The Life and Opinions of Nathan Atlasforum, Gentleman (AMA)
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  The Life and Opinions of Nathan Atlasforum, Gentleman (AMA)
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Author Topic: The Life and Opinions of Nathan Atlasforum, Gentleman (AMA)  (Read 2436 times)
President Punxsutawney Phil
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« Reply #50 on: May 05, 2024, 08:53:08 AM »

このサイトは正確に見えますか?
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FEMA Camp Administrator
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« Reply #51 on: May 14, 2024, 07:55:39 AM »


1. Going okay. Currently on a solo road trip to DC to visit some friends/see the cherry blossoms/go to the Freer Gallery/shoot my shot with AOC (kidding. I follow her personal Instagram and she doesn't seem to be my type personality-wise); I'm poasting this from a hotel lobby computer in Wilkes-Barre. Got chewed out by my boss at work today, but nothing that was a huge deal; substantively and structurally my work is going well. Health is okay, although I've been in a depressive funk and some of my friends are getting concerned. I'm going to want to address that. My birthday is April 8 and I'll be driving as far up into Vermont as I can to see the eclipse.

Glad to hear it. How're you handling the approach of Death's icy claw?

You mean getting older? Fine so far. Thirty-one is really not actually old. I am a little bit worried about my career prospects, romantic prospects, and hairline, but none of that is that new.

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2. Years and years and years ago. It's great. I should reread it one of these days.

I'm on  a second(?) reread and am finding that I'm becoming a bit captivated by Wolfe even if the only other work of his that I've read a good chunk of--The Wizard--I don't quite "get". The circularity in the narrative and time travel aspects of BotNS are completely lost on me and this leads to an unsatisfying ending, but the way Wolfe drops us into a wholly alien (and yet, it turns out, more familiar than we'd think at first glance) landscape with most relevant exposition hidden in passing references makes me endlessly fascinated by the world of the New Sun.

I was driving through the southwest the past few days (currently in Colorado) and have decided that it's time Leibowitz got a reread. (Talk about Catholic science fiction... I also need to reread the first few Dunes soon)

Since you asked this several weeks ago, have you gotten around to that Leibowitz reread yet? If so, what did you make of it?

I only unearthed my copy of Leibowitz this morning. For two years I've been storing my books at a friend's house, which is where I happen to be currently crashing. I'm in the midst if a Dune retrad at the moment--only about 150 pages or so to go--and figure after that I'll move on to either the Leibowitz, or to Cormac McCarthy.
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All Along The Watchtower
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« Reply #52 on: May 15, 2024, 05:14:35 PM »

What are some Ideas (TM) that you are toying with at the moment?
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I spent the winter writing songs about getting better
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« Reply #53 on: May 21, 2024, 10:22:26 PM »

Actually legitimately curious...would you refuse to listen to a band that tweeted something like this?



This band is known for leftist politics often expressed in an edgelordy manner (if that wasn't obvious from the name) but the vocalist has said that despite completely abandoning Catholicism after being raised in it she does believe in God but has no trust at all in organized religion and institutions. But this is pretty blatant and I wonder how many would be really offended (not many in their fan base of course considering how few Catholics actually listen to them.)

Kind of random to bring it up but was reminded of such by comparing her to Bryan from Knocked Loose who is basically the same and clarified that some of their lyrics mistaken as anti-Christian are not....but are unquestionably anti-Catholicism.
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« Reply #54 on: May 24, 2024, 01:07:03 PM »
« Edited: May 24, 2024, 03:38:49 PM by Okay, maybe Mike Johnson is a competent parliamentarian. »

Actually legitimately curious...would you refuse to listen to a band that tweeted something like this?



This band is known for leftist politics often expressed in an edgelordy manner (if that wasn't obvious from the name) but the vocalist has said that despite completely abandoning Catholicism after being raised in it she does believe in God but has no trust at all in organized religion and institutions. But this is pretty blatant and I wonder how many would be really offended (not many in their fan base of course considering how few Catholics actually listen to them.)

Kind of random to bring it up but was reminded of such by comparing her to Bryan from Knocked Loose who is basically the same and clarified that some of their lyrics mistaken as anti-Christian are not....but are unquestionably anti-Catholicism.

Dostoyevsky says similarly harsh stuff about Catholicism in The Idiot and that's one of my favorite novels, so no, I wouldn't refuse to listen to them. I might not spend money on them or see them live, though.

I asked this elsewhere but you seem to have missed or forgotten about it, so I will repeat here where it's more likely to catch your attention: could you give me a detailed description of the forms that religious politics (especially religious conservatism) and social-theological disputes take in Buddhist societies?

This is a big enough question that it will take me a while to get to in full, but thanks for asking! I'm going to enjoy answering it.

So, breaking it down by region/country:

  • In Southeast Asia, Buddhist institutions (mostly Theravada) tend to be "religious conservatives" in a surprisingly straightforward and legible way; they skew anti-gay and anti-abortion, are intimately tied up with secular hierarchies and power structures like the Thai monarchy and the ethnonationalist freaks in charge in Burma, etc. Vietnam is a partial exception here because of its colonial history and the resulting elite Catholic population, which means that, prior to 1975, the Church filled the "religious bastion of the Establishment" role instead. Vietnam is also a Mahayana rather than Theravada country.
  • In Sri Lanka, the dynamic is similar to that in Southeast Asia, but Sri Lankan Buddhism is more pluralistic and more influenced by Buddhist Modernism, to the point that the Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Ranjith, supports retaining Buddhism as the state religion because the Buddhist establishment is seen as a protector of other religious groups.
  • Bhutan is a quasi-theocratic Vajrayana Buddhist monarchy whose government is so religiously influenced that it sets completely different economic targets from the rest of the world that are derived deductively from Buddhist moral theology. It's not as nasty as what we see somewhere like Burma, but there's still a distinct supremacist/ascendancy attitude towards the country's Hindu minority.
  • Tibet and Mongolia were traditionally similar to Bhutan in these respects, but because of their recent histories of communist rule, Vajrayana Buddhism in those countries has a somewhat ersatz-feeling human rights focus that we also catch glimpses of in Vietnam and Sri Lanka.
  • Japan, one of the Mahayana countries par excellence but with Vajrayana denominations also present, runs the gamut from the expressly Nichiren-affiliated Komeito--a rather acquisitive, self-dealing conservative party currently strongly allied with the LDP, although this wasn't always the case--to various #populist Purple heart currents, both left-wing and right-wing, derived from or influenced by the Pure Land tradition. The sort of "socon" Buddhism we see in Southeast Asia is much, much weaker in Japan, and has been for a fascinatingly long time; a relatively lax approach to things like sex goes back at least as far as the Tokugawa and possibly a lot further.
  • China and Taiwan have similarly diverse and polymorphous Buddhist political histories to Japan, but Buddhism was traditionally a little bit further outside the secular power structure than it was in Japan, mostly because of the presence of Confucianism and in some cases Taoism as much easier go-to legitimating ideologies. Buddhism was intermittently persecuted in China even before modern times. However, Chinese Buddhist politics does have some of the moral conservatism or traditionalism that Japanese Buddhist politics largely lacks.
  • Korea has a similar history to China in this respect, with the added wrinkle of the recent very strong Christian presence (fun fact: the curious "anti-authoritarian but pointedly orthodox" character of Korean Christianity comes from many Korean people perceiving religious liberalism as characteristic of Japanese Christianity).
  • The Malay cultural sphere has Buddhist minorities with the sort of generally left-liberal (for these countries) skew that we tend to associate with religious minorities in most of the world, at least in terms of voting behavior.

You said detailed description; this is not nearly as detailed as I'd like to be able to be about this fascinating subject. But I've already left you hanging for the better part of two months and did not want to take even longer. I hope it's interesting to you nonetheless.
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« Reply #55 on: May 24, 2024, 10:18:50 PM »

This may be outside of your areas of interest, but what are your thoughts on recent Buddhist convert communities? How do they compare to the religion in traditionally Buddhist areas? I'm thinking in particular of New Age movements towards Buddhism in the west and Dalit Buddhism.
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« Reply #56 on: May 25, 2024, 12:56:09 PM »

This may be outside of your areas of interest, but what are your thoughts on recent Buddhist convert communities? How do they compare to the religion in traditionally Buddhist areas? I'm thinking in particular of New Age movements towards Buddhism in the west and Dalit Buddhism.

I think kind of poorly of Western Buddhism. It tends to be radically stripped down in terms of both belief and ritual, because of its interest in presenting itself as a uniquely "rational" religion, something that you can see in the expressed views of figures like D.T. Suzuki or even the current Dalai Lama who articulate or articulated Buddhism quite differently to Asian audiences. It's a hypertrophied version of the same "get rid of all the interesting or pretty stuff; FACTS FULL IN THE FACE!!" impulse we see in boilerplate Evangelicalism and Salafism, although it expresses itself differently on the political level and it's less dangerous since it's not actually taking over any Western societies. What I will say for it is that it tends to inspire fairly good political and interpersonal attitudes. For a while I had a relatively positive view of the Shambhala movement because it avoids a lot of this, but this was before I was familiar with Shambhala's history of nonstop sexual and financial scandals.

There's a story that I love about how Western Zen practitioners who go to study in temples in Japan are often shocked and appalled to find that, rather than a constant focus on meditation, most of what they get taught is minutiae of parish administration and legal compliance. I've been familiar with this phenomenon for long enough that I was writing about it on the forum at least as early as 2018.

Dalit Buddhism shares some of these characteristics but I still think very favorably of it in India's political context. I also know less about it, though.

What are some Ideas (TM) that you are toying with at the moment?

Inculturation, Christian socialism, New England regionalism, consistent life ethic, the evil eye, necessity (in the common law sense) rather than freedom as a key consideration in moral culpability--the usual, in other words, but with a greater degree of focus on indigenous isuses than in the past due to my career trajectory.

How has your understanding of the Divine changed over the course of your life?

This is another big question that I'll get back to when I can.


そう思い。京都府と青森県に関することはたくさん見覚えます。
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« Reply #57 on: May 25, 2024, 06:52:25 PM »

What part of NY are you at now?

Are you from NY?  If so, where?
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« Reply #58 on: May 26, 2024, 12:34:53 PM »


I live in the suburbs of Albany, just before it starts dropping off to countryside. Kind of a nice area, although I'm getting a bit sick of the suburban/exurban stroad traffic and the distance from my aging parents.

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Are you from NY?  If so, where?

No, I had never lived here before 2021, when I moved in with a close friend after eighteen months almost never leaving my parents' house (lest anyone think that I'm unmindful of how badly the pandemic and the lockdowns affected people psychologically...). I was born in Western Massachusetts, which is where the bulk of my family has lived since coming to America about a century ago, and had a semi-itinerant childhood in various parts of Vermont and New Jersey. I lived in Western Mass again from my late teens onward, with a short stint in the Boston area for my master's degree. I consider "home" the area around the MA-VT-NH border tripoint. I don't think I could handle living outside the Northeast for longer than a few months at a time.

I was conceived in Sacramento, of all places, but the circumstances of that and why it came about are pretty personal.
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« Reply #59 on: May 26, 2024, 01:26:49 PM »


I live in the suburbs of Albany, just before it starts dropping off to countryside. Kind of a nice area, although I'm getting a bit sick of the suburban/exurban stroad traffic and the distance from my aging parents.

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Are you from NY?  If so, where?

No, I had never lived here before 2021, when I moved in with a close friend after eighteen months almost never leaving my parents' house (lest anyone think that I'm unmindful of how badly the pandemic and the lockdowns affected people psychologically...). I was born in Western Massachusetts, which is where the bulk of my family has lived since coming to America about a century ago, and had a semi-itinerant childhood in various parts of Vermont and New Jersey. I lived in Western Mass again from my late teens onward, with a short stint in the Boston area for my master's degree. I consider "home" the area around the MA-VT-NH border tripoint. I don't think I could handle living outside the Northeast for longer than a few months at a time.

I was conceived in Sacramento, of all places, but the circumstances of that and why it came about are pretty personal.

I'm a SUNY/Albany graduate, though it's been some time.
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All Along The Watchtower
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« Reply #60 on: May 29, 2024, 06:37:50 PM »

I was conceived in Sacramento, of all places, but the circumstances of that and why it came about are pretty personal.

I was born there. Tongue
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« Reply #61 on: June 06, 2024, 08:03:17 PM »
« Edited: June 13, 2024, 03:28:25 PM by FEMA Camp Administrator »

I reread Leibowitz rather quickly. I really enjoyed it, though it reinforced my half-remembered viewpoint that the book is primarily known for its first portion. That said, I liked the second portion much more than I expected, as it displayed the interplay between faith, science, and the state in a quasi-medieval/early modern setting. The imperial scientist (his title was "thon", though I don't remember his name) was a rather sympathetic caricature of the secular scientist who was never prepared to interact with peoples of faith who also have intellects--unfortunately, this attitude appears more and more common today, though maybe I'm biased.

The status of the "old Jew" character--who I think is clearly Lazarus--and the growth on the woman's neck that flowers into bloom as a creature without Original Sin are still a mystery to me, though. Perhaps I should know a bit more about doomsday prophecy.

One of my main reasons, which I think I already mentioned, for going back to Leibowitz, was the desire to consume science fiction in a declined/decaying future. With the Fallout TV show and my recent semi-reread of Book of the New Sun, the topic's been on my mind a lot. To that end, and in an attempt to transition to reading "serious" literature, I'm reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road.
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« Reply #62 on: June 11, 2024, 01:41:20 PM »

I reread Leibowitz rather quickly. I really enjoyed it, though it reinforced my half-remembered viewpoint that the book is primarily known for its first portion. That said, I liked the second portion much more than I expected, as it displayed the interplay between faith, science, and the state in a quasi-medieval/early modern setting. The imperial scientist (his title was "thon", though I don't remember his name) was a rather sympathetic caricature of the secular scientist who was never prepared to interact with peoples of faith who also have intellects--unfortunately, this attitude appears more and more common today, though maybe I'm biased.

The status of the "old Jew" character--who I think is clearly Lazarus--and the growth on the woman's neck that flowers into bloom as a creature without Original Sin are still a mystery to me, though. Perhaps I should know a bit more about doomsday prophecy.

One of my main reasons, which I think I already mentioned, for going back to Leibowitz, was the desire to consume science fiction in a declined/decaying future. With the Fallout TV show and my recent semi-reread of Book of the New Sun, the topic's been on my mind a lot. To that end, and in an attempt to transition to reading "serious" literature, I'm reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road. (Incidentally, another Catholic)

Thon Taddeo is his name if memory serves.

I like the stuff with Rachel because it's such good payoff for the way the Pope's Children are portrayed for the first 90% of the novel. You keep wondering why you're supposed to side with the people who so insistently want to protect these orclike caricatures, and then in those last scenes it hits you.
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President Punxsutawney Phil
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« Reply #63 on: June 11, 2024, 01:50:33 PM »

一番好き漢字ですか?
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« Reply #64 on: June 11, 2024, 06:05:46 PM »


例えば、道や帰や森や馬や華(花の旧字体)が当に好きです。
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