Thursday, March 31, 2005

End

Terri Schiavo is dead. I'm not going to say much about it - it's a sad, painful story, turned into a disgusting spectacle by the republican party and the media. The vultures are still circling - Tom Delay making threats: "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today." And James Dobson, uttering this stunning piece of hypocrisy on CNN:

But neither of them check the courts. They're totally out of control. And there is, you know, almost a feeling of futility when it comes to the courts handing down decisions that contradict the will of the people.

You know, we saw it two weeks ago with regard to executing minors. Seventy percent of the people disagree with that. It doesn't matter what the people think and the -- neither the executive nor the legislature will step in.

Oddly, the fact that the polls on Schiavo's case were uniformly against government interference doesn't seem to register. You'd think the principal would be the same there.... Of course that assumes that the talk about activist courts and sanctity of life means something - it doesn't. It's smoke, and it's meant to cover their perfectly consistent agenda - asserting the state's control over your body. Not over their bodies - the hypocrisy of these scumbags - and that is what Dobson and Delay and everyone like them are - is that they fight tooth and nail for control over your body, but they themselves fully believe themselves immune from that control. So Delay wouldn't bat an eye at the contradiction between his own behavior when his father was on life support. The rules are for you, not for him. He's Tom Delay!

Anyway... I feel very sorry for Ms. Schiavo's family - her husband, her parents (however much they created this situation) - it was very sad to witness.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Just about Exactly My Commute

It being Friday, and me being a follower of all things fashionable a couple months ago... here, once again, the the last 10 songs my iPod offered. Not only a nice run, but all of it stuff I was in the mood to hear...

1 Stephanie Says - Velvet Underground
2 Personality Crisis - New York Dolls
3 Dirt - Mission Of Burma
4 Death or Glory - The Clash
5 Moya - Godspeed You Black Emperor
6 Apartheid - Peter Tosh
7 It’s So Easy - Buddy Holly
8 Garden was Crowded and Outside - Liars
9 Walk Awhile - Fairport Convention
10 The View - Modest Mouse

Sometimes the Jokes Aren't

We all got some amusement out of Billmon's post on David Horowitz's Cultural Revolution. But then we read this story about a new law in Florida, with this lovely quote: "While promoting the bill Tuesday, Baxley said a university education should be more than “one biased view by the professor, who as a dictator controls the classroom,” as part of “a misuse of their platform to indoctrinate the next generation with their own views.”"

The language there is a bit blander, but the sentiment - the sentimentality, really - the whininess, disguised as Political Correctness (don't forget where that term came from) - could have come straight from the thing itself.

It's the usual dreck, the usual Horowitz tactic of trying to destroy both liberal speech and free speech itself, wrapped in the language of political correctness itself (oh, god the irony! it burns us!), with plenty of the whiff of sulfer and hints of brickbats to follow that the Red Guards loved.

I mean, this is wicked hyperbole, calling Horowitz a Moaist - except - wasn't he basically a Maoists (or Stalinist or something) in the 60s - what sign is there that he is any less a Stalinist now? Certainly no evidence from this. Don't be fooled by the fact that then he called himself a leftist, now he says he's on the right - he's the same monster he was then isn't he? He is, in as direct a way as it is possible to be, exactly what he says he hates.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Passionless

1) I finally rented Passion of the Christ. I skipped it when it came out, for a variety of reasons. I’ve never had much interest in bloated epics - I haven’t seen any of Mel Gibson’s earlier bloated epics - so why see this one? That and the crowds - mobs of the devout... I feared I would react badly. I remember seeing Titanic - and having to control my laughter at the end, with the CGI’d people slipping off the CGI ship. Human pinball... There were a lot of places in that lousy film that demanded a laugh - or at least ironic appreciation of the melodrama. I rather liked the melodrama of Titanic - just that instead of a taut, silly picture, reveling in its genre heritage (ironically, like Almodovar or Maddin, or not), drawing the real emotion out of the conventions of its expression, it was a bloated epic, full of cheesy music, cheesy effects, cheesy, gratuitous camera work, big gaudy sets that require time, to appreciate... God! How to ruin a fun idea! Anyway, around me all the poor girls were sobbing, and I had to hold back the laughter...

2) Let’s cut to the chase: The Passion of the Christ looks cheap. The opening sequence looks as fake as anything in Guy Maddin, but it looks like Mel is trying to pass it off as a real Hollywood movie set. Once you get to the crowd scenes, you can see Mel saving money, by shooting things tight, to minimize the amount of background he needs to dress. Even longer shots are kept within fairly narrow bounds. Of course I could be wrong - it could just be that Gibson is a complete hack, who simply doesn’t know how to make a film look good. I don’t know. I think it’s the money. I think he wanted this to be a real bloated epic, but did not have a bloated budget. $25-30 million - that’s low for bloated epic, though a pretty good amount for a real movie. So I may be right. The problem is - trying to look like a bloated epic on a modest budget is a formula for making a really boring looking film. If Mel had had $100 million to throw around, he probably could have made something truly spectacular (though undoubtedly gaudy and vulgar in the worst way - but that was the point of the film - to turn the last hours of Christ’s life into thrilling spectacle, full of gore and the simulation of high emotion) - lacking the budget, he also lacked the imagination to make a film that looked like anything other than a cheap bloated epic.

3) What kills this film more than anything is the pacing. It is slow and ponderous - not because Gibson wanted to make a slow, meditative film - this is not meditative in any sense - but because it is slow and ponderous. Scenes are dragged out endlessly - with lots of pointless cutting around the room, and portentous music, the actors deliver their lines in slow monotones, as if they were reading them phonetically of cue cards (what are the odds?); scenes drag on and on, repeating their main points... This reaches a kind of nadir not so much with the flogging, though that’s pretty bad - take the structure of the flogging scene: slow start, lots of posturing and leering by various romans; some sad looking onlookers - then the beating begins; it stops - we get the same foolishness we started with, almost a reply of the beginning of the scene - then more, worse beating - and another pause, and they flip the poor SOB over and more of it.... then Jesus' followers coming out to sop up the gore and - you expect them to start writhing in the blood or something disgusting like that.... No, bad as it is, that isn't the nadir - the nadir comes later, the march through the streets of Jerusalem - slow, repetitive, clich├ęd - how many times can you show poor Jesus flopping to the ground in slow motion, with the cross bopping him on the head as he hits the ground? Watch and find out! Over and over - like a loop: Jesus staggers under his cross - Romans leer and flog - crowd shots - Romans growl and flog the crowd - sympathetic onlooker! - Jesus falls - Romans snarl and leer and whip the crowd - they drag Jesus to his feet and Mel replays the loop... This was when I gave up and started fast forwarding...

4) There is exactly one effective moment in the whole film: the moment of Jesus’ death. His face is shown in tight close up with a wide lens, lit/colored in blues and shadows - it flattens his face out, stretches it, so that for a second there, it looks like an ikon, and has the spiritual effect of an icon. (Evoking, we could say, the Transcendental Style of art.) For that shot, almost by accident, the film achieves something moving and beautiful. It is fleeting - it is literally one shot. It is gone.

5) There have been exactly two great Jesus movies. One is Life of Brian - it is not exactly a Jesus movie, but it is a very sharp satire on religion and politics, the JPF or PFJ and poor Reg/Loretta and the rest based, perhaps, on student politics of the 60s (if I remember the commentary tracks right), but probably as accurate a portrayal of Palestine during the life of Christ as you can find. Dozens of radical sects, political or religious, all squabbling among themselves, accusing one another of betraying whatever they were betraying... I'd bet on it.

The other - one of the greatest films ever made - is the magnificant Gospel According to Matthew. God, but this film shames Gibson's movie, on every conceivable level! But let's stick to just the one level - the tone of the film - and it's pacing. It is odd - there are those who like to say that Mel's Jesus movie is the most faithful adaptation of scripture ever - that is total nonsense. For one thing, it completely hashes the tone and pace of the scriptures. A decent adaptation has to get the strengths of the original, I would think, and that style is one of the best things about the gospels. Pasolini gets that just about right. Read the Gospel of Matthew - it buzzes along at a murderous clip. Then read the Gospel of Mark - which slims it down and speeds it up. Their style is economical, taut, spare - they are never bloated. And the dominant impression one gets from Pasolini's film is of speed - watch how Pasolini shoots Jesus. Over and over we see shots of Jesus walking away from the camera, shouting over his shoulder at a crowd of (literal) followers, who are trotting along at his heels, camera and all. Not to mention shots where Jesus turns his back on the camera (and his followers) completely - demanding we follow him. He's always running away - he's always moving into a new world, that demands that we move to follow him.

It's embarrassing and depressing to compare Pasolini's mastery to Gibson's hackery. And it is ironic that the effect of Gibson's lack of style is to stop the film completely - drain it of its violence and its energy (it's too late to be impressed by a bunch of fake blood, I'm afraid - that's not violence - that's makeup), it's sense of tumult, its radicalism. It reduces Jesus to sentimental flotsam, a cheap plastic replica of something once emotionally and spiritually powerful.

It is a bad movie. A depressing movie - the gospels tell a hell of a story - Jesus is a great character, who represents all manner of powerful things. Gibson's movie seems deliberately designed to strip the direct challenge of Jesus' message and character out - to obliterate the possibility of a real individual response, and to substitute a mass sentimentality, controlled from above, controlled and shaped by some other authority. It is a completely "priestly" movie, in Nietzsche's sense. It wants to make herds. And it succeeded marvelously, drawing in herds of viewers who responded like cattle. It's a disgrace.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Slow Down

Time to try to get back to the movie blogging. First up - Tsai Ming-Liang's Goodbye, Dragon Inn. (This is somewhat obscure, but it's available on DVD and might get screeneed around the country - it is not entirely impossible to find. If it matters, I am not going to skimp on details - I could say "plot details" but as we shall see, that might not be the word. Anyway, if that sort of thing matters...)

All right then. You can check out the position of this film on my best of the 00s list. Second best Taiwanese film of the decade! It’s a good one. What makes it a good one? That is harder to answer than I wish I were. I was challenged, recently, to defend it - the usual complaints were aired: "it's so slow, there's no point, nothing happens." That provokes a small crisis. It's a problem because films like that, films paced like that, are very hard for me to defend normally. I am happiest when I can defend a film intellectually - I can't deny that I am most comfortable talking about films on rational, analytical grounds. And the truth is, I think I can defend Goodbye, Dragon Inn on those grounds - I can work out the logic of it, the themes and structural felicities and so on - it's just that with films like this, slow, minimalist films, those analytical points almost seem to be floating free in the air. Because the markers of conventional aesthetic and intellectual values are so subtle, it is easy for those who don't see them to say that they aren't there, and that the film's defenders read them into the film. And - in films like this - those doubts sometimes gain some footing.

But I see them, all the things this film does. I get it. And that creates the temptation, to fall back on some variation of the "I must be smarter than you" defense, or worse, the “I am more sensitive than you, Philistine!” defense - both vile, disgusting habits. But it's hard not to. This type of film - minimalist art in general, probably - creates this problem. It is as if you either can see what is going on in this type of art or you can't - if you don't see what is going on, without thinking about it, you won't see it when someone explains it to you. Because that kind of subtlety gets right down next to what you are - it is close enough to blankness, emptiness, that it is a real question whether there is anything there. Whether the film does show you anything, or if it simply reflects what you want to be there.

Obviously, I think it is there (the value); I think this film is as dense as any Miike or Imamura or David Lynch film. Visually, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually. One reason is that I think art is fractal, like maps and Mandelbrot sets - when you move closer or further away, there is just as much information in them. A movie like this, where things don't seem to happen on the story level, contains as much information as any conventionally dense film, just placed differently. The placid surface conceals or mutes the complexity of the film - though even saying that implies something wrong, implies that the surface does not itself create specific and valuable artistic effects. But...

The film itself? I say, it is as dense as any film you are likely to see, in even the most conventional sense. It's just not all stated explicitly. What happens?

It is set in a movie theater - a huge, sprawling movie theater, with halls and attics and storage rooms surrounding the screening room. King Hu's Dragon Inn is playing to either a packed house or a handful of lonely men more interested in cruising than the swordplay on screen. A woman with a limp walks around, sweeping floors, spying on the film or the projectionist, flushing toilets. One man in the audience tries to pick up another man in the theater - then tries the men's room - then tries the storage rooms, which are full of men, silently wandering among the boxes. 40 minutes into the film, there is a line of dialogue - "this theater is haunted. There are ghosts here." "I am Japanese" replies the man we have been following - probably the only words he knows in Chinese. He goes back to the movie, and is annoyed by a woman eating nuts. The film ends and 2 men meet in the lobby - one is Miao Tien, who has been playing the father in Tsai Ming-liang's films for more than a decade. (He was a ghost in the last one.) The other is Shih Chun - one of the stars of King Hu's Dragon Gate Inn (Miao also appeared in King Hu's film.) "They have forgotten us," he says.

It fits in with Tsai's career. The long takes, of people sitting still - or walking along a corridor - climbing stairs - or standing at a urinal - watching the film playing on screen; sexual longing, the need for connection, but no connection. It has Tsai's brand of comedy - using those long takes to lull you, then slowly springing a joke on you (2 men stand beside each other in a long row of empty urinals; they stand there for several minutes. A third man comes in, and stands beside one of them. They stand there for several minutes. A man emerges from a stall behind them, washes his hands. They stand there for several minutes. Someone inside the stall reaches out and closes the door. The three men at the urinals stand there for a few more minutes. Another man comes into the room, walks up to the threesome standing together, reaches between them and takes a pack of cigarettes from the shelf above them. They keep standing there. It's in the timing. Trust me. If you've recently read some Beckett, you will understand. If you have seen enough Tsai, you will understand Beckett.) At the very end, the star of the film (of all of Tsai's films) appears for the first time, for 2 or 3 scenes. But he's playing the projectionist, so his presence has permeated the film. Outside, it rains.

That's what happens. Digging into it a bit - you have, basically, two characters, the the Japanese guy and the gir. These two move through the theater, driven by their desires, which are somewhat over-determined - she is working, but she is also looking for the projectionist, who avoids her. He is cruising, but he is also just trying to stay dry (and take a piss, maybe). These are powerful enough motivations, and interesting in their own - but Tsai skips the conventional story you might make out of these elements, and structures what is there in ways that give it its own depth. Take the patterns of presence and absence he creates - the cycling of the people in the space, the play of perception and time. Consider the role of the projectionist - framing what happens, controlling the plot, such as there is, in a way, yet absent - not seen until the end. Consider the circulation of objects - the steamed bun the woman eats, the food she offers to the projectionist then takes away. Consider the function of the film being screened, and of the actors from that film watching it. The effect is to create a series of displacements - the film, the actors, the woman and projectionist - the sense of different times occupying the same space created by the shifts from crowded areas to empty areas, or by the comparison of King Hu's film and its actors - who, again, are also Tsai Ming-liang's actors. (Miao Tien is almost as important to Tsai's work, as Lee Kang-sheng.) Miao and Lee certainly evoke Tsai's other films - in which they usually play father and son. Here, neither is on screen much - in fact, their presence (especially Lee's) is specifically withheld - and they have no interaction in the film. But that is part of the significance of the film, part of its language - to offer and deny possibilities of connections - to play off previous relationships, even if just by denying them. (Or by using the Japanese man as a kind of surrogate for Lee.)

Blogs and Deviation

On women bloggers - P. Z. Myers says something here that I completely agree with. In fact, he says it so goddamned well, I am just going to quote it:

We're all concerned about politics, so most people toss a link to the political blogs, just to keep track of what's going on in these things that affect all of our lives…but you know what that means? The political blogs are the lowest common denominator. They're like bacteria, ubiquitous, omnipresent, floating and sliming and breeding everywhere. But people don't aspire to be bacteria (not that I have anything against bacteria—wonderful critters, interesting and deserving of respect), we try to be a bit more complicated and diverse. Sure, we come up short when everyone starts bragging about their colony size or how many petri dishes they've infested or how many clonal descendants they have, but seriously, who cares? We want to be unique. We want to explore unusual experiences. We want to express ourselves in different ways. Let's agree to be different people. Flaunt your metazoan nature, rather than wishing you were more like those prolific prokaryotes.


As a reader (and I think much of the function of blogs is to indicate what you are reading, and to point to things you think other people might like to read), I know that politics is not what pulls me. It's true that the last 3-4 years have been very politically charged - so I have been reading a lot of politics - but other than the period right around the beginning of the Iraq war, and the whole election season, politics has always been a bit secondary. I get my Atrios fix, and check in on Josh Marshall and Alterman now and then, but most of my reading is elsewhere. Pharyngula; Majikthise; Long Story, Short Pier; Berube and Wolcott; Crooked Timber (currently down) and John and Belle; Pandagon. Teresa Neilson Hayden was, for a long time, at the top of the list - she has cut back on the number of posts lately, which is the only reason she isn't so high anymore...

None of these is a traditional politically oriented blog. Pandagon is closest, especially when Ezra Klein was on board - and I had slacked off reading them before Mouse Words came on board. She is not a traditional political blogger - though the problem there seems to be more with the "traditional" part than the "political" part. She writes plenty about politics - but it's not policy wonkery, it's, oh, frightening court cases or insane Christians. Which, as far as I am concerned, is what makes her worth reading. The Kevin Drum types get very boring very quickly - letting them define politics (as policy, really) is bad enough - letting them define what constitutes blogging is even worse.

So... I can see, by the way, that I listed more men than women in my list of favorites - I have also noticed that as I have tried, over the last month or so, to find more variation in the blogs I read (basically, to shift from politics to culture/academics/the arts), I have started reading more women bloggers. If that is because women don't blog on "politics" I think that might be because women who are interested in politics have a broader and more sophisticated view of what politics is.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Friday iPodding

Since I was listening to it on the train, I might as well post it...

Raw Power - Stooges
Crash the Party - Richard Thompson
On Some Faraway Beach - Brian Eno
Joe Bean - Johnny Cash
Shore Leave - Tom Waits
Return the Gift - Gang of Four
Crosseyed and Painless (live) - Talking Heads
Wear My Ring - Gene Vincent
We all Know - Devendra Banhardt
Paint it Black - Stones

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Colossal Wastes of Time

I have been thinking about posting something about the Congressional investigations into steroid use - though it's hard to come up with words for such naked grand-standing by useless old men... It is not that steroids are a good thing -but they are not all that big a thing. Overall? in the long run? it will be a joke, something to snicker about, whine about, use to bash Barry Bonds and McGwire and Sosa and whoever else you don't like... that's about all, unless it makes baseball as boring as the Olympics, where it seems half the results get thrown out on appeal.

Anyway, in related news, I hear next week, Congress will be calling NBA point guards to investigate allegations of palming and double dribbling. And the week after, it's baseball again, as we get tot he bottom of the Scandal of the Phantom Tag.

She'll wave her red book...

Billmon provides context for Chairman Horowitz and his merry band of cultural revolutionaires.

We will purify. We must purify. For the sake of that security we all want. (As David Thomas put it.)

On Irish Letters

Happy St. Patrick's Day, friends! And over at Salon, Allen Barra offers excellent advice for celebrating - track down some Flann O'Brien, and wallow in his mastery! At Swim-Two-Birds in particular is a masterpiece - one of the great novels of the 20th century, a book as infinitely re-readable as they come. Cowboys, Irish mythical heroes, drunken college students, civil servants, devils and fairies, innkeepers and serving girls drink, play poker, bet on the horses, recite poetry, cadge cigarettes, stay in bed for days at a time, tell jokes, discuss politics and indulge in literature and literary theory. It is incomparable, though occasionally imitated - it is marvellous beyond words.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Halfway to 2009

This is something I have to do more of - write, and write about movies, probably more than anything else. I have, in fact, 2 or 3 posts in the pipeline, some of them with real content! But for now - best of the 00's posts have started popping up around the internet (spreading from blog to blog, more precisely) - so since I've been sitting on a list for 2 months... Time to post. I was waiting to get around to writing comments, but at my usual posting rate, that'll be done in time for the end of the decade. So enough - here it is:

1 Yi Yi - dir. Edward Yang
2 Goodbye, Dragon Inn - Tsai Ming Liang
3 Mulholland Drive - David Lynch
4 House of Flying Daggers - Zhang Yimou
5 Donnie Darko - Richard Kelly
6 Ichii the Killer - Takashi Miike
7 Dracula: Pages From a Virgin's Diary - Guy Maddin
8 Nobody Knows - Hirokazu Kore-Eda
9 Songs from the Second Floor - Roy Anderson
10 O Brother Where Art Thou - Coens

I hope to come up with reasons for those choices: in fact, one or two of them are currently being incubated for some lengthy commentary... But for now, for the moment at least, there you go.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

For Your Sunday Comics PLeasure

Found this link on Pharyngula - Something Awful offers photoshopped comic book covers. Read all about "the menace of Yao Ming, NBA Star!" Great stuff.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Friday with my iPod

I guess this is a bit of a tradition in blogland - the old, play 10 songs on the iPod/iTunes/MP3 randomizer. So - this is what came up on the train. Though I did fast forward a couple times. I won't say where...

1. Nature Boy - Nick Cave
2. Desolation Row - Bob Dylan
3. Tame - Pixies
4. Madison Blues - Fleetwood Mac
5. Soon - My Bloody Valentine
6. Sympathy for the Devil (live) - Rolling Stones
7. Higher Ground - Feelies
8. Pavement Saw - Big Black
9. Union Square - Tom Waits
10. So Stark - Pavement

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Or maybe Boots 209?

This is very amusing - Attention Strippers!. (Via P. Z. Myers). Alas, coming up with a name - first pet? Street you lived on? - would require a herculean exercise of memory.... I have the horrible feeling one of the names would be "Laddie"....

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Metalogic?

Yesterday on Crooked Timber, an account of an exchange between Richard Rorty and Scott Soames, with special emphasis on the topic of vagueness. This is very interesting. I suppose I notice it, and remark on it here, because of my ongoing binge of reading Samuel R. Delany - a good deal of this debate sounds like it could be taking place on Lux on Iaputus in 2112 as readily as today. This debate is full of what looks suspiciously like Modular Calculus: "whether and how language gets in touch with the world" says Rorty, not to mention the question of what is a heap? That is: say you have something that is not a heap of sand. If you add one grain of sand to it - you do not have a heap of sand. Add another grain of sand to that still-not-a-heap-of-sand, and you will still not have a heap of sand. So - if n grains of sand (goes the argument) is not a heap of sand - then n+1 grains of sand is not a heap of sand. So - when do you get a heap of sand? This question is at the core [there is some irony in saying that) of the philosophy of vagueness - and of course, Delany's "metalogics". It's all about boundaries - when does a not-heap of sand become a heap of sand? When does few become many? When does white become not-white, or the Taj Mahal not the Taj Mahal?

I wish I had a better idea what philosophers in particular Delany was drawing on in books like Trouble on Triton. He writes about these kinds of things - boundaries of concepts and correspondence between models and reality - quite a bit, both in the novels and in his nonfiction. But since he is a novelists, primarily, not a philosopher - he writes about the things from the perspective of a ficteur, and an amateur philosopher. And, in practice, one does not get the references and footnotes and the like one would get if one were reading Rorty or Soames.

I'm certainly curious to find out. It is an odd feeling - there is undoubtedly more to this than I can see, but the philosophy of vagueness really looks like what Delany was writing 25 years ago. I wish I knew more about the philosophical underpinnings of what he wrote - how his fiction corresponded to the philosophers. It's also very interesting, in itself - Trouble on Triton is an interesting book, very much about the vagueness of boundaries between concepts - a world where almost everything is turned into a set of probabilities, where almost everything is seen, somehow, as both much more quantifiable than we see things, and fuzzier - the boundaries between things (genders, races, pleasure/pain, etc - all the old hierarchies made so much of by structuralists and post-structuralists) are vague, blurry. What makes a woman becomes as vexed a question as what makes a heap. I think I can talk, fairly intelligently, about Delany - but moving past him to these similar discussions, in contemporary philosophy, drops me completely out of the conversation.

Which itself, in a sense, is related. Certainly the questions of correspondence are relevant - correspondence to reality, but also, the correspondences between a fiction, a literary (or paraliterary) text and philosophical texts... A question Delany's work (fiction and non-fiction) has explored repeatedly.... And - where does my ability to speak, with some authority, on a novel turn into an inability to speak, with authority, on philosophy?

There may be a metablogging post somewhere in the shadows around here. What am I trying to do with this blog? I know I'm doing it badly - but even if I weren't - what would I be doing? The answer, in fact, I think is this - I am trying, simply, to point to things that catch my eye. The point of this post, say, is certainly not to defend or challenge or really add anything to the Rorty/Soames debate - it might be, somehow, to comment on some of Delany's themes - and certainly, the Delany connection is what I am most interested in here. No - the point of this post is to say, goddamn - this stuff is interesting. I am going to have to look up some of this stuff and read it. This Vagueness stuff looks very interesting... So there you have it. Whatever it is.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Every Day I Learn Something New

Today, thanks to David Horowitz's Moonbat Central bog (which I am still not sure is a real Horowitz site and not a Jesus' General style comedy site), I learn that the reason Martin Scorsese has never won an Oscar is because of Kundun.

Hollywood is put off not only by the stark violence of his vision, but also because Scorsese stuck to his guns (and so, to its credit, did Disney Corp.) in making Kundun (1997). This life of the Dalai Lama showed Communist China’s brutal invasion and rape of Tibet. Beijing threatened commercial retaliation again Disney (and Hollywood) if it released this movie. Scorsese is to this day one of only 50 people officially prohibited by China from entering Tibet. Perhaps this is one factor that explains why more Hollywood figures are careful not to embrace Scorsese too warmly. Greed mixed with left ideology make a powerful cocktail.

That makes perfect sense, just like my theory that Pete Rose managed to get Paul Giamatti blacklisted by the Academy. Anyway, read and enjoy. There's some nice comedy about Roger Ebert in there too.