Somewhere Atop the Ivory Tower 5

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“Battle for All Time’s Sake”

(Ages ago, when the Ivory Tower was still relatively young, a lesser king Parmenides climbed to the top of the Tower and arbitrarily ruled over it. He claimed that his rule was determined for all time, when a youthful warrior named Heraclitus invaded the Tower to challenge him. No, their relative ages to each other don’t matter. This is satire.)

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Anime Review: She and Her Cat -everything flows-

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I am a firm believer that art is better felt than explained. As such, I prefer sharing my opinions about anime based more on experience and thoroughly researched content behind my impressions, rather than describe every little element that goes into how it was made. But for a modern anime as simple as She and Her Cat, no amount of experience or research can ever be conveyed for why this is such a beautiful short. And no, it doesn’t get a pass just because Makoto Shinkai directed it.

So rather than explain to you what makes it beautiful from an observational standpoint, I will relay to you my experiences as I see them through such a simple series. And in case you thought my interview with Muco was entertaining (first of all, why?), sadly I couldn’t get Daru to help me out this time. Don’t get me wrong, cats are cool. But sometimes communicating with them is kind of strange.

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Somewhere Atop the Ivory Tower 4

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“The Rationalist God”

(Rene Descartes is holding a summit to discuss the implications of God for the modern world. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz challenges him, when other philosophers throw them for a loop.)

Descartes: Listen up, my fellow rationalists. A new world is upon us. One where we can no longer accept what we are told at face value. The empiricists have already taken precedence to wipe away clean of everything they thought they knew, starting from scratch. Like a blank, clean, slate.

Locke: That’s tabula rasa–

Descartes: God damn it, who invited this heathen to the summit?

Leibniz: Never mind him. He’s allowed to listen, and we are obliged to keep him here.

Locke: Thank you.

Leibniz: Besides, it’s not like the empiricists can really challenge anything we have to say. They simply know nothing of how we rationalists do anything anyway.

Descartes: Uhm… Leibniz

Leibniz: Our ideas are higher than theirs. They cannot touch us.

Descartes: He can still hear you…

Leibniz: After all, rationalism is the best of all possible schools of thought.

Locke: Oh. In that case, what do you “rationalists” really think of God? That’s why we’re all here, isn’t it? (audience mumbles)

Descartes: Yes, yes, now shut up! (silence) Leibniz, since you’re one to gab, why don’t you remind everyone here what God is?

Leibniz: Of course, Monsieur. God is an omniscient, omnipotent, transcendent being who upholds the infinitude across all time and space. His infinite wisdom ensures that your infinite properties are all contained inside of you, as you are, past, present, and future.

Descartes: Right–

Leibniz: And must I stress, God can do anything. ANYTHING!

Locke: Okay, but if God is omnipotent, can He create an object so heavy, that not even He can lift it?

Descartes and Leibniz: Well that’s simple, (Descartes only) Yes. (Leibniz only) Maybe. (Both men stare at each other awkwardly, as the audience continues to murmur.)

Descartes: Leibniz we went over this. Anything is possible with an omnipotent God. But because He is good and would not deceive us, He would choose in all of his omniscience not to create an object that not even He could lift.

Leibniz: Nonsense! God probably has created an object that not even He could lift in another possible world. But that world fell to illogical chaos, so He destroyed it.

Descartes: How dare you! God wouldn’t do such a thing because He is infinitely wise. Why would He do something that even fallible humans can see would be stupid?

Leibniz: Aye, but where did His infinite wisdom come from? Surely He’s had a couple of test worlds that He has created before He arrived at our perfect world, the best of all possible worlds.

Spinoza: You’re both wrong! The answer is clearly Not at all! (Locke grimaces as he slowly exits the hall)

Descartes: How can you say such a thing about our omniscient, omnipotent, all good God?

Leibniz: Well, that “all good” part is pretty questionable–

Descartes: Only to you.

Spinoza: Look, you guys said it yourself. God ensures that all of infinitude is upheld, even within the parts that make up our finite, material bodies. And why is that? Because God is not a transcendent being in the skies above. That wouldn’t make any sense.

Descartes: Pardon–

Spinoza: So God couldn’t make an object that not even He could lift because everything in this world is a part of Him.

Leibniz: What–

Spinoza: God is literally the only substance that can possibly exist! Right here in this world!

(dead silence)

Descartes: Senhor, are you suggesting that we are all Gods?

Spinoza: Not exactly. Rather, it’s more like all of the infinitesimally small particles that come together to make everything in this world belong to the entire being that is God. After all, only God can last for an infinite time, and those particles that contain all of these universal properties are just as infinite.

Descartes: Oh no.

Leibniz: How could you.

Spinoza: What did I do?

Descartes: Those kind of thoughts are going to ruin God for the modern world! No wonder the empiricists have already moved to making God an arbitrary figure in the universe, because of an imminent God like yours!

Spinoza: Oh come on, lots of civilizations believe in an imminent divine! What do you think your Son of God is?

Descartes: Christ is exceptional! It is through His imminence that God is also good!

Leibniz: Keep telling yourself that. Christ only exists in the best possible world because God wouldn’t even have wanted to live in any others.

Spinoza: Do you guys even hear yourselves? It is exactly this kind of emphasis on an omnipotent, transcendent God that has caused a rift in how we as philosophers relate to the people outside of this tower!

Descartes: I’d rather not hear any more of this heresy. Only a being abstract from this finite world could ever hold such an idea as great as infinitude. It is the only way that I could grasp such an idea as “infinity” without ever truly experiencing it.

Leibniz: Not… really… It is through a transcendent God that everything else in the world can hold an infinite amount of properties. That infinitude had to have been borne beyond anything finite.

Spinoza: (sigh) Perhaps someone else can sort out this whole “God” mess for the modern world. But who could that be?

Kant: (aside) Well I have an idea.

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Anime Review: Hand Shakers

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Earlier this year, Hand Shakers was an anime that was met with high anticipation. The studio behind it was responsible for the critically acclaimed K, as well as some guilty pleasures like the Seitokai Yakuindomo and Princess Lover series. Now to me, hype is the worst thing that could happen to a series, as it polarizes the fans who will love trash if you throw it at them, from the critics who see these shows as the most god-awful pieces of crap ever to have been committed to animation.

And with such anticipation, that’s exactly what happened. A monumental letdown to fans, that has since become a cult classic to challenge would-be anime critics into getting aggravated over this series for all of its terrible direction. And yes, it is terrible.

Well… I just finished a reality hurdle that has been bogging me down for the past 6 months just yesterday, so I’m in a much better mood to tackle said “garbage.” And… well… it’s bad… like… if you really love the innocence of anime, stay away from this series, kinda bad. But if you’re like me, and think that determining whether a show is good or bad in itself is rather superficial… uhm… it’s not as bad as you might think…?

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Somewhere Atop the Ivory Tower 3

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“The Pre-Socratic Monists”

(The Pre-Socratics are having a debate over what substance makes up everything in the universe. The master and student, Thales and Anaximander, take center stage in the conversation.)

Anaximander: And there you have it. Everything is made up of apeiron. And that apeiron takes on different forms to make everything. Any questions?

Thales: Are… are you for real, child? You can’t even see apeiron!

Anaximander: Perhaps. But that’s because no one has developed an instrument to measure it. Quick! Let’s build something that can detect the stuff!

Thales: That makes no sense! How can you go ahead and measure something that you don’t even know exists? Even the priests know that there is no proof that suggests something like that is real.

Anaximander: Maybe that’s because the priests are lying to us!

Thales: Really? You would chase a conspiracy theory, all because you believe that the priests are wrong?

Anaximander: You’re one to talk! You think that water makes up everything?

Thales: Well–

Anaximander: Even if there’s proof that not everything consumes the stuff?

Thales: Sure they do! You just can’t tell that it’s made up of it. Water simply takes on a different form to make everything.

Anaximander: And how is that different from my argument then?

Thales: (pause) Because I said water.

Anaximenes: (interrupts) Oh, both of you old-timers just don’t get it. Everything has to be made up of something that is both detectable and not detectable!

Thales: Oh, by the gods, who is this kid?

Anaximander: Sigh… one of my students. Unfortunately.

Thales: Hah! The sandal’s on the other foot!

Anaximander: Anaximenes, what do you mean…

Anaximenes: I’m saying that to account for everything that is both tangible and intangible, there has to be a substance that works as both!

Thales: And you believe that such a thing exists?

Anaximenes: Certainly! It’s air!

Thales and Anaximander: (stare at each other, then at Anaximenes) Seriously?

Anaximenes: Well yeah. We know there’s tangible evidence for it by the rustling of the leaves, and it’s intangible because none of us have ever been able to contain it. The air just takes a different form to make everything.

Thales: And how is that different from our arguments?

Anaximander: Yeah! Wait, we agree on something?

Thales: Not really.

Anaximenes: Oh come on. At least I’m not like that occultist over there that believes that everything is made up of numbers.

Pythagoras: Soon. One day, I will slay all of you.

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