Postal Modern Theatrette
by (c) Nin Harris 2013
This is a poem that is not meant to be taken seriously. It’s a tongue-in-cheek piece of Austenite gender-roles-bending geekery. Because not all #mythicfolk poems are serious ones.
White shirt, green lake;
an image etched in the vision
of many would-be Lizzies enthralled by
dark curls and introspective eyes that
flash across your screen, accompanying tea at 5pm
followed by a dinner of asam pedas and rice.
Wet plastered against white cotton
and on powerpoint slides in lecture halls;
inducting a new crop to the creed
of genteel and governed love.
I smile over clenched teeth
and tell them over tea and tapioca cakes that I am like Darcy
because my good opinion, once lost is lost forever.
Perhaps I will be punished by
a Lizzie Bennet in a man’s form.
Perhaps, I will treat him to an awkward proposal
that despite my better judgement…
…which he will then spurn with heaving chest
and moral indignation at not being
marked a superior and highly amiable species,
like Keira Knightley in a tropical downpour
wailing his wounded anguish to the overcast skies.
This is before he is wooed by
bounteous estates, and massive tracts of land.
My worldly possessions
and tasteful collections will merit praise
moreso than my lordly demeanour,
introverted arrogance , and mordant wit.
He will fall in love with the lustrous green
of moneyed gardens and the white sheen
of Grecian artefacts.
Of course, quite naturally,
a wet white shirt will clinch the deal.
Portrait of Heinrich von Morungen from the Codex Manesse*
Heinrich von Morungen or Henry of Morungen was a German courtly poet or more accurately a Minnesinger. Minnesang was the tradition of writing lyrics and songs about themes of love, and was prevalent between 12th and14th century. Henry was a native of Thuringia, and belonged to the class of minor knights. These Knights originated from the castle of Morungen near Sangerhause and Henry in paticular spent much of his later life in the service of Duke Dietrich of Meissen. When he retired, he received from Duke Dietrich a pension for his ‘high personal merits’. In 1217 he retired at the Monastry of St. Thomas in Leipzig. According to 16th century sources he died here after a journey to India in 1222.
Henry writes in middle high German and 35 poems of his survive today. These contain about 115 verses and 104 of them are found in the great collection of the Codex Manesse. This was a medieval song book known in German as the Große Heidelberger Liederhandschrift.It was written in Zurich for the Manesse family and thus derives its name. It is the single most comprehensive source of Middle High German Minnesang poetry and it was almost entirely written and illustrated in 1304 with a last bit added in 1340.
Scholars have called it ‘the most beautifully illumined German manuscript in centuries’. The Codex Manesse contains the works of about 135 Minnesingers of the 12th – 14th century. Each poet is represented by a beautifully drawn portrait followed by the text of their works. The entries are ordered according to the social standing of the poet starting with the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, Kinds Conradin and Wenceslaus II, followed by the Dukes, Counts, Knights and finally the Commoners.
It is hard to get a sense of how beautiful these lyrics are because firstly they are written in middle high German and that sounds very different from current German. Secondly they were never meant to be eye-read but sung with musical accompaniments. Henry composed melodies to all his texts and sung the songs himself accompanied by early type of violins. Unfortunately none of the melodies of these lyrical poems have been preserved.
Still we can get a sense of how beautiful his songs might have been from his lyrics which even on their own are hauntingly evocative; he seems to write in picture-words, conjuring enchanting images of the sun, moon, evening star, gold, jewels and mirrors which he often compares favourably with his lady love. But there is always an undercurrent of the the anguish and intensity of loving so deeply. In many cases love seems to have taken on a personification of demonic proportions, and has even become a chief tormentor. Love in Henry’s songs is then experienced as a magical and bewitching fatal power as and given the same depth of experience as would a mystical or religious experience.
His poems have been sung and re-interpreted by modern German musicians, and although it is not quite the same, you can still get some sense of how these poems were meant to be sung and some of the interpretations are quite beautifully in themselves. Helium Vola uses the lyrics from Henry’s song 4 in a stunning melodic rendition called ‘In so hoher swebender wunne’ The song describes how he feels in the presence of an exquisitely beautiful lady. He is so overwhelmed by her that he seems to have forgotten how to speak and express himself.
Song 5 has been interpreted by two German music artists, both very different explorations but equally enthralling. Entitled Von Den Elben by Qntal and Faun, this tells the story of a man bewitched by the faeries or in German Elves. In 32 lines Henry takes you on a journey, exploring the inner working of the mind of a man completely besotted by his mistress who does not return his intensity of passion.
Here is song V by Heinrich von Morungen in its original language- Middle High German
Von den elben wirt entsehen vil manic man,
sô bin ich von grôzer liebe entsên
von der besten, die ie dehein man ze vriunt
gewan. wil aber sî dar umbe mich vên
Und ze unstaten stên,
mac si danne rechen sich und tuo,
des ich si bite. sô vreut si sô sêre mich,
daz mîn lîp vor wunnen muoz zergên.
Sî gebiutet und ist in dem herzen mîn
vrowe und hêrer, danne ich selbe sî.
hei wan muoste ich ir alsô gewaltic sîn,
daz si mir mit triuwen waere bî
Ganzer tage drî unde eteslîche naht!
sô verlür ich niht den lîp und al die maht.
jâ ist sie leider vor mir alze vrî.
Mich enzündet ir vil liehter ougen schîn,
same daz viur den durren zunder tuot,
und ir vremeden krenket mir daz herze mîn
same daz wazzer die vil heize gluot.
Und ir hôher muot
und ir schoene und ir werdecheit
und daz wunder, daz man von ir tugenden seit,
daz wirt mir vil übel – oder lîhte guot?
Swenne ir liehten ougen sô verkêrent sich,
daz si mir aldur mîn herze sên,
swer dâ enzwischen danne gêt und irret mich,
dem muoze al sîn wunne gar zergên!
Ich muoz vor ir stên
unde warten der vröiden mîn
rehte alsô des tages diu kleinen vogellîn.
wenne sol mir iemer liep geschên? Resources
(c) 2012 TAB
There’s a popular idiom among estadounidense which dates back some time, referring to ‘squares’- people who are relatively conservative in their social attitudes. Here is the entry for ‘square’ from etymonline.com, which uses several print works for its database of etymological derivations:
c.1300, “containing four equal sides and right angles,” from square (n.). Meaning “honest, fair,” is first attested 1560s; that of “straight, direct” is from 1804. Sense of “old-fashioned” is 1944, U.S. jazz slang, said to be from shape of a conductor’s hand gestures in a regular four-beat rhythm. (Square-toes meant nearly the same thing in 1771, from a style of shoes then fallen from fashion.) Squaresville is attested from 1956. Square one “the beginning” is first recorded 1960, probably from board games; square dance first attested 1870.
Many of us are familiar with the usage here listed as “”old-fashioned”", and considering it apparently goes back 78 years that’s not surprising. Of course, the positive and negative connotations of this word shifted among many during the Civil Rights Era and subsequent generations’ progressives have associated it further with a sort of obstinate refusal to come to terms with liberatory movements and their social impacts, and therefore with a (paleo)conservative outlook towards society. I’m not quite clear if neoconservatives are on board with being squares, considering that they espouse radical changes which many (including myself) feel are in fact negative. On the other hand, that is something for those who identify with conservatism to hash out amongst themselves. What is clear is that squares are a common staple of political identification for our times; whether you are a square or find it retrogressive, or simply don’t care, the squares have been among us and still are. Quite possibly, they have been among us since before anyone else was around to be an ‘us’ in opposition to the fact- though paleoanthropology may not support such claims.
What has come up as a topic with scholars of political and social change is that there are unexamined aspects to power structures and their social implications are often hidden. This statement may seem to be made especially general in order to apply well, but it pops up in such a variety of places that it is difficult to phrase so easily in more particular terms. In formal academic discourse, it may often be the case that a person applying politically progressive ideals is doing so from within a critical position that attempts to universalize that which is not truly universal. In this way, assumptions about often-studied social oppressions such as those centered around sex/gender/orientation, class, and race are overlaid upon each other to the detriment of the theory. What seeks to be a positive prescription for humanistic purposes can therefore be rendered incapable of seeing past the originator’s perspective, or that of their close peers, and instead of shining light into the issues which prevent humanity’s progress they instead can therefore obscure them. This tendency has been increasingly pointed out and critically deconstructed in efforts to provide a fuller picture, and over the past two decades academics with critical perspectives have been able to better understand the nature of oppressive power structures without relying on the same methods of perception which those structures engender and enforce. Reading some wikipedia- a good starting point is the article Intersectionality- is probably of more use than an attempt to cover this topic comprehensively here.
The net result, or at least one of the results, of such ongoing debate is that there is a growing recognition of the lack of very many universals when it comes to human existence. While some things may readily apply to everyone (such as needing air, water, and food), nearly all cultural and social norms at some point can be found to apply differently by groups, whether this is an intentional effect of oppression or an unrecognized by-product of some other normativity which causes oppressions that are obscured in some way to those who are not experiencing them. Ultimately, those who are able to clearly take into account differences are able to see that there are too many to adequately refer to any universal pattern of oppression. There are too many social norms to consider more than the basic minimums needed for a civil existence (or perhaps a shared strife in more realistic terms) to be universal. There are therefore too many ways to analyze and model society to apply any of them universally. The tendency to do so anyway, in disregard of such realizations, can be called hyperuniversalizing or hyperuniversalism (depending on which part of the sentence you’d like to use it).
This is somewhat belated, given that we have less than a handful of episodes to go before Season 1 ends, but I shall be posting my thoughts and spoilerish gushings here in comments. If you’ve watched the latest episode(s) or would like to discuss random things concerning previous episodes, here’s the thread for you to do!
BEWARE, HERE BE MASSIVE SPOILERS!
What is more, this thread ENCOURAGES SPOILERS! (do not read until you’ve watched the most recent episode for the week!)
This thread exists because I am likely to explode with excited spewage throughout this season, and I’d rather not be a spoiler-fiend! The thread is open for everyone who would like to rant, squee, ask questions or debate stuff to do with each episode of Season Two, Game of Thrones. I shall post my own thoughts in comments periodically.
BEWARE, HERE BE MASSIVE SPOILERS!
Or, there should be! Tally-ho!
[this review reflects the status of the show at the end of Season 4]
cast/characters, from wiki:
Bryan Cranston as Walter White
Anna Gunn as Skyler White
Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman
Dean Norris as Hank Schrader
Betsy Brandt as Marie Schrader
RJ Mitte as Walter White, Jr.
Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman
Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo “Gus” Fring
Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut
Breaking Bad (BrBa) re/presents classic wild west themes in a contemporary context. The main characters, Walter White- and to a lesser extent his partner Jesse Pinkman- are ‘driven by desperation to become outlaws’ (a trope, variation of ‘the outlaws are the heroes’ general/meta western trope, especially in combination with the ‘intense calamity befalls a family’ trope). (continue reading…)
Okay, okay. Spoilers, I get it. Everything else is under the “more” tag if you haven’t watched till the end of Lost, the first episode of Eureka, or until the fourth episode of Once Upon A Time.
Sometime, way back in the late `90s, I started a web-project that looked not just at the idea of romance through different cultures and perspectives, but also at the metaphor of “Courtyards” which leads to that oft-touted idea in ritual theory of “thresholds”. I was particularly interested by Courtly Love and the different ways in which humanity approached romantic festivals such as Valentine’s Day or Beltaine. Of course, this was all couched in popular culture terms, and it was a site that had curated exhibitions of art, literature and films, which accepted submissions. Yes, in many ways it was the “Alpha” version of Mythic Folk as it is today. For Valentine’s Day 2000, I wanted to make a list of movies that highlighted these different takes on love and romance and how it is related to the multiple-perspectives found within human relationships. I talked about this a bit with one of my good online friends, Janet Yanosko, a university librarian, web-goddess, lover of fine fiction, movies, history and all-around cool geek girl. Janet, or Jem as we knew her, is beloved not just by me but more than one of that early community of sf/f geeks who found each other in the `90s.
Janet left this world on Christmas Eve, 2008, which would be a festive date except for this loss. She wrote this guide of movies as both a parody and affirmation of another festive date.
I was thinking of this all this week, about the different principles that apply to these things we call “festive occasions” which are so very often filled with sadness, awkwardness but also something that is still life-affirming. As always, lately this makes me think of Janet, and of Christmas Eve. Then, I think of that Valentine’s Day when we both wrote these lists and had a good chortle about it.
So I offer you, Janet Yanosko Elkin’s Alternate List of Romance Movies. These are, in actual fact, Action Movies, but with a twist, in how Janet perceives them. This post is about Janet, her humour and wit – as well as how both our inner worlds and outer worlds (the media, culture, festivals) connect together. This, I would say, is connected to how I perceive “Weddings, Birthdays and Festivals in myth, folklore and (sub)cultures” – as a binary relationship, between happiness and sadness, between inclusion and exclusion. Between conventional ways of perceiving human relationships and the ways in which we come together, and the unconventional ways in which we do come together. Enjoy!
Janet Yanosko Elkin’s Alternate Guide to Romance in the Cinema
For those who prefer their romance in a more, shall we say, invigorating delivery medium, here is a list of films to tickle your fancy:
- Die Hard (1988)
Cast: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson (rated: R)
John McClane, A New York cop, gives terrorists more than they bargain for as they hold hostages in an LA highrise office building. This should win an award for best use of Beethoven in a film score in a film that is not about Beethoven. The great thing about Bruce Willis is that his heroes all have an “everyman” quality. He crashes through glass, gets cut, and has to pick glass out of his feet. This movie has violence with consequences. And who else could pull off a line like, “Yippee-ki-yay, mother______!”? Die Hard is actually a romance. McClane, separated from his wife, finds himself in a position of having to save her. There’s nothing like a hostage situation to make you see perspective in your relationships.
- The Terminator (1984)
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn (plus an early appearance by Bill Paxton as “Punk Leader”) (rated: r)
Love knows no boundaries; it can travel across the span of 30 years and battle the destructive power of a really scary, seemingly impossible to destroy cybernetic killer with an Austrian accent. Kyle Reese is a soldier sent back to our time to protect Sarah Connor, who is to be the mother of the man leading a successful rebellion against the machines that have declared war against humanity. This is my favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. It combines great chases, explosions, time travel paradox, and that dream you have of trying to run away but your legs just don’t seem to be working right. With developments in artificial intelligence proceeding and computing power doubling every 9 months, the science fiction aspect of the story is still relevant, even though “Ah-nold” has taken to making kinder, gentler movies with less mayhem and destruction.”
- Romancing the Stone (1984)
Cast: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito (rated: PG)
Romancing the Stone pokes fun at the romance novel, while perfectly executing all of the elements of the genre. Best-selling romance writer Joan Wilder has to travel to Colombia to exchange a treasure map for her sister’s life. The plot is complicated by the appearance of a mysterious villain in black who is after the same map, and by the appearance of the male lead–who is so totally unlike her romantic ideal that she can’t stand him. It must be love. This movie is great fun, but avoid the sequel at all costs.
- Dark City (1998)
Cast: Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt (rated: R)
This review at imdb.com by M.A. Rogers says it all: “[Dark City] is a film noir-a film noir that we could call “moody” as if other examples of that genre weren’t. There’s a marvelous sheen of grit, murder, detectives, mystery and intrigue. The surreal science fiction elements are what make Dark City so unusual, though. Throughout the film there is an odd combination of a 1940′s atmosphere, props and sets combined with futuristic elements. This delightful disorienting blend is heightened by the fact that many of the futuristic elements also suggest Victorian objects (the syringes), art deco objects (the clock), or medieval objects (much of the underground environment).” One of the main character’s motivations, aside from trying to remember if he is actually a killer, is love for his wife–whom he may not have ever met before the event that starts the film. Both The Matrix and Total Recall deal with whether what you remember makes you who you are, but this movie does it better.
- The Matrix (1999)
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving (rated :R)
Lest anyone think I’m slamming The Matrix (see the above review), I include it in my list of highly recommended V-Day films. The Matrix is mind-bending, visually stunning, and has awfully attractive people wearing excellent leather coats and cool shades. The special effects-driven action sequences (my personal favorite is Trinity kicking the you-know-what out of the authorities attempting to apprehend her at the very beginning of the movie) are revolutionary, and has spawned copycat effects in other films. The Matrix could be cold, technical, and impersonal. Yet the moral of the story is that warm flesh and blood humans have something that machines lack. It might be love.
- Gladiator (2000)
Cast: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed (rated: R)
Gladiator hearkens back to the great Roman epic films of old Hollywood, yet is unique in that Christianity is not the driving force of the story. What I find interesting is that Maximus is, nonetheless, a very spiritual man, and completely devoted to his family. His only wish is to return to his farm to be with his wife and son. Alas, history intervenes. I think all of the characters in the film become unhinged somewhat by the events sweeping them up, and the excitement comes in finding out how they deal with what happens to them. This is a great film. Morituri te salutamus.
- X-Men (2000)
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen (Rated PG-13)
X-Men is perhaps the first movie based on a comic book to do it right (with the possible exception of the original Batman movie starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson). The movie has a “storyboard” look to it, and even amid battle scenes, the action will pause to highlight Wolverine’s perfect stance, or closeup on Hugh Jackman’s extraordinary eyebrows. Yet this film is not just eye candy; there are interesting personal relationships which add depth to the story: Magneto/Dr. Xavier, Wolverine/Jean Grey, Rogue/Wolverine. Wolverine’s attraction to Jean Grey is the most overt manifestation of romance in this movie, but I was more interested in the fact that Rogue is doomed to spend her life completely cut off from physical human contact. She has a crush on Wolverine and a budding relationship with Billy, but her powers have implications that will forever affect how she can respond to love.
- The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher (rated: PG)
Sometimes called the best of the three original Star Wars films, The Empire Strikes Back is certainly the darkest. The Rebellion is on the brink again. Luke, having already lost his mentor, suffers the loss not only of his hand but of everything he has believed about his origins. Han Solo is sold to bounty hunters. Threepio gets blown to smithereens. Leia finds and loses what she holds most dear. There are so many things going on in the story I can’t possibly describe them all…but it makes my list because there is a romance involved. And it’s not between Artoo and Threepio.
- The Fugitive (1993)
Cast: Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones (Rated PG-13)
There is an undeniable electricity whenever Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones share the screen in this, one of the finest pairings of hunter and hunted since Les Miserables’ Valjean and Javert or the classic Roadrunner/Coyote cartoons. There is nothing cartoonish or stilted about this movie, however. Every character who appears on the screen rings true. You get the feeling when you are watching that each person, from the main character down to the smallest bit player, has a complete story and motivation. Action films with truly great acting are rare indeed. Tommy Lee Jones deservedly won the Oscar for best supporting actor in this role, and Harrison ford is unparalleled. There isn’t actually a romance in this film–aside from Dr. Kimble’s love for his wife–but the chemistry between the two leads is such that maybe there should be.
- True Lies (1994)
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Bill Paxton, Tia Carrere (rated: R)
Arnold Schwarzenegger is Harry Tasker, a top-secret agent of an intelligence agency so covert, nobody has ever heard of it. His bored wife, Helen (played with comic aplomb by Jamie Lee Curtis), thinks Harry is a salesman and craves adventure. Helen accidentally gets caught between a smarmy used-car salesman’s “secret agent” scam for bagging chicks and her husband’s investigation of a terrorist plot when Harry suspects her of having an affair. It is due to Curtis’ absolute chutzpa that Mrs. Tasker does not become an object of scorn in what are some very embarrassing circumstances. Tom Arnold makes an unexpectedly funny turn as Arnold’s trusty sidekick.
- Strictly Ballroom (1992)
Cast: Paul Mercurio, Tara Morice, Bill Hunter (rated G)
The action in this small Australian movie isn’t car chases or exploding bombs…rather it’s the rumba and pasadoble. Strictly Ballroom is set up as a mock documentary about Scott Hastings, whose chance to win the latin dance competition at the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix Amateur Championships is in jeopardy due to his tendancy to spontaneously (gasp!) improvise. “Our son was a champion,” weeps Scott’s mother. “That’s the tragedy of it!” The only person who believes in Scott is the ugly duckling, Fran, who wants to dance his steps his way. All of the wacky characters take the insular world of Australian ballroom dance deadly seriously and have lost perspective on reality. The dance costumes are not exaggerated, however. If you have ever seen ballroom dance competitions on tv, you will know that the costumes and hair sported by the dancers in this movie are utterly realistic. Amid the garish makeup, fruit-adorned costumes, and hair glitter, the message is that it’s not about winning, but about being true to yourself.
- Dead Again (1991)
Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Andy Garcia, Emma Thompson, Derek Jacobi, Robin Williams, Wayne Knight (rated: R)
Dead Again combines a dual romance, a 40′s murder mystery, and psychological thriller all wrapped in one exceedlingly suspenseful and elegant package. “Grace” shows up at a nunnery mysteriously one night with no memory and no ability to speak. She screams in her sleep, but is literally unable to say why. Mike Church, a private investigator, is called in to investigate who this enigmatic woman could be and help her loved ones–if she has any–find her. What he finds is that he and Grace may have know each other before in previous lives, and history may be doomed to repeat itself. The story unfolds in the same way the characters experience it, and the plot twists are maintained until the end. The final scene could perhaps have been less, um, pointed in its violence, but it does not detract from the rest of this superb film.
- Speed (1994)
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock, Joe Morton, Jeff Daniels (rated: R)
This is the film that admits sometimes relationships should be just based on sex. The rest of the movie has very little to do with that revelation, however. It’s a really great hostage story on a bus which has to stay above 50 miles per hour. If the vehicle’s speed drops any lower, it will explode, killing all of the passengers on board. The really interesting thing about this movie is the interaction of the passengers, the action hero (Reeves) out of his depth and up against a villain both smarter and more cunning than he, and the ability of the story to make you believe a bus can fly fifty feet over a gap in a freeway ramp without plummeting to the ground.
- Face/Off (1997)
Cast: John Travolta, Nicolas Cage, Joan Allen, Alessandro Nivola, Gina Gershon (rated: R)
The plot of Face/Off actually has really great symmetry, worthy of Jane Austen…but with guns and a body count. This film has the most beautiful action sequences I’ve ever seen, complete with fluttering doves and balletic moves in slow motion. The science in Face/Off is dubious; its premise requires much suspension of disbelief. However, it has truly excellent layered performances. Nicolas Cage is particularly fine as a family man masquerading as his son’s killer to get information about the location of a bomb from the killer’s brother. What would it do to a person to see the face you hate above all others staring at you from the mirror? This movie is, at its action-filled heart, about the completion of family, the resolving of wounds, and the healing and transformative power of love.
I’ve been meaning to do a write-up connecting my experience at Worldcon to the topic which has been brewing for the past couple of months amongst the #mythicfolk community – “The DIY ethos amongst geek communities”, but I’ve not managed to get the time or energy to do so. However, I will offer you pictures from the Saturday and Sunday night filk circles at Worldcon which partially inspired this topic. Led by the talented Ann Poore with her harp, the filkers allowed us to travel to distant lands, to the sets of disaster movies, to outer space, to various zombie apocalypse scenarios and beyond. There was magical harp music, there was a continuing filk dedicated to “Professor Tolkien” (which was played on two nights), there were filkers from Japan and South East Asia! What I was really impressed with was the “filk circle” which was inclusive and even allowed newbies like me to be part of it. The system was “pick, pass or play”, where, if you were not going to play you could either pick a song or a filker, or pass. I was sneaky. I picked Ann Poore to play, twice, because her harp music was beautiful. Also, I was too shy to play my own compositions. Maybe next time.
There was also a harpist from Germany who entertained us with her own compositions inspired by the Lord of the Rings and other fantasy sagas. Beautiful stuff.
Here’s the guy who wrote (and sang) the “Oh Professor Tolkien, What Have You Done”, song. Apparently he writes a lot of filks, but I forgot to take down his name. If any of you know who he is, do let me know! The song is such an earworm!
And this lady, was magical. Her music was the kind of music I’ve come to associate with filks – the old school kind.
Again, I do not know her name.
Why was I inspired by the circle? Perhaps it was the rough and ready aspect of it, the acceptance that even if you didn’t get it right the first time, it was fine. That some people would know other songs and just chime in. It was a spirit of free-flowing creativity that didn’t apologize for riffing off works of sf/f, and which defied the ideas of what a fan should be. It’s this boldness that I admired and which I think is part of the “Open Source” mentality and the D-I-Y ethos that I respect in geek communities. Of course, it’s not all roses. I think that the ideas behind copyright and creativity, appropriation and homage are tied into other issues to do with the D-I-Y ethos. But within the filk universe, everything gels well. Originating creators are respected, as well as these individuals who are creative in their own right. Lurking there amongst them, I decided that they were also mythic folk. Larger than life, creating communities where the mythic texts that were repeated in their songs were works of science fiction and fantasy.
I’d like to talk more about this D-I-Y ethos before October breathes its last gasp, but we’ll see if my wrists -and deadlines – will allow me to do so. But I’m also opening this topic up for discussion, either here or in chat.
From writer Singing Chen comes a tragic and moving film about love, loss, and obligation. Chen’s backdrop is the earthquake that struck Taiwan on September 21th, 1999, a time when many had lost something in their lives, whether it be hope, family, or even love.
The night of the earthquake, a young Takeko abandons her small brother’s plea to stay home. When she returns, she sees her small brother, Ching, crouching down in front of the rubble where their father was buried. Traumatized, the last thing that Ching could possibly remember was the arm reaching out from under the building’s remains and the spider lily tattoo that covered it. Ching’s memory was gone.
Some time after this traumatic experience, Takeko is out and about on her bicycle; she spots a young 9 year old girl, Jade, and decides to give her a ride home. Having no family except for her Grandmother, Jade becomes attached to this strange new figure. The artwork etched into her arm is a memory that she will never forget.
Many years later, Jade, now a lonely and reckless teenager is entrenched in webcam pornography. Takeko runs her own tattoo parlor while attending to her amnesia-ridden brother. The main theme of the film centers around the estranged relationship between Takeko and Jade as well as their own personal burdens. Jade stumbles into the tattoo parlor one day in an effort to reach out to Takeko. She wants a tattoo – the same one that long-sleeve button-downs now cover on the arm of Takeko. In a flood of repressed images, the memory of young Jade comes rushing back to Takeko.
In the end, the tragedy of loss is entangled between holding on, letting go and the will to overcome. While many will peg this is as another homosexual film with pop stars, it really is not. It is a tragic domino’s effect of events that leads the viewer into the lives and culture of these characters as well as the burdens they must overcome to move forward with their lives. It is a tale of bravery and of love that transcends.