September 2nd, 2009

Denby’s article on snark for the Guardian is better and wider ranging than it was, perhaps, intended to be. I found myself thinking about how I talked in a way that I had not since last reading Orwell’s essay Politics and the English Language, which was more recent than you would think. I have a friend who reads 1984 once a year, or at least used to. I might have to do that with Politics and the English Language, the most telling part is how much of it I realize applies to me, every time I read it.

Great Happiness Space

June 1st, 2009

Netflix on Demand has provided me with an odd array of documentaries recently. I don’t know why, but I have been watching documentaries almost exclusively. When I begin to watch something with a narrative plot, I last about 15 minutes. I don’t really know why. Feel free to refer to my previous post for pseudo insight into that matter.

One of the documentaries that I have watched was The Great Happiness Space. It is about men in Japan who entertain women at bars, professionally. A sort of no sex twist on male prostitution, they prostitute the a certain type of fake relationship instead. These men spend the entire night drinking with women they pull off the street, and charge these women to spend time with them. The women often force(?) them to drink dangerous amounts of alcohol. As the owner/entertainer of the bar that the documentary takes place in says, “My liver is pretty much fucked.”

For about five minutes I thought that they were simple assholes. Then for about ten minutes I thought that maybe there is a depth to them that you had not considered before. After this, a yawning abyss opened beneath me emotionally. If I looked down, and stopped viewing the film as a very limited character study, I would be forced to confront just how horrible human existence is for many, many people, even in very affluent nations. This was, I think, the real value of the experience. It allowed me to catch a glimpse of how horrible things were, while still being allowed to digest it over a period of time. The fact that the people who were being interviewed were often prostitutes, who carried out destructive behaviors in an attempt to cover up but whole created by the central destructive behavior of their life, was not hammered in. Instead, it sort of slipped in sideways, and then came to dominate. If you had to confront this at the start, without first being able to acclimatize to the amazing level of unthinking callousness of some of these people you might walk away before you really had a chance to see how deep the rabbit whole went.

One of things that I most wish about our culture was that we had a greater range of shared verbal reference. No, check that, let’s be more honest, I wish people shared my verbal references more. That’s about it. I remember studying the Tale of Genji in college and loving the way the characters could all refer to known poetry in order to express the similarities of situations.

As I was thinking about how the name of a song by Why? “these few presidents” would be a great one to be able to reference at certain times. That in turn got me thinking about the content of the song. I tend to pick up on different parts of his songs at different times, but this time I found myself thinking about the whole song, and how it was very similar in content to a Robert Browning poem, maybe most like “Porphyria’s Lover,” but Browning was hardly short of poems about murdering your significant other.

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Perhaps I Went Native

September 5th, 2008

Today, one of my classmates was kind enough to give me a ride home from campus after our one hour legal research class (of dubious utility). On the ride home I mentioned a few things about the Twin Cities, and I must have come off differently than I thought, because he said, “I feel I’ve gotta tell you, the Twin Cities are not exactly what anyone would call a cultural hot spot.”

It was a weird moment, which I chose to deflect, because I don’t know that I’ve ever really thought of them as a “hot spot” but I have thought for the past few years that they do pretty well for their size. The metro area, and I just looked this up on wikipedia, because I’m a neurotic fool, is the sixteenth largest in the US, bigger than San Diego, Portland, or Tampa, just to pick three semi at random.

I’ve felt that it did pretty well for that size range, but have I really just gone native? Portland has been nice, and I’m sure I’m going to love living here. But damn, I wish they had just one radio station that didn’t suck.

Anyhow, I guess I’ll have to watch out in case I come off as too much of a Minneapolis booster in the future.

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