Wednesday 30 May 2012

2 quotes on freedom of religion

1/ "No, you can't deny women their basic rights and pretend it's about your 'religious freedom'. If you don't like birth control, don't use it. Religious freedom doesn't mean you can force others to live by your own beliefs."

2/ "Freedom of religion basically means that the state will not persecute you for your religion or impose a religion on you. Instead the state should simply make decisions to protect and promote the secular welfare of its citizens (i.e., their interests in this-worldly things).
It can get a little bit more complicated, but that's basically it. Sometimes a decision made on a secular basis will offend the religious or in some way constrain them, but they can't claim persecution if the state was simply acting in a religion-blind way, doing something that it would have done anyway, on secular grounds, even if the religion concerned did not exist.
Much confusion is caused when definitions of freedom of religion are used that do not start from this core meaning.
No one is being persecuted for their religion if the state, for secular reasons to do with its citizens' this-worldly welfare, makes a decision to recognise same-sex marriages in the same way as it recognises opposite-sex marriages. Nor is any religion being imposed on anyone if the state simply does this for reasons relating to the worldly interests of the people concerned. Thus, freedom of religion doesn't come into it.
However, if the state refuses to recognise same-sex marriage for a religious reason ... well, freedom of religion certainly does come into it. Public policy is then being used to impose a religious viewpoint.
At the risk of being accused of spamming, I do my best to sort all this out in my book FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE. In any event, the idea of freedom of religion (the state will not persecute you for your religion or impose an alien religion on you) is manipulated unconscionably in these debates. Properly understood, freedom of religion is a good thing, and it is compatible with other liberal freedoms such as freedom of speech (the state won't try to control what you say and how you express yourself). However, manipulation of the idea can give it a bad name."
(Russell Blackford)

Tuesday 29 May 2012

A girl about whom we know (almost) nothing

The sun goes on shining. The sea rushes to shore. The birds go on singing. The stars glow above.
And I know, in a few days things will be back to normal, things will be fine. Life goes on. But right now, even if it's strange and irrational, even if to some it sounds grotesque and incomprehensible, I feel tremendously sad and devastated after reading 1 book, I want to cry, to burst into tears, for a character, as though she exists, as though all is real, as though I'm witnessing a life being broken and shattered. 
I remember the 1st impression. A while ago, possibly last year or the year before, I wanted to find "Lolita" after reading Nabokov's lecture on "The metamorphosis" by Kafka, the librarian shook her head politely and I (temporarily) stopped thinking about it, though "Lolita" remained among the must-reads. Then recently, purely by chance, I came across the 1st lines of the novel: 
"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of 3 steps down the palate to tap, at 3, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. 
She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing 4 feet 10 in 1 sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita. 
Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, 1 summer, a certain initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea..." 
This opening made me realise, I had to read the whole book, I had to find it, and get it, at any cost; yet more importantly, it had a tremendous effect on me, an effect I now cannot fully grasp and thus cannot explain, it was so beautiful, so strangely and hauntingly beautiful that not only was I captivated but I also, for whatever reasons, felt horribly devastated- which had never happened before. 
Lolita. Lolita. Lolita. 
Having finished the novel (this morning) I now say her name in a different tone, a different mood, from the way I did some days ago. "Lolita" is great from the beginning to the end, with sophisticated language, vivid descriptions, fascinating and convincing characterisations, and, most importantly, the creation of the notion of nymphets, but the last chapters hit me, struck me hard in the head, blew me away, and they elevated the whole book to a much higher level, making it as masterpiece. 

Writing a review or an analysis is possible. But let's forget it. For once, let's not go into details. Let's not (pre)judge it like philistines, who see obscenity as synonymous with banality and dismiss this wonderful novel as pornography (before finishing reading it, or, in some cases, even before reading it). Let's not read it like lambs, the whole time worrying about the moral of the book or the author's intention. Let's not get dragged into the discussion on whether it's a book of paedophilia, or nympholepsy.
 For once, as I'm unable to verbalise my emotions, just like Lolita herself, let me remain silent, let me quietly cry for her, not Lolita the nymphet (the idealised image on HH's mind based on Annabel, partly) but Dolores Haze the individual, the girl-child, who 1st appears before us at the age of 12, let me quietly cry for the bruised Lo and her broken life, let me (try to) feel how she feels, the girl whose appearance is remarkably appealing yet whose personality is subtle and unknown to us, the girl who is never truly loved, never fully understood. 

Lolita. Lolita. 

Thursday 24 May 2012

Sad and useless

- Classic paintings with a little something wild: 

- Wind tunnel portraits (photos taken when a strong current of air was blown into people's faces): 

- Depressed copywriter rewrites ads: 

- Mother's day confession cards: 

- Animals talking in all caps:

- Hangover owls:

- Murdered fairytale girls: 

- Tips for success: 

- Types of facebookers: 

- Birds with arms: 

- Airplane lavatory self-portraits: 

- Hairy famous women: 

- To-do list: 

- Celebrities with 1 tiny hand: 

- Celebrities that look like mattresses: 

- Maddie the coonhound standing on things:

- Disney princesses in real life: 

- Words on pictures: