27february2017

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it must be said: George Eliot is a god. i’ve never read anything like the final three hundred pages of Middlemarch: blistering and relentless, heartstoppingly so. the first five hundred pages are also very okay, to be sure. there is good characterization and definitely we are all devoted to Dorothea, we understand what she was thinking, and we forgive her. it is also amusing to remember that modern medicine is barbaric AF and that as late as the mid 1800s doctors were lower middle class. just to say, what a book.

now i’m onto My Struggle, the norwegian ‘autobiographical novel’ (a new genre designed for alternative facts?). so far it is a bit meandering and falls rather shy of the “global phenomenon” advertised on the back cover.

finally, the academy awards. with the twitter wars waging i was tempted to wade in. (and i very well might have if not for my excuses). my angle wouldn’t be to side with La La Land (which i didn’t see) or with Moonlight (which i didn’t like); it would be to support secret option #3: the notion that the oscars are destructive to independent cinema because the movies that win inform the kind of movies that are financed into the future. the result is a kind of circular groupthink that narrows and homogenizes the imagination of filmmakers, of film funders, and of film viewers. on and on until someone—say Behn Zeitlan or Ava DuVernay—comes along with a movie that doesn’t fit the mold, which we all find refreshing and original, and which then becomes the new mold after which everything else is made. on and on.

cinema should not be like the NFL, where an objective winner is crowned at the end of the season because it objectively beat all the other teams at a specific rules-based game. with the oscars, winners (even nominees) are determined by degrees of subjectivity yet the rewards for winning (or being nominated) are decidedly objective. the conclusion, for me at least, is that there is something profoundly, unsettlingly, and maliciously not right about the academy awards.

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