E-boek: Fragmenten 2010-2019

Het mooie van deze tijd is dat iedereen eigen boeken kan uitgeven. Dit is niet langer alleen weggelegd voor gevestigde schrijvers en beroemdheden.

Een boek of een film is een manier om dingen vast te houden. Ik heb daar altijd naar gestreefd. Misschien komt mijn passie voor film daar wel vandaan. Het vastleggen van de tijd, van levens, van mijn leven. Maar ik besef nu dat dit onmogelijk is. Films uit de jaren 50’ worden zelden meer bekeken, behalve door filmstudenten en historici. De echte klassiekers blijven geconserveerd, maar echt vasthouden, vereeuwigen, is bijzonder lastig. We leven misschien wel voor eeuwig, maar wel in een continu veranderende vorm en gedaante. Als bewustzijn zijn we continu aan het evolueren. Van lucide naar onbewust en van verlicht naar totaal onwetend.

Toch is publiceren zinvol als onderdeel van het leerproces. Dus without further ado, hierbij het resultaat van tien jaar bloggen. Een selectie van mijn favoriete verhalen van de afgelopen tien jaar. Enjoy.

Lees hier Fragmenten uit het Schemerland – Volume 1

The Idea of the World – Review

We are witnessing a shift in worldview that is now slowly but steadily advancing. Three of my favorite writers tackling this much needed transformation are the terrific scientific thinkers Robert Lanza (Biocentrism) and Donald Hoffman (The Case Against Reality) and philosopher Bernardo Kastrup. The Idea of the World is his seventh book about idealism, the philosophical system that proposes that everything is in consciousness.

Firstly, his latest and most rigorous book yet, exposes the fallacies of physicalism (or materialism) that is currently the reigning metaphysics. This position posits that an objective world exists independent of our minds. Then it goes even further by claiming that this world outside experience somehow created our consciousness in the first place! By making the subject into object, materialism creates the insoluble ‘hard problem of consciousness’. Idealism avoids this major error in logic by positing that what we experience IS reality.

But also in idealism, there are objections to overcome which Bernardo does very eloquently in subsequent chapters. Questions such as why there is a relationship between brain activity and reported inner life, why we all seem to experience the same world, and why we are unable to alter the laws of physics with our minds. He also explains why the latest findings in quantum mechanics and neuroscience inexorably point to mind as primary reality.

Because of terminology, it takes some experience in philosophic reading to (fully) comprehend this work. So if this is a new territory for you, then it’s probably better to start with one of Kastrup’s earlier books, such as the excellent Why Materialism is Baloney. However, I found this work much easier to read than other philosophy-of mind-books by for example Nagel or Chalmers. Bernardo’s writing style is very pleasant and his arguments are extremely clear.

The mental model of reality is currently the best way we have for looking at the world. I am convinced that this will be the new common worldview, and that we’ll look back at some of today’s mainstream ideas, such as billions of microscopic robots in our brain forming our integrated minds, and that we’ll be really amazed at the delusions of today’s scientific culture. We’re not there yet, but great thinkers like Bernardo Kastrup are bravely paving the way.

Book: Peter Jackson & the Making of Middle-Earth

The Lord of the Rings trilogy has been the biggest movie event of my generation. By far. Strange to think that it almost didn’t happen. An initial 200 million dollar budget for the director of splatter horror Bad Taste (one of my favorites), was too much of a risk for any Hollywood studio to take. Then Bob Shaye, CEO of New Line Cinema, took a giant leap of faith….

Ian Nathan’s Anything You Can Imagine describes Peter Jackson’s heroic quest that started more than 20 years ago. After he had completed Heavenly Creatures – a critical success that showed he could handle an emotional story – and ghost movie The Frighteners – that lead to the foundation of special effects houses Weta Digital and Weta Workshop in New Zealand – the now hot director selected Rings as one of his new projects to pursue (the others were new versions of two ape classics: King Kong and Planet of the Apes).

Development of The Lord of the Rings started off at Miramax, together with the notorious Weinstein brothers who approached the project with numerous Tony Soprano tactics. Especially Harvey. Problems arose when the Weinsteins couldn’t raise more than 75 million dollars for the initial plan of a two movie adaptation which wasn’t nearly enough. After Jackson understandably refused to make it into one large movie, the Hollywood mogul and Kiwi director had a fall out. Then Jackson’s US manager Ken Kamiss negotiated with Harvey Weinstein and they got four weeks to strike a deal with another studio. This became the now legendary deal with New Line Cinema, who gambled the studio’s future on the project. It was New Line’s Bob Shaye who suggested they make it into three rather than two movies. The Weinsteins got a great bargain out of it: big time profits and their names on the movies’ credits.

So began the longest and most exhaustive production in the history of motion pictures. No studio had ever attempted to shoot a whole trilogy in one go, for good reasons. “Had we known in advance how much we would have to do, we would have never done it”, said Jackson. But a strong passion and drive by the entire cast and crew to bring Tolkien’s world to the big screen in the best possible way they could, eventually lead to a glorious result. Nobody expected it to become that good.

I remember being completely blown away at every screening back in 2001, 2002 and 2003. These movies are absolutely perfect. The first time I saw the fellowship march on Howard Shore’s brilliant score. The wondrous Gollum crawling into frame in the beginning of The Two Towers. The Rohirrim’s epic assault at the Pelennor Fields… And so many other magic moments forever branded in the collective cinematic consciousness. Jackson gave me and my generation a cinematic experience that could match, or even exceed, the excitement of the original Star Wars trilogy.

In The Two Towers, when Gandalf returns from death, he explains to his baffled friends: “I have been sent back until my task is done.” These words are not directly from Tolkien, but from screenwriters Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens. They emphasized fate as one of the core themes of the story: “Bilbo was meant to find the ring. In which case you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.” However pragmatic these New-Zealanders may be, fate was their compass in making those movies. Many chance encounters paved the way, major obstacles arose during production, but they overcame them all. It took the toughness of the bravest of hobbits to drive this one home. Even the conservative Academy didn’t fail to notice what they accomplished, and The Return of the King was awarded 11 major Oscars (except those for acting, the outstanding ensemble cast made it tough to single out any one actor).

Years later, fate lead to Jackson directing The Hobbit and so he had the ‘once in a lifetime experience’ twice (but there won’t be a third time, he has said). Jackson and his loyal team never expected to make better movies than Rings. They made The Hobbit to satisfy the fans. And they did for most part. To them, Jackson is a hero. A maverick filmmaker with an unique vision and the drive and mental toughness to accomplish things previously undreamed of. Jackson and his fellowship of collaborators reminded Hollywood on how to make really major cinema. They also put New-Zealand firmly on the map as country where movies and special effects are dreamt up.

Because special effects are Jackson’s big thing. He discovered the magic of filmmaking when he was nine years old and saw the original King Kong on television. Since that moment, he worked non-stop on creating special effects in his garage and eventually he completed a whole movie (Bad Taste) which became a cult hit. However successful his career got since, he never stopped aiming to satisfy that nine year old boy. In making The Lord of the Rings, he focused on making movies that he would enjoy himself. Even though he is a brilliant, technical craftsman and storyteller, his youthful energy is what really catapults his films from merely good to terrific.

With The Lord of the Rings, he wrote movie history. Anything you can imagine perfectly captures this history of how an outsider succeeded wildly in Hollywood. Much like the heroes of his story, he did it by staying true to himself. He may not have had to face the horrific challenges Frodo had, but at times it certainly came close. Sometimes you need an unlikely hero to change the course of history. And very much like his protagonist Frodo Baggins, Peter Jackson certainly fits that bill.

10 filosofische aforismen (Het bed van Procrustes)

Een aforisme is een korte, bondige uitspraak, vaak niet meer dan een regel lang. Aforismen zijn vaak grappig, paradoxaal en/of absurd en bevatten vaak een boodschap van wijsheid.

Over de werken van Nassim Nicholas Taleb schreef ik eerder:
Misleid door toeval
De Zwarte Zwaan

Het Bed van Procrustes is een ander soort boek, namelijk een verzameling aforismen. Het thema is het Procrustesbed, vernoemd naar de wrede Griekse herbergier Procrustes die ledematen van zijn gasten afhakte of uitrekte zodat ze in zijn bed pasten. Wanneer wij stuiten op de grenzen van onze kennis creëren we vaak ook zulke Procrustesbedden door het leven en de wereld in heldere, handzame ideeën, reductionistische categorieën, specifieke vocabulaires en voorverpakte verhalen te persen, wat bij tijd en wijle gevaarlijke consequenties heeft (lees De Zwarte Zwaan).

1. In de wetenschap moet je de wereld begrijpen; in het zakenleven moet je anderen de wereld verkeerd doen begrijpen.

2. In de natuur herhalen we nooit dezelfde beweging; in gevangenschap (kantoor, fitnesscentrum, woon-werkverkeer, sport) is het leven slechts RSI; geen toeval.

3. Er is geen tussenfase tussen ijs en water, maar er is er wel een tussen leven en dood: loondienst.

4. De eerste die ‘maar’ zegt, verliest de discussie.

5. Bijna iedereen die betrapt wordt op een logische denkfout beschouwt die als een ‘verschil van inzicht’.

6. Boeken zijn het enige medium dat nog niet is gecorrumpeerd door het profane; bij al het andere dat je voor ogen krijgt, word je gemanipuleerd door reclame.

7. Het tegenovergestelde van succes is niet falen, maar namedropping.

8. Je kunt bepalen hoe oninteressant iemand is door hem te vragen wie hij interessant vindt.

9. Preoccupatie met effectiviteit is het voornaamste obstakel voor een poëtisch, nobel, elegant, robuust en heroïsch leven.

10. Neurobiologisch onderzoek om mensen te begrijpen is als inkt onderzoeken om literatuur te begrijpen.

Ze worden geboren en daarna in een doos gestopt; ze gaan naar huis om in een box te leven; ze studeren door hokjes af te vinken; ze gaan in een doos op wielen naar wat ‘wel’ werk heet, waar ze in een hokje zitten te werken; ze rijden in een doos naar de supermarkt om voedsel in een doos te kopen; ze rijden naar de fitness in een doos om in een hok te zitten; ze praten over ‘niet in hokjes denken’: en wanneer ze doodgaan, worden ze in een kist gestopt. Allemaal dozen, euclidische, geometrisch eenvormige dozen.