- David Foster Wallace died, as they say, suddenly, last week, and unfortunately more than one outlet has seen fit to say nasty things about him on the basis of a piece he wrote for Rolling Stone on someone named John McCain in 2000. Speaking ill of the dead is shameful, even of one's dead enemies, and especially of those one does not know. I read Infinite Jest several years ago and survived; there were pieces I would have cut, but by and large it was a surprisingly easy and engrossing read at 1100 pages or whatever it is. I also tracked down a copy of A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, and found it fascinating: it contains pieces Wallace wrote on cruise ships, the margins of the professional tennis circuit, and I think a couple of other things. I don't have my copy handy, but I took it as sufficient reason to never set foot on a cruise ship ever ever ever. And for that I will be forever in Wallace's debt. I made it through Brief Interviews with Hideous Men and apart from a tortured story about a woman whose therapist dies suddenly at home I don't remember anything about it. My copy of Broom of the System is still glaring at me, unread, from its shelf. I'm afraid I don't have much else to say about him. I'm sorry he's dead; this was probably a poor moment to go.
- We watched Derek Jarman's adaptation of The Tempest earlier this week. Short gay-positive reviews are available here and here. I don't have much to say about it: Jarman gutted the dialogue, solved the castle problem pretty well, and concluded with a musical number that some people refer to as one of the great moments of British cinema. Unfortunately the clip at YouTube doesn't include the dance number that preceded Elisabeth Welch's rendition of "Stormy Weather." I can't think of anything nice to say about it; the dance was poorly executed and poor Ms Welch appeared to wander in from a different movie. We'd spent one and a half dreary hours with a bunch of characters who were suddenly shoved off to the side, and for what I'm still not sure. Yeah yeah: tempest = stormy weather. I get it.
- In the Bible the book of Psalms starts with a couplet that says (among other things) "happy is he who doesn't keep company with scornful people, but takes delight in God's law and His way of life." Some people see this as encouragement to study the Bible. Some people see it as a warning against keeping bad company. I'm inclined to see it as a description of what should happen to a person who lives a godly life: among other things they should naturally tend away from scornful attitudes. That's why I'm repeatedly surprised when people who make a career of their faith choose to spend their time sneering at other people, especially other Christians. And that's why I'm disappointed enough in Ingrid Schlueter's recent post regarding Bible-derived magazines to mention it here. Most of the trappings of the contemporary Christian subculture (especially the consumer goods) bother me: they suggest to me a poverty of spirit that's rampant in the broader culture. Most of them are tacky, depressing things, the sort of thing I'd hate to confront in a time capsule twenty years hence the same way I'd hate to confront videotape of myself as a college freshman, or whatever. That doesn't excuse Mrs Schlueter, however: if anything, the second message of Mrs Schlueter, what she signifies, that a person can be a professional Christian and be a sneering, nasty person who can't tell the difference between "urban" and "gangsta" is more troubling than whatever "Bible zines" signify, because it suggests that it's not okay to move from one kind of consumption to another, but it is okay to be a Christian and not be transformed. And frankly that sounds exactly backward.
exercises in compound storytelling
Thursday, September 25, 2008
bits and pieces
Three things that may merit posts of their own at some point, but don't right now: