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  1. #2141
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    There is definitely an 'ends justify the means' idea running through ender's game. But I struggle to see how that's different from many other 'heroes' of modern fiction. Be it Jack Bauer or any breaks-the-rules-cop or whoever, we tend to appreciate that more in fiction than we might in real life.

  2. #2142
    Lesser Hivemind Node icupnimpn2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zephro View Post
    I'm not in your faith so I shall have sex as much as I like and with whom I like. Further I'd consider it incredibly bad mannered of you to impose that on me in anyway.

    Though seriously there is no way anyone should be able to use their personal religion as justification to stop other people doing things.
    And here I was set to spend my Sunday to stop you from having sex. I had this whole elaborate dingle trap set up, too. But now that I know that it's bad manners I will back off. The trap is yours though if you change your mind.

    It is hopelessly naive to think that people's personal religions have not shaped the legal system and role of government to be what they are today, for better and for worse.

    With religion, you're dealing with essentially a body of moral code. Those who adopt the code will advocate for it. Many people, religious or otherwise, hold to some moral code. Most of these codes were at least partially extrinsic, at least initially, because it is difficult to create a moral code out of whole cloth when raised as part of a society. Everyone is going to be influenced at least in part by what they grow up around.

    Morals themselves are either universally true or not. If morals are universally true, then the source of a moral is immaterial, and it would not matter whether it were due to religious beliefs or not. The other side of that is that if a moral is universally wrong then it is also wrong independent of its source.

    If morals were only relative, then again the source of the moral is immaterial because no one's morals would be more or less legitimate than anyone else's.

    Would you pass a law that no one influenced by their personal religion should be allowed to vote on laws?

    If you would happily pass a law to invalidate my opinions because some of my moral code is inherited from religious beliefs, that makes you a tyrant in my book and a hypocrite.

    Having said all that, given that you're not in my faith I recognize that you have your own agency and may choose to have as much consensual sex as you'd like. My faith uses the word "agency" to mean that a person must make their own decisions. I can't force you to believe or to do anything. To do so would remove your agency. If you were to decide to come to my faith you would have to change your behavior.

    Orson Scott Card has his views, but it is absurd for people like gundato to say things like "he probably wants to murder anyone who doesn't believe in his religion."

    The LDS faith is nonviolent. There are behaviors that are not allowed within our membership and that if not changed can result in loss of membership.

    As a married man, were I to commit adultery I would be giving in to a sexual temptation that could risk my membership in the church. It's not that I'm not tempted - - being married does not eliminate my attraction to females other than my wife. But I choose not to act on those impulses because of my beliefs. I also do not drink alcohol, though I once did. And there will always be temptation there. If I acted on a desire to have sex with another man, that really would be no different than to act on a desire to have sex with a woman other than my wife.

    Most people have impulses that they choose not to act on. Why do I hold myself back? Well, I feel that there are more important things. Participating in my faith is a choice, but one that I feel I have been given personal evidence to continue in.

    If you have not had similar personal evidence that you should participate in my faith, then I cannot expect you to restrict yourself in the same way.

  3. #2143
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BillButNotBen View Post
    There is definitely an 'ends justify the means' idea running through ender's game. But I struggle to see how that's different from many other 'heroes' of modern fiction. Be it Jack Bauer or any breaks-the-rules-cop or whoever, we tend to appreciate that more in fiction than we might in real life.
    Well, to me, the difference is that most stories that take that approach, at least in recent years, don't try to pretend the "hero" is a saint. In the Acts of Caine series, when Caine does something horrifically evil (like genociding a people by throwing molotov cocktails at their children...), the author goes out of his way to show you WHY Caine did it and even suggests Caine may be doing the "right" thing, but he doesn't pretend that it is anything other than a horrifically evil action. There is no sense of "But Caine is really a nice guy and has no choice and we need to forgive him" that runs through Ender's Game and turns people off. Or, to go with A Song of Ice and Fire. Jaime Lannister is The Kingslayer because he murdered the man he was sworn to protect... to save King's Landing. Martin goes out of his way to show that Jaime did The Right Thing, but Jaime himself sees no reason to ever seek forgiveness because he truly did betray all of his oaths and murder the man he was sworn to protect.

    Same with Jack Bauer. We are all fortunate to have a hero like Jack Bauer who will do what it takes to save the world, but everything after the first season (and arguably even then) went out of their way to show you what a fucked up person Jack is. Its particularly telling that the current season is taking Jack's roaring rampage of revenge from the previous season and treating it as his "heroic BSOD" in the sense that he went way dark and that there is no real forgiveness for that (even though he only hurt bad people and it wasn't that far out of what he had previously done...)

    I think it is mostly the scale and how it is justified. Pretty much all modern fiction toys with the idea of "do the ends justify the means", since that is a question humanity as a whole asks. But most don't go out of their way to pretend that the war criminal/sociopath is the Second Coming and is the kindest person in the world. They are monsters, but they are the monsters we need.
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  4. #2144
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Skalpadda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    In all fairness, you have to also consider the times. The original novel came out in 1985, and the short story was in 1977. So there is a lot of Cold War "ends justify the means" going on.

    That being said, I read a few really great essays a while back (I THINK this is one of them, since it looks familiar from skimming http://www4.ncsu.edu/~tenshi/Killer_000.htm ) that largely argue that most of it was Card pushing his own beliefs with regard to religion and forgiveness, and that it was, in large part, about people forgiving Hitler (the be-all end-all of "shitty human beings who thought they were doing right"). As you mention, the narrative largely goes out of their way to say Ender was right and had no choice (the Ender's Shadow series, while VERY fucked up and being a product of Card going off the deep end, actually touches on this and calls people out. Right before turning Petra into a baby factory... I was young, but even I ran the hell away :p) with respect to his kid murdering. And as for his "xenocide", Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead (and later Xenocide and Children of the Mind. Again, I was young :p) go out of their way to essentially say he is blameless because "he didn't know he was doing a bad thing and now he feels really really bad".
    I don't think it's the essay you were thinking of but it does reference one that argues that. It's an interesting read; it raises much the same objections I did, but where I saw it as simply being a failure to connect with important themes in the book the essay argues that it's a deliberate setup to put forth Card's views on morality. Specifically that morality derives only from intent and not actions. I don't know which it's true but the essay certainly makes a good argument.

    Quote Originally Posted by icupnimpn2 View Post
    Morals themselves are either universally true or not. If morals are universally true, then the source of a moral is immaterial, and it would not matter whether it were due to religious beliefs or not. The other side of that is that if a moral is universally wrong then it is also wrong independent of its source.

    If morals were only relative, then again the source of the moral is immaterial because no one's morals would be more or less legitimate than anyone else's.
    I know this isn't a philosophy thread but this is an argument I see a lot in discussions about religion and it just doesn't hold up. Morals are subject to rational scrutiny just as any other idea or hypothesis. Morality does not need to be immaterial to be universally true nor does morality not being universally true or immaterial mean that you cannot compare one set of morals to another and determine that one is superior to another.

    Basing your morality on the authority of a supposedly infallible god or even a perfect idea or model (Platonic forms, for example) is only a way to close yourself to rational inquiry and shield yourself from the possibility that your beliefs may be wrong.

  5. #2145
    Lesser Hivemind Node icupnimpn2's Avatar
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    Because of Platonic forms jazz, I can see how you misunderstood what I said could be confused. What I meant was that the source of a moral is immaterial, meaning not material to the conversation of whether or not a moral is valid. My faith says not to steal. I also feel it is wrong under most circumstances for others to steal. Is that moral invalid because the source is at least partially based in religion? I think someone could acquire the same moral value by other means, and the origin is irrelevant. But Zephyr feels that imposing "not stealing" on others is inappropriate because it is based in religion.

    Anyway, I have read a lot of OSC's books. Some are good, some are great, and some are meh. I think he does more exploring of morality and religious themes in his writing than he does expressing his own values. Even what would be villains in other writers' stories come across as sympathetic in most of Card's books. If people are going to draw conclusions of Card's beliefs from his writings, then they should suppose that he is not a complete monster as he is painted by his most vocal critics.

    I also don't think that Ender is given a free pass. Once he understands the consequences of his actions, he exiles himself and reveals the truth of his acts to the world, which causes society to view him as a villain.

  6. #2146
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Skalpadda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by icupnimpn2 View Post
    Because of Platonic forms jazz, I can see how you misunderstood what I said could be confused. What I meant was that the source of a moral is immaterial, meaning not material to the conversation of whether or not a moral is valid. My faith says not to steal. I also feel it is wrong under most circumstances for others to steal. Is that moral invalid because the source is at least partially based in religion? I think someone could acquire the same moral value by other means, and the origin is irrelevant. But Zephyr feels that imposing "not stealing" on others is inappropriate because it is based in religion.
    The moral itself is not invalid, but if religion is the reason and the means with which you impose your morality on others then that is a problem. "Because the prophet said so" is not going to be a convincing argument to someone who does not consider your prophet a source of authority.

    In the case of stealing it's very easy to make a reasoned argument for why it's a bad thing (for individuals, for a functioning society etc.) but in the case of sexuality you'll run into more trouble. You're going to have a hard time convincing me that homosexuality or same sex couples are inherently bad things. It is very easy to make the argument that negative treatment of groups or individuals who are attracted to or choose to spend their lives with someone of the same sex is a bad thing.

  7. #2147
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by icupnimpn2 View Post
    Having said all that, given that you're not in my faith I recognize that you have your own agency and may choose to have as much consensual sex as you'd like. My faith uses the word "agency" to mean that a person must make their own decisions. I can't force you to believe or to do anything. To do so would remove your agency. If you were to decide to come to my faith you would have to change your behavior.
    If I misread the original post then I apologise. You talked about something internal to your faith and church, and homosexuality needing to be stopped. If that was only stopped within the church then I cheerily withdraw my point.

    If however you think your morality and beliefs apply to non-believers I stick by my get bent stance. The rest is just pointless waffling.

    Further to Skalpadda's points:
    It is absolutely nothing like stealing. Stealing involves one party being actively harmed by another, there is a clear victim and perpetrator, and fails under pretty much any systems of morals there have ever been, sanctioned by god or not. The rule also stands to close scrutiny and reason as to why that is a bad thing. 2 people not of your religion or faith having homosexual sex are not causing one another harm and it has been entered into voluntarily. As such it is absolutely nobody's business but their own. From a basic idea of privacy alone really.

    But as has been mentioned, discriminating against them or actively butting your nose in (like OSC) is doing a moral wrong as it is doing harm.

  8. #2148
    Lesser Hivemind Node icupnimpn2's Avatar
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    I'm not saying that OSC's political works are not polarizing, but people have often jumped at him for specific phrases taken out of context.

    If he's going to be vilified or boycotted, add was the case when his writing a Superman story was so noisily objected to that it was pulled before publication, then at least it should be for what he actually has said and believes and not for this inflated, devilish, caricature that had been built by people who disagree with him (such as the accusation in this thread that I've mentioned a few times now saying that OSC's would probably murder gays if he could).

    http://www.hatrack.com/misc/Quotes_in_Context.shtml

    From that page, it seems that most of OSC's objections have been to the state's overturning of the popular vote. He sees that as a threat to democratic government. You can disagree with him, but what he actually said it's much more measured than the gay-hating nonsense that's attributed to him by character assassins such as those that rallied for his Superman comic to be canceled.

  9. #2149
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    From his own official website? Really?

    The quotes aren't even full length compared to the Wikipedia page. "remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society's regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society."

    Is pretty unambiguous, and that website you linked to doesn't have the full quote and just muddies the issue. Though it's also one that OSC apparently no longer supports.

    In context:
    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700245157/State-job-is-not-to-redefine-marriage.html

    The actual article. Summary, he is a vile nasty little man. Longer version, the whole thing is a strawman. One interesting claim "Marriage is older than government" I'd like to see some proof of that, also in the context of gay marriage, which by definition is a civil marriage, it categorically didn't exist before government.

    "No matter how sexually attracted a man might be toward other men, or a woman toward other women, and no matter how close the bonds of affection and friendship might be within same-sex couples, there is no act of court or Congress that can make these relationships the same as the coupling between a man and a woman." See also a straw man as that's not what a gay marriage bill actually achieves. It is about civil rights, not a law defining sex.

    The whole thing is risible.

  10. #2150
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    I just finished The Hydrogen Sonata, which was as great as Iain M Banks usually is. The ending seems a little underwhelming but chewing it over I think that was rather the point.

    So now started on Godel, Escher, Bach: an eternal Golden Band. Which is about the maths and philosophy of the mind, so far it is too heavy to read on the tube easily.

  11. #2151
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    I read Gödel, Escher, Bach some years ago, and I only understood like, a fifth of the maths. It's enjoyable nonetheless. Never read the follow-up book, I am a Strange Loop. Anyone know if it's any good?

  12. #2152
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Skalpadda's Avatar
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    Started listening to an audio book of VALIS by Philip K Dick. Loving the metaphysical remix-nuttery of it so far, though I have no idea where it's going. It's also a bit difficult to follow as an audio book and I'm thinking I should have bought an old fashioned pressed-tree version. Or perhaps I just shouldn't try to listen to audio books while playing STALKER.

    Also, am I right that Horselover Fat is Philip (Horse-fancier) Dick (Thick -> Fat)? I could google it but I'm scared of spoilers.

  13. #2153
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    It's not really a spoiler or plot twist as it just out and out says it like half way through the book, but yeah. Actually there is the whole thing about the narrator calling himself horselover rather than talking in the first person in the opening. Also Philip in greek means horse lover. It's really not a spoiler though. Though book is semi-autobiographical.


    I read Gödel, Escher, Bach some years ago, and I only understood like, a fifth of the maths. It's enjoyable nonetheless. Never read the follow-up book, I am a Strange Loop. Anyone know if it's any good?


    No idea. Hopefully I'm not going to struggle with the maths is this is the kind of stuff I did my degrees in, though I have heard from other programmers they didn't follow the book. I figured if I can get Wittgenstein on a first reading I'll probably be OK...
    Last edited by Zephro; 10-06-2014 at 12:10 PM.

  14. #2154
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    Read the fan translations of the Witcher novels, The Tower of the Swallow and The Lady of the Lake. Hmm. Hmm. I still find Coldvvave's post that I got angry with - and anyone else who thinks that there's some huge difference between the books and the games, really - absolutely baffling. But my mind is now whizzing off in all directions thinking about the narrative(s) in both. I liked them, and I'm aware I was reading fan-translations done by two guys pro bono, but I was rapidly scaling down my estimation of Sapkowsky's abilities as a storyteller all the way through, and while in some ways it reassures me the things I liked about the Witcher universe are still pretty cool, there's a whole bunch of problematic, somewhat seedy stuff I'm not keen on.

    Christ, if the games were half as over-enthusiastic about sex as the books RPS's front page would melt under the white heat of a thousand raging comments - this character or that character's a lesbian/sleeps with other women, but no gay men; an awful lot of violence against ladies that seems suspiciously weighted towards dramatic effect for the hell of it; a moment of "Hello? We're right here, and naked, so why don't you want to fuck us?" delivered seemingly completely without irony; multiple drooling, predatory paedophiles because what greater expression of eeeeevil is there (and noblemen are all evil in some way or other); an entire conclave of women who are without exception vindictive, holier-than-thou, eternally bitching harpies, and on, and on. Which isn't to say the man can't write some sympathetic women or that all of these things are black marks on his SJW card or whatever. Just that... those sex cards, the love scenes, and CDP's attitude to the whole "controversy" no longer seem quite so surprising to me.

    But yeah, beyond that, he bombards the reader with way, way too much background info and exposition in a world I don't think calls for it (I simply don't find his fantasy medieval Europe that interesting); he tries to cut between like five or six narrative threads at once when again, several of them seem like they could be safely cut - and his peeks into the far future just smack of a writer going "Tee hee hee!" and come across as gratingly unfunny and utterly pointless. Speaking of utterly pointless I'd say the games have done all too good a job of copying his failing to really deal in any serious moral ambiguity, as well - there was only one moment in the three books I've read (1, 4 and 5 of the saga proper) where any character did anything that actually surprised me, in a good way. The villains start off as dicks and remain dicks, for the most part, and if Geralt receives any kind of epiphany it's pretty much "Oh, I guess you people were dicks after all".

    Not to mention no wonder CDP wanted to carry on straight after the books, because my God, that "ending" as it stands just reads like Sapkowski got bored and decided to wrap it up with a ridiculous deus ex machina cribbed from the Arthurian mythos for no real reason. Which makes it both frustrating and also kinda understandable they do such a piss-poor job of explaining any of it in the games. I'm nit-picking here, to a fair extent. I still like the books, and the games, I'm still eager to play The Wild Hunt and my problems with either don't come close to utter rubbish like Patrick Rothfuss's work. But yeah, the emperor's definitely a little under-dressed, from what I can see. At his best Sapkowski still reads like a hyper-violent, second-rate take on, oh, Guy Gavriel Kay, maybe. (Nothing in the games or the books comes close to the genius of Tigana or The Lions of Al-Rassan.)
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    To me, The Witcher book series - which I read in Polish - was a downward slope. Short stories (which were first) were excellent, start of the saga was good, middle was meh, ending was pulling teeth. Gotta love fantasy series, they almost universally disappoint.

  16. #2156
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    Quote Originally Posted by mouton View Post
    To me, The Witcher book series - which I read in Polish - was a downward slope. Short stories (which were first) were excellent, start of the saga was good, middle was meh, ending was pulling teeth. Gotta love fantasy series, they almost universally disappoint.
    Yeah, I've read the short stories (I've got rid of almost all my physical books but I still own The Last Wish as an ebook). Even without having read 2 and 3 yet it's not hard to see someone singling out The Last Wish as the high point. (Hell, in some ways I'd say the franchise has never quite got to me in the way that reading "The Witcher" for the first time did, when it was bundled as a standalone pamphlet with the boxed LE for the first game.)
    Last edited by Eight Rooks; 11-06-2014 at 09:54 PM.
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  17. #2157
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    I've been been trying a bunch of older sci-fi and fantasy authors recently:
    The Wizard of London by Mercedes Lackey. It's a book about a school for budding psionicists in Victorian England. I was not terribly impressed; most of the characters and conflicts are dull as dishwater.
    The Urth of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. It's pretty typical Gene Wolfe, wonderfully strange and dream-like. I find his books hard to follow in general, but there are these points of illumination where everything makes sense and its worth reading just for those.
    Where the Evil Dwells by Clifford D. Simak. I really enjoyed it. I've only read City from Simak before, and this book keeps his lyrical quality despite being a romanesque fantasy and having no sentient dogs.
    Dragon on the Border by Gordon R. Dickinson. Pulpy, but only 75% as pulp​y as previous entries in the dragon industry.

  18. #2158
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus sabrage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Internet View Post
    The Urth of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. It's pretty typical Gene Wolfe, wonderfully strange and dream-like. I find his books hard to follow in general, but there are these points of illumination where everything makes sense and its worth reading just for those.
    I just finished The Shadow of the Torturer and I really don't see where all the comments about this series' complexity come from. It's fairly well-written enough but so far nothing has bewildered me except those comments themselves. Maybe they get more abstract in the later books?

    Also read Breakfast of Champions over the weekend, which was a nice little story about nihilism and the dangers of solipsism, but perhaps a bit too bogged down in Vonnegut's insecurities as a writer. I read Cat's Cradle a few weeks ago which I found was less entertaining but better executed. I think that just leaves Time Quake from the "big" Vonnegut books I haven't read yet.

    I'm kind of stuck on what to read next, though. Maldoror is wholly exhausting to read, and fucking miserable to boot. Didn't make it a page in Moby Dick before wandering off to do something else. Demon Box just made me mad at Kesey's writing style, and I couldn't bring myself to be interested in the subject matter. My sister urges me to continue reading Dune, but I feel like I'm just going to end up getting more Huxley if I go to the library... Maybe I'll try to tackle Infinite Jest again.

  19. #2159
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Skalpadda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zephro View Post
    It's not really a spoiler or plot twist as it just out and out says it like half way through the book, but yeah. Actually there is the whole thing about the narrator calling himself horselover rather than talking in the first person in the opening. Also Philip in greek means horse lover. It's really not a spoiler though. Though book is semi-autobiographical.
    Yeah I gathered that Horselover = the narrator pretty early on but wasn't sure if it was directly referencing the author himself. Anyway, finished it, liked it, will read more Dick.

    I want to read some Iain M Banks next, another sci-fi author I must shamefully admit I've never read anything by. Any tips on what book to start with?

  20. #2160
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skalpadda View Post
    Yeah I gathered that Horselover = the narrator pretty early on but wasn't sure if it was directly referencing the author himself. Anyway, finished it, liked it, will read more Dick.

    I want to read some Iain M Banks next, another sci-fi author I must shamefully admit I've never read anything by. Any tips on what book to start with?
    Yeah Valis is great. I have a real thing for self referential novels containing the narrator, like Breakfast of Champions which I adored.

    We had the Iain M Banks discussion a couple pages back. The consensus was Player of Games or Lock To Winward I think.

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