Tuesday, January 30, 2024

ENG 102 2024: Resources #6

Ahmari, Sohrab. "When Capitalism Becomes Tyranny." Capitalisn't (November 2, 2023) ["In his new book, Sohrab Ahmari argues that the concentration of economic power in the hands of a few corporations has created a new form of tyranny in America. "Coercion is far more widespread in supposedly noncoercive societies than we would like to think—provided we pay attention to private power and admit the possibility of private coercion," he writes. Ahmari, founder and editor of Compact magazine, joins Bethany and Luigi to discuss his book, "Tyranny Inc.: How Private Power Crushed American Liberty--and What to Do About It." In this episode, they discuss the complex relationship between capitalism, personal freedoms, and political power. The conversation sheds light on what classical liberalism ignores, how today's Right is discovering what the Left may have forgotten, and ultimately, where today's political Left and Right may be able to work together."]

Attia, Peter and Andrew Huberman. "Effects of Light & Dark on Mental Health & Treatments for Cancer." Huberman Lab (January 22, 2024) ["In this journal club episode, my guest is Dr. Peter Attia, M.D., a Stanford and Johns Hopkins-trained physician focusing on healthspan and lifespan and the host of The Drive podcast. We each present a peer-reviewed scientific paper chosen because it contains novel, interesting, and actionable data. First, we discuss a paper on how bright light exposure at sunrise and throughout the day and dark exposure at night independently improve mental health and can offset some of the major symptoms of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. Then, we discuss an article that explores a novel class of immunotherapy treatments to combat cancer. We also discuss some of the new data on low-calorie sweeteners and if they are safe. This episode should be of interest to listeners curious about maximizing their vitality and longevity and to anyone seeking science-supported ways to improve mental health and lifespan."]

Conti, Paul and Andrew Huberman. "Therapy, Treating Trauma & Other Life Challenges." The Huberman Lab (June 6, 2022) ["Dr. Paul Conti, M.D., is a psychiatrist and expert in treating trauma, personality disorders and psychiatric illnesses and challenges of various kinds. Dr. Conti earned his MD at Stanford and did his residency at Harvard Medical School. He now runs the Pacific Premiere Group—a clinical practice helping people heal and grow from trauma and other life challenges. We discuss trauma: what it is and its far-reaching effects on the mind and body, as well as the best treatment approaches for trauma. We also explore how to choose a therapist and how to get the most out of therapy, as well as how to do self-directed therapy. We discuss the positive and negative effects of antidepressants, ADHD medications, alcohol, cannabis, and the therapeutic potential of psychedelics (e.g., psilocybin and LSD), ketamine and MDMA. This episode is must listen for anyone seeking or already doing therapy, processing trauma, and/or considering psychoactive medication. Both patients and practitioners ought to benefit from the information." Conti is the author of the book Trauma: The Invisible Epidemic: How Trauma Works and How We Can Heal From It]

Doctorow, Cory. "How Chokepoint Capitalism is Strangling Creative Industries." Darts and Letters (December 19, 2022) ["Many of the creative industries look like an hourglass. On the one side, you have creators; on the other, the rest of us. In the middle, Rebecca Giblin and Cory Doctorow say there's often a 'chokepoint.' Corporate behemoths -- be they streaming apps, publishers, tech giants, or others -- put on the squeeze, exploiting their market power to extract rents, push down wages, and push up costs. But Cory and Rebecca have solutions to break the stranglehold, and in this episode of Darts and Letters Cory helps Jay explore various chokepoints, from concert tickets to audiobooks, and how we can open up the industries and get workers paid."]

Holland, Tom and Dominic Sandbrook. "The Nazis in Power: The Night of Broken Glass." The Rest is History (January 17, 2024) ["By November 1938 the scene in Germany was at its darkest yet, as the full scale of Hitler’s intentions for the Jewish population of the German Reich was becoming evermore apparent. As the threat of another world war increased, so the Nazi anti-semitism machine went up a gear. Synagogues were destroyed, Jewish businessmen, bureaucrats, lawyers and doctors disbarred, plans were made for a mass expulsion of Jews from Europe. But the worst was yet to come, as the assassination of a German official in Paris in late 1938 instigated the most savage wave of Jewish persecution in Germany so far… Join Dominic and Tom as they discuss the build up to Krystallnacht - the Night of Broken Glass - and the diabolical destruction, brutality and violence that ensued. By the end of 1938, Hitler’s two dearest ambitions, an apocalyptic victory over the Jewish people and the conquest of Europe itself, seemed terrifyingly within reach."]

Magid, Shaul. "‘Anti-Zionism = Antisemitism’ Isn't Just Wrong, It's the Problem."  Religion Dispatches (December 13, 2023) ["Let’s be honest, for anyone with basic liberal values, even if you are a Zionist, the state of Israel is presently very problematic (as the Israeli protests have shown—to say nothing of the occupation) and thus many of the criticisms are not prejudicial by definition. Some Jewish anti-Zionists argue that the nation-state is not the best or healthiest collective structure for Jews. Nation-states are, after all, pretty egregious entities, responsible for mass murder, inequality, and oppression. One can argue with that for sure, but is that statement antisemitic?"]

Matsumoto, Nancy. "How Foodies Can Understand Capitalism and Farm-to-Table Justice." Yes! (April 30, 2018) ["Our food system can be a place for systemic transformation through an alliance between the progressive and radical wings of the food movement."]

Quiroga, Rodrigo Quiann. How Neuroscience Is Transforming Sci-Fi Into Reality-While Challenging Our Beliefs About the Mind, Machines, and What Makes Us Human. BenBella Books, 2020. ["What if science fiction stopped being fiction? Developments in neuroscience are turning sci-fi scenarios into reality, and causing us to revisit some of the philosophical questions we have been asking ourselves for centuries. Science fiction often takes its inspiration from the latest science . . . and our oldest questions. After all, the two are inextricably linked. At a time when advances in artificial intelligence are genuinely leading us closer to a computer that thinks like a human, we can't help but wonder: What makes a person a person? Countless writers and filmmakers have created futuristic scenarios to explore this issue and others like it. But these scenarios may not be so futuristic after all. In the movie Inception, a group of conspirators implants false memories; in Until the End of the World, a mad scientist is able to read dreams; in 2001: A Space Odyssey, a supercomputer feels and thinks like a person. And in recent years, the achievements described in leading scientific journals have included some that might sound familiar: implanting memories using optogenetics, reading the mind during sleep thanks to advanced decoding algorithms, and creating a computer that uses deep neural networks to surpass the abilities of human thought. In NeuroScience Fiction, neuroscientist and author Rodrigo Quiroga reveals the futuristic present we are living in, showing how the far-out premises of 10 seminal science fiction movies are being made possible by discoveries happening right now, on the cutting edge of neuroscience. He also explores the thorny philosophical problems raised as a result, diving into Minority Report and free will, The Matrix and the illusion of reality, Blade Runner and android emotion, and more. A heady mix of science fiction, neuroscience, and philosophy, NeuroScience Fiction takes us from Vanilla Sky to neural research labs, and from Planet of the Apes to what makes us human. This is a book you'll be thinking about long after the last page—and once you've read it, you'll never watch a sci-fi blockbuster the same way again."]

Sanchez-Taylor, Joy. Diverse Futures: Science Fiction and Authors of Color. Ohio University Press. 2021. ["Diverse Futures: Science Fiction and Authors of Color examines the contributions of late-twentieth- and twenty-first-century US and Canadian science fiction authors of color. By looking at the intersections among science fiction authors of multiple races and ethnicities, Joy Sanchez-Taylor seeks to explain how these authors of color are juxtaposing tropes of science fiction with specific cultural references to comment on issues of inclusiveness in Eurowestern cultures. The central argument of this work is that these authors are challenging science fiction’s history of Eurocentric representation through the depiction of communities of color in fantastic or futuristic settings, specifically by using cognitive estrangement and the inclusion of non-Eurowestern cultural beliefs and practices to comment on the alienation of racially dominated groups. By exploring science fiction tropes—such as first contact, genetic modification, post-apocalyptic landscapes, and advanced technologies in the works of Octavia E. Butler, Ted Chiang, Sabrina Vourvoulias, and many others—Sanchez-Taylor demonstrates how authors of various races and ethnicities write science fiction that pays homage to the genre while also creating a more diverse and inclusive portrait of the future."]

West, Stephen. "Should we prepare for an AI revolution?" Philosophize This! #185 (August 10, 2022) ["Today we talk about the revolutionary potential of generative AI. For better or worse."]

Mad Max: Fury Road (Australia/USA: George Miller, 2015)


 Mad Max: Fury Road (Australia/USA: George Miller, 2015: 120 mins)

Adkins, Ashleigh. "Mad Max: Fury Road." Letterboxd (October 10, 2019)

Anderson, Jake. "Mad Max: Fury Road." Letterboxd (August 16, 2018)

Benedict, Steven. "Mad Max: Fury Road." (Audio: May 16, 2015)

Booker, M. Keith. "MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015, Directed by George Miller)." Notes on Culture (ND)

Bourke, Liz. "Sleeps With Monsters: Mad Max: Fury Road." Tor (May 26, 2015)

Buchanan, Kyle. "Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road." The Last Thing I Saw #111 (March 27, 2022)

Bures, Frank, et al. "Dispatches From the Ruins: Why do we crave the awful futures of apocalyptic fiction?" Aeon (May 16, 2017) ["In the first two decades of the new millennium, stories of the post-apocalypse have permeated pop culture, from books such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006), Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl (2009) and Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven (2014) to films and TV programmes such as The Walking Dead (2010-), the Hunger Games series (2012-15) and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). While post-apocalyptic fictions of previous eras largely served as cautionary tales – against nuclear brinksmanship in On the Beach(1959) or weaponised biology in The Stand (1978) – today’s versions of these tales depict less alterable, more oblique and diffuse visions of our doom. So why can’t we seem to get enough of humanity’s unavoidable collapse and its bleak aftermath? "]

Chang, Justin. "Film Review: Mad Max: Fury Road." Variety (May 11. 2015)

Digging Deeper. "Vehicles of Masculinity." (Posted on Youtube: October 26, 2015)

Dockterman, Eliana. "Vagina Monologues Writer Eve Ensler: How Mad Max: Fury Road Became a ‘Feminist Action Film.’" Time (May 7, 2015)

Galibert-Laîné, Chloe. "Why Framing Matters in Movies." (Posted on Vimeo: January 2016)

Heller-Nicholas, Alexandra. "Furious and Furiosa." Overland (May 15, 2015)

Lerer, Diego and Adrian Martin. "Mad Max: Fury Road Wins FIPRESCI Grand Prix." FIPRESCI (September 1, 2015)

Mancini, Vince. "Mad Max: Fury Road Might Be The Best Action Movie Of The Last 10 Years." Uproxx (May 13, 2015)

McKenna, Juliet, et al. "Fight Scenes and Women Warriors." Breaking the Glass Slipper 2.8 (April 13, 2017) ["As Kameron Hurley discusses in her Hugo Award-winning article, ‘We Have Always Fought‘, women have always fought. So why don’t we see more women warriors in science fiction and fantasy novels? History is full of women on battlefields and in brawls, even if the history books might gloss over it. Remember: much of the history we hold as the gold standard was written by men who were reinforcing the social structures they created. When it comes to fight scenes, there’s already enough to think about without worrying about gender representation (and no, that’s not an excuse…). A well-written fight scene is a rare gem. We talk to writer and martial artist Juliet McKenna about the common mistakes writers make when writing fight scenes, from grand military battles to a pub fight, we talk weapons, fight styles, point of view, and more. What makes a fight scene interesting? How much detail is too much? And it wouldn’t be an episode of Breaking the Glass Slipper without us championing some of our favourite examples of great women warriors in SFFH."]

Pelan, Tim, et al. "In Search of Our Better Selves: The Rebirth, Redemption and Road Warriors of George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road." Cinephilia & Beyond (ND)

Selby, Jenn. "Mad Max heroine Charlize Theron on female roles in Hollywood: 'You're either a really good mother, or a really good hooker.'" The Independent (May 15, 2015)

Sobczynski, Peter. "'I'm Just Here for the Gasoline': An Overview of the Mad Max Saga." Balder and Dash (May 11, 2015)

Vaughn, L.J. "My Reaction to Mad Max: Fury Road and the Utter Perfection That Is Imperator Furiosa." The Mary Sue (May 29, 2015)

Cory Doctorow: Technology/Copyright Activist/Critic of Big Tech & Big Media/Science Fiction Author (Shooting Azimuths)

Craphound (Cory Doctorow's website)

---. "How Big Tech Went to Sh*t." On the Media (September 1, 2023) ["Cory Doctorow, journalist, activist, and the author of Red Team Blue, on his theory surrounding the slow, steady descent of the internet. Brooke asks Cory if the troubles that plague some corners of the internet are specific to Big Digital, rather than the economy at large-- and how our legal systems enabled it all. Cory and Brooke discuss possible solutions to save the world wide web, and how in a sea of the enshittified there's still hope."]

---. "How Chokepoint Capitalism is Strangling Creative Industries." Darts and Letters (December 19, 2022) ["Many of the creative industries look like an hourglass. On the one side, you have creators; on the other, the rest of us. In the middle, Rebecca Giblin and Cory Doctorow say there's often a 'chokepoint.' Corporate behemoths -- be they streaming apps, publishers, tech giants, or others -- put on the squeeze, exploiting their market power to extract rents, push down wages, and push up costs. But Cory and Rebecca have solutions to break the stranglehold, and in this episode of Darts and Letters Cory helps Jay explore various chokepoints, from concert tickets to audiobooks, and how we can open up the industries and get workers paid."]

---. How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism. One Zero/Medium, 2020. ["An anti-monopolist critique of “surveillance capitalism,” that locates the problem with disinformation and conspiratorialism in the rise of monopolies. Just because Big Tech claims it has a mind control ray, we shouldn’t automatically believe them."]

---. The Internet Con: How To Seize the Means of Computation. Verso, 2023. ["A Big Tech disassembly manual, presenting a theory of internet enshittification and a way to throw it into reverse, creating a new, good internet that is a worthy successor to the old, good internet – so that the enshitternet of today is thrown on the scrapheap of history as an unfortunate transitional stage between the two."]

---. "Middle schooler wins C-SPAN prize for doc about NSA spying." Boing Boing (March 6, 2014) ["Dave from the Electronic Frontier Foundation sez, "Remember when Rep. Mike Rogers likened opponents of pernicious cybersecurity legislation to 14-year-olds? It turns out that middle-school-age students are also well-prepared to debate him on the NSA's programs as well. EFF congratulates students from two middle schools who took home top prizes in the C-SPAN StudentCam 2014 competition for young filmmakers with their documentaries on the debate over mass surveillance."]

---. "Stability and Surveillance." Locus (March 2015)

Electronic Frontier Foundation [Doctorow is a founding member: "EFF's mission is to ensure that technology supports freedom, justice, and innovation for all people of the world."]

Rebecca Giblin and Cory Doctorow. Chokepoint Capitalism: How Big Tech and Big Content Captured Creative Labor Markets and How We'll Win Them Back. Beacon Press, 2022. ["A call to action for the creative class and labor movement to rally against the power of Big Tech and Big Media. Corporate concentration has breached the stratosphere, as have corporate profits. An ever-expanding constellation of industries are now monopolies (where sellers have excessive power over buyers) or monopsonies (where buyers hold the whip hand over sellers)—or both. In Chokepoint Capitalism, scholar Rebecca Giblin and writer and activist Cory Doctorow argue we’re in a new era of “chokepoint capitalism,” with exploitative businesses creating insurmountable barriers to competition that enable them to capture value that should rightfully go to others. All workers are weakened by this, but the problem is especially well-illustrated by the plight of creative workers. From Amazon’s use of digital rights management and bundling to radically change the economics of book publishing, to Google and Facebook’s siphoning away of ad revenues from news media, and the Big Three record labels’ use of inordinately long contracts to up their own margins at the cost of artists, chokepoints are everywhere. By analyzing book publishing and news, live music and music streaming, screenwriting, radio and more, Giblin and Doctorow deftly show how powerful corporations construct “anti-competitive flywheels” designed to lock in users and suppliers, make their markets hostile to new entrants, and then force workers and suppliers to accept unfairly low prices. In the book’s second half, Giblin and Doctorow then explain how to batter through those chokepoints, with tools ranging from transparency rights to collective action and ownership, radical interoperability, contract terminations, job guarantees, and minimum wages for creative work. Chokepoint Capitalism is a call to workers of all sectors to unite to help smash these chokepoints and take back the power and profit that’s being heisted away—before it’s too late."]

Thursday, January 25, 2024

ENG 102 Spring 2024: Resources #5

Ahmari, Sohrab. Tyranny Inc.: How Private Power Crushed American Liberty--and What to Do About It. Crown Publishing Group, 2023. ["The inside story of how our political class enabled an era of unaccountable corporate might that left ordinary Americans isolated and powerless—and how we can fight back—from the acclaimed author of The Unbroken Thread Over the past two generations, U.S. leaders deregulated big business on the faith that it would yield a better economy and a freer society. But the opposite happened. Americans lost stable, well-paying jobs, Wall Street dominated industry to the detriment of the middle class and local communities, and corporations began to subject us to total surveillance, even dictating what we are, and aren’t, allowed to think. The corporate titans and mega-donors who aligned themselves with this vision knew exactly what they were getting: perfect conditions for what Sohrab Ahmari calls “private tyranny”. Drawing on original reporting and a growing chorus of experts who are sounding the alarm, Ahmari chronicles how private tyranny has eroded America’s productive economy and the liberties we take for granted—from employment agreements that gag whistleblowers, to Big Finance’s takeover of local fire departments, to the rigging of corporate bankruptcy to deny justice to workers and consumers—illuminating how these and other developments have left millions feeling that our livelihoods are insecure. And he shows how ordinary Americans can fight back, by restoring the economic democracy that empowered and uplifted millions of working-class people in the twentieth century. Provocative, original, and cutting across partisan lines, Tyranny, Inc. is a revelatory read on the most important political story of our time."] 

Auster, Paul. "Why Is America the Most Violent Country in the Western World?: On the Normalization of Gun Culture in the United States."  Lit Hub (January 18, 2023) ["Excerpted from Bloodbath Nation by Paul Auster and Spencer Ostrander." Book description: "An intimate and powerful rumination on American gun violence by Paul Auster, one of our greatest living writers and "genuine American original" (The Boston Globe), in an unforgettable collaboration with photographer Spencer Ostrander Like most American boys of his generation, Paul Auster grew up playing with toy six-shooters and mimicking the gun-slinging cowboys in B Westerns. A skilled marksman by the age of ten, he also lived through the traumatic aftermath of the murder of his grandfather by his grandmother when his father was a child and knows, through firsthand experience, how families can be wrecked by a single act of gun violence. In this short, searing book, Auster traces centuries of America's use and abuse of guns, from the violent displacement of the native population to the forced enslavement of millions, to the bitter divide between embattled gun control and anti-gun control camps that has developed over the past 50 years and the mass shootings that dominate the news today. Since 1968, more than one and a half million Americans have been killed by guns. The numbers are so large, so catastrophic, so disproportionate to what goes on elsewhere, that one must ask why. Why is America so different--and why are we the most violent country in the Western world? Interwoven with Spencer Ostrander's haunting photographs of the sites of more than thirty mass shootings in all parts of the country, Bloodbath Nation presents a succinct but thorough examination of America at a crossroads, and asks the central, burning question of our moment: What kind of society do we want to live in?"]

Chutkan, Robynne. "The Future of Probiotics." The Atlantic (December 12, 2013) ["Hippocrates said that all disease begins in the gut. A gastroenterologist's predictions on how new treatments will begin there, too."]

Cognard-Black, Jennifer and Melissa A. Goldthwaite, eds. Good Eats: 32 Writers on Eating Ethically. New York University Press, 2024. ["In an age of mass factory farming, processed and pre-packaged meals, and unprecedented food waste, how does one eat ethically? Featuring a highly diverse ensemble of award-winning writers, chefs, farmers, activists, educators, and journalists, Good Eats invites readers to think about what it means to eat according to individual and collective values. These essays are not lectures about what you should eat, nor an advertisement for the latest diet. Instead, the contributors tell stories of real people—real bellies, real bodies—including the writers themselves, who seek to understand the experiences, cultures, histories, and systems that have shaped their eating and their ethics. A wide array of themes, topics, and perspectives inform the selections within Good Eats, contributing to an enhanced understanding of how we eat as individuals and in groups. From factory farming and the exploitative labor practices surrounding chocolate production, to Indigenous foodways and home and community gardens, the topics featured in this collection describe the wider context of sustenance and ethical choices. Good Eats will encourage you to become more mindful of what and how you eat—and to consider the larger systems and cultures that shape that eating. These essays turn mundane meals into remarkable symbols of how we live, encouraging each of us to find food that is both sustaining and sustainable."]

Ford, Phil and J.F. Martel. "Long Live the New Flesh: On David Cronenberg's 'Videodrome.'" Weird Studies #157 (November 8, 2023) ["Death to Videodrome! Long live the New Flesh! It was perhaps inevitable that the modern Weird, driven as it is to swallow all things, would sooner or later veer into the realm of political sloganeering without losing any of its unknowable essence. David Cronenberg's 1983 film Videodrome is more than a masterwork of body horror: it is a study in technopolitics, a meditation on the complex weave of imagination and perception, and a prophecy of the now on-going coalescence of flesh and technology into a strange new alloy. In this episode, recorded live after a screening of the film at Indiana University Cinema in Bloomington, JF and Phil set out to interpret Cronenberg's vision... and come to dig the New Flesh."]

Holland, Tom and Dominic Sandbrook. "The Nazis in Power: Hitler's War on the Jews." The Rest is History (January 15, 2024) ["As Hitler ramps up the German war machine, he remains obsessed with one idea: uprooting Jews from the Reich. The Nazis embark on a campaign of totalitarian oppression against them, persecuting Jewish people in every aspect of life. They are excluded from most professions, forbidden from intermarrying, Jewish children are bullied and excluded from schools, all Jews have a “J” stamped in their passport, to name but a few measures. Worst of all, the brainwashing of the German people has become apparent, and many are willing participants in the various forms of persecution; plenty of German towns have put up signs by this point saying “Jews not wanted here”. Hitler may tone down the oppression to whitewash the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but this does not last. One terrifying truth is clear: he is fully set on the destruction of European Jewry. Join Tom and Dominic in the fifth part of our series on the Nazis in power, as they look at how the persecution of Jewish people in the Reich increased in the lead-up to the Second World War."]

Huberman, Andrew. "How to Prevent & Treat Colds & Flu." The Huberman Lab (January 8, 2024) ["In this episode, I explain the biology of the common cold and flu (influenza) and how the immune system combats these infections. I describe behavior, nutrition and supplementation-based tools supported by peer-reviewed research to enhance immune system function and better combat colds and flu. I also dispel common myths about how the cold and flu are transmitted and when you and those around you are contagious. I explain if common preventatives and treatments such as vitamin C, zinc, vitamin D and echinacea work. I also highlight other compounds known to reduce contracting and duration of colds and flu. I discuss how to use exercise and sauna to bolster the immune response. This episode will help listeners understand how to reduce the chances of catching a cold or flu and help people recover more quickly from and prevent the spread of colds and flu."]

Sanders, Seth. "Despite Conflation of Israel with Judaism, Anti-Zionism is More Kosher Than You Think."  Religion Dispatches (January 14, 2024) ["Like the Israeli government, Levy implies any charges against Israel as a nation-state are attacks on the Jewish people as a whole: that any anti-Zionism is antisemitic. So is the state of Israel actually the sole political representative of the Jews? Or, per the world’s largest Hasidic court, does Israel have no legitimate Jewish status at all? For Satmar authority Rabbi Shimon Israel Posen argued that Israel’s claim to legally represent Judaism is nothing less than “forging the signature of God.” And is the identification of the state of Israel with Judaism a political exaggeration? Is it, as Shaul Magid writes, “just another chapter in the narrative to make sure Jews in America don’t feel too safe, or too wanted, as Jews [because that] is not very good for Israel”? In Magid’s argument, automatic identification with Israel “gives American Jews, who have largely abandoned religion, a solid foundation of Jewish identity that requires very little effort.” Indeed, when the House of Representatives passed a GOP bill asserting all anti-Zionism was antisemitism they found a surprising opponent in Jerry Nadler (NY-12), the representative with the largest Jewish constituency in the country. Painfully alive to the problem of antisemitism, Nadler nonetheless described the bill as trying “to weaponize Jewish lives for political gains.” He ripped into the House claim as “either intellectually disingenuous or just factually wrong,” and argued that “the authors, if they were at all familiar with Jewish history and culture, should know about Jewish anti-Zionism that was, and is, expressly NOT antisemitic [because] even today, certain orthodox Hasidic Jewish communities…as well as adherents of the pre-state Jewish labor movement have held views that are at odds with the modern Zionist conception.”]

West, Stephen. "Rousseau pt. 2 - Democracy, Aristocracy or Monarchy?" Philosophize This! (January 1, 2015) ["On this episode of the podcast, we continue last week's thought experiment about creating a society from scratch on a deserted island. First, we find out how building a society is similar to making cupcakes, in the sense that every ingredient contributes something important and interacts with the other ingredients in a unique way. Next, we discuss “human nature” and consider how our perception of it may be unfairly influenced by a small handful of people. Finally, we compare the three categories into which Rousseau believes all governments can be classified (democracy, monarchy, and aristocracy), and analyze the pros and cons of each structure."]

---. "Rousseau pt. 3 - The General Will." Philosophize This! #47 (January 9, 2015) ["On this episode of the podcast, we continue our desert island thought experiment, this time focusing on the general will of the people. First, we examine several interpretations of what "the general will of the people" actually means. Next, we take an in-depth look at Rousseau's interpretation, and discuss the difference between democratic and transcendental will. Finally, we explore the multitude of complications that arise when a government tries to enact the general will after it's (somewhat) agreed upon."]

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Watching Until the End of the World: A reflection on my education and teaching

by Michael D. Benton

 As a community college accounting student (10th grade dropout) who could crunch numbers with the best of them, it was slowly dawning on me that I was bored to death by accounting. I was pursuing that degree because I was told I could make "good money" as an accountant. Three pivotal moments happened in the early 1990s that led to my changing track and eventually ending up becoming a Humanities professor.

One, I had this very subversive, St Louis University Jesuit (picture Friar Tuck) teaching my History of Religion course. He would enthrall me with lectures on the world's religions and hook me with the significance of the cultures/movement/heresies surrounding a particular religion (and he didn't stick to the big three). As he would finish he would place his hands on his big belly and roar with laughter, saying "that's if you believe that story" (the first time he did it was in regards to catholicism). He shaped and honed my interest in exploring narratives, not just fictional works, but just as importantly the fictions we use to create our realities/societies.

Two, I had an ENG 102 professor who insisted we choose our own topics and that we use at least one book. I had a very controlling and rigid ENG 101 professor who nearly stamped out my interest in research /argumentative writing (we actually were assigned in 101 to write on "abortion" pro or con... and you were going to have a difficult time if you chose the position that professor didn't like). With that prior experience in mind, I asked the 102 professor what he wanted me to write on. He kind of chuckled and said that was my first task. My initial task was to experience the joy of discovery. He insisted that he couldn't tell me what to be interested in and he wasn't going to tell me what to think. His job was to help me refine my ability to express myself and explain why/how I see the world the way I do. It is no overstatement to say that this was an unleashing of my intellect & spirit. I would walk into the library and just randomly start pulling books off shelves. I actually had a librarian come up to me because I was gasping at what I was learning and we ended up in a long discussion in which she coached me on thinking critically about cultures while avoiding the pitfalls of my own cultural assumptions.

Three, I took a film studies class. My understanding of film was limited to the popular Hollywood movies. Pre-internet, and not living in a major city that had art/repertory theaters or a burgeoning critic/cinephile scene, my info on film possibilities was very limited. One film in particular crushed me with the possibilities of cinema because it tapped into my fascination with interior SF, a lifelong love of road trips, dazzling me with its powerful imagery and one of the best soundtracks I have ever heard. Unfortunately, as I learned, even though this beautiful, powerful film was available, it was but a butchered example of the filmmaker's actual vision. Obviously this class and this film gave birth to my cinephilia, but it also impressed upon me the struggle of filmmakers in a capitalist system. More importantly, it opened me up to the broader context of understanding and interpreting art (or those narratives); that it is not just a cut-and-dried, one Highlander interpretation to-rule-them-all. I learned of the dialogic nature of narratives & art through this course. I developed an appreciation of seeing the world through a range of experiences and perspectives across time and space.

So this all came to me last night as I curled up to watch the restoration of that great film in its original 287 minute cut. I entered into this new viewing with a bit of trepidation, would it have the same effect on me or would I dismiss it as just a passing interest. This film in this restored cut is one of my all-time favorites:

Criterion restored 287 minute restoration:
"Conceived as the ultimate road movie, this decades-in-the-making science-fiction epic from Wim Wenders follows the restless Claire Tourneur (Solveig Dommartin) across continents as she pursues a mysterious stranger (William Hurt) in possession of a device that can make the blind see and bring dream images to waking life. With an eclectic soundtrack that gathers a host of the director’s favorite musicians, along with gorgeous cinematography by Robby Müller, this breathless adventure in the shadow of Armageddon takes its heroes to the ends of the earth and into the oneiric depths of their own souls. Presented here in its triumphant 287-minute director’s cut, Until the End of the World assumes its rightful place as Wenders’ magnum opus, a cosmic ode to the pleasures and perils of the image and a prescient meditation on cinema’s digital future."
Criterion page for the film and trailer

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Hannah Arendt: Philosophy/History/Critical Thinking (Shooting Azimuths)

"Arendt." Mondoweis (Ongoing archive of articles/debates/opinions about Hannah Arendt and her writings)

Arendt, Hannah. Arendt, Hannah. "Archive of Writings." New York Review of Books (Ongoing)

---. "Eichmann in Jerusalem." The New Yorker (February 8, 1963)

---. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Penguin, 2006. ["The controversial journalistic analysis of the mentality that fostered the Holocaust, from the author of The Origins of Totalitarianism. Sparking a flurry of heated debate, Hannah Arendt’s authoritative and stunning report on the trial of German Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann first appeared as a series of articles in The New Yorker in 1963. This revised edition includes material that came to light after the trial, as well as Arendt’s postscript directly addressing the controversy that arose over her account. A major journalistic triumph by an intellectual of singular influence, Eichmann in Jerusalem is as shocking as it is informative—an unflinching look at one of the most unsettling (and unsettled) issues of the twentieth century."]

---. The Human Condition. University of Chicago Press, 2019. ["The past year has seen a resurgence of interest in the political thinker Hannah Arendt, “the theorist of beginnings,” whose work probes the logics underlying unexpected transformations—from totalitarianism to revolution. A work of striking originality, The Human Condition is in many respects more relevant now than when it first appeared in 1958. In her study of the state of modern humanity, Hannah Arendt considers humankind from the perspective of the actions of which it is capable. The problems Arendt identified then—diminishing human agency and political freedom, the paradox that as human powers increase through technological and humanistic inquiry, we are less equipped to control the consequences of our actions—continue to confront us today."]

---.The Origins of Totalitarianism. Meridian Books, 1962. ["How could such a book speak so powerfully to our present moment? The short answer is that we, too, live in dark times, even if they are different and perhaps less dark, and "Origins" raises a set of fundamental questions about how tyranny can arise and the dangerous forms of inhumanity to which it can lead." Jeffrey C. Isaac, The Washington Post. Hannah Arendt's definitive work on totalitarianism and an essential component of any study of twentieth-century political history. The Origins of Totalitarianism begins with the rise of anti-Semitism in central and western Europe in the 1800s and continues with an examination of European colonial imperialism from 1884 to the outbreak of World War I. Arendt explores the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, focusing on the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in our time--Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia--which she adroitly recognizes were two sides of the same coin, rather than opposing philosophies of Right and Left. From this vantage point, she discusses the evolution of classes into masses, the role of propaganda in dealing with the nontotalitarian world, the use of terror, and the nature of isolation and loneliness as preconditions for total domination."]

---. Thinking Without a Banister: Essays in Understanding 1953 - 1975. ed. Jerome Kohn. Schocken Books, 2018. ["There's this other thing, which Draenos brought up ... "groundless thinking." I have a metaphor which is not quite that cruel, and which I have never published but kept for myself. I call it thinking without a banister--in German, Denken ohne Geländer. That is, as you go up and down the stairs you can always hang on to the banister so that you don't fall down, but we have lost the banister. That is the way I tell it to myself. And this is indeed what I try to do.": v.] 

Atwood, Margaret, Roger Berkowitz and Sally Parry. "From Hannah Arendt to The Handmaid's Tale." The Sunday Edition (May 7, 2017)

"Banality of Evil - Hannah Arendt on Film." DW (December 21, 2012)

Berkowitz, Roger. "Lonely Thinking: Hannah Arendt on Film." The Paris Review (May 30, 2013)

---. "Misreading ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem’." Opinionator (July 7, 2013)

Berkowitz, Roger, et al. "The Human Factor - Hannah Arendt." Ideas (June 26, 2016) ["Hannah Arendt's best-known work, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil was based on her reporting for The New Yorker magazine about the trial of Adolph Eichmann. The book made her both famous and infamous. Eichmann had been one of the principal architects of the Nazi holocaust against the Jews, in which six million people died. Captured in Argentina after the war and brought to Israel, the spectacle of Eichmann on trial riveted the world."]

Butler, Judith. "Hannah Arendt's challenge to Adolf Eichmann: In her treatise on the banality of evil, Arendt demanded a rethink of established ideas about moral responsibility." The Guardian (August 29, 2011)

Dean, Michelle. "The Formidable Friendship of Mary McCarthy and Hannah Arendt." The New Yorker (June 2013)

d'Entreves, Maurizio Passerin. "Hannah Arendt." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Last revised August 14, 2014)

Ellis, Marc H. "Exile and the Prophetic: Arendt vs. Wiesel at the crossroads of Jewish empire consciousness." Mondoweiss (June 12, 2013)

---. "Hannah Arendt is a love letter, eulogy and elegy to the prophetic voice." Mondoweiss (June 10, 2013)

Garrett, Daniel. "Innocent Laughter, Intellectual Legacy: Margarethe von Trotta’s film Hannah Arendt." Offscreen 20.8 (September 2016)

Hill, Samantha Rose. "Crises in Academia Today." Medium (September 21, 2018)

---. Hannah Arendt. Reaktion Books, 2021. ["Hannah Arendt is one of the most renowned political thinkers of the twentieth century, and her work has never been more relevant than it is today. Born in Germany in 1906, Arendt published her first book at the age of twenty-three, before turning away from the world of academic philosophy to reckon with the rise of the Third Reich. After World War II, Arendt became one of the most prominent—and controversial—public intellectuals of her time, publishing influential works such as The Origins of Totalitarianism, The Human Condition, and Eichmann in Jerusalem. Samantha Rose Hill weaves together new biographical detail, archival documents, poems, and correspondence to reveal a woman whose passion for the life of the mind was nourished by her love of the world."]

---. "Where Loneliness Can Lead." Aeon (October 16, 2020)  [MB Comments: In thinking about the dangers of our current "loneliness" epidemic in America, we must consider that loneliness is not actually a state of being alone (hiking in a forest, reading a book, working on a project), it is instead a continuous state/sense of detachment or isolation in the midst of others or a community. This is important to consider when reflecting on violent terror enacted by the latest mass shooter (and countless others from various ideological perspectives), but also in regards to the blind allegiance to our party lines or identity allegiances in which all that matters is that "our" team wins, even if it destroys our lives/community/country/world. Arendt uses the word "totalitarianism," but I find, for this moment, that "authoritarianism" is a more useful word. In the desperation of their loneliness people cede the ability to think (and act) to a governing force and silence the important ongoing dialogue within themselves, driving out any considerations of contradictions or recognition of the plurality of the world. This is a high price to pay for the false promise of peace of mind.]

Hoberman, J. "Hannah Arendt: Guilty Pleasure." Tablet (May 24, 2013)

Illing, Sean. "The philosopher who warned us about loneliness and totalitarianism." Vox (May 8, 2022) 

Jones, Kathleen B. "The Idea of a Common World: Ada Ushpiz’s Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt." The Los Angeles Review of Books (April 29, 2016)

Lilla, Mark. "Arendt & Eichmann: The New Truth." New York Review of Books (November 21, 2013)

The Living Dead (BBC: Adam Curtis, 1995: Three 60 minute episodes) [Michael Benton: While watching Adam Curtis' BBC documentary 'The Living Dead' (the first episode "On the Desperate Edge of Now") I was struck by its revelations in regard to Arendt's writings about Eichmann. This episode is partially about the 1945/1946 Nuremberg Trials of the NAZI leaders captured at the end of the war. It examines how these trials were used to obfuscate the realities of the NAZI rise to power and their motivations for war (and in turn the Allies motivations/actions). In particular when Hermann Göring testified about the NAZI rise to power and drive to war. It made the victorious forces nervous - the realities of how you motivate and control the masses cut too deep into their (the victors) own machinations. In response, they turned this show trial into a tale of the evil NAZI monsters, going so far as to silence/suppress the testimony of the accused. In this way they rewrote the war, making it into a fairy tale of the righteous victors and vanquished evil monsters (keep in mind this was a war of imperial powers struggling to control the world). Equally important it examines the cost of this move to repress the difficult realities for a more easily controled fantasy narrative. The repression within German society would erupt in the 1960s into a full scale cultural/social war as a new generation wanted to know why, how and whom. Hannah Arendt would have known well the events of the Nuremberg Trial and remember how this demonization process worked out. Keep in mind, the trial was not intended to mislead those that experienced the war, instead it was used to rewrite the war for future generations. Arendt knew that painting a picture of monstrous evil blots out the realities of human action - individual and collective. She knew it would do little to bring understanding ... something she valued intensely.

Marshall, Colin. "Hannah Arendt’s Original Articles on 'the Banality of Evil' in the New Yorker Archive." Open Culture (January 16, 2013)

Rich, Jamie S. "Hannah Arendt - Criterion Channel." Criterion Confessions (December 23, 2020)

Said, Hammad. "Relevance of Hannah Arendt’s 'A Report On The Banality Of Evil' To Gaza." Counterpunch (July 28, 2014)

Scott, A.O. "How It Looks to Think: Watch Her." The New York Times (May 28, 2013)

Sissenich, Beate. "Hannah Arendt Biopic Offers Rare Onscreen View of Political Philosophy: Movie Paints Vivid Picture of German-Jewish Émigrés." The Forward (May 26, 2013)

Song, C.S. "Hannah Arendt's Life and Ideas." Against the Grain (May 15, 2017)

Stonebridge, Lyndsey. "Thinking and Friendship in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt for Now." On Being (May 18, 2017) ["Along with George Orwell, the 20th-century political theorist Hannah Arendt is a new bestseller. She famously coined the phrase “the banality of evil” and wrote towering works like The Origins of Totalitarianism. She was concerned with the human essence of events that we analyze as historical and political. Totalitarianism she described as “organized loneliness,” and loneliness as the “common ground for terror.” The historian, she said, always knows how vulnerable facts are. And thinking is not something for elites; it is the human power to keep possibility alive."]

Sukowa, Barbara and Margarethe von Trotta. "Hannah Arendt Revisits Fiery Debate over German-Jewish Theorist’s Coverage of Eichmann Trial." Democracy Now (November 26, 2013)

Tubali, Shai.  "Hannah Arendt and the Human Duty to Think." Philosophy Now #125 (2018) ["Many complain nowadays that their thinking is too active. What they mean is they feel that their brain is chattering with itself too much; that there are too many thoughts of worry and distress, frustration and struggle, going on in their mind. They then try to quieten their stormy over-thinking through different methods of meditation or relaxation. Indeed, quietude in one’s mind, especially when life’s challenges are unbearably intense, sounds a very nice state to be in. However, Arendt’s reflections tell us the very opposite: that our thinking is often not active enough – that people tend to shut down the activity of right thinking and judging. In light of Arendt’s own thinking, it becomes clear that most of the time we are not really actively thinking, we are daydreaming. Daydreaming may be intense at times, yet it does not help us develop a thinking which leads us to wakefully engage with the world. Thinking as an act of gathering one’s mental forces in order to understand or to realize something for oneself, is a relatively rare phenomenon in peoples’ lives. Interestingly, recent research affirms this criticism of human thinking. As research into cognitive bias informs us, the human brain does not really like to think. In fact, most of the time it puts itself in a mode of energy preservation. Most of the time, when things are relaxed, the brain/mind shifts to an ‘automatic pilot’ mode, a state of reaction without much creative thinking. We undergo the mental strain of reflective thought only when we don’t have a choice – for example, when confronting new difficult tasks at the office or facing acute and demanding challenges elsewhere. The brain’s natural effort is dedicated to maintaining an effortless state. Moreover, for the brain, the privilege of ‘being lazy’ implies much more: it means there is no threat, that everything is going well. That is why cognitive ease is associated with good mood and good feeling, and intense thinking with crisis. Things become more complicated when we realize that cognitive ease is also associated with truthfulness, and that our telling right from wrong is too often guided by the hidden wish of the brain not to think too much about things. According to research, most of our judgments are made by the brain’s lazy system of reactive thinking, not at all by our capacity to deeply engage in consideration and thoughtful observation. Therefore the brain’s default position is that an easy answer is also a true answer, and that a quick judgment is a right judgment."]

Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt (Israel/Canada/Germany: Ada Ushpiz, 2015) ["A documentary about the life and work of Hannah Arendt, the prolific and unclassifiable thinker, political theorist, moral philosopher and polemicist, and her encounter with the trial of Adolf Eichmann, a high-ranking NAZI."]

West, Stephen. "Hannah Arendt - The Banality of Evil." Philosophize This! #136 (November 2, 2019) ["To not be engaged in the “active life” is a mistake to Hannah Arendt. But she’d want us to understand that not living the “active life” can take on many different forms. You could surrender your responsibility to think, fall into an identity given to you by someone else, the mistake made by people like Adolf Eichmann. But you could just as easily become an accessory to evil being carried out in the world by sitting around, thinking about stuff all day, like so many traditional philosophers have done in the past. This is why she doesn’t want to be thought of as a political philosopher, because so many philosophers she’s seen lead by the example of sitting quietly in an academic institution, theorizing about abstract concepts all day long, but never taking action on anything. She’d want us to realize that this “contemplative lifestyle” has real consequences in the world. You can’t innocently and benignly theorize about things by yourself and just expect things to end there. The sad reality of living the contemplative life is that this passive, inactive approach almost always leads to your ideas being coopted and used by people that are actually engaging in the “active life.” Philosophy and politics will always be closely connected to each other, and to deny that fact is to be willfully complacent so that you can sit in a tower alone where it’s safe. Safe at least for now, she would say."]

Children of Men (Japan/UK/USA: Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)

Watching Children of Men, we are inevitably reminded of the phrase attributed to Fredric Jameson and Slavoj Žižek, that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of capitalism. - Mark Fisher (see below)

Children of Men (Japan/UK/USA: Alfonso Cuarón, 2006: 109 mins)

"Alfonso Cuarón (Ongoing Filmmaker Archive)." Dialogic Cinephilia  (Ongoing Archive)

Baishya, Anirban Kapil. "Trauma, Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction & the Post-Human." Wide Screen 3.1 (June 2011)

Booker, M. Keith. "CHILDREN OF MEN (2006, Directed by Alfonso Cuarón)." Comments on Culture (ND)

Boyle, Kirk. "Children of Men and I Am Legend: the disaster-capitalism complex hits Hollywood." Jump Cut #51 (Spring 2009)

Chaudhuri, Shohini. "Unpeople: Postcolonial Reflections on Terror, Torture and Detention in Children of Men." Postcolonial Cinema Studies. ed. Sandra Ponzanesi & Marguerite Waller. NY: Routledge, 2012: 191-204. [Available in BCTC Library PN1995.9 P6 P68 2012]

Fisher, Mark. Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? Zero Books, 2009.

Hardy, Robert. "Renowned Gaffer John Higgins Reveals Secrets Behind Lighting Some of Hollywood's Biggest Films." No Film School (November 12, 2013)

Jacobson, Gavin. "Why Children of Men haunts the present moment." New Statesman (July 22, 2020)
["How Alfonso Cuarón’s 2006 dystopian masterpiece became the cultural exemplum of apocalypse, and a cardinal citation in the time of coronavirus."]

Kunkel, Benjamin. "Dystopia and the End of Politics." Dissent (Fall 2008)

Macura-Nnambdi, Ewa. "Refugees, Extinction, and the Regulation of Death in Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men." Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry (November 1, 2022) 

Ogrodnik, Ben. "Focalisation Realism and Narrative Asymmetry in Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men." Senses of Cinema #71 (June 2014)

Price, David H. "Governing Fear in the Iron Cage of Rationalism: Terry Gilliam's Brazil Through the 9/11 Looking Glass." Reframing 9/11: Film, Popular Culture and the "War on Terror." ed. Jeff Birkenstein, et al. NY: Continuum, 2010: 167-182. [Copy in BCTC Library]

Puschak, Evan. "Children of Men: Don't Ignore the Background." (Posted on Youtube: September 9, 2015) [MB: This was a powerful film that looked to the future to examine the global politics of 2006 when it was released (highlighted even more by the collection of philosophers/theorists that provided commentaries on the imagery/narrative in the original DVD edition), and, as Evan Puschak demonstrates in this video essay, its relevance has only increased over the next decade. This analysis includes references to our current social/political issues to demonstrate its continuing relevance.  Don't ignore the background (context) - could be applicable in our own attempts to understand the issues of the world.]

Riesman, Abraham. "The Vulture Transcript: Alfonso Cuarón on Children of Men." Vulture (January 6, 2017)

Rodriquez-Cuervo, Ana Yamel. "Are We Living in the Dawning of Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men." Tribeca (November 30, 2015)

Schwartzman, Sarah. "Children of Men and a Plural Messianism." Journal of Religion & Film 13.1 (April 2009)

Friday, January 19, 2024

The Book of Symbols: Eclipse

Excerpted from The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images. (ed. by Kathleen Martin. Taschen, 2010: 32.)

     Eerily beautiful sign of conjunction, a single spot of photospheric light shining through a gap on the moon's edge, or limb, appears "as a brilliant gem set on a band of ghostly, subdued coronal light," the so-called "diamond ring effect" (Mechler, 112). It occurs in a total solar eclipse second before the moon overlies the entire surface of the sun, casting the earth into untimely nightfall. 

    For our prescientific ancestors who feared the permanent extinction of the sun's vital light, the less than eight minutes spent in the 2,000 mph path of the umbra (shadow) of a total solar eclipse must have felt like an interminable time before the sun's seemingly miraculous reappearance. The wonder of the eclipse is that the apparent size of the sun and moon are nearly identical. This caused by the fact that the sun's diameter is 400 times greater than the moon's and at the same time 400 times more distant. The chance capacity of the moon to eclipse the sun's glowing core while revealing its fiery corona is considered by modern astronomers - who routinely view jeweled nebulae and the birth of stars - as one of the most sublime sights a human can witness. Traditional cultures everywhere, however, typically perceived the sun to be enshrouded by demonic forces as the midday breezes seized, temperatures dropped and birds began to roost. The entire village would gather to banish the baleful effects by shooting arrows at the malign spirits, frightening them off with drums or torchlight, sacrificing humpbacks or dwarfs or bury lamps underground in imitative magic.

    Eclipse, from the Greek ekleipsis, means abandonment, falling, cessation, omission or flaw. Solar eclipses happen when a dark or new moon, often mythically portrayed as inauspicious or dangerous because hidden, passes in front of the sun. A solar eclipse was experienced as the abandonment of the earth by the "omission" of its emblem of creation, life, warmth, light and consciousness. Out of time, darkness reigns, however briefly, associating eclipse with ominous possibilities - plague, earthquake, apocalypse, the death of a ruler or a savior. In partial eclipses, the planes of the orbits of the sun and moon are not perfectly aligned, and the moon cuts into only a portion of the sun's body, deforming it. Many peoples imagined an eclipse of the sun as a wounding or devouring of the solar principle by cosmic snake, jaguar, demon or dragon, forces of the night, dark and chthonic; in China, the ideogram for eclipse and eat (ch 'u) are identical. Others portrayed eclipse as pursuit and incestuous coitus between divine siblings. Alchemy represented solar eclipse as the descent of Sol into the lunar "fountain," or an encompassing of the masculine by the feminine -  Osiris by Isis, Christ by the Virgin Mary. Such images combined the themes of union, dissolution, deathly marriages or the "dead balance" of opposites canceling each other out. Yet it also portended the possibility of rebirth in the psychic matrix, or out of the symbolic coitus, the conception of a new spirit of double nature, solar and lunar.

    Eclipse means that the ordinary lights on which we depend are temporarily quenched. Nightly, sleep eclipses our waking awareness, which sinks exhausted into the liquid realm of dreams. More afflicting, the light of nature within ourselves can be eclipsed by affects, moods, traumas, and compulsions. Eclipse conveys the idea of the ego being overshadowed by the unconscious or the ego itself blocking the essential source of illumination. But while life can be eclipsed in many ways, the symbolism and science of celestial eclipse attest to a provisional extinguishing of the light, inevitably followed by its welcome resurgence. 

[Author cited: Mechler, Gary, et al. The Sun and the Moon. NY, 1995.] 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

The Creator (USA: Gareth Edwards, 2023)

 The Creator (USA: Gareth Edwards, 2023: 134 mins)

"The Creator: Fiction from Fact." American Society of Cinematographers (November 16, 2023) ["Director Gareth Edwards had an unusual brief for the visual-effects team on The Creator: Their work would have to mesh with a freewheeling, pseudo-documentary shooting style."]

Fraser, Greig and Oren Soffer. "ASC Master Class — In-Depth on The Creator." The American Society of Cinematographers (January 9, 2024) ["This video was part of the ASC Master Class online session held in 2023. Here, co-cinematographers Greig Fraser, ASC, ACS and Oren Soffer discuss their unique production approach to this imaginative tale, directed by Gareth Edwards."]

Holben, Jay. "The Creator: Hope for the Future." The American Society of Cinematographers (November 2, 2023) 


ENG 102 Spring 2024: Resources Archive #4

Although it may have been possible in the past to seriously take the materialist position to explain the function and meaning of human life and society on a physical material basis, it is no longer possible to do so. Nowadays we need other viewpoints: we must develop our spiritual existence and finally ask ourselves what the meaning of life is. Because if one says that life develops according to material laws, it means that life has no meaning. No one who thinks about it even a little can agree that life is meaningless.
When it is said, for example, "No, your life isn't meaningless when you sacrifice yourself in order that future generations can live better" - that is absurd and insincere because it means that the human beings who sacrifice themselves physically have no right to live for a higher objective. To sacrifice oneself for another is wonderful, but its not enough; its more important to develop spiritually than to become fodder for future generations. - Tarkovsky, Andrei. From an interview with Nathan Federovsky in What is Happening in the Anthroposophical Society (July/August 1985)
We understand the encoding of genetic sequences, the folding of proteins to construct the cells of the body, and even a good deal about how epigenetic switches control these processes. And yet we still do not understand what happens when we read a sentence. Meaning is not neuronal calculus in the brain, of the careful smudges of ink on a page, or the areas of light and dark on a screen. Meaning has no mass or charge. It occupies no space - and yet meaning makes a difference in the world. -- Dr. Ha Nguyen in Ray Nayler's The Mountain in the Sea (2022)

Allen, Danielle, et al. "What is Education For?" Boston Review (May 9, 2016) ["In 2006 the highest court in New York affirmed that students in the state have a right to civic education. It was a decision thirteen years in the making, and it spoke to a fundamental question: What is an education for? Lawyers representing the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE), which brought suit, argued that the purpose of education is to develop not only vocational capacities, but also civic agency. Students, in other words, are entitled to learn in public schools the “basic literacy, calculating, and verbal skills necessary to enable children to eventually function productively as civic participants capable of voting and serving on a jury.”"]

Baldwin, James, et al. "I Am Not Your Negro." Making Contact (November 8, 2017) ["Master filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished, Remember This House. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and flood of rich archival material. I Am Not Your Negro is a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter. It is a film that questions black representation in Hollywood and beyond. And, ultimately, by confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassination of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., Baldwin and Peck have produced a work that challenges the very definition of what America stands for."]

Jackson, Matthew O. "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviors (Vintage 2019)." New Books in Economics (January 5, 2024) ["Social networks existed and shaped our lives long before Silicon Valley startups made them virtual. For over two decades economist Matthew O. Jackson, a professor at Stanford University, has studied how the shape of networks and our positions within them can affect us. In The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviors (Vintage, 2019), he explains how network structures can create poverty traps, exacerbate financial crises, and contribute to political polarization. He also explains how a new awareness of the role of networks has been used to improve financial regulation, promote public health knowledge, and guide vaccination strategy. Jackson also discusses how he first began to study networks, previously neglected by economists, and how economists can both learn from and contribute to the exciting cross-disciplinary dialogue among researchers from sociology, math, physics, and other fields. Professor Jackson's website provides free access to the chapter on contagion, of particular interest in this time of pandemic. For those who want to learn even more than the book can cover, he offers a free online course on the topic."]

Marquis, Moira. "Censoring Imagination: Why Prisons Ban Fantasy and Science Fiction." Lit Hub (December 7, 2023) ["Which is why it’s especially cruel that U.S. prisons ban magical literature. As PEN America’s new report Reading Between the Bars shows, books banned in prisons by some states dwarf all other book censorship in school and public libraries. Prison censorship robs those behind bars of everything from exercise and health to art and even yoga, often for reasons that strain credulity. The strangest category of bans however, are the ones on magical and fantastical literature."]

McReynolds, Leigha. "Eugenics and the Human/Animal Divide in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3." Tor (September 19, 2023) ["American culture is shaped by eugenic systems of measuring people and assessing their relative value. Prominent examples include the quantification and testing of intelligence through the intelligence quotient (IQ); use of the body mass index (BMI) to assess the health of individuals; and the SAT. From the vantage point of 2023, all of these have been rightfully criticized and are in the process of losing some of their power, but they are still widespread ways of judging individuals’ worth in comparison to others. Even things that we can generally agree are of huge value can be rooted in eugenics—the history of modern contraception has been intertwined with eugenic goals and legacies. In addition to the “old eugenics” policies like sterilization, the development of genetic technology is shadowed by “new eugenics”: the desire to “improve” individuals through genetic and reproductive technology. While this includes beneficial interventions, like eliminating diseases, including sickle cell anemia, it includes more controversial possibilities, like eliminating deafness, which would also destroy a culture. While most of us agree that people should have access to IVF to address infertility and genetic diseases, there’s convincing evidence that widespread IVF usage would lead to a disproportionate number of male offspring. As genetic technology is currently developing at an astonishing rate, the potential harm of new eugenic practices is significant and under-appreciated. If we cannot label eugenics for what it is, if we don’t know its history, if we let such actions fall under the category of “nature” or “evolution” or “progress” then we are complicit. If we decide to let parents choose their children’s genetic traits—a possibility imagined to its fullest extent in the 1997 movie Gattaca —then we need to be willing to admit that there are traits that we are not choosing, and that our choices are products of cultural context and are often grounded in bias."]

Rogers, Steven. "Accountability in State Legislatures (University of Chicago Press, 2023)." New Books in Political Science (January 8, 2024) ["Political Scientist Steven Rogers’ new book focuses on the deceptively complex question of how it is that voters do or don’t/can and can’t hold their elected state representatives accountable. Rogers takes his jumping off point from the basic understanding of the relationship between the voter and their elected representatives: namely that the election process will, in some way, act as a means of making the elected official in state government accountable to the voters, who cast their ballots for or in opposition to that elected representative. State house elected officials across the United States are, indeed, closer in proximity to the people they are elected to represent and govern; and the legislation and regulations passed by state legislators generally impact us more directly and more frequently than do national-level laws, regulations, or decisions. And while there is a of literature focusing on state and local politics, the unique approach of Rogers’ research focuses specifically on the state legislatures, how the elites and voters act in elections, and if we can actually see accountability demonstrated in these interactions and connections."]

West, Stephen. "Should we overthrow the government tomorrow? - Anarchism pt. 1 (Chomsky, Malatesta)." Philosophize This #192 (December 27, 2023) ["Today we talk about some common misconceptions about Anarchism, the weaknesses of traditional government structures, a possible alternative way of cooperating and whether or not the government is the hierarchy we should be focusing on."]

Yazdiha, Hajar. "The Struggle for the People’s King: How Politics Transforms the Memory of the Civil Rights Movement (Princeton University Press, 2023)." Princeton UP Ideas Podcast (January 12, 2024) ["In the post-civil rights era, wide-ranging groups have made civil rights claims that echo those made by Black civil rights activists of the 1960s, from people with disabilities to women's rights activists and LGBTQ coalitions. Increasingly since the 1980s, white, right-wing social movements, from family values coalitions to the alt-right, now claim the collective memory of civil rights to portray themselves as the newly oppressed minorities. The Struggle for the People’s King: How Politics Transforms the Memory of the Civil Rights Movement (Princeton UP, 2023) reveals how, as these powerful groups remake collective memory toward competing political ends, they generate offshoots of remembrance that distort history and threaten the very foundations of multicultural democracy. In the revisionist memories of white conservatives, gun rights activists are the new Rosa Parks, antiabortion activists are freedom riders, and antigay groups are the defenders of Martin Luther King's Christian vision. Drawing on a wealth of evidence ranging from newspaper articles and organizational documents to television transcripts, press releases, and focus groups, Hajar Yazdiha documents the consequential reimagining of the civil rights movement in American political culture from 1980 to today. She shows how the public memory of King and civil rights has transformed into a vacated, sanitized collective memory that evades social reality and perpetuates racial inequality. Powerful and persuasive, The Struggle for the People's King demonstrates that these oppositional uses of memory fracture our collective understanding of who we are, how we got here, and where we go next."]

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Poor Things (Ireland/UK/USA: Yorgos Lanthimos, 2023)

Poor Things (Ireland/UK/USA: Yorgos Lanthimos, 2023: 141 mins)

Burn, Johnnie, et al. "Yorgos Lanthimos, Tony McNamara, and the Creative Team of Poor Things." Film At Lincoln Center #503 (December 8, 2023) 

Fendrix, Jerskin, et al. "Yorgos Lanthimos & Team on Poor Things." Film at Lincoln Center #481 (October 1, 2023) ["We were happy to have director Yorgos Lanthimos back at the New York Film Festival to discuss Poor Things, a Main Slate selection of this year’s festival, as well as cinematographer Robbie Ryan, costume designer Holly Waddington, composer Jerskin Fendrix, and production designers James Price & Shona Heath, with NYFF programmer Rachel Rosen. In his boldest vision yet, iconoclast auteur Yorgos Lanthimos, previously featured in NYFF with The Lobster (NYFF57) and The Favourite (NYFF56), creates an outlandish alternate 19th century on the cusp of technological breakthrough, in which a peculiar, childlike woman named Bella (Emma Stone) lives with her mysterious caretaker, the scientist and surgeon Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe). At once poignant and grotesque, Poor Things, based on a 1992 novel by Alasdair Gray, is a punkish update of the Frankenstein story that becomes a deeply feminist fairy tale about women taking back control of their own bodies and minds. A Searchlight Pictures release."]

Kadner, Noah. "LED Wall Evokes Early-Cinema Effects for Poor Things." The American Society of Cinematographers (January 15, 2024) ["Most scenes in Yorgos Lanthimos’ highly stylized dark comedy Poor Things were shot on traditional sets, but key portions of the steamship journey that Bella (Emma Stone) embarks on with Duncan (Mark Ruffalo) called for virtual production on an LED volume — a first for both Lanthimos and cinematographer Robbie Ryan, BSC, ISC. "]

Marcks, Iain. "Life Anew: Poor Things." The American Society of Cinematographers (January 11, 2024) ["Robbie Ryan, BSC, ISC and director Yorgos Lanthimos maintain their intuitive methodology on a grand-scale production."]

Vicino, Mia Lee. "Beauty and Brains: Yorgos Lanthimos, Emma Stone, Ramy Youssef and Tony McNamara dissect the body world of Poor Things." Letterboxd Journal (December 12, 2023) ["The mad geniuses behind Poor Things—stars Emma Stone and Ramy Youssef, director Yorgos Lanthimos and writer Tony McNamara—talk to Mia Lee Vicino about the literal anatomy of their Buñuel-inspired fantasy and why surgery is (and isn’t) the new sex."]