Sunday, 20 November 2005

Future Multiple Media Extravaganzas; or, Losing Buffy? I Don't Think So. Via PixiePalace—one of the numerous new blogs I've discovered through the discussion about Valvular Masculinity (not, as I initially typed, "Vulvalar Mescalinity," as that would be another thing entirely)—I found this link to a post by Our Lord Joss about the future of His imagined universe. Read that post in conjuntion with this recent LA Times article, as I did, and the contours of future generic synergies will form before your eyes. I realize this cross-promotional business technically breaks no new ground. I vaguely remember Twin Peaks followed up its first season with The Secret Diaries of Laura Palmer and its second with Diane: Twin Peaks Tapes of Agent Cooper , but both of those objects had an important function on the show itself. According to the LA Times article, the producers of Lost will have the characters stumble across a manuscript, entitled Bad Twin, written by dead passenger named Gary Troup . . . and on the same day that novel will hit bookshelves across America. (That the published novel appears the same day the cast finds the completed manuscript shocks my sense of publishing realities. Then I remember: "These survivors are celebrities. If Scarlett Johanson wrote a novel it'd be published the same day too.") An Amazon search for "bad twin" already pulls up novelizations of Lost, which means that the novel has likely already been mentioned in the show's ancillary world . . . which brings us back to Our Lord Joss. The Lost promotion follows the logic of sideshow fandom: it rounds out the viewers/readers' experience of the main event. Joss, however, plans on moving the main event into the side tent by starting a comic book version of Season 8 which would pick up where Buffy Season 7 left off. While that may not seem like an original idea—the recently cancelled Enterprise lives on in the compulsive novelization characteristic of the franchise—what distinguishes Joss' proposal from others is who helm it: Joss and other former Buffy writers. Instead of pawning their legacy on anyone who can afford the rights, Joss and his former staff writers will treat the comic as their venue for continuing their show. Think about it for a minute . . . . . . now do you see how unprecedented this is? I think we'll see more such medium-hopping as time flies and formerly fringe media will take on increased importance because of their increased availability. Comics have the potential to access the mainstream DVD-purchasing crowd because they're available at the very same venues they do their DVD-purchasing at . . . and because the comics will carry the imprimatur of those who produced the original show, even the uncomically inclined may be convinced to purchase them. Especially if the creator of the series has a rabid fan base with whom he regularly communicates. That said, as futurists go, I'm not to be trusted. (I'm still waiting for my hoverboard .)
How to Seem to Skin a Darwinist while Being Skinned by One Todd Zywicki's smear of PZ Myers (via Crooked Timber) works according to a familiar logic: Describe Darwinism Efface the Historical Record Show Countless Millions Starving Or Possibly Oppressed Or Certainly Dead Blame Darwinism Shoot Darwinists Drink Punch Eat Pie Dance Dance Dance So only items one through six actually obtain, but this sad display of smearing Myers' because he misunderstood Scott Adams' confounding post about the credibility gap of both the evolutionarily inclined and the intelligent design crowd irks. Myers rightly points out that said gap only exists among those who belong to the ID crowd. Only if you are a non-scientist who believes an ideologically charged issue should be decided by people unqualified to speak to its validity will you believe evolutionary thinkers as credible as ID advocates. Predictably, the one blinkered by ideology attempts to prove his opponents are too, and so Adams assails Myers for being unable to empathiz . . . understand ID "arguments" and Zywicki (for reasons all his own) calls him a Lysenkoist. What we have here is a misunderstood notion of what caused past atrocities maliciously applied to present day politics. We have people calling on the wisdom and authority of non-specialists to explain subtle distinctions lost on some of the finest minds of our time. (Watching Gould and Dawkins disagree is almost as entertaining as a pissing contest involving streams of actual urine falling on your actual face.) And when someone with the requisite qualifications responds . . . we hear the tired cry of elitism from minds which favor comforting lassitude. As Adams' ignorance attests, assumption and opprobrium are more effortless than thought. Which brings me to a related conversation my stalwart stalking-horse, John Emerson, brought about. All I can say is that I'm thankful my conversation with Doug Johnson avoids the shallow gunplay of anti-intellectual brouhahas. The core issue is similar: a misrepresentation of the historical stature of Darwinian theory is used to condemn contemporary Darwinian theory. Just as Lysenko's ideological application of Lamarckian theory . . . Here is my measured and intellectually honest response to Doug's measured and intellectually honest query: First, and most importantly, the reason not to link Darwin to the eugenics movement (outside of familial relations) is simply that up until "The Modern Synthesis," Darwinism wasn't the dominant evolutionary theory; in fact, there were many competing evolutionary theories--some of which, like Lamarckism, were antithetical to Darwinian theory, shunning core ideas like "natural selection." The reason we look back, after the Modern Synthesis (established in the '30s and '40s) and think there's a relationship between Darwinian theory and eugenics is because, in the end, a variation of Darwinian theory turned out to be correct. had Lamarck been correct, we'd probably all intuit a connection between acquired characteristics and eugenics (and think that because some people cannot acquire benefitial characteristics, they should be put down). Let me put it this way: Vernon Kellogg, writing about the decline of Darwinian thought among evolutionists in Darwinism Today (1908), sought...

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