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2013.02.17: Great album. Deeply flawed movie.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Purple Rain.

The remains of Ms. S.'s red grapes now rest under low heat in the oven as they turn to raisins. I should turn them.


I.

Saturday afternoon/evening it was, first, "Weeds", a first season episode of 'Millennium'. We got the return of C. C. H. Pounder, which was nice, and except for Lance Henriksen the rest of the Millennium Group was not to be found. We found ourselves, instead, in a gated community; the metaphors were heavy-handed, but it was, more or less, effective as a kind of morality tale, though very 90s in its tone and touch.

We followed it up with "El Mundo Gira", the Chupacabra episode of 'The X-Files'. It's problematic. It's sloppy and heavy-handed with its social criticism, but in a way it's a cross between Teso Dos Bichos" (same writer?) and "José Chung's 'From Outer Space'". What do I mean by that? It has the blunt social commentary of the former (that doesn't really work) and plot and production that's unbalanced, with a bit of the whimsical self-referentiality of the latter, which also sidelines Mulder and Scully a great deal. Here we have Erik Estrada references and plays on plotting from Mexican soap operas. We also have a play on myth-making, beginning with the framing device to the entire episode, Maria's mother's tale to the community; midway through it is suggested that Mulder's alien fascination is (just) another kind of myth-making; and toward the end the cousin provides another take on the events, also spinning them for a purpose (demonstrating all these myth-making endeavors as having agendas). On the one hand there's something liberating about this, but the artistry is crude here and comes across as too artificial, as artifice.

Then we had the most recent episode of 'Top Chef'; I followed it up today with 'Last Chance Kitchen', but they withheld the winner from us until the actual finale. We followed up TC with 'Elementary', which was a fun episode, a little less obvious than some, and well-paced. Then, of course, you realize who got a name and a few lines early in the episode ... and voila! It's her! And it all 'makes sense' in a sense.

Once Ms. S. went to work I watched the first half of "Hudson Hawk" ... which is a frankensteinian mixture of the best and worst movies ever. It should be my new favorite ... it really should. But the pacing is a bit slow at times. It's such a live-action cartoon.

Lucky for me, Nathan Rabin covered it as entry #67 in 'My Year of Flop's (Sept., 2007) www.avclub.com/articles/
my-year-of-flops-case-file
-67-hudson-hawk,10670/
. He labeled it a Failure; it is clearly not a Secret Success ... but I'd been hoping it could reach the level of Fiasco. It just needs a little ... push.


II.

My current fascination is with teardrop trailers. See also:

[1] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Te
ardrop_trailer


[2] jalopnik.com/5927898/how
-to-build-a-teardrop-trail
er-for-two


[3] tinycamper.com/

[4] www.golittleguy.com/tear
drops/


Compare and contrast with the Airstream, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ai
rstream


Best thing ever, though? Attaching a trailer to a VW Bug: The Volkswagon Beetle Mini-Camper from the 70s: www.youtube.com/watch?v=
3sHmDxwZlXQ


Bonus YouTubeage: "What are years ... and the galactic supermassive black hole!" www.youtube.com/watch?v=
53glKEPzElA



III.

Today will probably be "Leonard Betts", a well done, creepy, and important episode of 'The X-Files' (spoiler: cancer for Scully!). As for 'Millennium', we get "Loin Like a Hunting Flame", which evidently got particularly negative reviews.

Can't win them all.

I had Sunday Brunch Prompt writing today and felt inspired by the Airstream and teardrop shaped trailers; it fit with an ongoing topic in the piece I'm working on. Tying into the second part on that piece as well as a recent diary is my ongoing revived interest in the 'organic'.

Not organic in terms of organic vs. conventional farming. Organic vs. or similar to 'natural'. Or organic vs. inorganic chemistry. But rather a slightly older notion (from which the others derive) in philosophy -- and related to the emerging field of biology in the 18th century -- about organisms.

In short we have, as related and restated recently, Newtonian mechanics on the one hand (physics and metaphysics, ontology and epistemology, what we know and what is; the weak and strong versions of materialism/naturalism) and practical philosophy, especially ethics, on the other. That is, we have, in Humean terms (and restated a century and a half later by G. E. Moore) the is-ought divide. This divide is embedded, in a sense, in the mature work of Immanuel Kant, especially in the twin pillars of his Critical Period, the 1st and 2nd Critiques (of Pure and Practical Reason, respectively). But more importantly and interestingly Kant continues later with his 3rd Critique, that of (the Power of) Judgment, which is not just a third Critique, but rather a bridge between the other two. Its two halves deal with aesthetics and teleology (as embodied primarily in art and nature, respectively), and neither art nor nature (mainly as biology) had such well-developed subject fields around them as did (meta)physics (1st Critique) and ethics (2nd Critique). Kant can only dance around art and biology and suggest but not actually fully analyze these two as fields. Arguably the aesthetic remains a liminal or boundary phenomenon, or, rather, something integral yet ephemeral to our existence as social beings, something that is part of being human, and something we can never truly reduce or instrumentalize; the biological, however, has succumbed in the intervening couple hundred years to all sorts of scientific rigor and now the organic serves as more than just a poetic model or alternative.

But Kant is not what set me on this path, especially not years ago. Instead it was Douglas Hofstadter in two works, his first and las, one might say; "Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid", a Pulitzer Prize winning work of non-fiction that burst the bounds of its supposed genre, and "I Am a Strange Loop", a work that both loops back to G.E.B. but also calls upon Hofstadter's loss of his wife. Both show interest in how certain types of feedback mechanisms become self-sustaining and regulating in a way, almost 'organic' in their behavior. Hofstadter would probably not posit a third category the way Kant was close to doing (I'm putting words in Kant's mouth -- he did not feel that biology would provide such a sure science), and for that I'm grateful because if he did it would be too easy -- in the way some of the early Romantics (see also: Schelling) basically ontologized the organic -- to treat the organic as 'essential'. Instead Hofstadter shows us how 'strange loops', how embedding semantics in syntax in a sense (by recursively including a copy of something within itself, making a system that 'talks about' itself), leads to emergent phenomena. We end up with something that appears at first to be paradoxical: biology is nothing but matter (the material), but it is not reducible to the material. By analogy, chemistry is nothing but physics, but attempting to reduce chemistry to physics (e.g. trying to "do" chemistry by talking only about mass, acceleration, velocity, charge ... mechanics and statics) is a fool's errand.

And so when I travel to Idaho later this week I'm tempted to take some Hofstadter on the plane with me.

But this afternoon and evening I have 'X-Files', the last of the chickpea chocolate (cup)cakes, and perhaps even some light reading ahead of me.
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