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Great post. I completely agree and therefore have no other comment on it.
But if I may sneak in a tangentially (barely) related point that you might find amusing...
I just watched the crappy, silly horror movie Saw (the first one.)
In a scene popular with the movie's fans, a young woman is being held by the insane "philosophical" killer known as Jigsaw. She has bear trap-like device attached to her face, and she'd told the key that will free her is in the stomach of a dead man lying nearby. If she doesn't get to it within a certain time-frame, her head will be torn apart.
She picks up the scalpel Jigsaw has thouhtfully provided--and then realizes the guy isn't dead. The clock is ticking. So she cuts him open anyway, and is rewarded with her freedom.
Jigsaw's motive, we have been told, is to make people "appreciate life." He means their own lives, obviously. The woman has been rewarded for her ruthlessness, and will now presumably appreciate the rest of her own life. She even tells her police interrogators that Jigsaw "helped her." How? By teaching her to do whatever she has to, as long as it benefits her?
Which philsosophers has this guy been reading? Could Jigsaw be the ultimate Objectivist?

I saw that movie, too. I thought Carey Elwes gave a surprisingly poor performance as the doctor - and he was the biggest "name" in the cast! The actress who has to get the beartrap off her head is Shawnee Smith, who played the ditzy assistant Linda on the sitcom "Becker." I really like "Becker," and I was somewhat surprised when I recognized the actress. "What's Linda doing in that beartrap?" I said.

Jigsaw strikes me as more of a Hobbesian than an Objectivist ...

By the way, Bob Wallace applies his narcissism thesis to Ayn Rand at this Web page (and two following pages):

http://home.att.net/~bob.wallace/rand1.html

"I saw that movie, too. I thought Carey Elwes gave a surprisingly poor performance as the doctor - and he was the biggest "name" in the cast!"

Yeah, he was awful. He had plenty of competition for worst actor in the film and he still won, hands down.
When an actor vanishes for years, and then turns up in a low-budget film, looking like hell and hamming it up, one can only conjecture. Call it Rutger Hauer Syndrome (though Rutger seems to be back on track after languishing through the Nineties.)
As for Saw, I just don't get its popularity. Se7en for Dummies. It made zero sense, the "twists" were arbitrary and silly, and I was slightly shocked at how little visual style it had, aside from sped-up motion that reminded me of Keystone Cops shorts and made me laugh. I can only conclude that audiences really, really like to watch people die (from Final Destination to the Friday the 13 films back to The Omen ) in cool ways.

Not that there's anything wrong with that...

And all kidding aside, I'd say Jigsaw's actions reveal him to be, at heart, a Plot Expedientist

A plot expedientist, by any other name, would smell as bad.

I like Becker, too.

>I can only conclude that audiences really, really like to watch people die (from Final Destination to the Friday the 13 films back to The Omen ) in cool ways.

In 1971, there was a Vincent Price movie, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, which became a surprise hit. As I recall, all it consisted of was Price taking revenge on various people, one at a time. Each one died in a complicated, sadistic, and ingenious way. Audiences loved it. And they seem to love the Saw movies too. The sequel was made for $4 million and grossed around $70 million in the US alone!

Dr. Phibes! How could I forget. And before that H.G. Lewis, and before that Cecil B. DeMille in Sign of the Cross, a nasty pre-code ode to torture. I wonder how many times Mad Mel has seen it. And before that, Titus Andronicus...

Saw 2 made HOW much? Torture and murder...I'd better start typing.

I just read the first essay. Simply but very effectively presented. For instance, this passage could be the answer to a recent "why is fundamentalism a bad word?" post in the comments section of this very blog:

A definition of idolatry is to worship the Created instead of the Creator; to worship that which is false, and to worship Man and his opinions instead of the truth. To worship a book (created by man's opinions) over God (the Creator) is called "idolatry of the written word." Therefore, fundamentalists of all religions are idolators who have murdered an untold amount of people throughout history...all in the name of a "holy" book. (It's also assuming that God, having spoken once, will never speak again.)

I don't see the situation changing any time soon. Black hats vs white hats is just so much easier to comprehend. Didn't the vice president of this country make cracks about "nuance" as if it were a negative thing?

I constantly find myself fighting this kind of thinking in my own life, dividing my friends up into "good" and "bad" depending on how I feel at any given moment. They're either on my side or out to get me. It's a never-ending battle against my own worst impulses.

I've been reading a couple of Bob Wallace's essays since he was mentioned here. It's a shame he hasn't stumbled across this blog, since he might have started a nice conversation.

I'm surprised if he really is putting up an essay a day like he says. I'd say that's quite a burden.

I am familiar with this blog and have posted at it at least twice.

Mike, I know I owe you a letter, but my old computer gave up the ghost and the new one had to go to the hospital after three days for software problems. So, I was offline for two weeks. Your letter no longer exists.

For those interested, here are the conclusions I've reached: every group, be it ethnic group or nation or tribe, exalts itself, in varying degrees, over others. It looks at the good it has done and even makes it up. It ignores the bad it's done. It projects its problems on other groups, even to the extent it considers them evil and insane. It exaggerates them as a threat and sometimes wishes to annihilate them.

It occurred to me I was writing about two literary archetypes: the Outcast and the Scapegoat. I found they're a lot more powerful than I have them credit for. Harry Potter, for a well-known example, is an outcast and scapegoat for the Dursleys. Carrie, of Stephen King's novelof the same name, is the same as Harry, although King understood such a person would go crazy and wipe people out, as Carrie did the town. I've always though Harry would have murdered the Dursleys in their sleep with an ax.

You can even see these archetypes in the movie, "Revenge of the Sith." When Anakin turns to the Dark Side he sees everything, as all Sith Lords do, as absolutes, i.e., as either all-good or all-evil. That's when he turns against the Jedi, sees them as evil (because he denies his own evil and projects it on them) and goes so far as to slaughter the Jedi children.

To me, the whole subject is fascinating, and I've been thinking about it for years.

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