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Towards Day 15 (T, 10/28): "Creating" a Movie

Anne Dalke's picture

Grace selected a site for ALL of us to gather: Taft Garden

I. coursekeeping:
we'll finish our discussion of All Over Creation on Thursday,
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 spend some time
reflecting on what HE might say about the activism in the book...

We promised to address your concerns about "the end point" for the 10-week project:
* now: track and document your process: trace (as in teacher research) "the story of the question"
* @ the end, we will ask what you learned that had a impact on your own decision-making--AND
what have you learned in this investigation, which could matter to people on this campus;
how would you express that to this larger audience? (=making the audience real)?
so what you should do this week is the "back-mapping," recording what have have done so far,
during the first 4 weeks of this 10-week process: document what you have done to date, then
do some reflective writing about how your question (might have?) shifted, and the decisions you are making around this;
then check in w/ your partner, and make a plan about what more you want to do on this project;
by the end of next week you'll need a "so what"?
* during the last week of classes, we will present this to both sections
(you could also start to think about how you will do this), and also ask @ that point
for a written record of the process, in a public document on-line

also upcoming: the ESem talk by Elizabeth Kolbert @ 7:30 on Monday, Nov. 10--
have you gotten your invitations? and RSVP'ed??

Your eighth 3-pp. paper, due this Friday, is an exploration
of the relationship between identity and environment--
which many of you found hard to do.

Get back into your triads now,
and start with that question:
what is each of you doing with that relation?
Then discuss where you might go;
you are each looking for a thesis--
something that involves "sticking your neck out" --
AND that can be backed up w/ lotsa textual evidence!

III. break into sections
--Hadiyyah to select our site for Thursday;
Grace to post reflections on "what difference the environment made" today
--reminder re: writing conferences/schedule on-line

IV. looking now, through Part VI, of All Over Creation (pp. 311-417)...
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…"

So we're going to do the reverse now,
and turn this (very cinematic) novel into a film.
Self-select groups of three.
Take a few moments to look through the novel.
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.
We are asking for a particular kind of film,
one that does not focus on the psychological relations we discussed last week,
but takes a larger view of the world's ecology.
Where would you open the film?
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?


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?