Publication at the Stoneboat Literary Journal

My poem Them and Me recently got published at the Stoneboat Literary Journal’s Spring Issue 2017 (7.2).

To check the listing, please go here:

Here’s my biography at the site:

RAÚL QUINTANA SELLERAS is a computer programmer by day and a poet, playwright, and essayist by night. He has a BA in Religious Studies and an MS in Information Systems. He is working on the philosophical anthology Fragmented Philosophy and the play Laodamia and Protesilaus. Raúl resides in Little Elm, Texas with his wife Kristina. Read more at RaulQs.com and @RaulQsAuthor.

Take a look at the first two stanzas of the work, in both English and Spanish. Buy a copy of the issue here.

They say I seem old,
But I am alive in my decrepitude,
And they are dead in their puberty.

They criticize me for being boring,
But my inactivity is creative,
And their actions are sterile.

Me dicen que parezco viejo;
Pero yo estoy vivo en mi decrepitud
Y ellos están muertos en su pubertad.

Me critican por ser aburrido;
Pero mi inactividad es creativa
Y sus disposiciones son estériles.

Who is Stoneboat?
Stoneboat is an independent biannual journal of literature and arts that is dedicated to publishing quality fiction, nonfiction, memoir, poetry, artwork, and graphic literature. They strive to showcase outstanding and diverse work from both emerging and established artists. Stoneboat is a larger format publication compared to traditional journals. Stoneboat’s Co-Editor in Chief is Signe Jorgenson and they are located in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Stoneboat’s email address is StoneBoat.Journal@gmail.com. For more information, please go to http://www.StoneBoatWi.com or https://www.Pw.org/literary_magazines/stoneboat.

Image taken from Flickr: NcMallory – The Man of the Crowd.

Fragmented Philosophy: 300 Thoughts for the Third Millennium – Synopsis

Fragmented Philosophy approaches the self-help genre through a philosophical study that encourages readers to investigate, think boldly, and challenge their worldviews.

Fragmented Philosophy does not emulate other self-help books. This book does not address issues of money, health, personal image, daily frustrations, religious dogmatism, or the craving for success. Fragmented Philosophy is a call to self-discovery, an unorthodox map towards perfection through the use of 300 polemic phrases that seek to generate thought and consciousness. It is a painting that exhibits many colors and addresses a myriad of disciplines and human concerns—from art, history, and the social sciences to romantic relationships, the origin of evil, spirituality, and much more.

This book uses a philosophical, non-narrative format. Fragmented Philosophy invites readers to renounce conformity, invest in themselves, and leave their mark on the world. Without a doubt, it is a stimulating and provocative purpose.

Fragmented Philosophy is divided into nine chapters, each of which is headed by its corresponding maxims. In their entirety, the 300 maxims thread the chapters together to create an atlas, or library, of human thought. Each chapter unfolds a set of themes that analyze different subjects related to philosophy, sociology, morality, history, and other disciplines. There is no common thread that unifies a single discussion from the first page to the last. This characteristic works in this book’s favor, given that the different subjects assemble themselves to create a unity that is in keeping with a vast universe of thought that is neither linear nor unidirectional. Friendship, the relationship between good and evil, passion, envy, trust and creativity are some of the themes that are addressed in this book. This unfolds from the inside to the outside, blurring the limits and thus subjecting readers to a constant scrutiny of their being.

This book morally confronts the readers and makes them reflect on the meaning of emotions: friendship, passion, the scope of evil, warmongering, and adversity, among other topics. The little things also acquire a leading role, as in the case of creativity in relation to the greater work, or the role of trust in greatness. This book unfolds different themes that reflect on the material aspects that are present in both our interior and our exterior, while also touching on essential subjects such as truth and the value of life.

In the work, we can find an attempt at deconstructing human traits in order to reflect on the matters that bring us together as a species and which have served as the pillars upon which civilization has been erected.

Arrival – Movie Review

“In war there are no winners, just widows.”

8/10

SPOILER ALERT!

Spanish translation available here and here.

Arrival is a film adaptation of the short story The Story of Your Life from the Japanese sci-fi writer Ted Chiang, which was first published in 1998. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, it stars Amy Adams as Dr. Louise Banks, Jeremy Renner as Ian Donnelly, and Forest Whitaker as Colonel Weber.

Arrival is Memento meets Interstellar. The style of the film reminded that of Christopher Nolan. There are many similarities with Contact as well, especially in the way information is visualized. For instance, Contact’s aliens show data in three-dimensional arrays, whereas Arrival’s aliens use isolated symbols that convey full concepts. The main idea of the movie is that time is not linear and outlines how knowledge and language are the most powerful weapons an evolved species can have.

At the beginning of the movie, 12 alien spaceships, populated by a race referred to as the heptapods, land in seemingly random locations around the globe. We come to the realization that this decision is not random but a deliberate attempt to make nations work together. The heptapods’ kindness is not unconditional as they do expect a delayed payback. Even at the verge of dreaded circumstances, mankind still puts individual and nationalistic interests over the future of the planet. A Deus-ex-machina event towards the end of the film prevents a catastrophic war.

Arrival surpasses other alien invasion movies such as Independence Day and Skyline. It still shows, however, how the human race does not tolerate what is new: humanity has the inclination of hating what is not the norm. This movie is revolutionary in the sci-fi arena, not because is not action-packed, but due to the fact that the main characters are peripheral to the plot.

Arrival is a wake-up call. It warns us about acting out of fear and making rushed decisions. It teaches us that knowledge is not the piece but the puzzle. In traditional time travel movies, characters go back to the past in order to change the future. Arrival does not follow the same paradigm: the main character goes into the future in order to collect the data that she would then use in the past. Hence, in some instances, such approach shatters the time travel paradox (if you go to the past and assassinate your great-grandfather then you would have never been born, but if you were never born, then who killed your great-grandfather).

Amy Adams was superb but you barely notice —that is how immersive the story was. Everything fits so nicely that you don’t really pay attention to the soundtrack, or to the acting, or to the scenery. You don’t really care that this movie was not a low-budget one (and you wonder why it wasn’t).

The ending was not completely unexpected yet it was still enjoyable. This movie wasn’t really an ode to peace, but a call for working as a single race, for rejecting personal interests for the sake of more worldly pursuits. We are all human, but we don’t all share the same language. The alien language comes down as a more sophisticated Esperanto and explains how language does influence your way of thinking. Therefore, understanding the alien language allows the main character to think in the same way the aliens do: in a non-linear fashion in where the end does not necessarily comes after the beginning, which matches the film’s structure.

Philosophically, Arrival treats destiny as being predetermined, and even though Louise could possibly change her future, she doesn’t. In opposed to Voltaire’s Zadig ou la Destinée, fate is knowable, but the main character is still bound by her own self-determinations, drawing an analogy to Sam Harris’s view of free will as an illusion. Louise is a XXI century Cassandra with the difference that she keeps the status-quo by choice.

Arrival is about accepting your fate and still enjoying it, even when it’s painful. It’s about not denying yourself but about embracing your fellow humans and working towards a more cooperative world. The film poses an important question that doesn’t get answered: what is more important, language or science? In my opinion, they are not necessarily contrasting forces as they converge into knowledge: and this was the movie’s intent.

Some of the characters, especially supporting roles, were not fully developed. A deeper background story would have helped viewers understand their actions more clearly.

When I watched Skyline a few years ago, I thought that the alien invasion movie genre was dead. It didn’t take three days, but Arrival -not Independence Day– might very well have resurrected it.