Thursday, April 30, 2009
Imagination alone enables us . . . to put that which is too close at a certain distance so that we can see and understand it without bias and prejudice, to bridge abysses of remoteness until we can see and understand everything that is too far away from us as though it were our own affair. . . . Without this kind of imagination, which actually is understanding, we would never be able to take our bearings in the world. It is the only inner compass we have.
Which makes me wonder if Faraday came to the Island with a back-up plan. And in fact, I think most of his Island adventure was about putting that back-up plan in motion. Call it Operation: Create Total Chaos. From the second he stepped off that sub, Faraday was kinetic energy incarnate, hellbent on colliding with his old friends and setting them in motion like a wild photon-firing electron or hyperactive cue ball. He threw cold water on Jack Shephard's ''man of faith'' conversion by crapping on his mother's destiny talk. (''''And how did she convince you? Did she tell you it was your destiny? Well, I got some bad news for you, Jack. You don't belong here at all!'' For me, the line seemed less like it was about Faraday debunking his mother but more about blowing Jack out of his watch-and-wait inertia.) He staked out the Orchid, waited for Dr. Chang to arrive (''Right on time,'' he said), then filled his ears with hysteria about evacuating the Island because of impending disaster and spilled the beans about Miles Straume actually being his son. (This sequence, an expanded version of the season's opening scene, turned ''The Variable'' into an elaborate variant edition of the season premiere itself.) He got the whole castaway crew moving: Sawyer, Juliet, Hurley and Miles to the beach; Jack and Kate with him to the Others' Tent City. And he all but baited Radzinsky and the Black Swan team into a firefight by flashing a gun and talking provocative. If Faraday is correct, and the time travelers are loose canon variables capable of changing history, then I think that we saw Faraday trying to light the fuse on each of them in hopes that one of them will somehow, someway fire that one shot, whatever it is, that will change everything. Faraday's approach to heroism is a bit like my approach to Lost theorizing: throw a lot of stuff at the wall, hope something sticks.
Last night's Lost gave us the usual logo complete with an Enterprise starshipping its way through the "O" on its way to publicizing series' co-creator J. J. Abrams' new Star Trek: a special preview for the film (Damon Lindelof has, of course, been involved in the film as well).
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Man has not only the capacity of beginning, but is this beginning himself. If the creation of man coincides with the creation of a beginning in the universe (and what else does this mean but the creation of freedom?), then the birth of individual men, being new beginnings, reaffirms the original character of men in such a way that origin can never become entirely a thing of the past; while on the other hand, the very fact of the memorable continuity of these beginnings in the sequence of generations guarantees a history which can never end because it is the history of beings whose essence is beginning.--Hannah Arendt
I liked the revisitations (returns to scenes/moments we already were familiar with but now seen from a new angle):
--Pierre Chang entering the Orchid from the first moments of this season, now seen by Daniel and Miles
--Daniel (suffering from time-sickness) crying at the discovery of the fake Oceanic wreckage, just before Charles Widmore arrives to recruit him for the freighter
"The Variable" also answered a number of open questions and supplied some important new information:
--from early childhood, Eloise Hawking drove Daniel to a career in science
--Widmore ordered the fake Oceanic scene; Chang knows that Miles is his son because Faraday told him (after revealing he is from the future)
--Faraday was the scary man from Charlotte's childhood on The Island
--Faraday's father is Widmore (a "fact" worthy of Mrs. Hawking's slap)
--Returning to The Island healed Daniel
--In the present, Mrs. Hawking is now unable--"for the first time in a long time"--to foretell the future (as she reveals to Penny in the hospital as they wait for Desmond to come out of surgery)
--Charlotte's has long been concerned about eating chocolate before dinner
--Oh, and The Variable (like Soylent Green) is people.
Next Morning Addendum: Daniel's death is not a departure from reality, not a deviation: Eloise Hawking's slap of Charles Widmore was prompted by his lament that estranging Penny was one of the sacrifices he had to make, but her sacrifice--"sending her son back to The Island knowing full well . . ." was obviously greater. Look at the expression on Fionnula Flanigan's face in the screen capture below--from the scene in which she comes to encourage her son to accept Widmore's offer. She has been asked by Daniel if going to The Island will make her proud of him, and though she answers emphatically "Yes," her face shows regret because . . . because she knows this will result in her younger self murdering him.
In the early scene where she tells young Daniel he must give up his music in order to focus on science, she is likewise distraught, as if she has just learned something life-altering.
Star Trek was screened for the press yesterday here in Lisbon - as you know, it's directed by J. J. Abrams, produced by Abrams and Damon Lindelof, and written by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman - and, more than 24 hours and a couple of movies and a LOT of writing later, I'm still as buzzed about it as I haven't been about a movie in ages. It not only puts most of the competition (past, present, probably even future) to shame, it instantly throws out and rewrites the guidebook on how to completely reinvent a franchise from scratch without losing its integrity. I wasn't too keen going in - Cloverfield remains at best a curio for me, Orci & Kurtzman as big screen writers have been consistently underwhelming, M:I III was stifled by Cruise's heavy hand - but if you will pardon my French (and I hope you will) this is so MINDBLOWINGLY FUCKIN' AWESOME that it went far, far beyond any expectations I'd ever had.
What's more: I was never a hardcore Trekkie. I enjoyed the series, yeah, and the movies (in their campy way) but ... this exists on its own space time continuum and you definitely don't have to be a Trekkie to enjoy it.
It's the best film I've seen this year so far.
Todd McCarthy agrees (in Variety.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Totalitarianism is never content to rule by external means, namely, through the state and a machinery of violence; thanks to its peculiar ideology and the role assigned to it in this apparatus of coercion, totalitarianism has discovered a means of dominating and terrorizing human beings from within.
And, finally, New Rule: You can't win any converts to your side when nobody knows what you're talking about. The conservative base these days is absolutely apoplectic because...well, nobody knows. But, the big issues for normal people are the economy, the war, the environment, mending fences with our allies and enemies, and the rule of law.
And here's the list of Republican obsessions since Obama took office: his birth certificate is fake; he uses a teleprompter too much; he bowed to a Saudi guy; Europeans like him; he gives inappropriate gifts; and his wife shamefully flaunts her upper arms. Oh, and he shook hands with Hugo Chavez and even accepted a book from him! Rubbing conservative noses in the fact that our new president can read!
It's sad what happened to the Republicans. They used to be a party of the big tent. Now, they're the party of the sideshow attraction, a socially-awkward group of white people who speak a language only they understand. Like Trekkies, but paranoid.
Groups currently more relevant than Republicans include the Eskimo Film Society, the American Ferret Breeders Club -- and the Itty Bitty Tittie Committee.
And if you say, "Well, Bill, come on, this is just a fringe," no. No, the governor of Texas has dropped the word, "secession" as an option for how to deal with Obama. And this is before his first hundred days?! Where do you go in year two? Una-bombing? I'm not sure exactly what this new independent nation of "Jesus-stan" would look like -- but I'm pretty sure I'd have to totally rethink my position on a border fence.
I mean, really? Really, Texas? Secession? Well, don't let the 21st century hit you in the ass on the way out.
Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann recently said that Obama wants to build "re-education camps," a fact she apparently procured from a conservative think tank known as "her ass." "Re-education camps." Trust me, with money this tight, the last thing Obama wants is to have to run a camp and feed a bunch of fat, white people.
Look, I understand what you "real Americans" are going through. After eight years of controlling everything, this latest election and Obama's popularity have you feeling a little like a rejected husband. You're the bitter divorced guy who comes home one day, and all your things are out on the front lawn. Or at least more things than you usually keep out on the front lawn.
But, you're not ready to let go. Despite the fact that the country you love has left you and is moving on. Which makes you want to call it a "whore" and key its car. You can't articulate your feelings. One minute you're blubbering about how much you love it, and the next, you're vowing that if you can't have it, nobody will.
But, it's been almost 100 days, and your country is not coming back to you. She's found somebody new. And, I hate to tell you, it's a black guy.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Their conclusion (as reported by The Huffington Post):
conservatives were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberals were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not serious when offering political statements.
Mr. "East kuo" asked Chuang-tzu, "This so-called Tao, where is it?"
Chuang-tzu said, "There's nowhere where it's not."
Mr. East Kuo said, "Be specific. That's no answer."
Chuang-tzu said, "It's in the ant there."
"Where else is it?"
"It's in the grass."
"In that crock."
"In the shit and piss."
Mr. East Kuo did not ask again.
How can the Peacock Network possibly say no to an extension for Sarah Walker, John Casey, and Neo--I mean Chuck?
An episode full of wonderful moments, but as a teacher my favorite was Walter's grading of a chemistry exam. The student earned a "40," and Walter added "not even close."
I would give "Better Call Saul" a score in the 90s. A solid "A" by any measure.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
A drunken man who falls out of a cart, though he may suffer, does not die. His bones are the same as other people's; but he meets the accident in a different way. His spirit is in a condition of security. He is not conscious of riding in the cart; neither is he conscious of falling out of it. Ideas of life, death, fear, etc. cannot penetrate his breast; and so he does not suffer from contact with objective existences. And if such security can be got from wine, how much more is to be got from Spontaneity.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
It's all interesting, but what I loved the most was the The Oceanic 6: A Conspiracy of Lies faux documentary: a pitch perfect parody of an Inside Editionish investigation into the incredible (literally) survival of the O6 and the discovery of the (fake) remains of the plane.
The beautifully written and edited piece drips with dramatic irony, for its viewers almost certainly possess inside information concerning the many suspicions voiced by its melodramatically voiced narrator and its skeptical expert witnesses. We know very well that their incredulity is deserved.
I especially liked:
(1) the exploration of questions about hair growth and weight loss--both the sources of running jokes among fans and on Jimmy Kimmel. (Arzt would have felt justified!)
(2) the suggestion that Charlie, Boone, Libby might have been eaten by the Donner Party--I mean the O6.
(3) the interview with Bill Waldock, the world's foremost authority on the impact of air crashes, a colleague of my Lost books collaborator Lynnette Porter at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.
Friday, April 24, 2009
The baby looks at things all day without winking; that is because his eyes are not focused on any particular object. He goes without knowing where he is going, and stops without knowing what he is doing. He merges himself with the surroundings and moves along with it. These are the principles of mental hygiene.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Oftentimes without intention I see the wonder of Tao.
Oftentimes with intention I see its manifestations.
Both of these are the same in origin;
They are distinguished by names after their emergence.
Their identification is called mystery.
From mystery to further mystery there is an entrance to all wonders.
--Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
Why am I telling you this? Because both of our cheese-obsessed poodles have now learned that the sound of Pam spraying = cheese begging opportunity and come running from wherever they are. Pavlov, meet Pam.
In a similar vein, the sound of velcro brings expectation of an impending walk because of my velcro tennis shoes. Non-shoe-velcro now excites them as well.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Chuang-tzu's wife died. Hui-tzu came to say how sorry he was, and when he arrived Chuang-tzu was squatting on his heels, beating a tinpan and singing. Hui-tzu said, "The woman lived with you and raised your kids, now she's gotten old and her body has died; well, if you don't cry, all right. But to sing and beat a tin pan, isn't this too much?"
Chuang-tzu said. "I don't think so. My wife, when she died at first I . . . well do you think that I'm so weird I wasn't moved? But then I thought about it. In the first place, she once had no life, and not only she had no life, but once she had no form. Not only she had no form, but once she had no vital breath. She was mixed with the elements; the elements changed, and she had vital breath; the vital breath changed, and she had a form; the form changed, and she had life. Now she's changed again and come to death. These things lead each to each like Spring, Fall, Winter, and Summer move on. She lies asleep now in the Great Room if I sobbed and then cried for her, it would seem to me to show I didn't understand our appointed destiny, so I stopped."
Either this season or next it is likely we will learn and/or experience, by means of flashbacks, flashforwards, flashpresents, all of the following:
How/when/why Eloise Hawking (1) departed The Island; (2) came to give birth to Daniel Faraday (and who’s his daddy); (3) became a powerful magus.
How Charles Widmore (1) became, after his banishment, a zillionaire; (2) fathered Penny (and who her mother is).
What the Four-toed Statue is, how it was destroyed, and what lies in its shadow.
The identity of Adam and Eve.
What Smokezilla really is.
Who/what Jacob really is.
The true history of The Purge and who ordered it.
The history of The Black Rock. (I want to see a flashback devoted to the shipwreck.)
The history and significance of The Temple.
How Benjamin Linus came to be the leader of The Others.
What really happened to Rousseau and her scientific expedition.
The true origin of The Hostiles (aka The Others [aka The Island’s “indigenous people”]).
The war that is coming to The Island (promised by Charles Widmore).
Whether Benjamin Linus or Charles Widmore (or both) is/are a lying sack of shit.
John Locke’s realization of his true purpose.
Jack Shephard’s realization of his true purpose.
Whether Lost will end happily and for whom.
Whose story Lost was. In the last five minutes of Six Feet Under, remember, and only then, we learned that the story really belonged to Claire. Me, I'm pulling for Hurley.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
If the planet perishes, he explains, then the "guy upstairs" will be able to claim all the lost souls as innocent, hence his, while Satan will lose them all as candidates for damnation.
An inconvenient truth.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Mr. "East Kuo" asked Chuang-tzu, "This so-called Tao, where is it?"
Chuang-tzu said, "There's nowhere where it's not."
Mr. East Kuo said, "Be specific. That's no answer."
Chuang-tzu said, "It's in the ant there."
"Where else is it?"
"It's in the grass."
"In that crock."
"In the shit and piss."
Mr. East Kuo did not ask again.
Hugo's goal is not unprecedented. Without benefit of time travel, Gus Van Sant tried in 1998 to remake Hitchcock's Psycho pretty much frame for frame (the result was an abysmal, quickly forgotten failure). And that ingenious polymath Borges (whose close friend and collaborator Adolfo Bioy Casares wrote one of the books Sawyer reads, The Invention of Morel) gave us "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote," in which (if memory serves) a distinguished Cervantes scholar steeps himself in the life and times of the great Spaniard, reads and re-reads the adventures of the Man of La Mancha, and then sits down to write Don Quixote, eventually producing an exact equivalent, which he believes to be infinitely preferrable to the original.
Somewhere else in time is there another Hurleyesque individual who is at work, with or without access to a DHARMA notebook, on another, infinitely preferrable version of Lost, one perhaps without Paolo and Nikki, or "Stranger in a Strange Land"?
Ok. I completely missed what was on the blackboard in "Some Like It Hoth" (preoccupied as I was with the realization that it was Jack cleaning the boards). [Thanks to Ack on TVGasm for the screen capture and a hat tip for noticing the Egypt stuff.]
So we have the statue, which could well be Egyptian in origin. We have the likeness of Anubis supplicating to Smokezilla in the judgment room beneath The Temple. We have the very-Egyptian-looking Richard Alpert. And we have The Hostiles/Others--from young Widmore to Juliet--speaking the language of that other B.C. Mediterranean civilization, Rome: Latin.
Still not sure what this all means, but the signs seem to point to Egyptian/Roman visitors to The Island in the distant past. Can't wait for that flashback.
I have just watched "The Lie" (5.2) again and noticed something that went right past me at least the first time. At the end of the episode, just before Hawking and Ben talk and she proclaims "Then God help us all," we see her at The Lamp Post determining the feasibility of getting back to The Island. We see a hooded figure, who we will soon discover is Hawking, downstairs working on a formula on a blackboard:
and then inputting information on a computer.
We would expect such "calculating" behavior from her son, an Oxford physicist, but Mrs. Hawking? Who is this woman? And why, according to TV Guide, will Miles have to drive frantically across The Island in "The Incident," Season Five's grand finale, in order to take Daniel Faraday to his 1977 mother?
But there is no concern at Fox about the rule of law at all. Recall that the GOP impeached a president for perjury in a civil lawsuit. Because it was a breach of the rule of law. But war crimes? It's time to move on ...
"I did not have sex with that woman" is impeachable; war crimes? Who cares?
At first [The Office USA] seemed like a doomed retread of Ricky Gervais' British original, but the US version has evolved into a stranger and superior achievement. The UK Office was so painful, it was like getting attacked with a staple gun, which is probably why Gervais had to call it quits after a couple of seasons. The Brits have a long history of cringe comedy, from Fawlty Towers, to I'm Alan Partridge, to Peepshow, but Americans generally need our sitcoms a little cozier--we need to actually like these people. It's hard to build a long-term relationship on ritual humiliation. And the achievement of The Office is that we feel protective after seeing all these sad moments of tawdry kindness and twobit humanity exposed under those flourescent light bulbs.
J. G. Ballard has passed away at 78. (The link has a video of a BBC interview with Ballard.)
Although best known for Spielberg's adaptation of his autobiographical novel The Empire of the Sun and Cronenberg's film of Crash, I will remember him as well for the many ways he destroyed the world in such books as The Drowned World, The Burning World, and The Crystal World and for iconoclastic pieces like "Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan."
Here's a representative passage from Ballard's excellent non-fiction (A User’s Guide to the Millennium, 193-94):
One can almost make the case that science fiction, far from being a disreputable minor genre, in fact constitutes the strongest literary tradition of the twentieth century, and may well be its authentic literature. Within its pages, as in our lives, archaic myth and scientific apocalypse collide and fuse. However naively, it had tried to respond to the most significant events of our time--the threat of nuclear war, over-population, the computer revolution, the possibilities and abuses of physical science, the ecological dangers to our planet, the consumer society as benign tyranny--topics that haunt our minds but are scarcely considered by the mainstream novel. If few great names stand out in science fiction, this reflects its collaborative nature, just as no great names stand out in the design of the Boeing 747 or, for that matter, Chartres Cathedral.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Language disguises the thought; so that from the external form of the clothes one cannot infer the form of the thought they clothe, because the external form of the clothes is constructed with quite another object than to let the form of the body be recognized.
--Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logicus Philosophicus
Saturday, April 18, 2009
We regard the photograph, the picture on our wall, as the object itself (the man, a landscape, and so on) depicted there.
This need not have been so. We could easily imagine people who did not have this relation to such pictures. Who, for example, would be repelled by photographs, because a face without cholera and even perhaps a face in reduced proportions struck them as inhuman.
My favorite line:
"The fact is, only one in a million ugly people will ever get on TV," said Professor Logsdon [Andy' all-purpose university expert]. "Most of them will wind up in academia."
Finally bought and have been watching this wonderfully done compilation of Garry Shandling's HBO sitcom (1992-1998). I was already familiar with the show but had only seen maybe a dozen episodes, so much of this seems new. I like the extras--Shandling interviewing Jon Stewart on the phone for example--and the interesting menus. On one, in addition to the usual "Episodes," "Setup," and "Special Features," we are offered this option:
I don't want to watch this DVD. I'd rather spend time with an actual human being.
The continuing storylines, unusual for a sitcom, in which David Duchovnay has a crush on Larry and Jon Stewart schemes (with the network's support) to replace Larry are great fun. The supporting cast--including Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development), Rip Torn, Penny Johnson (24), Janeane Garofalo, Jeremy Piven (Entourage), Mary Lynn Rajskub (24)--is truly outstanding (many destined for future TV successes).
Friday, April 17, 2009
We have Bay's solemn promise:
'I couldn't be more excited to completely fuck this up,' said Bay, who plans to begin production on destroying the live-action adaptation next month. 'ThunderCats has a great story, endearing characters, action, adventure, space-travel, and fantasy. It will be an honor to run it into the ground.'
'I'll use every directorial tool I have to suck the very life and charm out of this beloved cartoon,' added Bay, claiming that the film could turn out to be the most colossal piece of shit he's ever worked on. 'I won't rest until I get every last scene exactly wrong.'
Thursday, April 16, 2009
In "Dead is Dead," of course, Ben asked The Monster to judge him. These slides, which offer a not quite comprehensive list of each character's "Crimes/Sins/Major Flaws," as well as a reminder of his/her current situation, ask viewers to play Smokey and be judgmental. Feel free to make comments and offer suggestions/additions/corrections/omissions.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Offering some of the narrative that would have been included in the passed-over-because-of-the-strike Miles backstory that was to have been included in S4 and "Hoth" succeeded brilliantly in making a seemingly marginal character central. We begin after Miles and his mother have left The Island, as the pair tries to find an apartment in which to start their new life, and Young Miles discovers, and communicates with, a dead body in an adjoining flat. Other moments from Miles' post-Island/pre-freighter life materialize: a visit to his dying mother (he has major questions about his father and about how in god's name he acquired this gift for talking to corpses); a job in which he is asked to answer Walt's brother-in-law in Breaking Bad's question about whether his deceased son loved him (Miles says he did, but later admits he lied and returns his pay); his recruitment by Naomi to work for Charles Widmore (after nailing his audition--an examination of a man, killed presumably by Sayid, involved in the staged Oceanic crash); his brief abduction by Ilana's right-hand man Bram, who tries to get him to work for them instead of the man who has offered $1.6 million for his unusual services. ("What lies in the shadow of the statue," Bram asks Miles, and promises that if he joins their side--which he insists will "win" [presumably in the war Widmore spoke of to Locke]--he will learn the answers to his questions.)
On The Island in 1978, against the backdrop of the possible discovery of Sawyer and Kate's role in taking Young Ben to the Hostiles, Miles is brought into the DHARMA "circle of trust" when he picks up and transports a body killed (at what we later learn to be the Swan Hatch construction site) by a filling pulled through his brain by electromagnetism--Horace mentions e.m. in a phone call. (Our corpse whisperer discovers the cause of death in a quick read.)
When he takes the body to the Orchid, now accompanied by the lunch-delivering Hurley, the episode kicks into high gear. Hurley's discovery that Dr. Pierre Chang is Miles' father leads to many dudeish questions. By the end of the episode, Sawyer has been exposed, and Miles is asked to go pick up an arriving (by sub) scientists from Ann Arbor, including a "Long time, no seeing" Daniel Faraday.
There were so many great moments: Jack cleaning chalkboards in the classroom in his "Workman" role, for example. Or Hugo threatened by Chang with a new job cleaning polar bear shit at The Hydra, suggesting that one of the perks of getting to know his dad would be getting to change his own diaper, and looking on as the serial number that will change his life is affixed on the Swan Hatch. Hugo and Miles comparing their respective ability to talk to the dead. Or Miles reading aloud from the non-spell checked ("Dude, how do you spell 'bounty hunter?'") DHARMA notebook in which Hurley is trying to recreate a new and improved screenplay of The Empire Strikes Back--a film, the opening scene of which takes place on the Billy Wilder/George Lucas spliced episode-title inspiring ice-planet Hoth--which he's seen "like 200 times."
A lot to love, but I have not yet mentioned "Hoth's" most brilliant touch: the moral that the oh-so-wise Hurley draws out of Star Wars for Miles, the latest of Lost's father haunted characters. If only Luke Skywalker had not been afraid to talk to his father--to Darth Vader that is--he would not have had his hand cut off, another Death Star would not have been destroyed, and, most importantly, we would not have had to endure the Ewoks.
What hath "Hoth" wrot? Writers Gregg Nations (Lost's script coordinator) and Melinda Hsu Taylor, along with director Jack Bender, have moved The Island into Pop Culture Eden.
Read Noel Murray's customarily superb recap of "Hoth" at Onion TV Club
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Quantum was shockingly forgettable. After a well-done opening car chase, the action sequences went progressively downhill from there. Other than perpetuating the Bond franchise, this entry seemed to have no reason to exist.
An hour after watching Day, I could barely recall a single scene. With its ecological message (apparently we are no longer a military threat to the cosmos, as we were in the original), the film came off as preachy and pointless, which is never a good combination. (I did enjoy Don Draper as a scientist.)
Monday, April 13, 2009
All three--T:SCC, FNL, Dollhouse--were more than worth waiting for.
Terminator finally confirmed what many were already speculating--that Weaver is a good, liquid metal terminator (who easily dispatches last week's assassin terminator and saves our heroes from a spectacular Skynet [?] drone by turning into a shield--and gave us Cameron doing a Schwarzenegger-style assault on a police station (to rescue Sarah). The WTF ending, however, which may well be the series finale, will stay with me for some time. John Henry apparently time travels to a post-apocalypse future, as do Weaver and John (sans an inexplicably self-neutered Cameron and Sarah, who intentionally stays behind). Upon arrival, Weaver disappears and John is greeted by Derek AND Kyle Reese (his father) and Allison from Palmdale (or is it Cameron?), who have no idea who he is and have never heard of the legendary John Connor. If the series continues, will it be in the future, a kind of prequel to the soon-to-debut Terminator: Salvation?
Lights, in a season finale that might have been the series' last episode but now is not due to NBC and Direct TV ordering two more seasons, was touching and eventful. Tyra gets into UT (yay!). Lyla is apparently back on course for Vanderbilt after Buddy finds the money and Tim insists. Tim decides to stay in Dillon and not matriculate at San Antonio State on a football scholarship and go into partnership with his married-in-this-ep brother (though his brother may have convinced him that would be idiotic). Matt decides not to go to the Art Institute of Chicago, saving his Grandma from an old folks home and (presumably) returning to Julie. Oh, and Coach Taylor is removed as football coach by a McCoy power move and becomes the new coach of East Dillon High School and its decrepit football field, which, by Season Five, he will no doubt take to State.
Dollhouse was too complex than I have time to write about at the moment, but suffice it to say that it was fabulous: complex, continuing to be revelatory, exciting, sexy (Echo as a dominatrix! Adele & Victor fucking!). The 'house has now more than redeemed its early FOX-induced lameness. [Did everybody get the Nin reference in the title?]
Addendum [May 1]. Working on my book on Joss Whedon I was reminded of another Whedonian reference to Nin's Spy in the House of Love:
It’s better to be a spy in the house of love, you know? . . . If I made ‘Buffy the Lesbian Separatist,’ a series of lectures on PBS on why there should be feminism, no one would be coming to the party, and it would be boring. The idea of changing culture is important to me, and it can only be done in a popular medium.
—Joss Whedon (Nussbaum, “Must See Metaphysics”)
"This queer thing, thought"—but it does not strike us as queer when we are thinking. Thought does not strike us as mysterious while we are thinking, but only when we say, as it were retrospectively: "How was that possible? How was it possible for thought to deal with the very object itself?" We feel as if by means of it we had caught reality in our net.
--Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations
Sunday, April 12, 2009
There is no uncannier notion than that of the abandoned earth, abandoned by human beings. People tend to think they emigrate, if for no other reason than to take along their memory of the earth. They could never be as well off as here. Far reaching instruments would have to enable them to observe the world but without recognizing what they have lost, an inexhaustible homeland, and the false religion to which they have to ascribe this loss would already have been traded in, far too late, for another. One can assume that this new religion would be the right one; had it come in time, it would have saved the earth for mankind.
--Elias Canetti, The Human Province
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
The novel should not be in any hurry. Once, hurry belonged to its sphere, now the film has taken that over; measured by the film, the hasty novel must always remain inadequate. The novel, as a creature of calmer times, may carry something of that old calm into our new hastiness. It could serve many people as slow-motion; it could induce them to tarry; it could replace the empty meditations of their cults.
--Elias Canetti, The Human Province
Thursday, April 09, 2009
The series finale of Life, "One," was just superb, tight, intriguing, satisfying. A perfect season-ender which, alas, is likely to be the series-ender as well. With Charlie Crews' myth arc resolved, if everything came to a halt right here, it will have been a completely fulfilling Life--masterfully pulled off by Rand Ravich (pictured) and company under trying and typical (for network TV narratologists) indeterminate circumstances.
I will miss Charlie greatly if this is the end. Damian Lewis made him one of the great TV detectives.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Music is the best solace if for no other reason than because it doesn’t make new words. Even when it is set to words, its own magic prevails and snuffs out the danger of the words. It is purest, however, when playing for itself. One believes it absolutely, for its assurance is one of the feelings. Its course is freer than anything else that seems humanly possible, and this freedom contains its redemption. The more densely populated the world and the more machine-like the formation of life, the more indispensable music has to become. There will come a time when music alone will provide a way of slipping through the tight meshes of functions; leaving music as a powerful and uninfluenced reservoir of freedom must be accounted the most important task of intellectual life in the future. Music is the truly living history of humanity, of which otherwise we would only have dead parts. . . .
--Elias Canetti, The Human Province
That Widmore met Young Ben soon after he was given to Richard Alpert after being shot.
We learned that Ben stole Alex from Danielle at Charles Widmore's orders but did not kill Rousseau (or the baby) as Widmore desired him to.
That Widmore was expelled from The Island (for having a child [Penny] off Island with an outsider) by Ben--not tricked, as Widmore had earlier told Locke. Widmore warned him that he would pay with the life of Alex, who The Island wanted dead.
That Ben killed Caesar (protecting Locke).
That Ilana may have cohorts among the Ajira survivors (they are moving a mysterious case) and may, judging by her question to Lapidus about the statue, know more about The Island than we assumed.
That Ben may have been surprised (as he tells Sun) by Locke's resurrection.
That Ben called Widmore from the Marina to gloat that (1) he was going back to The Island; (2) that he was going to kill Penny.
That Ben was bloody when he arrived for the Ajira flight because he had been beaten to a pulp by a wounded-in-the-groceries Desmond after trying to kill Des and Penny. (Young Charlie played a role in stopping Ben from completing his plan.)
That this mural can be found above the grate in the temple out of which Smokey emanates.
That the Monster did not kill asking-for-judgment Ben but did warn him (via Alex) never to again harm John Locke and to follow his every command.
That trouble is a-brewin' with Ilana and her merry band who now have weapons and are coming after Locke and Ben.
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Tuesday, April 07, 2009
But later, after showing Obama's call for the elimination of nuclear weapons to be a rip-off of Superman's identical call in the worst ever Christopher Reeve-as-Supe outing, Jon Stewart suggests going with a line from Superman II: "Kneel before Zod, son of Jor-el."
(shakes his head)
The alley just north of the Hyperion. Everyone who makes it meets there. If we do any damage at all, the senior partners are gonna rain hell on us. So be ready.
(pulling Angel aside)
Hey, Ange, uh, I'll do this last thing for you, for us... but then I'm out, and you won't find me in the alley afterwards. Hell, you won't find me at all. Do me a favor. Don't try.
Monday, April 06, 2009
There are books that one has for twenty years without reading them, that one always keeps at hand, that one takes along from city to city, from country to country, carefully packed, even when there is very little room, and perhaps one leafs through them while removing them from a trunk; yet one carefully refrains from reading even a complete sentence. Then, after twenty years, there comes a moment when suddenly, as though under a high compulsion, one cannot help taking in such a book from beginning to end, at one sitting: it is like a revelation. Now one knows why one made such a fuss about it. It had to be with one for a long time; it had to travel; it had to occupy space; it had to be a burden; and now it has reached the goal of its voyage, now it reveals itself, now it illuminates the twenty bygone years it mutely lived with one. It could not say so much if it had not been there mutely the whole time, and what idiot would dare to assert that the same things had always been in it.
--Elias Canetti, The Human Province
Sunday, April 05, 2009
With last night's episode ["It's a Terrible Life"] , Supernatural officially moves into contention as one of the great meta-series of all time.
Next week--an episode called "The Monster at the End of This Book"--looks like more meta . . . .
Sure enough, it was--and it was a great episode. Comic book author Carver Edlund's (a composite of two key writers--Jeremy Carver and Ben Edlund) Supernatural series details the series' story world blow-by-blow, to Sam and Dean's utter astonishment. As they investigate, they discover that there are websites devoted to each of them, and tons of fan-fic favoring one or the other and slash-fic in which the boys are (eww!) lovers. (Not since Doctor Who's "Love and Monsters" (2006), in which we go behind the scenes of Doctor cultists, have we seen anything like this.
But "Monster" doesn't stop there. Chuck ("Carver Edlund" is a pseudonym), we learn, is in fact a prophet and his fictions will one day become "The Winchester Gospels"!
So many favorite moments/lines:
I loved Chuck's defense to Sam and Dean:
Writing yourself into the story is one thing but a prophet? That's like M. Night-level douchiness.
And Castiel's response to the boys' incredulousness at the appearance of the new prophet before them completely cracked me up:
You should have seen Luke.
And Dean's meta-migraine moment:
I'm sitting in a laundry-mat, reading about myself . . . sitting in a laundry-mat reading about myself. My head hurts.
And although we didn't get to see him, the almost appearance of an archangel (driving away the previously terrifying Lilith) hinted at things to come. I bet we'll see one before season's end.
BTW, good article--"'Supernatural': Sexy. Scary. Over?"--in the April 10th EW on why Supernatural will end after Season Five.
Whether or not the poet thinks in the thought-world of his time does not necessarily depend on the goodness or profundity of its thought, and certainly not on its systematic coherence. The question is, rather, whether this thought springs from the same level of spiritual experience on which poetry is formed; and whether it is linked to that reservoir of fundamental intellectual certainties . . . from which the poetic impulse must be sustained if it is not to be in danger of breaking under a burden too heavy for its delicate constitution. This danger will arise when the poet, compelled by the peculiar spiritual barrenness of his age, has to struggle for the poetic expression of unheard-of and unthought-of experiences. It is then that he will have to do all the thinking himself, because the experiences for which, as a poet, he has to find the adequate poetic thought have not yet become articulate even in terms of intellectual thought.
--Erich Heller, The Disinherited Mind
With Sarah in police custody as next week's season (series?) finale approaching, how will they ever get her out? You don't suppose John and Cameron will need the help of LMT (liquid metal terminator) Catherine Weaver and John Henry? I suspect that whatever Weaver's been up to all season is at the behest of future John and that "No" (in "The Last Voyage of the Jimmy Carter") from the LMTs was not the last word.
Week after next will be Wittgenstein's turn to be featured in "Quote of the Day."
As I was preparing the postings this morning, I recalled that I read once that Steve Martin gave up the pursuit of a degree in philosophy when he read LW's insistence in Philosophical Investigations that "If all philosophical problems were solved, nothing would be accomplished."
Saturday, April 04, 2009
I have been watching a lot of Noir since my interest was kindled again after showing a great PBS documentary in my film history class a couple of weeks ago. Edmund Goulding's Nightmare Alley was the most recent. Highly unusual specimen. Religion has been pretty much of a taboo subject for American film generally, but Noir? You've got to love a film that encompasses both questions about the nature of the creator and carnival geeks. One of Tyrone Power's great, and very atypical, roles.
Friday, April 03, 2009
Just, then, as the most dangerous criminals are lucid maniacs, so the most perfect poets are madmen using unfailing reason. But poets are not really mad. Consequently, they are aware in themselves of a torturing division, a rending of their own human substance, which they are condemned to bring to unity enigmatic, unstable, never satisfying unity not in themselves, but in their work. Hence their unnatural torment. They are obliged to be at the same time at two different levels of the soul, out of their senses and rational, passively moved by inspiration and actively conscious, intent on an unknown more powerful than they are which a sagacious operative knowledge must serve and manifest in fear and trembling. No wonder that they live in inner solitude and insecurity.
--Jacques Maritain, Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry
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