A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for March 2004

[NON-BLOG] Drinking Culture Question

Today’s a beautiful day in Kingston, at least relatively speaking compared to the drab cool days of winter hopefully behind us all in southern Ontario. I’ll be checking papers, I fear, but I hope to spend some time outside. If worst comes to worst, my office at least has a window. Later tonight, I’ll be going to Tango as part of an English graduate students’ celebration of the end of term. I’ve got half of my TA essays to check, true, and three essays to write, but there’s enough time. Besides, tapas are fun. And I’ve got a legitimate excuse to wear my blazer!

This impending visit started me wondering. It’s almost a truism in Western popular culture that people who, after they’ve been drinking a lot, do embarrassing or stupid things claim that they were so drunk that they had no idea what they were doing. I never got into drinking culture in high school, or even as an undergraduate student, so I was never able to judge the accuracy of these claims first-hand.

As a graduate student, though, I’ve probably indulged more frequently since August than in the rest of my life to date. Possibly my self-education is lacking in certain unspoken elements that people who begin drinking earlier in their lives absorb; one of the major flaws of self-education, as I understand the concept, is that you miss out on the practical experience that provides a necessary supplement to whatever theory you’ve learned. Regardless of this, my experience to date has been that while excessive drinking removes my inhibitions, it doesn’t make me act in a way disregarding my wishes, instead simply removing my inhibitions to behave in certain ways. I knew what I was doing, after drinking; I was simply more likely to do it.

I think that this personal discovery of mine, contradicting as it does cultural dogma, can be explained in one of three ways, some of which are mutually contradictory:

  • People know this, but just don’t talk about it.
  • I’m an exceptional drunk.
  • I just haven’t drunk enough.

Thoughts?

Written by Randy McDonald

March 30, 2004 at 2:11 pm

Posted in Assorted

[BRIEF NOTE] More on Anti-Semitism and The Passion

It looks like I was right about The Passion reinforcing existing anti-Semitism. From Al Bawaba:

Gibson’s film has stirred a religious controversy in Kuwait between majority Sunni Muslims who oppose the movie and the emirate’s Shi’ite Muslims who call for showing it. The authorities, meanwhile, have not decided either way. Tabtabai went so far as to outlaw the film’s screening by any Muslim country and But the emirate’s leading Shi’ite cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al-Muhri said there was nothing wrong in showing the film and called on the authorities to approve it.

According to the news agency AFP, it was argued that the film is a good opportunity to reveal the crimes committed by Jews against the Christ and many other (religious) prophets. “We sincerely respect the Jewish religion and Jews, but not the Jewish Zionists, and we believe in Jesus and Moses like we believe in our own prophet,” he added.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 30, 2004 at 9:49 am

Posted in Assorted

[REVIEW] Jesus of Montréal

I watched Jesus of Montréal this evening, from 7 o’clock to almost 9 o’clock, as part of my medieval devotional literature class. There were pizza, and drinks, and pears, all thoughtfully provided by Dr. Pappano. Only two people–one other English graduate student, and his girlfriend–appeared; unfortunate, this, since the Ellis Hall auditorium is quite large.

As I’ve come to expect from Arcand, it’s a fantastic film. Ebert’s review touches on only some of the reasons that the class watched the film. Dr. Pappano saw in the film, with its close integration into the Montréal city landscape and Québécois post-Catholic culture, interesting parallels with the passion plays held in many English towns in the late Middle Ages, with their close links to local cultures and folkways. You definitely saw that in the whole adaptation of the Passion, as the actors managed to successfully assimilate the latest discoveries to the Passion story to create a very topical updating of Christ’s message.

(Interestingly, Gilles Pelletier, the actor playing Father Leclerc, also features in another Arcand film, 2003’s The Barbarian Invasions. He also plays a priest in this film, one showing off a church basement full of Catholic sacred art to a French auctioneer, only to be told that outside of its cultural heritage the stockpile is valueless. They could well be the same characters–certainly they’re both priests beaten down by their hierarchies and by popular disinterest. It’d be interesting if Jesus of Montréal could be assimilated to that filmic universe.)

I’m still thinking about my reactions to Jesus of Montréal, in part because we’ll be discussing it (along with The Passion and a Middle English text) tomorrow in class. It was definitely a powerful film, and it did manage to achieve its goal of an intelligent renovation of Christ’s mission and death. I can’t help but feel that if Christianity is ever revived in the First World outside of the United States, it will have to be through like means. Traditional faith just might not work any more; a faith acknowledging the profound need for belief, and the doubt always present in the minds of believers, might have to do. It’s certainly the only sort of faith I can see myself embracing.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 30, 2004 at 1:02 am

Posted in Assorted

[BRIEF NOTE] The Little Things

I’m back in MacDonald-Corrie, taking a break from checking papers. This batch continues to be good, although for some odd reason people are violating the standards of MLA by using footnotes. (It’s not history, people. It’s also not philosophy, I think.)

I’ve been listening, as I said in a previous post, to Yoko Ono’s “Walking on Thin Ice” single. For some reason, it’s become a favourite of mine. Ono’s lyrics strike me as extraordinarily sensitive, as being particularly careful with the little things, with private intimacies set against a grandly impersonal background.

Walking on thin ice
I’m paying the price
For throwing the dice in the air
Why must we learn it the hard way
And play the game of life with your heart
I gave you my knife
You gave me my life
Like a gush of wind in my hair
Why do we forget what’s been said
And play the game of life with our hearts
I may cry some day
But the tears will dry whichever way
And when our hearts return to ashes
It’ll be just a story
It’ll be just a story
“I knew a girl
Who tried to walk across the lake
‘Course it was winter and all this was ice
That’s a hell of a thing to do, you know
They say this lake is as big as the Ocean
I wonder if she knew about it?”

Elvis Costello appears to have done a cover version just slightly different from the original, at least lyrically. He’s another artist I really have to check out, since those songs of his that I’ve seen on Muchmusic in videos have struck me as paying a similarly close attention to detail. For that matter, I have to check out Yoko Ono–the Beatles hardly would have stayed together if she didn’t appear, and she’s clearly an artist and musician of note.

The little things do, indeed, matter, and do have effects beyond their relatively small size. Witness this song’s existence.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 29, 2004 at 2:58 pm

Posted in Assorted

Friends Fusion

rfmcdpei’s Friend Fusion
…annoying to think that I am technically waking up at 5:30 and arriving at work at 6:30 and not what it …About six weeks ago I took a spectacular dive whilst blundering to the loo in the pitch dark, and goofed up …most of the rest of their movies (including those of the incomparable Hayao Miyazaki) by the end of this year. Some …into the present sack, ready to work. Now under da tree he’s starting to set he most beautiful presents us Capers …Dumb running riot: This is moderately amusing – it sounds serious, but once you actually read the fucker it’s apparent that …General ? “See the man. What a funny man. His name is Hamlet. He is a prince. He is sad. Why …so much in the past few days. Going out and having fun with my friends isn’t making me feel better anymore. …consequences. Sometimes a disaster will hit us unawares in such a way as to lead us unawares along the right path!” … …Soo pleasant. But, no news I’m still having issues regarding what to post. Life is so boring/strange that I dont even …
Make your own LJ Friend Fusion

LJ Friend Fusion by hutta

Written by Randy McDonald

March 29, 2004 at 1:33 pm

Posted in Assorted

Brent MacLaine, “Mind Games”

There’s no denying you are of my dreams.
Last night, for instance, I carried you away–
oh, not like a rampaging conquistador;
yours was a smooth and agreeable abduction.

And now this morning, how should I let you know
you have been changed, that I recreated you?
certainly, you can’t assume you are untouched,
though any transformations are all my doing.

You walking by makes me think my mind
is now the room–after all, that’s where we met.
Yes, that’s what I should say: don’t forget
this room you’re walking through is all my mind.

– from These fields were rivers (Fredericton, New Brunswick: Goose Lane, 2004), page 75

Written by Randy McDonald

March 28, 2004 at 11:07 pm

Posted in Assorted

[BRIEF NOTE] Aesthetics and Politics

Right now, I’m at MacDonald-Corrie, taking a break from officework. I’m currently in the process of checking papers for English 269, listening to music (Tatu, Lost in Translation, Yoko Ono, Luba, Tatu again), and waiting for the sun to go down so that I can use my laptop to work on an essay for a bisexuality anthology edited by trapezebear and other sorts of materials.

Earlier today, I was reading a book summarizing cultural developments in 18th century England, the better to get a sense of the cultural surrounding of Laurence Sterne for my upcoming paper in that class. There was a very interesting chapter on aesthetics, as this category was constructed in retrospect by 20th and 21st century observers. A serious concern for proportionality inherited from the Greeks and the Romans seems to have been a predominant theme in Georgian England.

Surprisingly enough, as I read the book’s summary on Georgian English aesthetic thought I found that it connected with my non-course-related readings of late in the field of the Kennedy assassination, as inspired by dublingal_ny‘s former link to John MacAdam’s site. It seems that the major conspiracy theories of Kennedy’s death–summed up in Oliver Stone’s profoundly flawed 1991 film JFK–require the presence of conspiracies at some emotional level, the more all-encompassing the theory the better. If Kennedy was a man of unmatched historical importance, then his end should likewise be caused by some event of equal import. His death at the hands of Lee Harvey Oswald seems, in the minds of the majority of Americans who apparently believe that a conspiracy exists, to be disproportionate. That acts can have consequences out of all proportion to their origins–or conversely, that the consequences of some actions can be rather less significant than their origins–is something that just doesn’t click.

The idea of proportionality appeals to me in many ways. The certainty that seems to attach itself to this proportionality, though, isn’t credible to me. Criticisms of proportionality–chaos theory, for instance–work too well for me to accept it wholeheartedly, though, or maybe even half-heartedly. Instability’s our lot in life; the major related issue is how to manage it.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 28, 2004 at 4:33 pm

Posted in Assorted