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Showing posts from December, 2013

Interpreting Another Earth

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*Warning. Major Spoilers Ahead*

Another Earth (2011) is a beautiful indie film that is an elegant emotional exploration of our longing for redemption and second chances. The sci-fi elements serve, for the most part, as background ploy for bringing to life that possibility of meeting another you who might not have made the same mistakes that you did. (The scientific basis of another completely identical Earth appearing and moving in the manner shown in the film is extremely sloppy, which can be a turn-off for many.) The way film ends leaves much to think about, not just in terms of emotional processing, but also because several interpretations are possible. Below I'll try to outline some of the explanations that seem plausible to me. One crucial element regarding the different interpretations is deciding at what exact point the synchronicity between the two storylines is broken.
* The accident never happened on Earth 2, probably because Rhonda 2 looked at the sky towards Earth 1 in …

Pragmatism

"Pragmatism is a matter of human needs; and one of the first of human needs is to be something more than a pragmatist."
G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Law of Immiseration

Law of Immiseration by Dr Colin Brewer (with reference to Psychiatry): misery increases to meet the means available for its alleviation.
I have been unable to find a direct source for this, but it has been quoted in twoarticles.

A Strange Madness of Sorts: European Imperialism and Science

Coursera: A Brief History of Humankind by Dr. Yuval Noah Harari
Personal Lecture Notes from Lesson #11 and #12: The Discovery of Ignorance & The Marriage of Science and Empire
(These are personal summaries and paraphrasings of some of the major points of the lectures that I felt to be important. They are not meant to be comprehensive records nor intended to be reproductions of copyright materials. I encourage you to participate in the course for better understanding. All ideas and examples are by Dr. Harari.)
The scientific revolution was not the result of scientific research alone. Scientific research can flourish only in an alliance with an ideology or a political force which justifies the cost of research. The ideology determines the scientific agenda and determines how its discoveries and inventions will be utilized. The two most important political and economic forces that have shaped modern science are European imperialism and capitalism. 
This lesson is on the relationship b…

The Lovely Accident of Relationship

Some Trees
"These are amazing: each  Joining a neighbor, as though speech  Were a still performance.  Arranging by chance
To meet as far this morning  From the world as agreeing  With it, you and I  Are suddenly what the trees try
To tell us we are:  That their merely being there  Means something; that soon  We may touch, love, explain."
from Some Trees, John Ashbery
Al Filreis: "I think this poem is a love poem, but I also think it's a poem about a higher order than love, if that's possible, which is relation. Meaning is made by relation, meaning never happens in isolation. One needs juxtaposition. Here you have the juxtaposition of these two people who don't really know each other, who are arranged by chance to meet. Standing under a model for accidental relationship. And the trees are saying, "All you need to do is be here." It's not a nature poem. It could read as a nature poem. This poem has been read at weddings for instance, about relatio…

The New York School Poets

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[A group photo containing some members of the New York School poets. John Ashbery (standing right), Frank O’Hara (seated left), Kenneth Koch (seated right). Frank O’Hara’s loft, 1964. Photograph: Mario Schifano.]
Reading the New York School poets reminds me of what Gabriel Garcia Marquez said about Kafka: 'I didn’t know anyone was allowed to write things like that.'
Read the poem 'What is Poetry' by John Ashbery, and then read this imitative response by a student which humorously spells out the central idea of the poem.