Thursday, December 22, 2016

Children of Men

Children of Men was the best movie I saw in 2006.

The story is set in 2027, in a dystopian future. Human beings can no longer be conceived. As the film opens, we overhear a television news story reporting that the world's youngest human, age 18, had just been killed by an angry fan. The world's youngest human was superstar famous just for the simple fact of being the world's youngest human.

Spoiler alert. If you think you might see this movie and you don't want to know more, stop reading now.

Clive Owen is almost note-perfect in this film. All of the actors are great but he is exceptional. Clive used to be a radical activist, fighting injustice but now he is a burned out, bored civil servant, marking time. He is approached by his old girlfriend, Juliane Moore, with a special task for the resistance. He resists, initially, but he cannot resist seeing her again. He is asked to use his connections to arrange transit papers for a young woman. He gets the papers and then agrees to accompany the young woman on her journey. The young woman is pregnant, which is why she is special.

Stop and think about this for a moment: a miracle baby. A missile into the future. No human babies have been born in about 20 years as the movie opens so this pregnancy is an amazing miracle.

Clive never wields a weapon. He serves the young woman and the human future heroically.

The visuals in this movie are fantastic. Alfonso CuarĂ³n creates a beautiful, ugly future.

My favorite scene comes close to the end of the film. A few factions are fighting over the pregnant woman, for various reasons. Lots of people would like to use her and her baby. The baby is born surrounded by armed violence. The revolution has begun! Clive and the mother keep trying to get to safety. Once the baby is born, they try to hide the baby but it is not possible to hide a crying baby. At one point, the mother, the baby and Clive are inside a building that is being shot at. Troops surge into the building, rising up the stairwell, guns ablazing. Bullets are whizzing past the miracle baby. Suddenly, the baby's cry can be heard. "Stop your fire! There's a baby." All the people in the building silently make a path for the mother and child to pass. Soldiers put down their weapons and make room for mother and child. As they leave the building, the soldiers outside the building also stop shooting and stand silently aside to make room for the mother, baby and hero to pass. The silence, the awe, the blissful reverence for the baby and the way all the fighting pauses is so beautiful. For a few moments, this viewer thought that all fighting would cease as more and more people learned about the baby.

The baby gets past the scene of the fighting. Mother, child and hero keep moving. As they move past the fighting, the gunfire starts up again. The moment of silent awe and reverence for the miracle of that baby evaporates. Back to slaughtering human beings.

The juxtaposition of the silent reverence for the baby and then the resumption of violence was my favorite moment in the movie. I think Cuaron got this just about right. Silent, beatific awe and then back to hurting our fellow humankind.

Various Portents by Alice Oswald

VARIOUS PORTENTS
by Alice Oswald


Various stars. Various kings.
Various sunsets, signs, cursory insights.

Many minute attentions, many knowledgeable watchers,
Much cold, much overbearing darkness.

Various long midwinter Glooms.
Various Solitary and Terrible stars.
Many Frosty Nights, many previously Unseen Sky-flowers.
Many people setting out (some of them kings) all clutching at stars.

More than one North star, more than one South star.
Several billion elliptical galaxies, bubble nebulae, binary systems.
Various dust lanes, various routes through varying thickness of Dark,
Many tunnels into deep space, minds going back and forth.

Many visions, many digitally enhanced heavens,
All kinds of glistenings being gathered into telescopes:
Fireworks, gasworks, white-streaked works of Dusk,
Works of wonder and or water, snowflakes, stars of frost …

Various dazed astronomers dilating their eyes,
Various astronauts setting out into laughterless earthlessness,
Various 5,000-year-old moon maps,
Various blindmen feeling across the heavens in Braille.

Various gods making beautiful works in bronze,
Brooches, crowns, triangles, cups and chains,
Various crucifixes, all sorts of nightsky necklaces.
Many Wise Men remarking the irregular weather.

Many exile energies, many low-voiced followers,
Watchers of whisps of various glowing spindles,
Soothsayers, hunters in the High Country of the Zodiac,
Seafarers tossing, tied to a star…

Various people coming home (some of them kings). Various headlights.

Two or three children standing or sitting on the low wall.
Various winds, the Sea Wind, the sound-laden Winds of Evening
Blowing the stars towards them, bringing snow.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

thinking feeling willing

This graphic recording, by Kelvy Bird, of a conversation about presencing, also known as Theory U by Otto Scharmer, sums up anthroposophy, in my opinion.

Anthroposophy sees the human as three fold:  thinking (mind), feeling (heart) and willing. Presencing is anthroposophy massaged into a tool for groups and organizations. And being.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

my daughter's first 'ho ho ho'

My daughter was six months old for her first Xmas and not quite talking but, like a parrot, she had a few phrases she knew.   I chattered to her all the time, and at Xmas time, I talked about Santa Claus, took her to see Santa, and talked him up some more. And I would wind down by saying "Santa Claus says ho ho ho, now you tell me what does Santa say?" And she would say 'ho ho'. Just the two hoes.  I tried and tried and tried to get her to add that third ho. I finally accepted her two ho ho response, reasoning that the third really was unnecessary, as she had, in her wisdom, clearly realized right off.

Monday, December 12, 2016

I miss this

I miss looking forward to spending time with people I love who love me back.  I have none of that in my life. None.

Today I remembered that a few months ago I met a recovering heroin addict. She was warm and kind to me. I told her about a bingo game at a funky Oakland theater. She said "That sounds like fun!" and I said "Yeah, but no fun to go alone." Then she said, bless her sober heart, "I'll go play bingo with you. Here's my number." Then she called her boyfriend over and said "We are going to go play bingo wit her at the Parkway. Doesn't that sound like fun?"

I didn't follow up because she is close in age to my daughter and her kindness, while warm and welcome, put me on guard. I was afraid going out with her would break even more of what is left o my heart. So I never went to bingo.

I really liked this young woman.  I told her about the two very high men who had approached me as I waited for a bus home at 24th & Broadway in Oakland (or was it Telegraph?). I had gone to a movie at the New Parkway theater.  I told her both of the very high men, who were so high they were swaying, literally, as they talked to me, had said they talked to me to warn me that I was surrounded by drug addicts. The street was busy with humans and it had not occurred to me that even some were using heroin.

The young recovering heroin addict said to me "when I was using, I never would have messed with you. Heroin addicts get very good at picking up on people's energy and your energy is strong. Those men weren't messing with you, they were doing just what they said, being a little protective of a woman alone who was clearly not part of the drug scene. I don't think any heroin addict would mess with you."