Monday, March 14, 2022



Literature always attempts to answer the riddle of life. Not that there is a riddle of life ... it's that life is the riddle. Unfortunately, the answer--as well as the riddle itself--is different for each human being. Which means that the universe is filled with the cacophany of everyone shouting answers and no one listening.

Luminarium tries to tame the whirlwind of chaos and present it in a meaningful way. Which, of course, is impossible. Chaos tamed is no longer chaos. Pandemonium (from the Greek for "all demons") has no structure, while meaning is nothing but structure. At one point, in order to sugar-coat his narrative in familiar terms, Shakar suggests that the universe is the ultimate computer game. The idea is facile and hackneyed, applicable only to our cultural milieu, itself grounded in an illusion of shifting electrons and strobe-light impermanence adapted from television and movies.

Shakar addresses the ontological dilemma by positing the idea that the existential symmetry between virtual particles is actually our inability to perceive higher dimensional reality, an intriguing idea which is immediately lost in the narrative.

Maybe that's the basic point of narrative in the first place: to show us things which we might not see on our own. But if it is, what do we do when the light at the end of the tunnel turns out to be an on-coming train?

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Actually, nothing to say; I just can't imagine a living creature that size.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Americans in Paris

Image result for fox theater atlantaThe Fabulous Fox Theater in downtown Atlanta can literally stun a new visitor with its fantastic construction and bizarre composition. Originally conceived as a home for the Shriners organization, the building includes many designs inspired by Far-East architecture such as the Alhambra in Spain and the Temple of Karnak in Egypt.
As a venue for a variety of shows, the Fox has presented Broadway extravaganzas like The King and I and Beauty and the Beast as well as individual and group music stars such as Aretha Franklin and Mastodon. One of last year's offerings was An American in Paris, the award-winning musical based on the movie of the same name.

Image result for fox theater american in parisUsually, the three-dimensionality of stage plays provide a more complete entertainment event than the two dimensions of movie productions. The key word here is "usually." In this case, the use of rambling set pieces and overdone displays of garish theatrical innovation detracted from the enjoyment of the production itself. Sometimes less really is more.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

One Foot In Front Of The Other

Walking is something most folks take for granted. Some people, though, carry it to extremes, 'extremes' as in 'the ends of the Earth.' Levison Wood, a British citizen, regularly sets himself goals too formidable for most of us to consider, let alone undertake. A man of gumption and fortitude, he has walked the length of the Nile, climbed the Himalayas, and hiked the Americas.
Levison Wood

Wood served as an officer in the British Parachute Regiment in Afghanistan in 2008 fighting against the Taliban (which in Pashto means 'students'). In his 2015 book, Walking the Nile, Wood details his stroll from a spring located in the forests of Rwanda beneath a sign reading "This is the furthest source of the Nile river" to the Mediterranean Sea.

Buzz Aldrin
Image result for hillary on everest photo
Hillary & Norgay
As a testament to the human spirit, such an achievement ranks along with Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in their reaching the pinnacle of Everest, though it might not be in quite the same league as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon. Still, how many of us will ever do anything on this scale?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Death Knell of the American Republic?

The Roman Republic was established in 509 B.C. with the overthrow of the last king of Rome, Tarquin the Proud. That Republic lasted about four hundred and fifty years until 44 B.C. when Julius Caesar (Latin pronunciation: 'kaisar') installed himself as dictator-in-perpetuity. The Roman Empire followed in 31 B.C. with the proclamation by the Senate of Augustus Caesar as Emperor.

With our two Houses of Legislature, the office of the President, and the Supreme Court all controlled by the same party, and the President-elect a self-aggrandizing multi-millionaire showman/huckster capitalist motivated by personal greed, how much longer will the American Republic stand as a government by the people for the people?

Friday, December 23, 2016

Alas, Everyone

A few days ago I came across a book I hadn't read for several decades, so I decided to give it another whirl. After all, any book you don't remember is a new book.

The novel was Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank, published in 1959 by J.B. Lippincott of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although it is easy for us to look back almost sixty years later and snicker at how dated the writing is, the fact remains that it was one of the first novels to deal with the possibility of nuclear warfare and what that entails. Since then, numerous "end-of-life-as-we-know-it" books have hit the market, but with the recent posturing by Trump and Putin, the whole idea of nuclear holocaust has gotten closer to reality.

Maybe a good Christmas gift to the American president-elect and the Russian president-in-perpetuity would be a copy of Alas, Babylon, just to give them an idea of how important de-escalation is to the continuation of human civilization on planet Earth.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Damned Spot and Brief Candle

The first performance of Shakespeare's Macbeth probably took place in Jacobean England in 1606 during the reign of James I. Four hundred and nine years later, in 2015, yet another film version was released.

This movie, adapted by Jacob KoskoffTodd Louiso, and Michael Lesslie, directed by Justin Kurzel, and starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillar, competed for the Palme d'Or prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.

From the start of the film, the writers choose to focus on different aspects of the tragedy than does the playwright himself. The Bard's version begins with three witches on a blasted heath in Scotland, but the movie opens with the funeral of the child of Macbeth and his wife. By focusing on the parents' grief, the writers give a glimpse into an aspect of the characters of the couple which Shakespeare only hints at in one short phrase by Lady Macbeth: "I have given suck, and know how tender 't is to love the babe that milks me." (Act I, scene 7)

Considering how Macbeth's heirless state later plagues him, this does indeed seem a curious point not to emphasize. It also humanizes Lady Macbeth a bit, explaining to some degree her coldblooded nature. (It is she, after all, who several times spurs her vacillating husband on to fulfill the prophecies of the witches.)

Another surprising innovation by the scriptwriters is in the interpretation of the prediction from Act IV, scene 1 that Macbeth has nothing to fear till "Great Birnan wood to high Dunsinane hill shall come against him." The Bard himself meant that to refer to soldiers using leafy branches from trees of the forest to shield themselves from the lookouts on the castle walls. In this production, though, the advancing army sets fire to the woods, and Macbeth stands agast at the smoke and burning ash blown by the wind to the castle.

The final updating is ending the film with Fleance, son of Banquo, dashing forward, running into a future where, as predicted, his offspring will be royalty, all the way to James himself, the first king to join the throne of Scotland to that of England and Ireland, and who extended the Golden Era of Elizabethan England. Not only did James support the career of Shakespeare, but also those of Donne, Bacon, and Jonson, and even presided over the composition of the Authorized Version of the Bible. So the long reach of the doomed Scottish lord circles back around to Shakespeare himself.