My Current Thoughts on Bladerunner

Here are a couple of thoughts I had tonight about Ridley Scott’s classic sci-fi/ cyberpunk movie, Bladerunner and what I see as a theme behind it.

This is one of my favorite Bladerunner/cyberpunk ambience videos. It sets the mood for this post of a solitary man on a balcony as he contemplates and gazes out over a futuristic, cyberpunk cityscape.

Just now I finished watching Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner for like…the umpteenth time. Not to be morbid or overly dark (though, as you know, I am a fan of dark stories and poetry), but since I turned 60, I have been thinking of death a lot more. As I am now 65 and have a shorter life ahead of me than behind me, and being at an age where my generation is dying off at an ever faster pace, I think about it even more. Sometimes, though I am in relatively good health compared to many of my age, I am absolutely terrified of it.

Last night, I started watching Bladerunner just to chill and get my mind off things, but I went to bed before it finished. Tonight, after work, I still needed to get my mind off some things and to chill, so I returned to watching Bladerunner. But this time, I saw a theme in it that I had never recognized before, especially when I was younger.

That theme is how the attitude with which we approach death and how we live our lives accordingly. I don’t know how blind or how big a fool I could have been not to have noticed this previously. I suppose it was just that I was enthralled by the action and the love story of Deckard and Rachel. Once you recognize the theme, the story seems more like a myth out of ancient times.

Look at it as if Roy and the replicants were people in some ancient myth. Here’s a incredibly brief summary of the plot.

Two men and two women, who know they are going to die soon, undertake a pilgrimage to find their maker and persuade him to extend their lives. Ironically, an assassin is sent to kill them, because they should not be on the same world as their maker (whom I see as their metaphorical god). This potentially shortens their lives even more. One man and one woman are killed, but the other two manage to find their maker, Tyrell. He tells them that he made them as well as he could, but he could not find a way to lengthen their lives though he tried. He tries to comfort them by mentioning all the wonderful things they have seen and saying that “the life that shines twice as bright, burns for half as long”. The man, in frustration and anger at the maker/god for not being able to extend his life, kills him. The assassin now shows up and kills the woman. Then the man chases the assassin with the intent of killing him. But, all the while he is chasing the assassin, the man is dying. When he finally catches up with the assassin, being at the point of death himself, instead of killing the assassin, the man sits down with him and speaks of all the marvelous things he has witnessed and that “all these moments in time will be lost like tears in the rain” (a beautiful analogy, by the way). Then he dies. Then the assassin runs away with a replicant with whom he is in love and who happens to have a longer lifespan than the others.

Are we not in a parallel situation as the replicants? Our lives are short and we want them to be longer, but (so far as we know) our god could not make them longer. It is what it is. Our lifespans are what they are unless they are shortened even more by some external force. If we could, how many of us would try to find our maker/god and try to convince him to prolong our lives? But if He could not prolong them, would He try to comfort us by reminding us of all the things we have seen and experienced?

The theme seems to be that we should accept death as inevitable and our lives as too short, but we should also comfort ourselves with remembering all the good things we have experienced.

There are a lot more subtleties that I could extrapolate on, but to me this is the essence of the Bladerunner story.

Am I on the mark or off base? Is this being simplistic? Drop your thoughts into the comment box below.

From YouTube: The History of Hell

Religion for Breakfast is one of my favorite YouTube channels. The host, Andrew Henry, does a phenomenal job of researching and presenting his videos. I recommend following his channel highly.

Considering that Halloween is tomorrow and that I have written a couple of stories involving Hell (and plan to write more), I thought I would relay this wonderful video to my faithful followers. I watched this a few weeks ago and it is very informative. I knew some of these points from my own research into Hell for my writings, but Andrew does a terrific job of bringing it all together into a well thought out synopsis.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Of course, if you are new to this website and to my works, don’t forget to check out my horror anthology A Tale of Hell and Other Works of Horror. Following the link will take you to its Amazon page, where you can purchase it in either paperback or on Kindle. However, I have also recently published it with IngramSpark making it available in paperback via print on demand in over 39,000 retailers worldwide. Ask for it at your local bookshop.

In all honestly, I believe the paperback version available from bookstores is far superior to the one available from Amazon. They are about the same price.

Hasta luego.

Photo of woman in red turtleneck with face mask
Prevent the spread of the Coronavirus/COVID-19. Follow federal, state, and local guidelines. Use common sense when the guidelines are insufficient.

From YouTube: Wicca Explained

I saw this while at lunch today. This is quite an interesting introduction to what is and is not the Wiccan religion. I thought this might be something that might appeal to my audience considering that Halloween is almost upon us.

I discovered the YouTube channel ReligionforBreakfast recently and I enjoy it a lot. I have always had an interest in spiritual matters, particularly regarding how they relate to Christianity (you may see hints of this crop up in my writing from time to time). The host, Andrew Henry, does a excellent job is presenting his videos and an outstanding job in researching them from a scholarly perspective. I highly recommend following this channel if you have an interest in the history of Christianity.

In this episode, Andrew veers from his usual subjects and explores the origins and beliefs of Wicca. There are some surprising revelations in this video, but if you check out his sources, you will see that his findings have been well researched.

I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did.

Hasta luego.

Photoshopped painting of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci wearing a medical face mask to prevent spreading COVID-19/Coronavirus
Prevent the spread of the Coronavirus/COVID-19.

Update: June 1, 2019, 2:50 a.m.

I did some writing at Olive Garden tonight after having supper. I just now finished typing it into Shadows and Stars Lying down. It was only about five hundred words, but the idea for it has been bugging me for the past several days.

In Shadows and Stars Lying Down, the protagonist, Daryn, and his bodyguard, Sero, walk upon a monk’s (Sato’s) cabin in the deep forest.  I am really fascinated by the possibilities to describe the new religions and anti-religions that exist on this planet, so I spend sometime developing them, though I do not want the novel to be dominated by them by any means.

Sato is becoming something of a pivotal figure in at least the first half of the novel. So I have Daryn and him discuss Sato’s beliefs briefly, but then I have Daryn read from one of the journals that Sato keeps.  Here are a few bullets from Sato’s writings to give you an idea of what they are. I invented these based on my readings from philosophy and theology. There are several more in addition to these.

  • Mud gives us something from which to raise ourselves.
  • The spiritual man is a warrior, and, in the city, like a warrior, he is too engaged in battling his enemies to engage in thought.
  • Unlike man, insects do not kill those of their own species for pleasure.
  • Healthy animals kill only out of need.
  • To a dying man, diamonds are only pretty stones.
  • Some insects live twenty years underground as grub worms, before emerging into the daylight as flies only to live just long enough to spawn then die. Men think of this as the mature stage in the life of the fly, but to the fly is it not death? His life has been underground. Perhaps a man’s life is only the death stage of his existence and his actual life, much longer, sadly forgotten, was before birth. Many would like to believe this is the grub stage of our existence and we will be flies in the next.

Maybe I will post more tomorrow.  I hope to spend most of the day writing.

Goodreads Quote of the Day from H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft, 1915
H.P. Lovecraft, 1915

Here’s another tidbit from those wonderful folks over at Goodreads:

The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind.

H.P. Lovecraft

April 17, 1926: On this day, H.P Lovecraft returned to his home in Providence, Rhode Island after suffering a few years in the “hateful chaos” of Brooklyn. He never moved away again

Lovecraft on the Supernatural

H.P. Lovecraft, 1915
H.P. Lovecraft, 1915


I was reading Lovecraft’s “Supernatural Horror in Literature” the other day when I came across this line concerning the nature of  the “weird tale”:

“A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and protentiousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain — a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only daily safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space.”

With me, this idea hit home.  I have always thought that the more realistic I could make a story, the more frightening it would be for the reader, because it could possibly happen. Lovecraft takes the complete opposite approach.  In essence, he says let’s dispense with the chains of our preconceptions of reality then see what could happen.   He is right.  If anything can happen, the horrors that could happen to humanity are limitless and unimaginable.

Now let’s take this line of thought a step or two further philosophically.  Perhaps our concept of reality is really a sort of protective shell, a defense mechanism created by our minds that shields us from being overwhelmed by the thousands of possible ways we could meet our ends.  If a person tried to conceive of all the ways he/she might die at any moment, no matter how miniscule the odds, his/her mind might be overwhelmed and paralyzed by fear or destroyed by paranoia and madness.   The only way the mind could survive would then be to limit the possibilities to only those with the greatest probability of happening at that moment, in essence, wrapping itself in a protective cocoon of denial.

If there are any philosophy majors out there reading this, please feel free to bring up this idea in class.  I would love to hear the arguments for and against this.

Now, let’s go a step even further.   If we start to see our perception of reality as only a concept, as only a protective shell in a much greater universe, as only one alternative among thousands or millions of possibilities, then the possibility of creatures like Cthulhu, Shoggoth, Nylarhotep, the “ancient ones”, and all the other monsters contained in Lovecraft’s vivid imagination becomes very real.

Lovecraft’s world of the “ancient ones” is frightening enough when we think it has no chance of happening, but it becomes truly terrifying if we think it has even the slightest chance of actually happening.

Thoughts?  Comments?

Slattery’s Tao of Writing, Part 1


A quick Google search reveals there are a lot of web articles entitled “The Tao of Writing”.   This is mine.  Let me begin by explaining what I perceive to be the Tao (others may view it differently and have equally valid perceptions).

The Chinese character above translates as Tao, the way, and is pronounced as “dow”, as in “The Dow-Jones Industrial Average”.  Taoism is an ancient Chinese religion rooted in the teachings of the legenday Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu (sometimes transliterated as “Lao Tze” or in a number of other ways) as expressed in his book, the Tao Teh Ching (The Book of the Way).   The Taoist religion, as I understand it, is far removed from Lao Tzu’s original philosophy, because the religion incorporates demons, gods, demigods, spirits, and other things that are not mentioned in the Tao Teh Ching or in the teachings of the original masters such as Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, or the Huainan Masters (at least in the translations I have read).

What the Tao is, is hard to express.  “The Way”, as I understand it, refers to the the way of the universe, basically how the universe works in a general sense.  In the American vernacular, we would probably express it as “the way things are”.    Some reader might respond to that as, “Sure.  I understand.  You’re saying the Tao is why toast always falls buttered side down.  Gotcha.” 

No, I am talking about something a bit more profound.  It’s more like this:

You work hard at trying to find a publisher for a story and are consistently rejected by what you perceived to be all the most suitable choices.  So, one night when you are battling insomnia and have just started the first glass of your second bottle of wine, out of frustration you send it off as a shot in the dark to some big name magazine who will never accept it, and lo and behold it is accepted.  So, sometimes it seems that you work your butt off for something and get nowhere, but you give up trying and you succeed.  Basically, the Tao is then like learning the way the universe works, then learning to succeed by adapting to that way.  Confused yet?  Have I oversimplified my point or have I made it overly complex? 

Understanding how the Tao works is not something anyone can express in words;  it is something one can understand only subjectively,  i.e., one must have a feel for it.  In fact, the first sentence of the Tao Teh Ching is “The Way that can be spoken is not the true Way.”  For most people, reading the Tao Teh Ching will probably be an exercise in confusion and frustration and contradiction.  In the Tao Teh Ching, nothing is exact; everything is metaphor and allusion, about how water flows into a valley and then the sea, how wood is shaped, the balance of the universe, and so on.  

To complicate matters even more, because the Tao Teh Ching was written in Chinese about 2,500 years ago, and the translation of the original Chinese characters may have changed significantly since then, translation of the Tao Teh Ching into modern languages is frustratingly imprecise, often relying on traditional or customary translations as opposed to knowing exactly what Lao Tzu was saying.  For today’s modern, exact, Socratic-tradition-based society, this is maddening.  Our scholars argue about the meanings of works written in modern English, how are they going to agree on something as nebulous as the Tao Teh Ching?

So, what are the important ponts of the Tao that everyone should remember?

As I perceive the Tao, one critical aspect of existence is balance;  the universe consists of opposites that must balance out or problems arise.  At the same time, all existence arises from the conflict of opposites.  An example of this is the old Zen Buddhist rhetorical question of “what is the sound of one hand clapping?”  I do not know the official or traditional answer to this, but from my Taoist perception, the answer is that there is no sound.   The sound of  clapping is produced only when the opposing forces of the hands meet.  Thus it is with everything in the universe.  Two opposites have to come together to produce anything:  light and dark, man and woman, left and right, up and down,  hot and cold, etc.

Another critical aspect of existence is that emptiness can be as important as substance and non-action can be as important as action.  There are other aspects, of course, but I will stick to these for now and address those at a later date.

Take a look at your hand for an example of the first principle.  If there were no spaces between your fingers, you would not have a hand, you would have something else, maybe a flipper.    Likewise, a sculptor can create a sculpture only by cutting away pieces of material so that the now-empty spaces create a form.  So a sculpture, or any object for that matter, comprises both substance and emptiness.

For an example of the non-action versus action principle, think about problems you faced in the past.  Could you have solved any of them by simply doing nothing?  Not every problem can be solved by doing nothing, but some can.

These principles are symbolized by what is know in our society as the Yin-Yang as shown here:


In the yin-yang, as I perceive it, the eternal circle of the universe is formed by the interaction of opposites, here symbolized by light and dark, but while they are opposites, a little of each exists in the other.

For a very short book, the Tao Teh Ching is filled with incredible depth and meaning.  For me, in the few translations I have read, the Tao makes perfect sense, and I understand the world a little better each time I read it.    However, others may read it and just be confused or frustrated.   The Tao Teh Ching is something that will either speak to you personally and enlighten your world, or it will not.

But what has all this to do with writing?

I see the Tao at work whenever I write anything.  I see it in what I consider to be some of the basic principles of writing: less is more, what is not said is often more important than what is said, and so forth.  For me, this makes writing almost a form of magic, not in the sense of illusion, but true magic where one creates something  out of nothing by using as few components as possible, by making something complex by keeping everything as simple as possible.  

I will give one example and then I will close this article for the day and pick it up when I can sometime in the hopefully near future.

One of the first principles of writing I learned was to use as few words as possible.  Strunk and White, in The Elements of Style, say to “Omit unnecessary words”, which in itself is a perfect example of omitting unnecessary words.  How much more concise can that one sentence be?  It contains absolutely no unnecessary words.  If one word is omitted, the sentence ceases to have meaning.   The virtue of this is that, if done properly, the work becomes much more powerful because each word carries more weight.  

To do this, a writer needs to use words precisely.  Try to find a word that captures the exact meaning of the idea you are trying to express–and the shorter the word the better.  After all, you are trying to communicate an idea to the largest possible audience.  Why use big words that will send readers scurrying to the nearest dictionary, thus interrupting their chain of thought and perhaps tainting their reading experience, when you can use words that everyone understands and keep their experience free from interruptions?

An example of using words precisely would be revising the sentence “A man went quickly to the store.”

Now, shorten it by replacing “went quickly” with “ran”.  While you are at it, replace the other general terms with more precise ones.   The sentence becomes “John ran to Walmart.” Now, if you have had any background information on John, you know who he is, what he is like, his possible motivations, and that he is in a hurry for some reason to get something from Walmart, knowing the kind of products Walmart has, you may have an idea of why he is going there.   If we changed the sentence to “John ran to the Red Dot Liquor Store” we have an even better idea of his motivation.   If we said, “John sped to Red Dot Liquors in his brand-new corvette”, we know even more about John:  we know he can afford a brand-new corvette.   If you have ever been in Red Dot Liquors, you know something of the products they carry and that may say something to you about John’s decision to purchase them. 

So, how much more excitement and power does the sentence “John sped to Red Dot Liquors in his brand-new corvette” have versus “a man went quickly to the store”.   The final version packs a lot more information in almost the same space. 

So that is part of the magic of writing for me:  using as few words as possible to create a work.  On the surface, it seem to go against logic.  How can you build something by using as few components as possible and deleting the ones you do have whenever possible?

Try an experiment, take the first page of any run of the mill romance novel and draw a line through every word you consider unnecessary while keeping the meaning of the sentence.   Then take your final product and do it again.  Do it a third time if you like.  How much were you able to reduce without changing its meaning?

Now take the first page of a novel by Hemingway, someone known for his lean, muscular writing.  How far were you able to reduce it before changing the meaning?

Someone once said, “draw a line through every third word and you will be surprised at how much it improves your writing.”  I have tried that and it works wonderfully.  Of course, you can’t arbitrarily omit every third word, or the work may become nonsense, but it does cause one to question whether that word is necessary.

I have always marveled at the idea that one can write something by omitting words. It goes against my standard, American, public school education, where teachers give a mininum number of words to an assignment and one is forced to insert as many words as possible just to meet the requirement. But can you blame them? If you told the average American high school student to tell what he did over the summer in as few words as possible, he would say, “I had fun” or “I worked.” Good luck teaching him to write.

Anyway, I am rambling once again.  I will close for now and pick this up at some later date.

Thoughts?  Comments?