Thursday, January 28, 2010

Who is the Catcher?

Last night Barack Obama gave his first State of the Union address, a celebrated affair in which he boasted about what a great president he is at fixing things. It was peppered with lots of Americanist platitudes meant to inspire, and I guess there's that. I just wonder if he's so Johnny-on-the-spot ready, willing, and able to make this country oh-so-wonderful again, what is it precisely that he's going to do that gazillons of potentates through the ages have failed to do already? How'd he get so wise? I didn't exactly hear that part.

Ironically this is the week the finance bigwigs from all corners of the globe are gathering at the Davos pow-wow to hash out economic things. If there was a place where the truly helpful wisdom would emerge, this has to be it. But, yeah, they've been having it every year for however long. We still had bad bad economic things happen very very recently, certainly since their last meeting. Oh well.

As I browse all the World punditry about what's really to blame and what's really the thing to do, as I frequently do, I am struck by the exhausting redundancy of it all. Here is a smattering, if I may.

From Newsweek was this piece by Rana Forooher called "May the Best Theory Win." (And I'm not going to link it, I'm just too lazy--sorry. Hey, you can Google it and it'll be there, really, it will.) It was about the goings-on at Davos and how everyone is appearing a bit more shellshocked than they were before. So now's the time for the really really smart econowonks to step up to the plate, the Paul Krugmans and the Joseph Stigletzes, to shine their shininess on things once and for all.

Whups, seems like they're already off to a shaky start, bumbling and stumbling, still clutching that ludicrous idea that there is actually anything that's irrational. Yes, behavioral economics is all the rage now, and  I imagine they want to use its spiffy divining rod to figure out why people jerk others around--people jerking others around, oh my, how irrational.

Well, yeah. Once they start there they will be eternally stumped. Everyone does everything they do rationally, even if their rational decision is based on a lie. In fact, much of what the World System tells its followers must be a lie, and it does this quite rationally. So they all get to yabber at their fancy Swiss resorts and what we all get is theater. Quite important for the World, it is, but it is only theater, lots of grand pontificating about how this or that latest theory is the one everyone should consider.

Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote in the New York Times that there is--the title of his piece--"Still Needed: A Sheriff of Finance." He mentions that renowned financier George Soros made this point at Davos two years ago, before Bear Stearns and all the rest of it. Oh my.

Thomas Friedman followed this the next day with his take, "Adults Only, Please," in which he lights into those who behave with "situational values" as opposed to the Mother Teresa Bishop Tutu Mahatma Gandhi types who live by "sustainable values."

Excuse me, but we all live by situational values. Sorry, but if the situation requires me to run a red light to get to a driver in a burning vehicle, I'm going to do it. No, what Friedman is talking about is not situational values, but fearful people stripping other people of their own value, and it is something all World inhabitants do. It is nothing other than human sacrifice, and those who have not appropriated the sacrifice of God's only begotten Son must do human sacrifice.

Rahrrr rahrrrr RAAHHRRRRR Friedman screams in his piece. When are we going to start behaving like adults? We're all children around here, being so greedy and selfish. Friedman seems to be really steamed about this state of affairs. Yet all he does is echo the call for a better, leaner, smoother sheriff. Seems to me sheriffs are for people who dick with other people in some way. Seems to me people who call for a better leaner smoother sheriff are confessing that they themselves dick with others on a regular basis, and if not for the sheriff things would be really nasty.

God knew this. He put a sheriff in place already. It is Cain, and all the other sheriffs who've followed after him through the ages summarily cracking heads as sheriffs often do.

The fact is these guys, the Sorkins and Friedmans and all these guys blithering through the World's megaphones, just don't like it. At least they say they don't, but they're in on the lie just as much as the rest of them.

Barack Obama's up there wagging his finger too, but he's just one of the stars of the show. What a fabulous performance he had last night, wasn't it boffo?

Thing is, it won't do dick to actually make people free.

Only Christ can do that.

Funny, today J.D. Salinger passed away. I will tell you I loved Catcher in the Rye. It spoke so much to me, and it wasn't just the fact that it was about exposing the phonies. It was so eloquently articulated and rich with the meaning of what sincerity really is. It was a clarion call for the most beautiful probity.

What's that? Probity? That's a word never used anymore.

It simply means being so honest that it shows, so authentically honest that you can't help but allow others to see you for who you really are. It doesn't mean pusillanimous transparency or milquetoast vulnerability.

It simply means being true. It means being true to the point that you make yourself available, available to uplift and build and grow among all those in a community. Indeed this whole idea is the seminal part of The Catcher in the Rye.

I really think Salinger wanted that so much, and he wanted so much to be around such people, but so repulsively did he see how it couldn't happen in a World submerged in willful deceit that he became the sad recluse we all know that he was. He laid out the World for what it was, but didn't have a clue what to do about it. He may have known about Christ, but I'd venture to say the only Jesus he knew was one of the many World counterfeits the Catholicist Nation has vomited up.

I see so many of them, too. And I see all too well the product of those Jesuses. It is what I am all about, telling people about the Jesus who Actually Frees in contrast to the phony ones. And I very selfishly (but quite rationally, I think) want to hang with others who know Him.

Thing is, the only way I can do that is to out there, out there in the rye.

And that Catcher is there, with His mitt. Yeah, it's not even me. I'm nowhere, except caught in the webbing, there next to the small blood stains. There I can shout out to someone running past.

"Hey, over here, come here." They may get caught here in the mitt.

Who is the Catcher?

Would you be willing to give the deepest assent to the highest probity and allow yourself to see Him there?

To even be caught by Him?

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Avatar Message

I saw Avatar last night with my two sons, and after hearing everyone who's seen it offer up the quite elaborate response of "Wow," I can see why they say that. I could go into great detail of every item of note regarding this groundbreaking picture, but I just want to briefly touch on two things. One is about the production itself, and the other is about something in the story.

First, the production. The 3-D effect has certainly come quite a long way. It has become so advanced that many more films, particularly those with the kinds of special effects that were in this one, will be adopting this format.

The key thought I had regarded the boundary of our vision, that is, the 3-D effect was limited within that rectangular box. In some sense I felt I was watching a motion dynorama, you know, like those scenes you'd create in the second grade with the cut-out shoebox containing little plastic figures and cotton and pipe-cleaners. Avatar was just like that except everything moved around within it.

My point has to do with this question: When are they going to make the screen big enough, yes even bigger than the IMAX screen, to encompass our complete field of vision? With the inevitable march of progress, that has to be coming down the pike in a few years. When it does, I think also about the extent to which filmakers can further blur the line between reality and fantasy.

The second point had to do with a theme within the story of the film, which I've read from more than a few commenters that it was just a more elaborate Pochahontas or Dances With Wolves. Yeah, yeah, got that. In fact it was more like James Cameron 1986 Aliens as far as the look goes, but I really liked Aliens so, that's cool.

But here's the point regarding the whole environmental thing. In the film the natives are really in touch with the environment, the trees, all that. A scientist even hypothesizes that the flora on this planet employ a special undiscovered network of sublimely ethereal communication among them.

Intriguing, but the more mundane aspect is merely that the enviroment is a resource. Indeed the battle between the conceptions of how to use the resources is a feature of the story. On the one hand you've got the invaders, the earth people with their big machines bent on exploiting the mineral riches underneath the natives' land, and on the other hand you've got the natives who have a keen sense of the power within the flora, and part of their livelihood is their connection to it. Yeah, yeah, cowboys and Indians, been done. I'm not here saying who's right and who's wrong.

All I want to do is point out the much more significant truth that

Someone must manage what's done with the resource.

It must be someone, and a whole bunch of people will line up behind that someone.

The film clearly takes the very politically correct side of the natives, and I'm not arguing against that position necessarily. The point is they are still dogmatically making a claim of their prerogative to manage resources. And if they get together to do that, they must form some turgid organization to govern that management. And if they have a government there must be laws to mitigate the effects of what is done by those who disagree with them. And if there is great enough conflict about that...

Then you have war.

And as the gratuitous war in the film got heated up, I could only think about how savage each group was -- yes, including the natives. They were just as savage as the invaders. (Hmm, this was the thread of my last webzine home page piece...)

No matter how righteous their cause seemed to be, they were just as virulently belligerent as the more technologically advanced exploiters. Darn it all, as it has been said bazillions of times before...

There are no good guys.

Well, at least among those bonking their heads on one another out there in the World anyway...

I've written all of this merely to direct you to my most recent home page piece, about the reality of resource management. Who does it, and who do the resource managers listen to regarding the arrangement of who gets what resources? Somebody is managing your resources. Do you know who that is? Take a look, I'd love to know what you think.

(A few years ago I blogged on the ramifications of more real looking CGI in film. That's here.)