Posts Tagged ‘language’

The film Arrival asks: If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?

March 12, 2017

The main question posed in the 2016 sci fi film Arrival is, If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?

Arrival (2106)

When mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) recruits Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a renowned linguist, and Dr. Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), a theoretical physicist, to try and communicate with the Aliens and find out why they have landed on Earth. Dr. Banks races against time to decipher their intent. As tensions mount between fearful governments, she discovers the Aliens’ true purpose and, to avert global war, takes a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity. This mesmerizing masterpiece has a mind-blowing ending that will leave you wondering what happened and how.

That’s the external story, but the essential message of this movie is more internal. It’s about love, determinism and choice.

Based on the award-winning science fiction novella, Story of Your Life, by Ted Chiang, it was convincingly transformed into a screenplay by Eric Heisserrer. Having read the book and been moved by it, director Denis Villeneuve wondered how it could be turned into a science fiction film, a genre he had been thinking about for years. When he received the script he decided he finally had to make this film, but with Amy Adams in the lead as Dr. Louise Banks. Even though she was taking a break from filmmaking, after reading the script, she was in. Everyone involved with making the film read the book and loved the story.

In the opening scenes we learn that Professor Louise Banks is losing her daughter Hannah to a rare disease. As a child, Hannah asks her mother how she chose her name. Louise tells her she has a special name, because it is a palindrome. It’s spelled and read the same way, forwards and backwards.

This is a clue that may help you make sense of certain events in the film that appear as flashbacks. Or are they flashforwards? Yet, in retrospect, it’s not the beginnings and endings that are important to Louise, but how she lived her life, the choice she made to love, regardless of the outcome.

Watching this movie was a right-brain experience; it’s non-linear. Dr. Banks goes through changes as she learns the Alien language. Their images communicate ideas in circles without reference to tense or time. Comprehending their language transforms Louise’s brain. She begins to experience the events in her life from a less sequential, more holistic perspective.

This is reality parsed and put together from a female perspective. She is the only one who can save the situation when she finally understands why the Aliens are here. The other challenge now is communicating it to a male-dominated world intent on destroying itself. This Chinese quote is another important clue: “In war there are now winners, only widows.”

Towards the end of the film, having collaborated with and seen how brilliant, brave, and compassionate Louise has been throughout their encounter with the Aliens, and the Army, Ian realizes he’s fallen in love with her. As much as he was amazed by his encounters with the Aliens, his “greatest surprise” he tells her, “is you.”

To love is human. It takes us out of our time, because Love Is Eternal. It always Is. We participate in It. If we are lucky enough. I wrote this as a comment to my son who purchased the film and sent me the link. I couldn’t help turning it into a tanka.

After watching “Arrival” (2016)

To love is human
It takes us out of our time
Love Is Eternal

We participate in It
If we are lucky enough

© Ken Chawkin
Mon Apr 6, 2017
Fairfield, Iowa

You should see this film twice to better understand and appreciate it. Below is the trailer, followed by the Featurette on the DVD Extras.

This DVD Featurette gives you a perspective of what went into the making of the film: Arrival (2016) | Behind the Scenes | Understanding Arrival | Full Extras | Full HD.

Better to see the film first before seeing these explanations. Nick Statt wrote a great article for The Verge on living with the power of choice: How the short story that inspired Arrival helps us interpret the film’s major twist. ScreenPrism offers an intelligent explanation of the ending of this film. And ChewingSand shares good insights in this video: Why ARRIVAL is Great Sci-Fi. There are more explanations on YouTube.

See a fun, informative post-screening SAG-AFTRA Foundation interview: Conversations with Amy Adams and Denis Villeneuve of ARRIVAL.

Links to the beautiful Arrival Soundtrack – On The Nature Of Daylight by Max Richter and Jóhann Jóhannsson – Heptapod B [From “Arrival” Soundtrack / Pseudo Video].

Wikipedia gives a comprehensive review/explanation of the film, which might include some spoilers if you haven’t already seen it yet.

Also see these favorite romantic films of mine. They reveal the transformational power of love over time.

Billy Collins discusses the value of getting to the end of a poem and what can happen afterwards

April 2, 2015

As we’ve seen in an recent post about the writing and teaching of poetry, Billy Collins wants the poem he’s writing to complete itself, to come to an end. When he writes a poem, he says meaning is the furthest thing on his mind. He’s just trying to get to the next line, to arrive at the ending. “It’s not a search for insight, particularly. It’s a search to be over with.”

In this interview with Ginger Murchison at the 9th Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival, Billy Collins reveals more about the ending of a poem, how what happens is even more important than the last line of the poem.

During the interview, Ginger Murchison mentions something Billy Collins had alluded to about the end of a poem, and asks him:

What happens at the end of the poem? I want to know about that white space after the last period, for the poet and the reader. You said your poem goes towards somewhere. How do you see that as being more important than even the last line of the poem, that space at the end?

He answers her by describing the significance of the white space:

Well, the white space at the end is just like the white space around the rest of the poem. It stands for silence. And maybe the white space after the end of the poem is a little more silent than the other silences. I think of a poem as an interruption of silence.

He also talks about how satisfying it can be to find the ending to a poem. The implication being, the silence that follows the ending as something new that is created within the writer and the reader.

Once you find it, it’s incredibly satisfying. You found something that didn’t exist before. That the poem brings, calls into existence, through a series of steps, it gains some kind of ground, and out of that ground, there occurs something that had never existed before. It comes as a sort of gain, surprise.

I certainly can relate to that, and described in the previous post how certain poems completed themselves in ways I hadn’t imagined. When that happens, and when a poem enlivens a silence, within and between both the poet and the reader, or listener, it creates a deep feeling of fulfillment.

After hearing a discussion with Bill Moyers and 3 well-known poets on the Diane Rehm show discussing the creation of a poem and the effect it had on an audience when recited, I was inspired to write a poem about this mysterious creative process as something elemental, transcendental.

Poetry—The Art of The Voice, describes the source, course, and goal of poetry springing from and returning to silence, through a poet’s inner voice or consciousness, to a listener’s heart and mind. It also relates to the notion of a writer finding and expressing his or her own voice as a poet.

Another poem I wrote shows how Silence ultimately speaks for itself. See Telling the Story of Silence by Ken Chawkin.

Creation comes about through sounds and silences, expressions and gaps, within which the dynamics of transformation occur. See Coalescing Poetry: Creating a Uni-verse.

For a more detailed explanation of these dynamics in language and creation, see Singing Image of Fire, a poem by Kukai, with thoughts on language, translation, and creation, and Yunus Emre says Wisdom comes from Knowing Oneself — a Singularity that contains the Whole.

George Plimpton interviewed Billy Collins for Paris Review

As referenced by Ginger Murchison, George Plimpton had interviewed Billy Collins for The Paris Review in 2001 after news of his appointment as the new poet laureate by the Library of Congress. He would go on to serve two terms, 2001-2003. Although published 14 years ago, this interview is definitely worth reading:  Billy Collins, The Art of Poetry No. 83.

The interview opens with Plimpton asking Collins how he starts to write a poem. He says he doesn’t write that regularly, much of his time is waiting and watching; he’s vigilant. But when he’s engaged he usually writes a poem quickly, in one sitting.

I think what gets a poem going is an initiating line. Sometimes a first line will occur, and it goes nowhere; but other times—and this, I think, is a sense you develop—I can tell that the line wants to continue. If it does, I can feel a sense of momentum—the poem finds a reason for continuing. The first line is the DNA of the poem; the rest of the poem is constructed out of that first line. The first few lines keep giving birth to more and more lines.

That makes perfect sense. He doesn’t know where he’s going and hopes the poem is one step ahead of him, holding his interest, leading him down the trail to that elusive mysterious ending. I love the different metaphors he uses to describe the pen as a tool to help him discover that something he’s not yet aware of.

Like most poets, I don’t know where I’m going. The pen is an instrument of discovery rather than just a recording implement. If you write a letter of resignation or something with an agenda, you’re simply using a pen to record what you have thought out. In a poem, the pen is more like a flashlight, a Geiger counter, or one of those metal detectors that people walk around beaches with. You’re trying to discover something that you don’t know exists, maybe something of value.

He explains how he likes to invite the reader into a poem with something ordinary, then take him or her, and himself to a place he hasn’t been to yet.

I want to start in a very familiar place and end up in a strange place. The familiar place is often a comic place, and the strange place is indescribable except by reading the poem again.

There’s a lot more to the interview, but he concludes humbly by saying that he’s just trying to be a good writer.

No matter what I’m thinking about when I’m writing a poem, no matter what is captivating my attention, all I’m really trying to do is write good lines and good stanzas.

There’s a reason he’s called America’s most popular poet. He has made poetry accessible to millions of Americans. He continues to write, publish, sell books, teach, and is in constant demand to give poetry readings.

It is a delight to read his poetry. His subtle sense of humor puts a smile on my face. It’s also enjoyable to hear him recite his poems. Seemingly ordinary, they give you a unique perspective on things that were previously unimaginable, and that’s refreshing!

See the previous post: Billy Collins suggests more creative ways to respond to poetry than analyzing it to death. Enjoy the poetic genius and humor of Billy Collins reading his poem “January in Paris” and Billy Collins humorously disagrees with Heraclitus showing how to go into the same water twice.

Telling the Story of Silence by Ken Chawkin

September 13, 2012

Telling the Story of Silence
Yato vacho nivartante tad dhama-paramam mama*

That Silent place
From where speech returns
Is where Poetry begins

Scrawling across the page
It transforms itself
Into language

Standing up it walks
Straight into your heart
Singing its song

You have to emphasize
The nothingness
For something to be said

It speaks for itself

*From where the speech returns, that is my supreme abode.
Taittriya Upanishad 2.4.1 and Bhagavad-Gita 15.6, 8.21

© Ken Chawkin

This poem, What You May Not Know About Frankenstein, by Bill Graeser, was an inspiration! This poem by my son says it all: INSPIRATION, a poem by Nathanael Chawkin.

Related poems on this theme: Coalescing Poetry: Creating a Universe  Storytelling—a poem on the storytelling process | Poetry—The Art of the Voice | Silence | A Wake-Up Haiku.

Cliffhouse Deck at Dusk, 6th haiku in 13 Ways to Write Haiku: A Poet’s Dozen, brings our attention to a tiny soft sound, making us aware of the ‘loud’ vast silence, a point that enlivens infinity. John Cage would agree.

Just came across this 16-second introduction by John Cage to his composition 4’33” which says the same thing, in his own inimitable way. His literal truth and sense of humor come through.

The material of music is sound and silence.
Integrating these is composing.
I have nothing to say,
and I am saying it.

For the musicians who ‘performed’ the piece, and the audience who listened, the silence was palpable, as you’ll hear from Tommy Pearson’s introduction and concluding comments with Tom Service in this BBC Symphony Orchestra performance of John Cage at the Barbican. Towards the end he quotes Cage as saying, “Everything we do is music.”

You may also enjoy Writers on Writing–What Writing Means To Writers and the links at the end to other posts on writing.

Hollywood Today reports on American Indian Conference

September 20, 2009


American Indian Conference to Focus on Health, Sustainability

September 20, 2009

Stocel+drum

STOLCEL of the WSANEC First Nation performs traditional recitation at international conference in Holland

Leaders of Native Indian tribes from around the US and Canada will gather on the campus of Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, for an international conference September 25-27 entitled “Building Healthy, Sustainable American Indian Communities.”

Conference speakers include Joe A. Garcia, president of the National Congress of American Indians; Robert Cook, president of the National Indian Education Association; Lucille Echohawk, strategic advisor for the Casey Family Programs; and Kevin Skenandore, acting director of the Bureau of Indian Education.

Conference hosts and participants include the Hocak Elders Council, Inc., the Indian Health Services (IHS), the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the National Indian Education Association (NIEA), the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIE), Winnebago Tribal Health Services (WTHS), the Winnebago Treaty Hospital-IHS, and the David Lynch Foundation.

For more information see conference website and video on TM and Diabetes Among Native Americans: http://www.americanindiansustainableconference.org/

See Indian Country Today article, Sustainability quest: http://bit.ly/4vNhWo

Also News From Indian Country article, Indian Country leaders meet in Iowa to explore new approaches to sustainable communities: http://bit.ly/JUOM7

Canadian First Nations participants include STOLCEL [John Elliott], Tekahnawiiaks [Joyce King], and Tim Paul. STOCEL is a cultural and language custodian for his [Saanich] People and speaks extensively on culture and language and history; Tekahnawiiaks [Joyce King] is currently the Director of the Akwesasne Justice Department and is on the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne; and Tim Paul, is Executive Director of the Maliseet Nation Conservation Council of New Brunswick. http://mncc.ca/

STOLCEL will be receiving an honorary Ph.D. from M.U.M. for his lifelong work to revive the mother tongue of the Saanich People, his contribution as Co-Founder of FirstVoices, the world’s first web-based Aboriginal language archive, and for his discovery of the connection between the traditional language of his people and the underlying intelligence of Nature available in the sounds and structure of Veda, which he made in collaboration with M.U.M. founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. [See BACKGROUNDER on STOLCEL]

Tekahnawiiaks [Joyce King] will be speaking twice at the conference: on Education, and on Safeguarding Culture and Language. She lives on the Akwesasne Reserve near Cornwall, Ontario, along the border between Canada and NY State. Her bio is available online: <http://www.tekahnawiiaks.com/bio.html>.

Tim Paul will speak on his own experience with TM and the lowering of his blood sugar levels, as well as his keen interest in the “eco village” model at MUM, and the desire of the Maliseet Nation Conservation Council to incorporate many of the “sustainable technologies” demonstrated there, in his own Maliseet communities throughout New Brunswick.

The conference will showcase Consciousness-Based education, prevention-oriented health care, renewable energy, organic agriculture, and cultural preservation.

Researchers will also present the results of several controlled studies on the effects of the Transcendental Meditation® technique for reducing acute stress and behavioral problems among hundreds of at-risk American Indian youth at the Winnebago (Nebraska), Pine Ridge (South Dakota), and Passamaquoddy (Maine) reservations.

Findings to date show the Transcendental Meditation technique promoted higher scores on standardized state tests of mathematics and reading, 25% less absenteeism, a 20% drop in disciplinary incidents, and 30% higher graduation rates among the meditating young people compared to controls.

“The timing is perfect for this conference because the need is so great among the tribes,” said John Boncheff, who is co-director of the Transcendental Meditation program at the Winnebago reservation. “The Transcendental Meditation technique is not only helping students perform better in school, but it’s also helping both adults and children to overcome the terrible epidemic of diabetes, which strikes up to 80 percent of all American Indians.”

Dr. Boncheff said that it’s also helping American Indians reconnect with their spiritual heritage and traditional culture.

—————————–

BACKGROUNDER

STOLCEL [John Elliott]

(Photos available upon request)

STOCEL is a descendant of the hereditary family of Chiefs of the WSANEC [Saanich] People and lives on the Tsartlip Reserve near Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. He is the Co-Founder of ‘First Voices’, the world’s first web-based Aboriginal language archive. This web-based archive allows predominantly oral tradition languages of any aboriginal nations to be recorded, uploaded, saved, and learned in perpetuity by future generations online, rather than becoming obscure or obsolete when the Elders or fluent speakers pass away. As a result of his initial inspiration, there are now over 60 First Nations archiving their languages online, with 35 of those now publicly available for First Nations’ youth and non-mother tongue speakers to learn their languages: <http://www.firstvoices.com/>.

STOCEL is the Chair of the Subcommittee on Language for the First Nations Education Council for British Columbia, as well as the Chair of the Saanich Native Heritage Society, and is an active member on the Board of Governors of the First People’s Cultural Foundation. He has been teaching, developing curriculum, and preserving aboriginal languages for thirty years.

STOLCEL holds First Nations’ Language Certification from the British Columbia College of Teachers. He has taught in all grades and is now teaching Grades 7-10 in the SAANICH Tribal School as well as SENTOTEN for adults at the University of Victoria.

STOLCEL is being honored with of the degree of Doctor of Natural Law Honoris Causa by Maharishi University of Management for his work to bring out the connection of traditional language and the underlying field of Nature that upholds every culture in peace and progress.

In STOLCEL’s words: “There is never time enough time in the day for all the work that has to be done. Our languages are the key to ancient knowledge. Inside each language is the pattern of how to live in harmony with the earth and all the living things. More today, than ever, this knowledge is needed. Each time another language dies forever, our ancient connections to all life, our knowledge of the plants the animals, the trees and our mother earth is lost.”

Canadian Contact: Christopher Collrin, 506-471-5598, collrin@gmail.com

US Contact: Ken Chawkin, 641-470-1314, kchawkin@mum.edu


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