Friday, September 27, 2002

Of all the crazy things, East Timor appears to have chosen a new national language. Finnish.

I am thinking of The Swedish Chef, and I am thinking of Garrison Kiellor and the Prairie Home Companion. Finnish is a strange-sounding language, and it has no association with East Timor at all.

That is the point. It has no association with East Timor. I guess, from my broad base of ignorance about Finland, the Finns have had a history of minding their own business, and not raging about the world conquering things.

East Timor has a history of other people minding THEIR business and conquering THEM. They are tired of it. So many terrible things have been done to them, a quick glance through the web pages about East Timor shows up sites all about "help them!"

They've been trampled on by a lot of colonizing countries, and none of the world's major languages hold good memories for them. Newly their own country, the officials are making decisions about what language to use, and they do not choose to use the language of their oppressor.

Their own language has become fragmented. They have not had the chance to cohese, under the dividing forces of colonialism.

They chose Finnish.

I see a kind of tragedy in their choice, and a heroism, too. They've been mistreated, and they choose to step away from those atrocities.

Language is incredibly important; it is the bearer of culture. If they chose the language of their oppressors, they are choosing also the culture that fostered that oppression. But the East Timorese say: no! no more and not for us. we will be something other than that.

Colonialism is a force and an influence which is hard to understand, especially if you are on the colonizers side. We Americans are a colonial power. We were not the first, there are many. So many, that the shadow of colonialism is cast over the whole globe.

It is time to realize it, and begin to come to terms with recctifying the situation. We must examine our heart and our attitudes to purge hurtful assumptions about others and ourselves.

I don't know if the East Timorese will stay with their Finnish language program, but I admire their choice. They have chosen the language, and therefore the culture of a non-colonial power. THey know the harm colonialism can bring, and they want out. More power to them.
posted by Murphy 9/27/2002

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Well, This is a special day.

Six months ago, TODAY, this wonderblog was born. My first blog post on my first blog was six months ago.

AND, because I am nerdy, I went back and counted. There are more than 80 posts in that time. I’ve done a good job of updating my blog pretty frequently. I’m proud of what I’ve done.

I wanted to say thank you, to my small cadre of readers…Some of whom I don’t know at all, which thrills me tremendously. I know that I’m hardly a top hit of the internet, but even the fact that a few people are interested enough to read what I write makes it very worthwhile. If any of my readers would like to email a response or question, I would be pleased to reply.

This has turned out to be a very worthwhile endeavor for me. I feel sure that it will be around for another six months, and be even better.

Stay tuned, and happy anniversary to me!

posted by Murphy 9/25/2002

Today is Blogcritic day! I posted my review of The Hours on blogcritics, because Eric Olsen asked all blogcritics to post today. He wanted to do a blitz. I will be interested to see what happens. Go check it out!

posted by Murphy 9/25/2002

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

THE HOURS by Michael Cunningham

There were two things that immediately put me on my guard with this book. One, the book was a takeoff on Mrs. Dalloway, and I don’t have a high regard for takeoffs. Second, the author is a male writing about the interior lives of women whish is suspect. I decided to wait and see what Cunningham had to offer, and make my assessment after I finished.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolfe expanded the significance of a single day into an entire novel. The Hours, by Michael Cunningham, takes the significance of the novel Mrs. Dalloway and tracks it across the lives of several people, still keeping the temporal window of a single day.

It’s not the same day, though. He tracks Mrs. Woolfe, Mrs. Brown and Clarissa, women of different generations, during their significant day. He manages to show how the novel has affected each woman in her own time. It is an interesting twist on Woolfe’s original work.

I remember reading Mrs. Dalloway, and thinking that it was not a long book, but that it was something I should probably read twice to get it’s meaning. I did not read it twice. Perhaps I will read it again now.

Woolfe’s novel highlights the importance of a single point in time. One of the things I took away from the book was a sense of Virginia trying to say, trying to write, trying to impress upon the reader every single impression of the characters. Every day, every MOMENT is filled past capture with sensory experiences and cognitive reaction to that experience. It is as if she wanted to capture the entirety of what a day is for the people that live in it. There is an inexhaustible fullness of joy in every moment; there is a sorrow in the passing time as well. Her sad Septimus was not able to cope with his allotted hours, the past, present or future moments which made up his life. It was too much for him.

Cunningham’s The Hours expands and savors the moments, as well. It seems that his selection of title comes from that emphasis. He has beautiful turns of phrases, capturing feeling and sensation and emotion elegantly. He put a window to the hearts and minds of the women in the book; it made me wonder how he knew. He must be very empathetic, or have some excellent female friends to share with him. It’s still a little studied, not the organic expression that Woolfe could convey.

The Hours is well worth reading. It is leisurely and lovely, and it made me notice my own moments a little more.

posted by Murphy 9/24/2002

Monday, September 23, 2002

I am sitting in a journalism class, which I have already mentioned. The teacher has been talking about the importance of keeping a source's anonymity, and of course, is talking about deep throat.

We need some new famous anonymous people, here. What's up with that? By the time everyone kicks the bucket and deep throat's identity is revealed, no one will care.

I probably will not recognize the name, since I hate the news anyway.

But I am sitting here in front of an iMac. That's what I'm wrting this on. Can you hear the accent? goodness gracious, it's a juicy blue one, too, almost the color of Crest Gelpaste...Mmmm...Minty!

I am told that simply ALL the newspapers use Apple computers.

Ugh. I thought I left that behind. This silly little iMac is already proving annoying. I was unable to find the tool that lets me create a link to the previous blog where I talk about my journalism class.


perhaps I am just bitching. Not being able to find a tool doesn't mean it doesn't exist...

My brother (hi~!) was a Mac-aroni from the beginning. He started out in desktop publishing and so my first experience with computers (not counting the wind-up tandy color computer, that really hardly COUNTS, especially since my brothers hogged it anyway) is with the mac. The FIRST mac.

Finally, as a wise and discerning adult, I discovered PCs and Windows.

It was beautiful. I am quite happy with my computer. It does EVERYTHING i want it to do, and I don't have to save my word documents in an RTF format.


that was a pointless rant, based on the fact that I am sitting in class being bored. I'm sure I added nothing to the holy war being raged by the Mac-ophiles against the mostly uninterested PC users.

If I become a famous journalist some day, i may have to use an iBook.
I suppose fame has its price.

posted by Murphy 9/23/2002

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Dostoevsky, Anarchists, and Al Qaeda

Cross Posting at Blogcritics

More than anything, Crime And Punishment seems to be about what the characters are thinking. Not necessarily in an inner-monologue kind of way, definitely not stream-of-consciousness, but what their ideas are.

The characters have beliefs and ideals and IDEAS. The ideas are more important to the main character than any reality that exerts itself upon him.

He seems startled when a reality that does not conform with his ideas presents itself. That’s not so surprising, I’ve experienced it and seen others experience it. When you believe something to be true, it is hard to assimilate new evidence to the contrary.

I am sure that I would not have understood this novel if I had not also bee reading The Proud Tower by Barbara Tuchman. This book is about the cultural climate right before WWI. I haven’t finished it yet, but I had gotten to the part where she discusses the anarchist movement, AKA the communist movement. The people who were involved in this movement were taking it upon themselves to attempt assassinations, with some successes, of the ruling class. They seemed to act with terrifying randomness, because their IDEA said all rulers were bad, and needed to be brought down.

For the anarchists, there was no allowance for personality in a ruler. It was incidental if they were benevolent, and in no way saved them from attacks. The position, regardless of who occupied it, needed annihilation. Murder was not wrong, when it was correcting the evil of the ruling class.

The anarchists were not in the majority, even among those who were acting against the contemporary powers-that-be. Socialists and Unionizers were associated with the anarchists, but only a very few acted on their ideas.

So, of course, it is easy to see the parallels between the picture Tuchman drew of these idealists and Raskolnikov. He wanted to prove himself as a man of genius, above such petty moral considerations. He is motivated by his ideas about the world, and ignores realities of the world. A college drop-out, who mopes in his room, neglects to eat. And, of course, murders an old woman based on his principles.

Dostoevsky seemed to be bringing the reader through the experience of Raskolnikov in order to show the consequences, the “Punishment.” As seductive as some ideas seem, there is a reality which must be reckoned with. Our rationalization of theories and ideas is fine as far as it goes, but there is a standard to measure against. We may not recreate the world according to our ideas.

Of course, the times being what they are, I could not help but see a similarity between the turn-of-the-century idealists and the modern ones. I read the stories of the anarchists who murdered in the name of their beliefs. I saw how their zealot faith led them to an inevitable conclusion. And I remembered a certain group of men who hijacked some planes.

Wrong. When interacting with the universe, humility is required. You will not convince the world that you are right, and make it change. Not like that. The laws of the universe always get the final world: “Because I said so!” We must bend our minds to their forms, always and forever. There are consequences and reactions for our actions; and there is usually something that has been overlooked in the grand IDEA.

Raskolnikov had to understand how moral laws worked. Dostoevsky did a really good job of showing the complexities of his thoughts and experience. It isn’t simple.

Neither is the book. It’s long and often seemingly pointless. But it’s worth reading, and unexpectedly timely.

posted by Murphy 9/22/2002

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