Monday, December 31, 2007

Daemons




Yesterday, we went to see the movie 'The Golden Compass' based on the book by Philip Pullman. I had read the book quite some while ago, long enough to have forgotten most of it except for the fact that I didn't like it, and therefore never bothered to get the two other parts of the trilogy. Upon seeing the movie I recalled why I disliked the book, so if you were looking for praise of your new fav movie you're on the wrong blog. The movie adaption is as far as I can tell excellent, but I generally don't like a) movies with animals, b) movies with children, and c) movies with an overdose of moral and messages imposed on the innocent audience, so was destined to dislike The Golden Compass. If you translate movie's animals and children into underdeveloped characters, this disliking of mine applies to books as well. Combine that with the fact that Pullman's writing style didn't exactly strike me as outstanding, I keep wondering what people find so great about it.

It's not like I think the story is generally bad, it is without doubt a burst of creativity and imagination. I just think he mixed up too many things on the expenses of authentic persons and consistent storytelling. Take Lyra, the hero of the story, who is supposed to save not only her friend who has been kidnapped, but the whole world, the universe, and while we're at it, also all other parallel universes. Wouldn't one think she spends some time trying to cope with that news? But no, she just goes to the North pole, while other more or less flat characters drop in and out of the storyline. That's even worse than Frodo in the Lord of the Rings, which I disliked for essentially the same reason, but at least he wonders about his destiny - Rowling's Potter does so to a much more appropriate extend, and Harry develops some personality.

Either way, the idea that people's souls live outside their bodies in animal 'daemons' is interesting. Though here too I find the setting somehow insufficiently explored. I mean, are there other animals in that world (except ice bears!), and how do they get along with the daemons? Do the daemons get born with the humans? Can they have sex with other people's daemon's? Well, maybe some of that would be answered if I'd read the other two books.

I went home thinking that would make for a great online test, and sure enough the movie website allows you to find your own daemon, so have fun, you see mine above. I admit on taking the test twice, the first result happened to have one of my ex-boyfriend's names, and how likely is that? Gee, imagine your ex-boyfriend tied to your side for the rest of your life. It remained a tiger though, concluding "You are modest, a leader, assertive, solitary and inquisitive". As with other personality tests, it's not much of a match: I'm too modest to claim I'm modest, suspicious about people who follow me, and I am too solitary to be inquisitive. Or maybe too German, i.e. 'How are you' is about the maximum of inquisition I impose on strangers. Had I picked my daemon it would have been a dirty black cat I think.

So, in the hope to better get to know our commenters, what is your daemon?

I have to say though the movie's animations are really great. How difficult would it have been only a decade ago to get your armored bear running accross the ice with a girl on his back, and how smooth and realistic does this look nowadays. This really impresses me. I keep thinking the main reason why there seems to be an increasing amount of fantasy movies is simply that it has become possible.

23 comments:

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

I liked the review and for the most part I have the same feelings about the type of movie this is. When it comes to fantasy movies I’m more of the “Blade Runner” type. I did take up your challenge to discover my daemon. I answered the poll only once as to make it honest as possible. So my daemon turns out to be Artemis, also a tiger, described as modest, responsible, social, assertive and competitive. How boring, eh. I’m not to sure how accurate this is but you do know what they say tigers can’t do :-)

Neil' said...

Wow, Bee, this is a heavy way to end the year, but that's cool with me! Uh, why a "dirty" black cat? ;-) I took anthropology of religion, and it was very interesting to learn about animal totems in various cultures. Many cultures have beliefs quite similar to what you describe from the movie/book. I participated in a shamanism ceremony one time, with drumming (no drugs) to induce trance. I actually felt like I was turning into a bird, with a beak growing from the middle of my face. Another time I could run very fast on all four legs, and I was amazed I could do it only in that strange altered state. The most amazing was, I envisioned putting a squirrel helper into another person's chest, and they said that was the animal they felt going in. Those were among the most profound experiences I ever had. You can get tapes of shamanic drumming, and I think you will find yourself "transported"...

Also, Happy New Year to everyone, and have a terrific Allmess too!
(That is the new holiday I made up that is every other holiday, including whatever you want to make up, all mixed together! By definition, you can celebrate it any time, anywhere, in any manner you want!)

cvjugo said...

Hi Bee,

My Daemon is a crow. Happy New Year!

Georg said...

"I mean, are there other animals in that world (except ice bears!), and how do they get along with the daemons? Do the daemons get born with the humans? Can they have sex with other people's daemon's?"
Bee,
all questiones will be answered in the
forth part of the trilogy.
Georg

Kea said...

Kea's daemon is a bird of prey named Pereus.

stefan said...

My daemon is Verian, the fox.

And I've Iearned a new word, that Aletheia is Greek for Truth, "the state of being evident".

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Stefan,

“My daemon is Verian, the fox.”

A fox is it? However, you did not list the qualities that formed part of the description. Then what else should one expect of a fox :-)

“And I've Iearned a new word, that Aletheia is Greek for Truth, "the state of being evident".”

Yes Aletheia, I am familiar with the term and the concept. That is, I have to admit that I am greatly influenced by ancient Greek philosophy (methods of reasoning), particularly Plato’s teachings. If one looks more closely as to how it was considered by the Greeks, it holds much in common with J.S. Bell’s “beable” concept as a methodology for discovery.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bee, I agree with your assessment. I recently read the trilogy since I had heard it gave a lot of lip service to physics, was dark, and was a counter to the usual CS Lewis heavy xtian influence.

Well suffice it to say, I prefer the latter still and im an atheist.

It doesn't help that the metaphors in the book are so hopelessly simple and linear, that any adult knows exactly where things are headed after page 50 or so.

The girl Lyra, is annoying and stupid. The other characters basically one dimensional paste jobs from other works.

Overall dissappointing, despite the nod to physics.
-Haelfix

John G said...

I'm a lynx. Assertive and shy, strange combination but rather accurate.

In Dorigo's blog, Tony Smith mentioned:

"The Alethiometer (the Golden Compass itself in the movie) has been compared to the Combinatorial Art of Ramon Llull,
and there is an excellent new book “The Art and Logic of Ramon Llull - A User’s Guide” by Anthony Bonner (Brill 2007, available at Amazon.com)."

I actually got into Tony Smith's physics via the Enneagram which is also related to Llull's work. The Enneagram is a personality test with an interesting math basis. It's actually why I'm so very very high on Tony's physics.

John G said...

... also the guy who introduced the Enneagram, also introduced a "save the world" concept/movement called the 4th Way under which the idea of fitting "saving the world" into your normal routine is normal. There was some syaing I don't remember but it went something like this: "before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water; after enlightenment, chop wood and carry water."

Klaus said...

Happy new year Bee & Stefan.

Guess it is still 07 in Canada!
2008 came early here in asia.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=b1v4BYV-YvA

http://youtube.com/watch?v=XTA9KHRDmoI&feature=related

http://youtube.com/watch?v=j2_2_t_AXhY&feature=related

Es grüsst Euch ganz herzlich!

Klaus

Klaus said...

Speaking of daemons; sorry I cant help it:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=DcsNj9AqOwU&feature=related

Right, good point, these adventure-fantasy movies now come in increasing numbers because they are now possible (and economical) to produce.

This is the "opium" for the public with double-digit-IQ.

But remember, It is the physicists and mathematicians who makes it all possible. Faster processors, faster, cheaper and convenient storage devices, innovations in the presentation-hardware (plasma screens), not to mention the complex algorithms used for processing the wast amount of data to be mixed and processed in making the animations.

You are (unwillingly?) the leading Sorcerers... who makes it all happen.

Wo gehobelt wird, da fallen Späne!

Will humanity ultimately split into two "races" the very clever,and the morons buying any kind of crap?

The clever- behind the scenes creating a "satisfying" artificial gospel of bullshit to keep the morons happy in a cocooned life..?

Best

Klaus

Ænima said...

Klaus, your comment sounds like 1984 xD

QUASAR9 said...

Hi Bee & Stefan,
Here's wishing you and your Inner Circle all the best for the coming year. May it be filled with much fun, joy + happiness. The days filled with much much Sun (light) and the nights filled with bright Starlight.

amaragraps said...

That test told me that my daemon is a Tiger, but I think, instead, that mine must be a Sea Turtle.

Maybe in my simple universe are only experiences to learn, to grow, to bloom, so that along some distance of my road, one can see my trail of turtle stepping stone [1] experiences that have each pushed me to be bigger than myself, to live live fuller each time, and to appreciate how lucky I really am.
It's a great time to be alive, don't you think?
[1] Turtles All of the Way Down.

Wishing Sabine and Stefan many (more!) joyful growing experiences in 2008, so that at this time next year, you can look back and say: "WOW, I did that!"

Happy New Year, both of you!

Plato said...

Mine is the ocelot.

On "Medicine Wheels people are born to a particular part of the circle. Mine is a flicker and through introspection and dreams I found myself moving to the north. People can start at one point and end up on another later in life.

I am more particular to the Snowy Owl. :)

Rae Ann said...

Haven't seen the movie or read the books. My daemon is Aeron the Hare. The traits are inquisitive, humble, modest, solitary, and dependable. I'm not sure about the humble and modest parts, but the rest is true enough. ;-)

Neil' said...

Klaus said...


But remember, It is the physicists and mathematicians who makes it all possible. Faster processors, faster, cheaper and convenient storage devices, innovations in the presentation-hardware (plasma screens), not to mention the complex algorithms used for processing the wast amount of data to be mixed and processed in making the animations.

You are (unwillingly?) the leading Sorcerers... who makes it all happen.


Basically, but AFAIK the representation process is not just a simple application of science/math, there is still much "art" to deciding just how a CGI person's face will move, etc. It isn't a fully automated scheme.

Sam said...

Hi Bee,

I have to say, I do think it's a little unfair that you'd critique any book based upon its film adaptation, let alone a film adaptation as mediocre as this one is, with little more than that to go on. I mean, yes, I am a fan of the books (they were some of the first novels I ever read) but still...

Bee said...

Hi Sam,

I didn't critique the book based on its film adaption. I disliked the book long before I saw the movie. As I wrote above, I find the movie is actually a pretty good adaption of the book, and it's certainly entertaining and well made. Best,

B.

Glenn said...

Hi Bee and Stefan!

Happy New Year.

And, my daemon is a crow , Xanthia - modest, solitary, humble, assertive and competitive.

I dont know why, but i am not that assertive ... believe me. :)

Anonymous said...

That quiz doesn't show your REAL dæmon. Go here: http://daemons.envy.nu/ to find out what the heck I'm talking about. Anyway, my dæmon is named Rolivak, and he is a warbler, although we're not sure if he's settled yet.

Anonymous said...

ok sure. i read the book and it sucked and therefor didnt even bother watching the movie. however, though i take know offense, in lord of the rings, Frodo actually volunteered to do the task due to the luering of the ring and therefor had no reason to be thinking of his abnormal trek through mysterious woods and volcanos and towers made from and for orcs etc. just saying