Friday, 29 October 2010

7 Quick Takes (62)

1. I watched some movies last weekend: Splice and Eve and the Fire Horse.
Splice is a Canadian bio-horror movie about a pair of sceintists who make designer organisms for a living. They decide at one point to (illegally) experiment with human DNA and create a human-hybrid named Dren. As Dren grows up, maturing in ways completely unexpected, she becomes harder and harder to keep a secret . . . and harder and harder to manage.
It's a pretty good movie, especially considering that it's Canadian-made; it's creepy, and builds suspense without much violence or gore for most of the movie. But about two-thirds of the way through the movie it gets disturbing, fast. Let's just say that the characters who made Dren have some issues themselves. And let's just say that inter-species sex will always be uncomfortable at best. (And I just got myself some weird visitors from Google again.)

Eve and the Fire Horse is also Canadian-made, about two girls, Eve and Karena, who live with their parents in Vancouver in the 1960s. Their parents have immigrated from China, and Eve (the protagonist) and Karena live in a hodge-podge world of "Chinese superstition" (what an awful name for that religious tradition, by the way), Confucianism, Buddhism, and poorly-understood Catholicism. It's in the style of Big Fish in some ways, with flights of imagination unfolding before your eyes. I suppose you would call it magic realism? Anyway, it deals with racism, family dynamics, guilt and grief, and spiritual life. I might write a proper review of it some day.

2. At church, they played Disney songs for hymns. If this interests you, I wrote out the service at this post.

3. I discovered Gerard Manley Hopkins this week. Some of his poetry was assigned in the class I am a TA for. Hopkins (1844-1889) was a Jesuit priest, and his sonnets are beautiful, rich, and complex; they require a good dictionary, and are worth it. I encourage you to take a look at them.

"The Starlight Night"

Look at the stars! look, look up at the skies!
O look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air!
The bright boroughs, the circle-citadels there!
Down in dim woods the diamond delves! the elves'-eyes!
The grey lawns cold where gold, where quickgold lies!
Wind-beat whitebeam! airy abeles set on a flame!
Flake-doves sent floating forth at a farmyard scare! --
Ah well! it is all a purchase, all is a prize.

Buy then! bid then! -- What? -- Prayer, patience, alms, vows.
Look, look: a May-mess, like on orchard boughs!
Look! March-bloom, like on mealed-with-yellow-sallows!
These are indeed the barn; withindoors house
The shocks. This piece-bright paling shuts the spouse
Christ home, Christ and his mother and all his hallows.

4. I also discovered Erasmus Darwin's The Loves of the Plants. Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802) was the grandfather of Charles Darwin and a celebrated botanist. His The Loves of the Plants is a poetic re-writing of Linnaeus' famous work in the reproduction of plants. Linnaeus analogized stamens and pistols as men and women having romantic liaisons, and Darwin followed suit in Loves. What Darwin did differently, however, was place agency on the female characters rather than do as Linnaeus did and put agency in the male characters. This work would be very very fruitful for gender studies on a number of levels, but one of the more immediately interesting is that female polyamory shows up time and time again:

Two brother swains, of COLLIN'S gentle name,
The same their features, and their forms the same,
With rival love for fair COLLINIA sigh,
Knit the dark brow, and roll the unsteady eye.
With sweet concern the pitying beauty mourns,
And sooths with smiles the jealous pair by turns.


With vain desires the pensive ALCEA burns,
And, like sad ELOISA, loves and mourns.
The freckled IRIS owns a fiercer flame,
And three unjealous husbands wed the dame.

An interesting formal note is that Darwin's footnotes, which explain the botany behind the poem, take up more space on the page then the poem itself.

5. I did a lot of picture-taking today, and I am exhausted from the walking. I really wanted to get the autumn colours in the Nitobe Gardens and on Wreck Beach. (Will upload shortly.)

For more 7 Quick Takes, visit the host of the carnival, Jen Fulwiler at Conversion Diary.

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