Thoughts on the movie Gravity

* Gravity is the best movie I’ve seen in a long time and possibly the first to really make 3-D live up to its possibilities (Avatar, discussed at the link, was okay but overrated).

* Most movies described as “thrillers” use the term to connote a serial killer or supernatural beast or government conspiracy as the generator of primal fear of death, and yet to me they aren’t all that thrilling. Most feel silly and artificial. By contrast Gravity is one of the tensest, thrilling movies I’ve seen.

* The movie feels big—sublime, even.

* Few narrative works, whether movies or novels or TV shows, are genuinely about man versus nature.

* Few contemporary narrative works glorify astronauts or scientists (Contagion is an exception) or make people want to be one. Gravity is an exception. I’m amazed that it got made at all.

* One underlying message may say that we have to get off this planet or die on it or die trying. Rebirth is a potent motif in narrative art, as observed by Campbell, Frazer, and others; one could even argue that birth is a dominant motif in evolutionary biology. In Gravity it is enable by technology.

Links: Fashion and fiction, travel is overrated, modern art, Average is Over, and more

* Francine Prose: “Commerce, fantasy, fetishism: Should we care about fashion?” For a long time I answered no but increasingly I now answer yes. Note especially how she points to the paucity of literary descriptions of fashion, which I have long been blind to.

* Travel is much more boring and aggravating than people give it credit for.

* CDC: Many U.S. Girls Not Getting HPV Vaccine Despite Its Effectiveness.

* Is it modern art or a four year old’s drawing?

* “A bachelor’s degree could cost $10,000 — total. Here’s how.” The short version is, “Unbundling.” I think we are going to see some version of this tried in various places.

* Average Is Over—if We Want It to Be.

* There are few if any new and interesting things to say about Shakespeare.

* Which Job Skills Will Be Most Important In The Coming Years?

* “Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science?” As an alternate explanation, see Philip Greenspun, “Women in Science.”

* What we eat affects everything.

* If You Aren’t Technical, Get Technical. One could also replace “technical” with “literate,” although “technical” certainly has more immediate financial returns.

* Roosh: Katie J.M. Baker Purposefully Distorted My Work.

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