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Showing posts from September, 2008

What Control?

Why is it that biopics are all about portraying their subject in the most favorable light possible? The only exception I can think of is that Ed Harris vehicle about Jackson Pollack a few years to the rear. Anton Corbijn's Control the story of Ian Curtis the singer of Joy Division is no different from the pattern.

Curtis grew up in Macclesfield, somewhere near Manchester, England (a suburb perhaps?) a dreary place with dreary parents. At least this is what the film has us believe. He marries at what must be age 17 and then begins his career in Joy Division. Things seem to be OK until he is diagnosed with epilepsy. This begins his inevitable spiral into drugs, alcohol, depression, and infidelity. Oh yes, throw in a baby daughter for more plot complication.

My problem isn't Curtis' struggle with his condition, my problem is the POV of the film, "Gosh, his life is so sad, there's no hope for him, I hope everything turns out OK." According to the film, no o…

On reading as a stoic duty

I've been reading Don Quixote since February and while it started out entertaining enough, I have found, almost 600 pages into it, Se~nor Quixote's "mad" adventures tedious. Yet, I feel compelled to finish the damn thing. Why? I don't know.

1. It's canonical--the first novel to be written. 2. When I start a book, I have it in my head to finish it unless I absolutely hate the thing.

In my 35 years of reading I can only remember, on one hand, of not completing a book that I started (as an adult). . . though there was that book about a donkey in the Grand Canyon that I picked up in Roosevelt Elementary's library and never finished waaaaaaaaaaay back in fourth grade. By the way, Mrs. Hastings, if you're still alive, I have so many fond memories of library time--Thank you for your service.

Anyway, am I the only OCR (obessive-compulsive reader) who won't drop a book out of some sinful pride of duty?

Another Way Crisis Economy Center

Allan Carlson's Third Ways: How Bulgarian Greens, Swedish Housewives, and Beer-Swilling Englishmen Created Family-Centered Economies--and Why They Disappeared was enlightening, entertaining, and disheartening. Why, because he shows the promise of economic systems that aren't Capitalist nor Marxist that did work for a short time. He lays out the history of separate movements that were largely unconnected, yet were all very similar. I'll skip the synopsis and give you the bullet points of the systems.

OK, I can't find the "bullets" options here on blogspot, but you get the idea.
1) They all saw private property as the way to economic independence--limited though it may have been.
2) The family had primacy as the foundation of a good society and the local community ran a close second. The "State" was invited to stay out for the most part.
3) Agrarianism, traditional culture, and religion are all necessary in one form or another to the success of this s…

Change the Wind

I listened to Jim Wallis speak tonight about faith and public policy. There was more faith talk than public policy, unfortunately. Don't misunderstand, the speech wasn't bad, but it wasn't great, either. I appreciated his avoidance of partisan bashing--instead he bashed both parties and said we need to move beyond right and left and go deeper, avoiding simplistic and shallow dichotomies. I also appreciated his echoing of MLK when he said the Church's purpose is not to be handmaiden nor master to the state, but it's conscience. The most annoying thing. . . ? His incessant name-dropping. He's friends with so-and-so and was mentored by HIM and was present for That Guy's inauguration. OK, OK, you travel in wide circles. I don't care. Give some direction on straightening a bent world.

I couldn't help but think of Jacques Ellul's Anarchy and Christianity. Wallis talked about changing the wind so the politicians will follow that. And that&…

Woven Hand

Perhaps you've heard of 16 Horsepower--and if you haven't you're missing the best hillbilly goth ever recorded. Well, they split and David Eugene Edwards, the frontman, created his own side project a few years back named Woven Hand. This is less hillbilly-ish, more. . . eclectic--electric folk with a bit of atmospherics, and always in the background a pinch of Eastern European influences.

Edwards, much like Bill Mallonee, has a way of writing about the spiritual without sounding like. . . Yes(!?) or the ghetto shite of CCM. More than Mallonee, Edwards takes direct phrasing or metaphors from Biblical texts and makes them his own. For instance, his recast metaphor for the sin nature (or St. Paul's "Old Man") is the "Wooden Eye." The opening cut on the new album,"The Beautiful Axe," describes sanctification in a way I don't think I've ever heard before--
"Joy has come/It's risen with the sun/He, the highest on the horizon/…

Restoration/Reconciliation

Nine credits away from a Master's degree and I'm taking Restoration Ecology. I had to write my profs, yes! there are two, and briefly explain why I'm taking the class. I mentioned I was interested in the notion of reconcilation and that "Restoration Ecology" appears to fit somewhere in there. I surprised myself with that one. Restoring ecosystems to a state, not in the past--impossible to do anyway, where they can reach equilibrium and growth is very much like what happens with human relationships that are damaged. This stuff is fairly useful I'd say.

Wish for Eden

This is an older piece I wrote, but it needs a home.

Wish For Eden
A review of Grizzly Man


After the flood in Genesis 9:2 God tells Noah and his family that “the fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea.” Timothy Treadwell, the subject of Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man would beg to differ. Treadwell spent 13 summers in a remote area of Alaska (I’ve never been there but isn’t most of Alaska remote?) living among grizzly bears under the auspices of loving and protecting them. That is until 2003 when in September or October he and his girlfriend Amy Hoogenard were attacked and devoured by a bear known only as “141.”
Treadwell filmed himself alone for 11 of those 13 summers and then returned to civilization to spread his love of the terrible beauty of those bears, usually to schoolchildren.
What he didn’t show the children (I’m assuming) were his freq…

Prophet for President?

While listening to some commentary on the radio today, I couldn't help but agree with the host. Essentially, America doesn't want a revivalist preacher to point out sin. You can't knock American exceptionalism and expect to be elected. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah wouldn't campaign for long.
I have to say that I heard mention of good and evil in the Republican speeches in the last couple of days, but no tragic sense of life at all. To me, that is the best legacy of the ancient Greeks--the sense that life is hard and quite often unjust. We recognize the hardness of life, but Americans seem to want to ignore or use technology or laws to overcome the capricious misfortune that characterizes life. This is true of the Democrats too. Blind faith in technology, American "Can-Do"-it-ness, and optimism are benchmarks for both parties.
We need, in my opinion, an American Euripides who can run a country. Even among the political figures I like the most, no one ev…