Monday, October 27, 2014

The story of Samson is a tragic one



All literature deals with the joy and the terror of what it is to be human. Joy, for example, means happiness, love, success, belonging, a sunny day, and so on; Terror is about the darkness without and within, isolation, fear, rejection, failure... Classically, joy and terror are represented by the two dramatic masks of Comedy and Tragedy.




The plots of both classical forms are characterised by a reversal of fortune: in Comedy, from low to high (the character's fortunes improve); in Tragedy, from high to low (the character's fortunes fall). But these transformations are not simply the result of pure luck. Always, the character's actions contribute to the rising or falling movement. So, for example, in Twelfth Night, Viola, through her ingenuity, charm, and skill goes from destitution to riches, getting married in the process (the play actually ends with three marriages); in the story of Macbeth, the great man of Scotland suffers a calamitous downfall through his own 'vaulting ambition'.

Following these models we can view the biblical story of Samson as a tragedy. Samson is favoured by God even before he is born, with his mother receiving instructions about him directly from an angel. He is endowed with great strength and becomes successful from an early age. All he has to do is to obey God's instruction that he lives as a nazir, that is to never cut his hair, avoid strong drink, and presumably also avoid corpses. In the biblical story he has his hair cut off, eats honey from the corpse of a dead lion, and (presumably) drinks wine during his marriage feast. But these things happen primarily through his own weakness, which happens to be a predilection for foreign women. He just can't resist their looks. It's ironic therefore that once he falls, the first thing the Philistines do is gouge out his eyes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Samson Comics




 Since I was a boy I've collected comics: I'm interested in the art of course, but also the form and the fact that they are a great way of telling stories. Recently I had an opportunity to talk about the biblical story of Samson and remembered that I had a couple of comic versions.

One of the versions is from a complete volume of the Old Testament in comic form. It dates from the late 1940s and was given to me by my parents when I was around ten years old. I always loved reading that book and learned the stories thoroughly by reading it.

The other version I used in my talk is a more recent version (you can tell from the way the panels are used that it's more recent) and it naturally gives its own spin on the Samson story.


Both are recommended. Because...











...it's still a strong story (pun intended).


Essentially, it still entices because its twin themes of violence and sex always appeal to human societies. And the subplot of Samson and Delilah is just as famous as that of Romeo and Juliet.




The full scans of both Samson comics are here and here.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Peppermint 5: I'm disappointed

I was an early adopter of Peppermint OS, and a big fan. This was in the days when Peppermint was not numbered, but known as Ice, and other innovative browsers like Flock were recognising that the mushrooming of social media sites and the emergence of cloud computing were going to take us all into regions that we hadn't even thought of. Ice had a small footprint, the Ice app, cloud-centric design, and was fast -- even on under-powered machines. I loved it. I loved One, Two, and Three as well. But then came Peppermint Four and Peppermint Four was ultimately too finicky and frustrating for me to use. I I always seemed to have problems with panels and the Chromium browser the OS was built on. Well, I was triple-booting as usual, so I just stuck to Mint and whatever else I was running as an alternative. I was sad to lose Peppermint but content. Yet I wanted Peppermint to do well.




Recently Peppermint Five was released, to some acclaim. Most reviewers wrote as if Peppermint Five was a new OS, not a revamped one, and I was encouraged enough to download the ISO and run it. The live CD worked well and so I installed it...

But for me the same problems are there. Compared to Mint and elementary Freya (my current first choices) Peppermint 5 is sluggish, crash-prone, unreliable and user unfriendly. It doesn't help that Mint (Cinnamon) and elementary Freya look better too.

I'm very disappointed, especially since I believe the real mobile revolution is not in hardware but a move away from desktops to browsers (as in Google's Chromebooks) and Peppermint could be a real leader here.

One final word. On Mint and Freya I use Mozilla's Firefox, and with the power of its add-ons, these have become very browser-centric for me and easy to sync with my android phones. Perhaps Peppermint could try using Mozilla again?


Hawu! Relationships have become time-shares!

the article is here: Baby-mamas and boyfriend back-ups