Archives for June, 2010

Eclipse of Expectations (Spoiler-Proof Review)

Following is a 10-point review of Eclipse by a 40-year old Twilight-cult virgin.

First a word or two of context (since any review of anything is only as useful as its phenomenological reference point). I haven't read any of the books (and was, thus, spared the distraction of comparing the movie to the book). On the rather ardent encouragement of my wife (of nearly 20 years!) I have, not without reluctance, agreed to prime myself with the first two movies on Monday and Tuesday of this week, so that on this Wednesday I could cliff-dive into this odyssey well-primed, even if not "imprinted."

We watched a noon show in a largely empty Pittsburgh movie-theater, sharing the best seats in the house next to a cluster of aging women that I believe came to see Jake, not Edward. Not that it matters, I had nachos and Goobers. They were, as per usual, good.

On to the review proper: the movie has eclipsed my modest expectations. Here's my spoiler-proof 10 point analysis of the movie that gives away nothing essential.
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Ordinary Perfection on Demand

Victor Pelevin has been described by Time as a "psychedelic Nabokov for the cyber-age." His 1996 "Buddha's Little Finger" is, to my mind, an extended “who-am-I?” meditation (that utilizes Soviet and post-Soviet Russian cultural metaphors).

The following is a description of "ordinary perfection" from Pelevin's writing:
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Tinariwen Simplicity in the District of Complexity

I have been a fan of Tinariwen (a band of nomadic exile musicians of Tuareg descent) for exactly as long as I have been listening to them, i.e. for about a year. When I found out that they were going to play at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, I saddled up my Hyundai Elantra and hopped on the Pennsylvania turnpike. I spent the Friday afternoon, with nomadic circularity of my DC visits, taxi-ing my mom (who lives in Alexandria) from a bank to the Columbia Gardens cemetery (to "check" on my dad and grandmother) to the nearby Goodwill store (that happened to have a nice Nakamichi CD player for only $29.99, that I didn't buy) and, finally, to the Harris Teeter in the Pentagon City. A few hours later, banded together with my brother and my sister-in-law, I arrived at the 9:30 Club at 8:30pm which proved to be illuminatingly too early.

As I watched my brother resist being branded with the club's ink-stamp (on the grounds that the ink is absorbed by the skin and then has to be subsequently filtered out by one's liver, a valid enough point) I watched
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Perfection: One-Way Process of Growing

State (Static) View of Perfection

Most people (perfectionists and non-perfectionists alike) tend to think of perfection as a state.  Indeed, as you clean your kitchen or your car or your desk, you fantasize about preserving the state of perfection that you have accomplished.  If you can only get it right, then it’ll remain perfect from then on.  You believe that by tinkering with what is, by tweaking the reality, you can engineer a perfect or near-perfect state of reality that will enable lasting happiness and well-being.

But remodeling reality is a frustrating prospect because reality isn’t a state.  Reality is change, a process, a constant flux.  Perfectionists reject this impermanence and yearn for a perfect status quo.  This state view of perfection is an emotional set up: even when you achieve that momentary perfect state, the reality doesn’t pause to allow you to enjoy it – the moment of accomplishment evaporates as soon as it materializes.  What am I telling you?  You already know it.
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Mind-2-Mind Potpourri

thoughts in passing | music/video/book reviews | pattern interruption

To my mind to be astonished at nothing is much more stupid than to be astonished at everything.
Fyodor Dostoevsky (Bobok)

When a thought arises just see its nature, do not conceive the water and waves to be different.
Savaripa (Collection of Songs on the Oral Mahamudra Teachings)

Every so-called fact is embedded in some kind of theoretical context.
Van Kaam (Existential Foundations of Psychology)

Tinariwen: the sound of empty places

“Formed in 1982, in strikingly unusual circumstances for a musical ensemble, Tinariwen blend ancient musical traditions with radical contemporary politics.
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Searching for Significance in All the Wrong Places

We search for significance… in all the wrong places.

Significance is a sign that a given manifestation (aspect) of reality equals: ______________ (your mind fills in the blank).

Indeed, significance is an equation between something outside of you and something inside you, a moment in which a particular manifestation of reality translates into a feeling of significance and a thought of significance.

Case in point: say you have a crush on a co-worker.  As you walk past her desk, she looks up.  This moment, this manifestation of outside reality translates into a feeling of significance (your heart skips its regular beat as the sympathetic nervous system revs up in response to the possibility of sympathy) and a thought of jubilation (perhaps: “she/he likes me!”).   But, of course, so far it’s just a hypothesis – but its very fact is enough to make your heart skip a beat. 
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Allowing Yourself to Relax or Standing in the Way of Your Relaxation?

When listening to a recording of guided relaxation, have you ever felt annoyed by the following prescription: “Allow yourself to relax…”

“Allow?!!! If I could allow myself to relax, if it was that simple, then why in the world would I allow myself to be stressed in the first place?!”

Allowing yourself to relax – strange notion, indeed… It certainly presumes a degree of responsibility over stress that many of us are hesitant to admit! What a skillfully inoffensive pointing of the fingers!
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Mindfulness is Ignorance (Bliss) on Demand

Ignorance, they say, is bliss.  As I see it, there are 2 kinds of ignorance:

1.  ignorance of un-awareness (mindlessness of something that can be known)

2. ignorance by choice (a conscious decision to ignore that which cannot be known)

Which type of ignorance is bliss and which is existential loss?

Let's see if we can briefly sort this out.

You've heard this: the past has already happened, therefore it doesn't exist; the future hasn't happened, therefore it doesn't yet exist; thus, here's nothing but Now...
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The Bilbao Effect: Architecture of Pattern Interruption?

Preamble: this essay about architecture isn’t just about architecture, neither is architecture just about architecture.

I generally don’t like saying “no” to reality but in this case I’ll break my own pattern and resist a trend.  But before I get in the way of this pendulum swing, some context.  The ouroboros snake of architecture, that’s been chasing form with function and function with form, is once again shedding its skin.  In Cathleen McGuigan’s Newsweek article “Starchitecture: A Modest Proposal” we learn, from the mouth of Rob Rogers, a partner at Rogers Marvel in New York, that the profession of architecture is on an economic diet and “has to cut back, regrow, and reimagine what it is we’re all supposed to do.”

McQuigan explains that “the
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