Friday Food for Thought: 3 March 2023

What has happened in history before, may happen again; after disintegration, renewal.

Lewis Mumford, 1951

Rewatching the pilot episode of The X-Files. I’ve never confirmed if the final scene is a deliberate nod to Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it sure seems that way. The second episode, “Deep Throat,” is the first of Jerry Hardin’s powerful work in his recurring role. The third episode, “Squeeze,” is the first monster-of-the-week episode with Mulder telling Scully, “How do we learn about the present? We look to the past.” This is exactly what Lewis Mumford did (see below). I’m always impressed with how strong The X-Files was from the beginning.

After Raquel Welch passed away I wanted to watch a few of her movies. I started watching Hannie Caulder (1971) but the first ten minutes were so awful I decided to watch A Swingin’ Summer (1965) instead, only her second credited screen appearance. Ah, for the good old days when 30-year-old teenagers with rich parents could finance dental school by staging a weekend music festival in between cavorting around the lake in their speedboats and convertibles. While Rick preaches capitalism by chanting “No charity” like a nervous tic, Cindy has to learn to stop her conniving ways and accept that her job is to support Rick’s ambitions and look good in capri pants. The movie does have a swingin’ soundtrack. The music coordinator is Mike Post, who went on to compose classic TV theme songs with Pete Carpenter, and he earned his pay because the film has music by the likes of The Righteous Brothers and Gary & the Playboys. There are three credited writers, though, and that’s a mystery, because surely half a writer would have been enough for this leisurely stroll through fake-nostalgia. I can’t believe more people don’t know about A Swingin’ Summer, it’s a goldmine for cultural analysis.

Watching Babylon 5 for the first time. After the first four episodes, it’s clearly a poor man’s Deep Space 9, but there are some genuinely thoughtful scenes and some interesting character development. There’s supposedly a season-long story arc, but I’m not fully seeing it yet.

I’m not familiar with Rick Beato but a lot of other people are because he has over 3 million followers on YouTube. He posted an interview with Keith Jarrett this week and Jarrett hasn’t given a lot of interviews since his strokes in 2018. It’s heartbreaking to see him so diminished by time, but I’m grateful for the interview because it reminds me how much his music has inspired me over the years.

The wild petunias are blooming profusely, despite the lack of rain recently. Or maybe because of it? They seem to self-propagate but not thick enough to provide a ground cover, so it’s enough to have these small blossoms popping up in random places.

Reading Up From the Depths : Herman Melville, Lewis Mumford, and Rediscovery in Dark Times by Aaron Sachs. I’ve read a little Mumford, if not Melville, but both writers are completely relevant today (the author’s whole point, of course). A fascinating book.

  • Mumford, on beginning what became his Renewal of Life series (p.35):
    • “The conclusion that I drew for myself was that the situation demanded, not specific attacks on specific evils and specific points of danger, but a wholesale re-thinking of the basis of modern life and thought, for the purpose of eventually giving a new orientation to all our institutions.”
  • Melville, on immigration in Redburn: His First Voyage (1849) (p. 40):
    • “Let us waive that agitated national topic, as to whether such multitudes of foreign poor should be landed on our American shores; let us waive it, with the one only thought, that if they can get here, they have God’s right to come…”
  • Sachs (p. 50-51):
    • “Especially in dark times and dark places, one must never give up the search for offsetting forces. Thanks to the dedicated labor of our most persevering forebears – activists and stewards and scholars and artists, some famous and some anonymous – countless surprising potentialities have persisted. It’s our permanent responsibility to find, embrace, and develop them.”
  • Sachs (p. 72):
    • “One point of all of Melville’s binaries [in Moby-Dick] is that, whenever you get caught up in a one-sided assumption – whenever you feel utterly constrained by fate or utterly sure of your free will – you’ll soon be shown the power of the opposite perspective. Offsetting forces are humbling.”
  • Sachs (p. 79):
    • “Everyone needs to be checked and balanced, in a modern democracy, or else the captains, like master sprockets, might wield too much power.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s