i didn't do the crossing while out in tongariro last week, but i did manage to get in a few hours of rigorous tramping. even the baby hikes offered stunning views.
recently i realized that i rarely stop to look back when walking along a trail. instead, i just charge ahead. if the signage on the trailhead says it will take two hours to complete the walk i'm mentally trying to beat the clock. so recently walking along on kapiti island i decided to pause along the way and look back. the point of view dramaticly changes. perhaps there is some larger lesson to be learned here. looking ahead is practical, but looking back can also afford some pretty nice views!
over the years since leaving college and becoming a working professional, i've stopped frequenting libraries. it's not something i'm proud of because libraries are some of the most wonderful inspiring spaces around. wandering deep into the bookstacks always gave me this strange feeling of isolation and privacy cocooned within a public space. there is no algorithm that can mirror the feeling of walking over to a shelf and then browsing its length and randomly finding other interesting books. the dewey decimal system really does rule.
but location, modernity and a busy lifestyle have for me supplanted the library with amazoning. it's not the same thing. one doesn't get lost in a database in quite the same way. but there is a specific pleasure to be found in browsing a vast array of books in your pajamas at 1am in the morning when you decide you just really need to find out what the new umberto eco novel is all about. and then wirelessly downloading it to your kindle in mere moments? pretty sweet.
in addition to the physical action of browsing, i also find myself missing being able to cull through back issues of journals. as a student, this was perhaps where the most golden nuggets of information could be found. but again, the internet offers some recourse. it seems many of the best journals for film have a degree of online access. additionally, there are strictly new online resources of varying depth and scope. Here's a hitlist of my favorites:
traditional film journals:
online blogs offering thoughtful criticism, theory and the virtual cinematheque experience:
design oriented approaches to looking at films:
last month i had a chance to go see the famous sirocco at zealandia. as far as birds go he is definitely a celebrity. he is also a very inquisitive fellow. i was wearing a baseball hat with bright letters on it when i went to visit him and i was convinced he kept walking over to me because he found the hat unusual. i could be wrong but i maintain he was into my hat!
it's been suggested that the tree of life may be a film made for cinephiles, but i think this sells both the film and the audience short. like 2001: a space odyssey, it's a film that contains experimental elements, a philosophical stance, and a story providing a framework for answering the really big questions. it's exciting to see a mainstream big budget film depart from conventional ways of storytelling and ask the audience to to take a leap into abstraction.
these moments of abstraction- exploding super novas, the origin of life, our primitive world and it's natural processes seemed to push the depth of the narrative. the core of the story- a family melodrama is fairly conventional. the way in which this story unfolds is not. when we step outside the story into the universe we learn that the idea of grief is as old as time and only something massive like the universe and time itself can begin to quantify the feelings of loss and rage in the face of death.
the dinosaur tableau in particular is a divisive moment in the film. audiences seem particularly polarized by it's relevance. i found myself thinking that in a post jurassic park world, computer generated dinosaurs are expected to be hyper realistic. perhaps the shortcoming here was that these particular dinosaurs were not and thus functioned on the level of distanciation, pulling us out of this fantastic world and into the banal one of computer “wizardry.” nevertheless the moment is still relevant as a symbol of the father. we learn that the need to dominate is ancient and pervasive. it is not specific to man- it's nature vs. grace.
the complexity of the family unit, the roles both children and parents play in both it's cohesiveness and the way in which it can shatter apart is what really spoke to me about this film. the story of families, how we celebrate, grow and suffer together is dynamic. it is more often a push pull dance between the parts than the force one single person exerts upon it. the family is not just the kernal from which all life springs but also a reflection of the world we inhabit, putting us on a continuing trajectory of suffering, grief, joy and love.
stills from terrence malick's the tree of life, 2011
“it turns out that bliss- a second-by-second joy + gratitude at the gift of being alive, conscious- lies on the other side of crushing boredom. pay close attention to the most tedious thing you can find (tax returns, televised golf), and, in waves, a boredom like you’ve never known will wash over you and just about kill you. ride these out, and it’s like stepping from black and white into color. like water after days in the desert. constant bliss in every atom.”
“it is the key to modern life. if you are immune to boredom, there is literally nothing you cannot accomplish.”
- the pale king
a lot has been written about david foster wallace’s “the pale king.” there are entire conferences and academic discourses devoted to this book. it’s definitely unlike anything else i’ve read. it’s a halting, disrupted and completely postmodern novel, but also really enjoyable, particularly for it’s ultra detailed characterizations and insights into the extraordinary qualities that lie in the most seemingly un-extraordinary people. the book takes something truly banal and through a deep dissection of it, elevates that ordinary thing to the sublime. and i think this way of writing is tied up in what is a commentary on the ordinary day to day completely uninteresting types of work people do that make our society function. tax examination, while skull crushingly boring becomes one of the foundations of a system in our society that remains invisible but facilitates our way of life. in this way, something complete dull and ubiquitous becomes a heroic endeavor.
i’m not a tax examiner or an accountant. but i found as i read this book that i could relate to what lies at the heart of it. i work in a profession that lives on the periphery of something that is pretty exciting and glamorous. but computer graphics itself is not. one could argue that exciting things can happen in computer graphics but for most people the exciting stuff is really the end result. the road itself is paved with lots of solitary hours watching pixels accumulate one by one. watching software crash. tumbling a camera around in 3d space. hitting render. waiting. doing it again a hundred times before lunch. hand crafting bespoke images that in succession comprise hours of entertainment but individually cannot even be detected by the human eye. thousands of hours reading logs and debugging code to fix part of an image that may never register on screen. the best work of your life possibly universally reviled. the satisfaction lies in the result and the result can be poetic. but the process is grueling, lonely, and spine crushingly repetitive. and like the irs tax examiners in “the pale king” the army of people who craft cg take on a heroic quality. it’s not an overstatement and there’s nothing dramatic about it. it’s just work. and i imagine there are a lot of jobs out that that fall under this sort of rubric. this book made me think about my own work in a way that is complex, interesting, mundane and yet still satisfying...
well it was a diy kind of weekend. i had two litres of raw milk in my fridge this weekend that had a few good days left. knowing i could only drink so much coffee and having already made yogurt the previous week i decided to try my hand at making some ricotta cheese. thanks to 101cookbooks it was pretty straightforward. i like that this version of the recipe doesn't call for vinegar. as the recipe suggests it pretty much turned out perfect. having previously only eaten the store bought stuff i never realized how great fresh ricotta can smell. and how much better it tastes warm.
in lieu of eating several cups of fresh ricotta [which i MIGHT have given how delicious it was] i opted to put it into a lasagna. voila!
i found this cool shop where you can save money on custom framing by doing it yourself. the store is set up as a workshop where experts are on hand to guide you through the process. you choose your own matting and frame, they cut the materials for you- then you assemble it yourself, saving you money on the labor cost. materials are all provided, you just show up. it's fun AND crafty.
i bought this sweet pencil drawing off irana on etsy and then i framed at the diy frame shop in wellington. she kind of reminds me of myself [by way of tammy faye baker]. sometimes by the end of the day my eyeliner ends up looking like this