Three Years of Hell to Become the Devil: Outgeeking Bainbridge

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Outgeeking Bainbridge

Now, I'd never take on Professor Bainbridge when it comes to wine: I haven't the taste buds. And on corporate law? More fool me to challenge the guy who authors textbooks. But outgeeking? There we're on more equal ground. And I'm afraid that his accusation that George Lucas has sold the soul of Star Wars to the Democrats just rings hollow.

Basically, the good Professor is upset because:

...Lucas betrayed the basic story arc of the Star Wars mythology in order to score these cheap political points. In the original trilogy, Luke struggled against the absolutism of Obi-Wan and Yoda. It was Luke who insisted that there was still good in Vader, which Yoda and Obi-Wan rejected.

The betrayal in question is in having Obi-Wan say to Anakin, after the latter has muttered some you're-for-me-or-against-me line, "Only a Sith thinks in absolutes."

Now, I've not seen the movie yet, and to the best of my knowledge, neither has Prof. Bainbridge, but to my mind his internal critique doesn't hold up. Bainbridge spends a great deal of time talking about how an older (presumably wiser) Obi-Wan was still doctrinaire and absolutist in his consideration of the Force. But if we consider this Obi-Wan to be less mature than Alec Guinness (and who wouldn't), then the plot still hangs together. Obi-wan may just be full of it. And there's no "betrayal" for "cheap political points" so long as the elder Jedi isn't doing anything more than the lightsaber equivalent of Godwin's Law: you know the conversation's over (and someone's limbs are about to go) when somebody mentions the Sith.

So why are so many assuming that Old Kenobi needs to be taken seriously? It seems that the New York Times found political meaning in the film:

"This is how liberty dies - to thunderous applause," Padm observes as senators, their fears and dreams of glory deftly manipulated by Palpatine, vote to give him sweeping new powers. "Revenge of the Sith" is about how a republic dismantles its own democratic principles, about how politics becomes militarized, about how a Manichaean ideology undermines the rational exercise of power. Mr. Lucas is clearly jabbing his light saber in the direction of some real-world political leaders. At one point, Darth Vader, already deep in the thrall of the dark side and echoing the words of George W. Bush, hisses at Obi-Wan, "If you're not with me, you're my enemy." Obi-Wan's response is likely to surface as a bumper sticker during the next election campaign: "Only a Sith thinks in absolutes." You may applaud this editorializing, or you may find it overwrought, but give Mr. Lucas his due. For decades he has been blamed (unjustly) for helping to lead American movies away from their early-70's engagement with political matters, and he deserves credit for trying to bring them back.

Dear goodness, we can only hope. I mean, if Democrats can't do better than Lucas's tin-ear for dialogue for their political bumper stickers, then I suspect the Republicans will get the geek vote. But now the New York Times has done the impossible: it's made me curious about the final Star Wars film.

Let's face it: Lucas is about as subtle as a chainsaw running through a screen door, at least when it comes to dialogue. I'd expect that even if Chewbacca were mouthing Bush-lite rhetoric, you wouldn't need to be Han Solo to figure out the reference. On the other hand, the New York Times could probably scan Beowulf and find hidden anti-Bush meanings.

So who is it? Is George L. taking on George B.? Or is this all a figment of the Times' fevered fantasies? Sadly, I'll have to see the film to find out, because when it comes to a conflict between the Lucas lack of subtext and the Greying Lady's determination to find same, we reach a level of difficulty almost equal to that of the Great Sci Fi Paradox: What happens when a bunch of clueless red-shirts, guaranteed to survive less than three minutes after a beamdown, meets a platoon of Imperial Stormtroopers, who can't hit a barn from inside it?


This article on a Cannes press conference might save you the trouble of going to the movie.
A wise man once pointed out that "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar", and I think someone needs to remind Prof. Bainbridge that sometimes a trashy sci-fi B flick is just a trashy sci-fi B flick.....
The "wise man" was Freud, on the sometimes-noninterpretation-of-dreams. Less well known is his debt to Kipling. The original line went something like "Wine is only wine, but a cigar is a smoke."
I've noticed that people who are absolutist often think that they are nuanced. (Often because they know other people on their own side who are even more extreme, or have unexpressed feelings which are much nastier.)
TTP: I know it was Freud; I was under the impression that the quote was familiar enough that nobody (at least nobody well educated enough to be follwoing a first person narrative of American legal education) needed to be told who said it. :-)
Oh, perhaps I've underestimated folks. I was under the impression that a lot of people didn't know the source. Eh. Also I was trolling for the exact phrasing of the Kipling quote.
"Now, I've not seen the movie yet, and to the best of my knowledge, neither has Prof. Bainbridge..." And thus continues the conservative tradition of critiquing movies without having seen them. :)
If you notice, Dave, the above isn't a critique of a movie, but a series of questions about it. And having now seen the movie, if you want to carry water for Lucas's dialogue, I hope your back's pretty strong.

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BULA: It’s Fiji Time

F 0041 300x200 BULA: It’s Fiji TimeAfter a tearful goodbye following our time home for the holidays, we took off on the second leg of our around the world adventure. Leaving behind single digit temperatures and promises of snowfall, we began our journey to the South Pacific. Two layovers and 26 hours later, we arrived at the much anticipated destination of Fiji.

Everything you’ve heard about the natural beauty of the romanticized Fiji Islands is absolutely true. Deep in the Pacific Ocean the 333 Fijian isles stand tall, perched above turquoise waters lined with exquisite beaches. The size of each island differs greatly. Some look no larger than an enormous mound of sand while others are palm-studded with dense rainforests and mountains rising to magnificent heights. Uniform to every island are the surrounding crystal-clear waters and incredible coral gardens lining the ocean floor. The views are as dramatic as they are stunning.

Fiji 032 300x200 BULA: It’s Fiji TimeTrue to our laid-back travel style, we arrived at 4 a.m. without a plan, map or reservation. Typically, we like to be a bit more prepared than this, but with the hectic holiday calendar and last-minute errands, we placed planning our Fiji holiday on the backburner. Luckily, we were greeted at the airport by vultures disguised as travel agents clad in traditional Fijian garb (long skirts and flower-printed shirts) with the sweet-smelling frangipani flower in their hair. They greeted us with a warm “BULA!” (Fijian for hello or cheers) and helped us orient ourselves and plot our stay.

As we predicted, Fiji is not ideal for a budget traveler and trying to make the most of our time here on a tighter budget proved to be quite challenging. The majority of accommodation options include high-end resorts, and the strong monopoly on transportation and island activities has prices skyrocketing. Begrudgingly reminding ourselves we aren’t on vacation and have a budget to stick to, we opted for a cheaper backpacker resort on the string of islands known as the Manamuca Group.

Fiji 047 300x200 BULA: It’s Fiji TimeWe arrived by boat to the beautiful island of Mana and settled in to the budget resort which would serve as our home base for the next few days. I had grown quite accustomed to the comforts of home over the holidays so readjusting to this traveling lifestyle, and in this case sharing a bathroom with 15 other people, was not easy. A quick look around, however, at the stunning views, abundant sunshine and blue waters, proved to be just the wakeup call I needed.

Just as I began to readjust to this basic travel style, we hit the jackpot. We got word of a resort on the neighboring island of Malolo offering free upgrades to their guests to the private beachfront villas dotting the coastline. Off we went on the first boat we could find to take advantage of this offering. Here on Malolo we found a little bit of heaven waiting for us in our one little bamboo roof hut overlooking the turquoise waters.

Both accommodations offered all the amenities of nice resort.They had snorkeling gear and kayaks to rent and arranged a variety of excursions, including fishing, sunset cruises and diving. We partook in an island hopping adventure, which gave us the chance to explore nearby islands like Mandriki (where the movie Castaway was filmed). Lucky for us the island still maintains the remote appeal characterized in the movie. So isolated, in fact, that our arrival broke up a nice little nudist gathering on the beach.

Fiji 052 300x200 BULA: It’s Fiji TimeWhat sets Fiji apart from all other exotic locales I’ve had the chance to experience in my twenty seven years of existence is undoubtedly the water. Still, green and clear, the vast ocean looks more like an aquarium, providing a look into a richly exotic underwater world.

The large banks of coral made water adventures activities a real treat and a daily dose of snorkeling and kayaking became standard. Swimming with schools of brightly colored red, yellow and rainbow-colored fish and coming face-to-face with blue starfish and brilliant coral reefs will always be my Fijian highlight. It certainly made the long flight more than worthwhile.

pixel BULA: It’s Fiji Time

Comments (10)

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  1. roundwego says:

    The water is that amazing! Photos don’t lie. I want to go back. Thanks for following our travels, Greer!

  2. Greer Goings says:

    Ok, the pictures of the water in Fiji look fake! Are you sure you didn’t photoshop:)??? Enjoying living vicariously through you!

  3. Shannon OD says:

    I’ve only been in Fiji as a layover, and this post makes me really wish I’d had the opportunity to stay! It sounds like a little piece of heaven to snorkel and kayak every day! Gorgeous photos :-)
    .-= Shannon OD´s last blog ..A Little Recap & Plan…Ah, Saturday =-.

  4. Mom Keller says:

    Sounds like you both are back in the swing of things.
    Always enjoy reading your blog and getting jealous at the same time. Enjoy, enjoy. Love you, mom K

  5. roundwego says:

    Fiji is a must. It’s actually not a bad flight – nine hours direct from LA and there are some really nice rates from there, too.

  6. Greg Dawson says:

    Fiji is definitely on my list!

  7. roundwego says:

    Glad you enjoyed reading about our Fiji adventure! It was truly paradise. We’re so lucky to have had the chance to experience it. It was quite a treat.

  8. Dad Keller says:

    Loved reading about the islands and the beach. You two just manufacture goof fortune, don’t you? Love you both.

  9. Amy Wellington says:

    Wow, Loll – what a fantastic description of your stay in Fiji! I feel like I was right there with you. Everything sounds incredible! I’m so glad you all made it safely. Enjoy the rest and keep the updates coming! Love you!

  10. Brigid Pritchard says:

    Loved reading about a place I know!! Hope you guys enjoyed paradise!! Cant wait to hear what you think of the Kiwis and Aussies!! safe travels! xoxo