Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Normal Blogging


As you know, I've been tuning up some Gogol Bordello lately, so when I saw that Everything Is Illuminated was on TV, I naturally watched it.

It's about a young American Jew named Jonathan who takes a journey to Ukraine to try to locate the woman who (he has reason to think) saved his Grandfather's life in WWII. The reason I watched it is that the front man for Gogol Bordello, Eugene Hutz, plays his translator (with engaging verve and superb aplomb, as it turns out).

One of the many striking things about the film is Jonathan's lifelong obsession with collecting little mementos of his experience - random objects that he puts in ziplock baggies that he carries everywhere. These objects are a centerpiece of the film's imagery. You don't have to have a Harvard education to get the point that they are tokens for the thread of human experience that ties the past to the present. (You really don't want me to get started on this. Just see the film. It's worth the "time".)

So, that was thought-provoking. Hutz' narration and translation was hilarious, and the story was touching. Good movie. Time to read a book.

I picked up E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime where I left off. Father has gone along with Admiral Peary on his conquest of the North Pole, and Doctorow has described Peary's detailed "system" for arranging his expedition. We join the action:
Father kept himself under control by writing in his journal. This was a system too, the system of language and conceptualization. It proposed that human beings, by the act of making witness, warranted times and places for their existence other than the time and place they were living through.
This is an exquisite summation of the feeling evoked by Everything Is Illuminated.

Some useless sort of bibliomancy.

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