Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Reel Life

One of the most perspective expanding books I’ve ever had the opportunity to breathe in is James W. Loewen’s Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. Loewen spent two years comparing twelve typical American history textbooks and the distortions, inaccuracies, Euro-centrism, omissions and outright lies that most of us were taught as our nation’s story. He argues that young peoples’ negative attitudes toward the study of history and the general apathy that has come to help define our national culture are the results of a campaign of misinformation regarding our nation’s narrative. I couldn’t agree more.

In a discussion about the relationship between history and memory, Loewen shares his interpretation of the East African idea of sasha and zamani. According to Loewen:

Many African societies divide humans into three categories: those still alive on earth, the sasha, and the zamani. The recently departed whose time on earth overlapped with people still here are the sasha, the living-dead. They are not wholly dead, for they still live in the memories of the living, who can call them to mind, create their likeness in art, and bring them to life in anecdote. When the last person to know an ancestor dies, that ancestor leaves the sasha for the zamani, the dead. As generalized ancestors, the zamani are not forgotten but revered.

For some reason, this concept really resonates with me, and lately I’ve been fascinated by the idea that movie-making has altered the human experience of history on a really fundamentally spiritual level.

Tony has always been a bit of a classic movies buff. I, on the other hand, had never even seen The Sound of Music until very recently. Tony’s been a great guide into the history of cinema, and I’ve seen more old movies in the past two years than in the previous thirty five. I’ve now come to have a deep appreciation for the old black-and-whites and I just keep thinking about the sense of immortality that was created with the invention of moving pictures. For a thousand generations before me, people had no real way of connecting with the zamani. The sasha remained in the memories and stories of living people, but once a person passed from the sasha to the zamani, they were lost to time. But now, I can order a movie from Netflix and connect with people who were born 150 years ago. I can see their movements and mannerisms. I can hear their voices. I can see them laugh and cry. I can, on some level, know them.

I think that’s a real paradigm shift that hasn’t yet been fully recognized. How different would our world be if we had the ability to see and hear and feel those who have been lost to time? I suppose we all sometimes wonder what the people who lived 500 years ago looked like and sounded like. The generations to come will have a powerful connection to their history that we can’t conceive. And, I just think that’s cool.

Monday, March 24, 2008

"Low Life" Insurance

Should I be concerned that Tony is receiving these types of offers in the mail?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Acid House Flashback # 4

"We Call It Acieed" - D-Mob - 1988