Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Linkage, and Chats With Three

Leia Organa: A Critical Obituary. The style is exquisitely on point.
Leia Organa, the politician and revolutionary who led the defeat of the Galactic Empire, died after a short illness. She was 60 years old. Hers was a life laced with controversy concerning everything from her tactics to her very ancestry, but her intelligence, commitment to the Republican cause, and place at the heart of the Rebellion, and later the Resistance against Neo-Imperialism, remains the indisputable core of her legacy. 
...The Organa Doctrine identified the path to victory, but the woman herself remained on the front line, rarely pausing for conferences with Alliance intelligence droids. This may have contributed to the ambiguous reception she received in the post-Imperial era, as she didn’t emerge with the political influence accorded leaders like Mon Mothma . While they directed large scale operations (often per Organa’s theories and recommendations) she led covert operations on numerous worlds. She worked under deep cover as the bounty hunter Boussh, and during Galactic Concordance negotiations at the end of the war, admitted that during this period, she personally assassinated Hutt leader Jabba Desilijic Tiure. 
She was also revealed to be Darth Vader’s daughter, contributing to further marginalization not because of her ancestry per se, but in the context of an operation where she authorized Luke Skywalker (her collaborator in the killing of Jabba) to infiltrate DS-2, turn Vader into an Alliance asset, and kill the Emperor. Representatives raised questions about her objectivity, her use of political killing as a tool of warfare, the possibility that she might have granted Vader immunity from war crimes prosecution, and her indifference to risk, given that she was willing to sacrifice the last known Jedi in multiple operations. Organa was unrepentant. 
...If Organa must bear some responsibility for her son’s defection, it might ultimately stem from the operation that sent Luke Skywalker to DS-2, where he allegedly attempted to recruit Darth Vader. By suggesting Vader might be redeemed not through formal justice but by reawakening a familial bond, she might have recast him as a romantic, tragic figure, and not the mass murderer attested to by countless sources. Indeed, she allowed Skywalker to give Vader an ad hoc Jedi funeral. Of course, this was Skywalker’s choice, and he subsequently trained Ben Solo, so the “last Jedi” may bear greater blame than either his mother or oft-absent father.


I don't have a lot of truck with idolizing the great black-and-white moral lessons of the original Star Wars movies, so I appreciated Tom Harmon's disagreement with Steven Greydanus's fear that Rogue One is diluting the Star Wars brand.

Up to a point, Greydanus and Overstreet are right. They have identified Star Wars’ beating heart. And it is true that Rogue One is a less ambitious movie than the others. It is true that self-surrender is the key to the victory of good in the Star Wars universe; but it is also true that the way was paved for those triumphant moments of self-surrender by a lot of rebels with blasters in hand—or in X-Wings—shooting down bad guys. Rogue One is their story, it’s a Star Wars story, and it’s a pretty good one. 
Rogue One’s descent into darkness and grittiness is really at the service of what Greydanus and Overstreet admire about the original trilogy. Rogue One allows us to glimpse the Rebellion without Skywalkers. The most unambiguously good characters in the original films are Luke and Leia; the other characters (insofar as they are real characters and not just supporting props, like Chewbacca or Admiral Ackbar) are mostly painted in shades of grey. Lando Calrissian and Han Solo are both drawn from their seedy, listless lives by contact with Luke and Leia, who inspire them to nobility, virtue, and dedication to a good cause greater than themselves. Rogue One contributes to the overall Star Wars story by showing a Rebellion strongly tempted to become a terrorist organization—a temptation that can be resisted because of the leadership and example of Leia and eventually Luke.

Anne Kennedy on Private Grief in a Public Age.

But really, I think grief* is like prayer. That is to say, personal–only fathomed to a small degree by those outside oneself. It, therefore, doesn’t help for me to come in and tell you that you are wrong. Similarly, the things that you pray about, that trouble you, are yours to bring before God. You can ask me to pray for something or someone, and I will try, but I am not you and I can’t fully understand your burden. That doesn’t make my prayers on your behalf inefficacious, not at all. It just means that you, burdened with anxiety and grief, are going to pray Desperately, which is very different from my hasty, half forgotten arrow prayer. God hears both, but your prayer of desperation is deeper, more profound, more important. (As an aside, of course, as I am trying to remember to pray for you, the Holy Spirit might often confer some of the grief and burden to me, and I might find myself entering into to some of your grief in a way that I hadn’t if I had never begun to pray. In this way God unites us to one another in his own body, through prayer.) 
What I’m trying to say is, it’s fine if people are grieving and sorrowing about the deaths of a daughter and mother and maybe not so grieved about the deaths of people they have never heard of. The people who died in Chicago over the weekend are not publicly known in the same way, and so I can’t feel much for them, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t mourned in their own sphere, that God doesn’t know, that their deaths don’t mean anything. Really, we have so cheapened private grief by making it public that now, if every terrible thing isn’t widely known, it’s as if if doesn’t matter or didn’t happen, which is just Not True. Death has become like Instagramming your dinner–only delicious with a Valencia filter.

Shakespearean New Year's Resolutions.


The origins of O Holy Night.


Jennifer Fitz on why you should put aside your annual viewing of A Christmas Carol and actually read the book. We read it aloud the week before Christmas, ending up with the last stave on Christmas Day, as is right and fitting.


Rob Alspaugh with some fine analysis on one of the less picture-booky episodes in Genesis: The Battle of Ten Kings.


Last but not least, Mr. Christmas Day just turned three.

Three is three. Two is the age where a boy (in this case) realizes all the things he might be doing, but he's not capable of doing. Three is the age where he thinks of the things, and he is now also capable of executing them, but is constantly being thwarted by older people because he has no judgment. For example, a boy might want to bring his tricycle upstairs, but his mother keeps stopping him when she catches him on the fourth stair up. Accordingly, the rage of three is greater than the rage of two, and the judgment of three is less than the judgment of four, and a parent is very weary.

Fortunately, the conversation of three outstrips the conversation of two, and the logic improves a bit too. I took the man for a walk the other day, and had to constantly stop him from chewing on his coat collar.

"Stop that!" I finally said. "You can't chew up your collar and get your coat all wet."

"But I like to lick my collar," he said.

I couldn't argue with that on the surface -- undeniably, he does like to lick his collar.  "We don't lick collars," I said.

"But I like to lick it." And just when I was at my wits' end pulling his coat out of his mouth in near-freezing weather, he found a big stick and proceeded to thump the sidewalk all the way home, collar licking forgotten.


Agnes said...

Don't tell me your son chews his coat collar too! I thought it was my son's particular way to vex me! His reasoning is adorable by the way. Licking, really!

I love the iconic good-and-evil in Star Wars, especially IV-VI, but neither moral lessons nor black-and-white are good terms. There is, of course, a clear line between good and evil, but it isn't formulaistic.

mandamum said...

My children chew coat collars too - right there and full of texture....

I need to focus on enjoying the 2yo and 5yo that have been driving me over the edge and around the bend.... I think if I get a little more enjoyment from where they are NOW, and a little more us-together enjoyable time, I may be able to actually mother them a little more effectively. The baby is obviously adorable, and easy to parent (and he's an easy baby! so even more easy to parent than just not-2 and not-5) but I need to cuddle the bigger ones too.

Rob said...

Thanks for the link! I always know you've linked to me when my viewership quintuples for the day. I wish I had better writing to offer these days, but it's a long and weary you know well.

Good luck with the collar-licker. I'm sure it will all work itself out by the time he's 14.