Monthly Archives: July 2011

Cultures of Border(less) Control

July 14, 2011
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Cultures of Border(less) Control

In a recent post for the Yale University Press blog, Eva Ledóchowicz (our shared sales representative for Eastern Europe) penned an article on the potential of the ebook as a “book without border,” linking the changing landscape of publishing (for better or worse) with developments in the European Union surrounding ID-free travel made possible by laws governing the Schengen area.

The Schengen area came to be on March 26, 1995, when five original signatories (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands) implemented the Schengen Agreement (1985, named for Schengen, Luxembourg, where the document was first signed) into law, allowing for what approaches a single state for international travel, with no internal border controls (harkening back to pre-World War I days, when one could travel from Paris to St. Petersburg without a passport). Two years later, and twenty-five countries were onboard. In recent years, concerns over the pressure to provide shared security for the entire Schengen region, along with the preferences of individual nations over migration, has led to a new vulnerability for Schengen, its member nations, and those travelers who come and go within its amorphous borders.

In Cultures of Border Control: Schengen and the Evolution of European Frontiers, . . .

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Jean-Luc Godard: “Film is over. What to do?”

July 13, 2011
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Jean-Luc Godard: “Film is over. What to do?”

The auteur is dead, says Jean-Luc Godard. The future is cut-and-paste movie mashups.*

#DearNetflix:

Satyajit Ray.**

The Odyssey is a sequel to the Iliad, and the second, better part of Don Quixote is a sequel to the first.

You can argue that Andy Warhol revamped this idea.

Throughout the 1940s, Welles and Wyler wrote articles and gave more interviews, often insisting that their films invited greater participation on the part of spectators.

Andrew Sarris’s You Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet and the collection OK, You Mugs.

For the sake of simplicity, we’ve called the principles norms.

Exhibit A is Tamar Lane’s book The New Technique of Screen Writing (McGraw-Hill, 1936).

Jurassic Park and The Host likewise trace out several plot strands among a variety of characters.

I once asked Kiarostami how he got the remarkable performances in shot/reverse-shot that we see in films like Through the Olive Trees (1994) and The Taste of Cherry (1997). He said that he simply filmed one actor saying all of his lines and giving all his reactions, then filmed the other.

In order to pursue this question, the critic needn’t declare Rebecca a great film or a failure.

If you declare that There Will Be . . .

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Chungking Express at the Center of the World

July 12, 2011
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Chungking Express at the Center of the World

The tale told in Wong Kar-Wai’s 1994 film Chungking Express isn’t particularly straightforward. In between the stop-motion jumps and alternative shots, the flick tells two stories: a cop with a jones for a lost love buys tins of pineapple that are due to expire the same day as his affection, while another cop. . . . Well, there’s some mirroring with postdated boarding passes and a girl named Faye and California, the restaurant and the place and that kind of Dreamin’ from the Mamas and the Papas song, and . . . uh, flight attendants and cousins . . . and. . . . Suffice to say it’s perfectly complicated. The title of the film in Chinese literally translates to “Chungking Jungle,” which refers to both its dense urban landscape and the Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, where much of the movie’s first sequence is set. Like the film, the Chungking Mansions offer an idiosyncratic slice of life in our transnational capitalist society.

Curry shops, African record stands, clothing stalls, sari tailors, Nigerian exporters, Sub-Saharan internet cafes, Lahore Fast Food, barbershops, Bollywood video kiosks, guestrooms inhabited by 120 distinct nationalities (on any given day), porno stands, . . .

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The economics of fairness, or pass the lutefisk

July 12, 2011
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The economics of fairness, or pass the lutefisk

Natalie Angier is a science journalist—and an outspoken athiest—with a thirst for. . . . fairness? At least that’s the case in her recent piece for the New York Times, in which she explores the wealth gap that’s helped spur our worst economic crisis since the Great Depression in light of research on human nature and the evolution of human social organization. Interesting to point out that another NYT study bills the average top executive’s salary at ten million dollars and rising twelve percent per year.

And just who’s fair?

Angier spells it out for us:

Darwinian-minded analysts argue that Homo sapiens have an innate distaste for hierarchical extremes, the legacy of our long nomadic prehistory as tightly knit bands living by veldt-ready team-building rules: the belief in fairness and reciprocity, a capacity for empathy and impulse control, and a willingness to work cooperatively in ways that even our smartest primate kin cannot match.

In The Fair Society: The Science of Human Nature and the Pursuit of Social Justice, Peter Corning draws on evidence similar to what Angier cites in her article: the evolutionary record, along with the latest findings from the behavioral and biological sciences. The result? A . . .

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On Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

July 11, 2011
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On Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

In the week since Fourth of July celebrations rang out on every neighborhood block and city stoop (at least in Chicago’s Logan Square, where the Crime Blotter lit up like a game of Pong with noise violations well into mid-week), we’ve had a chance to surf through the op-eds, remembrances, and the short- and long-form explorations of social and political freedoms published in the holiday’s wake. One that extends beyond grist-of-the-mill celebration is Eric Slauter’s “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” in the Boston Globe, a blockbuster foray into the reception history of the Declaration of Independence, which considers the circumstances surrounding the document’s most storied sentence :

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Using new digital tools to consider newspaper accounts, sermons, Supreme Court rulings, almanacs, and facsimiles from the day of the Declaration and beyond, Slauter advances the Declaration’s most iconic clause (“a radical commitment to equality”) as inspiration for the abolitionists of the early nineteenth century, the workingmen’s movement of the 1820s, and a certain 1848 . . .

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Bridge on the River Drina

July 5, 2011
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Bridge on the River Drina

In the twenty-first century, Ivo Andrić’s profile has remained surprisingly low for a Nobel Prize winner (his 1961 citation for the Prize in Literature commends “the epic force with which he has traced themes and depicted human destinies drawn from the history of his country”). That is, until now.

The Guardian recently reported on a collaboration between filmmaker (and two-time Cannes Palme d’or winner) Emir Kusturica and the Republika Srpska’s government to build a new town inspired by Andrić’s writings: Andrićgrad. Work on the 17,000 square meter town is “due to start this week and to be completed by 2014.”

In his own day, Andrić (1892-1975) was a poet, novelist, civic servant, diplomat, deputy foreign minister, and parliamentarian. Born and raised in Bosnia (his writing is claimed by Serbs and Croats alike), Andrić was perhaps best known for his “Bosnian trilogy,” three works that drew upon the history, culture, and folk wisdom of his native country. The first of these works, The Bridge on the Drina, spans nearly four centuries of Muslim and Orthodox Christian life in Bosnia and Herzegovina, through the prism of a town and its bridge across the river.

“Here, where the Drina flows with the . . .

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