Monthly Archives: October 2013

Master-Slave Morality and You

So, Nietzsche is a name you’ve heard, but you never really knew too much about the man. Maybe you associate him with the Nazis. Maybe you think of him as a revolutionary philosopher. Or maybe you just know him as the guy Kevin Kline was obsessed with in “A Fish Called Wanda”. 

In any event, you decided enough’s enough, and want to learn about bit more about this guy with the impossible to both spell and pronounce last name. Well, you’ve come to right place, good sir or madam. Today’s lesson is on: master-slave morality!

(I’m tingling with excitement too) First things first. Neither master morality nor slave morality is right. Neither is one wrong. Good philosophy is about valid observations. Master-Slave Morality merely calls it like it sees it.

Master morality is the morality of the strong man. Masters create morality. The master decides what is good, and implicitly those things that are not good are bad. Good and bad are defined in terms of consequences: a positive consequence is good, a negative consequence is bad. The strong willed masters will naturally oppress the weak slaves, because that oppression is good for the masters, and thus morally right.

Slave morality is a response to master morality. Instead of basing good and bad on the consequences of an action, slaves base morality on the intentions of an action. Because master morality originates in the strong, slave morality originates in the weak. Slaves are basically jealous of the masters. They hold up humility as something one chooses, rather than something that is forced upon you (like, say, if you were a slave). The slaves do not try to make themselves masters, but to make the masters slaves.

Think about that last sentence for a second.

Continuing, Nietzsche believed Christianity and democracy to be based in slave morality, while the Roman Empire was based in master morality (before the rise of Christianity). Slave morality is obsessed with freedom and equality. (Suddenly it sounds a lot better.) While he spends much time condemning slave morality, he does not support master morality in totality either. He believed society needed to re-evaluate its morals so as to wean out the problems in both master and slave moralities.

To summarize: Slave morality values things like kindness, humility and sympathy.

Master morality values pride, strength, and nobility.

These two conflicting moralities are basically both ways to say “I’m right and you’re not”. For the masters, it validates being the master. For the slaves, it invalidates the masters and thus reduces them down to slave levels, making the slaves right.

The question now is: what are you, master or slave? Be honest now. There are no right answers…

Gravity: Movie Review

Cuarón

Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity is, to put it bluntly, a spectacular viewing experience. What most pleases me about this movie is that it features one actress, Sandra Bullock, and one actor, George Clooney, and that’s it. It is an hour and thirty minutes long, much of it dedicated not to action, but to thoughtful dialogue and gorgeous cinematography. It is a movie seemingly taken out of the 1970s and then given perhaps the best visual effects yet seen on the big screen. This is a movie that would have fit perfectly into that period of unrivaled directorial control. Cuarón’s vision is at the forefront for the entirety of the running time. Gravity is his first film in seven years, and I must say it was worth the wait.

Bullock Clooney

The Oscar buzz around Sandra Bullock is deserved. She owns this role, despite being not the first second, third, fourth, etc. choice to play it. Clooney basically plays Clooney, but that takes nothing away from his maverick character. The score is very good when it is called for; the movie is not afraid to make use of silence as another tool in building tension. And speaking of tension, oh boy! Is this an intense movie! I hardly moved through the whole thing I was riveted to my seat. The visual effects: to be honest, they weren’t even something I really payed attention to, for the simple fact they were so realistic I just forgot they were there. That, mind you, is a good thing.

On a personal note, I felt as though I could really connect with Sandra Bullock’s character, Ryan Stone. As someone who is no stranger to loneliness and feelings of isolation, her struggles became my struggles. The movie is really about isolation more than anything else. Space is simply a backdrop to Ryan’s state of mind, or perhaps even symbolic of it. From cold apathy to desolation to salvation through epiphany, Ryan’s journey is both compelling and inspiring. I’m not afraid to say I was tearing up at various times in the movie. The drama, not the special effects, is what makes this movie special.

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Final Verdict: 4*          IMDB User Rating: 8.7          Metascore: 96

Recommended Listening: “Space Oddity”, David Bowie

Stuffed Men

Red or blue? Pick your side. Just know there’s no way out alive. Crosses burn and stars will fade, crescent moons will wax and wane. But don’t believe me? Take your pick. Just know that it might hurt a bit. Marching anthems, shouts of glee, oh what a happy jubilee. So fill yourself up, burn that fuel. Make a man become a tool. Then fly away, into the stars. The ashes burn over pits of tar. If nothing else, can we agree? There’s nothing I would rather be. So shoot me up, don’t bring me down. Delusions of grandeur all around. Men stuffed full of truth and lies. Only love what money buys. And I won’t vote and I won’t pray, for night has fallen on this day. So take your pick, pick your side. Just know there’s no way out alive.

Bob Dylan: The Top Ten Songs

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If you come to this blog with any regularity, it will soon become evident that I love Bob Dylan. The ultimate counterculture icon, the master poet, Dylan wrote the book on writing your own book. Following are my picks for the top ten Bob Dylan songs.

10. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door: Covered many times but equaled by none, my one quarrel with this song is it’s over before it’s even begun. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door has a timeless quality seemingly given by Heaven itself.

9. Not Dark Yet: A masterpiece of later-era Dylan, Not Dark Yet is a beautiful musing on life and death and the meeting of the two. The fatalist refrain, along with producer Daniel Lanois’ haunting arrangement, give this song a great power and help it rank up with Dylan’s early classics.

8. Blowin’ In the Wind: No surpirse here, Blowin’ In the Wind put Dylan on the map and in one fell swoop positioned him to be spokesman of a generation. “The Freeweheelin’ Bob Dylan” is a remarkable leap forward from his eponymous debut album, and he would never look back.

7. Like A Rolling Stone: This song reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100. There’s a fact which will never cease to amaze and sadden me. Imagine a six minute long, highly erudite put-down being one of the top singles in today’s America. Neither can I.

6. Positively 4th Street: Speaking of highly erudite put-down songs, Positively 4th Street is surely one of the meanest pop songs ever recorded. Dylan, it might be said, did not bid a fond farewell to his former comrades in the folk movement.

5. Tangled Up In Blue: Ostensibly about Dylan’s marital breakdown, Tangled Up In Blue is a non-linear whirlwind of imagery and metaphors that speaks to more than just a singular event.

4. It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue: Dylan’s farewell to the folk revival is sad? Critical? Melancholy? Hopeful? Perhaps it is all those things. What can’t be denied is that this song stands as yet another towering achievement in Dylan’s repertoire of lyrical mastery.

3. The Times They Are A-Changin’: The ultimate protest anthem. If this song doesn’t make you want to go out and fight for change, nothing will.

2. Mr. Tambourine Man: Turned into the foremost song of folk-rock by The Byrds, Dylan’s original version of Mr. Tambourine Man contains three extra verses of lyrical beauty. If you haven’t heard it, your to-do list just got one item bigger.

1. Desolation Row: Perhaps no song has so entranced me as did Desolation Row. The first time I heard it, I proceeded to play it on repeat for upwards of four hours. It gave me chills, despite the fact that the lyrics were as oblique and eccentric as any Dylan ever wrote. All I know is when I die, I hope they send me to Desolation Row.

(Warning: Insultingly obvious statement follows) Well, that’s the list. Leave any thoughts or comments or anything else anywhere you want. Preferably in the comments section though. Get stuffed!

The Stuffed Man

Who is the Stuffed Man? The stuffed man is you and I. He is an enigmatic and ethereal being, more concept than reality. He is the dark underside of the gilded modern era. But he is always a gentleman.

Why should you care? Quite a pertinent question, if I do say so myself (which I do). The answer, in so many words, is you should care if: a. you are a male or b. you are not a male.

What is the point of this blog? The point of this blog is the sharp wit at the end of the pencil of truth. It is a pencil because pens are a synthetic invention of the industrial wasteland, as opposed to the natural, woody pencil. Even the word pencil, no tinniness to it.

Where do we go now? We go and get stuffed; it’s all we can do.