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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Monday, April 05, 2004

"Marathon" is almost pure metaphor, and pure poetry; from the subway stations to the passing trains to the hardware of the tracks themselves, each shot is composed like a portrait, which, as a whole work, it is: a portrait of a certain urbanite mind and a city whose tolerance of anonymity provides a perfect stage for compulsion, neuroses and the fulfillment of hidden needs.

-- review excerpt

Marathon is a remarkably simple film (filmed in B&W) that is the most recent of the director's pictorial valentines to his adopted land. A story mostly without dialogue, it tells of a young woman who is involved in one of her "marathons" in which she tries to do as many crosswords as possible in one day. She thrives on noise, in particular the NYC subways, which is a major subject of this film, especially since the woman herself is a bit of a cypher. As a resident of the city, I too wish to honor the subways, which some time ago was even a subject of a short speech I gave for class. Having been in several subway systems by now, I don't know if mine is particularly special, but it is surely an amazing experience. The diversity of faces is perhaps the most special part of it though the fact such a large and greatly used system runs relatively smoothly (I took it the afternoon of 9/11) is admirable as well.

The federal government has eased a ban on editing manuscripts from nations that are under United States trade embargoes, a move that appears to leave publishers free once again to edit scholarly works from Iran and other such countries.

-- it's about time this ridiculous policy was addressed

A new generation of celebrities has taken up the cause [against the return of Canada's Baby Seal Hunt], including Paris Hilton, Christina Applegate and Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys pop group

-- celebrities like to speak up against cruelty against cute animals, but don't hold that against the cause

"His pieces ... in Slate are a mishmash of imperial justifications and plain bombast; the old elegant style in dead."

-- a former fan of Christopher Hitchens, qtd in Bush in Babylon: The Recolonisation of Iraq by Tariq Ali.

The book's Appendix on Christopher Hitchens alone might be enough for some Slate fraysters to read this book, but it is worthwhile on the whole. Mostly a brief history lesson on how the lastest war is but a continuation of eighty or so years of colonialist oppression, it includes regional poetry and blunt talk (e.g. the Iraqis helping the occupiers [i.e. us] are "jackals") to powerfully make its points. Although apparently many don't seem to think it relevant, a basic concern I have/had about the war was that I felt it was basically an imperialistic act. The push by some for us to dig in even deeper (compelled by recent events ... which might lead to more such events ... etc.) would only aggravate the problem. This book, if somewhat too heavy handed at times, is recommended for those who wish to read up on this p.o.v.

The passion of the book can be somewhat compared to an ongoing blogsphere controversy. A popular liberal bloggist (Daily Kos) who knows a thing or two about the military and such, has gotten in some trouble recently because of his blunt remarks about not caring about the the deaths of the "mercenaries" in Falluja. The last two links will put things in a bit of perceptive (it grew from his anger at the general ignoring of the sufferings of regular soldiers and so forth) notwithstanding a right leaning blogger who called him "scum" (and using it to suggest advertisers boycott the site), various centrist sites comparing him to the likes of Ann Coutler, and John Kerry's blog taking his link down.

As a comment on the latter blog notes, this lack of "spine" is upsetting, even though the cynical political reasons behind it are understandable (bloggist Atrios requested not to be linked to his blog either). It is the sort of thing that bothers me about Kerry campaign in general -- a flawed candidate that doesn't quite have the backbone I want, bending to what is deemed political expedient. Anyway, the targeting of the statement is over the top. I think the author of the comment has earned the right to say it, even if it is dead wrong, and blogs are supposed to be a place where now and again you can be blunt and passionate. This includes being bluntly and passionately wrong. The tendency to exaggerate "gotcha" comments or events like this, which as here are often not as horrible as suggested anyway, is something that must be opposed whenever possible.