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Political influence on the movies

Friday, July 21st, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — Canada, Hollywood cave? ]
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Sources:

  • Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, Did the CBC get spooked?
  • Hollywood Reporter, Vladimir Putin Cut From Two Upcoming Hollywood Movies
  • **

    The Chinese don’t want the Dalai Lama to speak with heads of state; they throw their weight around, and some heads of state capitulate.

    Here’s the equivalent in terms of the arts. I suppose it’s inevitable, considering the state of the world, but I don’t like it one little bit.

    Among the believers

    Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — a blistering documentary account of Pakistan’s Lal Masjid, jihadist focal point ]
    .

    I’ve just been watching the 2015 documentary Among the Believers, now showing on Netflix. It concerns the Red Mosque, Lal Masjid — its teachings, its encouragement of jihad, and the government siege which shut it down in 2007. The speaker denouncing the masjid is Pakistani nuclear physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy.

    Here are some screengrabs that caught my eye..

    **

    Maulana Abdul Aziz, who runs the place, speaks of his son, who was inside the Masjid during the bloody siege, and lost his life:

    He was my only son. When I was in prison, during the final part of the siege, police guards loyal to us told me that since I had only one son, they would smuggle him out of there. But I said no. I told them I was willing to sacrifice him for Allah. You know, I regret the fact that I didn’t died for Allah. They said, “What’s more important than one’s child’s life?”

    He concludes:

    What is of interest here is the amplified echo of the story of Abraham‘s willingness to sacrifice his son (variously Isaac, Ishmael)

    **

    The book the student is reading is one I mentioned a while back, in 2011’s The Black Banners of Blackwater by Maulana Umar Asim.

    **

    A new category of martyr — the madrassah. Will it cross the bridge As-Sirat? What will be its reward?

    **

    What those who protest Lal Masjid’s encouragement of jihad wish to reclaim for a happier and more toalerant Pakistan..

    The film is banned in Pakistan.

    **

    Here, to bring you some joy out of all this, is a song that I encountered on the soundtrack of this remarkable documentary, performed here as part of the splendid Coke Studios series:

    Sunday surprise — literal rainfall ancient and modern

    Sunday, March 19th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — a DoubleQuote in the arts ]
    .

    Guillaume Apollinaire:

    **

    Il pleut

    Il pleut des voix de femmes comme si elles étaient mortes même dans le souvenir
    c’est vous aussi qu’il pleut merveilleuses rencontres de ma vie ô gouttelettes
    et ces nuages cabrés se prennent à hennir tout un univers de villes auriculaires
    écoute s’il pleut tandis que le regret et le dédain pleurent une ancienne musique
    écoute tomber les liens qui te retiennent en haut et en bas.

    Roger Shattuck, brilliant author of The Banquet Years: The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France) translates:

    It’s Raining

    It’s raining women’s voices as if they had died even in memory
    And it’s raining you as well marvellous encounters of my life O little drops
    Those rearing clouds begin to neigh a whole universe of auricular cities
    Listen if it rains while regret and disdain weep to an ancient music
    Listen to the bonds fall off which hold you above and below

    As Edward Hirsch comments at Poetry Foundation:

    The slanting lines of Apollinaire’s poem create the sensation of rain running downward across a windowpane. Graphic form and verbal music come together as each long vertical line becomes a rhythmic unit of meaning

    — which is itself a verbal / visual DoubleQuote!

    **

    Code running downward..

    **

    This was brought to mind by the magnificent title sequence of the Le Carré thriller The Night Manager:

    essentially completing a second DoubleQuote with those falling droplets. those rising bubbles — and there are several filmic equivalents of DoubleQuotes graphic matches aka match cuts — in the sequence itself: bomb cloud > martini, tea cups >machine gun, contrails > pearls..

    I’m always happy to see more Le Carré on film..

    ISIS goes Matryoshka

    Friday, March 10th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — humans bearing doll attributes and vice versa ]
    .

    ISIS brings those Matryoshka dolls to life..

    **

    SITE Intel‘s video on ISIS indoctrination of children — one of their people actually terms it “brainwashing” as though it’s a blessing, not a perversion — is pretty graphic, but important.

    **

    For our younger readers, then:

    **

    Sources:

  • SITE Intel video report, Raising Terror: How the Islamic State Indoctrinates its Youth
  • The Peoples Cube, Islamic Matryoshka

  • Teletubbies, Developmental Benefits
  • Trolleys come to Terror

    Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — a western koan makes it onto German TV? ]
    .

    What Hala Jaber calls a supermarket trolley in this tweet is not what this post is about — but it sure does connect trolley and terror!

    **

    Here’s the terror side of things, in a tweet from John Horgan:

    The BBC halls it an “interactive courtroom drama interactive courtroom drama centred on a fictional act of terror” and notes:

    The public was asked to judge whether a military pilot who downs a hijacked passenger jet due to be crashed into a football stadium is guilty of murder.

    Viewers in Germany, Switzerland and Austria gave their verdict online or by phone. The programme was also aired in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

    The vast majority called for the pilot, Lars Koch, to be acquitted.

    Here’s the setup:

    In the fictional plot, militants from an al-Qaeda offshoot hijack a Lufthansa Airbus A320 with 164 people on board and aim to crash it into a stadium packed with 70,000 people during a football match between Germany and England.

    “If I don’t shoot, tens of thousands will die,” German air force Major Lars Koch says as he flouts the orders of his superiors and takes aim at an engine of the plane.

    The jet crashes into a field, killing everyone on board.

    So, is the pilot guilty, or not guilty?

    **

    At the very least, he has our sympathy — but how does that play out in legal proceedings?

    What’s so fascinating here is the pilot’s dilemma, which resembles nothing so much as a zen koan.

    Except for the Trolley Problem:

    trolley_problem
    Image from Wikimedia by McGeddon under license CC-BY-SA-4.0

    **

    Substitute an Airbus for the trolley, 164 people for the lone individual on the trolley line, and 70,000 people for the cluster of five — and the pilot for the guy who can make a decision and switch the tracks.

    There you have it: terror plot and trolley problem running in parallel.

    To be honest, I think the full hour-plus movie is far more immersive, to use a term from game design, than the Trolley Problem stated verbally as a problem in logic — meaning that the viewer is in some sense projected, catapulted into the fighter-pilot’s hot seat — in his cockpit, facing a high speed, high risk emergency, and in court, on trial for murder.

    It’s my guess that more people would vote for the deaths of 164 under this scenario than for the death of one in the case of the trolley — but that’s a guess.

    **

    The German film scenario — adapted from a play by Ferdinand von Schirach — is indeed a courtroom drama, a “case” in the sense of “case law”. And it’s suggestive that koans, too, are considered “cases” in a similar vein. Here, for instance, is a classic definition of koans :

    Kung-an may be compared to the case records of the public law court. Kung, or “public”, is the single track followed by all sages and worthy men alike, the highest principle which serves as a road for the whole world. An, or “records”, are the orthodox writings which record what the sages and worthy men regard as principles [..]

    This principle accords with the spiritual source, tallies with the mysterious meaning, destroys birth-and-death, and transcends the passions. It cannot be understood by logic; it cannot be transmitted in words; it cannot be explained in writing; it cannot be measured by reason. It is like a poisoned drum that kills all who hear it, or like a great fire that consumes all who come near it. [..]

    The so-called venerable masters of Zen are the chief officials of the public law courts of the monastic community, as it were, and their collections of sayings are the case records of points that have been vigorously advocated.

    **

    Relevant texts:

  • John Daido Loori, Sitting with Koans
  • John Daido Loori, The True Dharma Eye

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