Never ask the author

Birds who love cranesOK, I can understand why journalists like to interview famous people about their work. It looks nice on the CV.
But I’ve always thought that the least interesting articles or program segments tend to be those in which actors/directors/authors share their thoughts on their work. For instance, the BBC film review podcast that I listen to regularly looses all momentum whenever some director is invited into the studio to give synopses or even thoughts on film-making itself.

But why, you ask, have I not previously shared this important observation with you? Because I haven’t had a really good example. Till I heard this exceptional piece of cutting-edge film journalism in the Danish Broadcast Cooperation’s “Filmland”.

The journalist has sought out David Lynch who’s visiting Denmark. Lynch reveals how inside us there are deep oceans of creativity, and inspired by the rural surrounding, the reporter inquires:

Journalist: But are only humans able to access the great ocean within, or do birds go there as well?

To which, Lynch responds ponderously:

Lynch: I believe they do. I believe all the creatures flow with that to a certain degree. But it’s the human being, it’s the human being that’s built to dive within and experience that deepest level of life and unfold it and that’s the difference between the birds and a human being…

There’s some more stuff and then Lynch further reveals that:

Lynch: Now the birds they flow with nature and their songs probably have some fantastic vibration, but they go, I think, in a group. So a group of them will all go to sleep at the same time and they’re kind of ruled by a kind of a group soul I guess […] when you grow more consciousness you grow more bliss […]

But the reporter counters with a sharp

Journalist: Can’t the birds do that?

Lynch, however, remains unshakable:

Lynch: No, birds can’t get a technique. They may flow, they may be very very happy. But no…

Seriously, and laying all sarcasm aside, this is inane beyond all comparison. I won’t be able to watch a Lynch movie for years without hearing the twitter of birds flowing with nature.

Unrestrained animosity


I’ve just finished Richard Dawkins’ bestselling anti-religious The God Delusion. Entertaining for sure but in a sort of indulgent way since I pretty much found its premises about as hard to swallow as Italian ice cream on a sunny day. Having one’s own views intelligently and conveniently confirmed – hasn’t that sort of become the domain of podcasts these days?
Anyway, one interesting feature was the rhetorical effect of Dawkins’ outright anger. An example:

“I have described atonement, the central doctrine of Christianity, as vicious, sado-masochistic and repellent. We should also dismiss it as barking mad, but for its ubiquitous familiarity, which has dulled our objectivity.” (p253)

It is one of Dawkins’ points, of course, that religion deserves no particular respect and that its claims and concepts should be treated as critically as all other types of claims and concepts. Nevertheless, there is obviously spite here and while it can read as honesty it can also read as personal vendetta and thus, perhaps, seem dismissable out of hand to some. Anyway, it illustrates the interesting and complex rhetorical features of anger.

All in all, I recommend the book, but earlier work by Dawkins is more essential if you haven’t been there already.

BTW, the New York Times was somewhat sceptical while The Guardian‘s reviewer had a better time.

Guess the source

A tiny quiz: Where do you think the following snippet originated?:

“Uncertainty is becoming a basic condition, a human, existential condition that we cannot run nor escape from… We must participate in a discourse on the premises of uncertainty and examine and seek out meaning and options in dialogue and relation to others, in order to find a solution to the, in this time, complex issues.”

No, I’m sorry, you were wrong. This is an excerpt from a newsletter from my daughter‘s kindergarten.
Be honest with me, would you say it’s time to panic?

Fear of reptiles

Billede039, originally uploaded by Agent Smith.

You can’t really tell from the picture, but you must believe me. In this very moment there is an angry green robot dinosaur clawing at my office door and roaring ominously. That’s when you just know that it’s Wednesday. (If you don’t believe me, drop by and check it out).