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  1. Onoria Westhrop
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    Onoria Westhrop Contributing Member

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    Amsterdamned

    Discussion in '"I never believed in hell"' started by Onoria Westhrop, Jan 9, 2007.

    Contains scenes that some might find offensive - not really explicit or anything, just not for your eight year olds.

    Amsterdamned

    I never believed in hell.

    The writing was on the wall. It was over the urinal; a whole sentence in black marker pen squeezed between the phone numbers of prostitutes and that amusing joke that is supposed to make men piss on their shoes. There was not a tile left white in the cramped washroom, and the stench of urine overpowered Richard.

    The sentence caught his eye because he was trying to focus straight ahead; looking from left to right was unadvisable. Not that the mores of the gent’s room were stopping the man to his left having a good stare. Richard shot a dirty look at the guy who was examining his ‘wife’s best friend’, but all he got was a shrug and a smile as the other man shook the snake and left without washing his hands.

    Sadly, the phrase ‘wife’s best friend’ did not really apply to Richard’s proof of manhood. They had been sleeping on opposite sides of the bed since the birth of his only child, his daughter, Mia. They had been in love once, a long time ago. Now they were held together by a squirming mixture of mutual emotional and financial dependency that just exacerbated things, dependency breeding resentment, insecurity and further dependency.

    Richard was the kind of dull rationalist who becomes an accountant out of competition with his school mates, and never dreams of anything more, or at least that was the way it had seemed until his hair started thinning at the back. Now the oddly oppressive world of the panoptical office, spreadsheetpsychotic boss and the socialcivilbureaucraticmoderndiplomatic moderately-paced café-capitalism society to which it belonged, hit him with the sort of existential nausea that men turning forty are prey to. The net effect of which was he had started hitting on the twenty-one year old anarcho-syndicalist office temp, Janet.

    The road to the hell toilet being paved with the intention to do something bad for a change, now he was standing, drunk as a lord and out of his head, in a men’s toilet in a marijuana-café in Amsterdam with the memory of Janet’s words still turning his ear red: “meet me in the toilets in five minutes”. A prospect doubly enticing because he knew her boyfriend was sitting not ten meters away.

    Janet slipped through the door of the gent's, catching Richard’s gaze and giving him a smile. Janet was an easy enough caricature to give a cartoonist no problems; once you drew the knitted hat, the retro flairs and the velvet jacket with the indie band badges, the rest of the girl just slotted into place.

    She pushed him into the empty cubicle and kissed him hard, ramming her tongue down his throat with the sort of enthusiasm of lust that he could no longer remember. Her sexual confidence didn’t stop there - she was already unbuckling his trousers, and Richard was simply standing in dumbfounded shock. Figuring he should be more aggressive he pulled off her top, to reveal her slightly underdeveloped chest.

    That was when the door was smashed open. There was a moment of confusion and the flash of a camera, followed swiftly by several steel-tipped cowboy boots to the face that left Richard bleeding in a toilet that was far from hygienic.

    It was about half an hour later that Richard managed to stagger out of the cubicle. Leaning against the wall, he read the same message; I never believed in hell. Now he was there.
     
  2. Resident Mexican
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    Resident Mexican Member

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    Damn.
    ...
    ...
    Damn.

    Not much to say really, except the usual "I like it." garbage. Personally, I don't think it's good enough to win: it's not a good enough premise, and I would have liked it better if you really made the reader empathize with the way Richard has been feeling.

    Instead of just saying flat how he's going through a mid-life crisis, have him act it out a bit; that would definitely enhance his character. Finally, you show no reaction of the girl when her boyfriend beats the crap out of Poor Richard. That needs to change. On the whole side, there is nothing wrong with the flow of the prose, but emotionally, the story is weak.

    Well, that's about all I have to say:

    The verdict: **
    -Resident Mexican
     
  3. Onoria Westhrop
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    Onoria Westhrop Contributing Member

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    Ah, I meant to imply that the girl and her boyfriend set Richard up, hence the photograph - for blackmail purposes, and the lack of emotional reaction from the girl.
    Personally, I have no emotional connection with the character of Richard, he's just like the girl - an easy cariacature, summed up in a few lines. I suppose the entire thing is a bored cliche, not one of my better pieces, except perhaps for the acerbic sketch of modern society.
    Obviously, just killing time anyway - the contest deadline is long since passed. I needed a break from my serious writing.
    As for the premise, I wanted to write something different to the other posts, which seem to dwell on the plot of the movie Constantine or the redwinephilosopher style debate about theology - which is about what I think of your sig. file quotations; they over simplify the religous debate. I'm a rationalist, a big fan of Bertrand Russell. But I don't feel the need to beat up on religious people - I think it is just reactionary thinking and is in danger or reducing your belief system to simply 'not-Christian', possiting no meaningful alternative philosophy on either an ontological or deontological basis. Which is not meant as a personal attack, because I think that such reactionary thinking is a necessary catalyst towards self discovery.
     
  4. _booklovr_
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    _booklovr_ Member

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    Well, personally, I liked it. And I'm not meaning to spew 'garbage' when I say that. But I understood that Richard had been set up right away. I just wasn't sure who the high-heeled boots belonged to at first. But in the end I got it.
    Also, I don't really get how a writer could make a character so...well, sinful like this someone a person could emphasize with. I mean, he's cheating on his wife!:eek: I don't really feel the need to emphasize with a person like that, if you know what I mean.
    And I do agree that a lot of the entries here are similar in the way that Onoria said. (Mine's a bit different than some of the others, but it's not very good). I think you would've had a good chance of winning had you entered this before the deadline.:)
     
  5. Onoria Westhrop
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    Onoria Westhrop Contributing Member

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    Sweet dude, thanks. But, honestly I do think it's a bit second rate for me. You should check out my snippet in the novel section - much more my zone. I don't write male protagonists well.
     
  6. Resident Mexican
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    Resident Mexican Member

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    My sig. over simplifies the debate? What deabate? :)
    Actually, I wanted to exemplify less the athiested views and more the simplicity of them from the other side. Have you ever heard a borne-again christian tell you, "you don't believe in hell? Well, I guess you'll believe in it when you get there."

    That just pisses me off, as I've had a lot of christians say that, and just dismiss everything I say on religion. Still, the debate is a pretty deep one, so no argument there.
     
  7. Onoria Westhrop
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    Onoria Westhrop Contributing Member

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    I'm not a Christian and I really do empathize with where you are coming from, but I think that your sig. comments are likely to offend some people, and I don't think that they make any valid points.
    The first seems to suggest a perfectabilian model of evolution that operates at a social level - which is proposed by no scientific school I know of, but is propsed by religous groups and the makers of Star Trek.
    The second is an empty rhetorical question which overlooks the fact that no matter how specious the reason or basis of his authority may be the pope does have power over millions of lives.
    And the third is just a dick joke.
    More fundamentally, I think you trap yourself in reactionary thinking if the thing you most want to say to everyone on this site is "I am not a Christian". Wouldn't it be better to "I am....". And if you are going to criticize Christianity for being dogmatic and irrational, shouldn't you make more of an effort to provide lucid and consistent counter arguments?
     
  8. Resident Mexican
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    Resident Mexican Member

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    Sigh... you are absolutely right. Of course, I am an athiest, and I am frustrated at christians dismissing my attempts to explain my beliefs at every turn. However, my reasoning for my sig, I find, is not to have a sensible debate. A debate through siggies? That would just devolve into a flame war.

    I find that it pays to view situation through a more lighthearted view, as I was doing in my sig. I wasn't stating well-thought out reasons; I was poking fun at religion. If a religious debate thread surfaces on this site, I assure you I have plenty of well thought out arguments for that as well. :)

    I would like to point out, however, that you make a critical mistake in your judgement of my first quote. The whole idea behind it is that evolution favors those who survive, so in the million years to come where the muslims and jews and christians are all slaughtering each other, the only ones with enough sense will be the ones to survive: the top 5% of the world. As time goes on, mankind would evolve beyond religion. Of course, this completely and blashpemously oversimplifies the whole process and Idea, too. But I'm aware of that. I was just poking fun, which, last time I checked, is the whole point of a sig. Correct?

    I'm curious to know, ornoria; what is your philosophy? In detail, I mean. you have said you are a rationalist, but would you care to elaborate?

    -Resident Mexican
     
  9. Onoria Westhrop
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    Onoria Westhrop Contributing Member

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    Not sure I agree with your projected series of events in which religous belief leads to extermination - there are as many counters as precedents to that one. Which is beside the point - my problem with the comment on evolution was that it seemed to imply that evolution=progress rather than random variation and the attendent extermination by natural and sexual selection of animals that lacked the variation. I found the word "beyond" implied a definite horizon or stage in human development that was to be overcome - but if humanity developed from monkeys, which do not to my knowledge have religion, then its absence could equally be argued to be retrogression (assuming a view of evolution=progress).
    Personally I don't think evolution=progress. Religion may well, through the process of random change, pass from the surface of the earth, it may later return again.

    It would take a great length of time and thought to articulate my philosophy - in general I would say that in terms of ontology I borrow a lot from Zizek, in terms of deontology I would say that I was still heavily influenced by Roman and Greek philosophers in that I still consider the questions "How can I be a good citizen?" and "What is the ultimate good?" remain at the heart of my search for meaning.
    I would take as my axioms an idea that the subject (I) always and already includes a reference to a negative term (not I) and that this fundamental ontological claim involves an ethical obligation to the Other which exists at the same time as a desire to reduce the alterity of the Other and make them an object in something like a Hegelian Master/Slave dialectic.

    I would also stand by something Bertrand Russell once said:
    "I would never die for what I believed; I might be wrong."
     
  10. Resident Mexican
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    Ah. The roman psyche has always had the flavor, for me, of the arrogant scorn of a noble. That's not a negative connotation with me, however, quite to the contrary; I endorse arrogance, for certain reasons.

    The whole religion going extinct to evolution thing was just a joke. I don't think it possible or even plausible, though I would love for it to be a possibility. But yeah, it's just an oversimplification. I would like to say, however, that I don't believe evolution=progress, but rather that progress=evolution. When you think about it, we'd never progress if it werent for evolution, but we shouldn't assume progress is always for the better. I don't believe progress=good change. It just means change.

    I respect you, Ornoria. You have read the great philosophers, something I've only dreamed of doing. Don't get me wrong; I've read Frederick Nietchze, Soren Kierkegaard, Ayn Rand, even a case study of Bertrand Russel. But I'm afraid I don't know the field quite the way you do.

    I am humbled. *bows*

    You'll find my views on the world identify with arrogance, scorn, skepticism. The world without meaning is just a plane where we build our own meaning, but only greatness deserves to be built. I expect greatness, the quality of greatness from everything I touch, including you. ;)

    -Resident Mexican
     
  11. SeaBreeze
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    SeaBreeze Banned

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    Well.... I liked it......
     

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