This week's web picks: Sacred texts, the Sistine Chapel and rewriting your favorite movie or TV show
Editor’s note: This is the next installment of a weekly column by Paul Wiener designed to point readers to cool or useful websites.
This may be a megasite about a megatopic, but it still occupies only a niche in the secular world. The Bible may be the sacred text most known to Americans, but in the larger world of religious devotion it's only one of thousands.
We all know that, but this site, the creation of one man, John Hare, wants to make sure we can see the proof. Proof is in the many complete texts, virtually all in the public domain, he provides from every religion, period, spiritual leader and corner of the globe. And it’s searchable.
Here is the Charm Against Dysentery from Hymns of the Atharva Veda. The texts provided may be doctrinal, incantatory, historical, literary or simply divine. Nothing is favored, everything is sacred.
If you’ve never heard of most of these texts, never mind: other lives depended on them, you can be sure, or still do. The scope is vast, and some of the text is visually raw: Confucius’ The Great Learning is here, of course, and Duncan’s Masonic Ritual and Monitor. So are H.P. Lovecraft’s Necronomicon and M.A. Czaplicka’s Shamanism in Siberia.
From Wikimedia Commons
There's really nothing new to say about this site. Here it is, only the magnificent, dynamic display of one of the world’s great man-made miracles. You can pan the room completely and zoom in on all its painting and detail — and listen to built-in Renaissance music, if you like.
One of the strange and increasing benefits of computer life is that many works of art, especially two-dimensional work, can look even better on a screen than in real life (or museum walls). They seem brighter, crisper, more radiant. You can almost resent computers for making this happen. Is the enhancement only an illusion? It’s one reason insufferable vacation photos can be made to resemble unique works of art on electronic picture frames.
All right: I know you’ve wanted to write an episode of Mad Men, or 30 Rock, or Louie, or The Sopranos for a long time. Admit it. Or maybe you’d rather that North by Northwest, or Billy Elliot, or The Godfather had a another scene in it, or a different ending, namely yours. Dream no longer.
This site allows members (it's free) to read — and to post! — the additions, the twists, stories, scenes, dialogues and corrections to thousands of TV shows, movies, books, games and comics that fans of all kinds of entertainment wished creators and producers had thought of, or had more time and space for. It’s not fair that Seinfeld stopped!
There can be no doubt of Fansite’s philosophy: if you love a show, a movie, a book, you own it. And therefore you have a right to make more of it. Who will pay attention? Other fans, possibly. Maybe your boyfriend or cousin.
But really, is there anything more pointless than adding your own, often detailed scene or continuation of something long gone and done? Haven’t you something better to do than improve God of War or Pet Sematary? Face it: your ideas may be better than Stephen King’s or Stanley Kubrick’s. It’s something you’re just going to have to live with.
Paul Wiener of Ann Arbor was a librarian for 32 years at Stony Brook University, in Long Island, N.Y., where he managed the English Literature, Art and Film Collections. He may be reached at email@example.com.