Monthly Archives: July 2008

Links

I’m swamped today, but I’ve got some links I thought I’d save for later:

Nature of glass.

A review of The War of the World.

Emily Dickenson as a post 9/11 poet.

Tracing Human Migration.

The next Renniasance.

A History of Hooch (good title)

A review of Zizek’s latest.

The Science of Satire.

Keep in mind I haven’t read any of these yet.

Required Reading

This peice by Kurt Vonnegut is required reading for my students in intro to college composition.  Good advice all round.

About two people will get this…

Bush as Batman?

[After reading back through this I realize I should warn that there are spoilers here.  Beware.]

Andrew Klavan would have us believe that G.W. Bush is Batman.  To be more fair he’s drawing a comparison, but for some reason I just keep having visions of Robot Chicken’s version of Bush running around in a bat suit instead of a flight suit.

Why does his take on terrorism immediately devolve into a simplistic depiction of good and evil?  This doesn’t just demean the complexity of the problem of terrorism and our responses to it in the last 7 years, it also demeans the movies that Klavan so ardantly tout as being the pillars of his world view.  (While I’m concentrating on the latter here I feel I should state the obvious that the real shame is in the former.)

Frankly this take on The Dark Knight misses so many of the nuances of the film that I don’t know where to begin.  I will note that Batman doesn’t kill in the film.  Going beyond the line into the “real moral complexity” of torture, killing, and extrodinary power to do the “right thing” is exactly what the Joker entices him to do throughout the movie.  It is what the inherent evil Klavan’s discussing wants because it destroys the boundary between good and evil by making those upholding justice step into injustice.  The values Klavan touts the movie for are in fact the result of the heros going beyond the pale.  He may not have noticed a rather intregal point of the film’s plot in the form of Harvey Dent’s fall from grace.  Dent is driven mad by the Joker and the boundaries of right and wrong are blurred to the point that they become as arbitrary as the flip of a coin.  Dent goes on to unilaterally kill those that have betrayed him and eventually turns against Gordon by threatening his family and holding Gordon’s son by gun point.  Yet Dent’s example as a pure hero is a necessity for Gotham.  This is not, as Klavan might like, because the things he did were right.  They are revenge killings and they don’t do anything to stop the terrorist in the movie.  In fact, the Joker takes Dent’s fall as his crowning achievement.  The Joker cannot win though.  Gotham needs to believe that an ideal like the justice that Dent represents can even exist in a place like Gotham.  Batman takes Dent’s sins on himself to keep that hope alive.  Batman must run in order to hide the fact that Dent crosses the boundaries that Klavan is so flippant with.  It is a crossing that leads Dent to threaten a child.  Moral complexity indeed.

I’m interested to hear thoughts on this from folks and hope to write more on it as I give it more thought.

Memorable reporting

Because I’m so likely to forget this later when it’s important I wanted to jot down a passage from Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior:

“The swordswoman and I are not so dissimilar. May my people understand the resemblance soon so that I can return to them.  What we have in common are the words at our backs.  The idioms for revenge are “report a crime” and “report to five families.”  The reporting is the vengeance – not the beheading, not the gutting, but the words.  And I have so many words – “chink” words and “gook” words too – that they do not fit on my skin.” (53)

As a matter of explanation the “fit on my skin” bit that it ends on references an earlier passage where the woman warrior has the names of those she must have revenge upon carved into her skin.

I’ve only just started The Woman Warrior, but I have high hopes since Tripmaster Monkey remains one of my favorite books.  This passage just kicked me around a bit this morning and I thought I’d share.  The power of words and writing Kingston refers to here is why I’m in this business.

An interesting piece on Barack Obama’s rhetoric.  I think what’s disturbing isn’t the elevated rhetoric of his speeches, but the fact that we now consider them elevated thanks to our lower standards.

I’ve been estimating my carbon footprint.  I’m better than the average, but not as good as I should be.

I have more to write, but someone forgot his laptop charger in his office.  I’m not naming names, but his power bar just went into the red and he’s fairly certain that he’s and idiot.

Oh Yeah!

A grouping of poetry

I admitedly get a lot of links from 3 quarks daily, which I then log here as a means of sorting interesting things for my later perusal.  I note that since I want to give credit where credit is due.  My real reason for posting is to note the collection of poems up today.

Take that Bill Chuck Bill.

Postmodern Beaver

Thanks to the Onion we meet Dennis Messner.  What kind of beaver would he be if he didn’t take erosion science into consideration?

As a side note, posting will become slightly more regular now that I’m not unpacking anymore.