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Towards Day 16 (Thurs, 10/29): "Creating" a Movie

Anne Dalke's picture

Angela selected Rhoads Quiet Study Room as our site;
Beatrice is on for next Tuesday--
catch her up on our new conversation guidelines...?

I. coursekeeping:
we'll finish our discussion of All Over Creation next Tuesday,
so (if you haven't completed it yet), finish reading the novel by then...

We'll be focusing on the novel's presentation of activism--

so also please bring back your copy of the essay by Teju Cole,
on the 'white savior industrial complex,' and of
Take Back the Market; spend some time before class
reflecting on what these authors might say about the activism in the book...

II. Your eighth 3-pp. paper, due this Friday, is an exploration
of the relationship between identity and environment.
Get back into your small groups now, and start with that question:
what is each of you doing with that relation?
Then discuss where you might go;
you are now each looking for a thesis:
something that involves "sticking your neck out" --
AND that can be backed up w/ lotsa textual evidence!

To be clear: what we're asking you to do is to use the
writing to really think through your ideas ("writer-based prose"),
the most daring and "fleshiest" version of your thinking;
don't worry so much this time 'round about refining into
"reader-based prose." But it should be a full paper,
not just bullet points or lists of quotes.

This week, just post your draft on-line (and I will respond again
on-line, not doing any line-editing, but getting you to focus
and support your argument). The week after you can replace
this first draft with a final one.

III. Return to large group: invite several to read their claims
(and we workshop a bit as a large group)

IV. (by 12:15): looking now, through Part VI, of All Over Creation (pp. 311-417, to end)...
in the interview with Ozeki that I referenced when we first started the novel, she says,
"my first two novels...are very concerned with the interconnected nature of our lives and the world.
In Buddhism, we call this dependent co-arising, or 'interbeing'....Nothing exists independently of
anything else. Novels...are a beautiful way to investigate...the way we inter-are."
The way she cuts back and forth from "The Seeds of Resistance" to the Fuller's farm,
from Yumi's past to her present, certainly illustrates this "inter-being"...

But Ozeki also says, perhaps in countering this idea of "oneness" (?), that "novels are time-based
and need to move through was in the editing room where I really started to learn the
fundamentals of storytelling….I didn’t know how to move a character across a room, never
mind across months or years or a lifetime. Editing film and video teaches you how to do
exactly this…working in film and video has taught me to 'see' novels in cinematic terms.
I think about things like frame size, and focal length, and I use filmic techniques like visual
description, rhythm, and montage when I write…"

We're going to do the reverse now,
and turn this (very cinematic) novel into a film.
Self-select groups of three (NOT the folks you've been working with).
Take a few moments to share with one another which
scenes (or sequences) that seem particularly "cinematic" to you:
How would you open a film based on this novel?

Together, design an opening sequence for the movie,
"All Over Creation," which highlights the
environmental aspects of the novel.

What does it mean to do that?
What filmic techniques would bring it alive?
What images and sounds (what voice over) could you use?

If you finish that before the rest of us do,
go ahead and design the final scene, too:
how would you conclude the film?

What dimensions of the book are we highlighting?

V. By 12:30: share your movie!


Anne's scenes:
pp. 3-4: It starts with the earth. How can it not? Imagine the planet...
On one small section of that crust...there streched a  vast tract of land...
Imagine that you are a seed, spit from the lips of one of Lloyd's crossbred grandchildren...
And then imagine the triumphant moment when you crack the crumbly crust...
how vast Lloyd Fuller's acreage must look to you now...
[how to play, visually, with perspective--zooming out/then in?]

p. 226: "I like the feeling that this is just the thinnest of crusts, covering the earth...
In can walk right out onto an active lava flow...
if you take a wrong step..your foot wil go right through and that'll be the end of it.
Burn your foot to a crisp.. A charred stump. That's all you'd be left with.
Maybe I'll take you there sometime."
[how to handle the desire for violence?]

p. 245-6: a fairly modern landscape, formed by volcanic eruptions...
Imagine all the infernal popping and spluttering, the ozzing and seeping,
as the magma welled and the lava flowed!...with rich depostis of volanic ash
that proved to be ideally suited to the growing of potatoes...
p. 124: the pea gives off oxygen, creating a platform to support the life of other organisms,
like bacteria, or us. In a sense we’re just by-products of that program…
pp. 245: The irrigators walk the earth in summer. Like huge aluminum insects,
they inch across the contours of the land...Rainbirds, they're called.
Robotic and prehistoric, mechanical yet seeming so alive,
they span the fields and stretch to the horizon. Emitters...
spray a mix of water and chemicals..which catch the light and
create row upon row of primatic iridescence, like an assembly line of rainbows...
pp. 416-7: "it's a class war, Tibet, and we're fighting for the planet...
Daddy's going to save the world."
[lens isn't big enough here? reduction to the human dimension?...
wouldn't end on this note...too sentimental...]

These are literary/filmic techniques.
Re-reading the book from some other p.o.v.s will highlight other dimensions of the book:

economics [and its presumptions of scarcity?]-->
p. 172: Adjunct teachers are the professorial equivalent of the migrant Mexican farm laborers
hired during harvest. If you can score a good contract at the same farm every year, where the farmer
pays on time and doesn't cheat or abuse you, then it's in your best interest to show up consistently
from year to year....The nontenured faculty form a downtrodden, transient underclass,
inferior in everyway to the landed professorial gentry.
p. 221: "but most farmers settled. Guys around here operate on pretty tight margins. Can't afford to go up
against a corporation...and they're not worth suing, not for damages anyway--they're so far in debt a
court case would bankrupt them. The idea is to slap 'em back down but keep 'em in business. It's just maintenance."
p. 270: The fact was, some things had to die so that others could live, and the idea was to try to
maximize your chances of staying on the living side for as long as you could.
p. 327: "Love is not free, Elliot. It costs. And you're just a fucking stingy bastard who's too cheap to pay."

Education [and its presumptions of capaciousness/possibility?]--> 
(function of Frankie's "cluelessness"--> capacity for learning/"saving the world"?!)
Relation/negotation between the two?