September 15, 2015

Opinionated Opinions Now On Sale (10% off)


Watched the Steve Jobs documentary and I was fascinated how he (who aspired to be an artist) admitted that creativity with computers it is necessarily temporary, that unlike church buildings or great art (he used those two examples specifically) it won't last. Software marches on, and you can't even go back to an early Mac now because there's no software for it. It's sad for programmers and can lead to a devaluing of our work if not careful.  He compared it to a sedimentary rock in which you form a layer that builds the rock higher - soon enough no one who sees the rock will know what you did (“unless they have x-ray vision”).  Of course, the secret life of faith is that it is mostly hidden.

I thought of that as an analogy of how theologians stand on the shoulders of giants like Augustine and Aquinas. But a difference is that Augustine and Aquinas will be remembered for all time. Will Bill Gates or Steven Jobs?

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Read a potent National Review piece on sex and the meaning of it, how it's not just the pleasure we're after but the human connection. "We crave the intense solidarity it can create." The baring of breasts at Times Square was an attempt to undermine the taboo by unlinking them as a symbol of sexual intimacy.  The NR author writes that the he finds trying to destroy the totemic significance of exposed breasts not distasteful but "awful limited":  "A woman's breasts," in our society, are a "special emblem of being an insider...Taboos designed to protect this form of intimacy strike me as valuable and worthy of respect."

I can see that, but having breasts covered at all times certainly doesn't prevent the desire to be an insider to a party - it likely just changes the emblem of sexual intimacy to something else?  In devout Islamic societies the whole of a woman's body is taboo, hence the burka.  And still men there presumably lust (over exposed ankles?).  On the other hand, it's certainly likely that Islamic societies have a healthier view of sex than the West, given the bigger families, less porn, etc... They seem to realize, to a greater extent, the purpose of sex even if women aren't treated all that well.

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Was Gone With the Wind the saddest movie of all time? An unscientific Google search reveals a lot of hits with those two phrases. (But then on a hunch I tried “saddest movie of all time” + "Anchorman" and got a lot of hits, so an emphasis on unscientific.)

What is it about sad movies being so popular? Titanic is likely the GWTW of our generation given the surreal box office figures. I also wonder if my mother's pessimism can all be traced to the viewing of GWTW.

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My “Herman Melville prayerbook” came today, oxymoronic as that sounds. It's the “Portals to Prayer” series marrying literature to Scripture.  An uneasy marriage one might think, especially Melville (who said he was writing a devilish book).

But the priest compiler, a Fr. Boudreau, paints a positive picture, saying that Melville was simply ahead of his time in taking an anti-literalist perspective of Scripture, one the Catholic Church would embrace with Pius XII"s 1943 encyclical which:

 “effectively abandoned Biblical literalism and embraced critical analysis… by the 1960s the Second Vatican Council initiated not just a rearrangement of furniture in the sanctuary but also a fundamental rearrangement of the furniture of religious thought. Which made Moby Dick a prayer book of religious reform and biblical study that endures even to the twenty-first century.”

Oy. That sounds like a hermeneutic of discontinuity.

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Last night read rapturously and with great appreciation and relish the Knox. Earlier had read some of Dutch by Edmund Morris. I wasn't ready for it when I bought it fifteen years ago and my sensitivity to Reagan bashing was more keen. Anyway Morris's gift for writing is keen enough to overcome many sins. Amazingly, he gives credit to Reagan for having the faith that the “madness of economics” would work in his favor - big budget deficits led to GNP growth, a strong stock market, jobs, and even, a dozen years later, to a balanced budget.

It was also telling what French president Mitterrand said of Reagan upon meeting him and spending an extended amount of time with him:
This is a man without ideas and without culture. A sort of conservative, for sure, but beneath the surface you find someone who isn't stupid, who has great good sense and profoundly good intentions. What he does not perceive with intelligence he feels by nature.
Would seem to suggest the low importance of culture and intellectualism in presidents. Innocent as a dove, but shrewd as the serpent?

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About all I know of Taylor Swift is I share her initials and she's a singer, but I was recently riveted by an article about her “squad goals”, a phrase I was unfamiliar with prior but which seems to have some traction among the young peeps. (Is “peeps” still in vogue?) I assume “goals” is a Valley way of pronouncing “gals”. Apparently this squad of long-legged model-like babes was accused of being a cult by a New York Post writer.

I don't think it's any creepier than a typical sorority - witness the Alabama sorority that got in trouble recently for having only pretty girls, mostly blondes, in their recruitment video. Taylor was savvy enough to have a black girl in the mix although no doubt the feeling is genuine and not merely an Affirmative Action pick.

But what is fascinating about the whole set-up to me is how Swift seems to really relish being in control to the nth degree. She not only manages her career, finances, business but her friendships. Nothing haphazard.  I can obviously see the appeal of being in control and it's preferable to being out of control as the typical rock star seems to be, but surely there's a middle ground.

I also find it interesting that she fires back on social media and doesn't take a punch. Sort of Donald Trump-ish in that she doesn't start fights but she'll punch back harder than she was punched.

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I cranked the theme from "Green Acres" on my iphone for nostalgia purposes. It sounded so crisp and melodic. Better than I remembered it as I ran it through my head.

It seems another world - imagine a time when two such completely disparate people could marry and live as one: "'You are my wife' / 'Goodbye, city life'" is likely as incomprehensible a sentiment to the latest generation as a rotary phone.

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Knox version, near end of Ecclesiastes: "Ay, it is good to look upon, the light of day; never was eye yet but loved to see the sun."

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Into the pine cocoon I womb
Bereft of care, concern or wound
Amid the scrolls and knolls I loom
With words I sate, create, consume.

A sylvan divan is my repast
a hammock swung in glade at last
Into a sea of words I cast
Beside a tree, a wooden mast.

So rich this time alluvial
Breezed with grace elliptical
If God be comprehensible
We'd frown at limits sensible.

2 comments:

Banshee said...

If you're a traditional folk musician or songwriter, you are known by your local peers but unknown to most; and the greatest sign of greatness is that your work disappears into the tradition, and becomes difficult to distinguish from other, older songs.

Software is a traditional folk art, and hence is both individual and collaborative in nature. It is also very competitive, which tends to urge people on; but so is traditional folk music.

TS said...

Interesting analogy, yes I can see that.