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Archive for April, 2009

9.

Tantalus was like a second father to Basileus. Iadmon was often away on something or other and the boy always looked to Tantalus for guidance. Once he asked Tantalus of what stuff his spirit was made of. He said his tutor swore by it whereas he could not make head or tail of it. Tantalus knew the boy of 14 was serious. He explained spirit as something similar to heat that accompanied the lighting of the oil lamp. “The life of man burns and the light which we see from his actions would generate heat. The City of Athens is a city of lights, fame of which is supplied by so many men and women. It is the spirit of the city which gives heat in such intensity much more than, say in a small town.” Basileus thought over it and said, “It is the spirit of the times which is the key.” “No, spirit of man is the key,” Tantalus said with a smile, ”If it were not for that how we can judge the quality of any age?” Spirit of man gives his age and place its special flavor. What moves Sparta with their Spartan way of life would leave an Athenian cold.

10.

Man is a physical and moral being.

Aesop sought his mentor out often in order to clear many of his doubts. One day Hesiod narrated story of a sage who wanted to revive one at the point of death. He sent the monkey-god to fetch a certain herb from a mountain. The time was short so the monkey-god brought the whole mountain to the physician-sage so he could choose the exact herb himself. “It is the task of each to find Truth and not leave it for others.” Aesop agreed with his mentor that Truth was for all occasions. Truth applied to both body and spirit. “The body must be true to Truth: actions give it the correct volume and shape. It has that seal of truth: thereby he is seen as human to all. He also ensures his growth by referring to Truth.” (Ch.2 His Baggage-page 45-46)

benny

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Soul as I mentioned in the earlier posts has its own language; so has our rational mind. Soul of man is a finite representation of something otherworldly. Thus we have two components :body and soul. Both work often at contrary purposes.
Let us take the life of Patriarch Abraham. He was seventy five when the Lord God promised him a nation (Gen 12:2). In the land of Sichem, a Canaanite land God appeared to him in a vision. ‘Unto thy seed will I give this land.’ It is Soul that sets up visions that to a believing heart shall have a great impact. Moses sees the burning bush and what does he do? He removes his sandals in obedience to the vision of God.  Similarly the day of Pentecost prompts Ananias and Sapphira. Soul’s prompting must have been sufficiently strong for them to sell their possession as so many others. But did they follow it through?
Others brought the proceeds from the sale to the common fund. Cold logic however prompted Ananias and his wife to reconsider. ‘If they gave away all their wealth on what shall they live on? (Ac 4:32, 5:1-3) Here we see how differently soul and body exert their pull on man?
Coming back to Patriarch Abraham could not in his worldly wisdom believe Sarai could bear children. He chose to go into Hagar and she bore Ishmael as a result of the union. Since then Ishmael’s seed posed an ever present threat,- and still is, to the children of Israel. We see how sometimes our intellect can trip us up.
Spirit is what settles a man to walk the line after he had believed the Soul’s prompting. Spirit is part of the equation where each and everyone who takes the name of the Lord may live a fruitful life. (2 Pe.1:3-8)
St. Peter begins the second epistle with the idea of divine power, which is a two- fold impact of soul and spirit on a body that is imperfect. We wear our corruptible bodies and yet we are slowly undergoing a certain process that can only be called divine. Since God has begun this change in us we may say godliness begins even in our very imperfections. Only that we are subject to a higher authority while we go through the motions of living on this side of paradise.
Tailpiece: For a Christian the scriptures is the work of Holy Spirit (2 Pe 1:21) Even so how a Christian can be settled in a life of godliness is a slow process. Spirit has much to do since it is a spirit of belief, of knowledge and so on.
benny

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the-rhine

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THEODOSIUS DOBZHANSKY (1900 – 1975)

Geneticist.

This Russian scientist came to the U.S. as a student and chose to remain there when the spurious environmental doctrines of Lysanko became the communist dogma under the Stalin’s regime. He began his research on the fruit fly ‘Drosophila’ but soon became interested in the evolution of human populations. This led him to a study of race and later to the attempt ‘to understand mankind as a product of evolution and as an evolving whole’. In 1959 he was invited to deliver the Silliman lectures at the Columbia University, which formed the basis of ‘Mankind Evolving’. He stressed that the most important point of Darwin’s evolutionary theory had been missed – man not only has evolved but is still evolving. He argued that man, by changing the world, changed also himself both culturally and physically. He saw in this the hope that changes resulting from knowledge could also be directed by knowledge. ‘Evolution need no longer be a destiny imposed from without. It may concievably be controlled by man’. He is best known for works such as Genetic diversity and Human Equality and Heredity and the Nature of Man. His ‘Mankind Evolving’ has been dubbed the most judicious scientific treatis ever written on the nature of man.

compiler:benny

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DISRAELI BENJAMIN DISRAELI, 1ST EARL OF BEACONSFIELD (British) (1804 – 1881)

Statesman.

Statesman and novelist, twice British Prime Minister (1868, 1874-’80) he was one of the most extraordinary figures to reach the pinnacle of British politics. He was of Italian Jewish descent, born on December 21, 1804 in London. Son of a bookish and scholarly man whose ‘Curiosities of Literature’ had attracted some notices in his time. As a result of his father’s quarrel with the synagogue, he was baptised as a christian(1817) but for which curious accident his career would not have taken the form as it did. After some failures in his pursuit of political opportunity he was returned to parliament (1837) as a Conservative Member for Maidstone in Kent. In 1848 he acquired a claim to the leadership of the opposition in the House of Commons after being elected to parliament as member for the county of Buckinghamshire in 1847. He served as a Chancellor of Exchequer for a period in 1852 and again in 1858 and 1865. He was responsible for the Reform Bill which gave household suffrage in the boroughs and extended the county franchise. Disraeli became Prime Minister in 1868, but when the autumn elections was won by the Liberals he resigned. Gladstone, his political rival succeeded him. His second period as Prime Minister was 1874-1880. It was during his second term that he gave a full scope for his concept of empire. Fiji was annexed in 1874. He bought Britain a major share in the Suez Canal, in 1875 and the next year he proclaimed Queen Victoria, the Empress of India,(‘India the greatest jewel in the Imperial diadem’); Transvaal was annexed in 1877 and annexed Cyprus. Britain penetrated into Zululand and Afghanistan in 1879. Gladstone accused Disraeli ‘of suffering a misguided ambition for territorial aggrandisement’ He established the Conservative Party as a political force upholding monarchy, the Anglican Church and the Empire. In 1876 he accepted a peerage taking the title of Earl of Beaconsfield. Disraeli was the author of several novels (mainly political and satire).

compiler:benny

for anecdotes check out my earlier posts.b

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Whether our absolute position would establish our souls in heavenly places or we carry them within our beings is a matter that is to be spiritually discerned. Arguing over what is unknowable is waste of time. Let every one decide what his or her soul has to say over this. Given my life’s color drawn from nature and nurture (whether by chance or by design) I believe Holy Spirit is the author of the Scriptures.  Soul of a Christian then is strengthened by spiritual food as my body need its daily calories. My soul is secure even as this body is showing signs of wear and tear. Naturally. What is earthy must leave its footprints on the Earth and what is incorruptible must live on. This spiritual life is a parallel world of which being born again is where we have submitted ourselves to a higher Truth than what we may know by our intellect. It is our hope. Like an anchor it shall hold on no matter how we may negotiate on this side of heaven.
St. Pauls epistle seems to say that we occupy the absolute position by faith.
(God) even when we were dead in sins…hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”(Eph 2:4-6)
benny

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CLAUDE DEBUSSY (French) (1862 – 1918).

Composer.

The most original voice in 20th Century music, Claude Debussy was trained at the ‘Paris Conservatoire’, won its conveted ‘Premier Grand Prix de Rome’, but soon displeasing the jury by the modernity of his work, went on his own to extent the language of music. His ‘Prélude’ (1894)affected directly or indirectly all music written after it, just as his only completed opera ‘Pelleas et Melisande’ (1902) proved a landmark in operatic working. Such scores as the ‘Nocturnes’, ‘La Mer’, the ‘Images’ and ‘Jeux’ evoke scenes in colour as surely as the impressionist canvasses of which they are the musical counterpart. He also enriched the literature of song and music for the piano, his own instrument. Three chamber sonatas written towards the end of his life, show extreme refinement and new directions, which his death from cancer prevented him from exploring further. Debussy’s music, unlike that of his perscursors, embraces the archaic and the oriental, monody and nascent harmonies, being used empirically in sequences or as parts of colour. His orchestral textures are concieved in terms of timbre or instrumental colour, so that this is felt to be as important an element as the pitch, density and rhythmic progress of the music. In this his influence on the music of our time has been paramount.

In retro: what is the price of originality? Debussy’s Pelleas et Melisande is rarely played. If music is on everybody’s lips and  is fashionable it becomes the ringtone of your mobile or the springboard for an advertising jingle.

compiler:benny

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In an earlier post ‘Don’t knock on my ideals of Sept.17 I wrote thus: ‘The absolute position each of us occupies is about Truth. It is in Time and Space while we have our being on the Earth in time and space.

Soul is thus in context of Truth. Is Soul within my being or is located free from all taint in the absolute position? Whatever I say could only be a conjecture. The truth of the matter is we have fallen short of the ideal and as finite beings are subject to corruption. Our sojourn on this earth therefore is a relative position. We are on this side of heaven.

benny

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Soul is the essence of an individual straddling the Hereafter and Now. St. John the Divine exiled to the isle of Patmos witnessed a series of visions. These visions were entirely of a different kind than that of Nostradamus. Secular or religious visions spring from an individual and what sets them off is soul. What would that mean? Even the most sublime visions that a man ever gets to see is set on this side of heaven and it is meant only for man and is clothed in the human language. Naturally the symbols used are common to mankind for pagan and godly alike. Since the soul is the magic lantern and and it touches Hereafter and Now there shall be elements that are discerned spiritually. As a result how the Soul  flashes the images is not straight forward. Prophesies of Nostradamus has been stretched to include as diverse personages as Kennedy, Hitler etc., The number 666 of the Antichrist similarly is made to fit Nero, Napoleon or some other.In short images flashed by the soul hold significance that you may interpret as you will. If you use them for good you have done well or if you have distorted them for selfish gains you do so at your peril.
2.
Soul of man connects
The writing on the wall judged King Belzhassar but its meaning escaped the king for whom it was intended. But Daniel could interpret its meaning. Earlier the seer had explained the significance of the dream which Nebuchadnezzar his father had seen.
From these we can understand the Soul is source of visions that speaks Truth in a special language. Infirmity of man is such that Truth cannot be handled by all. ‘What is Truth?’ Pontius Pilate asked and remained as ignorant as he was before.  Like the Ethiopian eunuch who asked Philip one might ask,’How can I except some man should guide me?’  The Scriptures is one source where Truth that one seeks will be found.  The soul of Stephen came to the aid of the Ethiopian official and  Daniel was on hand to help the king.
From the Emmaus experience it is clear where soul opens our understanding we shall see Truth as it is. But do you possess it? You may be set by such an experience into the ways of righteousness but possessing it is a matter that will be settled hereafter.
benny

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Metropolis is a science fiction film based on a screenplay written in 1924 by Fritz Lang and his then wife, Thea von Harbou. She made it into a novel in 1926. This work by Fritz Lang was produced in Germany in the Babelsberg Studios at a time before the economic and political chaos could engulf the Weimar Republic. It was the most expensive silent film of the time, costing approximately 7 million Reichsmark (equivalent to around $28 million USD in 2007).

The film is set in a future and a corporate city-state, the metropolis is the stage for examing an idea that was hot in the 20’s: the social crisis between workers and owners in capitalism. The film had a checkered history, the original and longest version was briefly screened in Germany in 1927 of which a quarter of the footage was believed to be permanently lost. But later this portion resurfaced in a film museum in Argentina! There is an American version, which is a fraction of the original and it is what often referred to and discussed.

Plot

The film is set in the year 2026, and the city state, the metropolis of the title is run by Johann ‘Joh’ Fredersen (Alfred Abel).
Society has been divided into two rigid groups: one of planners or thinkers, who live high above the earth in luxury, and another of workers who live underground toiling to sustain the lives of the privileged.
The beautiful but a firebrand for the workers, Maria (Brigitte Helm) advises the desperate workers not to start a revolution, and instead wait for the arrival of “The Mediator”, who, she says, will unite the two halves of society. Meanwhile the son of Fredersen, Freder (Gustav Fröhlich), becomes infatuated with Maria, and follows her down into the working underworld and realizes firsthand the situation. ( After an explosion at the “M-Machine”, the employers are more concerned with keeping the machine than attending to the safety of the wounded. They bring in replacements.) Disgusted Freder joins her cause.

While the love is nascent in such lower depths above it is business as usual. Johann has  a rival in Rotwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge). Rotwang has built a robotic gynoid. Rotwang wants to give the robot the appearance of Hel but Johann requests him to give the robot the appearance of Maria instead. His aim is to hold his control over the workers using Maria as a robot while Rotwang who lost his sweetheart to Johann knowsshe died giving birth to Freder. He has his own plans to separate Maria from Johann. So he consents to the request of Johann.
After unleashing the real and the robot things really hot up in Metropolis.
The robot is passed for an exotic dancer and she proves to be a  a hit with the well heeled Yoshiwara crowd. Meanwhile the real Maria is held a prisoner at the castle of Rotwang. The robot descents to the underworld and create confusion: workers mistake Maria as the cause for the havoc set off by robot Maria in the wake of destruction of “Heart Machine”, the power station of the city. Nor they can understand it was the real Maria and Federer who saved them in a heroic rescue.

When the workers realize the damage the uppercrust have done and that their children are lost, they under the leadership of Grot, the foreman go up to seek revenge. They chase the human Maria, whom they hold responsible for their loss. As they break into the city’s entertainment district, they run into and capture the robot Maria, while the human Maria manages to escape. The workers burn the captured Maria at the stake; Freder, believing this to be the human Maria, despairs but then he and the workers realize that the burned Maria is in fact a robot.

Meanwhile, the human Maria is chased by Rotwang along the battlements of the city’s cathedral. Freder chases after Rotwang, resulting in a climactic scene in which Joh Fredersen watches in terror as his son struggles with Rotwang on the cathedral’s roof. Rotwang falls to his death, and Maria and Freder return to the street, where Freder unites Fredersen (the “head”) and Grot (the “hands”), fulfilling his role as the “Mediator” (the “heart”).

Cast

* Alfred Abel as Joh Fredersen
* Gustav Fröhlich as Freder, Joh Fredersen’s son
* Rudolf Klein-Rogge as Rotwang
* Fritz Rasp as the Thin Man
* Theodor Loos as Josaphat
* Erwin Biswanger as Worker 11811 / Georgi
* Heinrich George as Grot, Foreman of the Heart Machine
* Brigitte Helm as Maria/robot
Architecture and visual effects was a novelty then and the set design still impress modern audiences with their visual impact—the film contains cinematic and thematic links to German Expressionism, is based on contemporary Modernism and Art Deco.  It stands as an emblem associated with the ruling class in the film.

Rotwang’s Art Deco laboratory with its lights and industrial machinery similary add to the cult status of the film. In science fiction, this style is sometimes called Raygun Gothic.

The effects expert, Eugen Schüfftan, created innovative visual displays widely acclaimed in following years. Among the effects used are miniatures of the city, a camera on a swing, and most notably, the so-called Schüfftan process, later used by Alfred Hitchcock in his film Blackmail (1929).

The Maschinenmensch, the robot character played by Brigitte Helm, was created by Walter Schultze-Mittendorf. A chance discovery of a sample of “plastic wood” (a pliable substance designed as wood-filler) allowed him to sculpt the costume like a suit of armour over a plaster cast of the actress. Spraypainted a mix of silver and bronze, it helped create some of the most memorable moments on film.
Themes
Dualism is a running theme. Maria as the worker’s guiding spirit while she is replicated as a robot to undo her effect on workers who themselves show dichotomy of workers conscious of the disparity between the classes and who toil as automata (the viwer cannot see their faces, and they work and move as rhythmically as the machines they operate.) Rotwang, the ‘mad scientist’ is another whose mad genius and hatred is in context of Johann whose selfishness is however tempered by his fatherly concern.
The film has drawn heavily from the story of the Tower of Babel (from the book of Genesis). One may envision a grandiose monument to the greatness of humanity but would need labor of millions whose requirements are different from those who think up the skyscrapers high enough to reach the stars. The camera focuses on armies of workers led to the construction site of the monument. They work hard but cannot understand the dreams of the Tower’s designers, and the designers don’t concern themselves with the mind of their workers. As the film explains, “The dreams of a few had turned to the curses of many”.
Irony of the class war jells with the tragedy of the Biblical  Tower: the planners and the workers spoke the same language but didn’t understand each other. As the scene ends and the camera show us that only ruins remain of the Tower of Babel. This retelling is notable in keeping the theme of the lack of communication from the original story but placing it in the context of relations between social classes.

The entire film is dominated by technology: much of the technology portrayed in the film is unexplained and appears bizarre, for example the enormous “M-Machine” and the “Heart Machine.” Lang obviously could only work with technology of the 20’s and much of it to our sophisticated level seem mere curiosities of an outmoded era.’ The ultimate expression of technology in the entire film is the female robot built by Rotwang, referred to as the Maschinenmensch (“Machine Human” or “Machine Man”). In the original German version Rotwang’s creation is a reconstruction of his dead lover, a woman called Hel…’(wikipedia)
Lang, in his later years did claim his visit to New York in 1924 inspired Metropolis.

Release
On January 10, 1927, a 210 minute version of the film premiered in Berlin with moderate success…After sound films came in in late 1927, theatre managers saw to it that the film was shown using a sound film projector at the standard sound film speed of up to 26 frames per second (as at its Berlin premiere). This affected the rhythm and pace of the original film, which had been made to be shown at the standard silent film speed of 16 frames per second…
American and foreign theatre managers were generally unwilling to allow more than ninety minutes to a feature in their program Few people outside of Berlin saw Metropolis as Fritz Lang originally intended. In the United States, the movie was shown in a version edited by the American playwright Channing Pollock, who almost completely obscured the original plot.’-wikipedia

Despite the film’s later reputation, some contemporary critics panned it. The New York Times critic Mourdant Hall called it a “technical marvel with feet of clay”. H. G. Wells thought it was foolish to think that automation created drudgery rather than relieving it, and found parts of the story derivative of Shelley’s Frankenstein, Karel Čapek’s robot stories, and his own The Sleeper Awakes.

Joseph Goebbels was impressed however and clearly took the film’s message to heart. In a speech of 1928 he noted: “The political bourgeoisie is about to leave the stage of history. In its place advance the oppressed producers of the head and hand, the forces of Labour, to begin their historical mission”.

Fritz Lang himself expressed dissatisfaction with the film. Lang’s distaste for his own film perhaps stemmed from personal reasons. While his wife embraced the cause of Nazism passionately (Von Harbou became a passionate member of the Nazi Party in 1933) he fled from Germany and he and his wife were divorced in 1934.

Restorations and re-releases

Enno Patalas made an exhaustive attempt to restore the movie in 1986. This restoration was the most accurate for its time, thanks to the script and the musical score that had been discovered. The basis of Patalas’ work was a copy in the Museum of Modern Art’s collection.
The F.W. Murnau Foundation (which now owns the film’s copyright) and Kino International (now the film’s domestic distributor) released a 118-minute, digitally restored version in 2002, undertaken by Martin Koerber. It included the original music score and title cards describing the action in the missing sequences.

Music
The music was composed by Gottfried Huppertz who had composed the original scores for Lang’s Die Nibelungen films in 1924. As for this film, Huppertz composed a leitmotific orchestral score which included many elements from the music of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss plus some additional score for the city of the workers and the use of the popular Dies Irae for some apocalyptic imagery. His music played a quite prominent role while shooting the picture, since during principal photography, many scenes were accompanied by him playing the piano to get a certain effect from the actors.

Cultural influences
Shots from the film are extensively featured in the video for Queen (band)’s 1984 song Radio Ga Ga.

The visual design for Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner was influenced by Metropolis. These include a built up urban environment, in which the wealthy literally live above the workers, dominated by a huge building. Compare the New Tower of Babel in Metropolis with the Tyrell Building in Blade Runner.

check out for more German films cinebuff.wordpress.com
compiler:benny

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