Generally our family goes up the previous Saturday, but this year (because of my summer-work here in Grand Rapids for one of my fall classes—CS 324, to satisfy the Cross Cultural Engagement requirement) I could only make it there for the three-and-a-half days of the Festival proper. (Plus the night before.) We also used this rendezvous to transfer some food supplies and, more importantly, my bicycle—which developed a flat tire a couple of weeks later, but that’s another story.

  3. While at Evart, I had three very strange dreams. (Normally my sleep schedule is sufficiently weird to prevent remembering dreams—these three dreams at Evart doubled the number of dreams I have ever remembered long enough to write down; the other three, one of which was recurring, were turned into poems, but I don’t think any of these three is suitable for that purpose.) One of these dreams sparked an idea which I thought worth submitting for (semi-)public comment. Some background: Last fall, I (along with a whole host of other Calvin students) was invited to apply to join the inaugural Calvin chapter of something called the “Society for Success.” Since I am generally at least superficially frugal (I spent a grand total of $5 on discretionary non-course-related expenses my freshman year), after doing some minimal Web research I rejected the invitation out of hand. (This, along with nearly every career-related decision I’ve made in the past four or more years, was probably a mistake.)

In my dream, I (though in that part of the dream I think I was one of my friends who almost symbolizes “successful” in my mind, not myself) was invited to join this Society, and (here the dream thoroughly diverged from reality) part of the invitation was a sample copy of the Society magazine. In the dream, the magazine was a semi-detailed listing of what Society members and other most-influential people in the world are up to, kind of a cross between a research publication (less detailed than a journal in the field, but more detailed than what I’ve seen in my parents’ alumni association magazine’s “class notes” section) and a “Who’s Who” type of publication. The details of any of these entries slipped my mind soon after waking up, unfortunately.

The Society for Success appears to be philosophically unsound. (C.S. Lewis thoroughly demonstrates — I think in some of the essays in God in the Dock if not elsewhere — that chasing success because it’s success is both purest folly and highly dangerous, while Dorothy Sayers shows (I don’t have any of her work on hand to look up which essay it is) that an unsound philosophical foundation leads to wrong conclusions even about art.) On the other hand, some sort of society dedicated to finding out what God’s doing in the world and keeping its members informed about it could be a good idea. Thoughts?

  1. The thought came to me sometime that perhaps the Lord of the Rings and Narnia films would have been better adaptations (and, due to the surpassing quality of the books, thus better films) if they had swapped directors. In Adamson’s take on Narnia (and he explicitly said that he “wanted to create the Narnia that was in my imagination … and make it a real place” in an interview in the lead-up to the release of Caspian), we get grand sweeping landscapes, grand (“epic”) battles, the horror of war, near-despair. All of these elements are actually found in Lord of the Rings—in abundance, in fact; those who call that three-volume novel an allegory of World War II are, while wrong, not far off the mark–but if they are found in Narnia at all, they are not common. Trading the man who delayed Aslan’s coming in Caspian until well after what was in the book the Second Battle of Beruna, senselessly multiplying casualties despite the book’s major theme (to my reading anyway; I haven’t read any literary criticism of the novel) of Aslan’s mercy, for the man who sent elves to Helm’s Deep in violation of both the theme as well as the text of the novel—trading the man who invented a romance between Caspian and Susan out of whole cloth (they’re thirteen!—and while, yes, that isn’t necessarily a fatal problem in the case of “Susan the Gentle,” whose hand was sought by ambassadors from the kings beyond the sea in the previous novel, it almost certainly is for Caspian) for the man who tried and failed to play up any of the love story that was actually in Tolkein’s text—would probably have improved matters.

(As an aside, the Helm’s Deep error is even worse than the distance-consistency problems between the two Narnia films I discussed in my previous Note. For elves to arrive at Helm’s Deep–even from Lorien, let alone Rivendell–before Uruk-Hai from Isengard, either the elves have to have left before the Uruk-Hai did (why?), or they have to have gone through the Uruk-Hai (I think we can safely assume that didn’t happen), or they have to have all been transported by air (highly unlikely), or we have to postulate that elves can move something like three times as fast as Uruk-Hai (again, highly unlikely). Lorien is on the order of twice as far away from Helm’s Deep as Isengard even as the crow flies, let alone Rivendell or by road.)

Comments, anyone?

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