Yesterday I got my first chance to see The Wind Rises, so here are some brief impressions:
- Anno Hideaki is a really good voice actor.
- So is Steven Alpert.
- I believe this really is Miazaki Hayao’s last film as a director. It has that uncanny feeling of finality.
- The richness of the visual textures in this film surpasses that of any of the director’s previous film work. It’s reminiscent of his manga masterpiece Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.
- I don’t think Miyazaki has used vocal sound effects so extensively in a feature film before. I had the rare privilege of seeing a couple of his shorts for the Ghibli Museum at an event in New York on 2011, which was hosted by Steven Alpert, and one of those had a soundtrack composed entirely of vocal sound effects accompanied by on-screen onomatopoeia, but this time thee technique is not so much cute as it is sublime. The sounds of aircraft and natural phenomena so obviously produced by the human mouth impart a sense of animistic divinity to some of the film’s biggest events.
- This is probably the closest thing to an autobiographical film that Miyazaki has made. The only film that could compete with it in that respect is Porco Rosso, but this film, being set in Japan and partly during Miyazaki’s lifetime, and being about an artist struggling to reconcile his artistic ambitions with his moral and political responsibilities, seems closer to home for him.
- This film, with its portrayals of Japan’s tuberculosis epidemic, poverty, and natural disasters, and of the militarization of both Germany and Japan, contains much more of the world’s sinister side than any of Miyazaki’s other films. The scene involving mysterious goings-on in a German alleyway at night is particularly alarming.
- Several images straight out of Porco Rosso reappear throughout, though this film is not nearly the light-heated romp Porco Rosso often was.
- The main narrative arc of the film covers much more time than that of any other Miyazaki film.
- The film’s monaural soundtrack, bold color pallette, strong spatial composition, and its focus on a fairly unassuming character in a quiet rural setting initially made me think of the late-period work of Ozu Yasujirō, but the narrative quickly became far too ambitious to allow such comparisons.
there is a perfect featureless something
older than heaven and earth
and oh! it’s so still
and oh! it’s so vast
standing alone and eternal
tirelessly at work in every part of the world
we could call it the mother of everything under heaven
i don’t know its name
so i call it the way
forced to name it, i would call it great
great means omnipresent
omnipresent means beyond everything
beyond everything means a return to the beginning
the way is great, and so
heaven is great
earth is great
even kings are great
for at the heart of this great world there are four great ones
and kings belong to one of them:
humanity follows the laws of earth
earth follows the laws of heaven
as heaven follows the laws of the way
but the way follows its own laws
— Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching. Verse 25. Derived from the “verbatim translation” in Jonathan Star’s Tao Te Ching: The Definitve Edition.
A+ use of social media to combat the racialized violence of poverty
Don’t become a Buddhist. The world doesn’t need more Buddhists. Do practice compassion. The world needs more compassion.
His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, quoted by John Perkins in The Secret History of the American Empire.
'These (LGBT) groups don't care for the constitutional rights of Catholics,' Donohue told Al Jazeera, accusing them and the beer makers of 'ignorance' and pointing out a 1995 Supreme Court decision guaranteeing private parade organizers’ right to determine their own rules for marching.
Things I want from life include a well-made TV miniseries based on Murakami’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.
I think a lot of fans of Twin Peaks and Lost would be just completely blown out of the water. Like, “Oh, nice slice of life drama. I can get into this. This woman and her husband are pretty cute together. Too bad about their cat. What’s all this about the Japanese occupation of Manchuria? Where’s Kumiko gone? Wait a miNUTE THAT’S NOT A GUITAR IN THE GUITAR CASE WHAT THE HELL?!” and it just keeps getting wilder.
Ken Thompson and Fran Allen on abstraction
I’ve been reading Peter Seibel’s collection of interviews Coders at Work: Reflections on the Art of Programming and I decided to read Fran Allen’s interview directly after Ken Thompson’s. This turned out to be an interesting way of reading the text because the two of them directly contradict each other on some big-picture stuff.
First you have Ken Thompson, who left university in the mid-1960s to work at Bell Labs, and by 1970 had co-created Unix and created a direct precursor to the C programming language, which is still the most popular programming language today. Thompson considers computer science to be at something of a dead-end. As he sees it, hardware will continue to become more efficient while programming will continue to become more abstracted and less efficient, allowing hardware advances to counteract the flaws in new software. Thompson did much of his early work in assembly language and finds the lack of familiarity new programmers have with low-level hardware operations “scary”, even considering the complex interfaces and end-user functionality enabled by abstraction.
I found Fran Allen a lot more forward-looking. She joined IBM as a programmer in the late 1950s and oversaw the creation of some important early compilers designed to allow programmers to write portable code which would be optimized for computational efficiency at compile time. In her view, the industry adoption of the C programming language as an application programming language (and not just a systems programming language) was a “big blow” because it placed the responsibility of certain low-level tasks like memory management squarely on the shoulders of the application programmer. Allen argues that optimization and memory management at the compiler and hardware levels, combined with very high-level languages, will allow computer science to tackle the challenges of managing data in global networks in unified, efficient, and innovative ways that improve end-user experience.
I generally find Allen’s arguments a lot more compelling, though I’m with Thompson when he says C++ overcomplicates things to the detriment of code readability.
We have seriously regressed, since C developed. C has destroyed our ability to advance the state of the art in automatic optimization, automatic parallelization, automatic mapping of a high-level language to the machine.
Fran Allen on C as an application programming language, interviewed by Peter Seibel in Coders at Work: Reflactions on the Craft of Programming.
We’ve been invited to a birthday dinner for my mom but she lives about 40 miles away and if I buy enough gas to go there we’ll have about $5 to last us the next week. So I have to ask her for gas money, but this is really awkward…
Tina Belcher in Bob’s Burgers, though.
She’s canonically autistic. She says so in the first episode. She can’t count, she writes fanfiction about her friends’ butts, she moans like I do whenever she’s overwhelmed, she can’t tell even a small lie without worrying she’ll be condemned to Hell Jail. Oh, and she’s canonically poly.
She’s the hero I’ve been waiting for.
As Americans, we have this naïve assumption that people all over the world are struggling and way behind us. They’re not. Sweden and South Korea have more advanced high speed internet networks. Japan has the most advanced trains and transportation systems. Norwegians make more money. The biggest and most advanced plane in the world is flown out of Singapore. The tallest buildings in the world are now in Dubai and Shanghai. Meanwhile, the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world.
So I’m getting a life coach to help me live properly. Yay!