All posts tagged: thomasgraff

Religion and the Arts: Augustine’s Netflix

Binge-watching is America’s new pastime. Netflix alone currently boasts 43 million subscribers and counting, who—to adopt a wry turn of phrase from an article in The Economist—are “living the stream.” Netflix­ and its competitors Hulu, Amazon Prime Instant Video, HBO Go, et al have revolutionized how and how much we watch television and film. They have commercialized entertainment ad infinitum: drama, humor, insight, and a good plot line compel our attention as a kind of dramatic watering hole, something we come back to again and again during our given work week. The plot lines of our favorite shows are familiar, quirky, and dependable like a close friend, and online streaming has only expedited this quality time. Each show and movie slowly gives shape to an entire life that we imaginatively inhabit. In a certain poetic sense, it is not a coincidence that the plot diagram itself figuratively (and literally, if you consider the shape) imitates the human pulse. Thus the comfort and autonomic vitality of a continuous stream of plots packaged in episode form: exposition, …

Religion and the Arts: Wheelbarrows, Boots, and the Breath of Life

so much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens –William Carlos Williams, “XXII”[1] Excuse me? “so much” depends upon a red wheelbarrow? What’s so vital in a garden tool? And be clear: what depends upon this red wheelbarrow? Some larger elided narrative? The safety of the white chickens? What a strange poem; indeed, what a strange sentence. Yet, a simple poem, child-like even. And one which contentedly—if not playfully—eludes “explanation.” The wheelbarrow is simply there in space and time: a random and remote yet unrepeatable moment, as thin and ephemeral as the glaze of rainwater, and localized only by a spare preposition—“beside” the white chickens. And still, we wait in suspense, so much of ourselves now dependent upon the enigmatically and charmingly resistant meaning of sixteen words. And yes—we can speculate—the form of the poem bears heavily on the content of the poem, speaks elegantly to our dependence upon language, word by word, to make sense of anything in this world. But again, what a strange poem if …