Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto

June 21, 1953 – December 27, 2007

benazir_bhutto

"When I was a very young child I remember I was always against violence. It was an era when people used to go shooting and hunting. I remember once coming out on the veranda in our home in the countryside -- and my father was teaching my brother to shoot a parrot and... I remember seeing the parrot fall down dead and bleed, and I remember being appalled by it. And I remember the parrot fluttering and I can't bear to see blood to this day or killing. I'm very much against war and conflict and the taking of life, and I think that seeing that little bird -- green and beautiful and living and chirping in the tree, and then falling down dead -- did have a profound effect. It sounds silly to say that I should feel so strongly about a bird, but I remember my father telling me when he was facing the death sentence that 'I remember the little girl who cried so much because a bird died, how she must feel.' So for me, human life is very, very sacred."

...

"...before [my father] died, I had my last meeting with him, in the death cell, and he said that, 'You have suffered so much.' I had been in prison myself, and he said, 'You are so young. You just finished your university. You came back. You had your whole life and look at the terror under which we have lived.' So he said, 'I set you free. Why don't you go and live in London or Paris or Switzerland or Washington, and you are well taken care of, and have some happiness because you have seen too much suffering.' I reached out through the prison bars, and I remember grasping his hands and saying, 'No, papa, I will continue the struggle that you began for democracy.' "

...

"If you believe in something, go for it, but know that when you go for it there's a price to be paid. Be ready to pay that price and you can contribute to the welfare of society, and society will acknowledge you and respect you for it. And don't be afraid. Don't be afraid."

...

"I think that as nation states begin to become weaker because of the force of globalization, there will be a greater reversion to ethnicity and to religious violence. I fear that the international community lacks a mechanism for conflict prevention or being in a position to end the conflict. Everyone is looking towards America, and the American people have their own problems. They can be there if there's a strategic concern, but they can't be there everywhere. So there is a lack of growth of regional institutions that could deal with regional violence and leave the global problems or the strategic problems to the more global powers. I fear the 21st Century could witness a period of contradiction where there is the greatest era of peace -- the super power rivalry having gone -- but there is a lot of localized violence."

--Benazir Bhutto (Interview from October 2000)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Foundations

Kate Nash

Protection

"Your art is too delicate. If you margot2desire the pat on the back too much, then you're not going to be true to the purest form of it. It's a constant struggle not to need the feedback, to try and stay true to your innermost voice. You need to protect it with a strong force field."

-- Nicole Kidman

"As an actress you have to be willing to be bad. margotYou have to be willing to jump off the ledge, which is a lazy metaphor but the best I can do right now. But, you know, a willingness to fall on your face and know that your director is going to catch you. If you don't have that, if you're protecting yourself in your performance, it's not going to be good."

-- Jennifer Jason Leigh

From separate conversations with Michael Cunningham about their new film Margot at the Wedding for Interview Magazine.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Gymnastique

Best Movies of 2007 (New York Times)

"I know it’s hard to believe, but during the past 12 months I sometimes went two or three weeks in a row without finding anything to mock, deflate or be disappointed by, and my inner curmudgeon was frequently elbowed aside by a wide-eyed, arm-waving enthusiast."

-- A.O. Scott

"These aren’t necessarily the year’s best (impossible to determine given the glut of films), just the two that matter most to me, that dug in the deepest and rearranged my own givens."

-- Manohla Dargis

"The betrayal of the body, decrepitude and death: in 2007 an unprecedented number of serious films, along with the usual slasher movies, contemplated the end of life. Might they be a collective baby-boom response to looming senescence and a fraying social safety net? Or do they reflect an uneasy sense that humanity is facing end times, when global warming, terrorism, nuclear proliferation and the war in Iraq, or any combination thereof, could bring on doomsday?

-- Stephen Holden

Feist

My Man, My Moon


1 2 3 4


Feist

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Emotional Risk Is Where It's At

Starring Frank Langella, Lauren Ambrose, Lili Taylor, Karl Bury, Anitha Gandhi, Sean T. Krishnan, Jessica Hecht, and Adrian Lester"Starting Out in the Evening...takes on a character who, in his daily grind [as an author], approaches the question of transformation. He looks at character, he looks at life, and he's looking for the collision between the two in order to speak about what humanity goes through. But the irony here is, in his own life, he's removed himself from the intimacies that put him at risk.

"I suppose one of the things that the struggles of my own life have taught me is that emotional risk is where it's at. That's where real change comes from. That's where real growth comes from. That's how we stretch our life muscle as artists and that's how we make our relationships work. We avail ourselves. We open ourselves. And I find that theme dominating almost everything I've been working on for the last ten years. This idea of surrender. This idea of opening rather than closing."

--Director Andrew Wagner in conversation with Elvis Mitchell on KCRW's The Treatment (12.12.07)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Making an Object of God

Rick Scibelli Jr. for The New York Times

"Enlightenment? I don’t like the subject at all...but the question really is, what is satori in the first place? About satori, I believe you can find all sorts of different descriptions of it in the bookstore if you go there and I feel a lot more coming to the bookstores, a lot more different descriptions."

“Buddhism does not acknowledge the existence of a world-creating God. But having said that, Buddhism does not at the same time reject the existence of God.

"There are a lot of different books out there. But the moment someone says the truth or God is an object or takes it as an object, that is already a mistake. God is neither object nor subject. The moment you say any little thing about God, you’re already making an object of God and Buddhism cautions you about that. At that moment you’re making an idiot out of God, you’re making a fool out of God."

--- Sasaki Roshi, "A Very Old Zen Master and His Art of Tough Love," Ralph Blumenthal, The New York Times (12.9.07)

Real Red Blood

"In high school, you know, there really wasn't that much around in terms of music. I mean , grunge was kind of happening, but me and none of my friends were old enough to go...We had kind of a top 40 station. But Nashville Skyline -- my parents owned it. I knew Dylan's name, but I dusted that record off and put I it on because of Johnnie Cash. It took a long time for the rest of that josh_ritter2record to sink in, but 'Girl from the North Country' hit me hard. I really think it was like somebody discovering punk for the first time.

"That was my moment when I realized that music was something that anybody could do. You know, here it is -- it's imperfections and it's excitement and the fact that it's real red blood making this record. And really singing. It sounded like they'd been up all night. You could almost tell that they needed to shave.

"Without that song, I might not have ever discovered it. I mean, it was just such a huge moment. I really think it was like seeing the person you want to marry. Either that day or the day after, I went down to Kmart and I got a guitar."

-- Josh Ritter discussing the influence of Bob Dylan on his musical career (Studio 360, 11.23.07)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

That Empty Space

Writers are often asked: "How do you write? With a word processor? an electric typewriter? a quill? longhand?" But the essential question is: "Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write? Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words, the words your characters will speak, ideas - inspiration." If a writer cannot find this space, then poems and stories may be stillborn. When writers talk to each other, what they discuss is always to do with this imaginative space, this other time. "Have you found it? Are you holding it fast?"

-- From Doris Lessing's Nobel Prize acceptance speech (12/08/07)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Money Makes You Numb

"Radiohead is not the first act to try what one of its managers, Chris Hufford, calls 'virtual busking.' But it’s the first one that can easily fill arenas whenever it tours...After fulfilling its contract in 2003 with its last album for EMI, 'Hail to the Thief,' Radiohead turned down multimillion-dollar offers for a new major-label deal, preferring to stay independent.

"'It was tough to do anything else,' Mr. [Thom Yorke, the band’s leader] said during Radiohead’s first extensive interviews since the release of the album. 'The worst-case scenario would have been: Sign another deal, take a load of money, and then have the machinery waiting semi-patiently for you to deliver your product, which they can add to the list of products that make up the myth, la-la-la-la.'

"Signing a new major-label contract 'would have killed us straight off,' he added. 'Money makes you numb, as M.I.A. wrote. I mean, it’s tempting to have someone say to you, You will never have to worry about money ever again, but no matter how much money someone gives you — what, you’re not going to spend it? You’re not going to find stupid ways to get rid of it? Of course you are. It’s like building roads and expecting there to be less traffic.'”

-- From "Pay What You Want for This Article," by Jon Pareles, New York Times (12/09/07)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Drifter's Song

Photo of Chen Xing taken by Gideon D'ArcangeloA ballad by Chen Xing featured in a Studio 360 segment (11/16/07) by Gideon D'Arcangelo. "One hundred million Chinese have left rural homes to work in the booming cities of northern China. Their lives are hard, dangerous, and lonely."


On the way to work, I meet you.
There's so much sadness I share with you.
We never ask, Where are you from?
But when you need me, I'll be there for you.


We fall in love when we work together.
There are so many expectations we share together.
We bring each other the hope of happiness.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

We Wii, Whee!

Two boys are bowling in their living room. They cheer when they make a strike and laugh when the ball rolls into the gutter. While one is taking his turn, the other looks ready to snatch the bowling_ballwhite remote control device from his hand.

I can't tell whether their happiness comes from: (1)knocking down a respectable number of pins, (2) WiiTM ownership, (3) the novelty of the device and/or the specific game, (3) getting it for free, or (4) an awareness of being watched.

Rather than pointing out the limits of the boundary between entertainment and advertising, it is one more sign of how permeable that line has already become. I'm convinced this is only the beginning. While it feels hollow, it also feels like I'm missing out on something fun. The stronger feeling defines me as being inside or outside the market -- for the show and for the product.

Their mother abandons her dirty dishes to investigate the enthusiasm. After the gods closed the door early on the development of her height, they opened a million virtual windows into homes across the country. She tells them she once played on a league, but the idea of a real bowling alley, its smoke-filled air laced with rental shoe disinfectant, sounds as inconvenient as relying on a dull pencil to manually track the results of one turn based on the outcome of the next.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Highest-Resolution Photograph in the World

From "Masterpiece Home Theater," by Virginia Heffernan, New York Times Sunday Magazine (12/02/07):

"'Water Lilies' is the second-most-popular cellphone wallpaper sold by water_liliesBoston’s Museum of Fine Arts, which opened a new digital-images shop in September. This service is only the latest future-shock innovation at the museum, a civilized institution that has nonetheless adopted what one tech reporter scarily described as a policy of “aggressive digital-capture.” Having taken high-resolution photos of 350,000 works in its collection, and having magnanimously made almost all of them all searchable on its Web site, the M.F.A. now has one of the biggest image databases of any art museum in the world...

"Really, though, the high-res 'Water Lilies' has nothing on the stratospheric-res 'Last Supper,' which you can see free at the Web site HaltaDefinizione.com. That’s right: da Vinci’s glorious mural — which time has rendered as delicate as a watercolor, and which you can’t see for even 15 minutes live in Milan unless you have a reservation and have been professionally decontaminated — is now the subject of what is said to be the highest-resolution photograph in the world.

ultimecena

"Under the direction of the curator Alberto Artioli, an Italian tech firm called Hal9000 took nine hours earlier this year to shoot the mural, using a robot-controlled Nikon D2X digital camera that popped a wincing but harmless flash on 1,677 distinct pieces of the mural. Shot at 12 million pixels each, these pieces were digitally stitched together like a computerized quilt, radically increasing the resolution. The result blows the mind: an image that can be scrutinized as closely as if you had your nose to the mural, in perfect daylight, with 20/10 vision, wearing contact lenses made of microscopes."

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Happiness Regardless of Conditions

"The sage accompanies and welcomes all that happens, both that which is arising and that which is dying...This is why his joy is unconditional."

-- Feng Yu-Lan

"Thought is not the enemy. Your enemy is the lack of moment-to-moment clarity about the arising and passing of thought. Thought is every bit as much part of the flow of nature as body sensations are. Indeed, your entire being is part of nature...In enlightenment, the unconsciousness and fixation associated with ideas and body sensations which produce a sense of self get eliminated. The sense of self becomes a home rather than a prison. You can come and go freely."

-- Shinzen Young

As It Is

Wednesday (11/28) was "the 250th birthday of William Blake, born in London (1757), who was 4 years old when he saw God's head appear in a window, later saw the prophet Ezekiel sitting in a field, and once came upon a tree full of angels. He tried to tell his parents about these visions, but his father threatened to beat him for lying, so he stopped mentioning it.

"Instead, he began drawing pictures, and his work was so promising that his parents sent him to art school to become an engraver. He learned how to engrave copper plates for printing illustrations in books, and he went on to produce the illustrations for books about architecture, botany, and medicine. His work was so good that he was commissioned to come up with his own illustrations for the work of Chaucer, Dante, and selections from the Bible, which are now considered among the greatest works of engraving ever produced. He even invented a method of printing illustrations in color, and art historians still aren't sure how he did it.

"But as he became more famous for his artwork, Blake also began telling the artists and publishers he worked with that he was regularly visited by angels, and that he had conversations with him. He told a friend that he had discussed Renaissance art with the archangel Gabriel, and Gabriel preferred the paintings of Michelangelo to those of Raphael. Blake's work as an illustrator grew more and more bizarre, until finally he could only make a living by selling watercolors to a small group of private collectors.

"Blake had also been writing poetry for much of his life, and since he had his own printing press, he decided to print it himself. He developed a process of writing his poems directly on copper plates and then engraving illustrations around them. He would print a few dozen copies and stitch them into pamphlets, which he sold himself. His books got no attention in his lifetime. Most critics dismissed him as a madman. He died in 1827, and it wasn't until 1863 that a biography about him persuaded people to read his poetry for the first time."

--The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor

mhh14

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.

For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.

--William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

The Beauty of Building an Image

"I was once told that the age you are is the age you were when you became who you are. Does that mean I am perpetually 11? portmanI’m not sure I want to have that strict an image. In the movie business, there is such a temptation to stick with a particular persona. There is a kind of artistic branding. Sometimes I think I like the Glenn Gould approach. He obsessively played Bach’s Goldberg Variations over and over until he achieved a kind of perfection. Julia Roberts has a Glenn Gould-like career. And then there is Cate Blanchett. She is different all the time. I respect both approaches, but I don’t really want to always play a version of myself. The beauty of building an image is then you have something to break."

-- Natalie Portman, "Screen Goddess," Lynn Hirschberg, New York Times Style Magazine, 12/2/07

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Book That Wants To Be Written

"You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children."

-- Madeleine L'Engle

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Surpassing the Creativity of All Other Ice Cream Makers

Photo by Michelle MaguireIt's true. Anyone who has tasted it knows the Denver Post and the New York Times aren't exaggerating. Even Al Roker, Lynne Rossetto Kasper, and Dean & Deluca are in the know.

In today's New York Times, Marian Burros writes, "Jeni’s of Columbus, Ohio, has surpassed the creativity of all other ice cream makers with its versions like goat cheese and Cognac fig sauce....Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams’ intense, offbeat flavors would be worth a drive to Ohio. My favorites were the goat cheese, salty caramel, coffee, Thai chili and torrone, plus lime cardamom lingonberry frozen yogurt and forest berry and pear riesling sorbets. Six pints start at $70; jenisicecreams.com, (614) 488-3224."

My favorites are pistachio, pumpkin five spice, dark cocoa mint gelato, and the pear riesling sorbet. You have to try her ice cream sandwiches with a thick slab of ice cream squished between traditional Parisian macaroons. I'm sure they will be world famous one day.

Deadline for ordering in time for Christmas delivery is 12/19.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

No Imminent Threat

The Siege of Antioch, from a medieval miniature painting, during the First Crusade.From today's The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor:

It was on this day in 1095 that Pope Urban II, while on a speaking tour in France, called for the first Crusade to recapture Jerusalem from the Turks. There was no imminent threat. Muslims had occupied Jerusalem for hundreds of years. But Urban II had noticed that Europe was becoming an increasingly violent place, with low-level knights killing each other over their land rights, and he thought that he could bring peace to the Christian world by directing all that violence against an outside enemy. So he made up stories of how Turks in Jerusalem were torturing and killing Christians, and anyone who was willing to join the fight against them would go to heaven.

About 100,000 men from France, Germany, and Italy answered the call, formed into several large groups, and marched across Asia Minor to the Middle East. Nearly half of them died from exhaustion and sickness before they ever reached their destination. They began sacking cities along the way, and they fought among each other for the spoils of each battle. When they reached the trading city of Antioch, they killed almost everyone, including the Christians who lived there. By the time they got to Jerusalem, it had recently fallen into the hands of Egyptians, who were friendly with the Vatican. But the crusaders attacked anyway, killing every Muslim they could find. The Jews in the city gathered in the temple, and the crusaders set it on fire.

Pope Urban II died two weeks later, never hearing the news. But the crusading would go on for the next 200 years. In the fourth and last Crusade, in 1202, the crusaders never even made it to Jerusalem, but got sidetracked and wound up destroying Constantinople, which was at the time the last great city left over from the Roman Empire.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Fantasy

Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy covers Mariah Carey:

Brokeback Christmas

Winning isn't funny

"Most of us are much more acquainted with losing than we are with winning. Winning is great, but it isn't funny."


-- Peanuts creator Charles Schulz (Nov. 26, 1922 – Feb. 12, 2000)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A History of Doubt

Jennifer Michael Hecht"...right now the truth is I don't think that there is much pride in doubt or much recognition that it has a rich history. And I think that that's really crucial right now, especially because of the way that belief is coming up again as part of policy. That kind of idea, it's got to be met with the voices of people who are looking at things from the other side. And right now, you know, well, I think I'd like to contextualize this a little bit and say that America in the beginning of the 20th century was a wonderful time to be a doubter. You know, Thomas Edison tells The New York Times he doesn't believe in an afterlife. You know, that's something that most people believe in an afterlife wouldn't tell The New York Times today. It was thought of as — the whole idea of nonconformism, of questioning, of bucking the dominant idea was celebrated as part of what democracy desperately needed, really, from John Stuart Mill and Harriet Mill onward, that idea of liberty as being something you have to keep enacting, otherwise you'll lose it.

"And that was celebrated in the beginning of the 20th century. And we really see that close down with the Cold War because the United States felt that it had, well, it had a violent, tense enemy in the communist world, and that communism was equated with making legalist gestures of atheism. Well, that made it seem that atheism was treasonous. And that's when 'Under God' went into the pledge and 'In God We Trust' went on all the money. And when you look at the congressional record, it's very specifically against communist atheism that those things were done.

"Well, we live in a very different world now. In the early 21st century, the murderous tension that we have in the world is with fundamentalist religion that's willing to commit terror. And so it's time to change our stance a little bit."

-- Jennifer Michael Hecht, poet and writer of Doubt: A History and The Happiness Myth in conversation with Krista Tippeett on Speaking of Faith (5/3/07)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Turkey Poacher

Steve Kelley, The New Orleans Times-Picayune

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ultimate Constituents

"The doctrine that the stuff of the world is fundamentally mind-stuff goes by the name of panpsychism. A few decades ago, the American philosopher Thomas Nagel showed that it is an inescapable consequence of some quite reasonable premises. First, our brains consist of material particles. Second, these particles, in certain arrangements, produce subjective thoughts and feelings. Third, physical properties alone cannot account for subjectivity. (How could the ineffable experience of tasting a strawberry ever arise from the equations of physics?) Now, Nagel reasoned, the properties of a complex system like the brain don’t just pop into existence from nowhere; they must derive from the properties of that system’s ultimate constituents. Those ultimate constituents must therefore have subjective features themselves — features that, in the right combinations, add up to our inner thoughts and feelings. But the electrons, protons and neutrons making up our brains are no different from those making up the rest of the world. So the entire universe must consist of little bits of consciousness. "

-- From Mind of a Rock an essay by Jim Holt written for the New York Times Sunday Magazine (11/18/07)

Ansel Adams

Late Bloomer

"I was a late bloomer. But anyone who blooms at all, ever, is very lucky...Many lives don't allow that, the good fortune of being able to work at it, and try, and keep trying."

-- Poet Sharon Olds, who published her first book of poems when she was 37 years old. In 2005, she wrote an open letter to Laura Bush declining an invitation to read from her work at the National Book Festival in protest of the Iraq War. Her poem "I Go Back to May 1937" opens the recent movie Into the Wild.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Song of a Man Who Has Come Through

by D.H. Lawrence

Not I, not I, but the wind that blows through me!
A fine wind is blowing the new direction of Time.
If only I let it bear me, carry me, if only it carry me!
If only I am sensitive, subtle, oh, delicate, a winged gift!
If only, most lovely of all, I yield myself and am borrowed
By the fine, fine, wind that takes its course through the chaos of the world
Like a fine, an exquisite chisel, a wedge-blade inserted;
If only I am keen and hard like the sheer tip of a wedge
Driven by invisible blows,
The rock will split, we shall come at the wonder, we shall find the Hesperides.

Oh, for the wonder that bubbles into my soul,
I would be a good fountain, a good well-head,
Would blur no whisper, spoil no expression.

What is the knocking?
What is the knocking at the door in the night?
It is somebody wants to do us harm.

No, no, it is the three strange angels.
Admit them, admit them.

Uselessness

"...art is useless, at least when compared, say, to the work of a plumber, or a doctor, or a railroad engineer. But is uselessness a bad thing? Does a lack of practical purpose mean that books and paintings and string quartets are simply a waste of our time? Many people think so. But I would argue that it is the very uselessness of art that gives it its value and that the making of art is what distinguishes us from all other creatures who inhabit this planet, that it is, essentially, what defines us as human beings.

"To do something for the pure pleasure and beauty of doing it. Think of the effort involved, the long hours of practice and discipline required to become an accomplished pianist or dancer. All the suffering and hard work, all the sacrifices in order to achieve something that is utterly and magnificently...useless."

-- Paul Auster, from his accceptance speech for the Prince of Asturias Prize for Letters (Spain's highest literary honor) last year.

The Discipline of DE

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Reading is a Debt We Owe to a Collective

Junot Díaz discussing his novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, on KCRW’s Bookworm:

A book is a gift. No matter how poorly written it is, or if we don’t like it—we think it’s simplistic or if we find it to be odious—someone did spend time working on this. Someone did take a part of their lives to make this happen. Even in the most kind of nonsense, banal books there is a note of grace in it…As a kid, I was just reading. And I never lost that sense that sometimes there are terrible books which for me produce really pleasing results in my mind and in my heart. And sometimes there are incredibly brilliant books that don’t do any of that. And I think I had to have a much more generous sense of what reading means and what it can do.
...

If you think about it, curses are narratives. They’re narratives that bind us and follow us. They’re shadows that even when we think we’ve escaped them, they’re there. History follows the same pattern. We can deny all the history we want and yet history will still reach up across time and shape our choices or behavior and our possibilities. And I think that it’s hard to be a person and not want to be independent from all those invisible forces that we can’t even begin to grasp. Through the tales that we tell ourselves, the ones that exclude those invisible forces—whether it’s history, curses, our ancestors, our parents, our earlier selves—are those stories more worthy, are they more beneficial than the stories that accept this, that embrace this, that in some ways make it deterministic—in other words, that we are cursed. Which is the better, more productive, more human story? We’re cursed or there are no such things as curses?
...

Junot DíazIn the end, why is it that it’s okay for me to have been a little person and I’ll use that to explain my world and to be like, this is why I act this way and this is why I resist and this is why I’ve struggled so hard. But what’s always extraordinary is that we’re usually not very tolerant of other small lives, even if our lives have been small. Sometimes we’ll be tolerant of a small life and the next thing we know, we’re no longer tolerant. One of the thing Oscar’s character keeps asking is, Is being human something that you do once—you make one choice and it proves that you’re human—or is it a choice you have to keep making through your whole life? And what an incredible struggle, what an incredible challenge, what a journey that is.
...

What I want is people to read and remember that reading, while we may practice alone, in solitude, it arose out of a collective learning and out of a collective exchange…Return to the notion that it’s not just you, a monk alone in a chamber. That it’s you reading out of a collective, from a collective. I love that idea because I never forgot how I learned to read…With a group of people, with teachers. I learned to read in Kindergarten when I first moved to the United States, watching other kids make mistakes, do things right, and having access to a group of teachers who were committed at that moment. And in It’s a Wonderful Life, do you remember the husband of the teacher who punches [Jimmy Stewart] goes, “My wife taught your children to read.” And it is a debt. Reading is a debt we owe to a collective, while we may practice it alone.

What Would Jesus Buy?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Into the Mystic



We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won as we sailed into the mystic
Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic

And when that fog horn blows I will be coming home
And when the fog horn blows I want to hear it
I don't have to fear it

And I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
And magnificently we will flow into the mystic

When that fog horn blows you know I will be coming home
And when that fog horn whistle blows I got to hear it
I don't have to fear it

And I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
And together we will flow into the mystic
Come on girl...

Too late to stop now...

Stressed Out and On Edge

“My experiences are not pornography for my friends or for anyone else. I use the word pornography because I feel like it is just the ... exploitation of my personal experiences for someone else's entertainment ... I dehumanized people ... I don't even know how many raids I did while I was there. But during raids you're throwing them up against the wall, you're tying their hands behind their back, you're dragging them out of the bed. You're dehumanizing them in front of their wives and their kids and, you know, the women are crying and the children are crying and you're just like, whatever. Put a bag over their head or blindfold, drag them into the Humvee. Certain exhibitions of violence on my part that were probably unnecessary — were definitely unnecessary. But I was really stressed out and on edge at the time and I conducted myself ... like that."

Demond Mullins, a young man from Brooklyn who spent a year in Iraq with the National Guard and has found academics helpful in dealing with the effects of his experiences in the war (From Morning Edition, NPR, 11/14/07)

Not What We Say

Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Peter Hedges
Writer-director Peter Hedges discussing his latest movie, Dan in Real Life, with Elvis Mitchell on KCRW's The Treatment (11/07/07):

"Good writing is often what you don’t write…My stories are always about people—usually good people—trying to do the right thing, but not necessarily capable of doing it. Theater at its best teaches us how to talk to each other again and film at its best makes us feel less alone. For me [with] movies I love, I go, Oh, I know. I know what they’re feeling. I’ve felt that way. Oh, I’m afraid to feel that way. Oh, now I’m not so afraid to feel that way because I saw them feel that way.

I like stories that are not hard to understand. At their best, they may be difficult to handle, but not because they’re cryptic. They’re very clear. What’s interesting is when a character can’t speak, we find ourselves wanting to speak for them. We know what they’re saying. So I feel that those silences pull and audience in. Not from a manipulative standpoint, it’s more from this is what’s true…Ultimately it’s what we do in film, and not what we say, that matters."

Dan In Real Life director Peter Hedges and Sondre jamming in between scenes on set in Newport, Rhode Island, December 2006.

I Lived on the Moon

A musical video clip by Yannick Puig


I Lived on the Moon
official website

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Three Big Things

"You have your three big things that you can talk about, basically, if you’re going to write something that actually means something to you as a human being, which is Love, God and Death. That’s basically the thing. Love, which occupies a lot of our time, because we don’t like being lonely. God, because everyone wants to know that there’s a reason behind what they’re doing and what the hell is going on. And death is just the reality of your finite time here...

Whatever gets your creative juice flowing. Some people write amazing protest songs because they want things to be right. That doesn’t float my boat but I say that there’s three things, there’s three guideposts, but it’s not like a math problem where you touch on one of them and it’s a decent song. I have lots of other interests, but there’s something about when you sit down to write something you want to sing over and over again, it usually comes down to one of those three things.”

--Sam Beam, from Growing a Bard (Paste, Issue #36, October 2007)

Naked As We Came

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It's the dose that makes the poison

From "Too Much Information? Ignore It" (Alex Williams, New York Times, 11-11-07):

After reading Mr. [Timothy] Ferriss’s recent best seller, The 4-Hour Workweek, Jason Hoffman, a founder of Joyent, which designs Web-based software for small businesses, urged his employees to cut out the instant-messaging and swear off multitasking. From now on, he told them, severely restrict e-mail use and conduct business the old-fashioned way, by telephone.

“All of a sudden,” Mr. Hoffman said of the results, “their evenings are free. All of a sudden Monday doesn’t feel so overwhelming.”
...
“BlackBerrys and e-mail aren’t inherently bad,” [Ferriss] said. “It’s just like medicine: it’s the dose that makes the poison.”

Our Real Work

"It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings."

Wendell Berry

The Smooth Flow of the Soul

"Emptiness feels empty not because there is nothing present, but because whatever it is we're doing has no egotistic interference. The subtle arteries have no ego plaque in them, nothing to resist the smooth flow of the soul. Without our getting in the way, the life of the soul is rich and full, though unpredictable. But it isn't easy to trust strong desire and the life that keeps pouring into us. We always think we know better what should be and how it should all turn out. That is why the death principle—avoiding, worrying, being moralistic—is so popular."

--Thomas Moore, The Soul's Religion

Sailing to the Moon

"What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous."

-- Thomas Merton

King Jeff The Magnificent
The Old Trout Puppet Workshop

Music: Spem in alium by Thomas Tallis

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Penalty

Beirut

More videos from The Flying Club Cup. More Take-Away Shows from Blogotheque.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Pale Blue Dot

From The Writer's Almanac today:

It's the birthday of Carl Sagan, born in Brooklyn, New York (1934), who did more to promote space exploration than almost any other single person. He was a young astronomer advising NASA on a mission to send remote-controlled spacecrafts to Venus, when he learned that the spacecrafts would carry no cameras, because the other scientists considered cameras to be excess weight. Sagan couldn't believe they would give up the chance to see an alien planet up close. He lost the argument that time, but it's largely thanks to him that cameras were used on the Viking, Voyager, and Galileo missions, giving us the first real photographs of planets like Jupiter and Saturn and their moons.

Sagan also persuaded NASA engineers to turn the Voyager I spacecraft around on Valentine's Day in 1990, so that it could take a picture of Earth from the very edge of our solar system, about 4 billion miles away. In the photograph, Earth appears as a tiny bluish speck.

Sagan later wrote of the photograph, "Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives... [on] a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."

Pale Blue Dot
[Thanks Kit!]

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A Non-Threatening Relationship with Loneliness

From Six Kinds of Loneliness by Pema Chödrön:

As human beings, not only do we seek resolution, but we also feel that we deserve resolution. However, not only do we not deserve resolution, we suffer from resolution. We don't deserve resolution; we deserve something better than that. We deserve our birthright, which is the middle way, an open state of mind that can relax with paradox and ambiguity. To the degree that we've been avoiding uncertainty, we're naturally going to have withdrawal symptoms—withdrawal from always thinking that there's a problem and that someone, somewhere, needs to fix it.

The middle way is wide open, but it's tough going, because it goes against the grain of an ancient neurotic pattern that we all share. When we feel lonely, when we feel hopeless, what we want to do is move to the right or the left. We don't want to sit and feel what we feel. We don't want to go through the detox. Yet the middle way encourages us to do just that. It encourages us to awaken the bravery that exists in everyone without exception, including you and me.

Meditation provides a way for us to train in the middle way—in staying right on the spot. We are encouraged not to judge whatever arises in our mind. In fact, we are encouraged not to even grasp whatever arises in our mind. What we usually call good or bad we simply acknowledge as thinking, without all the usual drama that goes along with right and wrong. We are instructed to let the thoughts come and go as if touching a bubble with a feather. This straightforward discipline prepares us to stop struggling and discover a fresh, unbiased state of being.

The experience of certain feelings can seem particularly pregnantwith desire for resolution: loneliness, boredom, anxiety. Unless we can relax with these feelings, it's very hard to stay in the middle when we experience them. We want victory or defeat, praise or blame. For example, if somebody abandons us, we don't want to be with that raw discomfort. Instead, we conjure up a familiar identity of ourselves as a hapless victim. Or maybe we avoid the rawness by acting out and righteously telling the person how messed up he or she is. We automatically want to cover over the pain in one way or another, identifying with victory or victimhood.

Usually we regard loneliness as an enemy. Heartache is not something we choose to invite in. It's restless and pregnant and hot with the desire to escape and find something or someone to keep us company. When we can rest in the middle, we begin to have a non-threatening relationship with loneliness, a relaxing and cooling loneliness that completely turns our usual fearful patterns upside down.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Salvation

"Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, could be accomplished alone; therefore, we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our own standpoint; therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness."

-- Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History (Niebuhr wrote what has become the Serenity Prayer for a sermon in the 1930s, "God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other." The prayer was written on cards that were carried by soldiers during World War II before being adopted in a modified form by Alcoholics Anonymous.)

Yesterday is all that does count

Call it, Friend-OFrom No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy:

He looked at her. After a while he said: It's not about knowin where you are. It's about thinkin you got there without takin anything with you. Your notions about startin over. Or anybody's. You dont start over. That's what it's about. Ever step you take is forever. You cant make it go away. None of it. You understand what I'm saying?

I think so.

I know you dont but let me try it one more time. You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday dont count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is there? Your life is made out of the days it's made out of. Nothin else. You might think you could run away and change your name and I dont know what all. Start over. And then one mornin you wake up and look at the ceilin and guess who's laying there?

...

I read in the papers here a while back some teachers come across a survey that was sent out back in the thirties to a number of schools around the country. Had this questionnaire about what was the problems with teachin in the schools. And they come across these forms, they'd been filled out and sent in from around the country answerin these questions. And the biggest problems they could name was things like talkin in class and runnin in the hallways. Chewin gum. Copyin homework. Things of that nature. So they got one of them forms that was blank and printed up a bunch of em and sent em back out to the same schools. Forty years later. Well, here come the answers back. Rape, arson, murder. Drugs. Suicide. So I think about that. Because a lot of the time ever when I say anything about how the world is goin to hell in a handbasket people will just sort of smile and tell me I'm gettin old. That it's one of the symptoms. But my feelin about that is that anybody that cant tell the difference between rapin and murderin people and chewin gum has got a lot bigger of a problem than what I've got. Forty years is not a long time neither. Maybe the next forty of it will bring some of em out from the ether. If it aint too late.

Combined to a Unique Degree

From The Body Has a Mind of Its Own: How Body Maps in Your Brain Help You Do (Almost) Everything Better, by Sandra Blakeslee and Matthew Blakeslee:

Your right frontal insula “lights up” when you feel all the quintessential human emotions—love, hate, disgust, gratitude, resentment, self-confidence, embarrassment, trust, distrust, empathy, contempt, approval, disdain, pride, humiliation, truthfulness, deceit, atonement, guilt. It also lights up when you feel strong sensations, from physical pain to a fluttery stomach to tingling loins.
...

This dual physical-emotional sensitivity is not just a coincidence. The right frontal insula is where conscious physical sensation and conscious emotional awareness co-emerge. Consider this amazing fact: the right frontal insula is active both when you experience literal physical pain and when you experience the psychic “pain” of rejection or the social exclusion of being shunned. It lights up when you feel someone is treating you unfairly.
...

In every brain-imaging study ever done of every human emotion, the right frontal insula and anterior cingulate cortex light up together, [Arthur] Craig [a neuroanatomist at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix] says. He takes this to mean that in humans, emotions, feelings, motivations, ideas and intentions are combined to a unique degree, and that this is a key element of our humanity.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Where do we live?

Director Shekhar Kapur discussing his most recent film, Elizabeth: The Golden Age with Elvis Mitchell on KCRW’s The Treatment (10/24/07):

"It is about, where does a body endwhere does everything endand where does the spirit start? When you’re jogging, at one point—I used to do this and test it out—I [would] run, run, run till the body gives up and then suddenly the spirit takes over. So that fascinates me. Where do we live? Do we live in the body or do we live in the spirit? When you make films about men, it’s always about the body and about conquest and the maleness of it—unless you make Buddha or Ghandi or Mandela. But with women, it becomes much more interesting and much more complex because the spirit fights back."

Boo

Halloween seems more Eros than Thanatos these days. On Saturday evening, we were drinking tea and talking about Lars and the Real Girl before its charm had a chance to evaporate (the film cleverly uses restraint to ground its unlikely premise--boy meets artificial girl--and grows a sincere tenderness out of simple and familiar social conventions), but my attention kept wandering to the Ohio State students drifting past the window on their way to costume parties.

A surgeon crossed the street with a short skirted nurse on each arm. A woman in a tight black dress wore a gilded hard hat with a light mounted on it, and yelled up to people drinking on a nearby balcony that she was a gold digger. A muscular man with glitter on his chest and shoulders clomped by alone in high heels and a low-cut ball gown. A Spartan soldier in a helmet, boots, and red cape passed by to reveal that the only other thing he’d brought along besides his spear was the pair of black briefs he was wearing. And just this morning, the sun played along as it rose slowly over the city, saturating the entire backdrop with copper and amber, the pale thighs of a French maid glowed like the moon as she stepped over the railroad tracks in fishnet stockings, long black gloves, and the lingering darkness.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Skimming Proust

Valerio MezanottiPierre Bayard, French literature professor at the University of Paris and author of How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read, responds to questions posed by Deborah Solomon in today's New York Times Magazine.

"I think between reading and nonreading there is an indeterminate space that is quite important, a space where you have books you have skimmed, books you have heard about and books you have forgotten. You don’t have to feel guilty about it."

But what about those of us who read to feel things — to experience pleasure, an end to loneliness? Of course I read in order to feel something. And to feel an end to my loneliness, of course, just as you.

Then why are you so willing to devalue the experience of close reading in favor of skimming? You seem to believe that knowing a little bit about 100 literary classics is preferable to knowing one book intimately. I think a great reader is able to read from the first line to the last line; if you want to do that with some books, it’s necessary to skim other books. If you want to fall in love with someone, it’s necessary to meet many people. You see what I mean?

Have you read all of Proust, on whom you once wrote a scholarly book, “Off the Subject: Proust and Digression”? Proust is very difficult to read. His sentences are long and have very strange constructions, so it is not very possible to read it from the first line to the last line. You are obliged to use another way of reading.

Are you saying you skimmed Proust? Yes, of course I did! I prefer to say that I live with Proust. He’s a companion. Sometimes I go to Proust and I seek advice for my life. I open it and I skim some pages. That is to live with books. It’s important to live with books.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Multitasking

From "The Autumn of the Multitaskers" by Walter Kirn, The Atlantic Monthly, November 2007

It isn’t working, it never has worked, and though we’re still pushing and driving to make it work and puzzled as to why we haven’t stopped yet, which makes us think we may go on forever, the stoppage or slowdown is coming nonetheless, and when it does, we’ll be startled for a moment, and then we’ll acknowledge that, way down deep inside ourselves (a place that we almost forgot even existed), we always knew it couldn’t work.

Istvan Banyai

The scientists know this too, and they think they know why. Through a variety of experiments, many using functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure brain activity, they’ve torn the mask off multitasking and revealed its true face, which is blank and pale and drawn.

Multitasking messes with the brain in several ways. At the most basic level, the mental balancing acts that it requires—the constant switching and pivoting—energize regions of the brain that specialize in visual processing and physical coordination and simultaneously appear to shortchange some of the higher areas related to memory and learning. We concentrate on the act of concentration at the expense of whatever it is that we’re supposed to be concentrating on.

For more on Walter Kirn:

Better

"Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup."

--Wendell Berry

A Vision of Students Today

"There is a world of difference between the modern home environment of integrated electric information and the classroom. Today’s television child is attuned to the up-to-the-minute “adult” news -- inflation, rioting, war, taxes, crime, bathing beauties -- and is bewildered when he enters the nineteenth-century environment that still characterizes the educational establishment where information is scarce but ordered and structured by fragmented, classified patterns, subjects, and schedules. It is naturally an environment much like any factory set-up with its inventories and assembly lines.

"The 'child' was an invention of the seventeenth century; he did not exist in, say, Shakespeare’s day. He had, up until that time, been merged in the adult world and there was nothing that could be called childhood in our sense.

"Today’s child is growing up absurd, because he lives in two worlds, and neither of them inclines him to grow up. Growing up -- that is our new work, and it is total. Mere instruction will not suffice."

--Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects (1967)

[Spotted on Jonathan Carroll's blog]

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

An Act that Requires Courage

From Reading like a writer : a guide for people who love books and for those who want to write them by Francine Prose:

When we think about how many terrifying things people are called on to do every day as they fight fires, defend their rights, perform brain surgery, give birth, drive on the freeway, and wash skyscraper windows, it seems frivolous, self-indulgent, and self-important to talk about writing as an act that requires courage. What could be safer than sitting at your desk, lightly tapping a few keys, pushing your chair back, and pausing to see what marvelous tidbit of art your brain has brought forth to amuse you?

And yet most people who have tried to write have experienced not only the need for bravery but a failure of nerve as the real or imagined consequences, faults and limitations, exposures and inadequacies dance before their eyes and across the empty screen or page. The fear of writing badly, of revealing something you would rather keep hidden, of losing the good opinion of the world, of violating your own high standards, or of discovering something about yourself that you would just as soon not know—those are just a few of the phantoms scary enough to make the writer wonder if there might be a job available washing skyscraper windows.

All of which brings up yet another reason to read. Literature is an endless source of courage and confirmation. The reader and beginning writer can count on being heartened by all the brave and original works that have been written without the slightest regard for how strange or risky they were, or for what the writer’s mother might have thought when she read them.

The Temptation of Adam

by Josh Ritter
[listen]

If this was the Cold War we could keep each other warm
I said on the first occasion that I met Marie
We were crawling through the hatch that was the missile silo door
And I don't think that she really thought that much of me

I never had to learn to love her like I learned to love the Bomb
She just came along and started to ignore me
As we waited for the Big One
I started singing her my songs
And I think she started feeling something for me

We passed the time with crosswords that she thought to bring inside
What five letters spell "apocalypse" she asked me
I won her over saying "W.W.I.I.I."
We smiled and we both knew that she'd misjudged me

Oh Marie it was so easy to fall in love with you
It felt almost like a home of sorts or something
And you would keep the warhead missile silo good as new
And I watched you with my thumb above the button

Then one night you found me in my army issue cot
And you told me of your flash of inspiration
You said fusion was the broken heart that's lonely's only thought
And all night long you drove me wild with your equations

Oh Marie do you remember all the time we used to take
We'd make our love and then ransack the rations
I think about you leaving now and the avalanche cascades
And my eyes get washed away in chain reactions

Oh Marie if you would stay then we could stick pins in the map
Of all the places where you thought that love would be found
But I would only need one pin to show where my love's at
In a top secret location three hundred feet under the ground

We could hold each other close and stay up every night
Looking up into the dark like it's the night sky
And pretend this giant missile is an old oak tree instead
And carve our name in hearts into the warhead

Oh Marie there's something tells me things just won't work out above
That our love would live a half-life on the surface
So at night while you are sleeping
I hold you closer just because
As our time grows short I get a little nervous

So I think about the Big One, W.W.I.I.I.
Would we ever really care the world had ended
You could hold me here forever like you're holding me tonight
I think about that great big red button and I'm tempted

Friday, October 12, 2007

It Exists in Order to Be Discovered

Dr. George Ellis, Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Cape Town and the author of On the Moral Nature of the Universe: Cosmology, Theology, and Ethics in conversation with Krista Tippett on Speaking of Faith (5/10/07):

Mathematicians discover the nature of mathematics despite what they want. What I mean by that is something like the following. It was a great shock to mathematicians when they discovered that the square root of two is irrational. That's not something that they wanted. The number pi is irrational. That's also not something mathematicians wanted. What I'm pointing out here is that mathematics exists and is discovered. It's not invented by humans. It's something which is discovered. Therefore, in some sense, it exists in order to be discovered.

The view on ethics I take as an ethical realist is it's the same, the nature is sitting there in some sense waiting to be discovered. And the deep nature of ethics...is what we call kenotic ethics.

[Kenosis is] a Greek word meaning letting go or giving up, and it's used in the Bible in Philippians. It's central to my understanding of Christianity, and there's a spectrum which goes through in practical terms from forgiveness, which is a crucial part in which you are giving up the need for revenge. And it goes through to self-sacrifice on behalf of others, which is what Gandhi was about, Martin Luther King was about. And to me, that's the really, really deep transformative principle, which was also in the life of Christ, of course, when he sacrificed himself on behalf of others.

I think it's important to say that to me, kenosis is a generic principle which is much wider than just ethics. For instance, it's actually central — this emptying oneself — it's actually central to education and learning, because if you go into learning any subject with a preconceived notion, you can't learn. You have to empty your mind of your preconceived notion that you can see something new.

In ethics, though the key point about kenosis is the willingness to give up, which makes way for contact with the human part of the other person. And it's a kind of moral jujitsu in that they're expecting you to react in the way that they want you to react. They are your enemy and they want you to be their enemy. And if you refuse to be their enemy, then they don't know how to handle it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I Don't Have the Faintest Idea

“I’m very much of the school of sitting down with the blank page or the blank screen and going through an agonizing process of admitting that I don’t have the faintest idea of what I could write a novel about. It never begins with a concept or with a story. It tends to begin with a point of view and then I have to discover whose point of view is delivering these visual impressions. With this book, the second chapter of the published version was originally the first chapter and all I had of it were a series of really moody visual impressions of Lower Manhattan at Lafayette and Canal in winter. And I didn’t know who was the camera. And so I had to—in some way that I don’t really consciously understand—I had to interrogate that material and out of it I got my Russian-speaking, Cuban-Chinese kid, Tito. Then I had to discover his backstory.”

William Gibson, discussing his book Spook County on KCRW’s Bookworm

Whole Crowds of People within One Person

“I think so many people—I’m not talking about athletes in particular, anybody—has to know how to get off the floor. I don’t care how successful you are, how famous you are, how impenetrable you may seem to be from self-doubt or unemployment or popularity ratings…I mean who knows what it’s really like to be Jay Leno or what it’s like to be a person on television who leads nightly news…you know, the private life of [Katie Couric] and her own ups and downs, we don’t know much about that. But if you really got to know her—or anybody we’re talking about—they have many sides—many sides. They show you the perfect, public posturing. But in their off hours, when they’re not on stage, when they’re not up their in the gleaming lights of celebritydom, you have different people. They’re many different people. In any person there are many people. Whole crowds of people within one person, that sometimes show themselves and sometimes fade into the sunlight of their own series of successes and failures.”

Gay Talese, discussing his book A Writer’s Life on KCRW’s The Treatment (2/21/07)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I Love the Unknown

A song by Clem Snide's Eef Barzelay from the movie Rocket Science. Alex and I were charmed by the imperfect characters and the humor and the soundtrack. We seem to be unable to discuss it without, um, you know, talking like...um, like, like...um, stuttering.


The doctor asked him what he was afraid of
Just what was he running from?
And he said it’s not a fear of success nor of closeness
But of going through life feeling numb

Monday, October 08, 2007

I'm Not There

Quotes from "This is Not a Bob Dylan Movie" by Robert Sullivan, New York Times Sunday Magazine (10/07/07):

Todd Haynes’s Dylan project is a biopic starring six people as Bob Dylan, or different incarnations of Bob Dylan, including a 13-year-old African-American boy, Marcus Carl Franklin, and an Australian woman, Cate Blanchett. It’s a biopic with a title that takes it name from one of the most obscure titles in the Dylan canon, a song available only as a bootleg, called "I'm Not There."
***
“I just found this refusal to be fixed as a single self in a single voice as a key to his freedom,” Haynes [said]. “And he somehow escaped this process of being frozen into one fixed person.”
***
“If a film were to exist in which the breadth and flux of a creative life could be experienced, a film that could open up as oppose to consolidating what we think we already know walking in, it could never be within the tidy arc of a master narrative. The structure of such a film would have to be a fractured one, with numerous openings and a multitude of voices, with its prime strategy being one of refraction, not condensation. Imagine a film splintered between seven separate faces — old men, young men, women, children — each standing in for spaces in a single life.” [Todd Haynes, in a letter pitching the film idea to Bob Dylan.] (A seventh Dylan...was eventually cut.)