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Month: November 2011

Melancholia is a State of Mine

Melancholia is a State of Mine

Melancholia, by Lars Von Trier
Melancholia, by Lars Von Trier

Melancholia is Lars Von Trier’s conflicted ode to German Romanticism, Wagner, Depression and life itself. It starts off with one of the most beautiful openings of any movie I’ve seen in recent times, with Wagner’s prelude to Tristan and Isolde merging with stunning, slow motion images. They look like paintings come to life, moving incredibly slowly, awakening to new shocks, new horrors.

The beginning prefigures the end beyond the usual trajectory of Hollywood films. It in fact gives away that ending in the first few minutes. But we don’t care. Because the journey is everything, and we don’t even mind that this is a cliché. Coming full circle seems poetic and right, and circles dominate the night and day skies. We don’t feel cheated, even after an apocalypse.

The movie is told in two parts after the intro, matching planet with planet, sister with sister. Their collision creates subtle, dark drama. Justine, played by Kirsten … Click to continue . . .

By Candlelight

By Candlelight

Georges de La Tour’s Magdelen and the Smoking Flame. 1640

I’ve always been fascinated with high contrast. Baroque painters, building on the legacy left them by Da Vinci, among other Italian Renaissance heroes, experimented with cast light and its effects in a way not yet seen before the 17th century. The best of them was Caravaggio, and he had many followers, among them one Georges de La Tour.

The painting above is a meditation on mortality, on life, on death, on the miracles one witnesses with or without a messiah in the picture. It is one of La Tour’s finest, and shows a tremendous growth from his early, rather clumsy and derivative work. In this painting he demonstrates his mastery of shadow and light, of the human figure and the drama a simple candle can create. He makes us think of opposites, the play of opposites — eternal conflicts and their necessity. Black needs white and vice versa. The … Click to continue . . .

The Very Civil Wars

The Very Civil Wars

The Civil Wars — Poison and Wine

Just bumped into this duo on, of all places, Paul Krugman’s blog. They are truly gifted and harmonize together as if they were born to follow each others voices up and down musical scales. To get a stronger sense of that, it’s necessary to hear them sing a wide range of songs, and listen to them more than once. Their richness grows on you. It fills empty spaces with the unsaid, with an echo of tradition, a hint of two or three or twenty worlds.

Joy Williams and John Paul White met in Nashville in 2008, and released their first album in February of this year. She’s from California; he’s from Alabama. Their music is a beautiful conflict of culture and ideas.

 

 

 

A Return to Egalitaria

A Return to Egalitaria

Cat Stevens — Where do the Children Play?

 

One of the beauties of numbers is their endless supply. No worries about “scarcity” when it comes to our numerical friends. So, in an economy based upon the value of labor instead of capital, with numbers being assigned for a day’s work, and those numbers in turn being used to purchase goods and services, there is no danger of running out of money. Money, per se, does not exist in Egalitaria, and it doesn’t need to exist. In its absence, anything is possible. In the presence of endless supplies of numbers, the sky’s the limit. A sky made bluer because capitalism is dead.

If Nietzsche had been from Egalitaria, he would have said, “Money is dead. Everything is permitted.”

With our current economy, a business has a finite payroll. What one person makes impacts what others can make. No getting around that. There is only so much payroll to be distributed, … Click to continue . . .