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View Full Version : I take pot shots at David Brin, Star Wars hater



Wounded Ronin
21st November 04, 06:46 PM
[This is pasted from my post at the Dumpshock Shadowrun forums, forums.dumpshock.com. I decided to paste it to a few other forums to see what other people think.]


I really disliked the Star Wars prequels and most of the Star Wars novels that sprang up between the 70s and now. But, I don't like David Brin either.

Firstly, he laughably oversimplifies Joseph Campbell, and actually misrepresents him:



In "The Hero With a Thousand Faces," Joseph Campbell showed how a particular, rhythmic storytelling technique was used in almost every ancient and pre-modern culture, depicting protagonists and antagonists with certain consistent motives and character traits, a pattern that transcended boundaries of language and culture. In these classic tales, the hero begins reluctant, yet signs and portents foretell his pre-ordained greatness. He receives dire warnings and sage wisdom from a mentor, acquires quirky-but-faithful companions, faces a series of steepening crises, explores the pit of his own fears and emerges triumphant to bring some boon/talisman/victory home to his admiring tribe/people/nation.


(from http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/feature/1999/06/15/brin_main/index1.html)

I read The Hero With A Thousand Faces like 5 times when I was in middle school because at the time I was a real Joseph Campbell nut. While Campbell did point out common themes between world mythologies, he did not portray a single story that sounds like the plot of Red Sonja as being the only story. His analysis was much more complex and he looked at many different stories or common elements. Very importantly, he NEVER mentioned "quirky-but-faithful companions" as some kind of vital common element. *That* is straight from Red Sonja and not Joseph Campbell.

So, I don't know what kind of crap he's trying to pull here.

Secondly, he nutrides Star Trek because it allegedly promotes democratic participation and good citizenship. Whoop de doo. Does that mean that Star Trek is somehow "better" than Taxi Driver because Taxi Driver is gritty and features a desperate nihilistic shootout at the end? Or are they just *different*?

That's a matter of personal preference and nothing else. Personally, I like Howard's Conan better than Captian Picard. Does that mean that I'm wrong and Brin is right? Of course not.

Thirdly, Brin busts out the ad hominem:



Lucas often says we are a sad culture, bereft of the confidence or inspiration that strong leaders can provide. And yet, aren't we the very same culture that produced George Lucas and gave him so many opportunities? The same society that raised all those brilliant experts for him to hire -- boldly creative folks who pour both individual inspiration and cooperative skill into his films? A culture that defies the old homogenizing impulse by worshipping eccentricity, with unprecedented hunger for the different, new or strange? It what way can such a civilization be said to lack confidence?


(from http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/feature/1999/06/15/brin_main/index2.html)

Way to attack the creator as being a blind hypocrite, Brin. That's the height of literary analysis right there, Mister Pee Ayche Deeeh.

Finally, at http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/feature/1999/06/15/brin_main/index3.html Brin attacks "Return of the Jedi" because Darth Vader is redeemed in the end, even though if it were up to the Nuremburg tribunal Vader wouldn't be let off scot free. Then Brin continues to give a concrete example illustrating why he dosen't buy the whole "fear leads to anger...to the dark side" thing:



In other words, getting angry at Adolf Hitler will cause you to rush right out and join the Nazi Party? Excuse me, George. Could you come up with a single example of that happening? Ever?


I think this just proves that Brin has massively missed the point. Even though he cited Campbell towards the beginning of his article, he dosen't seem to know that the first three Star Wars movie are directly based upon Campellian ideology. As such, the ending is not meant to be taken literally, as in Vader didn't go to Jedi Jail even though he should have. The film is rather refering to how someone can be saved from a negative or toxic psychological state, i.e. the Dark Side. It's not about forensic evidence against Darth Vader.

And Campbell was pointing out a theme from world religions. In many religions, there is an idea that someone can be redeemed on a spiritual level regardless of their past. For example, in Buddhism, no matter how tortured and evil of a person you were, it would still be possible for you to let go of your desires and finally free yourself mentally and spiritually.

What happened to Vader in the end had to do with him being able to finally shed his toxic mental state because of the love of his son, and absolutely zero to do with whether or not Marcia Clark would approve of Vader. Brin manages to spectacularly miss the point.

jubei33
22nd November 04, 10:06 AM
i think you just 'geek served' him.... :fart:

Dochter
22nd November 04, 10:49 AM
Brin kicks ass.

Campbell was always overrated (the fact that you thought he was cool while in middle school demonstrates that he is probably simplistic).

You're a dipshit.

Brin also was also a physics professor, a fellow at JPL and actually writes decent sf. In other words, he's right, you're wrong and knows a hell of a lot more about what you're whinning about than you do.

bodar
22nd November 04, 12:04 PM
Brin kicks ass.

Campbell was always overrated (the fact that you thought he was cool while in middle school demonstrates that he is probably simplistic).

You're a dipshit.

Brin also was also a physics professor, a fellow at JPL and actually writes decent sf. In other words, he's right, you're wrong and knows a hell of a lot more about what you're whinning about than you do.

So, Physics Professor + Scifi writer = Always Right? That's not an argument, it's a schoolyard comeback. Why didn't you just throw in a "nuh-unh, yer a caca-poopie". Use sound logic, examples, and sources. Punch your weight.

Dochter
22nd November 04, 02:01 PM
Actually it just makes him cool. He also creates better stories than Lucas, actually understands the craft and so is more qualified to critique Lucas's work than is Wounded Ronin, realizes that Campbell is overrated and has books with talking dolphins (which is also inherently neat if you can pull it off in a believable fashion, which Brin does). Also as a past professor of both physics and writing, I'm sure Brin is well aware as to what Campbell did and did not say.

Frankly in a discussion as to who is the cooler scifi guy, I find schoolyard comebacks completely applicable. Afterall one of WD's areas of griping is about what is cooler Star Trek or Conan. I don't feel a need to have much depth to what I write in a conversation like that.

Anyway, Does anyone else find it humorous that WD is complaining about Brin's oversimplifying Campbell BASED ON HIS EXTENSIVE READING OF CAMPBELL DURING JUNIOR HIGH?

Xango
22nd November 04, 02:17 PM
No, actually. A lot of middle schoolers are smarter than we are apt to give them credit for.

I like Brin's sci-fi, but his essays give me hives. He is, like Dawkins, far too impressed with his own intelligence, and has spent too much time arguing with idiots to really get that there are intelligent people who nevertheless disagree with him on one or another point.

That said, Wounded Robin's post is just about the geekiest thing I've ever seen.

Dochter
22nd November 04, 02:41 PM
I like Brin's sci-fi, but his essays give me hives. He is, like Dawkins, far too impressed with his own intelligence, and has spent too much time arguing with idiots to really get that there are intelligent people who nevertheless disagree with him on one or another point.That's what I've also always said about Michael Crichton. On top of it, he isn't even nearly as smart as the other two (he went so overboard on that piece of crap 'Timeline').

Dawkins was on 'Science Fridays' on NPR last week. :smile:

While middle schoolers may certainly be very intelligent (I certainly would have considered myself to be) there still is some humor involved. In retrospect though I wouldn't consider myself to have had the depth of experience to really effectively critique much of literature, nor to appreciate certain aspects of philosophy. Additionaly, after middle school, you'll probably also learn that Campbell wasn't even novel. He also built up a cult of personality and I've heard some pretty sorry things about his personal life and certain academic indiscretions.