I’m Not Saying It Was the Ship Owner but It Was the Ship Owner

The world is a pretty weird place.

In a world governed by natural laws and physics, some things defy logical explanation.

A two-headed anything.

Ball lightning.

Sister Wives. 

 

 

This is a two-headed calf:

 

2 headed calf

 

 

Weird.

This is Sister Wives.

 

 

 

 

Seriously, can someone explain the appeal of this show to me.

 

Ordinary events on planet Earth may seem strange enough to the casual observer, but when things get really weird, earthlings often look to the sky for explanations (and maybe for a little bit of comfort) for everyday weirdness of life here on planet Earth.

Some people look to the heavens for God.

Some people look for aliens.

 

 

ALIENS.

ALIENS.

 

 

Lots of folks are into aliens.

Lots of ’em.

Maybe too many.

 

 

AND NOT JUST GUYS WHO LOOK LIKE THIS, EITHER.

AND NOT JUST GUYS WHO LOOK LIKE THIS, EITHER.

 

Whether we’re talking about flying saucers,

 

 

images flying saucer

 

 

Mysterious lights,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or alien abductions,

 

 

alien abduction

 

 

We’re talking about these guys.

 

 

 

ALIENS.

ALIENS.

 

 

Whether you believe we’ve been visited by benevolent E.T.s, evil reptilians infiltrating world governments, malevolent xenomorphs, or in little green men…

 

 

marvin the martian

 

 

Or even your own first-hand account of an encounter with anal-probing, intergalactic sex perverts,

 

 

IMAGE UNAVAILABLE

 

 

We’re hooked on tales of human encounters with alien visitors.

 

images oh wait it's aliens

 

 

Did you know that half of all Americans believe life exists on other planets?

And a quarter of all Americans believe that Earth has been visited by extraterrestrials.

 

 

NOT JUST GUYS THAT LOOK LIKE THIS, EITHER.

NOT JUST GUYS THAT LOOK LIKE THIS, EITHER.

 

 

I’m a philosopher.

 

Philosophers, by nature, are supposed to be into philosophy.

 

We’re not supposed to be into aliens.

 

We look to the sky only when we’re contemplating the meaning of life and the universe.

We definitely don’t look to the sky for something like this:

 

 

images grey alien

 

 

I have to admit, I’m not too familiar of any alien philosophers other than the great Vulcan philosopher Surak.

 

THIS IS SURAK. HE'S THE GUY WHO CAME UP WITH THAT VULCANS HAVE TO BE ALL LOGICAL SORT-OF THING.

THIS IS SURAK. HE’S THE GUY WHO CAME UP WITH THAT VULCANS HAVE TO BE ALL LOGICAL SORT-OF THING.

 

 

 

If you look around (especially on the internet) there’s plenty of evidence that Earth has indeed been visited by aliens. From first-hand encounters to film footage of aliens. Stories of the alien spacecraft crash at Roswell, crop circles, cattle mutilations, unexplained phenomena, and ancient texts and monuments it’s fairly reasonable to conclude that some of the things that cannot be explained can be explained if we consider the possibility that the explanation is that Earth has been visited by extraterrestrial life.

 

 

 

but it was aliens

 

 

The possibility that Earth has not only been visited, but that aliens have played and continue to play an active role in human events, explains the popularity of shows like Art Bell’s Coast To Coast, films like E.T., the Star Trek franchise, the Predator series, and the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The search for extraterrestrial life is the reason behind SETI. It’s the reason why NASA wants to send a manned mission to Mars.

And it’s the reason why I know when exploring a space colony that has suddenly and inexplicably lost contact with Earth to stay clear of anything that looks even remotely like this:

 

 

images facehugger

 

 

 

Besides, if aliens aren’t real how does anyone explain this?

 

 

 

images alien autopsy

 

 

Stroll the aisles of any bookstore (if you can find an actual bookstore) and you’ll find books full of testimonials of alien sightings, contacts, and abductions. Really, you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your own home to find material about aliens. A Google search of the word “alien” will yield enough web stuff to keep a person busy for days.

 

Stories of alien contact, like the account of Travis Walton, who claims he was abducted by aliens in November, 1975, are compelling if not convincing testimony that claims of alien encounters.

 

 

images travis walton

 

 

 

With the exception of a few obvious hoaxes, we must admit that evidence gives us reason at least to question whether we are alone in the universe and wonder if any intelligent life has indeed visited Earth.

 

 

 

images but if not aliens

 

 

Ok, I know what the assholes experts will say sure, there’s a lot of “evidence” for believing in the existence of non-earthling beings, but when it comes to down to reliable evidence, most evidence of alien visitations is un-definitive at best and downright suspect at worst. Evidence is either purely anecdotal or the worst shaky-cam footage since Cloverfield.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird stories of cow mutilations and anal probing may make for entertaining television, but for many these accounts remain subject to skepticism.

 

What we want is proof.

 

 

ACTUAL PHOTOGRAPH OF AN ALIEN LIFE FORM

ACTUAL PHOTOGRAPH OF AN ALIEN LIFE FORM

 

 

And if you’re a philosopher, our beliefs not only demand proof; they demand justification.

You see, even if I find someone’s evidence of an alien sighting, encounter or abduction convincing, I may still have no business believing what they say. I don’t just have to take into account the fact that I believe their claim, I have to think about what reasons (i.e. justification) I have for believing the claim.

 

As a philosopher I must demand more evidence better evidence.

Certainly more evidence than some stories and bad camera work.

As a philosopher, I’m not allowed to simply say,

 

 

 

i don't know. therefore aliens

 

 

According to the English philosopher William Clifford (1845-1879) I am accountable not only for my beliefs but also for my justification of my beliefs.

 

 

 

This is William Clifford.

 

 

ALL YOU FOLKS WHO BELIEVE IN ALIENS: SEND YOUR HATE MAIL TO THIS GUY

ALL YOU FOLKS WHO BELIEVE IN ALIENS: SEND YOUR HATE MAIL TO THIS GUY

 

 

In his famous (well, famous of you’re a philosopher) essay a “Ethics of Belief”, William Clifford states:

To sum up: it is wrong always, everywhere, and for everyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.

Clifford states that our beliefs are important because what we believe influences our actions. In Clifford’s essay, a ship owner believes that his ship is seaworthy when in reality it is not. The ship sets sail into stormy waters and is lost at sea. Everyone on board dies.

 

 

PERHAPS THE SHIP OWNER ASSUMED HIS BOAT WOULD BE OUT TO SEA FOR ONLY A THREE HOUR TOUR

PERHAPS THE SHIP OWNER ASSUMED HIS BOAT WOULD BE OUT TO SEA FOR ONLY A THREE HOUR TOUR

 

 

Worse yet, all the ship’s cargo is lost.

 

 

The problem, Clifford says, is that ship owner, despite his belief that his ship was capable of completing the voyage, had based his belief on bad evidence.* The ship owner has no epistemological right to believe that his ship was seaworthy. His belief wasn’t justified.

 

Ok, I know I’m truncating the hell out of Clifford’s essay, which is why you should read it.

 

 

reading is fundamental

 

 

In the case of Clifford’s ship owner, a belief based on insufficient evidence cost lives. We can clearly see the detrimental effect our beliefs have on our actions and potentially on the lives of others, but what about a belief in aliens? Is believing in the existence of extraterrestrial life even if the evidence for believing in such is insufficient necessarily harmful to anyone?

 

 

it was aliens

 

 

 

Surely, believing in aliens would not influence any sane person anyone to send a sea un-worthy ship into stormy weather (unless I assumed that aliens would rescue the crew and cargo). If I believe that aliens exist, even based on the flimsiest of evidence, who does my belief hurt? Am I allowed to believe some things despite the fact that my evidence may be lacking?

 

 

because aliens

 

 

The short answer is no. Even our trivial beliefs matter. Clifford says that it’s wrong to hold any belief based on insufficient evidence.

Morally wrong.

 

Because even a seemingly insignificant belief can influence the way we act.

 

Perhaps even in possibly dangerous ways.

 

 

WARNING: HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION AHEAD

WARNING: HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION AHEAD

 

 

Lets say that there is someone who believes that not only do aliens exist and have invaded Earth, but that aliens have successfully infiltrated the world’s governments and alien-human hybrids are hell-bent on destroying humanity. The person who believes this has based his beliefs on photographs like this:

 

 

images blurry alien photo

 

 

And like this:

 

 

face on mars

 

 

These pictures, he argues, are evidence of an full-scale alien invasion of Earth. Based on his evidence he has decided to wage a one-man war against the alien invaders.

Now, let me say this each of those photos can be used to make a compelling argument for the existence of alien life. But can these photos provide enough sufficient evidence to support the belief in alien life on Earth?

Remember, “evidence” of anything can be found on the internet.

 

Don’t forget that the internet is where photoshop lives.

 

Given the fact that his “evidence” consists of nothing more than blurry photographs or testimony supplied by a questionable (and often unverifiable) sources.

 

 

NO. THIS ISN’T EVIDENCE EITHER

NO. THIS ISN’T EVIDENCE EITHER

 

 

Because your undeniable evidence may be just another example of

 

 

 

images photoshop

 

 

Let’s face it folks, most “evidence” of terrestrial alien activity would not stand up to even the most basic epistemic scrutiny, let alone the kind of epistemological evidential proof that a philosopher requires. The kind of evidential proof that Clifford says everyone should require.

 

And if the evidence is insufficient, we cannot subscribe to a belief.

There is no good reason to believe what we believe.

 

 

not even aliens can explain this BS

 

 

We might not be aware of how beliefs negatively influence how we act.

 

If someone who believes the Earth has been overrun by malevolent, otherworldly beings acts violently against those he believes are the interspecies enemies of mankind, most of us would agree that his actions would not be the right (morally correct) thing to do.

 

 

it's the aliens

 

 

We can’t just say that the evidence seems true or that we have faith that our belief is true despite evidence that contradicts our beliefs.

 

 

SO FAR AS I KNOW, THIS GUY’S PARENTS ARE 100 PERCENT HUMAN

SO FAR AS I KNOW, THIS GUY’S PARENTS ARE 100 PERCENT HUMAN

 

 

Perhaps if that individual had questioned the veracity of his beliefs he would not have acted so violently.

 

 IN JAIL NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM

IN JAIL NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM

 

When we believe based on insufficient evidence we are deprived of truth, of how things truly are. And when we do not see things as they are, we can’t make correct moral decisions. This may seem a trivial concern, but it really means a lot. And not just to philosophers.

Beliefs grounded on a sturdy foundation are more likely to be true than false. Acting on true beliefs tends to deliver better results for us and for other people.

 

 

  THIS GUY IS SMILING BECAUSE ALL OF BELIEFS ARE BASED ON SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE.

THIS GUY IS SMILING BECAUSE ALL OF BELIEFS ARE BASED ON SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE.

 

 

You see, the point really isn’t whether we believe in aliens. Or invisible pink unicorns. Or clairvoyance. Or whatever. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t believe that there is life on other planets. Chances are there is. What we should be aware of is that the consequences of holding some beliefs isn’t entirely harmless. Our beliefs influence what we do and when we act, our actions are subject to ethical evaluation.

 

But then….

 

 

who needs facts when you have opinion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*If you’re interested in reading Clifford’s full essay, “Ethics of Belief” (who isn‘t?), you can access it on the web just about anywhere. Seriously, all you need to do is type “William Clifford” into any search engine and “Ethics of Belief” is certain to pop up. But if you don’t want to do the search, click on the link here:

http://myweb.lmu.edu/tshanahan/Clifford-Ethics_of_Belief.html

 

 

 

* While I was cruising the internet procrastinating researching this post, I came across this article. It seems that I may be too eager to dismiss belief in the supernatural and otherworldly things. Check it out for yourself and decide if the article is convincing.

http://nautil.us/issue/16/nothingness/why-we-cant-rule-out-bigfoot?utm_content=buffer6a3ae&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

 

SOURCES:

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/21/alien-poll_n_3473852.html

http://myweb.lmu.edu/tshanahan/Clifford-Ethics_of_Belief.html

 

 

 

My Other Brother Daryl

I used to think it was kind of cheesy whenever I would hear someone claim that the lyrics from a song or a character from a book or a movie changed their life.

 

With a world filled with so many real-life heroes and heroines, to say that your life changed after watching an episode of Mob Wives seems a bit trivial.

 

Although I will say that I was more than a little bit moved after watching Cloverfield.

 

 

THOSE PARASITES, MAN.

THOSE PARASITES, MAN.

 

 

Even if one has never experienced something as profound as being permanently changed by the lyrics of “Girls, Girls, Girls“, one can recognize that watching the “life” of a character from a TV show or a movie can be philosophically interesting.

 

One character I find philosophically interesting is the character Daryl Dixon, played by Norman Reedus on AMC’s hit horror-drama, The Walking Dead.

 

 

keep calm and love daryl dixon

Fans of the show like Daryl Dixon because he is a badass.

 

 

the zombie died

 
I like Daryl Dixon because he discovers the meaning of life.

 

Or rather, that Daryl Dixon discovers the meaning of his life.

 

 

  DARYL DIXON. BADASS LEVEL: SEXIEST HILLBILLY IN GEORGIA.


 DARYL DIXON. BADASS LEVEL: SEXIEST HILLBILLY IN GEORGIA.

 

 

Ok, I know I’ve written about The Walking Dead more than a few times already. And I know that some people think that the show is nothing more than inane television. They are befuddled by the fact that ANYONE can enjoy a show with characters that are straight from the TV clichés handbook. They are even more perplexed by the fact that the show is not only the highest basic cable drama on television, but and that anyone would look for, much less find “deeper” meaning in the soap opera-like plots and hammy (sometimes borderline unintentionally comical) acting.

 

There’s a reason why Mad Men wins the big awards and The Walking Dead isn’t even nominated.

 

 

YEP. THIS IS EXACTLY WHY EVERYONE LOVES MAD MEN.

YEP. THIS IS EXACTLY WHY EVERYONE LOVES MAD MEN.

 

 

 

Some people even question the judgment of people who express a fondness for former sheriff’s deputy, Rick Grimes, and his band of survivors.

 

And to that, I say,

 

 

haters

 

 

 

Many TV show characters have a following, but Daryl Dixon may be the only character in television history whose fans have threatened an uprising if the character is removed from the show.

 

 

If-Daryl-dies-we-riot

 

 
Daryl Dixon is initially introduced in season one as the delinquent younger brother of the racist, sexist, Heisenberg-using Merle Dixon (played by Michael Rooker). Daryl’s entrance is as memorable as his character: he emerges from the woods, crossbow in hand, grimy from head to toe, a bounty of dead squirrels strung around his neck. Daryl doesn’t care about anything or for anyone other than his brother.

 

Daryl Dixon angrily expresses his contempt (angrily contempt, is that redundant?) for the group when he’s told that his brother (Merle) was chained to a roof and left behind in zombie-infested Atlanta. And when the camp is invaded by the undead, Daryl declares that the reason why the camp was attacked is because the group has reaped what it sowed.

 

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU CHAIN MERLE DIXON TO A PIPE…. AT LEAST ACCORDING TO HIS BROTHER.

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU CHAIN MERLE DIXON TO A PIPE…. AT LEAST ACCORDING TO HIS BROTHER.

 

 
Consequently, Daryl agrees to accompany Rick back to Atlanta not to retrieve a valuable bag of guns that Rick left behind in the city, but to find his brother Merle.

 

 

UNFORTUNATELY FOR DARYL, THIS IS WHAT HE FINDS IN ATLANTA.

UNFORTUNATELY FOR DARYL, THIS IS WHAT HE FINDS IN ATLANTA.

 

 
Although Daryl proves he’s handy with a crossbow, without his brother or a defined and/or useful skill (other than brooding and squirrel hunting) Daryl’s place in the group is unclear.

 

 

THIS IS THE ONLY EXPRESSION DARYL DIXON HAD ALL OF SEASON ONE.

THIS IS THE ONLY EXPRESSION DARYL DIXON HAD ALL OF SEASON ONE.

 

 

In the post-apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead, everyone’s role is clearly defined:
Rick Grimes is the leader of the group (undeniably). Rick’s former partner and best friend, Shane Walsh, is Rick’s second in command. Glenn is to go-to guy. Old man Dale is the voice of reason. T-Dog is the lone black guy. Carl Grimes is the incorrigible child. Andrea is the useless chick. And Rick’s wife Lori – let’s not talk about Lori.

 

 

ALL I'M GONNA SAY IS THAT JANET WEISS ISN’T THE ONLY CHARACTER THAT PEOPLE YELL “SLUT” WHEN SHE APPEARS ON SCREEN.

ALL I’M GONNA SAY IS THAT JANET WEISS ISN’T THE ONLY CHARACTER THAT PEOPLE YELL “SLUT” WHEN SHE APPEARS ON SCREEN.

 

 

lori grimes, slut

 

 

 

See?

 

Nearly every character in the group has a place to fill; a purpose. Daryl does not. He’s just a crossbow carrying, squirrel-hunting, brother-of-a-racist hick who knows choke holds are illegal.

Sure, Daryl Dixon is a fan favorite, a total badass, and can survive in the woods, but he lacks a reason for being where or who he is.

That has “easily expendable” written all over it.
Daryl Dixon is a The Walking Dead redshirt.

 

 

death had a near-daryl experience

 

 

 

Seriously, though. Daryl tells Rick and Shane that choke holds are illegal.

After Shane chokes him.

Cops aren’t supposed to put people in choke holds.
Because they’re cops.

 

choke hold's illegal

 
The meaningless existence of Daryl Dixon seems destined to be Dixon’s fate until the first episode of the show’s second season. In the season 2 opener “What Lies Ahead” something extraordinary happens – a character goes missing.

A child. Sophia Peletier.

 

THIS IS A WONDERFUL THING FOR DARYL DIXON.

 

 

WHO KNEW THAT A MISSING CHILD WOULD BRING ABOUT SUCH FORTUITOUS CONSEQUENCES?

WHO KNEW THAT A MISSING CHILD WOULD BRING ABOUT SUCH FORTUITOUS CONSEQUENCES?

 
Wait a minute. I have to go forward a bit for this to make any sense.

BACK TO THE ‘82

BACK TO THE ‘82

 

 

Ok. So in season four, the group is attacked by The Governor and they’re forced to flee the prison. Daryl and Beth Greene (the one who sings) find themselves alone (together) and – wait –

Damn. Now I gotta explain that.

 

Ok… Rick Grimes and his group find sanctuary at an abandoned prison. They’re able to clear out the undead (they’re never called zombies on the show) and make a safe place for themselves. But then this dude called “The Governor” shows up.

He’s a pretty bad guy.

 

How do you know The Governor is bad? He’s got an eye patch.

 

EYE PATCH = EVIL

EYE PATCH = EVIL

 

 

Long story short (too late) The Governor and Rick’s group can’t find a way to make nice-nice during the zombie apocalypse (this should be an easy thing to do, right?) and the opposing groups soon turn to war.

 

 

Then this happens:

 

 

Hershel beheading

 

 

 

And then this happens:

 

OK, I KNOW THIS IS A STILL FROM SEASON 3. BOTH OF THE GOVERNOR’S ATTACKS ON THE PRISON INVOLVE BLOWING UP THINGS, SO THIS PICTURE IS STILL TOTALLY APPROPRIATE TO USE.

OK, I KNOW THIS IS A STILL FROM SEASON 3. BOTH OF THE GOVERNOR’S ATTACKS ON THE PRISON INVOLVE BLOWING UP THINGS, SO THIS PICTURE IS STILL TOTALLY APPROPRIATE TO USE.

 

 

 

 

So this happens:

 

 

beth and daryl

 

 

Now, the natural inclination for any The Walking Dead fan on the prospect of an entire episode devoted to Beth Greene (she’s the one who sings) would be to avoid that episode at all costs. That would make sense if you watch the show solely for a weekly fix of blood, guts, and badassery. But remember, there are things more important than watching a character shoot a crossbow and kick ass.

 

norman reedus obsession meme

 

 

Namely, that The Walking Dead is also a philosophical show.

AM I THE ONLY PERSON WHO THINKS HEISENBERG HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE?

AM I THE ONLY PERSON WHO THINKS HEISENBERG HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE?

 

 

You see, the search for little Sophia allows Daryl to find his purpose.

 

That’s philosophical.

 

It’s Daryl who leads search for young Sophia and is the most dedicated to finding the lost girl.

 

Well, I guess the girl’s mother would be the most dedicated to finding Sophia.

 

Daryl is thrown off a horse, impaled on one of his own crossbow bolts, gnawed on by a zombie (luckily it was only biting on Daryl’s boot), and is grazed on the side of the head by a bullet when Andrea mistakenly assumes that Daryl is a zombie and attempts to shoot him in the head.

ANDREA REALLY IS THE USELESS CHICK, MAN.

ANDREA REALLY IS THE USELESS CHICK, MAN.

 

 
Daryl helps Andrea to find a reason for living. He supplies T-Dog with antibiotics after T-Dog’s wound is infected. Daryl saves Glenn from a simplified Randall. And let’s not forget that it’s Daryl who steps forward to put down Dale after Dale is attacked by a zombie.
I’m not even going to say spoiler alert.

 IF YOU DON’T KNOW THIS HAPPENED BY NOW (IF NEWS THAT DALE IS DEAD IS A “SPOILER”) DON’T EVEN BOTHER TO WATCH THE SHOW.

IF YOU DON’T KNOW THIS HAPPENED BY NOW (IF NEWS THAT DALE IS DEAD IS A “SPOILER”) DON’T EVEN BOTHER TO WATCH THE SHOW.

 

 
Daryl consoles the grieving Carol Peletier by delivering her a Cherokee rose and telling her the tale of grieving mothers on the Trail of Tears.

 

 

daryl on merle

 

 
When Rick kills Shane by stabbing Shane in the chest, Daryl steps forward to occupy the newly-vacant position as Rick’s new right-hand man. When Daryl is nearly fatally injured and hallucinates a vision of his missing brother Merle, he rejects “Merle’s” allegation that the group rejects Daryl and has no use for him.

 

 

DIXON BROTHERS

 

 

Of course we know that Daryl is actually arguing with himself.

daryl's hallucination

THAT DUDE MUST HAVE FALLEN HARD TO SEE MERLE.

 

 

Daryl’s steadfast devotion to find Sophia shows the audience that Daryl not only cares for the group (Sophia, anyway), but more importantly, that he no longer is just Merle Dixon’s little brother. Daryl starts to forge a place for himself in the group.

 

panties dropping

 
In a world where Beth Greene attempts suicide because she finds life in a land full of the undead not worth living (Beth specifically uses the word “pointless”), the zombie apocalypse gives Daryl the opportunity to establish himself as a useful and trustworthy member of the group; a member with an essential role as protector, provider, multi-weapons specialist, tracker, and trusted confidant. By the end of season four, Daryl Dixon is not at all like he was when he was introduced at the outset of the show. Daryl has a purpose.

 

And through a purpose, Daryl Dixon’s life has meaning.

 

 

daryl's purpose

 

 

Daryl confesses to Beth that in the pre-apocalypse, he hadn’t done anything with his life other than follow behind his older brother Merle. Daryl’s life, other than his devotion to Merle, lacked engagement in any other significant activity – activities that, for most people, make our lives meaningful.

 
(Sidenote: the whole scene where Daryl confesses to Beth is a little weird. Beth is supposed to be about seventeen years old or so. That’s fine and dandy until you ask “how old is Daryl?” The actor who plays Daryl Dixon, Norman Reedus, is in his mid-forties. The way Beth extracts info from Daryl is while playing a variation of Truth or Dare (just truth, no dare). The whole situation is kind of creepy (and not just because they play the game while swigging moonshine). The situation gets downright odd when Daryl tells Beth not only has he never been arrested (ok, fine), but he also gives the impression that he’s never done a few OTHER things, as well. Yes, THAT. Are the viewers expected to believe that Daryl Dixon is THAT inexperienced? Is his character supposed to be closer to the fictional Beth Greene’s age and not the actual age of Norman Reedus? Does anyone know? )

 

 

 

JUST HOW OLD IS THIS DARYL DIXON, ANYWAY?

JUST HOW OLD IS THIS DARYL DIXON, ANYWAY?

 

 

The philosopher Susan Wolf says that a meaningful life is a life that a person is “actively engaged” in “projects of worth”. Active engagement, according to Wolf, is any activity that a person is “gripped, excited, involved” in.

 

 

Wolf writes:

To be actively engaged in something is not always pleasant in the ordinary sense of the word. Activities in which people are actively engaged frequently involve stress, danger, exertion or sorrow… However, there is something good about the feeling of engagement: one feels (typically without thinking about it) especially alive.

 

 

 

I KNOW IT'S NOT A PICTURE OF DARYL DIXON BUT THERE AREN'T ANY SCREENSHOTS OF DARYL DIXON CONTEMPLATING THE MEANING OF LIFE.

I KNOW IT’S NOT A PICTURE OF DARYL DIXON BUT THERE AREN’T ANY SCREENSHOTS OF DARYL DIXON CONTEMPLATING THE MEANING OF LIFE.

 
Life in the zombie apocalypse may be a life that is, as Hobbes described in Leviathan, “nasty, brutish, and short”, but it is in this world that Daryl Dixon finds his meaning in life. Daryl Dixon is actively engaged in protecting the lives of his fellow survivors. He is a man that others look to with admiration and for guidance (like the unfortunate patient zero Patrick). The world may suck and Daryl himself may not be aware of it, but Daryl Dixon’s life is not nothing; it‘s not meaningless. He’s done plenty with his life.

 

And not just hunting squirrels with his crossbow.

 

Well, if anything, this is the purpose of Daryl Dixon existence:

 

 

daryl is for the ladies

 

 

This is it. Right, ladies?

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOURCES:
Susan Wolf. “Meaning In Life”. The Meaning of Life: A Reader. 2008. Eds. E.D. Klemke and Steven M. Cahn. NY: Oxford University Press. 232-3.

A View From Monster Island (Is That an Unmanned Drone????????!)

Some people are into certain seasons.

Some people are Spring people. Some people like Summer. Or Winter.

I’m definitely an Autumn kind of gal.

I’m super into Halloween.

 

Yes, I refer to Halloween as a holiday.

It’s like my Christmas.

I dress up, bake holiday-themed goodies, and play holiday-appropriate music.

 

No. I don’t worship the Devil.

 

I’ve been asked that before.

 

For me, Halloween is the time to dwell upon all things spooky and scary.

I like to think of myself as spooky and a little bit scary. Wednesday Addams is my totem animal.

 

it's wednesday again

 
I’ve found the quickest way to get into the spooky and scary mood is through the cinema.

Actually, the quickest way might be through a Ouija board. But then, who wants to risk conjuring up Captain Howdy while trying to communicate with the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe?

 

THINGS WOULD HAVE GONE SO MUCH BETTER IF SHE HAD WATCHED A CREATURE FREATURE INSTEAD

THINGS WOULD HAVE GONE SO MUCH BETTER IF SHE HAD WATCHED A CREATURE FEATURE INSTEAD

 

I must say that it’s not very often that watching a creature feature gets one thinking about U.S. foreign policy. After all, the point of a creature feature is to spook you out or even scare you a little bit. It’s even less likely that a 1950s B-grade, sci-fi flick would get one thinking about foreign policy and philosophy.

It would be fair to say that it doesn’t really happen at all.

 

It’s not that fifties cinema wasn’t political or philosophical. Fifties films such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Day of the Triffids, and The Day the Earth Stood Still (not to mention Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone) not only are classic sci-fi films, but are also plenty political and philosophical.

Spend an afternoon watching movies on Syfy. You’ll see.

 

The reason, I think, so few sci-fi flicks get me (us?) thinking about politics and philosophy really has more to do with the fact that Hollywood so rarely makes old-fashioned monster movies these days. Modern cinema is all special effects or all slice and dice.

Paranormal Activity-whatever numbered sequel they’re up to by now.

We don’t think because movies no longer encourage us to think… about anything.

Oh wait, Cloverfield came out a few years ago.

That movie got me thinking. Not sure if all my thoughts about it were political or philosophical, though.*

To be honest, that movie kind of messed me up, man.

I used to think that only vampire and zombie bites were dangerous.

Eeech.

 

 

THIS MOVIE QUITE POSSIBLY RUINED MY LIFE

THIS MOVIE QUITE POSSIBLY RUINED MY LIFE

 

Unfortunately for monster flick lovers like me, we have to look to the past to enjoy a good “What the F@#K is THAT???!” flick.

Giant lizard films from the sixties are always a good place to start.

A remake of Godzilla was released a few years ago. I’m not going to beat a dead horse but if there was anything worth watching in that barely watchable movie (admit it, it was barely watchable), it was Jean Reno – who is by definition required viewing no matter what movie he is in.

 

JEAN RENO. BADASS LEVEL: EXPERT

JEAN RENO. BADASS LEVEL: EXPERT

 

Actually, the problem isn’t the Godzilla remake. To be honest, there is a problem with Godzilla movies in general. Watch more than two Godzilla movies and you’ll soon discover that if you can get past the comically bad dubbing, the weird made-for-American-audiences re-editing, strangely choreographed monster fight sequences, and chuckle-inducing monster suits, your intestinal constitution is stronger than any champion competitive food eater.

 

WATCHING THIS MOVIE WILL NOT SO MUCH AS PHILOSOPHICALLY ENLIGHTEN YOU AS IT MAY REVEAL YOU HAVE UNRESOLVED ANGER MANAGEMENT ISSUES

WATCHING THIS MOVIE WILL NOT SO MUCH AS PHILOSOPHICALLY ENLIGHTEN YOU AS IT MAY REVEAL YOU HAVE UNRESOLVED ANGER MANAGEMENT ISSUES

 

 

Oh God, I hear they’re making another one. Another remake.

Why must they punish my eyes so?

 

The funny thing is, is that even though Godzilla flicks are, qualitatively speaking, pretty awful movies, once you see past all that‘s not worth watching, there’s actually something really smart going on. Godzilla movies are not only some of the finest examples of unintentional madcap comedy, they’re some of the best teaching tools around.

Especially if one is inclined to think about philosophy or foreign policy.

 

WARNING: FLASHBACK AHEAD

WARNING: FLASHBACK AHEAD

 

When I was a kid, weekends meant only one thing: spending my Saturday afternoons watching bad movies. In the days before basic cable and the endless stream of made-for-Syfy and the Lifetime Network’s obscure 80’s actors cinematic crapfests, one only had local television affiliates and a bunny-eared antenna to view the best of the worst cinema ever made. I remember the local Los Angeles affiliate, KHJ (now KCAL) aired Movie Macabre, hosted by Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

 

elvira's movie macabre

 

I spent many Saturday afternoons watching craptacular gems like The Werewolf of Washington, The Monster Club, The Devil’s Rain, Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks, and The Incredible Melting Man.

 

WITH SPECIAL EFFECTS LIKE THIS, IT HAS TO BE CRAP. I KNOW, I KNOW. RICK BAKER.

WITH SPECIAL EFFECTS LIKE THIS, IT HAS TO BE CRAP. I KNOW, I KNOW. RICK BAKER.

 

 

I may be wrong but I think John Saxon hosted a show called Kung-Fu Theatre.

Those movies were pretty bad, too.

Still, more than any other memory of those Saturdays spent boob-tubing away my early childhood, I remember watching Godzilla movies.

Enough Godzilla flicks to last a Japanese school boy in too-tight-shorts a life time.

 

Admittedly, by the time Godzilla was pitted against the giant, flying, pollution-dispensing, melted shuttlecock-looking, Smog Monster, the intelligence quotient of the film series had reached an all-time low.

 

AL GORE SHOULD HAVE USED THIS MOVIE TO ARGUE FOR PROOF OF GLOBAL WARMING.

AL GORE SHOULD HAVE USED THIS MOVIE TO ARGUE FOR PROOF OF GLOBAL WARMING.

 

By the mid-1960s, Godzilla flicks had started the slippery slide down the crap scale from slightly stupid movies to full-blown, “you’ve got to be kidding me”-inducing plotlines involving the son of Godzilla (never once addressing where Mrs. Godzilla, was) and pitting the King of Monsters against America’s own racially-metaphored monster, King Kong.

 

STILL A BETTER LOVE STORY THAN TWILIGHT

STILL A BETTER LOVE STORY THAN TWILIGHT

 

 

The sad thing is Godzilla started out as kind of a smart film.

An invention of the Toho Picture Company, Godzilla made his film debut in Gojira released in 1954. Originally an anti-nuke, anti-war allegory, Gojira was re-cut for U.S. audiences with footage of American actor Raymond Burr (best known as TV’s Perry Mason) and re-titled Godzilla, King of Monsters.

 

raymond burr in godzilla

 

Gojira was intended to be a cautionary tale; a warning against man’s arrogance and want to harness the power of the gods creating real-life monsters (nuclear weapons) that can destroy man and the planet. Gojira producer, Tomoyuki Tanaka, said:

 

The theme of the film from the beginning, was the terror of the bomb. Mankind had created the bomb, and now nature was going to take revenge on mankind.

 

GODZILLA’S REVENGE LOOKED LIKE THIS.

GODZILLA’S REVENGE LOOKED LIKE THIS.

 

 

However, in the Americanized Godzilla, King of Monsters, any references to the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945, and U.S. hydrogen bomb tests (in the original Gojira we’re told the hydrogen bomb is what created Godzilla) were also removed from the film.

 

ACCORDING TO THE AMERICAN VERSION THIS HAD ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH GODZILLA.

ACCORDING TO THE AMERICAN VERSION THIS HAD ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH GODZILLA.

 

 

By the way, Raymond Burr plays a reporter named “Steve Martin”. His character’s name still makes me laugh.

 

 

 DESPITE THE FACT THAT HE IS A WILD AND CRAZY GUY, HE’S HARDLY THE TYPE TO SAVE THE WORLD FROM A HYDROGEN BOMB-CREATED SAURIAN BEAST.

DESPITE THE FACT THAT HE IS A WILD AND CRAZY GUY, HE’S HARDLY THE TYPE TO SAVE THE WORLD FROM A HYDROGEN BOMB-CREATED SAURIAN BEAST.

 

It’s not unreasonable that a Japanese film company would make an anti-nuke movie.

Japan is the only country to have been bombed twice with nuclear weapons.

 

Watching the original Gojira and its anti-nuke message got me thinking: Of course, being anti-nuke is a political position, but if being anti anything means you’ve taken a stand against something because you think it’s wrong, you’re taking a moral position as well.

 

If you’re talking morals, you’re talking philosophy.

 

And if you’re talking about the ethics of atomic warfare, you’re talking foreign policy.

 

We’ve all heard the explanation before: The United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to save lives that would have been lost in U.S. invasion of Japan. The explanation is utilitarian. The bombs were dropped to produce the greatest good for the greatest number. The English philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) explains:

 

… actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.

 

The utilitarian position is this: if dropping atomic bombs on Japan would save lives and end the war, ending thousands of Japanese lives was a small price to pay for saving millions of American and Allied lives. U.S. government argued Hiroshima and Nagasaki were military targets; which made destroying the cities all the more necessary. Therefore, the total destruction of two Japanese cities was a necessary and morally justified act.

 

It was the only solution.

 

after the atomic bomb

THIS LOOKS LIKE A PRETTY GOOD SOLUTION ALRIGHT.

 

Utilitarian justifications for military action are not uncommon. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the Bush Doctrine, military interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, Libya, Grenada, the Balkans, and American support of coups in Iran and Chile, were all based on utilitarian arguments. In arguing for military action in Iraq, President George W. Bush stated:

 

By confronting evil and lawless regimes, we do not create a problem, we reveal a problem. And we will lead the world in opposing it… We have a great opportunity to extend a just peace, by replacing poverty, repression, and resentment around the world with the hope of a better day.

 

That, my friends, is a utilitarian argument.

 

But wait, you say, the Vietnam War ended badly for the United States. As did the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you think about it, more than a few “interventions” have gone very badly. If this is so, how can you justify military aggression if the result is worse than the initial problem?

If you just said that, congratulations. You figured out the problem with utilitarianism.

 

You see, the utilitarian (moral) position tells us that if we possess the means to end or prevent the suffering of others, we are obligated to act. We would be neglecting our moral duty if we do not. Taking lives is not necessarily wrong if our ultimate goal is to increase the overall good (or happiness) of the whole.

So, if dropping bombs from unmanned drones will decrease violent acts of Islamic extremism, then blowing up weddings, unarmed journalists or people eating lunch is morally justified.

 

utilitarian cartoon

 
On its face, that all sounds fine and dandy. But, if you haven’t already realized it, not every bomb falls on its intended target. And sometimes our best utilitarian intentions fall victim to the law of unintended consequences.

Utilitarian ethics tells us that if we ought to act if we have the means to increase the happiness of the whole, but the sometimes inaccurate calculation of (best) consequences leads to bad things happening rather than the outcomes we expected. Sometimes, despite our best intentions and expectations, the situation ends up much worse than before we did anything.

 

WORSE LIKE THIS:

 

 

godzilla 1956

 

 

If you’re a utilitarian, this is unacceptable.

 

Because the moral rightness or wrongness depends on the consequences of our actions, not our intentions. We can have all the best intentions in the world, but if we act and the consequences are bad, then our actions are morally wrong.

 

hiroshima after bomb

WAS THIS REALLY THE BEST THING TO DO?

 

Because in the real world when we act, we risk more than creating an irradiated, 150 foot, “big-gutted, big-butted” prehistoric beast hell-bent on destroying Tokyo.

In the real world, we must weigh our actions against the possibility that we’ll kill real people and cause real damage to others.

Even if our intentions tell us unmanned drones will get the job done.

 

 

 

 

* Actually Cloverfield is a political movie. One need not look too deeply into the plot to see the parallels between the events in the film and the terrorist attack on New York on September 11th, 2001.

 

 

 

 

Sources:
1) John Stuart Mill. “Utilitarianism”. Twenty Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy. 1988. Eds. G. Lee Bowie, Meredith W. Michaels, Robert C. Solomon, and Robert J. Fogelin. NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. p. 571

2) Sam Stall, Lou Harry, and Julia Spaulding. The Encyclopedia of Guilty Pleasures: 1001 Things You Hate to Love. 2004. Philadelphia: Quirk Books. p.108.

3) Steve Ryfle. “Godzilla’s Footprint”. Gojira DVD insert.

4) The Evolving Presidency: Addresses, Cases, Essays, Letters, Reports, Resolutions, Transcripts, and Other Landmark Documents, 1787-2004. 2004. 2nd Edition. Ed. Michael Nelson. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press. pp. 288.