January, 2018

Jan 18


The problem with the term ‘mansplaining’, despite some truth in it, is that along with being a sarcastic term for a demeaning tone of condescension and patronizing, it can also be mis-applied to perfectly legitimate explaining.

Men are about half the human race and they must be able to explain themselves to the other half or the species will shrivel and die. We males, as we abundantly demonstrate, have serious issues–but surely not every explanatory remark made by a man to a woman is condescending, patronizing, demeaning. While thoughtful women know the difference, there are those who declare, “He’s mansplaining!” to “win” the argument even when the man is not being demeaning. The whole mansplaining concept can be a kind of pre-emptive censorship at times, as well. The man says nothing for fear of being a “mansplainer”. And notoriously, failing to talk things out is a toxic state of affairs.

Yes, even women can be unfair. And do women never engage in eye-rolling, demeaning, condescending explanations when speaking to men?

Is this post mansplaining? I hope not. I just know that I don’t dare shake my fist at women over all this…We men are on the defensive all the time now, and  to a large extent we deserve it. Karma is a…well, not a bitch. But it may be a lady.

Jan 18

An Off-the-Cuff review of ‘IT’

      We finally saw the movie IT. We found it entertaining, with a lot of good set pieces, well worth a horror-film fan’s time, but there were disappointments. I’d been given the impression by glowing blurbs that it was an epochal horror film, something supposedly as significant as The Exorcist or Psycho or The Creature from the Black Lagoon or The Incredible Shrinking Man or The Blair Witch Project (I found Blair Witch to be scary and it created a whole subgenre of horror film) or Ringu or The Host… But it wasn’t as significant as any of those films. The Exorcist had a real auteur at the helm, a director with an innate sense of image flow and narrative traction. IT, by contrast, has a director who’s either weak willed enough to be excessively interfered with by producers and studios, or who doesn’t understand storytelling and cinematic flow very well. He’s not awful, he’s just either prone to choppiness, and lapses into narrative vagueness–or someone made him cut a lot of connective tissue. I also think the that music used to signal “something scary is coming” is a weakness in filmmaking, and it’s a weakness here…
      Most scenes, as individual set pieces, seem well written,  very well acted (Bill Skarsgard is quite effective indeed as Pennywise the Evil Clown), and the majority of scenes have their scares. There are moments when Pennywise makes his move to take down a victim, coming at us face on, that are strikingly, chillingly constructed, a sort of rapid-pace montage of rapacity. The climactic scene is nicely constructed…The girl who plays Beverly is wonderfully charismatic, and is the boldest and most empathetic of the group, a good role model for young women. The cinematography, creature effects, shot composition, art design, is all high quality, sometimes exquisite. And the script does seem very Stephen King inspired. However…
      I know, there are a lot of characters to juggle, you can only fit so much in, but if that’s the challenge, rise to it. Work harder. Say more with less if you have to, but include what you need to make it flow…As it is the film feels herky-jerky, and there failures of internal logic, as after hugely horrific incidents the group of kids are often flirting or kidding around when they should be much more devastated. And there are a lot of threads that are not followed up. I’m sure it was all more cohesive in the novel. And I see that this is designated Chapter One, so a sequel is planned, which may knit the first film into an overall weave–much more from the King novel. (Which I haven’t read, but I’m aware it’s a huge book.) If I were giving the film as a whole a rating using stars–I’d say overall, IT is a two and a half or three star movie. But if I were giving stars just for acting, visuals, production values, pacing (it’s 135 minutes but didn’t seem too long), soundtrack, I’d give it four stars.
      You can call the following a spoiler if you like, but I don’t think so, it won’t mean anything to anyone but those who’ve seen the film: That bit near the end “the kids are floating down”–and then nothing more. That whole aspect is never resolved. What happened to the souls or ghosts of the murdered children? We never learn. Also the kids in the group  don’t explain anything to the town. No one in authority is sent down into the well. Does the book resolve this stuff?
      Still, it’s worthwhile, and you can see it now as a streaming rental for five bucks.

Jan 18

The Infinitely Creative

Just returned from a walk, a chilly, gray visit to the beach. It was low tide, as January seems the low tide of the year, but my dogs were lively, seabirds went about their business. Thought of the moon pulling the tide like a hand coiling a spring. It’ll release, the tide’ll rise, either way, there’s turbulence, interaction–gravitation with planet, wind with water, a churning, a constant striking of sparks from flint.

It strikes me, so to speak, that there’s no need for a creator in a universe that is all creativity. It is its own creator.

Jan 18

Know Thyself

First…from the Gnostic text, though some say it really closer to being a straight up gospel…The Gospel According to Thomas: “…These are the secret words which the Living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas wrote: And He said: Whoever finds the explanation of these words will not taste death. Jesus said; Let him who seeks, not cease seeking until he finds, and when he finds/he will be troubled, and when he has been troubled, he will marvel, and he will reign over the All. ..Jesus said: If those who lead you say to you: ‘See, the Kingdom is in Heaven’, then the birds of the Heavens will precede you. If they say to you: ‘It is in the sea’, then the fish will precede you. But the Kingdom is within you and it is without you. If you will know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will know that you are the sons of the Living Father. But if you do not know yourselves then you are in poverty and you are poverty.”

This “knowing yourself” is not so easy. There is a story (there are several extant versions) of a Zen monk who went to his Master and said, “Master I want to be like you, and soon. How will this be accomplished?”

And the Master said, “It can be accomplished like this: go for just seven days watching everything you do and everything you feel, and do not let your attention lapse at all for those seven days.”

The Monk said: “Piece of cake!” He went and tried to do this, and after just a few minutes found he was thinking, instead, of dinner. And afterward, was drawn into free association and ceased to be vigilantly aware within himself. He tried again and again but could not be completely vigilant for more than a few minutes at a time. And he had been asked to be vigilant continually for seven days! So he returned to his Master and said, “It is too difficult to learn to do this in seven days—can you give me more time?”

The Master said, “Yes. Take seventy years.”