Thursday, December 22, 2005

Temptation and virtue

Of those of us who spend this time of year grading furiously, I imagine that most are tempted to share with the rest various amusing examples of student fancy which appear on exams or in papers. I don't really feel comfortable doing this, but I can't really condemn those who do (if it's all in good fun). However, virtue lies in a mean, doesn't it? So if I don't reveal any such examples, then isn't that a defect? (Okay, that's sophistry ("If I don't murder anyone, isn't that a defect?"), but let's pretend it isn't.) So I'll just settle for this one: asked on the exam for Zeno's paradoxes, one of my students related the story of "Achilles and the hare." Somehow, that one seems less paradoxical than the one I'm more familiar with.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

'Tis the season

Another Philosophers' Carnival already! How time flies. (Actually I think the last one was a little later than usual, so maybe that explains it.) Go, enjoy yourselves! Fa la la la la la la la la la okay, that's enough la's for now. Thanks Max!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

More is less (spoilers, like it matters)

Well, class is over for the semester (except for the bushel of final papers and exams to be received next week and marked in a frenzy), so perhaps blogging may increase in tempo (although of course there are other things that have been neglected as well!). Sorry for the delay.

I did see a movie on DVD the other day. As Pink Floyd fans know, More is a 1969 hippie movie for which our band did the soundtrack (naturally it says this prominently on the cover). As not all Pink Floyd fans know (many, even most such prefer the band's later work, esp. Dark Side of the Moon), More has some of their best material, like the prototypically spacy "Quicksilver," the lyrically spacy "Cirrus Minor," and the shredding-guitar-ly spacy "Ibiza Bar" (which, although most of the film does indeed take place in Ibiza, we hear, in the film, in what I believe is a Paris bar). As an even smaller set of Pink Floyd fans know, the movie is a waste of time, even by informative-time-capsule standards. Two disagreeable hippies (he German, she American) hang out in Ibiza; they get hooked on heroin; they kick heroin by dropping acid (!); they get hooked on heroin again; it turns out she's been sleeping with her old ex-Nazi "friend of the family" after all; he overdoses (perhaps on purpose, like we care) and dies. Feh. (She is cute though.)

The all-knowing site informs us that this film, director Barbet Schroeder's debut, was first entitled Mehr – immer mehr, but then later they changed it to Gier nach Lust (Desire for Pleasure), which seems about right. As I may already have known, Herr Schroeder was the same one to hire the band three years later, for La Vallée, a.k.a. Obscured by Clouds, which resulted in another underappreciated (if not quite as good) Pink Floyd record. I had thought that there was some Schroeder film that I had seen and liked, but all I see on his filmography is stuff like Murder by Numbers (excuse me, Murd3r 8y Num8ers), Single White Female, and (yikes) the 1995 Kiss of Death remake (with David Caruso; an imbd commenter remarks: "a kiss of death to his career"). My guess is that I was thinking of Volker Schlöndorff (oops!). Oh wait, Reversal of Fortune was okay (the Claus von Bülow docudrama with Ron Silver and Jeremy Irons).

One amusing moment occurs 81 minutes into the film. How do I know when it was, you ask? Well, at the beginning there was a title card which informs us that the authorities required that a few seconds of dialogue be muted at that point (replaced by subtitles in this version). The scene is this: they're making up a potion of some kind (either it's after they've kicked heroin but before relapsing, or before they kick but also before they're really hooked - I don't remember and I'm not going back to check!), and he's calling out the ingredients as he grinds them up with his mortar and pestle: "[a few other things first]; pot! ibogaine! Benzedrine! banana peel!" From this list, the authorities of our moral health decided that it was best that we not hear him call for a) Benzedrine and b) banana peel (which of course we see when he scrapes it off into the bowl). How weird is that?