Friday, 2 April 2010

7 Quick Takes (XXXV)

1. This last weekend my Mom and I watched Up in the Air. We also watched Surrogates, which was unspectacular. It's Up in the Air that I want to talk about. I thought it was very good, but what else would you expect from the director of Juno? I didn't expect to see George Clooney in that sort of movie, but he did very well in it.

In case you don't know, the movie is about a man who travels the US firing people for a living, played by Clooney. He has no friends and is estranged from his famil, relying instead on fellow passengers and random hook-ups. His home is the airplane, and his mantra is "What's in Your Backpack?"--what things, what relationships, are weighing you down? This all changed when a new employee, a cute girl with strangely facially-invasive hair, tries to change his industry to on-line firing. He must escort her around, teaching her the art of face-to-face firing. Meanwhile, he meets Alex, an attractive older business woman who he has a more-than-one-night affair with... and all characters learn things about relationships etc. and so forth. It's a good movie. I think I will write a review of it later, but it will have spoilers in it. Sorry.

2. I finished both A Ring of Endless Light and The Educated Imagination. I would suggest reading the latter, by Northrop Frye, but not as much as I encourage you to read A Ring of Endless Light. Cait said that L'Engle's Ring is hands down her favourite. I don't know that I'm organized enough to have a favourite book, but, if I did, Ring would be a contender. Not only has it impressed upon me a term that I like and want to use--lightbearer--but it also has re-affirmed for me the ennobling possibilities of fiction and art in general. It has infused me with a purpose that I badly needed. Not hope, exactly, but determination nonetheless. In a previous post, Yolanda posted a link which discussed the idea of being post-hope. This might be something worth thinking about... regardless, you should read A Ring of Endless Light.
3. At work I have been working with the children yet again. I do enjoy working with them. It's pretty nice.

4. Today is Good Friday, and this morning my mother and I went to a Good Friday service at All Saint's Anglican Church in downtown Fort McMurray. For Ash Wednesday, Maudy Thursday, and Good Friday, three area churches--Christ the King Lutheran Church, All Saint's Anglican Church, and St. Thomas' Anglican Church--alternate holding joint services.

I was not expecting the service to be as similar to the Lutheran services I attended in the little swamp church of my childhood. It's so hard to sing well to those hymns! I've become used to "worship music" without noticing.
It of course was a solemn service, about suffering, and throughout service we held a nail. At the end of the service, we were asked to proceed in silence to the base of the cross, where we would put down our nail. The cross was taken down, as usual, leaning at a slight angle against the altar. When I came to the cross, I didn't quite know what I wanted to say to God: I had some plan to discuss my own sins and ask for forgiveness, but that idea withered at the cross. Instead, all I had was this: "God, this is too big for me. I don't understand."

In C. S. Lewis' The Last Battle there is a bear whose dying words are, "I don't understand." I always felt pity for him, and knew that, were I one of the children at that battle, his death would prompt me to new fury. Now I think on that bear differently--I, too, don't understand. I look about me at the suffering, at my own guilt, and I realize I am too small for this world... and yet, I am asked to take part in it. And I intend to. Yes, God, this is too big for me. No, God, I do not understand. But I will serve you nonetheless. Thank you.
5. I watched Terminator Salvation and Whip It. I know they say you shouldn't compare movies of different genres, but I think Whip It holds up far better than Terminator Salvation. The latter, see, is not as great of an action movie as was advertised, though it certainly is quite good. Perhaps I would recall it better had I not watched Whip It immediately afterwards.

First, I think Ellen Page is a joy to watch. She plays an adorable screw-up so well. Second, it was actually a decent story. I don't know what to say except that I thought it was great. Oh, and Drew Barrymore's character was pretty cool, too.

6. As you can likely tell from reading this post, I have regained a sense of possibility. Maybe not hope, and maybe not a definite purpose, but right now, despite the purpose of this day to be a reflection of suffering, I think I have found the strength/grace to persevere. First, the day itself is beautiful, and I went for a long walk.

While on the walk, I thought about the very real successes I have heard of happening and that I have taken part in in transforming the social landscape of high school. Have you heard about the pink t-shirt campaign in high schools? After some kid got the snot beat out of him for wearing a pink t-shirt, a bunch of his classmates got together with a campaign for wearing pink t-shirts as an anti-bullying symbol. This spread to other highschools. I had been part of an anti-bullying program in high school, but I saw little success. I hear that this one did, and I hope that this is true. I don't know why the possibility of real change in the high school setting buoys me so; perhaps it's because the social order feels so powerful in high school, and that triumph over it matters so much to those involved. On a cosmic level, it doesn't appear to matter much at all... but, on as L'Engle discusses in Ring, on a cosmic level, every little thing, even a single fallen sparrow, matters very much indeed.

I am also listening to these songs on GrooveShark, which is helping: O Verona, Dies Irae, O Fortuna, Requiem for a Dream, Unstoppable, and (best of all) Diem Ex Dei. I must remember to listen to that last one on Easter Sunday.

7. On Jon's most recent post, he links to a YouTube video of Tiffany Alvord singing Taylor Swift's "You Belong to Me." Alvord's music video neatly parallels the photography of Miss Aniela, which I have spent the last week exploring. That is, both engage in the use of "multiples" of themselves to some end or another. Miss Aniela worries that her use of cloning comes off as more of the common Flickr theme of screwing around with clones; she wants to bring out more meaning about her own internal divisions, but wonders whether this is lost. Much of Miss Aniela's discussion seems to surround whether her work is seen with the meaning she tries to invest in it, or whether her audience misses the point altogether.

Appropriately, I am of two minds about Miss Aniela's work, largely because I'm on the one hand a prude and therefore dislike the sexuality inherent in many of her images, but am on the other hand a young straight man, and therefore recognize my own hypocrisy in condemning her images. Her website, I discovered, include many nude images of herself(selves), which makes me uncomfortable. I was thinking about buying her book Multiplicity, but am again concerned about nudity in it. I don't particularly want it if it has nudity.

Of course, Miss Aniela herself would think this silly of me: her nude photos are not supposed to be erotic but rather are about being comfortable with one's own body. Be this as it may, I don't think we can, in our culture, de-eroticize nudity within one generation.

Which is why I delighted in the Alvord video Jon linked, and the other Alvord videos I discovered afterward: they contain multiplicity, but are not as objectionably erotic.

Note: many of the Catholic mommy-bloggers are spending Holy Week off-line, so Conversion Diary is not hosting 7 Quick Takes this week.


Jon Wong said...

I'm glad you liked Tiffany Alvord's video. In the interests of accuracy, I should point out that it's a Taylor Swift mash-up and the song that acts as a "base" is Love Story.

Christian H said...

Yes, right. This is true.

Jon Wong said...

Hmm... though, upon further listening, I'm pretty sure there's one part of the song that uses 4 different vocal lines. Loophole! However, I'm not THAT confident in my ear that I can say for sure that I'm right about this.

Oh right, you couldn't care less. Yeah, ok.

Christian H said...

No, actually, I could. You'll notice that I got all the wya to the end of your post. I'm really trying to learn more about music. There's a perfect level of musical knowledge that I'm seeking: not so much that I'm overly-critical, but enough so that I appreciate it more.

Jon Wong said...

True. But finding barely noticeable loopholes like the one outlined probably borders on over-critical.

Christian H said...

Ah. I see what you mean.

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