Friday, 24 September 2010

7 Quick Takes (58)

1. Somehow it's already Friday. Did you know that? I can't explain how it's possible, but it seems that it actually is Friday after all.

2. Last Saturday one of my housemates and I went slack-lining. Slack-lining, for those of you who like me didn't know this, is tight-rope walking, except you don't actually use a rope but a nylon thingy. Anyway, said housemate is a slack-liner and has started teaching me. I can now stay on the line for short periods of time and got up to three consecutive steps.
Before you worry, it's only a few feet off of the ground.

3. Sunday I went to another church. It is enormous (by my small-town standards) but I think might persist in this one.
And today I got on the Navigator's mailing list here, and talked to them about volunteer opportunities. I didn't ask them about inter-faith initiatives, though; I had planned on it, but at the last minute I realized that might be a sensitive topic. I don't know. I really want to get involved in something interfaith-y, but I don't think I have the time and I'm not sure either 1) what I would like it to look like and 2) what it would actually look like.

4. There's a nice sushi place down the street from where I live. I say this in ignorance of what a nice sushi place looks like or what nice sushi tastes like, but at any rate I like it. I am no less clumsy with chopsticks than I have ever been, but at least the food gets into my mouth without falling all over the place.
There is a fair amount of quote-unquote ethnic food places at the SUB on campus. The mediterreanean place has a nice spinach- and feta-stuffed pastry with a long Greek name that I rather liked. The line-up for that one is not nearly as long as the SUB's sushi place, pizza place, Chinese place, or grill.

5. I rented and watched The Plan yesterday, which I regretted almost immediately afterwards because I then had to stay up too late to finish my readings. I also regretted it this morning, as I slept in a little and therefore missed my bus and therefore almost missed class, certainly not having an opportunity to get a Chai Latte from the Blue Chip on the way, which is almost essential these days.
But returning to The Plan: it's a Battlestar Galactica thing, so unless you are as entirely wrapped up in the show as I am, you may not see the importance. Basically, don't watch it if you haven't seen all of/most of Season 4. But in this entry I will proceed without spoilers. The structure of the show was odd; even though it was nearly two hours long, it felt a little rushed. This is because it takes place over an extended period of time, beginning just before the events of Battlestar Galactica Season 1, and ending during the events of the last few episodes of Season 2. That's several busy months, and the movie tries to tie a lot of its action into the events portrayed in those seasons, even re-using some of the scenes. After all, it is telling the same story from a different point of view (or, since Battlestar Galactica has since the beginning been told from multiple perspectives, for new points of view). Altogether, while I think the story that this movie tells is a good one in terms of morals and of entertainment, watching it unfold was an odd experience.
Also, the PG-14 rating was a bit low, in my opinion.

6. My housemate introduced me to the song "Hurt." Has anyone heard it? I mean Johnny Cash's cover more than Nine Inch Nails' original. Certainly I listened to the original before moving on to Cash's, because I think that when listening to a cover it behooves one to listen to the original first. I find the original a little less interesting, though, perhaps because the feeling of the song is lost (to me) near the end in the style of the music itself, while I find that Cash's style amplifies the emotion behind it. Further, while both are writing about drug use, it seems to me that Cash is thinking more about poor and destructive life choices in general. That's the luxury of a cover, I suppose: you get to assume a more symbolic/metaphorical position on the lyrics. In the end, Cash's seems more intimate to me, which is integral to the song.
The backstory to "Hurt," one of Cash's last songs on a posthumously released album, is a significant addition to the song itself, too.

7. In my TA discussion, we discussed Leary, Huxley, and Castoneva. If those names don't mean anything to you, just know that we were talking about transcendental/spiritual drug use. I was happy for two reasons: 1) more people than usual were joining the conversation, and 2) the discussion went in such a direction that I could ask something that I think is an interesting question. Occasionally during the discussion some of my students wondered aloud or asked whether the mental states brought on by the peyote or mescaline or opium or LSD actually allowed the users to perceive reality better/validly, or whether the authors just thought that because they were high. At the end of the class in lieu of an answer to that question I brought up something one of my undergraduate professors alluded to: if we accept that LSD or peyote can through chemically transforming the brain allow us to perceive a different reality or perceive reality in a better way, then must we also say that people whose brains are chemically transformed through mental illness or through brain injury are also able to better perceive reality? Where do we stop?
Afterwards a few students stayed behind to talk about this. I posed to them the line of thinking that the professor I previously mentioned had more directly started when I was in his undergraduate class: Some people say that Muhammad had epilepsy, or that Joan of Arc had schizophrenia, which explained why they saw the things that did. Many people take offense to this idea, but perhaps (says the professor) Muhammad did have epilepsy, Joan of Arc did have schizophrenia; perhaps insanity is what allowed them to see the spirits, to see the angel Gabriel.
As Gaius Baltar says, "I may be crazy, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong."
(I'm not endorsing this line of reasoning, but I am endorsing that you think about it.)

Jen at Conversion Diary hosts the 7 Quick Takes carnival. Please visit her for more.

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