Friday, 11 June 2010

7 Quick Takes (XLV)

1. Last Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I was in Canmore with my folks. From there we visited Banff National Park and Yoho National Park, doing an assortment of interesting things involving wild animals and mountain tops. There are obviously pictures of such activities scattered throughout this post.

2. A few more birthday presents came rolling in. They were all in the form of DVDs. My folks had ordered Clint, and it finally came in. It's a collection of 35 of Clint Eastwood's films, along with a documentary called The Eastwood Factor and a small book based on a biography of the man. I am pumped.
There were also DVDs from Friend in Windsor, namely Hollywood Homicide, The Bank Job, and 1408.
Also, I had order the album Epicon by Globus with an gift certificate my brother gave me, and it just came in today....

3. I am liking this Epicon CD. I had heard a number of their songs already through Grooveshark. Well, to begin with, I saw some time ago a Youtube video which compiled bits of a number of "epic songs," and one of them was Diem Ex Dei, which I thought sounded good. Then Jon introduced me to Grooveshark, and I thought the whole song was pretty good. This led to finding more songs by Globus, and, eventually, my buying the disc.
I listened to the album straight through; Jon has said something to the effect that the order the songs are presented is part of the album as a discrete musical composition, and that they are meant to be listened to in that order. At least, while each song does and must stand alone, there is an overall structure to the album itself.
It is the same, I assume, as reading a book of poetry or short stories in the order they are presented.
I am trying to learn music.
Also, Jon, I think you know what reprecussion all of this has for you and your forthcoming travels.

4. Soon summer students and I will be headed to the Marine Park again. If you have been following me only lately, you can learn more about the Marine Park by clicking the "marine park" label and skimming through the entries.

5. I read Water for Elephants on the way to Canmore. I highly recommend this book. I cannot stress this enough. It's about an old man in a senior's home remembering his years as a young vet for a run-down circus in the Great Depression. If circuses, the Depression, veterinary practices, love triangles, or well-developed characters appeal to you, read this book. Otherwise, read this book.

6. I also recently watched Lions for Lambs. I enjoyed this movie; in case you haven't seen it yet, it contemplates the American presense in Afghanistan from a number of points of view, some of which obliquely but importantly related. Furthermore, the structure of the film itself is interesting, in that it revolves primarily around two interviews (an idealistic professor with a faltering student, an old-school liberal reporter with a young Republican senator) and two injured American soldiers stranded in the Afghanistan mountains. The action of the film covers just over an hour, less time than the actual movie itself (the difference being made in overlap between scenes and some reminiscing). It's about courage, idealism, activism, hypocrisy, looking forward, looking back, and making a difference. (And it has Maryl Streep, Tom Cruise, and Robert Redford, if that makes any difference to you.)

7. I am spending more time with Frye's Anatomy of Criticism. I think my forays into postmodernism have resulted in a more fervent return to metanarratives. (This may be simply reactionary, but nonetheless I do have reasons for this return.) I think Frye's ideas will be useful for my upcoming graduate thesis, provided I wind up doing what I think I'll wind up doing, which is why I'm saying I'm re-reading his book.
But I'm also just so impressed with Frye's vision. Whether he succeeded or not, you have to give the man credit.
For those who don't know, Frye put together a diagrammatic structure of all literature. He created axises and categories; he scanned the breadth of world literature, looking for patterns and teasing out structures. He looked at words in fiction and discerned how many layers of meaning they possessed. Frye took many of the theories of criticism of his day and synthesized their observations. What he came up with was a vast structure into which, he believed, all literature could be fit, from lullaby lyrics to political satires to Victorian novels to Ethopian oral literature to Hindi scripture to hagiographies to free verse to horror films. It's pretty impressive, and freakishly accurate. (Though there's that quotation about being surprised about finding something where you hid it...)

I guess that's seven.

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Note: apologies for the weird formatting with the photos. I had tried to make them smaller, but Blogger wouldn't have it.

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