Friday, August 13, 2004

It’s been a looooong week.

But at least I have my weekend free. Saturday afternoon will be spent working on Otherspace Productions animations. In fact, I assembled a rough version of one shot last night.

It’s an odd emotional experience, assembling animation. I envisioned this thing months ago, and I saw it clearly in my mind, but that’s all that existed. Thoughts. But last night, I clicked “Render” in Premiere, and lain walked towards me. A lain that I had created out of a random idea. I dreamt it, and now it’s happening.

Meanwhile, my pending mortgage continues to be a thorn in my side. The underwriters are asking for all sorts of documentation, from detailed bank statements to money down. But it looks like everything is calmed down to the point where I know exactly how much I’ll need to bring to closing ($3,000 for all the various fees, plus a 5% downpayment of $10,000), and all the underwriters need now is a detailed statement from one of my accounts, which they should be getting today. So it looks like I may actually be able to buy this townhouse on Wednesday.

In other news, I’ve been watching a ton of anime lately, trying to get through my stack of twenty or so anime DVDs to see. This includes .hack//Sign, .hack//Legend of the Twilight, Gundam Seed, and Angelic Layer, all of which I’m enjoying on various levels. I’ll post more detailed reviews once I’ve actually had a chance to get through a disc or two.

Forgot to mention: a couple of weeks ago, I went out with a friend to see I, Robot. I liked it. I’m a major Asimov fan, too, so this may surprise some people.

The fundamental plot of the film concerns the Three Laws of Robotics, which are essentially a straightforward moral code for robots, and their potential for mis-application. This is a theme explored in Asimov’s book I, Robot, which is really a compendium of short stories dealing with early robot development and various interpretations of the Three Laws. In all cases, the robots follow the Three Laws, but some robot models apply the Laws more liberally and some more conservatively.

In the film, this leads to an apocalyptic ending that is far too action-packed and melodramatic for Asimov’s cerebral style. But the basic story does follow the pattern laid down in the I, Robot book, and there is nothing in the movie’s philosophy that fundamentally disagrees with Asimov’s futuristic beliefs. This is not an anti-robot film, or an anti-progress film. It’s a film about the dangers and limitations of an exclusively logical approach to human problems.

Now that might have gotten Asimov’s beard in a twist, as his books expressed his aggressively Carl Sagan-like belief in the ultimate superiority of the human brain to solve all problems. The greatest weakness of Asimov’s characters is their tendency to analyze and talk about everything. Many of his books are little more than long conversations between characters. Anything could be solved if simply thought about for long enough.

The film of I, Robot points out the weakness of that approach, though again never in a way that undermines Asimov’s stories or faith in the future. In fact, the film is an ironic pointer to the flaws in Asimov’s characteristic approach to problem-solving (namely, extensive analysis and dialogue), demonstrating that that often isn’t enough to solve difficult human problems. No amount of analysis can prove the existence of a soul.

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