Monthly Archives: November 2010

To rekre8 meaning!

What is required to recreate a man? To breathe new life into old flesh… I would suggest – with the backing of one of the greatest thinkers to grace the moors (and pubs) of Ireland – we need new metaphors in order for man to breathe new meaning into his oft-assumed meaningless life.
As we celebrate the visual masterpiece that is the adaptation of one of the greatest literary works of the last two centuries, it is a delight to take a look behind the lens at the man who dreamed a new dream of what life can be when we learn to trust our wild and good creator, and allow him to re-create us.  Thanks to Relevant Magazine, we also get to take a look at the man who brings these stories to life for a new generation in honor of his beloved adopted dad “Jack”.
Douglas Gresham says of Jack, “I think it’s pretty obvious when you read the Narnia Chronicles that this man had a very close connection with the Author of all things.”
Yet for a world that is slowly denying the existence of any Author, or any cohesive “story” to our existence here, Jack’s work requires re-imagining.  As Mr. Gresham attempts to stay as close as possible to the inspired work of his father, the visualization of this literary text requires that we breathe new life into it! And that is what the folks at Walden Media and Carrie Underwood have done with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader:
Miss Carrie loudly proclaims “There’s a place for us!” in stark contrast to the post-modern disconnectedness that we cynically accept as the truth of our evolutionary, globe-trotting modern existence:
We can be the kings and queens of anything if we believe.

It’s written in the stars that shine above,

a world where you and I belong, where faith and love will keep us strong,

exactly who we are is just enough

there’s a place for us, there’s a place for us.

Interesting that Carrie (or her writers) take aim directly at the post-modern assumption that “exactly who we are is NOT enough”.  She proclaims that if we believe that there is a story written for us then we can step into the “place for us” just as Lucy and Edmund step into the painting which washes over them with adventure they never dreamed of before.

This is re-creation to the max! Look at the excellence with which the producers weave Carrie’s song into this narrative, giving hope to those with “eyes to see” as through the silver screen dimly.  My verbage has become indiscernable to most, yet Lewis would likely agree that even in his text or on the screen the glory of the Narnia Chronicles is only a taste of the “place” that he hoped his faith would deliver him unto one day.  After 32 years of unbelief, Lewis found new life breathed into his bones, largely through the re-creation of mythology practiced by J.R.R. Tolkien and Lewis’ “Inklings,” a crew of pub regulars who liked to philosophize, smoke and imbibe their favorite brews all the while taking pleasure in the story that started all of this, which we only get “glimpses” of until that day when we find our place.

Keep re-creating stories friends.  As Kenneth Burke has said, they are “equipment for living”!

Re-Kre8ing the Auto Industry!

The auto industry might seem like a weird place for a pop culture commentator to look these days, but consider how so much of our North American “exceptionalism” which has come much under fire in recent months, particularly by our commander-in-chief, is rooted in an ethos that in former times was exampled by the Cowboy Trailblazer, and in the 70’s to mid-80’s was exampled clearly in the Muscle Car Culture.
So, here we go…
President Obama addressed the nation last Thursday concerning GM’s first IPO since becoming the first “government-owned” auto company in history.  (Now, I’m sure Ceasar owned some chariot-manufacturing facilities back during the Roman empire, but really that’s like comparing a stone wheel to a chrome rim… so  do I get a pass on that historically-accurate fact?)  First, take a look at the address here:
Taking note of a few of his high points he claims surreptitiously (as this President is seemingly want to do on many occasions) that this is the “first time in 6 years that Ford, GM, and Chrysler are all operating at a profit.”  This may be true for GM and Chrysler, but the innovative company that brought us the Mustang has been operating at a profit since the outset of 2010, which was the first time in four years for them.  Their ability to innovate, trim costs, re-negotiate union wages to more realistic levels, and sure up their cash position set them up to succeed during the downturn.  As GM and Chrysler ignored reality and  while GM received a bailout, Ford and our Friend Elon Musk at Tesla Motors continued to innovate and grow.
I will now turn to focus on Ford and Tesla’s re-creation of the auto industry, but will eventually come back to a critique of this misleading presser that would have us believe that GM is the bastion of hope and change that – should we follow this Government down their proposed paths elsewhere – will lead to a prosperous and widely flourishing populace.  Not true, but for now let’s turn to look at what Tesla did during the downturn, and how this start-up is changing the imagination of the auto industry and the eco-imagination of the world.  (I hope GE won’t sue me for using that word.  That stinks that they can trademark that by the way!… or maybe it’s eco-magination.)
Elon Musk and Tesla made some bold moves during the downturn!  Here, my friends, is a perfect example of what a free-market, entrepreneurial framework can bring about when companies compete:

“GM had already pulled out of the plant after declaring bankruptcy in 2009, and Toyota planned to stop production in less than a month. There weren’t too many people interested in buying a 200-acre white elephant of a car factory, so Toyoda opened the door for Musk.”

Musk pulled off an incredible feat to make this dream seem within the realm of possibility.  Tesla had developed and produced the Tesla Roadster and sold no less than 1300 units in 08-09.
As you may know this plug-in electric whose battery technology has been incorporated by Daimler’s SMART division will beat out a Ferrari in the quarter mile.  Impressive for a startup in an industry of behemoths with multi-million dollar R&D departments.  Yet this is what happens when David is allowed to step on the field against Goliath.  (Wired’s article on musk is a good read.)
So president Obama wants to credit his own baby w/keeping the auto industry in America strong, but a company that will be re-building based on a new brand in China and more Chinese manufacturing doesn’t sound like the American success story he would make it out to be, which raises a question: “Is this president as delusional about his ability to save America’s economy as the former president was about his ability to ‘free’ the Iraqi people from an oppressive, dangerous dictatorship?”  I say yes. Or more so.
One thing our president is correct about… the American people.  We can and will provide a shot at the American dream to our children’s children, if the Government will just get out of the way and let re-creators like Musk and Tesla compete!
As a closing visual to describe the amazing effect that Tesla has had on our economy, the green technology market, CO2 emissions, and “green jobs” check this car and graphic out.  Pretty unbelievable what has happened largely without the government’s involvement1.

Go forth and Rekre8!

1 – The government did give Tesla a 465 million dollar load to produce it’s four-seater Model S for which Musk purchased the California Factory.

Re-Kre8-ing Mythology

The Walt Disney Company is in the interminable and important business of re-creating our mythologies.  Why is this business important you ask?  To quote Kenneth Burke, “Stories are equipment for living.”  Without good stories to breathe life into our existence, we wind up with little more than nietzschean, disconnected beings trudging through the warp and woof of life without hope of any greater meaning to the work we do day to day, whether raising a family, leading an international corporation, or making art.  With his studio’s most recent work, Disney continues posthumously to re-define what it means to be a man, and what a woman out to look for in the proverbial ‘white knight’ who will sweep her off of her feet and carry her into ‘happily ever after’.  Check it out:

The artists at Disney have masterfully crafted a ‘want ad’ for the hero of Rapunzel.  This re-creates the story of man and woman coming to be married, as our modern ‘liberated’ culture finds women taking matters into their own hands, often posting craigslist ads or being the first to reach out on popular dating sites like eHarmony.  This example has sadly become the norm in a post equality movement world where men default to waiting, rather than heroism to win their beauty:

I was on eHarmony twice, for 3 months at a time, a couple of years apart. I got a 4 month relationship out of the first time and my current relationship out of the second time. Both times, I initiated contact and it paid off.

Make contact!

The first time, I was the only woman out of (I believe) about 200 matches that had the nerve to contact him. The only one. Absolutely made me stand out, and that piqued his interest, so he replied. We ended up dating for 4 months.

This seems to be the story of the Disney heroine these days.  I’m reminded of a picture that I really enjoyed a few years back which was also created by Disney.  However, one part really troubled me.  At the climax of the film, a love story, the hero has to be prodded by his girlfriend to kiss ‘Sleeping Beauty’, as he had come to realize he was no longer in love with his girlfriend, but was the one man who could awake his true love from her sleep.  Watch the scene here, and comment below as to whether you find this a strange hesitation for a ‘hero’, or does it slip under our radar since Disney and others have so emasculated our post-modern heroes?  (If you continue on in the clip you’ll actually see the writers were very transparent w/their desire to emasculate our modern day ‘prince charming’.)  Conversely do you think it simply reflects back true life, where men wait for one of their 200 matches to reach out to them, because they are too afraid to initiate a relationship.  Art imitating life or life imitating art?

While I truly appreciate Disney’s ability to create fine art (and Susan Sarandon’s performance!), I don’t think it breathes new life into our culture.  Rather I think it imbibes the draught of post-modern existentialism which would say, “we must try something new.  The old stories are so ‘traditional’.  They can’t really lead to life.” I’d be interested to meet the writers of this and other Disney films and hear more of their stories to see whether they have a scarred conscience or not.  By that I mean that I can totally empathize with someone writing these sorts of stories if they are the heroine who is ignored by men until she takes bold action, and if her father never really affirmed her or told her how beautiful and amazing she is.

We all must re-create from a true place in our hearts, but the greatest challenge and most worthy of recreation is to breathe new life into broken bones.

I’d challenge Disney and others to re-write the story of the hero, realizing that if he regains his strength, boldness, and risk-taking love in his heart, the heroine will gladly follow him to happily ever after.