Wednesday, October 31, 2007
"Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." Robert Mustand.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
And of course I need to link to the Oxford Inklings blog....
Monday, October 22, 2007
There are some really sick people around," said Duncan.
"You know, the whole black cat and evil thing. Certainly black cats are in grave danger at Halloween."
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Its historical origins are marked in England by 'Guy Fawkes night' every November the 5th & the attendant rhyme "Remember, remember, the 5th of November/ Gunpowder, treason, & plot," we used to say (in fact, I still have a card with the slogan) that "Guy Fawkes was the only man to enter parliament with honest intentions."
The phrase that is used as the ad slogan for V for Vendetta -- "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people" -- is an expression of the central truth in Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan: politics are fear and power, that's all. And another phrase from "V" -- "Blowing up a building can change the world" -- is a paraphrase of Satan in Paradise Lost, Bk XIII :
126: Nor hope to be my self less miserable
127: By what I seek, but others to make such
128: As I though thereby worse to me redound:
129: For onely in destroying I finde ease
134: In wo then; that destruction wide may range:
V for Vendetta is left-wing agitprop, of course, but, natheless, it is intensely relevant to our studies. As some of you know already, agitprop & didacticism are my bane in art. I detest being beaten over the head with any one political or social position or the other: on the other hand, I absolutely adore heteroglossia - the dialogic play between competing positions; the opportunity to see both sides fairly represented & unresolved is almost an absolute criterion for Art - in my opinion, that is.
To illustrate why I condemn agitprop, here are series of quotations from a *left-wing* exemplar -- Lenin -- which are practically dialogue from the *right-wing* character of the political leader in V for Vendetta.
- "It is necessary secretly -and urgently-to prepare for terror. And on Tuesday we will decide whether it will be through the SNK [Sovet Narodnih Komisarov - Soviet of Peoples' Commissars] or otherwise."
- "It is true that liberty is precious; so precious that it must be carefully rationed."
- "Comrades! The revolt by the five kulak volost's must be suppressed without mercy. The interest of the entire revolution demands this, because we have now before us our final decisive battle "with the kulaks." We need to set an example.
1) You need to hang (hang without fail, so that the public sees) at least 100 notorious kulaks, the rich, and the bloodsuckers.
2) Publish their names.
3) Take away all of their grain.
4) Execute the hostages - in accordance with yesterday's telegram.
This needs to be accomplished in such a way, that people for hundreds of miles around will see, tremble, know and scream out: let's choke and strangle those blood-sucking kulaks.
Telegraph us acknowledging receipt and execution of this. Yours, Lenin
P.S. Use your toughest people for this."
[Quotations taken from "Wikiquote" advisedly (then verfied independently against a reputable source) as a ready means to invoke your accepted authority ....]
How much better for art -- how much better for its effect & longevity-- had the film followed Orwell's example in "1984" & left the transitory orientation of the party in power a matter indifferent.
Update 1: Thanks to all who participated. We'll talk about The Libertine now this coming week.
Update 2: Please read this supreme work of film criticism comparing V for Vendetta unfavourably to Terry Gilliam's Brazil. The author, Matt Feeney -- to whom I tug my forelock as critical nobility -- complements my objection to V for Vendetta's agitprop by showing, with succinct devastation, how Gilliam's film is superior by its subtlety and its recognition that tyranny is a system and a process. Remember: Hobbes states clearly that Leviathan is not the person or the party who happen to be in power, but rather the system of laws and letters which the person or persons in the offices encoded therein merely administer. To give two citations establishing this, first, "Of Commonwealth, Chapter XXII:
In a body politic, if the representative be one man, whatsoever he does in the person of the body which is not warranted in his letters, nor by the laws, is his own act, and not the act of the body, nor of any other member thereof besides himself: because further than his letters or the laws limit, he representeth no man's person, but his own.
Or this, from "Of Commonwealth" Chapter XIX:
Of all these forms of government, the matter being mortal, so that not only monarchs, but also whole assemblies die, it is necessary for the conservation of the peace of men that as there was order taken for an artificial man, so there be order also taken for an artificial eternity of life; without which men that are governed by an assembly should return into the condition of war in every age; and they that are governed by one man, as soon as their governor dieth. This artificial eternity is that which men call the right of succession.
Here is a sample of Mr. Feeney's prosaic and witty brilliance:
Now the Wachowski brothers have taken V for Vendetta, Allan Moore's mad-at-Margaret Thatcher graphic novel, and updated it to express their present political rage. The Wachowskis are very angry at George W. Bush, but still, for some reason, it's Britain's Parliament that gets blown up.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
However, my kind, gentle accommodating outer self committed to a review of the assignment array, particularly in relation to the five small group assignments, which were presented as requiring some significant work.
On reflection, I present the following adjustment of the assignment requirements, which require unanimous agreement before they can be implemented.
- Change from 5 small group assignments to 2, each of the two worth 10% of the course grade, and both can be on either the formal aspect or a social context. You can chose any two of your currently scheduled dates for these assignments. The class presentation date will remain the same.
- The small group assignment being then worth 20%, the remaining 5% of the current assignment weight will then transfer to the seminar group project, which would keep the same criteria, but would be worth 25% of the course grade instead of the current 20%.
- Change the Final essay world length, currently 3500 words, to "between 3000-3500 words"
COURSE REQUIREMENTS:I will discuss in person with Thursday seminars, and then send an email to all class members and poll the preference.
20% Four individual written research presentations (4 x 250 words)
20% Two group written research presentations (2 x 400 words per student)
25% One group written evaluative presentation (1500 words per student or equivalent)
35% One final research paper (between 3000-3500 words)
Monday, October 15, 2007
To increase the convenience even more, here is a list of direct links to each.
- Tuesday seminar Individual assignments
- Tuesday seminar small Group assignments
- Thursday morning seminar Individual assignments
- Thursday morning seminar small Group assignments
- Thursday afternoon seminar Individual assignments
- Thursday afternoon seminar small Group assignments
This is an opportunity for you to verify that you are scheduled:
- for four, and four only, Individual dates,
- for five, and five only, small Group dates,
- in the dates that you have written in your agenda. (The dates online here are taken from your hand-in sheets.)
Saturday, October 13, 2007
The often-intriguing relationship between comic character and comic creator is treated informatively in this review on salon.com of a new biography of Charles M. Schulz, creator of Peanuts, Featuring Good Ol' Charlie Brown.
The biography is Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography by David Michaelis. I have not read the biography, but the writer of review comes across with a naively idealised view of humanity -- effectively blaming her childhood idol for lacking Sainthood.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Bye-bye (or is it byebye?) to 16,000 silly hyphens
October 11, 2007 at 1:35 AM EDT
In my position of great privilege, hyphens are one thing I never have to worry about. Oh, I have the explanatory pages marked in reference books, and there are many of them. My Editing Canadian English devotes 12 solid pages to compounds and how they are made, to the difference between a hyphen and an n-dash and a solidus (that's what commoners call a forward slash). My Oxford Dictionary for Writers And Editors has a separate entry for each compound, one for crossbill (a passerine bird) and one for cross-bill (a promissory note), one for cross-link (hyphen), crossmatch (one word) and cross section (two words). I don't have to learn all these words and
exceptional cases; I don't even have to read them.
I was just alerted also that the sign directing you to the Bennett Library yesterday was removed sometime before three o'clock.
What I will do, then, to provide maxiumum availability is to (a.) keep my Tuesday and Thursday hour, but to advise that I may be consulting in transit during the time, while (b.) extending my Monday Office Hour from four hours to six and a half hours, ten o'clock to four thirty, and my Wednesday Office Hour from five hours to six hours, from ten o'clock to three o'clock.
I am also available for consultation by appointment Friday mornings. And should there be a missed appointment, by all means call my daytime cell phone number: 604-250-9432.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
A near-mint copy of Detective Comics No. 27, a pre-Second World War comic featuring Batman's debut, was recently found in an attic and sold to a local collector.
The comic is considered to be the second-most valuable available and can fetch up to US$500,000. The only comic considered more valuable is Action Comics No. 1, in which Superman makes his first appearance.
An early, helpful and obvious (once you have heard it) point is that the evolution of graphic novel (as a concept) is driven by a decrease in the young readers of comics and a concomitant increase in the teen and adult readership.
This raises the question (raised and discussed in more than one quarter) of a cult of perpetuating adolescence into adulthood.
The second lecture hour submitted Miller's work to a close reading of pages, panels lines and even individual words, in order to see if the text can support the level of academic scrutiny that canonical texts in English Literature must bear. At the close of lecture, the result was that Miller's work had stood up, conditionally, to the close analysis.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Monday, October 1, 2007
The Play’s the Thing
By DANIEL RADOSH
Published: September 28, 2007
Thirty-five years after Pong, fans and critics still debate whether video games can legitimately be called art. Certainly, whatever artistic potential that games have, few, if any, have fulfilled it. Halo 3 hasn’t changed that. Games boast ever richer and more realistic graphics, but this has actually inhibited their artistic growth. The ability to convincingly render any scene or environment has seduced game designers into thinking of visual features as the essence of the gaming experience.