Friday, April 7, 2017

A Way of Being in a Place Called America

A Poem.
I saw Paterson (2016) last night, and I woke up this morning dreaming in poetry.
I used to write everything in poetry, then I decided to switch to prose in order to try to say the things I needed to say.
Now that I'm older, I find the things I need to say are too complex for the prose I have the ability to write.
Perhaps it's time to go back to poetry.
Michael Holloway       
April 7, 2017        

Paterson is about a bus driver named Paterson who works for the Public Transit Authority of Paterson, New Jersey - the place about which the American poet William Carlos Williams wrote his modernist epic, "Paterson"1; and where the Beat Poet (and my poetry paragon) Allen Ginsberg grew up and spent some time writing.

The film is an art film; something America doesn't do very much. Something the film's maker Jim Jarmusch, has been trying to change throughout his career in film.

The movie talks about identity; how, if we are happy with the identity we have built for ourselves, it can shape the world we chose to understand that we live in.

In Paterson's America, the world is about love.

It is not about a hundred other things that it could be about - those things that appear in the landscape of Paterson's days - it is them, but they are not important, they just inform the other thing.

Paterson tries to reset the conversation in America, and there are strong, deep currents which lend to that.

Perhaps America is too old now for prose. America was once younger than that now.

Perhaps America's dissonance so visible in it's Twitter threads, should be stanzas now instead?


1 Wikipedia | Paterson - by William Carlos Williams |


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Arrival (2016) poses spiritual solutions to modern existential questions that arise out of scientific understandings

Due to the world wide web, the rate of increase of the amassing of knowledge is progressing so quickly that the questions which science presents to the culture are fast becoming the questions - and the resolutions - of spiritual talking points once the exclusive purview of religion.  More and more science knowledge is providing - and answering - spiritual conundrums. These resolutions represent the journey of life towards the answer to the essential nature of human existence: our reason for being.

Let me explain:

In 2006 I wrote a piece about the increasing symmetry between science and religion:

To sum it up, the 2006 piece postulates that the rate of the increase in knowledge is filling the gap left when we no longer believe in a god - but instead believe in ourselves, in the journey to resolve unknowns.

Not the unknowns mind you, the Journey.

In the film "Arrival", I believe the creators have reflected my hypothesis.

Arrival (2016) is a film by French Canadian Director, Denis Villeneuve, (screenplay by Eric Heisserer) based on a short story by American computer scientist, technical writer and science fiction/fantasy writer, Ted Chiang.

The film is about the nature of the experience of life.

After watching Arrival in a theatre last night my take is that the story incorporates the Buddhist idea called Nirvana - which argues that by becoming 'at one' with oneself (or at peace within) at any given moment or in any given circumstance, one can attain enlightenment - and from that existential resolution, happiness. In the script (I haven't read Chiang's sort story yet ... but Chiang's use of the word 'mandalas' to describe the form of the alien's written language suggest an intended Buddhist reference1), this idea is taken one step further. The plot starts with the idea that a person can become at one with a single moment - and then adds in the modern understanding about the nature of time/space derived through an understanding of Einstein's theory of relativity - where-in, if experience stops (if data ceases to be input) then by definition, time stops ... Thus within a state of Nirvana, the temporal quality of our experience - the lineal element - disappears; we are thus at all moments of our existence all at once.

This time/space extension off the idea of Nirvana is the basis of the film - which incorporating the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (which postulates that the structure of the brain is a function of language) where-in the alien visitors gift humankind their written language which reflects a non-lineal way of realizing the universe; and thus the gift - realized by the main character of the film, who begins to experience her life non-lineally ... and this is what resolves the tension that drives the story in the film.

So the premise of this article is that, due to the functioning of the world wide web, the amassing of knowledge is progressing so quickly that the questions which science presents to the culture are the spiritual talking points once the purview of religion - and the eventual resolution by science are now the resolutions to existential questions the journey which illuminates the essential function of human existence.

You guessed it - the answer to which is 42 (actually the answer is the Journey that discovers that the answer is incomprehensible).

1 (see 'mandalas' reference in this review which points extensively to passages from the book) Ted Chiang is profiled in the New Yorker magazine by Joshua Rothman and here is the short story ''STORY OF YOUR LIFE'' (excerpted here, scroll down) now a Hollywood movie titled ARRIVAL |


Monday, February 20, 2017