Tuesday, June 28, 2005

It odd to see a movie on video these days. We watched Ararat, a film by Atom Egoyan (writer and director of The Sweet Hereafter), and what I would consider the most emotionally powerful film I've seen made since 2000. However, I go over to rottentomatos.com and half of the reviews panned it. Too confusing, don't bother.

I fully understand that Turkish folks are just not going to like it (and thier voices are pretty prominent at the imbd reviews), but I don't see why that should make so much difference. Frankly, I think this was a much better tragic film than Spielberg has made. It was ambitious enough not just to tell the story of the armenian genocide, but also showed how it echoed down through the generations to today through art, family, stories, prejudices, etc.

If you see it, or if you have seen it already, let me know what you think.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Today I started on Charles Taylor's somewhat massive Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity. Despite it being a philosophy book, I'm enjoying it immensely. Since reading Habits of the Heart and a few works on ancient anthropology, I've become very interested in the nature and problems of modern wetern notions of identity, and in alternatives thereunto.

In chapter 2, "The Self in Moral Space", Taylor has been speaking about the american "tradition" of independence. He traces this back to the Connecticut puritan teaching that children as they grow older must come to their own conversion experience and develop their own, independent, relationship with God. This has evolved into the "tradition" of leaving home to establish one's individual identity, building the virtue of self-reliance.

In order to see that the cultural shift to the ideal of self-reliance makes a difference, even in its debased form, we have only to compare it to a quite different culture. It matters that american young people are expected to be independent of their elders, even if this is one of the demands of the elders. Because what each young person is working out is an identity which is meant to be his/her own in the special sense that it could be sustained even against parental and social opposition. This identity is worked out in conversations with parents and consociates, but the nature of the conversation is defined by this notion of what an identity is. Compare this with Suhir Kakar's account of the upbringing of young Indians: "The yearning for the confirming presence of the loved person . . . is the dominant modality of social relations in India, especially within the extended family. This 'modality' is expressed variously but consistently, as in a person feeling of helplessness when family members are absent or his difficulty in making decisions alone. In short, Indians characteristically rely on the support of others to go through life and to deal with the exigencies imposed by the outside world."

Thursday, June 23, 2005

I'm not at all good at making predictions, but I think this will be remembered as one of the low points of our Supreme Court.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

It's nice that one team's success can raise the level of play of everyone else. Unless they are all losers.
The building my father worked in during the '67 riots is apparently burning to the ground at the moment. It was a gvt. building back then.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Wow. I had no idea Boooks and Culture published things this sharp.
Had Daniel over for lunch and some book trading yesterday and somehow I neglected to have any of the beer bread on hand. TO be honest, I didn't even think of it til just now. He did, however, have some of my borsch (his first) and he seemed not entirely displeased.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Beer Bread


2 cups self rising-flour (for guys who don't normally bake, do make sure it says "self-rising")
3 tablespoons sugar
1 12 oz bottle of beer
(and remember the old saying, better beer makes better batter)

preheat oven to 350
grease a breadloaf pan
combine ingredients in order listed in a big mixing bowl
begin stirring as soon as you start adding the beer--it's ok if its slightly lumpy when your are done
put batter into pan, then into oven
bake for 50 minutes
remove and spread butter on top
bake for additional 10 minutes
remove and cool loaf on cooling rack

There you go. Couldn't be easier.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Beer For Breakfast?

My wife sent me, from one of her coworkers, a recipe for beer bread. It was my first time making bread of any kind, and I have to say it turned out very well. I just had a slice with my eggs. It only has 3 ingredients, sp it's pretty hard to screw up. I used Amber Bock for the beer, which gave it an interesting flavor. Lenise said it wasn't that flavorful when her coworker made it. Probably used some abominable lite beer.

I hope my opening didn't make you think I'd joined this guy.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

I've been reading The Vintage Book of Amnesia, ed by Jonathan Lethem. It just a collection of short works about memory loss. I'm only 100 pages in and I've already been impressed with many of these works. Some are excerpts from longer works, such as Lawrence Shainberg's story of a neurosurgeon who is suffering from gradual brain damage. A few things I had already seen, such as "Funes: His Memory" by Borges (a classic) and an except from Percy's The Second Coming. The msot extraordinary story so far, one which only tangentially deals with memory loss, is Brian Fawcett's "Soul Walker" which posits the idea that our souls can only travel at walking speen and that if we move around too quickly we leave them behind.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

I guess he's back. (He being Scott Cunningham, if you don't immediate recognize the signs)

The blog addiction is not so easily shaken.
You can put that quote on my tombstone--if you buy me a very large one.
In the domain of music the importance and influence of its dissemination by mechanical means, such as the record and the radio--those redoubtable triumphs of modern science which will probably undergo further still development--make them worthy of the closest investigation. The facilities they offer to composers and executants alike for reaching great numbers of listeners, and the opportunities they give those listeners to acquaint themselves with works they have not heard, are obviously indisputable advantages. But one must not overlook the fact that such advantages are attended by serious danger. In Johann Sebastian Bach's day, he had to walk ten miles to a neighboring town to hear Buxtehude play his works. Today anyone, living no matter where, has only to turn a knob or put on a record to hear what he likes. Indeed, it is in just this incredible facility, this lack of necessity for any effort, that the evil of this so-called progress lies. For in music, more than in any other branch of art, understanding is given only to those who make an active effort. Passive receptivity is not enough. To listen to certain combinations of sound and automatically become accustomed to them, does not imply that they have been heard and understood. For one can listen without hearing, just as one can look without seeing. The absence of active effort and the liking acquired for this facility make for laziness. The radio has got rid of the necessity which existed in Bach's day for getting out of one's armchair. Nor are listeners any longer impelled to play themselves, or to spend time learning an instrument in order to acquire a knowledge of musical literature. The wireless and the gramophone do all that. And thus the active faculties of listeners, without which one cannot assimilate music, gradually become atrophied from lack of use.

Igor Stravinsky

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I'm glad Chris has been taking the time to read Gatto and summarize for us. The book is available free online, but I don't have much patience with reading on a computer screen. This particular entry was quite powerful, but Gatto is always pretty strong. I was blown away the one time I heard him on NPR. Couldn't believe they would let someone that anti-establishment on the radio.
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