William S. Burroughs Ditched Scientology

Here’s an article from I09.com about how William S. Burroughs was, for a period, fascinated by Scientology.  He joined and even used many of the group’s principals in some of his work.  But he eventually turned against the group because he recognized that they were more interested in maintaining a corporate hierarchy of secrecy than in pursuing genuine ideas.  It’s natural for a writer of Burroughs’ genius to be curious and to find the best in a group like Scientology.  It is also natural for him to see through the horse shit and ditch the idiots in a Hollywood Boulevard gutter.

Here’s a good read about Burroughs and Scientology from Dangerous Minds.

Why Ayn Rand is Wrong (and Why It Matters): Kindle Book by Levi Asher

Levi Asher, the writer behind the long-running Literary Kicks site, has decided to move into the world of Kindle ebook publishing.  He’s starting the series off with a philosophical essay on the Objectivism of Ayn Rand.  Why Ayn Rand is Wrong (and Why It Matters) expands upon several posts Asher has made recently in his ongoing Philosophy Weekend discussions.  The focus on philosophy and its requirements for logical thinking and argument is especially needed right now in a political and ideological world of harsh opinion and attack masquerading as argument.  I often do this kind of attack-dog arguing myself.  It’s fun and it clears the sinuses effectively.  But it does not really serve much purpose.  Rational philosophical debate does serve a purpose and tends to foster respect between opposing parties.

Ayn Rand, for me, is simply the author of a very readable but rather simplistic novel, The Fountainhead.  I tried to read Atlas Shrugged, but gave up after two hundred pages, finding it so belabored and filled with lunkheaded ideas that I simply couldn’t put up with another speech from one of its cutout characters.   However, Rand also has a body of philosophical writing that seems to have been very influential and is having some kind of a resurgence lately among mostly conservative-minded people.

I have always thought that Rand was basically reacting violently to the mass-mindedness she saw everywhere in the first half of the twentieth century.  That mass-mind quality led millions to death via the trenches of World War I or the concentrations camps and genocide of Hitler and Stalin.  In the face of such horror, I think I too would have found solace in elevating the individual above all else.

I have purchased my copy of the Kindle book but I have not read it yet.  When I do finish the book and if I feel competent to do so I will try to write a little review.  But since I know Levi Asher’s writing very well from his fascinating blog I can certainly recommend that you head over to Amazon and buy a copy of a book that is for thinking.

Get Why Ayn Rand is Wrong (and Why It Matters) on Amazon

Take This Opportunity to Deface My Art

My latest artwork is an image that is never quite the same twice. I worked hard on it. Framed it. Hung it in a gallery. Now you come along with your paints and markers and mess it all up. I’m curious to see what you decide to do. So when you deface my best work ever just hit the ‘upload art’ button to send your artwork to me. You can get a copy for yourself by clicking the ‘download’ button. You get 3 uploads, so try to make it count.

Have fun destroying one of my proudest creations!

The Secret Identity of Author B. Traven

B. Traven was the mysterious best-selling author of the novel, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which was made into a classic film by director John Huston in the 1940s. But who was B. Traven? The mystery surrounding his identity remains fascinating to this day. There have been many theories about who he was, whether he was several people, whether he was an expatriate German or perhaps even the President of Mexico. People in the film world apparently thought they would have meetings with him, but were then informed that a representative would show up. But was the representative actually B. Traven?

When an artist hides his or her identity many theories develop. Modern figures who have cribbed from Traven’s playbook are the novelist Thomas Pynchon and the painter Banksy who really have no reasons for remaining anonymous beyond the artistic jolt that a secret identity personally gives them. It’s not the crooks that interest Batman after all – it’s the secret identity. A secret identity makes you better in every way because it turns you immediately into a work of art. All artists should be mysteries. At the very least, they should tell lots of lies.

I present this post and its excellent documentary as part of my preparations for an upcoming film. Getting the right mood.

Part 2

Parts 3 – 6 after the jump.

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The Penultimate Truth About Philip K. Dick

This is a 2007 documentary produced by Martín Florio on science fiction author Philip K. Dick.  The great author behind the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the basis for the ultimately disappointing Blade Runner film, is portrayed by his many former wives and friends as having been obsessed with images that he perceived as having a divine origin.  I detect a fair amount of condescension on display here from these former close relations, especially from fellow science fiction author K.W. Jeter.  I think the general sort of hand-waving dismissal of Dick’s ideas and visions is foolish and indicates to me that Philip K. Dick made the relatively common mistake of surrounding himself with dimwits.  Decide for yourself as you watch this interesting film.

Watch parts 2 – 9 after the jump.

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I Write Like David Foster Wallace

Apparently, I write like somebody named David Foster Wallace. I know… it’s weird. Who would have thought? Who is David Foster Wallace? I think he’s kind of high literary serious-minded and wild sort of college professor type stuff. I should just do a Wikipedia on him, but I don’t really want to know who this person is that I supposedly write like. Below, you can see my official badge that proves the Wallace connection:

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I got my writing-like-David-Foster-Wallace badge from I Write Like. It could not have been easier. I simply pasted several of my very opinionated and slightly acidic blog posts into the I Write Like form and then pressed the button. Each time, this David Foster Wallace guy popped up. One blog post that I dribbled out because I had nothing of interest to say on that day came up as Dan Brown. No surprise there because Dan Brown is so numbingly uninteresting that his brain should be transplanted into the body of Tom Hanks where it would dwell very contentedly for some time I would suppose.

I Write Like is really loads of fun. I could paste entries into it all day long and feel that I had spent my time well. That’s what I’m doing today. For the entire rest of the day I’m going to sit here dropping my blog posts into this machine to find out if maybe I really am David Foster Wallace.  I may even start to make stuff up just for this writing machine and eventually maybe I’ll see my own name pop up: I write like…