Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pirate Latitudes - a-thrill-a-minute

I just watched The Count of Monte Cristo
which was, surprisingly to me, a lot of fun.(Surprising because I'd thought it was a Guy Ritchie film and I've hated the ones I tried.  Turns out it wasn't, it merely featured an actor named Guy Pearce)
I remember there was a time I was just mad about the lead actor James Caviezel.  His eyes I think.  I can't remember now what the film/project was.  It must have been The Passion of The Christ?  Who falls in love with Jesus' dreamy eyes, like, uggh. 
Monte Cristo reminded me of this novel,
Pirate Latitudes, by Michael Crichton, which in one way is one of the best I've ever read.  And yet when I talked about this book with the writer-bookseller last week but we didn't have time :( I said the book was "pacy".  It had a thrill a minute, such a lot of fun, heads were chopped off, hungry rats used as weapons; there was no dull moment.  Like a children's book, we said, full of event.  And no character development, he added, which was sort of maybe true, in a way.  And we agreed such books are, eh, for those who don't know a good book, like, for the masses.  And you know, the great thing is if you meet someone who says they don't like to read, this may be the one you use to draw them in.  He was soooo cute.  What am I to do with all these handsome gents everywhere I turn?

But I had to run and meet my people who were doing lunch a few doors down, else Juan (no really, his real name, from someplace in the Pyrenees mountains, near Benasque) and I might have got to analyzing and snobbing some more.  Which is not a bad thing, it's just talking about a thing, talking about a thing with nuance, with respect, with irreverence, a mixture of both; measuring the worth of the thing on a fine scale, making an incisive examination of its layers, just because we can.

It's like discussing taste to develop taste and, for some (elitist) folk in the world, this matters.  Then you read The Seagull and other plays and see that this separating from the world, drawing away to think too much, it kills.  First with boredom, then madness lol.  So enough "cerebrating" - found that word yesterday, can't find the passage now.  Really, I've actually decided to tone down the "I want to write, I am writing, I will be a writer" drama and just do it or not do it or whatever.  Haha funny. 

I'll reread the plays sometime, it turns out, and it will likely be for the insights, the answers to "what's the meaning of life?"  But the thrills matter too.  The jabs, like this one: "...she would always take on big parts, but she acted them crudely, without distinction - with false intonations and violent gestures.  There were moments when she showed talent - as when she uttered a cry, or died on the stage - but they were only moments."  Woooooah.  Tickled.  I'm re-reading that.    

Friday, July 11, 2014

Snippets - on music, my racism, learning quantum, and what I'm blogging next

1. I finally bought a harmonica last week.  The first thing I played on it, beyond just blowing in and hearing what happened or trying to blow from left to right was 3-3-2-1 to try to sort of mimic the guitar opening in The Search, like one of the loveliest songs in my life right now.  Cos the internet how-to guide said blowing is one skill, then said something about sucking too so I tried that and got my mi-re-do to work.  Meanwhile, Jesse Jagz is in concert in a few weeks - August 2nd at the MUSON Center in Lagos.  I hope the audio equipment isn't weird this time, cos there was some lack of definition/fidelity/power in the speakers at the Shrine concert last year.  I know it will be an amazing evening for me :)

2. Listening to classical nowadays - just downloaded some of the top 50, top 100, classical music for beginners things you can find online.  That's what happens when too much of the current music is not awesome enough lol.  It occurred to me that I can tell my Mozart from my Bach.  I know way too much about Western civilization. Found that I even know a little of the music from The Valkyrie and from Aida even though I've never watched them.

An aside on racism, judging the beauty of languages, and being labeled a 'machine': 
Germany flogged Brazil at the World Cup semifinal match on Tuesday, bringing some of my anti-German sentiment to the surface.  I listened to Jessye Norman (beautiful big black woman) singing Wagner thinking "so terrifying", such un-pretty and martial music, and anyway wouldn't Puccini, Verdi, and Italy have been a better match for this black girl; forgetting that my attempt at categorizing German as cold and terrible makes no sense, when even Beethoven was German.  Anyhow you don't need to be German to do what the Nazi party did.  And nobody perpetrates such without the support or assent of others, or at least I wish that with the UN nowadays that would be the case and the world would gang up against any such oppression.  
Maybe I need to learn a little German.  And Dutch.  Somehow my familiarity with the Romance languages - Spanish, French - reinforces the warmth I feel towards the people and maybe if I stop avoiding the German language, I would become more able to appreciate the so-called German machine, the beautiful football that scored 5 goals in the first half against Brazil on Tuesday.  I'm going to let myself learn a little German.  I'll stop thinking that Persian/Farsi sounds like a slice of heaven even though it rooshes and shooshes too but somehow German just, the closest it comes to romance is like violent porn.  Speaking of violence, I've read Jelinek too.  But she's Austrian.  Now it gets confusing because classics-wise Vienna/Austria is pretty (think Strauss, the waltz, ballgowns with fitted bodices and parties featuring violins and sheer delight! Away with the music of Broadway, be off with your Irving Berlin, ..., when I want a melody lilting through the house, then I want a melody by Strauss: it laughs, it sings, the world is in rhyme, swinging to three-quarter time  - that's By Strauss, in Ella Fitzgerald's voice, another beautiful black Taurus woman).  Language-wise, I hear Austria is German, and that WW2-wise, it was Nazi, and now there is the guilt and even the cold darkness, the unfriendliness and terror of which Jelinek wrote, and for which her work is so hated and so important and to me inspiring.  
What do you think should be done about victor's guilt, post-violence?  The former Nazi lands must keep acting contrite in part because the world is still afraid of them, post-trauma.  Similarly in Japan which once became so capable that it terrorized China (Nanjing tales) and taunted America (Pearl Harbour), they do not have the same militarization rights as the average country.  And to some extent for white South Africa, which succeeded in its apartheid policies for decades, there needs to be an active anti-apartheid raft of good deeds and of penance for a collective sin?  
What should be done preemptively about the fear of getting too big, too good, the fear of making the weaker one cry?  One school of thought is just be great; winning is good, it's the whole point.  A more modern way is to embrace holism, be great for as large a set as possible, not just self, but self and neighbours, not just nation, but all nations, not just humanity, but all earth, not just this earth, but the future and space and outer space.  This is one simple idea that I keep trying to articulate, the benefits and methods of holistic thinking.  
If you hear the other thing I'm saying here, it's that I'm a little bit racist - at least in football, but it goes a little beyond football - and that as usual I'm going to combat my ignorance with a little learning. 

3. I really want to know what quantum science is about.  Maybe I already sort of do.  One thing that helped: Week Five of Physical Chemistry on Coursera.  I just finished weeks one, two, three, and five this week.  Off to do weeks four and six.  This is why I get Coursera fatigue.  But it's so great to have such awesome education available for free, that I can't resist.

4. Yes, I'm definitely bingeing, overdoing it, because I'm also reading some good plays because somebody recommended Chekhov, and about to start two Coursera courses (hopefully one of them is unamazing enough that I'll drop it) on The French Revolution and on Managing Risk for Development.  I bought the book of plays, and bought the harmonica, in Barcelona shops, on my first trip outside of Nigeria in many years.  Thanks to my lovely sister for getting married in Spain, and thanks to the embassies for not rejecting our visa applications a third time.  Is this racism too?  From what I could see, not all the prostitutes in the tourist section of Barcelona were African :)

5. As usual I have thoughts on education - good thing I work in education - and now I'm thinking I'll write some of them here in a series called "homework for victims of the ASUU, SSANU, ASUP, NASU and other miscellaneous strikes in tertiary education."  I do a lot of what the kids stuck at home should be doing with their time - study online, read what you like, do a lot of what you love even if it's watching Korean drama series or playing football or teaching something or selling something, maybe get a job or a traineeship, learn French, write about your life, ...