The Perfect Candidate II

So, there it goes. The job apps have been mailed. Yeah, did you notice the plural? Me too. Last we talked on this subject, I was only going to be applying at UofMyDreams. However, once my advisor came back from his summer sojourn, he suddenly had some newfound interest in my career and proceeded to harangue me (almost daily) on my lackadaisical approach to academics [can you tell from this post that I have been writing letters of applications?]. So, I ended up sending applications to half a dozen places. That, there even exist half a dozen positions for South Asian Islamic historians is mind boggling. I, actually, kept out of the Billings, Montana race. Nothing against Montana, I swear, I am just a city guy.

Over the past month, I have been busting my ass trying to get these things out of the door. It is HARD to sell yourself. At least, it is for me – maybe, that is why I blog pseudonymously. I have to tell the dour search-wallas that I am brilliant and exciting and all that. But, I just like reading really old books and wondering what they meant to their intended audience, and what they mean now. That ain’t sexy. An editor proof reading my letter pointed out that I did not use one catch phrase (postcolonial, subaltern etc.) and wondered if that is a good thing. I really, honestly, do not know.

Let’s see what happens. I will, uh, keep you all posted.

2046 II

Last night we watched the Cannes version of 2046. DMan, as always, was the one who made the viewing possible. I have mentioned earlier how insanely psyched I am to see this movie.

2046 essentially takes place over the course of two and a half years in the late 60s. It does travel back in time to the early 60s and the events after In the Mood for Love. And there is the future stuff. But, we will come to that later.

While ITMFL centered on Maggie Cheung, 2046 is about Tonny Leung. While ITMFL was a microscopic examination of the moment when the lives of two people intersect, 2046 is akin to a cosmic view of the many women that Tony beds. While ITMFL was almost an ascetic koan, 2046 is a baudy ballad.

Love is all a matter of timing. It’s no good meeting the right person…too soon or too late. If I’d lived in another time or place…my story might have had a very different ending

That right there is the movie. Love and Time. Tony loved Maggie but she didn’t love him back. Zhang Ziyi loves Tony but he doesn’t love her back. Tony loves someone who reminds him of Maggie but she knows that Tony loves someone whom she resembles (even has the same name). Tony loves someone who loves someone else. Love, it seems, is the avenging angel of fate bent on ripping your heart to shreds for no apparent reason. Time cycles back on itself so you stay in a loop of heartache, living and reliving your pasts – in your futures. DEEEEEPRESSING.

And a bit lazy on the part of WKW. The editing is sloppy and lots of characters muddle in and out of the script aimlessly. The cinematography is as brilliant as I hoped. The print we watched had no real color but the shot composition was classic WKW with some particular ones of breathtaking sadness.

The majority view after the movie ended was that this was not the sequel we were waiting for – actually, most didn’t like the movie at all. I reserve my judgement until I see the theatrical version. WKW supposedly has made immense changes in the editing room. I really wanted to adore this movie but I am only in the “hmmm” mode. The strength of WKW has always been in uniting varied threads in his different movies. 2046, the self-declared sequel, seems curiously disjointed from anything before. Whether it is the fractured narrative, the despondent heartlessness of Tony Leung or the portions set in the future, I don’t know. I did not get into the movie until the second half – though that is indeed quite powerful. And another wrinkle, as DMan pointed out, is that the Tony portrayed in the first half – doesn’t ring true. He is hyper-sexual and aggresive. Neither qualities were evident in ITMFL. So what gives WKW? Because, again, in the second half we are back to the Tony we had – a sad silent martyr to love. Is it rebound portrayed rather naively? And why so much emphasis on his sexual conquests? hmmm…Is this some autobiographical detail from WKW? I really don’t know.

One last thing. Zhang Ziyi is a revelation. I had no clue she could act. I was tired of her petulant warrior schtick almost from CTHD. But, she steals this movie from everyone else. Amazing. Oh, about that future stuff, it adds nothing to the movie, WKW should just take it out.

De Maat is Vol III

News today that Pakistan has banned the Nov. 22 issue of Newsweek. The cause is an article imaginatively titled, “Clash of Civilization” [btw, can we put a moratarium on the use of that phrase in weeklies and dailies for, like, a year?]. The article is standard enough coverage of Theo Van Gogh’s murder and the aftermath in the Netherlands but the Pakistani govt. is mad about the picture accompanying the article depicting the Qur’an written on the woman’s torso.

The BBC report said that most issues are already sold out. I would keep my eye on this and see how the mullahs run with it. From my childhood memories, the Satanic Verses brouHAHA did not erupt until the urdu press (Takbeer especially) got hold of western reports. No one ever read the damn book.

The banning seems to be a pre-emptive strike by The General to prevent the floundering MMA from any ammo against him since the MMA has already announced major public protests.

Have a nice weekend, gentle readers.

T Day

I told my mother that I was going to Ohio for Thanksgiving and I hear an exasperated, yeh, kiya roz tum nai tehwaar banatay ho?. So, to convince me mum that I did not make up Thanksgiving and that it does exist even though no one outside of N. America cares:

There is very little on the net about Thanksgiving that is not geared towards 12 years old. Goes to the whole construction of social memory thing that I get giddy about. Anyways, this holiday was proclaimed right after American independence by the Congress in 1782:

… the success of the arms of the United States, and those of their Allies, and the acknowledgment of their independence by another European power, whose friendship and commerce must be of great and lasting advantage to these States:—– Do hereby recommend to the inhabitants of these States in general, to observe, and request the several States to interpose their authority in appointing and commanding the observation of THURSDAY the twenty-eight day of NOVEMBER next, as a day of solemn THANKSGIVING to GOD for all his mercies: and they do further recommend to all ranks, to testify to their gratitude to GOD for his goodness, by a cheerful obedience of his laws, and by promoting, each in his station, and by his influence, the practice of true and undefiled religion, which is the great foundation of public prosperity and national happiness.

This didn’t quite catch on (with Jefferson grumbling about separation of church and state). Around the late 1840s, Sarah Hale – the Oprah of 19th c – started to petition and lobby for the national observance of Thanksgiving. She got the ball rolling and by the end of 19th century, we had a national holiday. One cool tradition in the late 19th c. was the telling of stories about the years past at Thanksgiving – which emerged as the pseudo-mythic puritan/native feast of the Thanksgiving story – taught in schools around the nation. And then Macy’s took over.

This holiday is all about giving thanks for loved ones and family and hiding the dread on meeting said family. It is not insanely commercial as Xma$ – which makes it lovely in my immigrant view. It is also about eating turkeys. Why turkey? Blame the Dickens.

I recommend the Library of Congress’ collection of texts on Thanksgiving. Esp. this “Uncle Sam’s” thanksgiving dinner from 1877-8. I also recommend Pieces of April. Taking in conjunction, the two can give a nice undergrad paper on memory in America.

ps: as usual, Sharon has a treasure trove of links. How does she do that?