Wednesday, November 14, 2007

ABC's Brothers and Sisters

My mom and brother turned me on last year to this show which I can't help but love. It is so earnest in its scmaltzy histrionic over-wrought melodramatic pathos, of an amazingly functional dysfunctional upper-middle class (perhaps more accurately lower-upper class, or upper class with middle class pretensions) family.

My cousin A- turned me on to the aesthetic of purity. Of a book/movie/comic/painting that is so completely earnest and unabashed in what it does. That even though it may not be artful in any traditional sense, it is perfectly rendered in its own way. Legally Blonde is one of my favorite movies in that vein. Brothers and Sisters satisfies that aesthetic for me in television.

How it goes over the top tugging at your heart strings in an emotional rollercoaster, which by all rights shouldn't work, but in its earnestness, just does.

Two slightly odd things about it. One is the protagonists are quite well off (with middle class pretensions). But I guess that is fairly typical of TV sitcoms (at least the ones I and most of my friends watch, which probably says something).

The other is that it is basically an update of the show Sisters. Funny how TV always repeats itself. (What blows me away is how Quantum Leap, with its absolutely ridiculous premise, resurrected its premise with a new show this season, Journeyman).

Friday, November 02, 2007

How to read a book without Reading.

University of Paris professor Pierre Bayard, author of "How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read" is a genius, at least based on this interview.

Not especially deep, but I found huge value in grad school (at MIT, we never really had to read), of skimming. That's how I stayed ahead in those political science and education classes that assigned two dense books of reading per class per week, while doing the course load for 3 degrees simultaneously.

Basically, I made sure to at least skim everything (when most of my classmates would get bogged down, and just skip). Sure retention goes down, but at some point, I learned that there is no neurological basis for forgetting. So quite possibly your brain potentially stores everything it comes across, somewhere, just you don't always have access to it. So I figure, if I stuff it full of stuff, even cursorily, things will come together if sufficiently important. Seems to have worked well enough to get A's in those fuzzy classes anyway.