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January 31, 2007

Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?

Louis Armstrong sang it best:

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
And miss it each night and day
Well I know I'm not wrong...
the feeling's gettin' stronger
The longer, I stay away
Miss those moss covered vines...
the tall sugar pines
Where mockin' birds used to sing
And I'd love to see that old lazy Mississippi are hurryin' about into spring
--
I was born in the wrong region. I do miss the moonlight on the bayou. Until New Orleans is rebuilt, I'll never let anyone forget about it. I'd only ever been to New Orleans a few times, but I do miss it. I miss the Mississippi coast, too.

Does anyone know what it means to miss New Orleans? Really?

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 12:15 AM | Comments (1)

January 29, 2007

Apparently Valerie, Lorin and Myself Were On The Same Wavelength

Am I to wax intellectually on something I didn't know prior to the Bedford Guide telling me so? Not to steal Val's thunder, but "chiasmus" stuck out to me - jokingly, I thought it was a Christmas-inspired ChiaPet (anyone else remember those?), but I hadn't really a clue as to what it was.

A rhetorical figure in which certain words, sounds, concepts, or syntactic structures are reversed or repeated in reverse order.

Alas, thank ye, Bedford Guide. I shall sleep well tonight!

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 11:45 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Elliot: Tradition And Those Who Follow It - A Lesson In How Not To Play Jazz

T.S. Elliot. There's a man I need to spend more time appreciating. Now, I will make some odd comparisons for the following quote. I never thought I could compare Nintendo, John Coltrane and T.S. Elliot, but, then again, stranger things have happened.

Elliot states that "We have seen many such simple currents soon lost in the sand; and novelty is better than repetition."

In this, I immediately and drawn to the notion of "simple currents" and "novelty." In all fairness and to be forthright, I am a Nintendo fan. I always have been and, most likely, always will be. With the release of their new gaming machine, the Wii, many have debated the issues of novelty v. immersion, "fun" v. show, etc. etc. This console is decidedly underpowered when compared with its videogaming ilk, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. However, the philosophies of the consoles couldn't possibly be more different.

Nintendo has adopted a philosophy of innovation and originality over an upgrade of the current. Traditionally, in each leap in console gaming, a new system would mean a new output of power and visuals, but, essentially, little else. There would be minor changes in numerous aspects, but nothing groundbreaking. With the Nintendo Wii, a new form of gaming has emerged. Player immersion has reached a new level. With a simple television remote-looking controller and a flick of the wrist, one's actions are reflected by the character on the screen. Swinging your arm back while holding the remote and then swinging forward is mimicked on the screen when playing a bowling game. Even a turn to the right or left will cause your ball to curve.

However, the games look like amateur hour at the improv - simple characters with big heads and blocky bodies. Who would want to play something like that? Obviously a lot of people, because the system has been selling like hotcakes and TIME Magazine awarded WiiSports (the aforementioned bowling is included in this title...which is included with the console) the "Game of the Year" award.

Why, then, is something like this winning awards and being played so much when, technologically speaking, it is highly outdated? Because it is fun. Many people from some of the other console camps have gone one to say that the new motion controls are "gimmicky" or that people will tire of them quickly. Perhaps they are right, for only time will bear this out.

How does this connect to what Elliot said? Well, let's look again at the quote. "We have seen many such simple currents soon lost in the sand; and novelty is better than repetition." As he points out, "novelty is better than repetition," which is precisely the philosophy Nintendo has embraced for this new generation, whereas the competition has followed in the "tradition" of new hardware, better graphics.

Don't get me wrong. Nice graphics and a strong processor are nice, but they aren't the whole story. Graphics are only part of the game. You play a game, you don't watch a game. Tradition, in literature or technology, is the ever clanging death knell for creativity and originality.

Moving from games to music, I want you to consider this: Jazz is, essentially, improvisational. Sure, you can write it down, but it doesn't tell the whole story. When you hear the first 5-10 notes of "Blue Train" by John Coltrane, you know that it is Coltrane. Much the same can be said for when you hear "Jazz At The Plaza" by Miles Davis. You know that it is Miles playing. Those two men are possibly the greatest jazz musicians of all time, can play those two songs - same notes and all - but will play them differently from the other.

How so? Because they don't allow themselves to become gridlocked by a notion of "tradition." Jazz is, as Tom Cruise's character in the film "Collateral" described, "behind the notes." Someone might know how to play jazz, but they have to feel the music to really play jazz.

A "fad," though it may not stand the test of time, at least will shake-up the commonplace...everything. Music, videogames, literature...they are all victims of the revolution. Without at least some form of change all things will stagnate and die.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 10:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Intro: What Is Literature? Who Said What, Where, And Why - How Things Said Three-Hundred Years Ago Are Being Seen Nowadays

Eagleton expresses at the bottom of page 5 notes that "...'poetry' in this sense depends on where you happen to be standing at the time. The fact that a piece of language was 'estranging' did not guarantee that it was always and everywhere so...if everyone used phrases like 'unravished bride of quietness' in ordinary pub conversation, this kind of language might cease to be poetic."

The last part of that quote was what really struck me, but I felt the preceding context was needed. What Eagleton is expressing is something that I have never been truly able to do - he boiled down the linguistic and, well, poetic limitations into a modern parallel. The "unravished bride of quietness" could be seen as the Oscar winner for best picture, such that it stands out above the others as a shining beacon of excellence that it cannot be recreated easily. If one were to say "the quiet, shy gal in the corner," it would be easily likened to a re-run of Everybody Loves Raymond, or more simply, a sit-com's basic set-up-and-punchline type of joke.

Should people, on a nearly constant basis, use "high language" or speak continually in metaphor and similes, they would no longer possess their power. There's a reason why people relate poems and sex - they don't happen every single day, at least for the vast majority, and eventually you hit your stride and it becomes commonplace, in which case some of the magic is then gone. Sure, its nice and wonderful, but it doesn't have that spark it once did.

Too much of a good thing, I'd say.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 10:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Melvilleian (Villian? What?)! Poetic Justice Becomes Melville

I know this seems like a total cop-out, but seriously. There is a little poetic justice in the opening paragraph to Melville's "Benito Cereno."

"In the year 1799, Captain Amasa Delano, of Duxbury, in Massachusettes, commanding a large sealer and general trader, lay at anchor with a valuable cargo, in the harbor of St. Maria - a small, desert, uninhabited island toward the southern extremity of the long coast of Chili. There he had touched for water."

Specifically, the 2nd sentence grabbed me and gave me cause to re-examine the first sentence. I have found Melville's writing to be a mirror of his life/surroundings - as such, in regards to the author and the work, they are rarely exclusive of one-another. For Melville, he writes of the sea and boating; a life he knows only too well. His structure is that of the sea; expansive and deep, but with sharpness and precision.

Consider this: the first sentence of the entire work reaches a length of 46 words. I, personally, have no problem with an exceedingly long sentence, as I am guilty of them often, however, I also appreciate the sharpness of his brevity in the following sentence measuring a simple 6 words.

How is it then that Melville was able to catch me with a six word sentence than a forty-six word sentence? Perhaps, and it could just be my own reading, I enjoy the slight ironic notion of leaving the sea for an uninhabited to find water, or it could simply be the order of Melville's wording, stating "there he had touched for water," speaking in a somewhat offbeat manner.

As I had noted, Melville's wording and story is much like the sea, or, in many cases, the specific surroundings it addresses. At first he describes the ship and the captain, almost losing the reader in semi-superlatives, then adds, almost as an after thought, that the ship was anchored off the coast because they needed water.

For further reading, I suggest looking at Moby Dick, specifically the chapter titled "The Whiteness of the Whale." His structure is equal to what he is describing - the expanse and starkness of a white whale which reads on for, oh, ever or a large ship with valuable cargo and a well-seasoned captain deserve 46 words. A small island off of Chile's coast is only worth 6.

His story is vast, and ironically dry, but is also masterfully crafted.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 9:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Keesey: Making Complexity Slightly Simpler Through Cunning Use Of Extended Philosophical Theories Of Reality: Or, The General Introduction

First, I must address - I enjoy this Keesey fellow already. For a change, I was actually somewhat engaged in the introduction. Keesey presented his ideas in a logical fashion (this, of which, is all debatable based entirely on the principal which he was writing; there is a rhyme and reason for each thing's placement, but upon inspection through one lens or another, the finite reason for "X" and "Y," is strictly interpretive).

Given this, as well as my aside, I point to the text:

Page 5, in the next to last paragraph:
"Furthermore, the contexts themselves tend to shade into each other as we move from their central to their peripheral concerns."

Keesey's explanation, at least to me, appeared to follow the model of the classic Venn Diagram - concepts overlapping with one another without a feeling of exclusivity. In addition to the overlap, or "shade" as Keesey calls it, Keesey notes the "peripheral concerns," which, I thought, was indicative of tertiary and tangential theory and ideas within a work.

These items which can be found in the thematic and interpretive periphery are those which can fully close an argument. We've all had that moment where we were fighting a point about something and deep in the recesses of our minds we knew there was a connection - these peripheral, or semi-seen, ideas are the proverbial synapses connecting the ideas.

Or, of course, I could be totally off-base.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 9:36 PM | Comments (1)

January 23, 2007

Why do I listen to so much rap music? If you have any idea, let me know.

Well, might as well dust this old thing off. Dr. Jerz this term. I know what that means.

The only downside, thus far, is that I can't blog from my Nintendo Wii. The trial version of Opera will not allow it. Hopefully the full version will.

Gar. For those playing the home game, 2006 went out with a whimper and, truthfully, could have been worse, but was considerably craptastic. 2007, thusly, is going decent.

More as it develops.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 12:40 AM | Comments (0)