The Blog Lebowski

16 11 2008

I’ve been thinking about some recent discussions bouncing around on several blogs regarding the form “information compilation” blogs should take.  Whenever we start speaking in terms of should instead of could I get a little nervous.  Now, I believe that certain basic tenets need to be followed when dealing with history, including digital history - proper citation and attribution especially.  But when I hear some suggest that there necessarily be interpretation and analysis, I have to wonder.  Of course, narrative form history requires an interpretive framework that is the product of the author’s analysis (see here).  But do we want to constrain ourselves with the narrative format when we don’t have to?

im-a-lebowskiIn a comment I made to this post, I mentioned that I think of the digital history portion of this blog, the Bull Run Resources, as being like the Buddha: not the moon, but the finger pointing at the moon.  Now, I didn’t come up with that on my own – I don’t know much about philosophy (about all I learned from the one philosophy course I took in college was the very valuable lesson that it’s less important to provide a correct answer than it is to provide the answer the instructor wants).  No, I got the Buddha thing from none other than The Dude, or His Dudeness, or The Duder, or El Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.  That is, the actor who made The Dude famous, Jeff Bridges.  In the foreword to the book I’m a Lebowski, You’re a Lebowski: Life,The Big Lebowski, and What-Have-You, the actor wrote [emphasis and brackets mine]:

“I often take these little walks in the evening at sunset and listen to different things.  Recently I played some Alan Watts [a British philosopher], and it reminded me of my conversation with Bernie [Glassman, founder of Zen Peacemakers] and how Zen relates to Lebowski.  Watts says, ‘The whole art of poetry is to say what can’t be said.’  I suppose that’s true for any art, including filmmaking.  He goes on to say that ‘Every poet, every artist feels when he gets to the end of his work, that there is something absolutely essential that was left out, so Zen has always described itself as a finger pointing at the moon.’  The Big Lebowski is a lot like that.

“The guys who wrote this book say the Coens [the writers, director and producer of The Big Lebowski] have kept clear of them entirely, and that tickles me.  Like all of you reading this, I’d be interested to know what the Coen brothers think, but it’s kind of beautiful that they don’t want to say anything definitive.  Let ‘em be the pointing finger.”

So that’s kind of how I view Bull Runnings.  I’ll give my opinion and analysis on the blog part of this site.  But for now let the Bull Run Resources section serve as a pointing finger.  Depending on who explores the data, why, how, and in what order, the story will be different.  To me, that’s what really distinguishes digital history from traditional narrative.  And perhaps what makes it more like real life.

More on poetry and digital history later.

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Glory

14 08 2008

When it comes to the Civil War, I’m not real emotional.  I don’t feel deep, spiritual things on fields where “something stays”.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)  But this particular sequence from the film Glory always gets to me, especially the part where Matthew Broderick sends his horse off at a gallop.  Some folks call the film maudlin, but they should understand that the writers had to tone the script down from what actually happened to make the movie less Hollywood.  To me, it’s Brian’s Song, Rudy and Big Fish all rolled into one.  Guys know just what I’m talking about.

God, Youtube is such a time sucker.





Carnegie-Mellon University and the Civil War

3 08 2008

Apparently that geek bastion CMU played a more significant role in the Civil War than I ever imagined!





Henry Hill Trail

13 06 2008

Ray Liotta as Henry Hill

Craig over at To the Sound of the Guns has this post up featuring the HMDB marker set for the Henry Hill Trail.  Some refer to the area as Henry House Hill, and that’s the name I typically use.  I don’t know if the reason for it has anything to do with that whacky Goodfella (portrayed above by Ray Liotta) so many came to love (or loathe) for his appearances on the Howard Stern Show.

You can find some of my photos of Henry House Hill here.





Dead Birds

9 06 2008

Poster

Wow – I completely missed this one from 2004.  Dead Birds is a ghostly gore-fest about Confederate deserters who rob a bank in Alabama and hole-up on a haunted plantation.  I’m watching it now on Showtime.  It features E.T.’s pal Henry Thomas as the gang’s leader.  The casting of the now notorious Isaiah Washington (later of Grey’s Anatomy) as one of its members will surely set some folks off – but keep in mind we’re talking bank robbers here, not soldiers.

I’ve seen worse flicks.

 





How Do You Define History?

28 02 2008

 

I don’t know how I’ve missed this for so long, but it’s from the play The History Boys, by Beyond the Fringe alum Alan Bennett:

Mrs. Lintott: And you, Rudge?  How do you define history?

Rudge: Can I speak freely without being hit?

Mrs. Lintott: You have my protection.

Rudge: How do I define history?  Well, it’s just one f—ing thing after another.

Perfect.





I’m Speechless

21 01 2008

Here’s a clip from Don’t Say Videos.  I reached down deep for a comment on this, but I got nothin’.  Forget all you know about the First Battle of Bull Run.








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