Archives for December 2009

Signs of the Times, Offline Edition

Over at The Onion AV Club, they’re making pop-culture resolutions. Interesting: several resolve to spend more team reading, you know, books, and two of them actually resolve to spend less time online.

Take that, machines (he blogged).


So on Christmas Eve, I played “Fairytale of New York” for my mother. Then I played it for her again. There was a lot to do, but to my surprise, she stayed put.

“What are you doin’, Ma?” I asked about halfway through the second listen.


I coulda been someone/Well, so could anyone…

Close Together, Worlds Apart

Carrying my eight-month-old down through the yard to check the coop for eggs, I hear the voice over the megaphone from the helicopter circling overhead, telling me to call 911 if I see a black man with cornrows in a Raiders jacket and black pants.


I just received a stern NPR lecture on the American fascination with irrelevant, sensationalistic “news” from the head writer for The Wanda Sykes Show. Special scorn was heaped on the furor over Tiger Woods. Over on the show’s website, two of the three featured video extras concern, yes, that’s right, Tiger Woods. The other: former porn star Jenna Jameson. Buh-bye, 2009.


Pre-emptive request: please don’t anyone refer to 2010-2012 as the tweens. Kthxbai!

Mr. Godsbody’s More Recent Finest Hour

Christmas Eve, 2009

I wrote a story!

Me and another guy go back and forth a bit about Ye Olde Christmas Spirit. Good times. And a bonus DFW reference at the end!

Mr. Godsbody’s Finest Hour

Youth. Giant hair. A full bottle of wine in a single glass. They were heady days. If I ever get around to writing a book on wine, I want this for an author photo. Thanks to Smokee for the image.

Winner, winner, Christmas Dinner

Yeah, I know food photography is tricky, and can often look less than awesome. Don’t care. Tenderloin, tarragon-shallot reduction, creamed spinach with deep-friend shallots, lemon roasted potatoes. So very happy. Thanks to Danielle for the pic!

In the Desert

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter – bitter”, he answered,
“But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart.”

~ Stephen Crane

Merry Christmas from Korrektiv

Send your own ElfYourself eCards


I think David Edelstein is a really smart guy. But I think he’s wrong to say this about James Cameron: “In Avatar, he’s king of a world he made from scratch.”

From scratch? No. The man spent a lot of years underwater, and hauled a lot of things – intense colors, iridescence, bioluminescence, tentacles, etc. – out of the deep and onto dry land (and into the air). After that, he slapped on a lot of extra legs and wings.

It’s amazing to look at, yes. Really amazing. And the anti-gravity mountains are flat-out stunning. But it’s not a world made from scratch. That’s been done. Cameron is just reassembling the pieces.

Question for Mr. Cameron

Why would you send in a ground force to support an airstrike? Isn’t it usually the other way ’round?

Kafka on Crows

“The crows like to insist a single crow is enough to destroy heaven. This is incontestably true, but it says nothing about heaven, because heaven is just another way of saying: the impossibility of crows.”

No God But Nature?

I think Ross Douthat is a really smart guy. But I think he’s wrong to say that James Carmeron’s Avatar equates God with Nature. Douthat writes:

“At the same time, pantheism opens a path to numinous experience for people uncomfortable with the literal-mindedness of the monotheistic religions — with their miracle-working deities and holy books, their virgin births and resurrected bodies. As the Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski noted, attributing divinity to the natural world helps ‘bring God closer to human experience,’ while ‘depriving him of recognizable personal traits.’ For anyone who pines for transcendence but recoils at the idea of a demanding Almighty who interferes in human affairs, this is an ideal combination.”

But while Eywa, the Na’vi goddess, may live in the organic Internet of Pandora’s tree roots, the film makes it very, very clear that she can be prayed to, that she can hear prayers, and that she can bend the natural world to her will. She absolutely interferes in human affairs.

Further, Douthat writes: “But except as dust and ashes, Nature cannot take us back.”

Maybe so. But in Avatar, the dead live on – Jake hears their voices when he logs in to the soul tree. And if voices, then intelligence, person. Individual existence that endures. In this, the film does contradict itself a bit – we get an earlier line about how all energy is borrowed, and eventually, we have to give it back. But there is supernatural life in Avatar.

Oh, and this is a very good review of the film.

Gonna change my way of thinking

Korrektiv Christmas Gift Suggestion

Consider a gift that says, “Winter won’t last forever”. You’ll be glad you did!

Girard on Seinfeld

I’m now reading Evolution and Conversion: Dialogues on the Origins of Culture, another “conversation” book with Girard, very much intended as a sequel to Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World. It is a remarkable book, in some ways a complete overhaul of the earlier dialogues – even if the major vectors of his mimetic and scapegoat theories are much the same. Girard has become much more precise in both his criticism and his acknowledgement of the debt to Freud, Levi-Strauss, et al., and the breadth of his knowledge is nothing short of astonishing. On top of that, he ‘s a fan of Seinfeld:

… the majority of Hollywood or TV productions are very much based on the false romantic notion of the autonomy of the individual and the authenticity of his/her own desire. Of course there are exceptions, like the popular sit-com Seinfeld, which uses mimetic mechanisms constantly and depicts its characters as puppets of mimetic desire. I do not like the fact that Seinfeld makes fun of high culture, which is nothing but mimetic snobbery, but it is a very clever and powerful show. It is also the only show which can afford to make fun of political correctness and can talk about imprtant current phenomena such as the anorexia and bulimia epidemic, which clearly have strong mimetic components. From a moral point of view, it is a hellish description of our contemporary world, but at the same time, it shows a tremendous amount of talent and there are powerful insights regarding our mimetic situation.

Probably the contemporaries of Shakespeare appreciated his portrayal of human relations in the same way we enjoy Seinfeld, without really understanding his perspicaciousness regarding mimetic interaction. I must say that there is more social reality in Seinfeld than in most academic sociology.

Being the author of a great book on Shakepeare, Theater of Envy, and something of an academic sociologist himself, this is high praise indeed.