“Call Me by Your Name”

A few nights ago I saw the film “Call Me by Your Name” and am still entirely lost in its spell. A film I’ve kind of been waiting my whole life for, which, miraculously, did not disappoint but was even better than I could have hoped. Review coming soon, but for now, this song — featured towards the end of the film — captures its purity and great beauty. This film shimmers with goodness and I bow to all who made it possible.

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robot pathos

There’s something almost unbearably sad for me about the video embedded below (especially when listening with the sound off). Of course it’s funny too, but really sad-funny, I think. Somehow it reminds me just a little of a scene in Clive Barker’s original Hellraiser, which I saw ages ago and remember poorly. But there is a moment in it when some hideous creature or other is crawling on the floor struggling for its very life, and despite the horror we feel and the danger that this being poses for others in the film, still the pathos arises: this is universal, this is the yearning to be alive and to stay alive, and it’s achingly painful to watch.

My reaction to this video snippet here isn’t quite the same, as the robot playing the starring role is obviously not sentient or self-aware. The union of funny and tenderly sad here arises for me more out of a contemplation of our magnificently unquenchable desire for ever greater knowledge — and also from a reminder of our hubris. I imagine educators of another civilization somewhere playing this to their students, who merely find it silly. But the prof has something to say about it:

“The dear earthlings, so clever, and so proud of their intellects, became enamored of a concept they called ‘transhumanism’ or ‘post-humanism.’ Somehow the challenges of self-cultivation in all their fascinating profundity and brilliance weren’t interesting enough for them. They seem to have found them, in the end, not very dramatic or exciting, maybe too difficult. So, more and more, they spent their energies inventing increasingly powerful machines. They never stopped doing so, never felt the need to justify any invention whatsoever, never pulled back to ask the larger questions about life and value, sanity and balance. ‘In the scheme of things, what will this bring about? Where will it take us? Why do we want it? Do we even know?'”

“Eventually their machines destroyed their world. As we will see over the course of this semester, this is the most common pattern…”

“world citizen” — sakamoto / sylvian

what happened here?
the butterly has lost its wings
the air’s too thick to breathe
and there’s something in the drinking water

the sun comes up
the sun comes up and you’re alone
your sense of purpose come undone
the traffic tails back to the maze on 101

and the news from the sky
is looking better for today
in every single way but not for you
world citizen

world citizen

Sade — “Immigrant”

Earlier today I had a conversation, with an apologist, about our so-called president’s recent remarks on Haiti and Africa. The depth of sophistry, the mindless shuffling around of words, the unthinking pure reactivity and inability to acknowledge straightforward facts, left me actually shaking in despair. It really has felt like the very death of civilization over the past year and a half. Without at least some level of good faith and commitment to truth, nothing works, nothing is possible. There only remains a bottomless fall into barbarism.

More specifically, this subject can render me a bit ballistic. I keep trying to imagine what it must be like arriving in an alien country with, typically, very minimal proficiency in the native language to start with, where every day contains all kinds of logistical, communicative struggles someone like me never has to think about for a moment. Doing many of the hardest, most unpleasant, most poorly-paid jobs, generally working exceptionally hard, navigating frequent subtle and unsubtle slights — and worse.

These are simply heroes in my book, and this is supposed to be the country that recognizes and welcomes them more than any other on earth. It breaks my heart to see this moronic, astoundingly uneducated, surreally self-obsessed, endlessly foul, utterly lawless man who has never had to materially struggle a day in his life say such things — and be defended, always, by virtually the entire congressional delegation of his party. Really beyond the pale disgusting.

Listening to Sade’s “Immigrant” is helping restore some sanity:

Isn’t it just enough
How hard it is to live
Isn’t it hard enough
Just to make it through a day

The secret of their fear and their suspicion —
Standing there looking like an angel
In his brown shoes
His short suit
His white shirt
And his cuffs a little frayed

Coming from where he did
He was such a dignified child
To even the toughest among us
Don’t you know that would be too much …

He didn’t know what it was to be black
‘Til they gave him his change, but didn’t want to touch his hand
To even the toughest among us
That would be too much

Galliano!

Happy 2018 (gulp) to everyone and to our deeply ailing, unspeakably precious world. May we do much better this year. May we really, really do much better!

My tiny blip of a contribution to world peace this 31 December is to pass along a rediscovery. Was traipsing through YouTube last night trying to cheer myself up and came across a band I haven’t thought about in a long time. But they were the best of the “acid jazz” scene in Britain and I got to see one of their joyous romping gigs once, just before they broke up I think — was it in Leeds? Sheffield? alas those were days when I had THC for blood… (cf. song number three: “skunk funk, in my bo-o-ones…”) I do remember, as here, that at the end there were as many people on stage as in the crowd!

Honestly, if everyone could go to a gig like this even once a month or so, I do believe we might have world peace. Music gets there. Music cuts through all the confusion and nonsense and division and hatred and stupidity. More music!

As the old Tibetan chant goes: “May all beings without exception on this earth enjoy peace, happiness, and complete prosperity.” Cheers!