Next Year’s Summer Blockbuster

A smooth-talking African-American convict escapes from jail and embarks on a quest to track down the mysterious head of a racist transnational corporation who stole the affections of his wife by means of hypnotic drugs. Along the way, he and his companions encounter a variety of characters drawn from classical mythology and early-70’s blaxploitation movies. A funky soundtrack featuring urban roots music will underscore the outrageous plot, the eccentric characters, and the gently insistent political undertones of the film.
Title: “Undercover Brother, Where Art Thou?”

Minority Report Report

Before I get to the movie, I will observe that the trip to Gurnee went all right this morning. It’s a pretty high-church parish (the Rev. Edgar Wells was once their rector) which suits me just right, but as is so often the case with high-church parishes, they weren’t entirely prepared to communicate their particular liturgical observances with a hit-and-run priest. Everything went fine, but not perfectly. The sermon was well received.
After I collapsed in a heap to nap for the afternoon, I went to the store for Margaret, ate a delicious dinner of gluten-free quiche (with a crust you could never tell was gluten-free if you didn’t already know), washed dishes, and then we headed to the Evanston Megaplex (which is why I haven’t had time to blog today).

The movie does an excellent job of keeping your adrenalin pumping steadily enough to divert attention from the plot holes, which are probably not so much “holes” as the inevitable problems that arise in change-the-course-of-time plots. Tom Cruise was no more irritating than usual, and the other players actually acted. The overtones of the Patriot Act sounded clearly, to my satisfaction.

What I most liked about the movie, though, was that it took the premise from Philip K Dick’s story and fleshed it out richly, strengthening a number of elements that often remain thin in Dick’s fiction, and also retained some very Dickian touches (the absolutely intolerable advertisements that call out your name as you pass were spot on — though as Nate pointed out, in Dick’s fiction they would never have been shilling for actual companies). On the other hand, the particular ending brought too glib a Hollywood resolution to Dick’s vision; I don’t remember that kind of ending from his story (though I have terrible recall of individual works of his, so I may just be confused).

In all, a good job and worth having seen. And I was glad to be making some kind of contribution to the Dick estate—though I’d rather have put the money into the pocket of the writer when he was living. I used to haunt bookstores to get copies of everything of his I could find, every edition of every book; I sold my collection off at Books Do Furnish a Room in Durham when I decided that a Philip K. Dick collection was too costly, too space-intensive, and too idiosyncratic a hobby for me.
Now I have a couple of the hardbacks, a smattering of paperbacks and books-about-Dick, and the habit of pushing Nate and Si to read all the books I can foist on them.

Dave Rogers Music Alert: “There’s a Touch,” the Proclaimers (the acoustic version from their website); “Highway Patrolman,” Dar Williams; “Repo Man,” Iggy Pop (nice random juxtaposition); “Carry Me Away,” Indigo Girls; “Round Midnight,” Miles Davis; “No Love for Free,” Joan Armatrading.

End of the Day

The sermon is now finished, such as it is, with time for me catch seven hours of sleep before the 6:40 AM departure time for Gurnee (if you want to catch a ride, be here early; Jennifer and Margaret are rolling out with me, so we only have three or four empty seats). Time to walk Bea, Fierce Warrior Puppy, and crash.

Dave Rogers Music Alert:“Egoverride,” Bob Mould.

Wish I’d Said

If I were perpetuating the discussion of hermeneutics, I’d point to what Marek just wrote in a parable. He and Des (scroll down, the link parable appears toward the bottom of the page) both respond, appropriately, to questions about meaning by telling stories.

The Winner Is

Well, I’m the winner, because my external hard drives are now harmonious with occasional sleeping by my CPU. But the winner of the “helpful advice to AKMA” sweepstakes was KevinmediAgoraMarks, who casually asked whether my drivers were up to date. “Of course,” I thought, “I installed the drivers when my last drive arrived, that was, err, four or five months ago.” Ah, but how old was the model of the drive? And did I check the company website?

Now I have. Thanks, Kevin.

I wrote half a sermon at Kim’s this afternoon, but I’m not sure it’ll work into a full sermon. I don’t see the hook. But it was good to sit down and write stuff on deadline, and I have tomorrow for some writing, too.

DMRA:“Treachery,” Kirsty MacColl; “I 76,” G. Love and Special Sauce

Twelve Years of Accessibility

Or at least, “twelve years of a government act intended to bring about accessibility.” The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed twelve years ago today, despite the efforts of iron-hearted “compassionate conservatives” and the mockery of commentators content to cash in on a cheap laugh at the expense of blind or deaf or wheelchair-bound jobseekers. We have a long way to go (I know this blog isn’t accessible), but we can no more afford to ignore the exclusion based on mobility or audition or visual perception than we can on the basis of race or religion or affection. We mustn’t stop now.


Makes me feel pretty cosmopolitan to notice the number of referrers who point to this page from foreign-language sites (the same sort of feeling as having heard that I’m a bigger deal scholar in Finland than I am in the USA). At least, it feels cosmopolitan until I realize how few of the pages I can read. Now, my academic field imposes a certain limitation by requiring attention more to ancient languages than to contemporary ones. I doubt that Italian, Swedish, and (I think) Danish, Modern Hebrew, and Japanese would make my Top Ten Languages to Learn Soon list anyway. (Luckily, Jordon and Wendy, I already speak Canadian.) But I want to say hey to Gaspar and Gustav anyway, and Xaire, “greetings,” to everyone else.

DMRA: “Deep Ellum Blues,” Jimmie Dale Gilmore et al.; “First I Look At the Purse,” the Contours; “Mothership Connection,” Parliament; “Elvis is Dead,” the Forgotten Rebels; “Caravan of Love,” the Housemartins; “Tennessee,” Arrested Development.

Unwelcome Groceries

Has anyone else noticed an uptick in the quantity of spam recently? Or did I just get lucky with some spammer’s harvesting bot? I won’t mention what I’ve been offered, lest I get some misdirected Google hits, but let’s just say that they’ve got absolutely the wrong audience.

DRMA: “All My Little Words,” Magnetic Fields.

A “D’oh” Waiting to Happen

I know I’ll feel dopey for asking, but is there something I should be remembering to avoid giving my external USB hard drive a migraine every week or so, when I forget to dismount it nicely before my PowerBook goes to sleep? It seems so massively counterintuitive that Apple should have written the system software so that one has to dismount the drive manually before going to sleep, that I figure I must have missed some option built-in to the OS (I’m running 9.1 now, but this has been happening for ages).
If Apple dropped this ball, hasn’t someone written a utility to watch for this? Please?

DMRA:“The Sins of Memphisto,” John Prine; “Plastic Man,” the Kinks.

She’s Baa-ack

Juliet’s archive problem seems to have cleared up (blogger blogger) and that puts me back on the spot to respond to her (just as I was telling David in email that maybe we should wind this thread down). I’ll try to strike a happy medium between boring the non-hermeneutics fans out there (on one hand) and short-changing Juliet (on the other).

So: Juliet observes, partway into her blog, that “One of the issues that has snagged my thinking about the differential option, however, is the imaginative configuration that places the concept of meaning outside of the text rather than somehow corresponding to the unique dance that occurs between the text and reader. Far from a criticism, it is a stuck point in my own reflections on how reading occurs.” I’m not quite sure how to read that last sentence—I could have asked her this afternoon, but at that point I didn’t know her archives were operational again, and besides, her intention in composing that sentence is part of the question we’re investigating. In her first sentence, though, she rightly catches the differential-hermeneutic insistence that “meaning” resides not inside the text, as a vein of gold in a rock stratum, but in the interaction between reader and text in a particular situation (I’m adding the specific setting to Juliet’s “text and reader”).

I’m not surprised when she reports that a classroom of politically-attuned readers resisted Steve Fowl’s point that ideology does not reside in the text. I’ve been raked over the coals in professional meetings by colleagues who found that suggestion theoretically ridiculous and politically retrograde. (I suppose I don’t think I was coal-raked, as I had sound rebuttals to all the objections I faced; in fact, I had explicit counter-examples for every ominous interpretive threat that my interlocutors posed.) The no-ideologies argument affronts readers who want not only to point out ways that a text can persuasively be interpreted in ways that oppress, limit, or threaten particular constituencies of readers—they want also to say that hte problems they point to are intrinsic to the text. In a similar way, though an opposite orientation, other readers want to claim that “traditional” values and theological teachings are intrinsic to the biblical text.

Augustine really does help with these matters. He believes without question that God can appropriately claim authorship of the Bible, and that the Bible reveals God’s identity and plan. At the same time, Augustine the semiotician and rhetor recognizes that the Bible will inevitably engender different interpretations, that indeed the fullness of God’s providential will requires a plenitude of legitimate interpretations. So long as these various interpretations build up the love of God and of neighbor, and cohere with other pertinent texts, the interpreters have rightly understood Scripture.

I’ve probably said more than enough on this topic for now. My gang of critical interrogators has helped me see where readers are likely to doubt my claims, and to see where I should make the positive side of my position clearer and more explicit. Thanks to everyone who chipped in, and here I want to note Joe Duemer too (though I haven’t really followed up his observations on language games, imagination, fancy, and why AKMA is right and Pat Robertson wrong, though I do appreciate his confidence on the last-mentioned topic). If I go on any longer, though, these insightful critics may instigate a further round of discussion, and that would transgress against the patience of long-suffering visitors. So tomorrow I’ll try not to talk about hermeneutics at all. I’ve been itching to open up on trust and especially on how trust fares online.

Thanks for your attention, and I’ll keep y’all in prayer, and I ask your prayers also.

DRMA:“Ça Plane Pour Moi,” Plastic Bertrand; “Honeysuckle Rose,” Fats Waller; “Say Man,” Bo Diddley; “Rough Side of the Mountain,” the Rev. F. C. Barnes and Janice Brown; “Nobody’s Fault But My Own,” Beck; “Number Nine Dream,” John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band; “Day After Day,” Badfinger; “Joyful Girl,” Ani DiFranco; “Touch Me Lord Jeus,” Angelic Gospel Singers.