20 March 2009

Waltz with Bashir

I went last night to see Waltz with Bashir (a friend and I wanted to catch it in theatres before it stopped showing), an Israeli animated film about a character struggling to regain memory of his time serving as an IDF during the first Lebanon War - specifically, the night of the Sabra and Shatila massacre. Such a political animated film about war may seem contradictory, but director Ari Folman treats it artfully. This is not to say it's ever anything less than tragic... it's absolutely devastating.
I noticed the color range in the film contributed much to its effect, leaping from almost monochrome to sharply brilliant. It's an interesting way to illustrate the way our memories, especially those of the horrors of war, can be so vivid whether or not they're "correct." We construct stories to seal the gaps, and similarly, we construct stories to conceal what we've experienced. Digging into the rifts can be valuable even when it uncovers a terrible truth about oneself. But the context of war strips away the human element, and that's probably the most detestable part about it.

06 March 2009

Romanticism and sentimentality; debate with self.

It has taken me far too long to discover Goethe.
At age 20, I have.
The writing of The Sorrows of Young Werther is, I feel, perfectly aligned with my sentiment. Werther's character is, heart and soul, impassioned to the point of self-destruction. He leaps from consuming love to utter hopelessness in an instant. Before choosing this book (quite on a whim), my reading of Romantic literature had been mostly limited to the British: Coleridge, Wordsworth, Clare, and so on... Having never studied German, I read it in English translation, yet the effect is there. Almost too overwhelming to handle, especially because I see so much of myself in young Werther. I may have issue declaring national identity, but I declare myself a full-blooded Romantic. All general statements from me such as these must exist with a disclaimer, of course: I am a Romantic, yet I am one living in and responding to a modern age. I would embrace Modernism if it could definitively be called a movement now though it would destroy me, as anyone. Word on the street is that Modernism's dead or something anyway. Post-modernism's by nature ambiguous. (I'm rambling.) Maybe I am a Pomo Romantic.
And in a fit of passion, as soon as I began Werther, my one objective became to finish it and promise myself a reread of it very often. A return to history... smacks of straight Modernism, don't it? Yet the lack of declaration above, in the guise of a statement of identity, must drive it into the prefix Post- realm...
Ha, looks like I need to be reading some David Foster Wallace now. Except it'll have to wait, since War and Peace is next on the list and there's a novel to command one's faculties.

02 March 2009

Yeah, and read White Noise by Don DeLillo.

I was sitting here thinking about how many forms of communication are open to the Internet world today, and it made me a little nostalgic for when my friends and I would chatter excitedly about a new website or exchange screen names. Everything was so feverishly novel - just imagine, we can meet people who live on the other side of the world; we can create chat rooms based on interest (especially important for those of us who felt there were few others to whom we could really relate in our own middle school). We can be anonymous and reveal secrets that those inhabiting our offline worlds might not accept about us.
It seems that kids growing up with all of these new generation networking websites - some even those directed at elementary schoolers! - would take all of these forms for granted. Internet living is becoming interweaved into modern living. I mean, I got sucked into the online world pretty quickly as a middle schooler, but at least I had experienced a childhood of running around in the woods for hours building forts, warring with Super Soakers in the summer, playing board games and Truth or Dare at slumber parties, walking to the neighborhood pool with friends... and I read books, piles and piles of books. There's one you never outgrow. I wouldn't be surprised if children in elementary school these days go straight inside the house after getting home, and escape directly into the allure of screen glow.

I mean, look at attention spans. Ooh, meta-thought: Is this post too long for success online?
What works today is that which can be delivered in snippets, preferably portable so technology can follow one's movement anywhere. Blackberrys, iPhones, the Kindle...

I saw a mother talking with an attendant at a Metro station. Her son was bawling hysterically over a handheld video game he had dropped getting off the train, while the two adults tried to console [ha, ha] him.