Monday, August 3, 2020

From the Writer's Studio: "Clowns to the Left of Me, JOKER to the Right - Stuck in the Middle with You". The Gauntlet Reviews JOKER.

Welcome back, Gauntletarians.

Well, it looks like I’ve finally gotten around to penning my review of DC’s “Joker” (2019), featuring Joaquin Phoenix as the dysfunctional antagonist-protagonist, Arthur Fleck.

I should mention that while I'm a fan of superhero (or super-villain) films, in my youth I was far and away much more into the Marvel brand than DC. Nonetheless, “Joker” is not the usual sort of comic book adaptation, with the closest parallel perhaps being the X-Men derived series “Legion”; which also features a protagonist with delusional psychosis. Regardless, Arthur’s mental illness is primarily characterized by radical mood swings between tragic melancholy, violent anger, and disturbingly manic giddiness. However, he also occasionally blurs the line between outward reality and his internal imagined reality - so, bi-polar schizophrenia? I personally think that the filmmakers were going for the touch of the old maxim, “in an insane world, it's the sane man who appears insane”, but let’s face it, not- withstanding any post-modern moral relativism re-write, the Joker is coo-coo for cocoa-puffs.

I’d like to break this review down into a few elements; the first being some general observations about various aspects of the film making, then the screenwriting, then the movie’s influences, and lastly, the political context of the film.

In General

So first, what I liked about “Joker”.

Joker is remarkably filmed, with some nice establishing shots. It is consistently lighted, comprehensively designed, adequately edited, and Joaquin’s acting is, well, it’s impressive - not- withstanding that he is almost typecast to play characters with mental, emotional, or substance abuse problems.

The film holds the viewer’s attention, tightly, and the script is solid. At times the dialogue is fairly minimal. The only deviation from the original comic book origin of the Joker is that in this revision there’s no mention of Arthur’s immersion in a vat of chemical waste, which frankly, could have played nicely into a botched suicide attempt by the protagonist, as the film gen- erally chronicles a man being beaten down by life one nail at a time.

But hey, that's just me.

The Setting

Supposedly set in “Gotham City”, the film appears as mostly identical to the Kingsbridge and Spuyten Duyvil sections of the North Bronx, New York circa 1979-1984 - graffiti covered subway train cars and all. As someone who grew up nearby, this was an eerie flashback to my youth, and I can’t count how many times I trudged up the massive set of steps located at 237th Street, which Arthur desperately scales, and euphorically dances on, throughout the movie.

The Story

The story is fairly simple.

Arthur lives with his elderly (and ill) mother in a dreadful apartment while barely eking out a living as a paid clown. He is essentially a modern Incel, and aside from his mother, the only other relationships he seems to have are with a state-appointed social worker / shrink, and his co-workers at the clowning agency. He is infatuated with a fetching neighbor, but from afar. We learn early on that government funded has been cut and that his therapy, and the medicine that comes with it, will be coming to an end. It’s a nice element, (an information bomb, as I like to call it), because it creates a sense of impend- ing doom as we expect this will just accelerate Arthur’s slow descent into violence.

This motif is paralleled by a literal “Chekhov’s Gun” being introduced in the first act, after Arthur is attacked by gang of miscreant youth, and a co-worker offers him a handgun for protection.

Needless to say, the Wayne family plays into the story, and we learn that Arthur’s mother was once a maid in Wayne manor. We also learn that she may have imparted her own psychosis through hereditary to Arthur, and as the film progresses he makes several discoveries about his origins that further push him over the edge. Within reason Arthur feels that everyone in his life is either mocking him, is insincere, or is flat-out lying to him, and thus, he begins to take action, or rather, revenge.

The Influences

There are three or four filmic antecedents that immediately come to mind when watching “Joker”.

The obvious would be Heath Ledger’s portrayal of Joker in Dark Knight (2008), but that’s a minor thematic parallel. What is more visceral are two Robert De Niro films originally made in the period presented in Joker. The first is “The King of Comedy” (1983) and second is “Taxi Driver” (1976).

De Niro appears in Joker as a late night talk show host, Murray Franklin (a homage to Joe Franklin?) assuming the Jerry Lewis role in “King of Comedy”, while he played a delusional comic, similar to Arthur, named Rupert Pupkin, who is so desperate to gain notoriety; that he kidnaps the host in order to force his staff to allow him to guest host an episode of the show. While “King” possesses a similar theme to Joker, the descent into violence seen in Joker is actually more reminiscent of De Niro’s passive-turned-vigilante cabbie in Taxi Driver.

This element was also manifested in Michael Douglas / Robert Duvall film “Falling Down” (1993), which chronicled a middle of the road guy snapping and going on a violent rampage across Los Angeles – so, another relationship.

The Politics

When Joker first came out there were a number of media reviewers who immediately labeled it a “white supremacist” film. These were of course the same people who effusively lauded “Black Panther” (2018), which I might remind, presented a zenophobic isolationist ethno-state that regularly engaged in wars against their own nation’s minority ethnic groups, and covetously guard their intellectual property and maintain an immigrant-free impenetrable border. Had the characters in Black Panther possessed white faces, those brilliant geniuses would have rightly noted that the paradigm was borderline Hitlerian, but hey, maybe they’re just that simplistic and aren’t capable of seeing politics and philosophy past melanin.

Anyway, I was puzzled by their assessment, and still am. I understand that clowns wear “white face”, but these reviewers couldn’t be so uninformed to think that lead white paint, which evolved in bubonic plague ridden Italy, and probably mimicked a dark irony about the unimaginable scale of death occurring all around them, was somehow tied to current issues of American race divisiveness.

In the aftermath of the film’s release and the scuttlebutt about clowns being racist, the meme gurus of 4chan soon created the rainbow-wigged “Honkler the Clown”, obviously a making reference to “Honky” – an outdated Black slur against white people. The leftist mob ate it up and, as expected, they declared that this indeed confirmed their suspicions and that clowns were indeed a symbol of white supremacy, just like Kek / Pepe the frog. While the ease by which 4chan manipulated the paranoia of Marxist-inclined folk is humorous, the Libertarian fellas at South Park chimed in with “Mexican Joker”, making light of not only the clown meme, but also of school shooters emulating Joker.

Near the end of the film there are widespread anti-capitalist riots (inspired by Joker) which all but prophetically look like real life in leftist-dominated urban areas of America in 2020. Mind you, De Niro has been an almost brutish and outspoken adversary of President Trump, and Phoenix is likewise an Eco-warrior, so pretty much leftists who have been conditioned to reflexively fight back against those who either don’t agree with their ideology, or at the very least, don’t politely lie down and shut their mouths – unlike street-fighter Trump.

I personally think that all of these films - Taxi Driver, King of Comedy, Falling Down, and Joker, all actually reflect an internal cognitive dissonance within leftist psychology, and not at all in those to the center and right. The latent violence and authoritarianism of the left has become globally visceral and visible over the last few decades, yet this is routinely suppressed or re-framed by the media, or I should say, their media.

The far left generally has always sought to radically change society, (and even human nature) forcefully if need be, and they are fine with compulsion, media warfare, collateral damage, fire and death, in the name of their utopian end goal, yet, handguns – they’re “icky”. They have historically advocated for blacks and other minorities, yet they do this with the soft bigotry of low expectations, and of course, as a general rule, these valiant nobles have no black friends.

Let’s be honest here, it’s leftists that fantasize about reliving past protests movements…and epic riots, and are apt to rampage through the streets. Their elected representatives will not condemn, and even express admiration, for masked fascists who terrorize the public and murder blacks while insisting they are ant-fascist and pro-black.

Joker, in my opinion, is symbolic of the cognitive dissonance between positive change and radical destruction creates in the leftist heart. Yet while the Joker is sympathetic to the cause, he is still at heart only interested in his own agenda - motivated by revenge and chaos. 

Conclusion

All in all, I suggest you check out Joker. 9/10 Gauntlet’s up!

Till next time.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Unwitting Post-Modernists

Welcome back to the wily and elusive Gauntlet of Balthazar for some passing obser- vations regarding cultural indoctrination and the conformity of thought.

You know, the little stuff.

We are of course all products of our particular environments, the time period in which we were born, and the cultures in which we were raised, as well as being strongly influenced by our nationality, economics, family, and broader sociological interactions. But, in the current Culture War, the philosophy of Post-Modernism has largely succeeded in gradually altering core sensibilities on a global scale.

I personally don't think that most people know what Post-Modernism is, nor do they even realize that they are Post-Modernist in their thinking - hence why this article has been titled "The Unwitting Post-Modernists".

Now obviously, some folk are more naturally immune to the effect of Post-Modernism, and I can't imagine hearing a member of a rural tribe in Papua New Guinea ever state that "Truth" is a "Relative Construct", but for those in the West, and all those influenced by modern urban culture, thoughts and statements such as this have become standard parlance, and in this, Post-Modernist philosophy has succeeded as an element of Cultural Marxism where Socialism has largely failed in political practice.

According to Wikipedia:

"Post-Modernism is a broad movement that developed in the mid-to late 20th century across philosophy, the arts, architecture, and criticism, marking a departure from modernism. The term has been more generally applied to describe a historical era said to follow after modernity and the tendencies of this era. 

Postmodernism is generally defined by an attitude of skepticism, irony, or rejection toward what it describes as the grand narratives and ideologies associated with modernism, often criticizing Enlightenment rationality and focusing on the role of ideology in maintaining political or economic power. Postmodern thinkers frequently describe knowledge claims and value systems as contingent or socially-conditioned, describing them as products of political, historical, or cultural discourses and hierarchies.

Common targets of postmodern criticism include universalist ideas of objective reality, morality, truth, human nature, reason, science, language, and social progress. Accordingly, postmodern thought is broadly characterized by tendencies to self-consciousness, self-referentiality, epistemological and moral relativism, pluralism, and irreverence.

Postmodern critical approaches gained purchase in the 1980s and 1990s, and have been adopted in a variety of academic and theoretical disciplines, including cultural studies, philosophy of science, economics, linguistics, architecture, feminist theory, and literary criticism, as well as art movements in fields such as literature, contemporary art, and music. Postmodernism is often associated with schools of thought such as deconstruction, post-structuralism, and institutional critique, as well as philosophers such as Jean-François Lyotard, Jacques Derrida, and Fredric Jameson (not to mention Michel Foucault - pictured to the right 👉).

Criticisms of postmodernism are intellectually diverse and include arguments that postmodernism promotes obscurantism, is meaningless, and that it adds nothing to analytical or empirical knowledge."

Fair enough - but this goes far beyond simple skepticism and deconstruction.

While an Asian Empiricist might deem this as a "Baizuo" idea, or a less eloquent Western Conservative might frame this whole approach as "book-smart Libtard thinking", there is no denying that we live under the philosophic yoke of the Post-Modernists. Well, at least most of us.

When I personally encounter someone who unconsciously promotes relativist thought, I like to regurgitate a nice maxim I've develop- ed specifically in order to address this creeping malaise. Try it on yourself - it goes like this: "YOUR Truth is that you believe that Gravity is a construct. THE Truth is that when you jump out of a skyscraper window - you die." Simple, eh? I've also had numerous discussions wherein any number of Post-Modernists insist that all sexual relationships are equally valid and beautiful. While this sounds "nice", it invariably puts them in the uncomfortable pos- ition of defending pedophilia, which through history, and in almost every human culture, has been collectively seen as an absolute wrong. But hey, a child's agency, or the lack thereof, is a construct too, right? So feel free to also put them on the defensive. It's a jolly good time.

Post-Modernist thinking in league with third wave radical feminist theory and the general swell of interest in antiquarian Socialist ideology has made it's home in university settings since the early 1980's, and over time has aided in inculcating the "educated" youth of the world into re-framing their thought along lines that now seem "normal". 

Sadly, for those of us who lean to Enlightenment liberty and /or Conservative values, our antecedents - rather than push back against the insidious influence of Post-Modernism, went along with it, because hey, we're supposed to respect everyone's beliefs, right? I guess the reasoning was, "Better to err on the side of being polite instead of contradicting someone". Thus, over time, the right ceded the moral high ground in the Culture War to a philosophy that proposes that there is NO MORALITY.

Nice hat trick, if I do say so myself.

Ironically, as a writer I'm a bit of a relativist, and I firmly believe in the maxim that a villain believes that he/she is the hero of their own story. However, while I try to dispassionately present all sides of a given philosophy, a Post-Modernist writer prefers to present everything as equally meaningless - but they will invariable avoid presenting a character who is not a Post-Modernist. They think this makes them inclusive and diverse, but they are missing the fact that not only are many people not Post-Modernist in their thinking, but many are overtly anti-Post-Modernist. That is the reality of diversity, and no matter how many "sensitivity advisors" one might find on a modern movie set, or human resources office pool, the fact is that while they might control the dominant narrative, they do not control how and what people think - nor should they. Conversely, I am quite aware of how many readers or viewers, simply because they have been strongly influenced by Post-Modernism, might perceive a characters as a "bad guy", just because the character in question reads as an "absolutist".

One would think that such relativists wouldn't be so quick to jump to judgement, but since the hallmark of their thinking is narcissistic and ideologically fueled, this has led leftists to move further into the "Social Justice Warrior" motif, to the point at which western societies are being torn apart by the monsters they created - misguided idealistic youth who believe they are rebelling but are at their core actually authoritarians dedicated to supporting big-tech, mega-corps, the state, and their utopian ideals of "changing" and "saving" the world.

Sadly, what most ardent Post-Modernists, as well as Marxists, fail to grasp is that human nature can not be changed, and thus, all that their movement will accomplish in the long run will be social and inter- personal nihilistic destruction. This is why the so-called Anarcho-Communist anti-fascists (Antifa) are essentially fascist in their approach, and their stated anti-racism has been corroded with the soft bigotry of low expectations, inverted self-hatred, and rabid antisemitism.

In the end, I expect that Post-Modernism will eventually fade into the annals of history, and one day people will read the ponderous term papers and meandering novels that encapsulate the bourgeoisie Frankenstein psychosis of this period, and will try to relate to a world captivated by lack of beliefs. Well, aside from the belief of virtue signaling held together under a veil of Marxist utopianism and the tools it has always used to place, and keep, itself in power - class, race, and gender warfare.

Till next time.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

From the Writer's Studio: The Importance of World Building Architecture

Welcome back to the Gauntlet of Balthazar for another foray into screenwriting and media critique (as well as hopefully useful advice). This time I'd like to focus on world building and story / character architecture. By this I mean the designing of building blocks which supply the infrastructure of a literary work with what it requires to move the audience through the story-line in both a logical and cathartic fashion, until its conclusion. Personally, as a Myers-Briggs INTJ (introverted-intuitive-thinking-judging) personality type, (otherwise known as "the architect"), you can see why someone like myself finds this element so crucial to successful screenplay and story writing, and why this approach works so well with my artistic inclinations, and in general, the structural endeavor of world building.

In essence all artists, and writers specifically, are world creators / builders. While some scribes excel at coming up with clever scenarios, penning effective and realistic dialogue, relaying complex emotions, setting a specific mood, or are adept at general character development, beyond this lays insightful and methodical structural plotting, progressive inter-related character arcs, and the comprehensive world building of a reality. In my opinion this is the most essential element for immersing the reader or viewer in the suspension of dis-belief. Thus, the term story-architecture is perhaps the most appropriate way of referring to the core elements of world building.

A GENERAL NOTE ON ACT STRUCTURE

I think I should start by pointing out that world building goes far beyond just adhering to one or the other philosophies of act structure or organizing scenes within those acts. However, without a solid act structure, generally, all is chaos, and so, a brief mention of general script architecture should be noted before moving on.

The rule of thumb for act structure (going back to the ancient Greeks) is that the first act is "set up", the second is "conflict", and the third is "resolution" or "climax". Overlaying this, in the most traditional terms, is the "hero's journey" - which can aid in the development of the protagonist in an archetypal manner - paralleling his or her movement through the act structure. In tandem to act structure and the hero's journey are the emotional "beats" or "notes" that occur within the acts. These emotional setups and resolutions are usually referred to as being part of "Freytag's Pyramid".

Most plays, films, novels and series episodes rely on a three act structure, though a short play or film might be encompassed in a single act and larger works might opt for a five act layout. It is much rarer to find a "two act", "four act", or "six act" work of fiction. In ancient and Shakespearean tragedies the five-act structure was king and generally presented the final act as the ultimate "catastrophe" (as in Hamlet). However, in the twentieth century J.R.R. Tolkien of Lord of the Ring's fame added an element called a "eucatastrophe", which allowed for an inexplicable unraveling of tragedy into an unlikely happy resolution. I mean, hey, who doesn't like a happy ending, especially when it seems all but impossible.

In the modern milieu, the five-act structure of teleplay scripts exists simply due to the historical placement of advertisements on commercial television. Structurally these scripts really are still three-act plays, with a teaser (setup) at the beginning and a coda at the end. Obviously, the teaser occurs prior to (and sometimes following) the main title sequence of the show, and the coda returns just before the end titles / production credits - often to establish a new element, set up the next episode, or merely to insert a cliff-hanger. Within reason, the coda of an episodic script is synonymous with Freytag's "denouement", or the "tying up loose ends". For me, I personally tend to prefer a five act structure, simply because I gain great artistic satisfaction from writing scripts which are part of an ongoing arc within an episodic series.

Regardless, adhering to your chosen philosophy of act structure is, in my opinion, an invariable necessity - as crucial as choosing the tense in which you are writing your novel in and sticking with it all the way through. But in terms of overall creativity, a good screenplay writer must move beyond just depicting an interesting scenario or holding to an act format and become a world building architect. Arguably, it is the most important aspect of "larger" works. So let's jump right in, shall we.

NARRATIVE ARCHITECTURE IN THE REAL WORLD

As an example of effective world building architecture, one must intuitively, and intimately, understand the reality one is creating. If the architecture works, then all the characters you create will occupy their niche within the structure, and their place in that reality supplies them within the parameters by which their interactions with other characters function within that architecture.

The bottom line is that you must start to think like an architect, or at least a literary one, in order to build an effective and believable universe through which your characters navigate. Obviously, the more fantastic the reality, the more you must think it out, because if the audience picks up on contradictions (consciously or not), or starts to feel that the internal logic of the reality is not sacrosanct, they will inexplicably "fall out of love" with the otherwise amazing world you have created. 

In order to explain what I'm talking about, I'd actually like to start with a few real world examples of successful and flawed architecture in non-literary systems, for, what better way to sort out fiction than to dwell on real life architecture - especially if you want to get your own "created" architecture down. Now, don't get me wrong, it's not that you can't present a character, or group of characters in your film or episodic scripts that possess imperfect rationales for their actions, or that take incorrect or surreal actions which don't match their rationales, but for the most part even the most doltish viewer or reader will be thrown out of the suspension of dis-belief by a nonsensical disconnect from the linear "jenga" of logic and structure.

Therefore, witness Marxism / Socialism / Communism as a belief system. Clearly, for all the truly optimistic, utopian elements of Marx's theory, the installation of global Communism as true to Marx's vision as it is presented on the printed page has yet to have been implemented in the real world. In fact, it has panned out as quite the contrary, and has instead proved at every instance to engender authoritarianism and oligarchic hierarchies rather than the "equality" the philosophy promises. In fact, even Socialism (or as I like to term it: "Communism lite") generally requires a healthy dose of watering down in order to make it work within a democratic framework, which should stand as no surprise, since when Marxism is implemented as full Communism, invariably a large death toll is somewhere creeping over the horizon or lurking in the past.

Of course a die-hard Socialist or Communist will insist that the failures of Socialism or Communism was due to human error - and that the reason it failed to institute Marxism as written, was that it was not implemented properly. As they see it - the next time they'll get it right. One would think after seeing a system fail so many times it would be sort of like building a house and watching it fall down over and over, and never realizing that the blueprints are flawed. But since this is a religious, yes, religious belief system - powered by the rocket fuel of human emotions and idealism, true believers have a hard time admitting that the actual cause of the failure of Marxism is that the architecture developed by Marx is innately flawed.

The origin of these flaws are simple, and were ingrained from the start, and have persisted, simply because good old Karl believed that human nature could be changed by economic policies, and thus, the implementation of his architecture from book to real life proposed a "mortar" that in no way is able to hold the bricks of his philosophy together. You might wish to argue the point, but from the first American and French communes in the 18th and 19th centuries, to Marx, to Russia, China, Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Venezuela, to the CHOP in Seattle, none of those endeavors have arrived at the end vision of their ultimate creator. No need to mention the Faux-Socialist Nordic Capitalist varieties, as well as apparently frequent mutations from Globalist Socialism into Ethno-National Socialism; which gave us nifty authoritarians like Hitler, Mussolini, Milosevic, and Ba'athists like Saddam and Assad.

Unlike the flawed architecture of the Socialist umbrella philosophies, the religion of Islam possesses a near perfect architecture - at least for what it is designed to achieve. Every element, such as a negative prohibition on apostasy, the simplicity of the creed, a tax levied on non-believers implemented whenever Muslims exceed 50% of a population, and the faith being seamlessly integrated with political and ethno-cultural elements, enabled Islam to spread to twenty-two nations in under a century, and to become dominant in every one of those lands within the next three hundred or so years after that.

Certainly the entrenchment of the language, religion, and culture of Islam took some time to inculcate the populations of the lands Muslim armies conquered, but in grand scheme, even a population dense nation (multiple millions) such as Egypt (which was majority Christian, with sizeable Pagan and Jewish minorities in the seventh century C.E.) was Islamized by an initial force of some 4,000 Bedouin Arab warriors to almost 90% Islamic compliance by the Mamluk period. Christianity, on the other hand took almost 1000 years to reach its final extent in Europe, ending with the formal conversion of Lithuania's King in the mid 13th century. Nigeria, which was majority traditional polytheist prior to World War One, now only boasts about 10% of their population still clinging to their traditional beliefs. The rest of the formerly pagan nation's denizens are rapidly approaching Muslim-Christian parity, and realistically, one can expect a slight Muslim majority within a generation.

In my opinion the historical socio-cultural effectiveness of the Muslim model is beyond reproach, and this is because of the well thought out architecture that Mohammad and the Malikite compilers of the Hadith codified in the mid-seventh century. Therefore, no matter how you feel about Marxism or Islam, the contrast in the effectiveness of the architecture of their machines is clear - at least if you're honest with yourself, and dispassionately study the statistics of their respective successes and failures.

Objective observations of systems is an ability that most people possess, especially on the interpersonal side of life. For instance, in regard to your own sensibilities, how many times have you been able to point out when a friend is walking face-forward into a relationship or decision blunder? And how often have you been unable to see or change your own course, even though your friends have advised you otherwise? This phenomena occurs because it is easier to discern the flaws in an architecture that is external to your own - free of personal biases and emotional baggage. But look on the upside, since you are a world builder, it should be a comparatively easy task to stand back and look at your creation with some quotient of empiricism.

RULES AND THEIR DECONSTRUCTION

So, now that you've created the world behind your story and are poised to look at it empirically, you need to apply rules to the reality. These rules are internal to that reality, and may, or may not, comport with actual reality. Some realities possess an established set of rules governing certain character types, such as Vampires not being able to enter people's homes unless invited.

As world creator, you are of course free to invent a world in which Bram Stoker's rules do not apply, but you must them explain why this rule does not apply. It could be as simple as having a character quip: "What? That's just a bunch of folklore. Of course I can just sneak in for a bite."

Regardless, it has to be addressed.

The governing mechanism here is - if you break a rule, you are in effect creating a new rule.

To establish a set of consistent and coherent rules, I suggest mapping them out, like a script outline, and then deconstructing the reality. For example, let's say you've created a world in which, I don't know, all toys are sentient individuals, as in Toy Story (Yeah, I know, I've written about Toy Story before, but hey, just go with it!). Anyway, it isn't enough to just insist that the toys are characters, you must explain why their owners never notice their toys chatting with one another. Toy Story does this by explaining that Toys possess the uncanny ability to feign inanimate status whenever a human is near. While it is highly likely that a toy would eventually be caught being sentient, that is left to the suspension of dis-belief. The other rule of Toy Story is the causal factor that children outgrow, or lose toys - supplying the toy characters with a sense of inevitability.

The mental exercise of deconstruction serves as the creative "What If?". What if a human caught a toy speaking, what if some toys weren't capable of sentience?, what if a child never outgrew a toy?, and what if an adult had a relationship with a sentient toy (which occurred in the film "Ted"). I personally like to invent characters that don't actually appear in my film and series scripts and imagine what their life is like. For me, this really aids in my understanding of the world I've built. Needless to say, this is also very helpful when designing tertiary or incidental characters who inhabit the reality.

In the end, for a world creator it's all about forging the most realistic and believable reality possible, no matter how outrageous or unbelievable the overall premise or governing rules are. If this is done in a consistent, holistic, and comprehensive manner, with the pointers I mentioned earlier, I believe your scripts, stories, and novels, will all benefit and stand as superior pieces of writing.

Till next time.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Republicans Versus the Race Party...I Mean the Democrats: Part II - 1825-1854 > > > [re-issue]

Welcome back the Gauntlet of Balthazar for a re-issue of "Republicans Versus the Race Party...I Mean the Democrats Part II: 1825-1854", now broken up into smaller segments, and methodically tracing the evolution of political party philosophy in the United States from the founding until the present day.

Within reason the premise of this series of posts is to demonstrate that there has been only two dominant political trains of thought throughout our history - those being, Pro-Central Government versus the Liberty of Individual Rights. It is my contention that the push and pull of these philosophies is, and has been, an intra-party struggle within the Republican Party, while the primary focus of the Democratic Party was, and still currently is - simply race. From the DNC's founding as the pro-slavery party in the 1830's, to  being the party of anti-desegregation in the 1960's, and currently fomenting division by plying Marxist Intersectional race, class and gender warfare initiatives, race politics has served as the primary means (hand-in-hand with Globalist Corporatism) by which the DNC has cemented its power base.

So, let's return to the methodical march through time and pick up the next phase of American political history with the election of 1824.
  
Part Two: 1825-1854 (Republicans, Whigs and the Pro-Slavery Party)

The first great internal watershed of doctrinaire proportions that shook the political landscape of America was the election of 1824 - which pitted an ardent Federalist, John Quincy Adams - the son of Federalist Party founder, John Adams, against a southern populist war hero known as Andrew Jackson.

Reformulated themselves into the National Republican Party, and headed by J.Q. Adams and Secretary of State Henry Clay, the NRP was initially referred to the Adams-Clay Republicans in order to differentiate themselves from the Jeffersonian Republicans - but these were clearly Federalists. The National Republican Party was in essence the fusion of the earlier Democratic-Republican party and the Federalist party - the once bitter rivals agreeing on one thing: that Jackson and his ilk had to go!

While Adams won the 1824 election, he savagely lost the election of 1828 election to Andrew Jackson. The Jackson camp (the Jacksonian's) quickly adopted the moniker "the Democratic Party", and the origin of the current political party of the same name dates from that year. If we are to believe their rhetoric (and wikipedia) there is an unbroken line of thought here, or at least that is what we are led to believe. True, Jackson attacked the institution of central banking as an evil, and in that he was largely correct, and within reason the DNC did indeed inherit many of the socially left ideals of Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans. But more so the Jacksonian's utilized the individualism of the platform and states rights sovereignty to justify and support the continuation of their most prized issue - the institution of slavery in the south (and Native American culturcide and genocide, if we're being fully forthcoming).

Having lost to Jackson in the 1828-1837 period, The National Republicans went into a tailspin, but in the long run the defeat galvanized them into a stronger platform, gathering their former members together with disaffected Democrats, as well as the Anti-Masonic Party - which supplied a strong third-party alternative to Jackson in the 1828 election. Honestly, by today's standards the Anti-Masons would frankly seem at home with the conspiracy theorists and the soft Alt-Right, or at least "Alt-lite". Nonetheless, these three streams all coalesced into what was called the Whig Party, which formalized itself in 1833. Indeed, such was the appeal of the party that four US Presidents after Jackson were Whigs.

As a party the Whigs (or "Clay" Whigs) took their name from the powdered wigs that the colonial founders sported, belying their pride in the revolution and their patriotism. They were a center-right party, which favored economic interventionist policies such as protective tariffs, national infrastructure development, and an "America First" outlook (sound familiar?). Unlike the earlier regional divisions of the parties, the Whigs had supporters in both the north and the south, notably from the entrepreneurial class. Due to this, or maybe because of this, the Whigs opted to not have a strong platform regarding slavery, either way, and chose to kind of ignore it.

By today's standards I feel that the closest parallel to the Whig Party of the 1840's would be to that of the Tea Party movement of the early 2000's. Both were Federalists, but not extremely so. Both were Classical Liberals - with a Conservative streak. And both prized Entrepreneurial Capitalism but not war- mongering and Corporatism, and I like to imagine that the Whigs and the Tea Party would have shared a similar heartfelt disdain for Neo-Con's (and Neo-Lib's).

I personally like to think of myself as a bit of a Whig, and if President Donald Trump thought about it, he would too, even though his brand of populism has had a similar divisive effect on the opposition party and the media-indoctrinated partisan populace as Jackson did in his time.

As you might have premeditated, I'm about to talk about Whigs "chicken's coming home to roost" effect due to their avoidance to taking a stand on the slavery issue. And if you did guess that, you'd be absolutely right.

You see, it was due to, or maybe because of the neutral approach the Whig's took on the issue of slavery, that several single-issue abolitionist splinter parties came into existence in the 1840's - such as the Liberty Party (1840-1848), who responded to southern Democrats (and somewhat northern Democrats) who were pushing for the expansion of slavery in the newly acquired south-western territories. Ironically, Southern Whig's leaned to being even more pro-slavery than their Democratic Party counterparts in either the south or north, while Northern Whigs tended to being more anti-slavery than Northern Democrats. However, as Southern Democrats started to suggest the concept of secession over the issue of slavery, Southern Whigs moved away - their Federalist-born national patriotism being more important than what was in many ways seen as a "regional issue".

However, slavery was of course not just a regional issue, it was a moral issue. So, in the end, morality caught up with the Whigs, who promptly divided into two major factions: the anti-slavery Conscience Whigs and the Pro-Southern Cotton Whigs. While the Conscience Whigs were noted for their opposition to slavery on moral grounds, the Cotton Whig's association with the New England textile industry led them to consistently downplay the slavery issue. During the 1850s, several Conscience leaders played an important role in the founding of the Republican Party - displaying the abolitionist stream of Republican thought even prior to the technical founding of the party.

It should be mentioned that the Whigs and their denial of the issue of slavery first led to them loosing elections, and finally to a collapse, and then dissolution in the wake of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. This led to a reunification or a re-absorption of their party back into the National Republican Party. Likewise such were the times that the Liberty Party, the Conscience Whigs, and many Barnburner Democrats (who left the DNC), soon formed the Free Soil Party in 1852 - a centrist anti-slavery political party. No shock here - the Free Soil Party and the NRP then merged on March 20th, 1854 to form the GOP (Grand Old Party) then as now known simply as the Republican Party.

I should make it clear that the Democrats were not immune to the push and pull of the slavery issue, and at least in the north, a radical anti-slavery wing of the Democratic Party called the Barnburners, or Barnburner Democrats came into being. They were opposed within the party by a group called the Hunkers. The Barnburners (like current fiscal Conservatives) while not against large entrepreneurial businesses, opposed expanding the national debt and aggrandizing the power of large state-subsidized corporations. They also stood for local control, as did the Jeffersonian's. The Hunkers also wished to minimize the issue of slavery, like the Northern Whigs, but unlike the Federalists they favored state banks rather than a national bank.

While Democrats of the time insisted they were still less socially Conservative than Republicans, and reflected some of the leftist leanings of Jefferson's original Democratic-Republican Party (minus the moral qualms over slavery), just as at it's inception under Jackson, the issue of race (and pro-slavery) became the purview of the Democratic Party leading up to, and after, the Civil War.

In retrospect it is clear that the Democrats of the 1824-1854 period only supported states rights in order to insure that African-American's would not be freed, and that Native American land could be freely confiscated. Add to that their Anti-Catholicism, and it should come as no surprise why the DNC would later come to be the home of secessionists, anti-de-segregationists, eugenicists, and the KKK until the 1980's, and is in my opinion a political party that is currently still obsessed with race in the form of post-modern language deconstruction, Marxist intersectionality and identity politics.

But that's for the later posts in this series.

Till next time.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

The Gauntlet Celebrates A Happy 20,000th Page Visit!

Hello again and welcome to the mysterious Gauntlet of Balthazar's humble, but nevertheless celebratory, 20,000th page view post.

In general I'd like to thank everyone who has visited the site over the last few years, but in particular I'd like to extend a particular appreciation to recent readers in East Asia. From Japan to Thailand, from South Korea to China, and especially to Hong Kong, the swell of interest has been awesome, and I expect that in Hong Kong's case, the Gauntlet's penchant for all things liberty (as well as anti-Communism and anti-cultural Marxism) has been a driving factor in this mounting appeal.

While the G.O.B. has only logged offhand support for pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong, and has not filed repeating and elaborate articles about the protests, be assured that the Gauntlet has its many hats off to those who stand opposed to any conformist oligarchic bureaucracy - in this case the post-Maoist / faux Capitalist surveillance state of President Xi Jinping and his junta of Crypto-Confucian economic colonizers. Sorry if that bothers our kindly readers in China, but frankly, I imagine that you are more in line with the Gauntlet's Hong Kong faction, if you're not an extension thereof. Then again, who knows?

Anyway, as usual, work continues on scripts, music, and films, as well as forthcoming posts here, so please stay tuned, and comment if you are driven so, and subscribe if you like. Also, not to beat a dead horse, but please do subscribe to Nevekari Enterprise's Youtube Channel. Thanks so much!

Till next time.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Republicans Versus the Race Party...I Mean the Democrats: Part I: 1789-1824 > > > [re-issue]

Introduction 

In the age of legacy media and alternative information fighting for segments of political narrative dom- inance, if not serving as press arms for the dominant political parties of the US, it is illuminating to study how these structures came about, what they stood and / or stand for, and how they evolved over time.

As a person who was firmly on the left as a very young man, and has leaned right since about the age of twenty, I have come to feel that many of us accept certain narratives and doctrines based more on our perception of the parties that claim to represent them, and our self-images of course, rather than by identification with specific platform points and philosophies.

Growing up in New York City, the all but overt messaging I received as a general sensibility was that the Democratic Party was, well...they were "normal". They were clearly the "good guys", and certainly, one should only vote for them, because to not - was just crazy. I mean, the Republicans were just horrible, horrible people (don't you know?). It was an unspoken truth that they were thoroughly deplorable, in every way, long before Hillary Clinton deemed everyone to the right of her position as such in the 2015 election cycle.

Ironically, what many fail to understand is that the corrupt Madame Secretary had long since gone through her own political evolution - not unalike millions of others in her generation and since. From a Goldwater Republican as a teenager, Miss Rodham fell under the spell of Socialist agitator Saul Alinsky, and as she drifted into the Democratic Party, she, like many other liberals of her generation, brought far left radicalism into the establishment.

This toxic combination of Marxist-tinged leftist ideology being baked in a slow admixture with the military-industrial complex, led to the creation of a type of creature that is now commonly called a "Neo-Liberal", or "Neo-Lib" in contemporary social parlance. This concoction of victim politics and Corporatism created a bi-polar dissonance (i.e Woke CEO's) that achieved a kleptocratic high point in the 1990's - as many former hippies traded in their moccasins and hoodies for patent leather shoes and Chanel business suits. It's no coincidence that this high point matured during the Clinton administration, and was paralleled on the right side of the aisle by, you got it, the "Neo-Conservatives", or in short, the "Neo-Cons" - an equally despicable creature.

For those of you who I might have lost in the last passage I must explain that these euphemisms do not simple refer to renewed ("Neo") waves of Liberal and Conservative ideals - they instead refer to a new set of ideals, much in the same way that breeding a horse with a donkey creates a mule - it doesn't make a horse-donkey, or donkey-horse.

So we have Neo-Libs and Neo-Cons, as well as traditional Democrats and Republicans, as the dominant forces in America's two-party system. But where do these ideologies originate from?

In this series of posts I will attempt to encapsulate in a very abbreviated form (but hopefully scholarly enough) how these ideas came into being, effected, and responded to one another over time.

My thesis in short will illuminate how the two major and recurring themes of American politics: Federalism and Anti-Federalism (i.e how much or little control the government has over individual, local and state issues) has really only been a debate within the Republican camp from 1789 until the present, while a platform primarily built upon ethno-identitarianism and Marxist identitarianism (i.e. race) has always been the purview of the Democratic Party, from its founding until now.   

If we are able to recall our early school days, we  might remember studying the founding fathers and their nascent political alliances. In that, two particular opposing streams of thought stand out - Thomas Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans and John Adam's Federalists. While it would be very easy to picture that our current RNC and DNC and the direct heirs to these two parties, it is by no means that simple. In fact, I would argue that the notion that such is the case is a retro-active deception and a century old historical re-write created in order to clean up the sordid origins of the Democratic Party.

So let's go back to the very start and see how we got here.

Part One: 1789-1824 (Republicanism versus Federalism)

In the aftermath of the ratification of the US constitution and of George Washington's "independent" or at least "non-partisan" presidency, the Democratic-Republican Party was founded by President Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in 1792. It found support mostly in the southern states, and was in essence the successor of the Anti-Administration Party which had formed in 1789 and was dissolved in 1794. The party reflected the core beliefs of "Jeffersonian Democracy" (Jeffersonian Era 1801- 1817), which prized above all civic service.

The values of Republicanism opposed aristocracy, monarchy, central banking, the religious authority, and corruption. Within reason, it can be described as a socially center-left form of Classical Liberalism (i.e. the liberal ideals of the Enlighten- ment), and if we attempt to find a contemporary political parallels to it, I would suggest it maintained many common- alities with Libertarian thought, if not the current Libertarian Party - which in my opinion, has not yet adequately pieced together an holistic platform that would appeal to both right and left Libertarians.

The counter to both the Anti-Administration party and to the Democratic-Republican party was John Adam's and Alexander Hamilton's Pro-Administration party, better known as the Federalist Party, or simply, the Federalists (Federalist Era 1788-1801). The Federalist Party also formed in 1789, but unlike the Democratic-Republicans it found most of it's base in the chilly states of New England. The Federalist position was that government was innately an evil, but a necessary one, and thus, it should be regulated by a strong legal framework. Within reason, as a party the Federalists relied on traditional family and religious values and centralization of power and finances. Philosophically, it was both socially and fiscally more Conservative than the Jeffersonians, and would be best described as a center-right wing branch of Classical Liberalism, placing it firmly in the arena of most of today's Neo-Con's.

From the beginning the debate was always between how much, or how little, the newly created national government of the United States would, well, govern. States rights and the individual rights of man versus how much power the national government could, would, or should exert. I guess it was, and is, a bit of a pickle.

Both sides promoted their doctrines and opinions with the passionate zeal of devotees to a new faith, and before long the rivalry between the two parties became so extreme that duels in the name of the argument were taking place. The most epic and notable of these decades-long grudges was a pistol face-off between Federalist Alexander Hamilton and Jefferson's second Vice-President, Aaron Burr, who shot the prior to death in 1804. Burr was never charged, but it should be added that the duel ended his political career.

At the time, and until the Civil War, we must recall that often the President and Vice-President represented the opposing parties, with the loser of the electoral college taking the lesser seat. In a mythical construct where political civility reigned this sounds idealistically non-partisan and just wonderful. But in reality, this was not possible after the bitterness brought on by the north-south / Republican-Democratic schism and the Civil War that grew from it. But more on that later.

Regardless, the Federalist Party and the Democratic-Republican parties were both dissolved in the election of 1824 and morphed into very different creatures. However, the threads of their philosophy and streams of their thought both persisted and can be traced in some way until the current day.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

From the Writer's Studio: Character Design and the Myers-Briggs (Personality) Type Indicator

Hello everyone and welcome back to the enigma that is the Gauntlet of Balthazar for yet another installment of the "From the Writer's Studio" feature, and a look at the origin, design, and evolution of fictional characters that appear primarily in screenplays, and their relationship to the Myers-Briggs (Personality) Type Indicator test, commonly called the MBTI.

For those of you who are unaware, the MBTI, unlike thousands of contemporary social media "quizzes" and "tests", asks the user fairly impartial questions about how they perceive themselves, how they interact with the world, and what they consider their place in it is.

While many political compass tests can possess bias based on who authored the questions, and Mensa's testing system is heavily based on impartial math problems, the Myers-Briggs test is both very concrete while it is still considered pseudo-scientific, as a part of field of psychology...formerly a school of philosophy, and not medicine.

This is, I think, is a pretty straight-forward and common sense article, but it does require a few disclaimers - so here it goes.

 MBTI DISCLAIMERS

Firstly, the explanation. According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator page on Wikipedia: "The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an introspective self report questionnaire indicating differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. The original versions of the MBTI were constructed by two Americans, Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. The MBTI is based on the conceptual theory proposed by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, who had speculated that people experience the world using four principal psychological functions – sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking – and that one of these four functions is dominant for a person most of the time. The four categories are Introversion / Extraversion, Sensing / Intuition, Thinking / Feeling, Judging / Perception. Each person is said to have one preferred quality from each category, producing 16 unique types".

Secondly, if you are a fiction novelist, writer and / or screenwriter, (either beginning, or polished), I can't encourage you enough to not to attempt to design a character or characters by using the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator as a template. This is not a refutation of the usefulness or validity of the MBTI, quite the contrary, but I believe that the attributes of the system should only be applied and played-into after the initial creative design of a character has already been well-established in your mind and "on paper".

Thirdly, I must confess that I personally feel that I "channel" characters and stories from "somewhere else" (i.e. "inspiration - don't let this freak you out"), but in a very practical way, characters materialize in order to fill a gap in a story-line, or to fill a niche in a character ensemble, as well as augmenting other characters by their relationship to them. This is no different than the addition of a new color, or mix of colors, in order to advance the palette of a fine art painter. Regardless, even if the painting turns out to be black and white, the "blueprint" of the canvas is what gives the forthcoming painting its form and direction. Therefore, I believe that your work will benefit if you respect the spark of creation and run with your initial sense of who the person that you've just created is.

THE PITFALLS OF MISMANAGED CHARACTER DESIGN

Sadly, many writers often start by describing the surface attributes of a characters "credentials" rather than by pondering their operative psychological dynamic and / or personality type. Here's a test to see if you have been guilty of this crime. Example: If you end up talking to someone about a character in one of your scripts or novels and they ask you, "So, what's she like?" and you reply by citing their job title (i.e. "She's a secretary") and have a hard time going deeper, then you already know that you haven't thought the character out enough, yet. It's fine to create a bio-list of the basic information about a character, but to me, it's much more important to understand the psychology and psychological motivations of the character.

The next mistake many writers make, after the above shortfall, which we can call, "a surface gloss", is by inserting personality tropes, rather than actual motivations that interplay with their character and play out in regard to their character arc withing the overall story arc. I would call that phenomena "superimposed attribution", but it could equally be called "stereotyping". The inclusion of these elements are often powered by external and transitory notions and extra-literary political polemic, which speak volumes for a period (and maybe your career), but in the long run, will not age well.

Never forget, what is today's hot button issue is tomorrows cringe.

If you introduced a new character into your story or script, and you started off by saying something like, "I want this character to be a strong, empowered woman", rather than creating a strong character who just so happens to be a strong, empowered woman (get the distinction?), you are guilty of this and will probably end up with a cardboard character and virtue-signalling mess on your hands. In other words: A non-person. There are of course ways to remedy this issue, but you will have to ask to yourself some serious questions about your work and the character you've created.

The questions you should ask are: In what way is she strong? What event, or events forced her to gain this attribute? If she is empowered, then in what ways was she previously dis-empowered? Is this a stereotype of empowerment, or is it a real journey...part of her back-story and character arc? And lastly, are her attributes of empowerment and strength the same thing, are they related, or are they separate elements? I mean, just writing a female character who can open a pickle jar for herself and constantly touts her capabilities, but possesses only the slightest discernible motivations or story arc and contributes the barest minimum to the overall plot, is at best tiresome to ingest, and at worst is a colossal waste of reading or viewing time. I would argue that creating this sort of cardboard character actually does a disservice to women, and is flat-out sexist, even if the initial intention was pro-female. Frankly, I feel the best way to write and design characters is in an egalitarian manner, but that's just me.

NOW THAT YOU HAVE YOUR CHARACTER, YOU ALREADY KNOW THEIR MBTI

Once you grasp the niche your character occupies in your script or novel, as well as possessing an intimate understanding of who he or she is as a person, the character's dialogue you craft will not only give form to their identity and attributes, but you will learn from the character where they fall on the MBTI scale.

For example, if your character is obsessed with looking out for another character because they remind him or her of their dead sibling, then their dialogue should not only betray this motivation, but in the way it's crafted you will see if the character is an introvert or extrovert, an intuitive or sensitive, a thinker or feeler, or if their interaction with the world is based on their perceptions or by their judgement.

If your character's motivations, thoughts, feelings, (and their MBTI) are not expressed through their words and actions, and require internal explanation or are meant to be inferred, then you have flat-out failed, (at least as far as screenplay writing goes), and will be told this by anyone who knows anything about scripts. There's no other way to look at it.

For me, once I know a character intimately, their dialogue flows very naturally and it becomes very quickly impossible to place dialogue in their mouths that they as a person would just not say. I would almost say that the dialogue then "writes itself", but hey, I have to take some credit for it.

Obviously, the Myer-Briggs Personality Type Indicator is not a scale that is sealed in concrete or laminated, and all of the attributes are distributed in gradients, and play against one another, and so someone can be very extroverted...for an introvert, or vice versa, etc., etc.

You get the idea. 

THE MYERS-BRIGGS TYPE INDICATOR IN WELL-KNOWN FICTIONAL CHARACTERS

In the world of MBTI aficionados there is a long-established premise that many cinematic villains are INTJ's - which is my personality type according to the test (Yikes!). This of course makes a lot of sense because, unlike a simple story antagonist, the villain (who is essentially a "hyper-antagonist"), usually possesses a well-thought-out grand plan. Villains need to be intuitive so they can see the big picture, they need to be a thinker but could be feelers (if they're damaged), and they invariably trust their ability to form judgements over perceiving the peripherals. So there's your N, your T and your J. This means the biggest variable for villains is usually the introvert / extrovert element.

So let's look at some examples (kind of whatever struck me) of heroes, anti-heroes, and villains and their MBTI.

1. The world's first literary hero-protagonist, Gilgamesh; depicted in various ancient Mesopotamian texts about four-thousand years ago, is a rambunctious part-God city-state King who selfishly abuses his power, and who is metallic to working in the best interest of his people. Through the evolution of his lengthy story-arc he comes to know true friendship, becomes an introspective seeker of wisdom, experiences personal loss, comes to embrace selflessness, and ends up being a better King and a better man for it.

While Gilgamesh does change over time, he is at his core an extrovert (to the point of almost being confrontational), and is never presented at balking at being at the center of attention. He is likewise a sensitive, not an intuitive, and even when he has questions, he seeks others to supply the answer for him. He is however decisive in action, (a useful attribute for a character that self-initiates elaborate quests) and therefore this probably stems from his emotions rather than a methodical and thought out agenda. Gilgamesh also has no problem forming an opinion of others or situations, and this attribute is clearly more dominant that his overall perceptiveness. Thus, Gilgamesh, unless I'm mistaken, is an ESFJ.

2. Now, as I said before, someone can be a very extroverted introvert, but it's just as likely that a villain could be an introverted extrovert. For example, a consummate "showman" like Superman's arch-nemesis Lex Luthor, is clearly an extrovert (in addition to displaying some elements of psychosis and dips in sociopath inclination), so by my estimation Lex Luthor reads as an ENTJ, unless I'm mistaken.

3. Rick Blaine, the protagonist of classic film Casablanca, is certainly an introvert. He is a man of few words, and overtly limits his connections to others, allowing only those he trusts, loves, or respects into his stand-offish world. Because Rick appears to others as an "exclusive club", people around him attempt to gain his favor or respect, and infer or ponder his myriad unspoken sympathies, while he insists that he is completely neutral and non-partisan.

He is clearly far more of a MBTI intuitive than he is a sensitive, and this is proved by the fact that he is keenly aware of patterns and relationships occurring around him. Due to the fact that he is both introverted and intuitive he often sympathetically aids others covertly, all the while feigning impartiality.

On the other hand Rick is deeply feeling (or else he wouldn't be so damaged) and he appears as the consummate MBTI perceiver - capable of extreme spontaneity, like selling his cafe, changing his mind at the last minute and not getting on that plane with Ilsa, or teaming up with Renault for an uncertain new future.

Thus, Rick Blaine is an INFP, unless I'm missing something.

4. William Shakespeare's doomed Danish protagonist "Hamlet" is certainly a classic introvert - so much so that he even attempts to out his uncle's guilt by having a troupe of paid performers imply it through his choice of the play they enact rather than confront him directly and inditing him for the murder of his father. This is a reflection of the fact that Hamlet overthinks everything - and this renders him incapable of truly taking action. This probably stems from the fact that he is a MBTI ultra-sensitive. While he comfortably casts judgement on his seemingly wicked uncle, he is nonetheless hopelessly lost in his own perceptions, and his feelings versus his thoughts end up creating a recurring psychological loop. Based on all of these elements I would argue that Hamlet; Prince of Denmark, is an ISTP, or possibly an ISTJ.

5. To me the villain displaying the most elaborate plan of all time is perhaps Chancellor / Emperor Palpatine of the Star Wars franchise. His over-arching scheme is holistic, intuitive, adaptive, insidious, and highly manipulative. Obviously he is depicted as the epitome of evil in the franchise, and is almost a caricature of it, but if you think about his plan, he relies heavily on his perceptions (including "force visions") in order to choose what path his plan might need to take in order to fulfill his dream of the demise of the Jedi and to cleverly take single-handed control of the galaxy.

Therefore, I submit that Chancellor / Emperor Palpatine is an INTP, and not an INTJ - more at home in the shadows, but forced to be a public figure for the benefit of his end goal. And while he readily passes judgement on the Jedi - deeming them the bad guys in his struggle, his seeming personal hatred and interest in cold revenge is actually based in a much more antiseptic belief in Sith doctrinal supremacy.

CONCLUSION

As you see from the smattering of established characters from film and literature I surveyed, you can ponder the MBTI of other notable fictional characters as well as your own, and it will help you to put them in deeper perspective. This will help you in re-writes and especially if the character appears in an episodic project, where you are developing them over a long time and within a larger story-arc.

Once again, I advise against using the MBTI scale as a part of a character design template, but rather to see it as an useful analytical tool to apply to your characters after you've received them from wherever they come from, and have already put the work in developing them.

Till next time.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Gauntlet Comes Clean: Full Metal Disclosure

Hello everyone and welcome back to the Gauntlet of Balthazar for a weird one that's either some unbridled sharing, or extreme narcissism, depending on how you look at it. I figured at this point I might as well just spell out some personal incidentals, 'cuz frankly, as a struggling artist whose trying to be "out there", my goal from the start was to promote myself - not to hide. And so, with very little ado, here it goes...  

The Physical
I was born in Islip / Plainview, Long Island, New York, USA. My eye color is Hazel (nice and rare). My blood type is B+ (about 8% of the population - so also rare, at least in the US). My Y-DNA Haplogroup is J-L70 (previously known as J2), and lastly, I'm right-handed. 

The stuff that's true, but I hate to admit it
My Chinese Zodiac Sign is the Snake. My Western Zodiac Sign is Aquarius. My Numerology is 30/3 (far too sensitive). My Tarot card is The Tower. And lastly, my Myers-Briggs Personality type is INTJ - the architect (which probably explains why I like world creation and business mechanism design).

The beliefs that give structure to my madness
Politically I describe myself as a "Neo-Whig" (which one could describe as a Right-Leaning Libertarian. But since the Libertarian Party can't get it together, I have remained a registered Republican for the last 30 years or so). Socially I am a Classical Liberal Conservative (which means I have no interest in what anyone does behind closed doors as long as it doesn't hurt anyone and everyone is a consenting adult. Saying that, I do have a traditionalist streak. Economically I am an Anarcho-Libertarian Capitalist (which is a school that dictates extreme free market entrepreneurial capitalism within a legal framework versus the globalist corporatism of the Neo-Libs and Neo-Cons. Culturally I describe myself as Jabotinskyite Zionist (after Zev Jabotinsky - who was an early 20th century anti-socialist, secular revisionist Zionist leader who advocated a socio-cultural code known as "Hadar" - or "Jewish honor", as well as Jewish and Arab integration in the State of Israel). Religiously I'm a weird bird, and at best I describe myself as being Judeo-Pagan.

What I'm reading
The last book I purchased was "A History of Palestine 634-1099" by Moshe Gil and the book I purchased before that was "The Magician's Companion" by Bill Whitcomb.

What I'm listening to
The last vinyl album I purchased was Morrissey's "I am Not a Dog on a Chain". The last CD I purchased was Avenged Sevenfold's "The Stage". The last music I downloaded was Badflower's "Ok, I'm Sick". The last band playlist I cued up on Pandora was Muse.

What I'm watching
The last film I watched in a movie theater was Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The last series I binged on DVD was Star Trek: Discovery (Season 2). The live action series I'm currently binging is Netflix's Money Heist. And the last animated series I binged was Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Season 7).

Music Gear
The last electronic instrument I purchased was The Arturia Mark II Minilab keyboard. The last analogue instrument I purchased was a Schecter Diamond Series C-6 Elite Electric Guitar. The last Digital Music Program I upgraded was Ableton Live 10 Suite. And lastly, the last instrument I purchased in the "other" category was a Silver Creek Black Gold Harmonica in the key of C.

Food and Drink
My favorite coffee beverage is the marzipan cappuccino made at Espresso Elevado in Plymouth, Michigan. My favorite home brewed coffee is Illy Ground Espresso Medium roast with fat free condensed milk. My "go to" tea is PG Tips. My "go to" cocktail is the White Russian. My favorite dessert is the Kheer (Indian Rice Pudding) at Curry in a Hurry in New York City, though Knefeh (Arabic cheese pastry) runs a close second. My favorite Asian cuisine is Vietnamese. My least favorite Asian cuisine is Korean.

Firsts
My first job was as a delivery boy for a midtown Manhattan gourmet restaurant / cafe at the age of 15. The first concert I attended was the '60's-70's Scottish proto-metal band Slade at the Fillmore East (I was three years old).

Weird facts
I have created several synthetic languages and, bonus, dialects of those languages. I taught myself calculus when I was figuring out P&L tables. I didn't describe myself as a writer / screenwriter until the age of 42, even though I has written parts of books, articles, screenplays, and had completed two novels and novellas. I started to learn guitar at the age of 13, but quit, and then took it up again at the age of 18. I almost lost sight in one eye when I was child. I've read the Quran, the Vedas, the Gnostic Gospels, and placed in a (Jewish) bible study contest when I was a child. I have uncanny aim with bow-and-arrow. Relatedly, I own a few swords. I really enjoy studying endangered and extinct languages. And lastly, it was totally normal to eat chicken feet when I was growing up. 

What I'm working on right now
Writing and Film: I'm currently working on the script for Nevekari Enterprise's Hard-Sci-Fi series Sovereignty (Episode 1.04 "Titan"). I'm also editing the film for Nevekari's Sovereignty Promo #2 (otherwise known as the Robert Adam Malleson Bio Reel). Music: I'm currently recording tracks for an album titled "Five Year Plan", which is a collection of anti-Marxist-Socialist-Communist-Soviet industrial-electronic tunes by 391 & the Army of Astraea. I'm also adding tracks to a second Sovereignty EP. I am currently also compiling and remixing tracks for two retro music compilations: The first is a 391 & the Army of Astraea compilation of songs recorded in the 1980's and 1990's called "Lost Tracks Found", and the second is a compilation of archival Stubborn God Productions pieces titled "Working Backwards: A Collection of Collaborations".

Just a little add-on here. If you enjoy the content of this blog - the art, the commentary on writing or politics, the music and pic uploads, etc., etc., I can't urge you enough to subscribe to the Nevekari Enterprises Youtube Channel. It helps us immeasurably. Thanks!