There is nothing in Tree of Life that comes anywhere near this:
The photo is called The Birth of Earth, and is by Terje Sorgjerd, and appeared in the 2010 National Geographic photo competition. (And didn’t win?!) When I saw it this week, it stopped me dead in my tracks. I stared at it. I couldn’t do anything but stare it, for what seemed like quite a long time.
It was taken during the Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption, and comes to my attention c/o the Ebert Club newsletter, which is so far beyond being worth its subscription price that it doesn’t even bear talking about. Marie, who curates the newsletter for Mr. Ebert, working from Vancouver, dumpster-dives the internet week by week, and always - always - manages to find me at least three specific things: a “holy shit” item; a really well written article; and a trailer for a movie I had not heard of, and will now want to see.
But back to the power of god. Oddly similar in composition and tone to my internal imagination of the great cataclysm at the heart of my favourite book, The Amber Spyglass, The Birth of Earth is an amazement to me because it is so far beyond what we mere mortals would be capable of dreaming up with our ongoing efforts to capture the “bigness” of the cosmos in our art. Even my pale mental imaginings, mentioned above, of The Amber Spyglass have nothing on all that is happening in that single frame of photography - and that photo is real. We think we’re butted up against the end of the thing; think our digital paintbox has opened up the vastness of cosmic time and interstellar space. But no. We’re not even thinking beyond the confines of our own sandbox. There’s so much more.Read more
What then of second picks? I’ll tell you one thing: with this fancy new Super Member Advance Lottery Draw thingie, nobody knows which way the ball’s going to bounce on this year’s Regular Lottery (a.k.a. The One For Real TIFFGoers). Maybe it plays out just like other years. Maybe it’s going to be like being in the second-to-last box for everyone. Maybe my beautiful lattice of first-string picks will fall apart like shattered sugar candy.
Per my earlier advice, guess what: it’s okay.
There’s only one way to go at this thing, now that we don’t know who’s getting their first picks or their second picks or any picks at all: go at it even harder. Got a crazy, never thought I’d wanna see it in a million years, pick for a movie? Put it in your B-sides. Put it in as your second choice for timeslot where you’ve picked something far safer, and wait and see what happens. The Universe is going to shove you in one direction or another. (Or a third, but more on that later.)
(Want to push the Universe even harder? When you fill out the order form, invert the second-choices and the first-choices. Trust me.)Read more
I saw The Tree of Life at the Bell Lightbox yesterday, a superlative experience, and highly recommended. I think we are past the point where “reviews” of this film are necessary or even possible, but as has been the case with others, my thoughts on the film bore out some musings. Here they are.
The exhilaration of achievement and the melancholy of awareness reach their zenith in the sound of a mousetrap going off. The fumbling SNAP is followed by the dreadful, normal nothingness that fills the house, and you know exactly what you have done: you have Succeeded, and you have Killed.
I have no great lust to end animal life, though in the interests of pragmatism, I should also say that I have no real desire to have small rodentia scurrying over my pots and pans. When we first determined that there was a mouse or two living under our sink somewhere - and there are great, dark canyons of exposed nothingness down there, which might lead to the Temple of Doom or the Secret of NIMH for all I know - I honestly had no idea what to do with myself, besides sell the house, or perhaps burn it down.
But I learned. I learned how to deploy poison. I learned what kind of cheese works. I learned how to lay peanut-butter-loaded death in the darkened cabinets, to wait for sniffing whiskers. I learned, for that matter, the ultimate secret of how to use peanut butter on a mousetrap - not on top of the bait clasp, but underneath it, so they have to stick their noses in there and root around, and… WHAMMO.
As you might glean, then, I must dutifully report that in the past months - while waging the mouse war - I have become fiendishly addicted to the traps. They are vicious and terrifying little things, which, being weapons of murder, they would be. But gee whiz, I find them satisfying. The small wooden boards I buy down at the hardware store with their spring-loaded spine-shatterers have not varied an iota from the ones my grandfather bought at the General Store sixty years ago, fumbled into his pocket, and brought to the cottage on Six Mile Lake.
This process - buying ‘em for 99 cents, loading ‘em and setting ‘em down, checking ‘em later for news from the Front - is not something that can be done on the internet. There’s no app for this. It’s a physical thing that can’t be simplified or made faster or more convenient by all the ludicrous crap that circles our urban lives to turn us into mush. There is continuity here, even if only in death. I could find the key to a better life in all this, if I gave it some thought.
Image from Jenn Norton’s Wee Requiem, an extraordinary short film about mouse-death.