Monday, May 30, 2005

I've started to read two books by John Steinbeck. One is 'The Pearl' and the other is 'East of Eden' which is quite an epic. I might be able to finish 'The Pearl'. It seems to be just as brilliant to be honest. One of the main characters in 'East of Eden' - Samuel Hamilton is from the north of Ireland. Maybe one of the Ulster-Scots. Whilst I have only scratched the surface of this book, it appears that Samuel Hamilton is being portrayed as honest, hardworking almost puritan which is in stark contrast to Adam Trask.

I remember spending lazy Sunday afternoons listening to East on Eden being read as the classic story on Radio Four. I didn't get to hear it all but it always seemed to be wonderful and reading it is exactly the same.

Yesterday I watched ' The house of Sand and Fog' probably one of the best books I read last year. The film is remarkably good. Ben Kingsley is perfect as Behrani. Whichever way round you want to do it, I would still say read the book first. The only difference I can detect is that the book was slightly more balanced, in that it focussed on Behrani and there was a good deal more about his sense of guilt for being in Iran. It went into great detail about the fact that this man was simply a good hard worker in the wrong place at the wrong time. He didn't know about the bad things that were going on by his fellow officers until it was too late. He felt guilt that he had survived whilst his friend had not. Yet, he survived to go to America to be treated literally like rubbish.

In the film the emphasis is more towards how good and decent Behrani is compared to the lazy, nasty Americans who are determined to punish and ruin his family. I can understand that it is quite trendy to downgrade USA in films because that makes them more controversial and also anything that is seen to offend Iran is definitely not a good thing. But still I think a filmmaker has the responsibility to take a book and remain faithful to the original text. You don't have to include every line of dialogue but at the least you do not start adding meanings that are not in the book.

Perhaps I am being too pedantic, it's a great film - go and see it!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Murakami has written a really great book about the Tokyo gas attack. He went around and interviewed the survivors and those involved in planning the attack. He succeeds in presenting a book that is mostly witness statements with a few chapters about the person involved, how he saw them and what he thinks of them.

I've been reading a few more chapters about the Tokyo gas attack and it really struck me that the survivors, the people who only received slight injuries - they didn't feel the attack was about them. They want to put it down as an accident, something that had nothing to do with them. That was until Matsuo Arima. It seems that he is one of the few who has actually thought and reflected that this happened because of his society and the present culture in Japan.

At the end of his few pages he says " Ultimately, from now on I think the individual in Japanese society has to become a lot stronger. Even Aum, after bringing together such brilliant minds, what do they do but plunge straight into mass terrorism? That's just how weak the individual is."

The attack occurred on March 20th 1995. Over the past 10 years nothing has changed and if anything that message is even more relevant today than it was back then.

Monday, May 23, 2005

I got a distinction for my flash assignment!

Started to read (again) 'Underground' by Haruki Murakami. Just finished a chapter about a shrimp trader who was gassed on his way to work. It is interesting that Sarin, the gas used in the attack is a form of insecticide. I wonder if that was a conscious reason they choose to use it. At any rate the whole thing was terrible and the shrimp trader just looked at it as an unhappy incident on the way to work.

The porters on the underground cleaned up the gas which was spilt as a liquid with newspapers because they didn't have time to get a mop. They were one of the first to die.
I suppose the question of the last blog should have been - Do we need to believe in the traditional idea of God to be a Christian? Forgive me for not having sufficient definition. I suppose what Tillich is calling for is religious humanism. When it comes down to it, we might as well all be humanists and get rid of all the medieval superstition that sort of thing. Unfortunately that doesn't really wash with religious people. They don't want to mix with humanists, they want to be spiritual and they want their own organisation and structure.

I suppose trying to understand God is something that is not really given enough time today, we sort of gloss over it a bit too much. CS Lewis said that man trying to understand God is like a dog trying to understand its owner. Or perhaps it is like someone who has eaten tinned mangoes all their life going to Brazil and being given a real mango in a supermarket.
Do you need to believe in God to be a Christian?

Whilst countless philosophers and otherwise intellectuals might think this was obvious John Robinson would suggest that the idea of a God as a transcendental ‘person’ is obsolete in modern society.

It was Bonhoeffer who suggested that this is the time for the world to ‘come of age’. As science, politics and arts have mostly discarded the idea of God perhaps it is time for religion to consider the possibility that it is time to grow up and consider some other possibilities about God. For instance Tillich would suggest that God exists as a deep existence behind everything. We need to look closer at a ‘naturalist’ view of the world. God in this sense is what gives meaning and direction to nature.

Bonhoeffer saw us like children about to leave home, although Daddy is always there in the background: “God is teaching us that we must live as men who can get along very well without him.”

Whilst it may not be time for God to be discarded a change would seem to be something to think about. Something to think about perhaps?

Monday, May 16, 2005

This is the address of the new web page for Big Wise Owls. It also features a new introductory flash sequence (which I happen to be very pleased with!).

Please feel free to visit but remember that contrary to popular opinion Big Wise Owls is not real - not yet anyway. Just a figment in the imagination of my multimedia tutor!

Monday, May 02, 2005

Last week, I rediscovered my Kenneth Koch poetry books. I remember meeting him and getting him to sign my book. His poems still feel familiar even though I haven't really read any of his books in five years! He also has a great sense of humour:

Aesthetics of being glorious

To be glorious, take off your wings
Before you fly.

Anyway, the one I really wanted to quote is taken from 'A New Guide' written in his collection 'One Train'. It is written as if it is a set of instructions:

Look at this camel.
A man unused to camels is trying to mount it.
The camel's driver motions for the camel to kneel down
On its front knees, which it does.
The man mounts it. The camel gallops away.
To qualify for his position the man must demonstrate his ability to
ride a camel. He has failed.
Maybe he will be given another chance - if it was decided that this was
a defective camel.
The worst thing that can happen is that he will be out of a job. He
will not be shot.
The camel crouches down now in the sand,
Quiet, able and at ease, with nothing about it defective.
If the camel were found to be defective, it would be shot.
That much of the old way still goes on.

A New Guide: 4
Kenneth Koch

Anyone care to guess the meaning of this very profound quote? - Well, I'll tell you (and please don't be offended):

"Until the power's back on, anybody for charades?"