Reviewed by Joelene Pynnonen


What if everyone had the means and ability to make their lives better but they simply lacked the knowledge to do so?

This is the theory that Janette Dalgliesh posits in her short but hefty book, Your Everyday Superpower. Coming from a scientific background, she studies the theory of Deliberate Creation or the Law of Attraction (LOA). Though the two seem mutually exclusive, Dalgliesh argues that new scientific evidence into the human brain actually supports the subject of Deliberate Creation.

For four centuries, the accepted scientific theory had been that the brain was elastic during childhood but became fixed as people reached adulthood. Since the 1920’s however, some trail-blazing scientists found evidence to suggest that this theory was wrong. When Norman Doidge’s book, The Brain That Changes Itself, hit the shelves in 2007, it became more commonly perceived that our brains are far more elastic and incredible than we knew.

Your Everyday Superpower takes its theory a step further. If the brain (as Doidge and many others have provided substantial evidence for), can change a person’s perceptions by altering its thoughts, could it not then change the person’s very reality?

Your Everyday Superpower explores the extent to which we might be able to utilise our brains in order to make our realities better. Dalgliesh does not suggest that ‘like attracts like’ as many of the LOA theorists do. Rather, she makes the argument that reality is largely a state of mind and that altering our state of mind will alter our reality.

While a lot of the ideas here are interesting ones, the book itself is a little too compact to explore them in great depth. The logic of the book works well though. We’ve had a social awareness of the impact of positive and negative conditioning on the brain for quite a while now. Negative thoughts lead more deeply down a negative path, while positive thoughts can pull a person out of a bad situation. I’m on board for that.

However, where the science merges with the concept of Deliberate Creation, I would have liked explained in more detail so I could take a stance on it. Nor am I sure how to put what I’ve learned into practice. I do like the idea of rewarding oneself for changing one’s thinking to something more positive. The thing I’m unsure about is the limitations of Deliberate Creation. Reality may be based on individual perception to a degree, but there has to be a limit?

Your Everyday Superpower is a good introduction to both neuroplasticity and the LOA with an abundance of further materials to both read (and watch) throughout this book but also collated at the end. So, over the holidays I’ll be looking into a few of these TED talks to see if I can find out more about how to use my everyday superpower.

Your Everyday Superpower – Janette Dalgliesh

 Difference Press (November 30, 2013)

 ISBN: 9781936984299


reviewed by Joelene Pynnonen
 

If the person you loved tried to kill herself, would you want to know why? When Atsumi’s (Haruka Ayase) suicide attempt leaves her comatose, her lover, Koichi (Takeru Sato), is eager to reach out to her. There is a medical procedure that can help him. With new technology, Koichi can communicate with Atsumi through ‘sensing’, a process that will allow him to enter her mind and speak to her directly.

 He is unprepared for what he finds, however. In her mind, Atsumi is obsessed with her work as a horror-themed Manga artist and the world outside of their apartment building is smothered in fog. Worse than that, the things from Atsumi’s drawings are making terrifying appearances in her mind. And, when Koichi finishes his ‘sensing’ experience, some of the apparitions continue to haunt him.

If he and Atsumi have any hope of waking her, they will have to delve into the fog of her subconscious and confront the horrors that lurk there.

Real is a conglomeration of many genres, but at its heart it is a story about two people who love each other against monumental difficulties and who will do whatever it takes to protect one another. Despite this, the romance is not over-done. Koichi and Atsumi have been together long enough that their relationship doesn’t have the giddy excitement of new love. Their bond is more sedate, but all the stronger for it as they can rely on one another.

With the two lead characters carrying most of the story, the film’s atmosphere almost becomes a third entity. At times the scenes in Atsumi’s mind are beautiful, the screen rippling as Koichi’s consciousness merges to hers. The illustrations that Atsumi is so desperate to finish are gorgeous as well, also serving to carry the story along and unlock secrets that have long been repressed. In other instances, though, Atsumi’s mind is a horrific place to be, with brutally slain bodies appearing. The bodies too, carry the story; particularly the apparition of a little boy who refuses to go away.

While Real explores a fascinating premise, it moves quite slowly. At first it seems that Atsumi’s depression over work is the problem, but the truth is psychologically deeper than that, and it takes time to reach the real issue. The film would have been stronger if it had stream-lined some of the plot-points.

Ultimately though, Real is an enchanting look at the strength of the bond between people who love each other. Haruka Ayase and Takeru Sato do a suburb job of portraying two people who are trying to reach a new understanding of each other since the old one has failed.

Reviewed by Joelene Pynnonen

It’s judgement time – Dredd 3D

Set in a futuristic American wasteland, Dredd explores a world over-run by criminals. The only justice available comes in the form of street cops called ‘Judges’ who act as judge, jury and, if need be, executioner. In the violence of Mega City One, Dredd (Karl Urban) is the Judge to be feared, dispensing judgement with clinical proficiency.

When he is teamed up with rookie, Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), and takes on a triple homicide in a usually Judge-free neighbourhood what at first seems to be a standard job becomes something far more sinister. The deaths are linked to Slo-Mo, a new drug that slows reality down for its users. It, and the turf that Dredd and Anderson have entered, belong to sadistic crime-boss Ma-Ma, and she will stop at nothing to make sure neither of them leave her neighbourhood alive.

The premise of Dredd was fantastic and director, Pete Travis, has manipulated it to its full potential. The neighbourhoods in Dredd’s world are super-structure buildings, encompassing hundreds of floors with each floor accommodating possibly dozens of families. The whole building lives in fear of Ma-Ma and her clan and so, once the building is under lock-down, Dredd and Anderson are utterly on their own.

Casting was probably the most important aspect with this film. Though there was not large cast, each of the actors was evidently chosen for how well they worked together. On their own, the cast shone; but when acting alongside each other, the push and pull of the interactions, both spoken and unspoken, resonated. Dredd’s character is set in stone, unwavering and seemingly incapable of seeing grey areas. The contrast between him and Ma-Ma, who is coldly calculating but thrives on the pain around her, is palpable. While Ma-Ma is demonstrative, making a spectacle of the devastation she unleashes; Dredd is understated, economical in action even as he wreaks his own brand of destruction. There are no similarities between the characters but, as enemies, their chemistry runs in perfect synch.

Anderson plays a much different role in the film, giving the audience a point with which to sympathise. Young and empathetic, she has all of the emotions that Dredd does not, and that makes her essential. While Dredd does undergo character development, his personality is too inflexible to make a drastic change. Anderson’s, however, is not and much of the emotional journey (including Dredd’s emotional journey) is facilitated by her.

As can be expected, there is an incredible amount of violence in Dredd. While carnage doesn’t usually bother me, in Dredd it did. The reason for this is that the brunt of it, both physical and mental, was used by Judges against Kay (Wood Harris), a black character, and it could be described as torture. He’s a bad guy for sure, but while police are still beating and killing people for not being white, this hits too close to home.

Visually Dredd is a pleasure to watch. The setting is gritty; giving the film an authentic atmosphere of a desperate and uncertain future. The contrast of this against the immaculateness of the Judges’ uniforms and bikes signifies the role they play in bringing order to the city. While these things add to the film, the treatment of special effects is the thing that I found most inspired. As the characters are tailored to enhance each other; the plot in Dredd is tailored to suit the effects. Slo-Mo, the drug that slows time down, is used to great effect during action scenes, adding dimension in a plausible way.

Based on the iconic Judge Dredd comics, Dredd is a dark and uncompromising film that will leave audiences hoping for a sequel. The plot, characters and even special effects are woven together to make Dredd a brilliantly multi-layered experience that is as visually stunning as it is entertaining.

Awards

davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 

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