Mallory Ortberg delivers another of her amusing Ayn Rand parodies. This time imagining what you’d get if Ayn Rand had written C.S. Lewis’s Narnia stories. Personally, I find them much improved.
If the witch understood the true meaning of sacrifice, she might have interpreted the Deep Magic differently, for when a willing victim who has committed no treachery, dies in a traitorâ€™s stead, the stone table will crack and even death itself will turn backwards.â€
â€œOh, how interesting,â€ Lucy said. â€œWhat is the true meaning of sacrifice, Aslan?â€
â€œIt is an artificial anti-concept,â€ Aslan said in his low, golden voice. â€œIt is the ultimate force of destruction. The very word self less suggests self-immolation, a complete annihilation of oneâ€™s own self for the sake of others. Sacrifice destroys knowledge, skill, talent, usefulness, all in the name of duty. It destroys love and self-esteem, which are the same thing. Self-sacrifice is an immoral nightmare.â€
â€œI donâ€™t quite understand,â€ Lucy said. â€œDoes this mean Edmund is going to die instead of you?â€
â€œLet us put it this way,â€ Aslan said. â€œIf I exchange a penny for a dollar, have I made a sacrifice?â€
â€œNo,â€ Lucy said.
â€œBut if I were to exchange a dollar for a penny instead,â€ Aslan said, sounding rather as if he had a locomotive in his throat, â€œwould I be making a sacrifice then?â€
â€œY-e-s,â€ Lucy said.
â€œAnd you understand why your brother is not the dollar, in this analogy,â€ he said.
â€œSo Edmund must die,â€ Lucy said triumphantly, â€œor else you would be betraying your own values!â€
â€œExactly,â€ Aslan said. â€œHave a penny.â€
Edmund burst into tears, like a Communist.
â€œOh, do be quiet,â€ Lucy said to Edmund. â€œI want to listen to Aslan explain his plans for a transcontinental railroad into Calormen again.â€
Alexey Kondakov, an artist based in Kiev, Ukraine, has created a series of Photoshopped images demonstrating how the gods and characters of antiquity portrayed in classical paintings would look if they appeared alongside us in contemporary settings. leenks
Jar Jar Binks apparently does not appear in The Force Awakens.
But Murdock Motion used software to add one of the most hated characters in cinematic history into the trailer of the highly anticipated new Star Wars film. Itâ€™s a great reminder to fans of the horror that could have been.
The merpeople brandished their spears fiercely. Harry looked around. Ron, Hermione and Gabrielle Delacour drifted lazily through the water, arms bound uselessly behind their backs. Where was Fleur? And where was Krum?
Harry turned to face the merpeople. â€œThe true test is not whether a Triwizard Champion can perform an act of charity â€” an act of mercy â€” whether I am capable of saving these victims, these leechers, these children. I can, I assure you. The question is whether I can do without them, whether I can exist solely as my own entity. Whether I can perform an act of accomplishment.â€
Harry carefully began placing the heaviest stones he could carry over the rope connecting Ron and Hermione, until they were hopelessly enmeshed in the lake bed.
â€œThe answer, of course,â€ he said clearly, â€œis that I can.â€ He swam away. He swam alone. He had lost the task, perhaps, but he had won the only tournament that truly matters â€” the tournament of self.
â€œI hope youâ€™re not expecting me to apologize,â€ Harry said without looking up the next day when a very muddy and a very angry-looking Ron and Hermione appeared in front of the door to his study. â€œAnd donâ€™t come any closer. Youâ€™ll track lake water all over my new rug.â€
Patrick Non-White imagines the late Hunter S. Thompson’s reaction to that notorious bed-wetter David Brooks’ recent screed opposing the legalization of pot and arguing that government ought to “subtly tip the scale to favor temperate, prudent, self-governing citizenship” by sending out Gestapo teams armed with automatic weapons to break down doors and to nudge Americans in the direction of being better persons by throwing them into prison.
The silver 2001 BMW 535i roared through Adams Morgan, occasionally screeching over the sidewalks as my accountant wrenched both hands from the wheel for another toke at the weed-pipe. “Gadzooks, man!” I shouted. “Can you keep it together for another fifteen miles, or at least outside the District limits?” We were halfway through our 35 mile journey from Bethesda to Falls Church, with enough dangerous narcotics to stun a grizzly bear in the trunk: We’d started with nine ounces of weed, six rocks of crack, a sugar jar full of blow, 36 vicodin tablets, a cage filled with live Bolivian arrow toads, and two jars of ketamine. Plus two quarts of Beefeater gin, a case of Schlitz malt liquor, and a four ounce ball of Afghan hash: Surely enough to get this pair of degenerate drug addicts to Fall’s Church. After that what man could say?
It was Edmund Burke, the English statesman and philosopher of the Good Life, who asked, “What is liberty without wisdom and without virtue?” In the Burkean ethos, freedom unconstrained by wisdom “is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.” I reflected that Burke’s wisdom had never been constrained by a head full of mescaline, or a heart thumping on two tabs of amyl nitrate, so perhaps there were things the grand old man of the eighteenth century British polity did not know.
Read the whole thing and raise a central finger in the general direction of David Brooks.
Mark Williams, a junior research fellow at Peterhouse College, Cambridge, serves up the newly discovered text of a Fifth Branch of the Mabinogi.
The Four Branches of the Mabinogi â€“ Pwyll, Branwen, Manawydan and Math – are the greatest works of medieval Welsh prose. They are based on a rich vein of orally-transmitted folklore and mythological material, but were synthesised in the early 12th century by a redactor of genius. They take the form of four roughly chronological and interlinked short-stories, termed â€˜branchesâ€™, which are set in a pre-Christian, pre-Roman Britain which resembles an idealised version of the redactorâ€™s own high medieval era. His humane, sober style contrasts fascinatingly with the violence and shape-shifting which loom so large in the four tales. Translations into English are numerous; the most recent is that of Sioned Davies (Davies, The Mabinogion (Oxford, 2007)), which is particularly good at drawing attention to the techniques of the oral storyteller discernable in the text.
But the existence of the â€˜fifth branch of the Mabinogiâ€™, Amaethon uab Don, was unsuspected until very recently, when a hitherto-unknown medieval Welsh manuscript was discovered in the library of Judas College, Oxford. The MS itself is of a decidedly heterogenous character. It contains a series of verse prayers, a version of the ladymass, and a partial collection of legal triads. Unusually, a significant amount of agricultural material is also found in the MS, in the form of a list of activities to be performed by the farmer according to the months, and a tract on the diseases of livestock. Amaethon uab Don is the only narrative text contained within the MS. It is tempting to connect the agricultural bias of the MS with elements of the story, which, as noted below, shows an overriding concern with fertility and the natural world, as its presiding character Amaethon suggests. (Amaethon from British *Ambactonos, â€˜Divine Ploughmanâ€™.) …
Before the rediscovery of the MS, the sketchy lineaments of our tale were known from three other sources. These, when placed together, point to the existence of a tale recounting a battle between Arawn, lord of Annwn, the Welsh otherworld, and the sons of DÃ´n, Gwydion the enchanter and Amaethon the Ploughman. Arawn plays an important part in the first branch, and Gwydion is the central character in the fourth. This skirmish, termed â€˜One of the Three Futile Battles of the Island of Britainâ€™ in one of our three sources, was brought about because Amaethon stole a hound, a roebuck and a plover from Arawnâ€™s kingdom. When Arawn and his armies clash with those of Gwydion and Amaethon, neither side may achieve victory because each contains a kind of palladium, a warrior who may not be defeated as long as their name remains unknown. Gwydion discovers the name of the magical warrior on Arawnâ€™s side by means of three extempore verses, which are preserved in a version rather different to that in our text. He also enchants the nearby trees, so that they acquire human form and become warriors attacking the forces of Annwn. The totemistic warrior on the side of the sons of DÃ´n is revealed at the last to be a woman, named Achren.
The inspiration for the pastiche can be found in the Cad Goddeu.