September 2nd, 2006

Lack of Pants

Western values 'are causing mental illness'

THE rapid spread of Western business practices in Japan has causedwidespread mental illness and is responsible for a deepeningdemographic crisis, government officials say.

A spokesman for the Mental Health Institute said that the emphasis on individual performance was driving Japanese workers — particularly those in their thirties — to mental turmoil. “People tend to be individualised under the new working patterns,” he said. “When people worked in teams they were happier.”

From here.

I'm not entirely convinced, but it wouldn't surprise me at all. Anyone got any links on what keeps people sane, and how society does exactly the opposite?

Meanwhile, at the movies

I went to see A Scanner Darkly with surliminal last week. Extremely well put together, the use of rotoscoping gave the entire film a sense of unreality and disconnection, leaving you unsure what was drug-laden hallucination and what was real. What really made it, however, was the characterisation and acting from Robert Downey Junior and Woody Harrelson, both clearly acting from experience. If you've ever spent much time around drugs or drug users (and I don't mean that pejoratively) you'll recognise the behaviour. It's a bleak movie, and one that I can't say I enjoyed, but it's an impressive piece of art, and should you be the kind of person who doesn't need to be uplifted at the movies then it's well worth seeing.

Yesterday I went to see Snakes on a Plane with tisme, eduard_green and Suze WINOLJ. It was _exactly_ what I was expecting, and absolutely great. It is, as surliminal pointed out, an updated version of the Airport disaster movies from the 1970s. I giggled through half of it and had a huge grin on my face for the other half. They played it all entirely straight, which was absolutely the right way to do it, and the whole thing was entirely ludicrous. If you found Stargate to be one of the best SF comedies ever then you'll like SoaP for exactly the same reasons. Oh, and the CGI was fantastic. There were only a couple of tiny moments where I spotted glitches - and I really appreciated it when they gave the giant boa teeth! Best suggestion for a follow up came from Ed with "Snakes on The Game - unsuspecting punters pick up prostitutes, only to discover that underneath the make-up and bad hair they're actually venemous ophidians!"

Thinking about religion

I'd been thinking about religion and its origins (something which occasionally springs to mind, and was pushed thataway this time by Douglas Adams in one of the essays in Salmon of Doubt). I was, as per usual, writing an LJ entry in my head as a background task.

And then I bumped into this, which obviated any need for me to write anything at all:
I finished reading VALIS by Phillip K. Dick last night (which I neither loved nor hated, despite predictions) and formulated my own theory of myth (which I’m sure has been formulated by others many times over). Western myths, it seems to me, assume the following:

1) Death is scary.

2) The world is horrible and imperfect.

3) Humans are special.

4) Since humans are special and the world is horrible and imperfect, something has clearly Gone Wrong.

5) Someone who isn’t us will fix this.

That’s the 200+ pages of revelation of VALIS, pretty much in a nutshell. Oh, it’s a pretty entertaining time getting there, but that’s the gist of it. In all its talk of pink lasers, rock star messiahs, living information, escape from time, and such, the driving theological/mythological idea is, “Something is Wrong and someone needs to fix it.”
You can find the rest here, if you're interested in VALIS, or the myths people create to make themselves feel better.