Friday, December 25, 2015

The Sideways Door: Decemeber Response Column

This month, being about shapes and concrete poems and poems that rely hugely on formatting, I anticipated some work while putting up the column. I didn't realise it would take quite as long as it did but finally it's up.

Here it is.

That's it from me for this year. I'll see you all on the other side. Be good! (And have a happy end of year.)

Monday, December 21, 2015

Let sleeping forces lie

So another Star Wars film. 

At the IWP, one of the writers, a young one, was gobsmacked to realise that I had seen the earliest three in the theatre! "I'm sitting here talking to someone who has seen the original films in the theatre," he exclaimed. I mean, I'm glad he sounded astonished.

(Me, I felt my age for the first and only time that entire time there).

Even if you don't belong to my generation, your popular culture has probably been shaped by those films in a particular kind of hippy-meets-scale feeling that is, somehow, materially different from what Star Trek was doing (that's another discussion right there, but I'll just say I'm with Neil deGrasse Tyson on this one).

I was also thinking of how, when my son was around six, we went to a DVD library that existed at the time and asked to borrow the Star Wars films. I was looking, naturally, to the beginning - Episode IV: A New Hope - and said so. Well, I said I wanted to start from the beginning, so the girl handed me The Phantom Menace.* [footnote alert!] I smh'd hard then but what else is a TV-bred younger generation ignorant of the Jedi universe to do?


I will probably watch the film eventually and don't care particularly about spoilers, so there's a vast archive of essays on Star Wars old and new which - if you also don't care or have already seen the new film - you can find here: The Anti-Star Wars Reader [via Sunday Reading 141]

In that list is a piece by Sam Kriss in which he says many many quotable things, but I'll just put the bit that I'm really worried about - the fact that it's been directed by JJ Abrams:
I’ve not yet seen The Force Awakens, but [...] [b]ased on the experience of the later James Bond films, and Abrams’ previous efforts with Star Trek, it’s very likely to be a dull soup of knowing, pseudo-pomo references to the original trilogy, to keep the fans happy; where the prequels tried to extend the story, the sequels will probably only recapitulate it.

I'm expecting a lot of nudge-nudge wink-wink, and - going by Anthony Lane's review - I'm going to get it:
The plot of “The Force Awakens” is itself an exercise in loyalty. Start with an eager but thwarted youngster, toiling away in the sands of an unregarded planet? Check. End, pretty much, with an eager and unthwarted pilot, zooming down the narrow canyon of a spaceship, with his wingmen taking hits on his behalf and a tiny yet crucial target in his sights? Check. In short, we are back where it all began, clinging to the form of “Star Wars” (1977)—or, as it was later rebaptized, “A New Hope.” What’s going on here? Is Abrams a chronic nostalgist, bowing so low to the fan base that his nose is rubbing against the floor? Or has he wisely concluded that, if it ain’t broke, he should not be fool enough to fix it?

I mean, Anthony Lane seems to approve of this film where he didn't the earlier ones, but I remember the hot mess that the Trek reboots were in Abrams' hands, where he recycled one Trek movie over two instalments and stitched plot points from other episodes with the fine motor skills of a Frankenstein. 

Also he's on record as not having been a fan of Trek and not wanting to do this one either, for fear that he'd be known as that sequel guy (which....yeah) so all things considered, I think I'll just say it's rather sweet of Lane to give this film a pass.

When I watch this film, I'd prefer to do it in the company of those with a low threshold for bullshit and in possession of a large tub of snark.


Bonus: Exhibit 3 from my post-STiD disappointment [scroll down to end of post].


*"A prequel only gains its meaning from the fact that it’s viewed after and in relation to the original," Sam Kriss says, in the piece linked to later in my post, while making a defense of Episodes 1-3 for telling it like it is.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

The Sideways Door: December Prompt

Gosh we're almost done with this year, aren't we? Tail-end and what a wagging tail it is.

Speaking of tail-ends, I've said this on this blog before - and I suppose it's a kind of spatial synaesthesia - but things that normally don't have shape can be given one by the imagination. 

So that's what this month's Sideways Door prompt is: poems about shape and form.

Though what's really occupying my mind is the Chennai (and TN) floods.

That's for another post, though.