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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Meet Bertha

Lake Taupo Campervan1 Meet BerthaWe bit the bullet. We rented a campervan. We are the proud ‘temporary’ owners of a home on wheels we have endearingly named Bertha after the ‘double berth’ our baby boasts.

Campervan travel came highly recommended as the best way to live, breathe and experience all New Zealand has to offer. While the thought of living out of a glorified truck for the next month of my life sounded less than luxurious, I couldn’t help but give in. The idea had Ryan fist pumping and salivating like Pavlov’s dog so who was I to crash that party. Albeit a bit outside of our budget, we made arrangements to pick up our motor home, which would conveniently package our New Zealand transportation and accommodation in one neat, rustic package.

Coromandel Penninsula Campervan Meet BerthaBertha is a real gem, and bathroom and shower aside, she comes with all the works. We have a sink, small pantry and shelves for pots, pans and dishes. There’s a gas stove and grill to meet all our cooking needs and a refrigerator to keep our wine and beer chilled to our liking. Two long benches line the back of our girl and a wooden table can be set up in between for dining, card games and you name it. We have a small table that folds outside of the van that we use for cocktail hour and meal prepping and some folding chairs we can use to take in the scenery. At night, the benches transform into quite a nice little bed for the two of us and the sheets and blankets keep us warm on some of those chilly nights.

We were already sold on the idea of a campervan before even considering some very important details. Upon picking up the van, we discovered the vehicles are all manual, which Ryan has only driven twice (Sidenote: With my innate driving skills, our survival relied heavily on me not driving). We also underestimated the challenge driving a monstrous van on the opposite side of the road would present. Nonetheless, with keys in hand off we went.

Reeds Farm Campervan Meet BerthaDay one proved treacherous. As Ryan attempted to get the hang of driving a stick again, I sat there white-knuckling the dashboard for dear life. Whether or not we were on the right side of the road was the question of the minute and figuring out where and how to make our turns was a real challenge. Driving, or rather bouncing, our way out of Auckland was a comical disaster and trying to decipher the meaning of the traffic signs along the way was equally taxing. We were off to a poor, yet exciting start.

pixel Meet Bertha

Comments (7)

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  1. roundwego says:

    Glad you are looking to do the campervan in NZ! This may be premature, but I think when this adventure is all said and done, our NZ campervan journey will rank near the top. Can’t say enough good things about the beauty of NZ and how fantastic it is to have the mobility and flexibility aboard a campervan. You will love it!


  2. mina says:

    we’re looking into doing this in nz as well – although, your post has me a bit nervous about it!

  3. roundwego says:

    That’s what happens with a woman behind the wheel. Put her the passenger seat where I have Laura.

  4. Colin says:

    Awesome. We had the opposite side of the road issue in South Africa, but no stick shift thank God. Kristin didn’t grasp the concept and almost side-swiped a car taking a turn. What a way to live for the next month!

  5. roundwego says:

    ExploreMore it is. Same as you, eh? Bertha (officially Campbell) is clanking its way along NZ with us. We already killed the battery, almost lost the muffler by ramming into a rock and today nearly ran out of gas in the mountains. We’re doing a killer job with our girl.

  6. Molly says:

    Wish I could meet the old girl and our paths crossed. Sounds like an adventure – and happy you’re not driving Laura! :)

  7. Greg and Ash says:

    And boom goes the dynamite! Same campervan we had, though ours was named Bazils. What is the name on the driver-side door? Campbell? Beware the 8.14 Liters/Kilometer petrol consumption.
    .-= Greg and Ash´s last blog ..anaconda-iii-night-dive-of-great-barrier-reef-bait-reef-cluster-of-four-v6 =-.