Friday, August 06, 2010

essays about cartoons that never materialized

Instead of writing a lengthy series on Toy Story as a trilogy and Toy Story 3 I decided to write something just for Mockingbird instead. So if you want to read my thoughts on Toy Story as a trilogy of heroic repentance it will be presented as a three part series over on Mockingbird.

For years I had also hoped to blog about my favorite anime, Eureka Seven, but haven't gotten around to that. Sure, Cowboy Bebop is more popular and highly regarded. Sure, Neon Genesis Evangelion is considered more daring and original and innovative. Sure, I get all that, but Eureka Seven is still my favorite anime despite being maudlin, melodramatic, absurdly sentimental, and full of fanciful religious rhetoric that I don't even remotely agree with. I accept all those shortcomings but love the series because what appeared to be a routine action/adventure sci-fi fantasy series turned out to have a surprisingly grim subtext. I had not before seen anyone use the power-fantasy wish-fulfillment genre of mech piloting as a way to subtextually explore child abuse. It's not altogether ironic to use such a genre as a way to explore powerlessness and the story's resolution is not unpredictable or without precedent.

The series turns out to have been made as a way of commenting on how adults have been conscripting children into militias in areas like Thailand and cultural attitudes about neglecting, abusing, exploiting, and otherwise messing up the lives of children of various ages. This subtext is so dark that it offsets a lot of the sentimentality in the series, which is so rampant words fail me to describe how syrupy it is. The syrup is offset by some extremely bitter observations about how individuals, families, and societies rationalize the exploitation and neglect of children. I kid you not, this series deals with some stuff that when I watched it triggered at least one catastrophic emotional meltdown. As this reaction on my part was completely unexpected and complicated I don't feel like delving into all of that in a blog entry. I'm just noting that over the years I've said I wanted to write about the show and its effect on me. Now, years after it finished its story and after it affected me I find it difficult to just go back and dredge all of that up again.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

okay, I admit I covet this, guitar transcription of Haydn's B flat double fugue from the Creation

If someone were to just happen to get it for me that would be peachy. I've know for about two years that a fugue in B flat major for solo guitar is actually practical but I didn't realize that Mark Delpriora had taken up the task of transcribing the choral double fugue from the Creation to verify Sor's grandiose claim of having transcribed the fugue as a work for solo guitar. Now that I think of it I actually HAVE the score for the Creation in my personal library. A B flat major fugue is one of the ones I have yet to finish and if I can choose between modeling mine after Rekhin's (which is, don't get me wrong, one of his best pieces in the set) or after Haydn's I'm going to prefer Haydn.

Of course I'm not going to buy any scores for the time being because I've got no job and no income . Having written fourteen preludes and fugues for solo guitar of my own I could probably just spend a week studying the choral score and approximating similar results on my own steam. I did transcribe a simplified version of Byrd's Kyrie from the Mass for 5 voices earlier this year, after al, for solo guitar.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

a big and unhappy milestone in my life

I had stuffI wanted to work on and write about but today marks the first day of my eleventh month of unemployment without being eligible for unemployment benefits because I worked at a non-profit. This is not a happy milestone in my life. It's tough to feel motivated to blog when I consider that I've been without a job for nearly a year and seem to have a skill set that nobody wants. This is the part where I know plenty of people might tell me my identity is in Christ. Yes, I get that, but these are the moments where I am reminded that that's what Christians say because they are supposed to. It sounds spiritual to say that even when in your day-to-day life you know it isn't necessarily true.

There come points in life where there's no way to spiritualize stuff and you just wish God would deliver you and wait, but an activist sort of waiting that involves still looking for jobs and still trying to come up with ways to save money. And investigating aid programs. Things are far enough gone that I don't have a choice and should have, in that 20/20 hindsight resorted to these options as soon as I got laid off. I didn't want to because I frankly hoped I would land a job, that God would give me a job, before any of this would get to this point. Not that I am in hunger or want for food but I can appreciate in a new way William Booth's observation that preaching the Gospel to men and women who are hungry and have no food or shelter does them no good. You have to be the good news to them by helping them in their need before you can be the good news to them on behalf of Christ the king.

It can be perilously hard to stay motivated and not be discouraged in a job market like this one. For profits don't want to talk to me and non-profits don't have many jobs. I've applied for jobs that have nothing to do with my professional background just to see if a local business would hire me. Nothing comes through. I don't particularly have the entrepreneurial bug and I am down to so little money I can't very well use what money I have to take any risks. It takes a particular set of personality traits to talk people into giving you their money so that they can work on a big project and I am not exactly that kind of guy. I meant to do a bunch of writing this weekend but it's hard to feel motivated to do that even though I have a lot of material. I just sat down and looked over it all and felt like it wasn't worth very much.

The only stuff I've managed to keep up a level of enthusiasm for is a string quartet I've been working on for the last ten years. The work is now cast in three movements, one corresponding to the days Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter respectively. After ten years of intermittent slogging away I am now close to having the Good Friday movement complete.

I guess periods like this in life that test your mettle test what your foremost committments are. I have figured out that when struggling with joblessness and depression and isolation from friends caused by, well, poverty and the busy-ness of life, my continuing committments have been to composing music and to meditating on scripture but not always in a way that involves a public discussion. I could talk about how the legacy of Jehoshaphat was ultimately a bad one despite his love for the Lord and that Christian leaders should soberly assess the example of his life to see that you can have the best intentions but that ultimately you don't change the tide of where people are going and that your own poor decisions with respect to handling your leadership position can lead to figurative and literal bloodshed; disasters in the form of botched ventures; and spiritual descendents who don't reflect what you strove for. I could write about that but I don't really want to.

I have lived in theology books in my own way for a while and I have met and been around guys who have lived in theology books and think they don't or know that they do and I ... don't really want to be that kind of guy anymore. Now, of course, I'm still reading N. T. Wright's recent book on justification in response to John Piper! Don't get me wrong! And I still care passionately about a lot of this stuff. It's just that, how do I put this, I feel as though there are a lot of other things in life I have not ventured into because I was focused on my hobbies. There is a sense inw hich constantly discussing spiritual things and blogging about spiritual things and discussing theology ultimately reveals itself to be a hobby and not exactly a scintillating life in Christ.

I ended up talking with a rooommate for several hours. He'd been to church and found the service to be meh and felt discouraged about not being able to spend meaningful time with people. He was unusually down and so I dropped working on several things I was working on to hang out with him and talked. And we watched quite a few episodes of Scrubs in the process.

Massive chunks of my life in the last ten years have been spent alone. I don't mean "single" I mean literally alone. It'd be at my desk at work not necessarily interacting with anyone directly for the entire work day. I'd get home and I'd interact with people, which was fine, but when I moved into a house with some bachelor buddies I was still consistently interacting with people. When my landlord (and co-resident) started dating I ended up becoming friends with his girlfriend. I played guitar at their wedding, actually.

When I moved in with a bunch of single guys who attend Mars Hill, paradoxically, the sense of "community" dropped through the floor. It seems as though it is some kind of truism or axiomatic observation that the people most obsessed with community and community building are the ones who just don't have it. Ironically the housemate least concerned about community in some formal abstracted way is most concerned about fellowship in tangible, flesh and blood forms. Which is to say we get along great. We watch Scrubs, we watch Justice League, we talk about theology and social connection a lot, we also work on cooking project together. Now my housemate may have no idea what I mean when I say that Elliot Reid on Scrubs is what Butters is in South Park but, hey, I'm used to having my jocular observations going by without being understood.

I guess I'm finding it in myself to blog NOW but I'm not finding it in myself to blog about the things I thought I wanted to blog about. Sorry, I mean to work up the emotional and intellectual energy to get to that stuff but hanging out with people has become more important and job hunting has still been the understandably over-riding priority for me at this stage in my life.