Saturday, May 22, 2010

Poem for Saturday and School Art Show

Psalm of the Explanation Dwellers
By April Bernard

"See, here's how it is, there's two different ways we look at the world.
Man sees a woman, he thinks, Could I do it to her?, and it doesn't
seem mysterious, he knows already pretty well
what he can and can't do, so it's a matter of aesthetics;
Like, do I like a big ass? the man will say.
Like, do I prefer the dark meat near the bone?
And then it's a matter of finesse and luck, but all along
he knew what he was going to do and how it was going to feel.
Now, with women, see. A woman sees a man, she might think,
Ah, finest of profiles. She might wonder, What lurks?
But experience has taught her that none of this
looking, comparing, examining labels will ever tell her
   what he can do.
And what he can do tells her what she can do.
So it's a mystery always,
and also makes her more charitable. Because maybe the guy
with the sled-dog eyes and the cauliflower nose, maybe he's
got a long sweet one that won't quit, maybe he can make her
sing the Ave Maria, who knows?

No, no. I have another explanation. Please, listen. There is
only so much love in the world, and it got used up
   by our ancestors.
So it's like recirculated air in a sick building, see?
Filled with the disease and the sadness and the lust that went on
before, all this petrific honey thick with dirt,
sap from ancient hives, legs and wings and striped abdomens
that once throbbed but now are stilled in amber hard and golden
and unlikely to melt in the damp of your mouth."


On Friday I got my postponed lunch with Gblvr -- crepes again, because nutella-and-almond crepes may be the best thing ever (well, I suppose real milk chocolate might be even better but I take what I can get)! We took the crepes back to my house to watch the end of Avatar, which again made me cry during the destruction of Hometree -- but more on the movie in a bit. Afterward, we both worked on our respective laptops and I finished my review of Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Lessons", which I actually enjoyed more than I had remembered, yet didn't find much that was praise-worthy in writing about it.

We had dinner with my parents, then came home and while waiting for the kids to finish cleaning themselves and the living room up, we ended up putting on District 9 on cable. People had warned me that the movie was extremely violent, which is true -- I'm glad I didn't see it on the big screen -- but it's also a stunning piece of filmmaking, and I'm really glad I saw it the same day I rewatched the end of Avatar because there are some striking similarities. I find it fascinating that some of the same people online who had nothing but negative things to say about Avatar (even if they hadn't seen it!) had nothing but praise for District 9, because at the core, if one wants to oversimplify things beyond any useful analysis, they can both be reduced to stories about white men saving alien cultures. In both cases, I don't think the protagonists are what's really important about the movies, but given all the Avatar-bashing around here, I feel compelled to point that out.

In some ways, the films couldn't be more opposite: Avatar is one of the most breathtaking films I have ever seen, about a world of astonishing natural beauty, while District 9 is a relentlessly ugly movie, showing only the dirtiest, most barren, crime-ridden corners of a country that has marketed itself in the U.S. as a wonderfully cleaned-up, cosmopolitan vacation spot with its history of apartheid a thing of the past. I find it fascinating that in both cases, paramilitary contractors are the bad guys rather than the largely absentee governments that allow them to thrive, and that the both involve extended battle scenes with characters (one hero, one villain) wearing sophisticated, massive body armor with built-in weaponry. Of course, the aliens in Avatar are fighting to save their world while the ones in District 9 have largely given up hope of ever seeing their world again; Christopher and his son seem to be working alone on the machinery they have hidden, though surely others helped them hide it.

There are no female characters of real interest in District 9 -- there are a couple of sociologists who get off some quotes during the fictional interviews, and there's Wikus's wife, who alternately seems to live for him and for whatever her father tells her to do to help capture him. This is a big contrast with Avatar, where I think the most interesting human characters are Grace and Trudy (to people who won't see the film on the basis of a white man saving the blue people, I feel it necessary to point out that the white man must be rescued before he can do that by two people of color, and the blue people have a lot more agency in their own salvation than he does). I'm not trying to argue that one film is better or worse, I think they're both very much worth seeing; I just find it interesting how one movie can become a politically correct favorite while another gets derided when I think they both have some similar problematic issues.

Two student projects in clay from the art show at Daniel's high school the night of his chorus concert.

In the sculpture class, students made animals in Oaxacan style, including this penguin.

Most of the artwork was displayed in the school library...

...though some of the award-winning artwork was displayed around the auditorium where the concert was held.

This toucan was one of the winners, hanging at the back of the auditorium.

Ceramic Mister Potato Head was in a glass case in the front hallway.

When we arrived at the school, dark clouds were gathered over it...

...and five minutes after we walked inside, this was the view out the window. (You can't see the hail on the ground.)

No comments: