Posts Tagged ‘sadness’
* So weird to see Donald Trump going through all the traditional rituals of assuming the presidency, like the ceremonial settling of your $25 million fraud cases.
* Film analysis minute: Indiana Jones and the collaborators.
* Suicide contagion in the Age of Trump. The Banality of Trump. While You Weren’t Looking, Donald Trump Released a Plan to Privatize America’s Roads and Bridges. Hey, just out of curiosity, are there any checks in place to keep the US President from starting a nuclear war?
* I come to you now, at the turn of the tide: Finally, the MLA speaks.
* Two days after Donald Trump was elected forty-fifth president of the United States, the Canadian government quietly tweaked our immigration system to make it easier for many Americans to move to Canada.
Longtime readers will know I have a very soft spot for Back to the Future, a series of films I have adored since I was a child and now internalized to a degree that is perhaps unwise. So it’s something of a mixed bag to have lived too long and made it to October 21, 2015, both in the obvious sense that we never got our hover cars and also in the more abstractly philosophically sense that this is the last day depicted in the series, and thus we are now definitely and irrefutably living in that weird space of sadness after the future itself.
We’re doing a small Back to the Future event tonight on campus where I plan (of course) to talk a little bit about the familiar problems posed when you start to overthink the nominally happy end of the movie: the very big problem of the briefly glimpsed Second Marty, who travels into 1955 totally unequipped to replicate the events we’d just witnessed, as well as the longer-term problem of our Marty, Marty 1, who is the last survivor of an obviated timeline and thus surrounded for the rest of his life by the uncanny duplicates of the people he once loved but with whom he now shares no memories or any genuine connection.
But I also want to talk about the original script a little bit, which I find a really fascinating document. Most people know that in the original script the time machine is a refrigerator — changed so that kids wouldn’t climb into them hoping to travel in time — and that the lightning strike is the blast from an atomic test (the two together forming an image that stuck with Spielberg long enough for him to use it to ruin Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). But there’s some other really amazing stuff in there too. The thing is shot through with fears about oil depletion and the end of progress: it’s the subject of a lecture at Marty’s high school in the beginning of the script and something he keeps trying to ask the people of the 1950s about later, to no effect. That sort of science fictional nostalgia for a future that no longer seems possible is really a major theme in the original script, which is reduced to jokes about UFOs and “all the fallout from the atomic wars” in the produced film — the sense that the zany Jetsons future of technological world-transformation we once collectively looked forward to has been lost and the only one left for us is a much more depressive vision of imminent deprivation and catastrophe. (In this sense any eventual 2000s-era “dark, gritty reboot” would actually just be a return to the themes of the original script.)
But something weird happens at the end. In the original script Marty is the co-creator of time travel when he accidentally spills some Coca-Cola on the time device; Coke’s unique chemical formula turns out to contain tremendous energy inside it, easily providing the 1.21 gigawatts necessary to power the Flux Capacitor. Marty’s trip to the past ultimately tips Doc off to Coke’s unknown energistic property, and so when Marty returns to the future at the end of the film he isn’t hopping into a very similar timeline where he just happens to have grown up rich instead of poor, but into an incredible retrofuturistic world of free energy and robot servants and flying cars — precisely the cartoonishly optimistic milieu that is relocated to 2015 for the gag at the end (and later, the sequel). (Doc’s pouring of the half-empty soda can into Mr. Fusion at the end of the film is, I think, the last remaining trace of this original idea.)
In this way “Back to the Future” was actually originally a pun: Marty goes not just back to his future but back to the future, the good future we were supposed to get, instead of the lousy one we actually did…
* CFP for every online academic I know but me: Race, Gender, and the Politics of Representation in Scandal.
* I think this problem goes beyond just academia, though academic life is a particularly hypertrophic version of it. Basically every professional career left in America requires you to completely reboot your life at least three times between high school and your first job.
* Dana Carvey on Harmontown is an amazing episode, but honestly I’d turn it off after Carvey leaves unless you’re a real Harmontown diehard. It’s a pretty big bummer of an episode otherwise.
* BREAKING: Coca-Cola is delicious poison.
* This article takes as its starting point the observation that neoliberalism is a concept thatis ‘oft-invoked but ill-defined’. It provides a taxonomy of uses of the term neoliberalismto include: (1) an all-purpose denunciatory category; (2) ‘the way things are’; (3) an insti-tutional framework characterizing particular forms of national capitalism, most notablythe Anglo-American ones; (4) a dominant ideology of global capitalism; (5) a form of gov-ernmentality and hegemony; and (6) a variant within the broad framework of liberalismas both theory and policy discourse. It is argued that this sprawling set of definitions arenot mutually compatible, and that uses of the term need to bedramatically narrowed fromits current association with anything and everything that a particular author may findobjectionable.
* Is our bloated, monstrous prison system failing its teenage inmates? The New York Times is on it.
* Could a Single Marine Unit Destroy the Roman Empire? Popular Mechanics is on it.
* The American Studies Association’s executive committee has called on the United States government to withdraw all support from the state of Israel, citing attacks on Palestinian universities, including a recent strike on the Islamic University in Gaza City.
* Too much power for any one man: Scientists reconstruct speech through soundproof glass by watching a bag of potato chips.
* First, they came for consumers of child pornography, and I said nothing because a Google bot passively uncovering child pornography on its email server didn’t seem like all that serious a privacy violation to me…
* They’re trying so hard to ruin the new Spider-Man franchise but test audiences keep saving us.
* 5000 words have been added to the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, because ours is an age of weaklings.
* Cruel optimism, part two: Chronicle scribe Max Landis to bring Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently novels to TV.
* Kickstarter: Designers & Dragons is a four volume book series of RPG industry awesomeness, meticulously researched and prettily packaged. Author Shannon Appelcline guides you company by company through the history of tabletop starting in the 1970s all the way up to present day. This series is chock full of fascinating insider tidbits, company profiles, and yes—enough drama to fuel a hundred campaigns.
* This computer program can predict 7 out of 10 Supreme Court decisions. Sadly, the model still can’t identify who has more money in the remaining 30% of cases.
* Two articles I read on the plane: “The Brain on Trial” and Aleksander Hemon’s account of his young daughter’s illness. The latter is only available offline, which (trust me) is for the best. By the end I was nearly bawling. For your own happiness do not read this article.
* The growing controversy over President Obama’s illegal waging of war in Libya got much bigger last night with Charlie Savage’s New York Times scoop. He reveals that top administration lawyers — Attorney General Eric Holder, OLC Chief Caroline Krass, and DoD General Counsel Jeh Johnson — all told Obama that his latest, widely panned excuse for waging war without Congressional approval (that it does not rise to the level of “hostilities” under the War Powers Resolution (WPR)) was invalid and that such authorization was legally required after 60 days: itself a generous intepretation of the President’s war powers. But Obama rejected those views and (with the support of administration lawyers in lesser positions: his White House counsel and long-time political operative Robert Bauer and State Department “legal adviser” Harold Koh) publicly claimed that the WPR does not apply to Libya.
“I support measures that make our roads safer for everyone, but House Bill 242 is a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults,” Perry wrote in his explanation of one of his vetoes.
Perry said in his veto statement that the key to stopping people from texting while driving is “information and education.”
* Mightygodking highlights ethical interpretation with twenty-five movies distilled to a one-sentence moral.
* And Love These Pics takes us on another trip to the New Orleans Six Flags Theme Park abandoned after Hurricane Katrina.