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Maximum understanding, minimum average total cost.

I really enjoyed the show Life. I watched the entire run the way I often do–while folding laundry–and the characters were believable, complicated, and surprising; the stories generally good; and the overall feel…well, it felt like a show that was made specifically for me. Also, it had the best series ending of any series I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t overstated; it wasn’t overambitious. It closed out the series. It didn’t feel contrived, like Life On Mars (which I loved, although I have yet to see the U.K. original version). It wasn’t telegraphed and terrible, like Lost. It was surprising and fitting and clean–most of all, it was just…graceful.

 
It’s a show about a police detective named Charlie Crews who was falsely convicted of a multiple murder, and spent a decade or so in a maximum security prison before getting out (with a sizeable settlement) and then rejoining the force. He comes out…changed. Part of what got him through, it is revealed early on, is Zen philosophy–and he irritates a lot of people in a delightful fashion.
I was discussing this weekend how much I liked Vonnegut’s tendency to reveal key aspects of the end of his stories before they even got rolling–the painting in the barn in Bluebeard, the Tralfamadorian shenanigans in The Sirens of Titan, the chronological complications of Slaughterhouse-Five. Read the rest of this entry »

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Art, baseball, story and self-reference: post-modernism can’t make you more naked than naked.

So I got into a discussion this weekend about movies and television shows and books, and we were throwing stories around, by which I mean naming and recommending and panning narratives by title, and there wasn’t that much more to it, except that when you’re dropping the references to which the referents are hundreds or thousands of pages or dozens of hours as the final product of thousands of person-hours of writing and directing and costumery and millions of dollars or blood and tears invested, then the mind can reel a bit when you try to wrap your head around it.

by Zaphod

On the face of it, though, it was just a bunch of people talking about the books and movies and TV shows that they like. The idea that one could be entertained or enlightened by the exchange of references seems to be a source of some angst. It need not be a source of guilt. Postmodernism isn’t really going to destroy anything worth caring deeply about after all, except maybe its adherents’ career prospects, eventually. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mending walls and reading minds: explicating poetry and finding real human connection with fictional characters

So, as the result of a Facebook conversation that is totally tangential, I just reread and explicated Frost’s “Mending Wall.” I forgot how much I missed poetry. And prose, for that matter, but really just dialogue and subtext and the myriad gaps that are open to interpretation in any scene. It set my mind spinning and I wanted to get some of it down. What I got? Explication, David Foster Wallace, social anxiety, mindblindness, Borat’s cousin, and the flip side of existential loneliness.

Kopaniec Stone Wall

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