Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
I want my politicians to think like a mountain. I'm not joking. Aldo Leopold, the noted American ecologist who died fighting a bushfire in 1948, wrote an essay called Thinking Like a Mountain. He remembered back to his youth, when everyone killed wolves. So did he.
He felt, like everyone did, that immediate safety was the most important thing. And fewer wolves meant more deer. But after Leopold saw the fierce green fire die in the eyes of a wolf, he sensed that the mountain did not agree with such a view.
Over the next generation, deer ran wild and denuded the ranges. The mountains took years to recover. Leopold learned that "just as a deer lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in fear of its deer".
The short-term answer was worse than the original problem.
"We all strive for safety, prosperity, comfort, long life and dullness," Leopold wrote. "The deer strives with its supple legs, the cowman with trap and poison, the statesman with pen, the most of us with machines, votes and dollars - but it all comes down to the same thing: peace in our time. A measure of success in this is all well enough - but too much safety seems to yield only danger in the long run. Perhaps this is behind Thoreau's dictum: in wildness is the salvation of the world."
And to me, in thinking long-term, wildness is the salvation of our society.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Sometimes, I would rather punch you
Than have you read my poem
Communication can be so difficult
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
"Picture shows blood stain from an injured monk (not pictured) next to broken bricks after Myanmar security forces stormed a monastery in the eastern part of Yangon, early 26 September 2007. Myanmar security forces raided a monastery and arrested at least 100 Buddhist monks, tightening their grip after a violent crackdown on mass protests that left at least four people dead."
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Monday, October 08, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
Ira Glass is the brains, heart and larynx behind the wildly popular program This American Life; each show employs a theatrical, multiple-act structure to carve strange slices of life out of a unique thematic pie. The show began almost 12 years ago as a Chicago public radio program but has since mutated into an Emmy-nominated TV series on Showtime – a leap that prompted Glass and his team to relocate to New York City, bringing the radio version in tow. But Glass still keeps one foot in Chicago; he’s compiled a new book whose proceeds benefit 826CHI, the free writing program open to all students in Chicago. He’ll be appearing at Town Hall Monday night with Susan Orlean, Malcolm Gladwell and Chuck Klosterman, who have each contributed to the book, called The New Kings of Nonfiction. (Tickets cost $30; all proceeds benefit 826CHI.)
Did you have any dreams of working in radio as a child? No, like most people I had no interest in radio. I only got interested in radio once I talked my way into an internship at NPR’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. in 1978, never having heard the network on the air.
You and Todd Haynes both majored in semiotics at Brown. Were you there at the same time? I think we were there at the same time but I didn’t know him.
Perhaps not everyone is familiar with what a degree in semiotics involves. Can you please sum it up for us? Yes. Semiotics is an unfortunately pretentious body of mostly French literary theory. What I liked about it was that it gives you a toolbox of ways to think about how to make a story. Semiotics is uninterested in questions like, “What did the author intend?” Or “What does this story say about the author’s era?” Semiotics is interested in how a story gives us pleasure, how it draws us in, why is it satisfying for there to be suspense and for a story to resolve. It’s all about what makes narrative engage us. And so there are things that I learned as a semiotics major that I use every day on my job.
Can you give us an example of that? One simple thing has to do with something the writer Roland Barthes writes about in his book S/Z. He talks about this thing called the proairetic code, which he cops from Aristotle. It’s a sequence of motions that creates suspense no matter how banal it is. You simply get the action moving. This thing happened, and then this thing and then that led to this next thing and then that next thing. And we inevitably wonder what will happen next. It’s like a striptease; we feel like things are going to be revealed. And we use that in every episode of the show. The reason why this show starts with action instead of starting with a theme song and listing what’s going to come up in this hour is because I think starting with action can just pull you into the show more deeply and then you’re inside the show and inside the story before you have a reason to wonder why.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
By Rick Perlstein
When Ronald Reagan ran against Pat Brown in 1966 for the governorship of California, the defining issue was college. Governor Brown was completing the biggest university expansion in modern history - nine new campuses. California's colleges and universities had been instrumental in turning the nation's biggest state into the world's seventh-biggest economy and an international cultural mecca - and they formed the heart, Brown presumed, of his re-election appeal. Ronald Reagan's advisers agreed and sought to neutralize the higher-ed issue by having the actor announce his candidacy flanked by two Nobel Prize winners. Reagan had other ideas. For months he told campaign-trail audiences horror stories about the building takeovers, antiwar demonstrations and sexual orgies ''so vile that I cannot describe it to you'' at Berkeley, the University of California's flagship campus. Reagan's advisers warned him that disparaging the jewel of California civilization was political suicide. The candidate snapped back, ''Look, I don't care if I'm in the mountains, the desert, the biggest cities of this state, the first question: 'What are you going to do about Berkeley?' And each time the question itself would get applause.''
It's unimaginable now that a gubernatorial race in the nation's largest state would come down to a debate about what was happening on campus. But it seemed perfectly natural then. The nation was obsessed with college and college students. It wasn't just the building takeovers and the generation gap; the obsession was well in gear by the presidency of John F. Kennedy. (In October 1961, Harper's devoted an issue to the subject.) The fascination was rooted in reasons as fresh as yesterday's op-ed pages: in an increasingly knowledge-based economy, good colleges were a social-mobility prerequisite, and between 1957 and 1967, the number of college students doubled. Reagan actually cast himself as this new class's savior, asking whether Californians would allow ''a great university to be brought to its knees by a noisy, dissident minority.'' To that, liberals responded that these communities' unique ability to tolerate noisy, dissident minorities was why universities were great.(More...)
According to my textbook, the problem with defining postmodernism is that it’s impossible. The difficulty is that it is so …. post. It defines itself so negatively against what came before it– naturalism, romanticism and the wild revolution of modernism–that it’s sometimes hard to see what it actually is. It denies that anything can be explained neatly or even at all. It is parodic, detached, strange, and sometimes menacing to traditionalists who do not understand it. Although it arose in the post-war west (the term was coined in 1949), the generation that has witnessed its ascendance has yet to come up with an explanation of what postmodern attitudes mean for the future of culture or society. The subject intrigued me because, in a class otherwise consumed by dead-letter theories, postmodernism remained an open book, tempting to the young and curious. But it also intrigued me because the question of what postmodernism–what a movement so post-everything, so reticent to define itself–is spoke to a larger question about the political and popular culture of today, of the other jaded sophomores sitting around me who had grown up in a postmodern world.(More...)
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
If you've been interested in exploring international cinema, but haven't known where to begin, hang this article on your fridge.
Beginning its second year, the Utah Valley International Cinema is cordially inviting students to attend free monthly screenings of foreign films.
Sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa and Reel Film Series, UVIC's primary purpose is to enable students to experience and enjoy international cinema.
Torben Bernhard, the president of UVIC, explained his motivation for launching the program: "At the time I started the cinema, I was probably watching five to 10 foreign films per week. I suppose I initially just wanted people to see the beautiful things I was seeing, and experience the films in the same way I was experiencing them."
Bernhard said that foreign films have a way of transporting us to a new culture that we know nothing about.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Saddam and a rope
we try to strangle ideas
but pull up
I wish I could punc,tu;ate my thoughts
Give myself a br;eak;
I'm sick of seeking inspiration in nature
I want to seek inspiration in my own nature
Find the valleys within me
Climb the mountains in my chest
Dig out truth from the corners
Of a being less known
Ode To The Beat
I never felt patriotic until I discovered the beat --
My hips possessed, gyrating to its rhythm
The melody could have birthed in my spirit
Fireworks and tired independence celebrations fail to move me --
Nauseated by insincere flag waving and shallow ribbons
Traditions of the past feel awkward
But the beat --
Driving my mind into the center of Miles' trumpet
Climbing out at the end of the 'I have a dream' speech
With enough time to hitchhike with Kerouac to a road of perceived freedom
Speeding on countless highways with jazz and intermissions of crappy rock n' roll blaring
Finding beauty in the grime
Discovering truth in the overlooked crevices of existence
An American spirit; raw and unique in form.