"What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizen will always vote
in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all. But what does happen is that he votes
his own self-interest as he sees it... which for the majority translates as 'Bread and Circuses'."
- Robert A. Heinlein

In Roman times, free Bread and Circuses entertained the masses. I hope you find your time
here both entertaining and informative.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Grass Withers and the Flower Fades

No, I am not being paid by the floral industry to write this.

Why do women like flowers? Why do guys like buying them for women? To address the quesiton, why do women NOT like utilitarian gifts (many generalizations will be made in this post, I understand I'm speaking generally about cultural norms, and there will be exceptions, including many women would would love a Kitchenmade mixer for Christmas). Utilitarian gifts have a purpose, they may convey a kind or caring sentiment, but their primary purpose is to be used.

Not so with flowers. The sole reason to give a gift of flowers is to demonstrate love for someone. They have no other use, and the temporal nature of a flower only serves to enhance the sentiment. I give you this rose to signify my love, it will be beautiful for a day or two, and then it will decay, and I will send you more flowers in the future, because I can never stop telling you just how much I love you. In this way, flowers are the ideal "just because I love you" gift. A gift that lasts is a constant reminder of one's love and affection.

However, the giving of gifts serves two purposes. First, it shows that at this particular moment in time, I want to express a particular sentiment to you, such as love or shared grief (how closely those feelings are related. Grief, as Lewis writes, is the transformation of love through the process of loss). Second, it is a reminder that I continue to feel this sentiment towards you. The expression signified in the first particular is temporal, at a fixed moment in time the giving of a gift expresses an emotion, such as love, that we are feeling right NOW. The second aspect of gift giving allows the gift to remain as a continuing reminder that at that time, and hopefully still, I love you. Flowers are particularly attuned to be a gift which admirably serves both of these purposes. The flower itself is fleeting, temporary. It shows that right now I want to make a irrational gesture of love. I want to give you a gift right now that serves no other purpose except saying I Love You, right now, and I just had to tell you. In this way, it appears that flowers are admirably suited merely for the temporal attitude of gift giving. This is why some women do not like receiving flowers, they appear to be a waste of money on something that does not last. But the sentiment of giving out of love does last, and in this way the truth goes far deeper.

The giving of flowers in the second regard, is an act signifying a continuing gift. The flower fades, but the sentiment is renewed by the giving of more flowers. In this way, it harks back to the first gift of flowers. Even giving a dozen roses on a couple's anniversary reminds both partners of the first flowers he ever gave her, whether it was a single white rose, or a bouquet of wild flowers plucked on the way to a date. Because the flower fades, it requires the renewing of this sentiment by another floral gift, to remind the lover that the sentiment was not merely a one time sentiment, but that the attitude of love lives on. In these ways, the gift of flowers implies both gift giving attitudes: The flower is a temporary gift of momentary emotion, but in a way, giving flowers now makes both the giver and the receiver partakers of the emotions entailed by every other floral gift of the past. They can remind us of a particular time, or of better times, or of better things to come. So darling, when you read this, you'll understand a bit more why I give you flowers, and why they are an expression of love that is more than worth the cost.

Oh, and if this post strikes my readers as a bit out of the ordinary for me, well it is. I was challenged to write on something positive and uplifting, to break out of my typical critic's attitude. But no, I have not changed, and to prove it, if anyone wants to get me this for Christmas, I think it would be an awesome way to convey my usual attitude with the right tuxedo:

Single Black Rose Boutonniere

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Of Mammon and the Rapture

A short update will have to suffice, since I do not have the time for a full ramble. I would love my reader's thoughts on this:

Convert or Kill: Violent Left Behind Video Game Prompts Controversy

I wish to God I was making this up. What would be the response of fundementalist christianists if Walmart carried a video game along the following fictitious lines:

Holy Jihad: Caliph Edition
Campaign for the prophet Mohammed (not depicted) to spread Islam to the world. Enhance Allah's Kingdom by spreading the Quran using persuasion if necessary, the sword if all else fails. Remember, we're in a battle against the forces of Shaitan.

Sounds crazy, right? Well, the Christianists will now have their own real time strategy game where we fight to spread the faith. Because you know, Age of Empires has just waaaay too much gratutious sex and nudity.

What's next? Allow me to hypothesize.
Left Behind, Prequel Edition "As the Rapture approaches, take the culture war to the streets. Organize your neighbors for the Marriage Amendment and to get that pesky gay couple to move out of the neighborhood. Petition the town council to exclude any stores that sell FHM or Maxim from the community. Picket soldier's funerals with the message of God's judgment on American liberals. Look for the Eric Rudolph Expansion Pack in the Fall (The Fall of man, of culture, of the decadent American church? We don't know which, but remember, fire and brimstone always sell better to the faithful than do grace, hope and love)." © (see note)

Yet another example of Christians accepting flimsy variants of popular cultural modes in an attempt to keep our young people from engaging troubling concepts, rather choosing to brainwash them to Christianist viewpoints. And a disturbing cultural trend within the church to accept media depiction of violence, any violence, if it's for a cause with which we may sympathize (or not sympathize, such as is this Author's view), when we want to reject any truly relevant artistic or literary expression because of themes that are just as valid, but more troubling, such as themes of sex or profanity (remember you don't read any of those in the Bible). Violence though appears to be 100% Grade A Christianist approved.

Copyright Notice: Plot line and all elements not copyrighted Lahaye and Jenkins reserved to the author, because I'm afraid if the wrong people come across this post, we may very well see something in this vein shortly. If you think I'm kidding, read the description of the LBH game and tell me this is too far fetched.