January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to anyone who still reads the blog -- just reminding you that it does still exist.

Token content: Today I saw Children of Men (capsule, not that good, and like The Good Shepherd which I preferred a movie that's worse because it presents itself as though it's going to be THE GREATEST; there were some very effective things about the scenes in the refugee camp but if you want to see a post-apocalyptic movie with insight into the social dynamics of a refugee camp see Time of the Wolf which really is that great; make sure you get the Michael Haneke movie with Isabelle Huppert and not the Burt Reynolds movie that I found while searching for that IMDb entry and which, I believe, does not involve a refugee camp) and four of the six previews I saw were for movies called "The Something": The Kingdom, The Hitcher, The Shooter, The Invisible, along with Amazing Grace and Breach.

I'm trying to convince myself that Breach really will be the movie about real spying that The Good Shepherd was supposed to be; it's based on a focused but fascinating real episode (the Robert Hanssen case), and Chris Cooper is awesome without dragging the accumulated weight of his prestige into any movie he appears in, as Robert DeNiro perhaps does.

[Though that DeNiro theory may have trouble accounting for Analyze This/That, and Meet the Parents/Fockers too. Maybe The Bad Shepherd will be more antic.]

[UPDATE: I now have the little flute-thingy part from the end of "In the Court of the Crimson King" going through my head even though that was not the part of "In the Court of the Crimson King" that appeared on the soundtrack, and I'm pretty sure I haven't heard the little flute-thingy part for over ten years.]

Posted by Matt Weiner at January 1, 2007 11:10 PM

Linking issues.

Posted by: teofilo at January 1, 2007 11:23 PM

Oh, and Happy New Year.

Posted by: teofilo at January 1, 2007 11:33 PM

But you have to admit that good depressing European movies about refugee camps are almost as plentiful as, well, refugees. Now a Burt Reynolds movie about a refugee camp would really be something else. Have your people talk to my people.

Posted by: Ben at January 2, 2007 12:29 AM

It's a mellotron, dammit! And, yeah, ten years would probably be about right.

Posted by: Chris Hamilton at January 2, 2007 02:32 PM

Chris? That you?

Posted by: Matt Weiner at January 2, 2007 05:28 PM

But the whole point of a Mellotron is that when you hear the flute-thingy part as played on the Mellotron, it's an ACTUAL FLUTE. Or rather, the sounds that you hear were played on an actual flute. Because admittedly nobody was playing a flute when the song was recorded, but somebody was playing a Mellotron. So is it a flute part, or a Mellotron part? If only we had a philosopher here to answer this conundrum!

Posted by: Ben at January 2, 2007 11:49 PM

Yes. I imagine you have an email address buried somewhere on your website. I'll try to drop you a line this weekend.

Posted by: Chris Hamilton at January 5, 2007 06:07 AM

Isn't it a bad idea to remind people that your blog still exists in one of your own blog-posts? Kind of feels a little like preachin' to the choir...

Posted by: Aidan McGlynn at January 5, 2007 10:20 AM

Chris -- click my name and delete the letter 'z' (don't know why I bother, I get lots of spam anyway). Looking forward to hearing from you!

Posted by: Matt Weiner at January 5, 2007 07:41 PM

Because admittedly nobody was playing a flute when the song was recorded

Maybe, maybe not. Ian MacDonald did play real live flutes when he was part of the band (on e.g. "Cadence and Cascade".)

Posted by: ben wolfson at January 5, 2007 10:19 PM

Wolfson, that's why I thought it was a flute. IIRC the other named interlude (digression: most of the songs on that album have names for the instrumental interludes, e.g., "The Court of the Crimson King" including "The Return of the Fire Witch" and "The Dance of the Puppets"; I long thought this was mere pretension but someone, I think Chris, told me that by having more compositions on the album they got more royalties) has live flute, but since it's been ten years I could remember wrong. There's flute on "I Talk to the Wind," though, isn't there?

Anyway, the question of whether we hear a flute is a live philosophical issue. (Or is it many flutes, if the different notes on the mellotron tapes were each played by a different flute?) I don't know much about it, but Ken/ dall Wal/ ton argues in "Transparent Pictures" when we look at a photograph we actually see, remote in time and space, the object photographed. Presumably this could be extended to recorded sound. Gareth Evans, I believe, provides arguments against this kind of view. So maybe that would mean that when we hear a recording of a flute played by a mellotron we hear a flute.

Of course if we don't hear the thing when we hear a recording of it, we don't even hear a mellotron when we hear a recording of "The Court of the Crimson King." We might also think that, in order to hear the thing in the recording, the recording must bear some fairly natural relation to the original sounds, which might be a way of arguing that we hear the mellotron but not the original flute. But this might run afoul of the use of studio trickery to put together natural-sounding recordings from a bunch of different takes. So: I don't know.

Posted by: Matt Weiner at January 8, 2007 09:07 AM

Aidan -- Sort of a reminder that the blog still exists as a living occasionally updated entry; also maybe it works as a reminder for those who have it in their RSS feeds.

Posted by: Matt Weiner at January 8, 2007 09:09 AM

I've heard the same thing about having multiple titles on the album.

Kend/ all Wal/ ton argues in "Transparent Pictures" when we look at a photograph we actually see, remote in time and space, the object photographed.

This seems, initially, so batty that I should probably read the article.

Posted by: ben wolfson at January 9, 2007 10:40 AM

Bas van Fraassen has argued that we do not, in a strict sense, "see" through a microscope, in part because the image we are presented is something that we could never observe directly without an instrument. Ian Hacking famously criticized this position, although I think it has some worth; I can make you an image of a small part of the sky as seen by a radio telescope in New Mexico, but when you look at this, are you seeing in radio waves? That seems a dubious stretch of what it means to "see." Would it be "seeing" if I hooked up some vision goggles to my computer to project the image into your eyes? Not likely. Equating a false-color image like a radar weather map to vision would also seem to do violence to the notion of seeing.

On the other hand, when you look at a photograph, you must be seeing something. We are all familiar with the idea that some politician does or doesn't look like John F. Kennedy, but how many of us ever saw JFK (other than Matt's uncle?) In a world saturated with images of JFK, does it make sense to say that we haven't ever seen him?

So as a challenge I suggest that it is possible to make a coherent argument that you see some things represented in photographs, yet don't see other things even though the light from (a representation of) them appears to be directly entering your eyeball. I'm not going to make that argument though, because I'm an empiricist, or a mechanic: if you can't talk about it, point to it.

Posted by: Ben at January 9, 2007 06:34 PM