Saturday, November 22, 2008

Puzzling Atheists #8: You Are Not Alone

Some alleged humanists have been whining that "agnostics, atheists, and other types of nontheists" feel "a little alone" during "the holiday." Why? "Because of its association with traditional religion." (Read this dumb story, if you don't believe me.)

Duh. It's fucking Christmas. It's not "associated" with traditional religion, it's a holiday rooted in religion. That holds true whether one celebrates Christ's birth, the coming of Mithra, a visit from a fat saint, the barbaric Maccabees' victory over civilized Hellenistic culture, the hedonistic pleasures of Saturn's rule, or the rebirth of the sun. Religion, religion, religion. Accept it, you numnuts.

In any case, most of the atheists I know don't need any excuse for having a damned good time. So I'm jumping the gun a little on Christmas to prove my point.

The following pictures can be combined, in groups of three, to form the names of eight characters whom we'll either hear from or about this Yuletide. The images are scattered around. Your job is to figure out which ones go with which. Some of the combinations are straightforward. For example: a picture of (1) a knee, (2) Tim Russert, and (3) a necktie could be combined to form: tie+knee+Tim = Tiny Tim. Other combinations require both your indulgence and your ability to hear yourself as you read aloud. For example: A picture of (1) a gull, (2) a can of Crisco, and (3) a wedding band could be combined to form Crisco+ring+gull = Criscoringull = Kris Kringle.

Please do NOT put your answers in a comment. Send them to me via email. Show your work. Anyone identifying six or more of the clued personae will get an honorable mention. That ought to make you feel less alone, huh?

[Honorable Mentions:
The team of Oobie Doobies - Ubi Dubium & Ubi Dubius (8 correct)
Laurie (8 correct)]

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Forget Remembering Hypatia

I love reading about history, but I hate most historical fiction.

For me, fictionalizing history is justified only under three circumstances:

  1. The book, story, or play is terrifically written, and great art in and of itself. It’s full of memorable characters, vivid scenes, and lip-smacking language. Examples: Shakespeare’s “History” and “Roman” plays, Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.
  2. The fictional work is set in a past time as an excuse for the author to examine universal ideas. Examples: The Name of the Rose, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
  3. The fictional work shines a new light on allegedly “familiar” history. Examples: Gore Vidal’s “Narratives of Empire” series, Philip Kerr’s “Berlin Noir” trilogy, Doctorow’s Ragtime.
Obviously, there’s quite a bit of overlap among those categories. All the works I mentioned could easily fit into any of the three. I have no idea where to place T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, or Scott’s Ivanhoe, or even the spy novels of Alan Furst. But I like them.

Remembering Hypatia, on the other hand, is a book best forgotten. It’s written in such a lackluster fashion, by an author (Brian Trent) with a tin ear for language, no sense of drama, nary a deep thought, and, basically, a clear disrespect for the intelligent reader. I’m not going to justify my broad assertions with details here; I don’t have time to waste on that drivel. You can either trust me on this, or you can say “fuck you” and vote for four more years of the same illiterate Bush literary policies.

Now a word about the future of Nonbelieving Literati. I’ve tried to nurture this “club” for about a year and a half, and I’ve enjoyed doing so. We’ve had some interesting inter-blog discussions, and some of us have read books that we might not have otherwise picked up. But I’m unable – and unwilling – to continue being the energy source behind the scenes. It would be great if one of the members could take the initiative and choose the next book, bearing in mind that it should be a work of real literature that will have wide interest, rather than a simple atheist screed. If it were up to me, which it’s most definitely not, I’d pick Huckleberry Finn, the title character of which is a real free thinker whose ideas soar above those of so-called “civilized” society. But perhaps the new leader will have a better idea; I’m game to start reading anything, although I can’t promise I’ll finish it.

As far as No More Hornets is concerned, I will continue to post, but only sporadically. Economic exigencies have made it impossible for me to spend as much time writing for my own – and, I hope, your – entertainment. I, for one, have never needed any convincing to be an atheist, and I’m no longer interested in reading, writing, or commenting on poorly limned arguments against the existence of any gods. We’ve heard them all, dozens of times. The concept of gods is so stupid as to be beneath contempt; I’m tired of pretending to have rational “debates” with idiots who think there’s a higher power somewhere. My little blog is not going to convince the smug theo-thugs that they’re wrong. I’m hoping that my writing ability, however good or bad it may be, can be put to better use than spewing nonsense to flit around the ether.

Thanks for visiting here. I look forward to amusing you again soon.