Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Quentin Tarantino and Confusion

Today's American film writers and directors are all too often substituting confusion for profundity (SEE for a prime example, Quentin Tarantino); offering a mangled storyline as a substitute for the truly profound audience involvement in the paradoxes and moral dilemmas of individual lives.

Perhaps it is because filmmakers (post modern?) like him don't really believe in morality any more; certainly not of the standard Western Civilization philosophical variety. So when they make a film, if morality is absent in the storytelling, there can no audience fascination (and patience) as the plot simply unfolds with the film's characters' moral and/or ethical decisions.

What we are given instead by Tarentinoites are events--especially bloody ones--without personal inner moral resonance (the complexity of old fashioned good versus bad); offered instead are sequences that are fundamentally gratuitous (SEE Tarantino's constant use of unthinking, uncriticized violence) and therefore--rather than the film compelling audience involvement--become audience uninvolving; except for a momentary scenes of shock.

As a result, to compensate, to maintain audience interest when the audience has no emotional long term involvement in character development (due to the characters' moral vacuity), the filmmakers jumble up the plot, abjuring any linear, understandable emotional progression, and force the audience to hang around until well into the film and unemotionally stare at the screen, wondering what the hell is happening to the two dimensional characters in front of them. The audience is not only confused about what the characters are doing (jumbled plot), but they also are being subjected to characters they don't fundamentally care about (since they have no moral depth or dimension).

Confused plot, un-relate-able characters: opening this week is another Quentin Tarantino (or his ilk) film brought to you by the same money-venerating movie producers from the same moral and education vacuum that produced and applauds Tarantino; or really themselves.

Friday, August 21, 2009

All behavior is tactical.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sofia's and her Colita

My daughter Mishi, her husband Jorge, their daughter Sofia, and my wife and I were visiting the beach in Santa Monica.

We were ensconced on chairs under a tree near the Annenberg Center Beach and Pool area. After swimming in the pool, Sofia decided she wanted to take off her bathing suit and run around nude. Her Mommy, Mishi, decided that she was getting to an age that her nudity had to start being selectively used: and in Mommy's mind, that day, at that time and place, it was a clothed moment.

Sofia did not agree. She fought her mother's wishes. Her mother was equally adamant. A tussle ensued. Sofia started one of her famous 'meltdowns', shouting and screaming as if assaulted by an enemy army. Her mother was not happy. "Why do you have to take off your bathing suit?" she asked. It was a statement of intent more than a question. Sofia responded with even angrier yelps and whines: "Because my colita hurts," she shouted (colita being her family's word for Sofia's general 'bottom' area).

"She been in the pool," Jorge, sympathetically overhearing, said in Sofia's defense; a possible chlorine rash was his inference. Mishi was not fully convinced. "It hurts," Sofia reiterated. Mishi checked Sofia's colita for a rash. Nothing. Mishi still held firm; then, compromise: "You can take off your bathing suit if you wear your robe." Sofia thought about it; agreed.

After a brief while, Mishi and Sofia were alone. "How's your colita?" Mishi asked. "Fine," said Sofia. Mishi paused. "Sofia...were you lying to me about your colita hurting? Just to get nude?" Sofia stared at her mother, at the latter's dark and penetrating eyes. "Yes," said Sofia. "I'm sorry, Mommy," Sofia said. Silence.

We went for a walk, felt the warm sun commingle with the cool breeze flowing off the ocean. The colita episode seemed all in the past. Sofia said she wanted to cross the sand to the water's edge. We were all in agreement. Suddenly Mishi took her daughter's hand. "Sofia," Mishi said. "When you lie to me like you just did, that creates a big problem. When you tell Mommy something in the future, something that may be true, how will Mommy know? How will Mommy know whether or not you are telling the truth?"

Sofia considered for a moment, then looked up at her Mommy and, in a mixture of simplicity, factual statement, and utmost confidence, said: "You'll figure it out."
With that she sped off to the water's edge, and we dutily followed.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Insurance (?) Companies

All this talk about health care insurance is false. The product being sold by for-profit insurance companies isn't insurance. It's gambling. True insurance covers everyone, irrespective of age, physical condition, history of use, etc. True insurance is a collective COMMON pool of interests...a COMMON fund to provide protection against any undesirable condition occurring to its policyholders; conditions we ope never happen.

What for-profit insurance do, by screening applicants, is 'cherry pick' policy holders, completely rejecting or reconsidering (changing premium prices) or dropping applicants who might make claims that will reduce their profits. These companies are similar to Las Vegas gambling casinos; they are in the business of 'playing the odds' of use by premium holders...which is OK...gambling is legal in some states...but please don' call them insurance companies.

Paying taxes for the fire departments and police departments are true insurance. We taxpayers are policyholders and potential users...WITHOUT DISCRIMINATION... insured against potential problems (fire or lawbreaking situations) that might--unwanted-- occur to any of us who pay the premiums (in this case, taxes), whether we use the services never, once or a hundred times!

Only when for-profit so-called insurance companies reach that definitional state of non-discrimination among policyholders can they be honestly called 'insurance' companies.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Two of a Kind

My liberal friend said: "I can't stand Republicans; they're so smug." My conservative friend said: "I can't stand Democrats; they are so self-righteous."

I asked them: "What is the difference between smug and self-righteous?"

They were silent.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

For your consideration...

Could the liberal support for illegal immigration in America can be seen as an extension of the 1960's social revolution, extending the rights and benefits achieved by blacks and women and gays and browns to the poor flood of illegal immigrants from Central and South America? Has the 40-year social revolution has now crossed borders; or more specifically, become border less?

A good thing? This nation's desire to identify with and help poor, disenfranchised peoples everywhere? A bad thing? The idea of nationhood--more specifically an American identity--being eradicated in the desire to aid these millions of people? The definition of citizen morphing into resident? Can America continue to afford to pay for extending social uplift to the world? We are still paying for--and need to continue to pay for--some of the old inclusion. I read recently we have 40 trillion dollars in unfunded obligations for Social Security and Medicare. How much debt can we take on?

Desire meets responsibility.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A Most Wonderful Book

For anyone who wants to get a true and BALANCED glimpse into the Middle East--from Iran to Israel to Egypt to Turkey--I recommednd "The Mirror of the Arab World; Lebanon in Conflict" by Sandra Mackey. I am reading it now. W.W. Norton is the publisher. It is most wonderfully, wonderfully written. I am amazed how much this book has clarified for me that region of the world--a region of the world which is most lkely than any other to plunge us into WW III. Please, if you at all want to understand--historically, economically, socially and culturally--that region of the world, ready Ms. Mackey's book. I am on page 127 now. The body of the book is only 266 pages, slim by the standards of similar books. Read it. I may be fooled by the next 140 pages, but I doubt it. It should be required reading for American citizens who vote for repesentatives that make foreign policy decisions.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Disease? Or not disease?

Another way to look at disease, at the bacteria that were attacking me during a recent liver abscess: there were simply millions of other life forms attempting to survive and grow by eating my liver cells.

After all, what is all material life but one-to-billions of organized cells fighting each other to respectively survive; to maintain their form, both individually and/or as a species. No one is right or wrong, good or bad; it is all but a neutral battlefield--my cells versus your cells--seen from above the fray.

Which is both ironic and right: How else did I get here; but...my father had to send gazillions of sperm cells swimming into my mother trying to penetrate her single egg cell? She fought them all off...all but one. And here I am...although she never called me a disease...at least to my face. My existence accordingly--that is, in accordance as it is with the evolution of all universal forms-- is nothing more than a product of "your cell(s) finding a way to defeat my cell(s); or visa-versa".

Seen from outside ourselves, all humans are a disease: to all we eat and destroy, and to all the other cellular forms we defeat in our life's struggle. All this helped me psychologically when I was recovering from the abscess: I guess what is good for the goose is good for the gander.