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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Here’s to the Crazy Ones

Round We Go Around the World Trip Photos Heres to the Crazy Ones

They told us it would take months, if not a year, to readjust to life after a journey around the world. Nine months and 26 days later, I can attest: They. Were. Right.

Last week marked the two year anniversary of our departure for our 14-month around the world journey. If I didn’t know it then, I certainly know it now. Life as we knew it would never be the same. While we’ve spent a good part of 2011 putting our travels aside, planting some roots and focusing on the next chapter of our life back Stateside, the truth is it doesn’t quite work that way. Our travels, and lessons learned on the road, have become a part of our daily lives.

We now have a place to call home. Our packs collect dust on our basement floor and no one-way transcontinental ticket sits folded up in our back pocket. But we’re finding ourselves re-inspired to share our stories, your stories…of those travel moments that define us.


MPG Panelists Heres to the Crazy Ones

This gust of re-inspiration to dream up our next adventure and immerse ourselves in our travels once again comes primarily from a grassroots campaign called Meet Plan Go! (founded by fellow travel bloggers and adventurers Sherry Ott and Michaela Potter). We were invited to speak last week at Meet Plan Go!’s national lecture series. The travel seminar, whose mission is to put a career break on every resume, was held simultaneously in 17 cities across the country. From Honolulu to New York and several places in between, travelers gathered to share their stories and inspire others to hit the road. At home in Chicago, we were joined by a panel of like-minded travelers: Dave Nilson who just returned from a year and half jaunt across the globe, Katy Healy fresh off the road from a six month global sojourn and Keith Savage, who spends a good part of the year exploring the highlands and lowlands of Scotland. To add to the mix, we even had a panelist Skype in from her hotel room in Russia.

As we shared tales and tips from our global journeys, 100 wander-lustful faces, in search of their own adventures, stared back at us. For the first time in a long time, we weren’t the ‘crazy ones.’ Surrounded by travelers in a cooking school auditorium overlooking a misty Chicago skyline, I was brought back to the moments when rehashing travel tales with like-minded friends was a daily ritual… I’m on a sun-kissed Rajasthani rooftop sharing a piping hot pot of masala chai with a family of stranger-cum-friends. Under the waning moon and bright-starry night, I’m sipping on kava in the company of some wanderlust souls. I’m cooking up a braii of burgers with pairs of safari sun-burnt faces amidst the snorting sound of hippos calling. I’m in a buzzing tree-lined alleyway sipping on frosty Tsingtao beers with a slew of perpetual travelers. I’m snacking on yak cheese bread with a team of global nomads under a tin roof pummeled by the Himalayan rains…A thousand miles away, I feel at home.

IMG 9775 e1319646940189 Heres to the Crazy Ones

We spent a good half of our around the world journey trying to explain to others why Americans don’t travel. We battled the typical “Only 10 percent of Americans have passports?” questions and frequent befuddled faces after revealing our US citizenship and long-term travel plans. After leaving this year’s Meet Plan Go! event, however, I was hopeful. 1200 attendees across the country with dreams of traveling the world? Perhaps the time is just around the corner when excuses will lay to rest.

As Steve Jobs put it: “Here’s to the crazy ones.”

pixel Heres to the Crazy Ones

Comments (7)

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  1. roundwego says:

    @Lisa Absolutely! Really fun talking travel with the Meet, Plan, Go crew the other night. The travel vibe is expanding by the day…finally a “cult” that suits my interests and to call my own! Props on organiz-izing another fun event. Feeling good things afoot in 2012.


  2. Hey Guys! Just saw this now! SO happy to know you and have you be a part of this great community. It’s nice to be back ‘home’ and yet still get that ‘buzz’ of travel and excitement from others who ‘get’ it! See you soon!

  3. Stacey says:

    I’m so happy to hear that campaigns like this are popping up in the states. Travel needs to become a bigger part of our society- there is truly no better education.

    We are about to enter the final two months of our RTW and are growing nervous about those first few steps back on American soil. I can’t believe how quickly time has flown by.

  4. Sherry Ott says:

    We hope that time is right around the corner!! Thanks so much for being a part of getting more Americans to travel! You are great role models!

  5. Chris Dowling says:

    Another wonderful posting on RWG…. you certainly have some great memories to look back upon. and very likely you have played an important part in motivating others to take the travel plunge!

  6. Keith says:

    It was great meeting you guys at Meet, Plan, Go! Best of luck on your new ventures and we’ll meet again in Chicago.
    Keith´s last [type] ..Bucking the Trend at Bruichladdich Distillery

  7. Rhonda says:

    Great post! I am sorry to say, it’s been THREE years since we returned from our RTW and we still don’t feel like we quite “fit” in our life back here in the US. Even as I type that number I’m shocked by it because I often feel as though we just returned.
    We, too, were at Meet, Plan, Go…in Portland, Oregon in our case, and were completely inspired by the attendees and equally transported back to when we were the people earnestly trying to figure out how to put our dream in motion.
    We are truly “the crazy ones” because we realize we want a different life and are currently planning to hit the road again in the next two years but this time as global nomads, becoming location independent and truly taking a lifetime to explore the world.
    Best of luck readjusting to your old and new life. The re-entry woes do ease a bit with time but, as you already know, you will never be the same!