Archive for August, 2011

Never Let Me Go (to sleep)

August 30, 2011

I have a (mostly) unread collection of Kazuo Ishiguro short stories sitting on my growing I’ve-bought-these-so-I-really ought-to-get-down-to-reading-them pile of books. I put it aside after two stories (for what, I don’t remember) and keep telling myself I should get back to it, but I haven’t for quite a long while now. Yet now I think, for the first time in a long while, I’m truly excited about a book, without having even come anywhere close to it before.

Mark Romanek’s film adaptation of Never Let Me Go is devastatingly good; and the critics tend to agree the novel is much better. The film is the so very sad: it transcends mere heartbreak and enters the territory or literal and literary tragedy.

The film’s main premise, of widespread human cloning to meet organ donation needs, strains at the boundaries of credulity and is its Achilles’s heel. It makes the going-ons seem surreal, and all that less believable. It leaves a shadow in the back of one’s mind, constantly nagging, asking why the characters seem so normal and calm in a world apparently gone mad. But, in spite of this the actors do a brilliant job, bringing poignancy to their characters’ desperate struggle to live. The dystopia of the film’s setting is so absurd and the characters’ attempts to fight fate so futile; combined with the humanity the actors bring results in a product that forces us to confront what it means to live, to breathe, to be human in an ultimately hostile world. It is terrifyingly good.

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Yes Mr. Carr, the Internet is making us stupid

August 20, 2011

I have got to be the most easily distracted person I know, at least when it comes to getting things (work?) done. It’s as if my Hyde personality insists on finding something distracting even when Jekyll has done his damnedest.

So, in an attempt to overcome my tremendous capacity for procrastination, I’m in a library attempting to write essays on a laptop which has no games, no stumbleupon, and none of my favourite internet bookmarks.

And I still end up with a tiny, undeveloped foetus of an idea and a paltry 150 words written before getting distracted.

None of which has to do with the following. But then, music or art doesn’t necessarily have to do with very much anything else at all, and yet brings us closer to our humanity, or perhaps even something that transcends it.

Which might explain why I’m listening to one of my favourite covers, and being in turn reminded of a fantastic webcomic that I may or may not have repeatedly professed my love for before, with little remorse for the fact that I’ve completely neglected the task for the day. Oh well.

(music starts around 2:01 by the way)

This cover reminds me of this comic, which is written by the amazing Winston Rowntree, who also authors Subnormality and produces genius like this. Which is all the more reason I should get back to work.

iPhone coupling

August 6, 2011

Curious observation: there exists a breed of hybrid creature indigenous to MRT trains known as the iPhone couple. Contrary to what the name suggests, it is not, as one might presume, a pair of iPhones attached to each other by means of some sort of adhesive, waylaid carelessly on the train. Rather, the term refers to a pairing of man and woman (rarely, boy and girl) ostensibly in a romantic relationship. Judging by their standards of dressing (read: bermudas-and-flip-flops-everyhwere-I-go-because-I-just-don’t-give-a-damn-anymore), they appear to be almost middle-aged and presumably well advanced in their relationship, long past the initial whirlwind of attraction and infatuation. I.e., failed yuppies of a sort.

In the uncommon but not unheard of circumstance of the couple being unseated, they will attempt to stand facing each other in order to maximise eye contact with their respective iPhones and keep up the sham of appearing to try and pay attention to his/her partner. It simply does not work – no observer is ever fooled into believing that either of the couple has anything to say that would be more captivating than getting to that next level on Bejeweled.

It is much more common to observe the iPhone couple seated, either partially or completely.  In the event whereby only one seat is available, the male member of the couple will chivalrously offer his seat to the female member, and then proceed to stand protectively in front of her. Presumably, this is as much to offer the female an opportunity to rest her legs as to facilitate his peeking at her screen to see if she caught up with him on Plants vs Zombies yet.

The male member of the iPhone couple is possessed of remarkable situational awareness and multitasking ability. Not only is he able to stand protectively over his partner, manage his resources in whatever tower defence game he is playing at the moment, and listen to music at the same time, he can also spot vacated seats up to two seats distant from where his partner is seated, and proceed to immediately plonk his ass down on it before some undeserving usurper, like a primary school student or a lady tottering on four-inch-heels, steals it away.

Once both members of the iPhone couple are comfortably ensconced within their seats, multitasking capabilities are disabled. Both will stare intently at their iPhone’s 3.5-inch display, focusing on whatever the latest hot game is, to the exclusion of all other outside stimuli. And if the game ceases to be of interest, there is always fiddling around with music playlists, the app store, facebook, twitter, foursquare, and, if nothing else, rearranging icons on the menu to do. For the iPhone couple, there are endless possibilities of self-distraction available to delay having to, horror of horrors, talk to each other.