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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Korcula: King of Dalmatia

Back in the day, our dinner conversations were consumed with sharing our latest cubicle frustrations and rehashing client conference calls. On the road, these conversations are far more exciting with questions like, “What’s your favorite island?” a typical precursor to a passionate, dinner debate.

Let me tell you a little bit about my island.

His name is Korcula, and we fell in love off the coast of Croatia under the hot, August Mediterranean sun. I fell hard for his rolling hills and indented coves and simply couldn’t resist his turquoise waters and secluded beaches. After discovering the medieval cocoon that is his Old Town, I was smitten. Yep, Korcula is the one for me.

After a drive up the scenic, unspoiled coastline of Croatia, we sailed into the island of Korcula. This is Croatia’s largest island in an archipelago of 48. It sits at the southern end of the country just a few hours north of Dubrovnik. Gliding in on the water, we caught our first view of Korcula town, a red roofed labyrinth of stone homes and ornate buildings.

In the 10th century, Venice controlled much of the Dalmatian coast, including Korcula. In this once important Venetian city you can still see the influence of its former ruler with the gothic, renaissance and baroque architecture. In other Korcula history lessons, Marco Polo was born on this island and the town makes a big deal of their superstar explorer. Here you have the chance to visit his house and a small museum detailing his famous voyages.

We rented out a room in a home sitting just above Korcula’s Old Town. It’s here, on our patio under a trellis of grapevines, we spent most of our time taking in the view just below. With no set agenda for our days, we passed the hours with our books and journal in hand watching the lighting change over the medieval town while listening to the symphony of bell towers chiming in unison.

When we were feeling a bit more energized, we took off on runs around the island and spent a day venturing off to some secluded beaches. With a strong recommendation for Korcula’s most beautiful beach, we hopped on a bus to the southern end of the island. Winding down a dirt path through the vineyards we came upon a rocky shore with crystal clear waters and a backdrop of pine forests and towering mountains. This was the perfect spot to spend our day. The only thing missing? Bathing suits on all other patrons. Yep, we found ourselves on a nudist beach!

By night, we scoped out a seafood joint where we soon would become regulars. Sitting in the alleyway of the narrow streets, we sipped on Croatian wine and dove into mounds of fresh mussels. We even had a local Klape group (an acapella form of music) singing folklore tunes under a stone archway. As the traditional music flooded the narrow streets of Old Town, we had the perfect soundtrack to our nightcap: gelato!

Yes, Korcula, he is my perfect island.

pixel Korcula: King of Dalmatia

Comments (3)

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  1. roundwego says:

    Hey Leanne, rest easily. I believe you really can’t go wrong when deciding to plant yourself somewhere for a month. Yes, you may not get to see that “other” place you wanted to, but what you’ll gain and experience by giving yourself more time in a place is immeasurable. We never regretted the places we stayed longer. Hope that assuages any misgivings or “renter’s regret” you might have…

  2. Leanne Pittsford says:

    Actually, do you think a month is too long. We will be working remotely for part of our trip so the plan is to find a few charming and livable stops along our travels to stay put and do some work.

  3. Leanne Pittsford says:


    Randomly, Erin Hopman suggested your site to my girlfriend and I (we leave in a few weeks to start a year of travel). And, I just booked an apartment on this island from mid May to mid June a few days ago. There is so much out there and I just took a chance on this island. Your blog def makes me feel more confident about my decision. I am excited to read more of your posts. Take care – Leanne