Weekly Rochester Events #425: In Gregorian Time
Thursday, March 1, 2007
So last Wednesday I was toying with what to do and decided to check out The Island at the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) I suspected it would be "a crummy way to cash in on Jaws' oceanic theme to have an investigator of missing boats learn it's actually a team of pirates he must infiltrate" and that's pretty much it. I had a hard time really caring about anybody in the film. Michael Caine plays a reporter who goes to investigate boats disappearing in the Bahamas, and one thing leads to another, and all of a sudden he's the sex slave to some pirate woman and his son is brainwashed into becoming a pirate himself. It's a series of convenient coincidences that lead them to eventual safety — at least presumably. I still don't get why this was included in the "pirate" series of films ... not good enough to be good, and not bad enough to be good. Just rather weird.
On Thursday I headed to Kilbourn Hall at Eastman Theatre (60 Gibbs St.) to check out the performance by Ossia New Music. I was dead tired and could barely stay awake. That said, I liked all the pieces they played. Diademes was a rather long but varied piece that at times brought out everything from fear to whimsy. To my relatively untrained ear, it felt like it was composed in the 1930's rather than 1961. Herzgewächse was a haunting piece with what seemed to be some challenging soprano vocals. In Nonet, the first part was "flittery" and whimsical whereas the second was quite a bit more desolate. For the last piece, they played the video portion of M Is for Man, Music, Mozart and performed the music live. The movie appeared to be a ballet company literally and figuratively following the music. I found the music rather mesmerizing, like watching the glow of Christmas lights.
On Friday I decided I'd buy some rat traps to catch a squirrel that is living in the insulation in my attic. I got back with them and didn't have the heart to do it ... I got the distinct feeling that it was really wrong to kill the beast. I checked the Internet about getting rid of squirrels, and after finding some sites that indicated scent-based methods don't work, I decided I'd pick up one of those non-lethal traps and just move the squirrel to some other locale.
That evening Ali and I went to Dogtown Hots (691 Monroe Ave.) for some delicious hot dogs for dinner. Afterward we headed to the Dryden Theatre for the A/V Geeks Greatest Hits. It was an excellent selection of short, ephemeral films curated by Skip Elsheimer. He said the theme of the show was catchy songs, and indeed they get do get stuck in your head. I particularly liked Telezonia which teaches kids to use the phone ... or something ... by having an effete dude in a snappy, white futuristic suit whisk kids off to some nether-world of telephone instruction. I think I was the only one who noticed their fake phone number, 555-2368, was that of the Ghostbusters. In Drugs Are Like That a couple boring kids play with some classic Legos and discuss drugs with interludes to scenarios that conclude with the titular phrase. Things like spinning around in circles and getting dizzy — "drugs are like that." Or playing the OCD game of avoiding cracks lest you "break your mother's back" so much that in your late-30's you get knocked on your ass when you whack into a board carried by some construction workers — "drugs are like that." It's the kind of phrase that might come in handy ...
On Saturday night, Ali came up to the city and we went to see Geva Comedy Improv at Nextstage at Geva (75 Woodbury Blvd.) It was a really good show and we won the "grand prize" of the raffle that included a gift certificate to Record Archive (1880 East Ave.) and tickets to see Our Town playing at Geva (75 Woodbury Blvd.)
Sunday morning I was reading the blog of my old friend Sondra Carr and she supplied a short entry that linked to a blog entry by a guy named Julian Walker titled The Secret: Spiritual Cinema? Sondra and I have been talking about this movie The Secret that's been making the rounds in the new-age circles. We've noted that it presents a correct philosophy — that the things you wish for the most in your mind guide the direction of your life — but that it neglects responsibility and realism. If you wish for a million dollars, where does that come from? What if somebody else was wishing for things as well? We never developed a very concise way to explain the flaws in the film, but Walker's review approaches it from an expert position — from a "true" spiritualist perspective.
I consider myself a rational person. I tend to view the world as being perfectly logical and it's up to me to divine that logic from it. Any fantastic concepts always have a rational grounding. If I get the "feeling" that I should go 43 miles-an-hour to breeze through all green lights and it turns out exactly right for miles on end, I assume there's a rational explanation — perhaps that my innate timing and ingrained understanding of patterns allowed me to predict what the traffic pattern designers had created. I certainly don't think that it was my observation of the behavior of squirrels earlier in the day that gave me such special knowledge, or that I was carrying a crystal that amplified my energy and caused the world to adapt to my whim.
That said, I found myself falling short when it came to the unanswerable. What is the experience of dying like? Lots of people have died (I assure you) yet we still don't know — truly — how our mind would interpret the experience.
So around the middle of Julian Walker's Part Two he points to The Pre/Trans Fallacy, an excerpt from Ken Wilber's book Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution. The gist is that rationality is not the pinnacle of human knowledge. In other words, I had thought that there were things like creationism, energy crystals, and spirits which were non-rational and therefore inherently inferior to rational concepts like evolution, the mind as a tool of creation, or the behavior of dogs.
Wilber introduced (I believe) the concept of a new spectrum of measure: prerational, rational, and transrational. Prerational is things like believing you can change the world by wishing, or the belief in a corporeal Santa Claus while transrational is the understanding of the metaphoric power of self-affirmation, or the belief in Santa Claus as a man-made construct. Rational concepts build upon and explain prerational concepts; transrational concepts build upon and explain rational concepts. Most important to me is that a transrational idea does not break rational rules whereas a prerational idea does.
Now, I'm not an expert by any means so I'll probably return to this concept and adjust my understanding as I learn more about it. But at first blush, this fills in a gap that I had been running up against in my own life — that some spiritual concepts were not rational but were apparent. I mean, there's no such thing as Santa Claus — the magical old man who lives at the North Pole — yet in a way, he does exist as a metaphor for where gifts come from when the giver wishes to remain anonymous. As such, we can talk about the effect Santa Claus has on the world even though there is no Santa Claus, something we can't do in a purely rational world.
On Sunday night I happened to catch a glimpse of Bill O'Reilly being interviewed on 60 Minutes. This got me to thinking about the outset of the war with Iraq and the belief that Iraqis would jump for joy at the arrival of American soldiers and the war would be over in no time. Proponents of not making a plan to finish the war and leave Iraq always struck me as being immune to logic. I think it's prerational — it's wishing that we will prevail (whatever that means, exactly) and the birds will sing and there will be peace.
I'm afraid that doesn't survive rational argument: What are the measurable conditions that we must observe in Iraq to consider the war a success and get our soldiers back home? What steps will we take to ensure that we are approaching those conditions? What is the timeline for accomplishing the incremental goals and when can we expect to be done? Until all those questions are answered, all the wishing and praying for our troops in the world won't do jack shit, but once those questions are answered, wishing and praying for victory and for the well-being of the troops will get Americans focused and in line with victory. The prerational view says that wishing for victory is enough. The transrational view says that wishing for victory when there is a clear objective gets people thinking about success and motivated to take steps to make it happen.
Anyhow, Sunday afternoon Ali and I headed to East Rochester to see the screening of the film about pineapples called "Tid Bits" that I acted in. We stopped at Take-a-Break in Piano Works Plaza (349 W. Commercial St., East Rochester) which is this great diner — solidly good diner food, reasonable prices, and a friendly staff. You can't beat it. Anyway, we went to East Rochester High School (200 Woodbine Ave., East Rochester) to see the movie. I thought it was okay and might even be pretty funny if it were pared from its 30-minute length to less than half that. The thing is, it was conceived by a girl for her pineapple-loving friend who was returning from a vacation — the screening was to welcome the family home, and in that context it was a lot of fun. The final segment of "P.A." (Pineapples Anonymous) in which I appeared was the best. I actually thought I did a pretty good job of acting — not award-material, but pretty good, and as another friend pointed out, my scene was "the best in the film [backhanded compliment omitted]."
Earlier that day I had set up the squirrel trap. It's just for one specific squirrel. It used to climb the magnolia tree, jump to the first-floor roof of the kitchen, climb the power line to the satellite dish, jump to the roof, and get into the attic through a roof vent. Well, I didn't want it in there so I took down the satellite dish but it could still make the jump from the mounting screws to the roof. So I cut back the branches on the magnolia tree and it changed course to climb the hose reel to the flower box to the phone lines to the security light to the roof and into the attic. Well, I set up the trap on the flower box. When I returned on Sunday, the trap was sprung and the food was gone. My neighbor had called and left a message that she was worried it had no water ... alas, it had managed to escape. I fixed the defect in the trap (the rear door could bend open enough to let the squirrel out) and set it out again. Well, on Monday I found there was no food but the trap was open. I had set the trigger too strong.
On Monday night Ali and I headed to The Emerging Filmmakers Series at The Little (240 East Ave.) The films were generally very good but I particularly liked H.P. Lovecraft's The Other Gods by Mike Boas which Mike had "restored" a formerly "lost" shadow-animation from the 1930's ... all plausible and rather spooky, actually. I Named Her Angel by Nefin Dinç was a documentary about a girl learning the Mevleviye sema ceremony that includes a beautiful spinning dance that gives the illusion of slow motion.
Tuesday night I headed to Brighton Town Hall (2300 Elmwood Ave.) to check out the lecture put on by One Universe Resource Service (OURS) with Karen L. Scholler, "Ye: Awi Noohgwa" or "She Who Carries Love" about animal spirit guides. I thought it was an okay presentation, in part because some things seemed to be bullshit to me and others were plausible — I mean, it's one thing to observe the animals to assess the state of the world, but it's quite another to rely on them to predict disasters. Presumably that's the idea in the Seneca tradition: to observe animals and accept their behaviors as a gift of communication. I felt much more comfortable picking things that I thought were junk-science (i.e. amplifying spiritual energy states) and things that were interesting (observing and accepting the seemingly strange behavior of a group of crows, for instance.)
Anyway, on Wednesday I got to do some animal observation: of a squirrel. In a trap. I finally caught the bugger. I brought it way out to Rush and let it go into a forest. If nothing else, it won't make its way back to my house and my roof and my attic.
I kind of miss it, though.
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About the title ... The Gregorian calendar, introduced by Pope Gregory XII, was adopted 425 years ago in 1582.
This page is Jason Olshefsky's list of things to do in Rochester, NY and the surrounding region (including nearby towns Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Victor, Henrietta, Gates, Chili, Greece, and Charlotte, and occasionally other places in Monroe County and the Western New York region.) It is updated every week with daily listings for entertainment, activities, performances, movies, music, bands, comedy, improv, poetry, storytelling, lectures, discussions, debates, theater, plays, and generally fun things to do.
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