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THINKING AND THOUGHT

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?  Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten…”  George Orwell, 1984

Newspeak influences and limits thought by decreasing the range of expressiveness of the English language, by eliminating ambiguity and nuance from the language, and so reduce the language to simple concepts.  The user’s range of thought is diminished, realized with a minimal vocabulary of limited denotation and connotation.  This is done chiefly by eliminating undesirable words, and by stripping such words as remain of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meaning whatever.  [Wikipedia]

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean–neither more or less.”  “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”  “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master–that’s all.”  Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass 

TBT on FB?  Any photo captioned “throwback” and posted by one whose memories are still live, and the feelings wanted to be expressed.  Throwback indicates the time which has passed, or things which happened in past time.  Now it is a time for re-feeling.  

Yes, it means something from the past.  More specifically, it usually means something that is nostalgic, something with memories, something back in the day, something old school.  

Throwback could be a sudden reminder of the past–a person or a thing–that seems to belong to an earlier period of time or that makes one think of an earlier period of time, not always necessarily in one’s own experience, like “a throwback to the 1950s when he saw a [1954] picture of me in my blue suede shoes.”

Blue Suede Shoes 1954

Perhaps it is simply a decorated birthday cake, or wedding dress–designs or “a reversion to an earlier ancestral characteristic.”  “Those tail lights on the new Ferrari remind me of…”   “Don’t her melodies remind you of early Joan Baez?”  “He stands like Shoeless Joe Jackson.”

A person or thing that is similar to an earlier type, like a…throwback.

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“The truth is that our way of celebrating the Christmas season does spring from myriad cultures and sources, from St. Nicholas to Coca-Cola advertising campaigns.”  –Richard Roeper [BrainyQuote]

“Advertising is the greatest art form of the 20th century.”  –Marshall McLuhan
[BrainyQuote]

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REMEMBER THIS (Review this): Words have no meanings in themselves.  People have meanings for words.  Meanings change in time, in place, in cultures.

Some basics: a FACT is an event, observation, or bit of information, objectively verified (or verifiable), asserted as certain, having real demonstrable existence, past or present.

A REPORT is a (written or oral) statement of fact.

An INFERENCE is a statement about the UNKNOWN, made on the basis of the KNOWN; a “maybe” even.

A JUDGMENT is a statement of OPINION, or an expression of approval or disapproval; an EVALUATION: a CONFIDENT CONCLUSION.

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Advertising is any VERBAL and/or VISUAL statement of communication, which a) ATTRACTS ATTENTION; b) CREATES A NEED; c), PRESENTS A PRODUCT (to satisfy the need or needs).

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Analyzing the “language” of advertising is a learned process, a three-part exercise that takes place sometimes in an instant 30-second commercial, or with the turn of the page of a magazine.

EXPERIENCE…EXAMINE…EVALUATE… 

e. e. cummings writes “since feeling is first…” Intensely experience: see, hear, touch, taste, smell, AND kinesis [motion or non-motion] of the words, pictures, visuals, sounds; the connotation and/or denotation; the sensual (sexual) or/and the sensuous (sensory)–as the Cool Water cascades, or the Land Rover plows through the mountain snows…

Is there any/enough time to EXAMINE the language?  Figures of speech?  “Herding cats”?  “Every kiss begins with…”  Metaphor, paradox, tone (What am I stupid?), bias, irony, simile (“like a rolling stone”), “Things go better with…”; “Real heroes don’t wear capes, they wear…”  Point of view?  What is really being promoted?

Finally, in the last 15 seconds of the commercial for the dog food or the cold medicine or the right tequila or perfume, DECIDE THE VALUE, if you wish, weighing the importance of the mini-argument, the persuasive speech, to have you BUY-BUY-BUY, or to consider the importance of what is being spoken/written, the shingles vaccine or the flu shot, or hand-washing.

ARE YOU A RESPONSIBLE VIEWER/CONSUMER?

Next time you scratch and sniff that perfume sample in the magazine, see those TV kids spill that milk on the clean kitchen floor, smell that litter box through your 52″ 1080p HD LCD television, hear that KIA commercial one more time on the radio, or page through a two-month old issue of People while waiting for your annual doctor’s visit, pause for a moment.  Be a critic:

DISCOVER PURPOSE…CRITICIZE TECHNIQUE…JUDGE ITS WORTH

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LESLIE FIEDLER 1967 BY JAC. DE NIJS

Leslie A. Fiedler

 

 “Thomas Mann believed that the best measure of the spiritual health or illness of a culture is its art.”  –Rollo May, The Cry for Myth (1991)

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LESLIE A. FIEDLER (1917-2003) [MA, PhD] Professor of English, lecturer, Fulbright scholar, University of Montana, SUNY Buffalo, Rockefeller Fellow, Guggenheim Fellow, Visiting Professor, Jay B. Hubbell Award in American literature: 1946 and on….  Fiedler’s first critical work appeared in 1948 and came about from his habit of reading American novels to his sons.  The essay appeared in Partisan Review, becoming the subject of much critical debate.  “Come Back to the Raft Ag’in, Huck Honey!” argued that a recurrent theme in American literature was an unspoken or implied homoerotic relationship between men, using Huckleberry Finn and Jim as examples.  Pairs of men flee for wilderness rather than remain in the civilizing and domesticated world of women.  Fiedler also deals with this male bonding in Love and Death in the American Novel (1960), Waiting for the End (1964), and The Return of the Vanishing American (1968).  [Ref. Wikipedia et al.]

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Fiedler’s major work, Love and Death in the American Novel (1960, 1966), offended many critics because of the manner in which he discusses American literary tradition–and reconsiders the concept of the Great American Novel: how it is both derivative of, and separate from, the established European novel forms. 

He believed that literature is “more than what one learns to read in schools and libraries, more even than a grace of life; that it is the record of those elusive moments at which life is alone fully itself, fulfilled in consciousness and form.” 

**“I cannot help feeling that the chief problem of teaching anything in our atomized period lies precisely in the fact that the ordinary student cannot or will not connect the few facts he knows, the slim insights he has previously attained, the chance extensions of sensibility into which he has been once or twice tempted, into a large enough context to make sense of the world he inhabits, or the works of art he encounters.  ONLY CONNECT!  should be the motto of all critics and teachers.”

“Four major sources of indebtedness I feel moved to acknowledge…:  C. S. Lewis The Allegory of Love [taught me the sense in which love is an invention and the poets its inventors] … certain Marxian critics [the class-relations of a culture help determine the shape of its deepest communal fantasies, the obsessive concerns of its literature] … Freud and his followers, and Carl Jung [for the concepts of the conscious and the unconscious, and archetypes] … D. H. Lawrence Studies in Classic American Literature [of all the literary critics who have written about American books, he is the one who has seemed closest to the truth]”

“Anyone who, in full consciousness, surrenders the hope of heaven…for the endurance of hell…has entered into a pact with Satan…writing a gothic novel…devoting a long fiction to terror rather than love…is a Faustian commitment.  …  The primary meaning of the gothic romance … lies in its substitution of terror for love as a central theme of fiction … of sex denied … of vicarious participation in a flirtation with death.”

“Certainly the three novels granted to be our greatest works are gothic in theme and atmosphere: Huckleberry FinnMoby DickThe Scarlet Letter … In each book, the Faustian bargain stands at the focus of action.”

Hawthorne writes The Scarlet Letter “in the form of a love story an elegiac treatise on the death of love, a portrayal of the attenuation of sex in America.  …the first American tragedy.”

“One of the troubling mysteries of our life is that we can only know as adults what we can only feel as children; and Huckleberry Finn [the greatest of all books about childhood] manages to evoke the lost world of boyhood with all the horror and loveliness it once possessed for the child who lived it.  …how truly wonderful it is to remember our childhood; and yet how we cannot recall it without revealing to ourselves the roots of the very terror, which in adulthood has driven us nostalgically to evoke that past.”

Moby Dick can be read not only as an account of a whale hunt, but also as a love story, perhaps the greatest love story in our fiction, cast in the peculiar American form of innocent homosexuality.”

***Fiedler at his best: “Among the assumptions of [the tragic Humanists] Melville and Hawthorne: the world of appearance is at once real and a mask through which we can dimly perceive more ultimate forces at work; Nature is inscrutable, in some sense alien; in man and Nature alike, there is a ‘diabolical’ element, a ‘mystery of iniquity’; it is impossible to know fully God or ourselves, and that our only protection from destructive self-deceit is the pressure and presence of others; that to be alone is, therefore, to be lost; that evil is real and that the thinking man breaks his heart trying to solve its compatibility with the existence of a good God or his own glimmering perceptions of goodness.  The writer’s duty is to say ‘Nay!,’ to deny the easy affirmations by which most men live, and to expose the blackness of life most men try deliberately to ignore.  For tragic Humanists, it is the function of art not to console or sustain, much less to entertain, but to disturb by telling a truth which is always unwelcome; and they consequently find it easy to view themselves in Faustian terms, to think of their dangerous vocations as a bargain with the Devil.”

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In the scheme of Fiedler criticism of characters in the novel, there exist the Dark Lady, the Fair Maiden, the Good Good Girl, the Good Bad Girl, the Bad Girl, the Bad Good Girl; the Good Good Boy, the Good Bad Boy, the Bad Boy, the Bad Good Boy…

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“We are such stuff / As dreams are made on, and our little life / Is rounded [completed] with a sleep.”  –Shakespeare.  The Tempest 4.1.156-58

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”  –E. A. Poe

“Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream . . . life is but a dream.”  –Children’s rhyme

“The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens into that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was a conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach.”  –C. G. Jung

[Music: The Everly Brothers, 1958] :  “Drea-ea-ea-ea-eam, dream, dream, dream … Drea-ea-ea-ea-eam, dream, dream, dream … Whenever I want you, all I have to do is / Drea-ea-ea-ea-eam, dream, dream, dream … Anytime night or day / Only trouble is, gee whiz / I’m dreamin’ my life away … Drea-ea-ea-ea-eam, dream, dream, dream…”

“A dream is a personal experience of that deep dark ground that is the support of our conscious lives, and a myth is the society’s dream.  The myth is the public dream and the dream is the private myth.”  –Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth.

[Music: Man of La Mancha, November 1965] :  “The Impossible Dream” : “To dream the impossible dream / … To bear with unbearable sorrow / … To right the unrightable wrong / To love pure and chaste from afar / To try when your arms are too weary / To reach the unreachable star / This is my quest, to follow that star, / No matter how hopeless, no matter how far / … And the world will be better for this…”  Songwriters: Joe Darion / Mitchell Leigh.  “The Impossible Dream” lyrics © Helena Music Company

“Wishing and hoping come directly out of the function of dreaming and making myths.”  — Rollo May, The Cry for Myth.

[Music: “I Dreamed a Dream” is a song from the musical Les Misérables.  It is a solo that is sung by the character Fantine during the first act.  …  The song is a lament, sung by the anguished Fantine, who has just been fired from her job at the factory and thrown onto the streets.  See Wikipedia for more history and analysis] :  “I Dreamed a Dream”/Anne Hathaway :  “There was a time when men were kind … There was a time when love was blind … And the world was a song … And the song was exciting.  There was a time…  Then it all went wrong.  I dreamed a dream in times gone by / When hope was high and life worth living / I dreamed, that love would never die / I dreamed that God would be forgiving…  I had a dream my life would be / So different from this hell I’m living / So different now from what it seemed / Now life has killed the dream / I dreamed.”  Songwriters: Alain Albert Boublil / Claude Michel Schonberg / Herbert Kretzmer / Jean Marc Natel.  “I Dreamed a Dream” lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

“Dreams are a private application to one’s life of public myths in which we all are participants.”  –Rollo May, The Cry for Myth.

“What happens to a dream deferred?  / Does it dry up / Like a raisin in the sun?  … / Or does it explode?”  –Langston Hughes

LET THE DREAMS BEGIN! 

“Hold fast to dreams / For if dreams die / Life is a broken / winged bird / that cannot fly. . .  Life is a barren field / Frozen with snow.”  –Langston Hughes, “Dreams.”

 

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“And the Oscar goes to La La Land….  No!  No!  Wait!  That can’t be right.  It isn’t right.  The Oscar goes to Moonlight!”  “Huh?”

It’s complicated, this movie reviewing stuff.  But maybe reviewing is simply a matter of telling persons who are busy what is better to see than to see something else, simply what NOT to see: “Don’t waste your time.”  “It’s a waste of money.”  “Don’t bother.  See X instead.”

However, do I want a review, or a formal analysis of a movie?  “Thumbs Up” or 5-Stars, or cultural response, production history, or values discussion?

What do you NEED to make you WANT to see a particular movie: old, new, classic, recent, color, black and white, documentary, drama, comedy, Netflix, Redbox, STARZ, Cobb Theatres; story, technology, actor or actress, theme, technique–and more, much more?  Does the critic count for you?  Explanation and evaluation?    

“Critics would be useful people to have around if they would simply do their work, carefully and thoughtfully assessing works [of art], calling attention to those worth noticing, and explaining clearly, sensibly, and justly why others need not take up our time.”  –John Gardner, On Moral Fiction (1978)

SO: Watch these movies for “greatness”–or NOT!”

UP IN THE AIR

CASABLANCA

P.S. I LOVE YOU

A GOOD YEAR

LOVE ACTUALLY

JERRY MCGUIRE

ALIEN

BLADE RUNNER

THE HOURS

THE ENGLISH PATIENT

GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING

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“Art is meant to be experienced, and in the last analysis the function of criticism is to assist that experience.”  –David Daiches (1956; 1981)

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“MAGIC MOMENTS” : Magic moments, when two hearts are carin’ // Magic moments, mem’ries we’ve been sharing … Time can’t erase the memory of // These magic moments filled with love … Magic moments filled with love  [Songwriters: Burt Bacharach / Hal David.  “Magic Moments” lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC]

“There’s a magic and mystery in positive events.”  –Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, psychologist

The term magic has a variety of meanings, hence there is no widely agreed upon definition of what it is or how it can be used.  However, some treat magic as a personal phenomenon intended to meet individual needs, as opposed to a social phenomenon serving a collective purpose.  The explanatory power of magic should not be underestimated, however.  Both in the past and in the modern world, magical belief systems can provide explanations for otherwise difficult or impossible to understand phenomena while providing a spiritual and metaphysical grounding for the individual.  [See “Magic” in Wikipedia.]

“It’s a mystery!”  –Tom Stoppard, Shakespeare in Love

“…moments of epiphany, or revelation, of radiance…with meaning essentially wordless, for words are always qualifications and limitations.”  –Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

“Persons who come for therapy do so because they lack power; they complain that they cannot achieve.  …  Patients want ‘magical knowledge,’ and no matter how correctly the therapist explains that insight is not magic, it still feels that way to the person when an insight ‘dawns.’”  –Rollo May, “Faust in the Twentieth Century” in The Cry for Myth (1991).

“There is no myth which is not the unveiling of a ‘mystery,’ the revelation of a primordial event which inaugurated either a constituent structure of reality or a kind of human behavior.  [But] when no longer assumed to be a revelation of the ‘mysteries,’ the myth becomes ‘decadent,’ obscured; it turns into a tale or a legend.”  –Mircea Eliade, “Preface” in Myths, Dreams, and Mysteries (1957)

“MEMORY”:  Midnight // Not a sound from the pavement // Has the moon lost her memory // She is smiling alone // In the lamplight…  Memory // All alone in the moonlight // …I remember the time I knew what happiness was // Let the memory live again // … Tonight will be a memory too // And a new day will begin // …  –Andrew Lloyd Webber, T. S. Eliot, Trevor Nunn, Zdenek Hruby • © Universal Music Publishing Group, Imagem Music Inc.

interrobang  MagicalMysteryTourDoubleEPcover.jpgMagical Mystery Tour

 

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ: 1 May 1881–10 April 1955, was a French idealist philosopher and Jesuit priest who trained as a paleontologist and geologist, and Teilhard de Chardintook part in the discovery of the Peking Man.  He conceived the vitalist idea of the Omega Point (a maximum level of complexity and consciousness towards which he believed the universe was evolving).

Although many of Teilhard’s writings were at one time censored by his Catholic Church, in our time he has been posthumously praised by popes.  However, some evolutionary biologists are still negative.  Nevertheless, Chardin has had a profound influence on the New Age movement, being described as “perhaps the man most responsible for the spiritualization of evolution in a global and cosmic context”–even being described as a “visionary” philosopher and a contemporary “truth-sayer” or “prophet.”  Teilhard de Chardin has two comprehensive works, The Phenomenon of Man, and The Divine Milieu.

(Teilhard is mentioned by name and the Omega Point briefly explained in Arthur C. Clarke’s and Stephen Baxter’s The Light of Other Days.  The title of the short-story collection Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor is a reference to Teilhard’s work.  The American novelist Don DeLillo’s 2010 novel Point Omega borrows its title and some of its ideas from Teilhard de Chardin.  Robert Wright, in his book Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, compares his own naturalistic thesis that biological and cultural evolution are directional and, possibly, purposeful, with Teilhard’s ideas.)  [Wikipedia]

“The perception of the divine omnipresence is essentially a seeing, a taste, that is to say a sort of intuition bearing upon certain superior qualities in things.  It cannot, therefore, be attained directly by any process of reasoning, nor by any human artifice.  It is a gift, like life itself, of which it is undoubtedly the supreme experimental perfection.”  (The Divine Milieu, p. 131.)  

“When a distinguished but elderly statesman states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right.  When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.”  –Arthur C, Clarke

“Mystics seem intent in regarding the death of earth as the birth of the new cosmic man.  In this respect, Teilhard de Chardin’s vision is remarkably like A. C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End”: ‘Let us suppose from this universal centre, this Omega Point, there constantly emanate radiations hitherto only perceptible to those persons we call “mystics.”  Let us further imagine that, as the sensibility or response to mysticism of the human race increases with planetisation, the awareness of Omega becomes so widespread as to warm thechildhood's end jackeet earth psychically while physically it is growing cold.  Is it not conceivable that Mankind, at the end of its totalisation, its folding-in upon itself, may reach a critical level of maturity where, leaving the earth and stars to lapse slowly back into the dwindling mass of primordial energy, it will detach itself from this planet and join the one true, irreversible essence of things, the Omega Point?  A phenomenon perhaps outwardly akin to death; but in reality a simple metamorphosis and arrival at the supreme synthesis.’”  –Chardin, The Future of Man, p. 127, in Harper’s, December 1971: 77-78)

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