JOHN CARTER and HUNGER GAMES


I saw two movies this week and if I blog about them I can justify writing off the ticket prices (and the nachos!) on my taxes. So here goes.

On Wednesday night I saw JOHN CARTER. The one thing most people seem to know about this movie is how badly it’s done at the box office. It’s too bad that it’s faring so poorly with the public. Because it’s really not a bad movie. It fails to be as epic as it wants to be. But it’s good fun. My friend Dale, who read all the Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter of Mars books when we were both in high school, says the movie is very true to the novels.

As a guy who writes books I feel like a little bit of a traitor for saying this. But maybe they would have done better to deviate a bit more from the original story. We know a lot more about Mars now than Burroughs knew 95 years ago. If some of that was taken into account perhaps the film could have been more science fiction than what it seems like to us now, a fantasy epic set in outer space. Although fantasy epics set in outer space do very well (Star Wars, for example). So what do I know? It’s impossible to say why people go for the films they go for.

I liked the film and I’m glad I saw it on a big screen. It’s the kind of movie that I can’t imagine would be nearly as fun on a DVD. Though that’s probably where most people will end up seeing it.

Last night I went out at midnight to see the first area screening of HUNGER GAMES. This film is based on a series of mega selling novels aimed at teenagers. As I might have expected I was one of about five people over 18 in that packed theater last night.

One aspect I personally find intriguing about the novels is that the paperback edition has a list price of $8.99 and sells on Amazon for just five bucks. (I like Amazon, but folks, support your local booksellers, that extra $4 helps your community) Regular paperbacks like mine list at closer to $15. Perhaps it’s because it’s a teen novel that it’s so much cheaper? But the only teen novel I’ve ever bought, Yvonne Prinz’s The Vinyl Princess, lists for $16.99 in hardcover (I don’t think there’s a paperback edition). OK. Whatever. Just a little aside there.

Hunger Games clearly has a lot more to say than John Carter. It’s a satire of the contemporary American Idol/America’s Next Top Model etc. etc. type show set in a nightmare post-some-kind-of-undefined-war-thing future in which the contestants have to kill each other for the cameras in order to win. The rich people in the big city enjoy the bloodsport at the expense of the poor folks who do the real work needed to support their lavish lifestyles. It’s all kind of surreal. But it’s not hard to envision our own future ending up something like this. Though I doubt it will ever get quite that bad. At least I hope it won’t.

Did the teenyboppers in the Highland Theater in Akron last night get that? It’s hard to say. I’m sure some of them did. I’ll bet most of them didn’t. But a large percentage of the audience seemed familiar with the books. They laughed at lines that could only be funny to people who’ve read them. I had to ask the person I went with, who had read the books, to explain what was funny about one of the characters threatening to cook her cat.

The premise of Hunger Games is quite clearly based on the Japanese film Battle Royale (2000) starring “Beat” Takeshi Kitano in which teenagers in a dystopian future also kill each other for the entertainment of adults. It’s not a remake of the Japanese movie. But the influence is unmistakable.

I hope the Hollywood people paid off the Japanese originators. Though the differences between the two films are so great that maybe they didn’t have to. These kinds of things are always very complicated. I’ve was involved in some of this stuff when I worked for Tsuburaya Productions. It usually comes down to whoever has the most power and money winning and has nothing much to do with any laws that might exist.

As for any kind of Zen perspective on these films, it’s hard to know what to say. Thich Nhat Hanh speaks out a lot about films and music that he thinks poison our minds. “We (writers) do not have the right just to express our own suffering if it brings suffering to others,” he says. “Filmmakers, musicians, and writers need to practice Right Speech to help our society move again in the direction of peace, joy, and faith in the future.”

I have a hard time agreeing with this. I do think that there are forms of entertainment whose sole purpose appears to be to excite people in unhealthy ways and generate profits. But almost every time I think I’ve come up with the perfect example of this, it turns out that either the makers of the thing had a higher purpose in mind than I’d imagined or that the fans of the thing got more out of it than I ever would.

I also think that many of the films, books and music that helped me get through my life — particularly my adolescence — would have probably been labeled “negative” by Mr. Hanh and his loyal followers. I can imagine him recommending me to watch Mary Poppins and listen to The Carpenters instead of reading Philip K. Dick and listening to the Sex Pistols. This would have ended up making me kill myself since I would never have known there were others just as dissatisfied with life as I was. At least that’s how I take what he’s said on the subject. And I’m certain I’m not alone in taking it that way.

In the case of Hunger Games, there’s a lot of violence and ugliness. But that ugliness and violence appears to me to be intended to make an important commentary on contemporary society. So it’s valid and good. You couldn’t make the points they wanted to make without all the bloodshed. John Carter is more just pure entertainment and spectacle. It’s not really trying to say anything at all. But it’s unpretentious and honest in its aims. So again, I think that’s also valid and good.

Sorry Thich Nhat Hanh fans if I’ve offended you again. I’m probably not allowed to do that either.

102 Responses

  1. Yung Thin Ho
    Yung Thin Ho March 25, 2012 at 6:15 am | |

    Dick Not Hung.

  2. Mysterion
    Mysterion March 25, 2012 at 8:44 am | |

    I enjoyed the exercise in PROJECTION with, in this case, the example of Mr. Nguy?n.

    You must show YOUR RESPECT OF ME (mr. x y z) by paying proper homage to my great white father (Mr. A B C).

    Furthermore, you must do as I say you must do.

    To wit the chorus sang:

    "or not."

    Unfortunately, I see this locally with Neighborhood Church Jesus-bots. They have no developed sense of 'self' meaning they either did not attend or finish finishing school, lack a liberal education, and are unaware of Dynastic Egypt, Sumeria, and Akkad.

    With such a narrow and shallow base, many of these local Jesus-bots have no other coping strategy than toting their KJV (which I have read critically many times) into PEETs and occupy a space (with a small herd of other sheep) for what seems like hours.

    I wish they would just go back to wearing caps backwards, nodding their empty heads and saying:

    "Ssss up?"

    Currently I an reading The Cult of Isis in the Ancient World.

    Should I expect all to fall on their knees and genuflect this prototypical "Queen of Heaven?"

    I think not.

    She is, after all, the mother of god &c.;

    Still not.

    p.s. she is also known as Qwan Yin or Kannon in oriental Buddhism.

  3. Malcolm in the middle way
    Malcolm in the middle way March 25, 2012 at 9:06 am | |

    Yeah, right. Kwan Yin is Isis, Jesus is Buddha and all Mexicans look alike.

  4. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote March 25, 2012 at 10:45 am | |

    Fred said…

    "put aside
    the intellectual practice
    of investigating words
    and chasing phrases,
    and learn to take

    the backward step
    that turns the light
    and shines it inward."

    I put it to my buddy the other day this way:

    "did you ever think that maybe turning the mind around actually means looking at where the mind is, as opposed to looking at what's on the mind- Zen is such a grifter game, in that it's not possible to turn the mind around voluntarily, but for myself there's a feeling of well-being connected with the mind turned around that I can't escape pursuing. Nevertheless I just drop into it. I'm working on letting myself sleep through my mental takes, that's my imaginary practice now…"

    Maybe Fred is here because there is a potential for something like this: I write words about waking up and falling asleep that someone in New York reads, and then they are able to get back to sleep when they wake up in the early morning and need more sleep. They apply what they have found to waking up, and they write as follows:

    "I have taken it a bit further, experimenting with it during the day. Same practice, find the location of the consiousness.

    It pulls me into the present. the feeling lasts 2-3 seconds, but it is something that I have never experienced before. Being really present, here and now. the mental projection into the future stops, the past stops. I am just here and now. no future plans or worries. no goals, no dreams that are waiting to be fullfilled. time stops. no where to go. I am just here and now."

    If I describe my practice in words in a positive and substantive way, and someone else reads my words and discovers a practice for themselves, there's a proof of concept that it's possible to communicate experience in words if the need to have such an experience is tangible. Even when the experience concerns "turning the light around and shining it in", although that particular description I confess never spoke to answer my need.

  5. Mysterion
    Mysterion March 25, 2012 at 11:32 am | |

    Malcolm in the middle way said…
    "Yeah, right. Kwan Yin is Isis, Jesus is Buddha…"

    Jesus is NOT Buddha. He is a blend (ala veg-o-matic) of Adonis, Attis, Dionysus, Heracles, and perhaps 18 or 20 other dying-rising gods.

    What is recorded in Occidental Scripture as "the sayings of IXEUS" are, in fact, recapitulations of the sayings of Buddha and most (but not all) of the parables are also borrowed from Buddhism. Scholars have been aware of this for 125 years* but Xtians, reading little and understanding less, have been kept in perpetual darkness.

    So too, should you remain. Amen

    (Amen is invoking the Egyptian Sun-god Aman-Ra)

    1 of 1,000 references:
    http://www.nazarite.net/king-james.html

    *The miracles of Jesus
    by L.K. Washburn
    Published 1912

  6. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi March 25, 2012 at 12:01 pm | |

    Hey, Mysterian, speaking of Isis, what do you think of the connection of these female deities to Dhyana, the mysterious female force at the origins of the Zen/Chan tradition, going back to India. It was originally called "Dhyana Buddhism", and can also be related to the Diane of the Greek tradition. Ever l;ooked into that one?

  7. Malcolm in the middle way
    Malcolm in the middle way March 25, 2012 at 12:25 pm | |

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. Christianity was based on Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism was based on Christianity and Zen was a Chinese invention based on Taoism, not Buddhism.

  8. Poep Sa Frank Jude
    Poep Sa Frank Jude March 25, 2012 at 12:29 pm | |

    Brad (and "Broken Yogi"):

    Regarding Nhat Hanh's quote, his actual take is a bit more subtle than that stand-alone quote would lead one to believe. In "The Sun My Heart," he clearly points out that ideally, people would know what media for them is unwholesome and what might be 'dharmic.'

    For instance, for some folk with PTSD, just watching the news might be unwholesome for their mentality. Hanh goes on to say that a practitioner can most certainly read what might seem an unwholesome, cheap novel or an exploitative film and see (unearth) the dharma within it.

    Just saying….

  9. Trollnonymous
    Trollnonymous March 25, 2012 at 1:24 pm | |

    My gosh. I'm totally getting caught up in "What Brad Thinks". Definitely time to repeat my purification mantra 108 times:

    OHWAH … TAGOO … SIAM …

    captcha = sioda nerectio
    anagram = codeine satori

  10. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 25, 2012 at 1:57 pm | |

    Mary Poppins seems like the Ultimate Dominatrix to me…

  11. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi March 25, 2012 at 2:51 pm | |

    Poep.

    That sounds sound to me.

    Also, what is "dharmic" really means "whatever reduces one's cravings (tanha)". A lot of media and entertainment is explicitly designed to increase our cravings, and even to become addictive in itself. Of course, that same media might end up being a warning to some that helps them see the suffering inherent in craving. The test would be if they keep repeating it over and over, or just be done with it. If one can be free of craving, one can participate in all kinds of things that might not seem dharmic. But it's also easy to fool oneself.

  12. Trollnonymous
    Trollnonymous March 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm | |

    Regarding media, the life stream is already bringing pleasure and displeasure. Why not have the patience to receive pleasure when it comes?

    captcha = ofewser yandow
    anagram = now defeats yow

  13. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi March 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm | |

    Most people don't necessarily enjoy or profit from their media experience. They are just addicted to it, craving some kind of satisfaction from it. Just as it is with the life stream in general. That's where Buddhism comes in and criticizes our cravings and attachments.

  14. Mysterion
    Mysterion March 25, 2012 at 5:38 pm | |

    Hunger Games is playing on 3 screens and the line is long…

    Maybe I'll catch it when the DVD is 99 in the Goodwill Store…

    or not.

    It appeals to me that "Hunger Games" is a metaphor for the generation caught in the wake of the Reagan/Bush debt orgies. There is certainly a lost generation – born with a $30,000 per individual debt as assets were transferred to the top .1% and liabilities to the bottom 99%.

  15. Mysterion
    Mysterion March 25, 2012 at 5:47 pm | |

    Blogger Broken Yogi said…
    "Hey, Mysterian, speaking of Isis, what do you think of the connection of these female deities to Dhyana… can also be related to the Diane of the Greek tradition. Ever looked into that one?"

    Not yet. But the silk road certainly had two directions of traffic (to/from Greece and to/from China)!

    Noah (of flood/ark fame) may be related to Nu Wa and Fu Xi

    Despite the obvious borrowing from Gilgamesh, Tablet 11, the names were changed to protect the Sumerians (right!).

  16. Mysterion
    Mysterion March 25, 2012 at 5:49 pm | |

    Malcolm in the middle way said…
    Yeah, yeah, yeah…

    These things were born in a blender, not in isolation.

    And Xtianity certainly did not spring, fully formed, from the head of Zeus.

    Neither did Athena – the feminine Aten.

  17. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 25, 2012 at 5:58 pm | |

    Thich Nhat Hanh says
    pay no attention to
    unwholesome thoughts…

  18. buddy
    buddy March 25, 2012 at 9:23 pm | |

    john e mumbles said: 'IMO she [Jennifer Lawrence] was sleepwalking (she has one facial expression: bored = boring) through WB, and I cannot imagine she is any better in The Hunger Games.' I didn't get bored/boring at all, just the resolve of someone more concerned with the survival of her family than with being entertaining or alluring to middle-aged men.

  19. Leah McClellan
    Leah McClellan March 26, 2012 at 12:32 am | |

    I keep a book by Thich Nhat Hanh next to my desk to check the spelling every time I quote him. I haven't been able to devise a mnemonic device for those aitches that sticks.

    I haven't noticed your misspellings of his name, and I do copyediting. But you did have a rather horrendous typo somewhere in there. Something totally, dreadfully awful like "I've have" or something. I fell off my chair.

    I don't watch movies with much violence in them, not on a matter of principle but because it's not good food for me, so to speak. I've seen too much violence in real life over the years (or have heard about it on the news etc) to find screen portrayals of it entertaining.

    If it's not very "real" and just a short portrayal that's part of the plot, not a big deal. But nasty stuff–Silence of the Lambs way back, for ex.–makes me physically ill. Probably because I grew up without TV and continue without, mostly, and have never been much of a movie fan except the rare really good whatever. So I think I'm just not desensitized to it, and I think plenty are. I don't think that's such a great thing. It normalizes violence.

    I agree with Thay (I seriously doubt he'd be offended if anyone calls him Mr. Hanh)–to an extent–that we/anyone should take responsibility for the kind of stuff we put out as far as film, writing, right speech etc. and violence. But I think there's a line between what's educational and what's bloodsport. Plenty of people are into blood for sport for real and call it entertainment, or they don't get the theme of a film, as you mentioned. I heard there was cheering in the cinema when someone got killed in the end of The Hunger Games, someone described as being an asshole the whole time. Is that supporting killing off assholes?

    But I believe in freedom of speech, so I wouldn't want to censor. I'd rather encourage people to think about what they watch. I think viewing violence–even if portrayed in film–feeds violence, feeds anger/suffering, "waters it," as Thay would say. But I don't think eliminating it from film or whatever completely is a good idea because it's unfortunately a part of life and may be educational in some contexts. But as anyone knows, violence is often the main point of some stuff.

    Also I was reading here: http://www.plumvillage.org/mindfulness-trainings/32-14-mindfulness-trainings.html
    I think the Twelfth Mindfulness Training sort of applies (knowing you "hate" the word mindfulness :). But it all depends on what we practice, I guess.

    And as for listening to the Sex Pistols etc and preventing you from committing suicide–could be. But I think if you really wanted to kill yourself, you would have.

    You wrote in a comment "Again, if I thought there was any chance at all Mr. Hanh or Mr. Lama read my blog, I would have reason to avoid offending them."

    Do you really think it matters? If I shout in the privacy of my home "Brad Warner is one big dumb goofball" or whatever about anybody and nobody ever hears it, does it matter? I think it does. Besides, if I'm truly disrespecting someone, it's me whos suffering, nobody else, though I can spread it, of course. And isn't working toward non-suffering a good thing?

    "But I am way below Mr. Hanh's radar. He is a Very Big Deal, a star. He doesn't have time for little people like me."

    Pfft. Not sure if that's all sarcasm or serious. I don't know him personally or even enough from reading about him to say this–it's just a feeling or impression–but I wouldn't be surprised if you are in his radar. And I'm 100% sure he'd be really super nice to youeven if hes been reading your blog all this whilebut "nice" in a much deeper way than that word conveys. The stuff that guy has seen….horrible war stuff…phew.

  20. Leah McClellan
    Leah McClellan March 26, 2012 at 2:29 am | |

    One more thing: the answer to your question a few posts back "Who is Thich Nhat Hanh?" popped into my head just now after rolling around in the background for quite awhile.

    Thich Nhat Hanh is you. He is me. He is all of us and we are him.

    The other question you asked "Who is Brad Warner?"

    Brad Warner is Thich Nhat Hanh. He is me, he is all the commenters here, he is everybody just as we are him.

    Now of course a Beatles song started playing in my head…can't remember the name…Ah yes. I am the Walrus lol

    And that concludes my contribution to HCZ for the first half of the year or so, at least :)

  21. Max Entropy
    Max Entropy March 26, 2012 at 3:20 am | |

    "These things were born in a blender, not in isolation." – Mysterion

    The human brain is very effective at recognizing similarities and patterns and making connections between different things. It is so good at it that it sometimes (often) imagines connections that do not actually exist.
    Human psychology is very similar even in cultures that are separated by thousands of miles and thousands of years and have no verifiable evidence of ever having had contact with each other.
    Every god, goddess, religious concept or philosophy is not necessarily based on an older god, goddess, religious concept or philosophy that appears to be similar. They are all based on human psychology which accounts for the similarities and also for the affinity when disparate cultures actually do come into contact with each other.
    Just because you can connect the dots doesn't mean that the dots are, or were ever, really connected.

  22. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 26, 2012 at 6:29 am | |

    each connection is also a dot

  23. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 26, 2012 at 7:11 am | |

    Buddha was a dot head.

  24. Fred
    Fred March 26, 2012 at 8:11 am | |

    Mark wrote:

    "Maybe Fred is here because there is a potential for something like this: I write words about waking up and falling asleep that someone in New York reads, and then they are able to get back to sleep when they wake up in the early morning and need more sleep. They apply what they have found to waking up, and they write as follows:

    "I have taken it a bit further, experimenting with it during the day. Same practice, find the location of the consiousness."

    The quote was from Dogen.

  25. Mysterion
    Mysterion March 26, 2012 at 8:19 am | |

    Max said:
    "They (gods) are all based on human psychology…"

    The evolution of the gods, from cave paintings to Rome is a subject unto itself.

    But ATTRIBUTION is a good place to start. The storm god of the Norse was Thor (Thuner, thunder), of Ugarit was Bal, of Israel was yhvh – yawnvay – etc.

    At least Bal and yawnvay, being of neighboring tribes, had an Oden (an all-father) named El. The seven sons of El were Chemosh, Dagon, Baal, Yahweh, Milcom, Hadad, and Qos. The original seven tribes were Moab, Philistia, Canaan, Jacob (Israel), Ammon, Aram, and Edom. By the 7th cent. BCE, the changes we now recognize were harmonized by the Deuteronomists.

    Gods evolved from shamanism through astrology and landed in religions. Gods represent part of the emergence of consciousness – the part that is most primitive.

    So, yes, I will make the claim that Isis, Qwan Yin, and Virgin Mary are all one and the same concept – blended in time by the veg-o-matic.

  26. Fred
    Fred March 26, 2012 at 8:20 am | |

    The location of the consciousness
    is the Tao which when given a name
    isn't the Tao.

    The Ineffable is doing the looking
    past the fiction of the "I".

    Whether real awake or asleep apply,
    can't be said. They are generally
    metaphors for choiceless awareness
    of the now, or the sticky web of
    maya.

  27. Sea Gull Rimshot
    Sea Gull Rimshot March 26, 2012 at 8:33 am | |

    man who fart in church

    sit in own pew

  28. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 26, 2012 at 8:33 am | |

    great stuff Fred :)

  29. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote March 26, 2012 at 9:55 am | |

    hey, Fred, I was actually responding to:

    "Trollnonymous said…
    Great advice Fred!

    BTW, what are you doing reading and commenting on blogs?

    12:44 PM"

    Who was in turn responding to your quote of Dogen:

    "put aside
    the intellectual practice
    of investigating words
    and chasing phrases"

    Thinking about:

    "…metaphors for choiceless awareness of the now, or the sticky web of maya."

    Makes me recall part of the description of mindfulness of the body:

    "…(mindful of the body is one) who acts in full awareness when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, talking, and keeping silent…"

    (from Pali Canon Online MN 119)

    I would contend that the backward step that turns the light and shines it inward shows us where consciousness takes place, and I describe this as the practice of waking up and falling asleep because where consciousness takes place is most easily witnessed falling asleep. It's the same waking up, and I would say walking, standing, and sitting. Talking and keeping silent- now the state of mind that is waking up and falling asleep comes in, for me.

    Leah McClellan, I agree with you. The practice comes around to including every thing, and my words speak to me more clearly when I reflect that. If you're listening late at night, you might think that Brad is not quite right… you're correct, he just writes it like that.

  30. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 26, 2012 at 10:01 pm | |

    80

    captcha = laymenio niumb
    anagram = baloney mini mu

  31. Moni
    Moni March 27, 2012 at 5:31 am | |

    I want to watch Hunger Games too. Did not even know, that it was made based on a Japanese movie.

    I am not afraid either that it would turn out so bad in the future as this movie envisions it. It might be that environmental pollution or/and some nuclear bombs/bio weapons will destroy the Earth much faster, before we could go so down socially that rich people watch poor ones killing each other just for the sake of entertainment.

  32. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles March 27, 2012 at 6:21 am | |

    Aren't they doing it in one way or the other already? Hasn't this pretty much always been the case?

    And w/ the hunger games the rich movie studio execs, directors, & "movie stars" are selling the whole concept back to us!

    Occupy Wall Street? occupy your own mind and way of looking at things!

    Man, am I in a pissymystic mood today…

  33. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 27, 2012 at 6:58 am | |

    Eh, the Battle Royale/Hunger Games/Surviving the Game/Running Man trope is a time-honored archetype in story-telling. We'll see another one in about 10 years. THough I have a friend who just finished Battle Royale and said he can't read Hunger Games now because it feels like a light version.

    Suzanne Collins has stated that she has a lot of influence from even Greek Mythology, so this has been going on awhile.

    Lastly, I'm very hopeful that kids get the satire. I think the smart ones will. They will be employing the dumb ones :)
    –matt

  34. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 27, 2012 at 7:52 am | |

    John said: "Aren't they doing it in one way or the other already? Hasn't this pretty much always been the case?

    And w/ the hunger games the rich movie studio execs, directors, & "movie stars" are selling the whole concept back to us!"

    It might be a vast right wing conspiracy.
    Or, it might be petty prole-troll bitching about things they do not understand.

  35. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles March 27, 2012 at 8:23 am | |

    At some point its not hard to notice how various trends in pop culture are recycled, co-opted, and resold to the masses who think they're on to the next cool thing, whatever it may be. And of course the whole process always preys on youth, or the gullible old who want to regain their cred (or their lost youth/naivete/"innocence").

    As Lou Reed sang so long ago, stealing the line of course:

    "They'd eat shit and say it tasted good."

  36. Moni
    Moni March 27, 2012 at 9:26 am | |

    @Anonymous: well it can have something to do with Greek history not only the mythology, since in Sparta it was a ritual of becoming an adult that they had to go to the forest and make a slave-hunting and the slaves had to run in front of them and try to escape. If they could kill one/some they became a man officially.

  37. Kalki
    Kalki March 27, 2012 at 10:02 am | |

    Human cattle should not understand that that they are being exploited as a source of cheap labor and are basically a type of product in themselves. Cattle should be unable or unwilling to organize themselves. Their social functions are simple: to work and then to buy the products they make and contracts to use them. They care little about anything but immediate family, fighting with strangers, games, videos, cheap wine, beer and drugs and gambling. Artistically they produce meaningless songs, meaningless novels, (all now more increasingly made by machines.) Even the pornography of the cattle is now being made by machines. It is compiled by cattle for cattle. Cattle wear trendy uniforms designed to be replaced seasonally. They over use cosmetics and faux health products and can have multiple body tattoos. Cattle have free sex lives albeit severely unsatisying, uninterrupted by law. Among the cattle Marriage is discouraged in opposite sex couples and encouraged in same sex couples. Frequent partner changing is expected. Despite the personal freedoms enjoyed by the cattle, the Thought Police moves among them unnoticed, spreading false rumors and marking down, menacing and subverting any individuals deemed capable of causing trouble. Cattle live alone, in couples or in groups in rundown apartments, rented huts and art studios mainly in urban areas.

  38. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 27, 2012 at 10:18 am | |

    The 7 basic plots in human stories:

    [wo]man vs. nature
    [wo]man vs. [wo]man
    [wo]man vs. the environment
    [wo]man vs. machines/technology
    [wo]man vs. the supernatural
    [wo]man vs. self
    [wo]man vs. god/religion

  39. pickles!
    pickles! March 27, 2012 at 11:01 am | |

    8. [wo]man vs. pickles!

  40. pickles!
    pickles! March 27, 2012 at 11:04 am | |

    Yo Kalki!

    Try substituting 'the traumatized' for 'cattle' and see how it reads.

    ~ pickles!

  41. Moni
    Moni March 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm | |

    I watched this Battle Royale tonight.. I do not know how can be Hunger Games lighter and more lame, because already this was quite hmm…."interesting"..

    Every time when someone died, he/she was killed by the one who he/she was secretly in love with. Before dying he/she confessed it to the person who killed him/her and the beloved person started to say things like: "Oh nooo, but you did not say anything about this before. How could I have known it". Ah, and of course people were always in love with someone else than the one who loved them. Real high school feeling.

    The book must be way better I guess.

  42. Hugo_vH
    Hugo_vH March 27, 2012 at 1:43 pm | |

    No no no! Peace of mind = Sex Pistols,
    utter dukkha = Carpenters.

  43. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 27, 2012 at 4:17 pm | |

    Udder dukkha = lactose intolerance

  44. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 27, 2012 at 4:18 pm | |

    This zazen just isn't doing it for me –
    time to hook my brain up to a car battery!

  45. boubi
    boubi March 27, 2012 at 4:27 pm | |

    Hi Brad

    I was wondering lately about the main promise of buddhism AKA the end of suffering from illness, old age, death.

    Now i really appreciate your effort in trying to show that zen masters are just common dudes (or girls), that the "aura" is most of the time a marketing stunt, but still could you tell something about the basics, like in 101 buddhism? Like in what it helped you or your teacher or your "brothers" in lineage?

    Because it's very nice to know that it makes people a bit better persons, that things get a bit brighter, but what moves us was that promise.

    thanks

  46. boubi
    boubi March 27, 2012 at 4:31 pm | |

    About John Carter.

    I loved it, it reminded me of those dashing adventure movies like Flash Gordon. Some scenes were used in Star Wars too.

    The movie was a beauty.

  47. Raymond
    Raymond March 27, 2012 at 8:05 pm | |

    Ive been reading your book and your blog for several years and I have been a real fan of your candor and some of your deep insights.

    With that said, I have to say that your recent passive aggresive snipes at TNH radiate insecurity and really look like a ploy for attention. By all means, please prove me wrong.

  48. Mysterion
    Mysterion March 27, 2012 at 9:32 pm | |

    Zazen is not for those seeking instant gratification.

    Patience develops patience.

    Silence develops silence.

    Is it ever really silent?

    Do we ever really become patient?

    Wait, and see.

  49. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 27, 2012 at 9:39 pm | |

    mysterion loves to say, "Wait, and see." He's a wanker.

  50. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 28, 2012 at 6:46 am | |

    "I have a hard time agreeing with this. I do think that there are forms of entertainment whose sole purpose appears to be to excite people in unhealthy ways and generate profits. But almost every time I think I've come up with the perfect example of this, it turns out that either the makers of the thing had a higher purpose in mind than I'd imagined or that the fans of the thing got more out of it than I ever would."

    A perfect example of this is a movie called "Megan is Missing"… it's one of those found-footage movies about two 13 year old girls and a internet predator.

    (i warn folks… this movie, I have not seen it because I am afraid I will be unable to un-see it. The last 22 minutes, by all accounts is horrifying – especially if you have teenage daughters.)

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