Posts Tagged ‘blog: things you should check out’.

The Theory that Claims the Star Wars Prequels Are Too Sophisticated for Us to Fully Understand

here is an IMAGE of some TEXT

In his extremely long and detailed essay “Star Wars Ring Theory”, Mike Klimo argues for a reexamination of the Star Wars prequel movies.

They are, he claims, not semi-competent jangles of garish noise and wooden acting, but in fact, incredibly sophisticated examples of modern mythmaking, and work with the original Star Wars movies to create an interwoven narrative web more complex than has ever been achieved in the history of cinema.

ben is gone.....QUI-GON

If you like Star Wars and wild theories, this is a great read. I don’t have much love for the prequel movies myself, but after reading Klimo’s essay, I can absolutely look at them with a deeper appreciation, recognizing that a very precise craftsmanship has gone into making them exactly…whatever they are.

Klimo claims in the essay that George Lucas, using “ring theory” (a storytelling concept that involves recurring motifs and patterns), has created in the six Star Wars movies a tightly woven narrative in which no detail is insignificant.

jar jar reaches puberty and returns as chewbacca

He supports this with examples of mirrored compositions, plot structures, story beats, and lines of dialogue from the various movies (I’ve used some of his juxtaposed images in this post). And seeing the evidence in living color, it’s hard to deny: a lot of thought went into making elements of the prequels reprise (foreshadow?) moments from the original trilogy.

I have some thoughts about the conclusions he reaches, though. I’ll let you go and read the essay, and then come back when you’re done, maybe next week sometime, and read the rest of this post.

tear this ship apart until you find my dignity

Back? Okay. As I mentioned above, it’s clear that absolutely, unequivocally, there are moments and shots and entire sequences in the prequels that are designed to evoke counterpart moments and shots and sequences from the original trilogy.

Klimo’s argument is that this proves that all six movies are interlocking parts of a supremely orchestrated master saga…Which might make sense if the original ones weren’t made decades before the prequels, and if Lucas had himself directed all of the original movies.

What makes more sense to me is that, faced with the prospect of making prequel movies, and not wanting to screw it up, Lucas looked back at the original trilogy, and mined it.

In improv theater we have a technique: to make a mistake not look like a mistake, you simply repeat it. Then, it looks like it was a deliberate move all along.

By making movies that were, as close as he could manage, repetitions of motifs from the original movies, Lucas created the intricate interrelated structure that Klimo is so taken with — by filling in the missing pieces after the fact.

It’s kind of like a Rorchach test: it’s just a blob of ink, until you fold the paper in half. Once you mirror the pattern and start repeating things, every detail starts to look meaningful.

Some of the comments on the Ring Theory website point out a similar point: that no matter how intricate a structure the prequels can be shown to have, they’re still, to coin a phrase, semi-competent jangles of garish noise and wooden acting.

The response to this, in that comment thread at least, is that the prequels are meant to read as myths — “You don’t criticize the dialogue in the Bible, do you?” is a paraphrase of one comment.

To which I say: FAIR ENOUGH. Klimo claims to be at work on a follow-up article exploring this point in more depth.

ringtheory3

But! I will also say this. I followed a link from Klimo’s article’s bibliography to an obscure journal of philosophy, which also features (besides the article that Klimo references) an article entitled “Nazi Germany: The Forces of Taurus, Scorpio and Capricorn”.

This article is exactly as impassioned and elaborate and detail-filled in the service of arguing the astrological links between the key figures and events of the Third Reich as Klimo’s article praising Lucas as the most sophisticated storyteller in the cinema history.

i'm sure it all makes perfect sense to someone

It’s like Chancellor Palpatine said: “It’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove.”

[ Star Wars Ring Theory ]

Check out: Crawdads Welcome

crawdads

I came across this comic series when someone mistook it for Wondermark. It’s so lovely! And hand-drawn, which Wondermark isn’t really…I mean, someone drew it, but not me. Wondermark is A COLLABORATION WITH THE DEAD

The above is just a single panel, check out the whole series on Tumblr: Crawdads Welcome, a comic strip about animals by Ezra Butt.

Check out: Live New Yorker Cartoons

Dramatizing cartoons is hard. The cadence can be hard to nail — and sometimes it doesn’t work at all.

Voice actor SungWon Cho has done the best job I’ve heard yet (and he’s back, this week, with another delightfully narrated Wondermark comic)!

But the field is still ripe for challengers.

Enter Late Night’s Seth Meyers. Accompanied by New Yorker editor David Remnick, Seth and his troupe of hardy players have taken on the challenge of performing, in live action, single-panel New Yorker cartoons.

It’s pretty great. There are two entries in the series (so far)!

12 Articles Well Worth Your Time

FIRSTLY: Hey Los Angeles! I’m performing improv with my team The Audience, tonight (Friday the 12th) at the Gangbusters show in Hollywood! Then, on Monday night in Santa Monica!

SECONDLY AND MOSTLY: Here’s some articles I’ve read recently that I think you might find interesting or thought-provoking! These are all things that I’ve read and NOT REGRETTED READING, which I feel is as good a standard for recommendation as any.

I dumped ’em into my Instapaper to read in bed on my iPad, I recommend you do the same or something equivalent. Or whatever, it’s a free country!…OR IS IT? Read these articles, and see!

The Mary Sue Interview: Kate Beaton On Step Aside, Pops, Her Fantastically Feminist Follow-Up To Hark! A Vagrant

I want to make a comic about [Ida B. Wells] but I don’t, because I respect her so much, and there’s nothing funny about a lot that she went through and fought against. Nothing at all. I’m thinking, “I can’t make some stupid poop comic about this woman!” That would be out of line for the respect I have for her. But more time passes, and I start to look at my work, and I’m thinking that if you leave out these people whose lives were hard and who were overlooked in history, and instead you just go for the easy targets, you’re just making comics about dead white presidents and leaving stories like Ida’s out yet again. It’s not like my comics are some kind of cultural masterpiece, they’re just dinky comics, but you know what I mean? So I made comics about Ida, and they are in the book, and I hope I did a good job, because I wanted to celebrate her.

Cached Thoughts – Less Wrong

If you did need to write realtime programs for a hundred billion 100Hz processors, one trick you’d use as heavily as possible is caching. That’s when you store the results of previous operations and look them up next time, instead of recomputing them from scratch. And it’s a very neural idiom—recognition, association, completing the pattern.

It’s a good guess that the actual majority of human cognition consists of cache lookups…

In modern civilization particularly, no one can think fast enough to think their own thoughts. If I’d been abandoned in the woods as an infant, raised by wolves or silent robots, I would scarcely be recognizable as human. No one can think fast enough to recapitulate the wisdom of a hunter-gatherer tribe in one lifetime, starting from scratch. As for the wisdom of a literate civilization, forget it.

But the flip side of this is that I continually see people who aspire to critical thinking, repeating back cached thoughts which were not invented by critical thinkers…

Is Coding the New Literacy?

Much like cooking, computational thinking begins with a feat of imagination, the ability to envision how digitized information—ticket sales, customer addresses, the temperature in your fridge, the sequence of events to start a car engine, anything that can be sorted, counted, or tracked—could be combined and changed into something new by applying various computational techniques. From there, it’s all about “decomposing” big tasks into a logical series of smaller steps, just like a recipe.

On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs

There is a whole class of salaried professionals that, should you meet them at parties and admit that you do something that might be considered interesting (an anthropologist, for example), will want to avoid even discussing their line of work entirely. Give them a few drinks, and they will launch into tirades about how pointless and stupid their job really is.

This is a profound psychological violence here. How can one even begin to speak of dignity in labour when one secretly feels one’s job should not exist?

The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think

But in the 1970s, a professor of Psychology in Vancouver called Bruce Alexander noticed something odd about this experiment. The rat is put in the cage all alone. It has nothing to do but take the drugs. What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So Professor Alexander built Rat Park. It is a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want. What, Alexander wanted to know, will happen then?

The Art of Richard Thompson book excerpt: Thompson and Bill Watterson talk comics

BILL WATTERSON: When I was a kid, I loved Peanuts, so I wanted to be the next Charles Schulz. I didn’t understand what that meant of course, but it seemed like a plan. You came to your comic strip from a different path, however.

RICHARD THOMPSON: Yeah. Off in my own little world of being a pretend cartoonist. Without a plan.

Four Myths About Creativity

Some people think that a solution must be new and different in order to be creative. How superficial. Being new and different is not the necessary ingredient. Solving the problem is what is necessary. (By definition, “new and different” has already been done.) So don’t worry about it.

Rebellion for its own sake isn’t edgy or groundbreaking; it’s tired and hackneyed, and no more original or creative than the adolescent hormones that produce those feelings. Breaking rules is not the hallmark of creativity, solving problems is.

Forgotten Failures of African Exploration

The exploration of Africa by the British is a story that has been told time and again, often in tiresome detail. We have shelves full of biographies of famous explorers like David Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley, along with countless other books on the subject. These tales of adventure invariably end in the hero’s triumphant return to “civilization” or brave death in “darkest Africa”. Such stories were popular with the Victorian public, and they remain popular today. Yet some major African expeditions have never received much attention. These were expeditions that ended in ignominious failure. Because they undermine the triumphalist narrative of the European encounter with Africa, they have been all but erased from historical memory. For this reason alone, they deserve revisiting. They also happen to tell us a lot about what the British hoped to achieve in Africa, and why it proved such a challenge.

All in All, Another Brick in the Motte

The motte-and-bailey doctrine is when you make a bold, controversial statement. Then when somebody challenges you, you claim you were just making an obvious, uncontroversial statement, so you are clearly right and they are silly for challenging you. Then when the argument is over you go back to making the bold, controversial statement.

When Women Wanted Sex Much More than Men (And How the Stereotype Flipped)

…Women were considered to be temptresses who inherited their treachery from Eve. Their sexual passion was seen as a sign of their inferior morality, reason and intellect, and justified tight control by husbands and fathers. Men, who were not so consumed with lust and who had superior abilities of self-control, were the gender more naturally suited to holding positions of power and influence…

By positioning themselves as naturally chaste and virtuous, Protestant women could make the case for themselves as worthy moral and intellectual equals. They could carve out a space for themselves to participate in political life as social reformers advocating for moral causes like charity for the poor and prohibition.

The Galaxy-Sized Video Game

…Planets in the universe will be the size of real planets, and they will be separated from one another by light-years of digital space. A small fraction of them will support complex life. Because the designers are building their universe by establishing its laws of nature, rather than by hand-crafting its details, much about it remains unknown, even to them. They are scheduled to finish at the end of this year; at that time, they will invite millions of people to explore their creation, as a video game, packaged under the title No Man’s Sky.

Finally, to wrap up and for extra credit, the essay that everyone should read carefully once a year: Self-Reliance, by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them.

But why should you keep your head over your shoulder? Why drag about this corpse of your memory, lest you contradict somewhat you have stated in this or that public place? Suppose you should contradict yourself; what then? It seems to be a rule of wisdom never to rely on your memory alone, scarcely even in acts of pure memory, but to bring the past for judgment into the thousand-eyed present, and live ever in a new day. In your metaphysics you have denied personality to the Deity: yet when the devout motions of the soul come, yield to them heart and life, though they should clothe God with shape and color. Leave your theory, as Joseph his coat in the hand of the harlot, and flee.

Happy reading! THAT SHOULD KEEP YOU BUSY A WHILE

Check Out: Documentary about the mysterious video game POLYBIUS

My film-school friends Todd Luoto and Jon Frechette have been working for a few years now on a documentary about the mysterious urban legend video game POLYBIUS.

From Wikipedia:

Polybius is an arcade cabinet described in an urban legend, which is said to have induced various psychological effects on players. The story describes players suffering from amnesia, night terrors, and a tendency to stop playing all video games. Around a month after its supposed release in 1981, Polybius is said to have disappeared without a trace. There is no evidence that such a game has ever existed…

The trailer Todd and Jon have up on Kickstarter right now is pretty sweet. (The cinematographer is our friend Elisha Christian, who also shot the Monocles commercial.) They’re fundraising to shoot more interviews and do all the post-production required to finish the film.

They’ve got 8 days left in the campaign, and to be honest, they’re pretty far from the finish line. But in an email, they told me:

Right now — even a $5 donation will help us a ton.

Truth is, there’s a good chance we won’t be able to pull this off (…which means you wouldn’t have to pay anything anyways). But on the flip side, we’ve been getting a ton of amazing press that just simply hasn’t translated into the donations we were hoping for. But we’re confident that with enough noise online (which, ironically enough, we’re actually getting), and some more backers displayed in our profile, we can at least take this to a financier and show them this is a project worth investing in.

Todd and Jon actually had a financier almost lined up, but when the deal didn’t go through, they turned to Kickstarter. If they can use Kickstarter press — funded or not — to help attract more industry interest, then the more backers they get, the better.

THE POLYBIUS CONSPIRACY on Kickstarter