Monthly Archives: January 2017

How to interpret The Red Turtle

What does The Red Turtle mean? How are we supposed to interpret a movie with no dialogue and no explanations? Not easily.

The Oscar-nominated animation has not yet prompted an onslaught of online opinion. It offers a green and blue canvas for people to paint their own portraits and impose their own perceptions onto this rectangular dream. Meditative and mysterious, the film also feels allegorical. It’s an extended bedtime story for adults.

Others articles discuss the director (Michaël Dudok de Wit of the Netherlands) and the art of the animation (Studio Ghibli of Japan), but I want to explore the symbolism of the film. Let’s start with the title, which is what drew me to see it.

Why Red?

A sea turtle with a red shell is exceptional, improbable, and startling. The color red could be interpreted to indicate danger, blood, passion, and other strong emotions. But turtles are toothless. Sea turtles do not threaten humans, although this red turtle does disrupt the protagonist’s plans to escape the deserted island. A silent siren, she controls his destiny. She is a stop sign.

The Turtle of the Red Shell

Sea turtles are exceptionally ancient, amphibious survivors in the tree of life, yet they are highly threatened by human activity. They represent our connection to the past and our alienation in the present. They know things that we can’t, and they are pacific. In contrast, humans are young and violent. We’re jealous and discontent.

The nameless main character is a non-turtle, an every-man, representing a lost soul and a frustrated loner. His conscious desire is to escape, like the delicate, hatchling sea turtles that scatter into the sea, but he is a failure. He has no home, no shell. The turtle, in its shell, is always home.

Conception and Rebirth

The film’s narrative unfolds as a creation myth, with Eve eventually arising from the red turtle’s shell and giving birth to a son, creating a trinity. This expansion represents the man’s unconscious desire to create. He believed that his true life existed outside of the island, in another place and time, but his spirit conjured up new life from within. The red turtle is his tormentor, and his deliverer.

The son is a hybrid who is free to join the turtles. He achieves what the father could not, and he chooses the feminine path of his mother. Both father and son experience the same rebirthing process after falling into the cave, yet the son struggles much less. He is becoming more harmonious, more integrated with nature than the father. He is returning to the amphibious womb of the ocean.

But a Dream

The Red Turtle could be enjoyed as an extended dream sequence, like the Technicolor portion of the Wizard of Oz. There are dreams within the dream, as when the man flies over a pier or when he hears a string quartet. But he awakens to the confines of his tropical island.

turtle FKNMS

The island nurtures him with food, water, and eventually a mate. At times it turns violent and dangerous, and eventually he falls asleep on the sand, forever. He achieves peace and belonging. Just as the turtle will return to the sea, he will return to the sand.

Feeling Unsettled

This interpretation is one of many possibilities, such a this one from Paste, calling it “more impressionistic than thematic.” You could look at the silence as ambivalence; the island could be the protagonist; the turtle could be a hallucination.

My mother is a turtle.

I may find another meaning in the future, but today I see it this way: the turtle is a higher being, a more advanced consciousness, and we are struggling to connect with it, just as many people are struggling in today’s world to reconnect with Nature. We are lost. Despite our wired world, we are disconnected.

So many people today envision the world in screens. They fear peering away from their phones and their computers, lest they miss something important. They need a reminder that stories have magic and power to heal, whereas a screen is only a tool. Screens can convey stories, but only the interpreter can infuse them with meaning.

The Red Turtle, while only a film, is also a chance to meditate on a moving yet perplexing story. It’s an invitation to dream of something beyond the rectangle.

Planetary change, not just climate

It’s more than climate change we face. Much, much more.

DOWNER WARNING: Do not read this if you’re feeling blue. Come back after you’ve put on your rainbow coat of many colors. 

photo 2

Trampling on life is ultimately self-destructive.

Climate change is as real as cancer, and it is caused by us. Just as we have the power to quit smoking, we have the power to quit burning fuel. We can do this.

But the imbalance we face is not just one, discrete cancer on Earth. It is akin to multiple cancers, multiple diseases. It is a full-on, multi-symptom, doctor’s check up from hell.

It could be worse, I guess, because daily life goes on. Yet we’re distracted and dumb. Our planetary IQ is dismally low. People are foolishly debating the reality of climate change, while other, planetary changes demand a growing awareness–not a stifled second opinion.

Don’t even listen to the quacks. Keep learning about cancer number 1, climate change, while expanding your knowledge to cancers 2 through 25 of the environment, such as ocean pollution, the depletion of soil, and the extinction crisis. Listen to what the planet is telling us.

What’s Going On

We need to find new terms to deal with our syndrome. Some scientists have agreed on a new geological term of Anthropocene, meaning that the dust of the Earth is being shaped by humanity. That’s a good start.

I’m using analogies to human disease, because we can understand them intuitively. We can conceive of Mother Earth as a person with a deadly illness. We know what a sick person needs and doesn’t need. She doesn’t have a chance if the air she breathes is toxic, the water she drinks is poisoned, and the food she eats lacks nutrition.

She is faltering. As Mother Earth goes, so go we.

Do we call it a syndrome? Does Mother Earth have AIDS? She is metaphorically HIV-positive, and we desperately need a cure. Just as we fight for a cure to real AIDS, we must learn how to fight for a cure to planetary disease.

Planetary change is happening on the ground, just as climate change is happening in the atmosphere. At the core of the change is humanity’s imbalance with Nature.

This concept is really hard to digest. I’m not even sure what to call it. Maybe you have an idea that will give us a vocabulary to deal with it.

Climate change is very important and very real. It is part of planetary change caused by humans. The sooner we accept it and learn how to deal with it, the sooner we can move on to deal with the other cancers we are unwittingly creating.

Ignorance is death.

 

 

My photos from DC Women’s March

For more photos of signs, check out My favorite signs at the Women’s March on Washington from The Washington Post.

No justice, no “Beaches” remake

The media must be stopped.

The injustice being penetrated on the masses has never been so severe, up in here. Hell no, we won’t watch it.

Lifetime “Television” (#fakeTV), this weekend, is airing an atrocity that can barely speak its name. It is planning to show a remake of, help me now, the movie Beaches.

No! This cannot be allowed to happen. This is beyond wrong; it is beyond taboo. It requires the full resources of our subliminal justice system.

993b116ead71936c044aa047557df769

Poor, hysterical Better. 

The original Beaches was flawless and sits in the inner sanctum of the panoply of official masterpieces of the Sacred VCR. It is the vehicle that drove the shooting stardom of Better Mildew, and that other chick, to new heights. It cannot be touched.

Poor Better will be rolling over in her future grave, the grave created by the re-makers of this sacrilegious celluloid. This will surely kill her, and that other chick too, although–Spoiler Alert!–she already died in the original.

Don’t even get me started on the new attempt to sing “Wings Beneath My Wind.” This should not be happening. I don’t understand why so many Americans are in favor of it.

Why can’t some things just be left alone? Don’t get me wrong, because I would be all in favor of fitting tributes, such as:

  • The Broadway Musical, Beaches (almost happened)
  • The off-Broadway mash-up of Beaches, Starlight Express, and Xanadu, called “Magical Bi-coastal Roller Divas”
  • The all-star tribute concert to Beaches, featuring Cher and Fran Dresher
  • The cruise ship tribute show, “Almost Beaches”
  • The elder-friendly performance piece in Celebration, Florida: “Heavenly Beaches”

But the movie? Don’t go there. Stop the humanity!

Some things cannot be improved, and other things simply cannot be imagined. No one in their right mind could imagine trying to remake Beaches. Yet here we are on the cusp of the unimaginable.

Justice is blind, and so will be everyone who watches this Lifetime movie atrocity. Put that in your Twitter feed and eat it.

 

One day more of American pride

All my life I’ve been proud to be an American. I’m worried that those days are ending.

To all the nations of the world, let me say: I’m sorry that we’re letting you down. I’m so embarrassed. I can barely express my anguish.

Please don’t give up on us. Maybe this is temporary insanity. Maybe we’ll renew our belief in the true American dream—freedom—that our true leaders have shared with the world.

We still have one day more to dream.

Does environment have a prayer, at inauguration?

Religious leaders are pleading for president-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration to include prayers for the Earth. Five prominent clergy sent the letter last Friday, one week before this Friday’s event, to invited spiritual speakers, as reported by Greenwire.

“We are collectively concerned about what we can expect for the quality of air and water, and the protection of our precious public lands,” state the multi-denominational letter. It references Pope Francis’s environmental tome, Laudato Si’, and Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical relief agency led by Rev. Franklin Graham, who is also President and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

The letter is addressed to four of the six tapped to pray at the inauguration:

  • Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York
  • Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center
  • Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
  • Rev. Franklin Graham

The letter asks them to “say a few words that would encourage the President and his team to make clean air and water, a safe climate for future generations, and protected public lands a top priority.”

It is unclear why the letter was not addressed to the other two invited televangelists who both preach a prosperity gospel: Bishop Wayne T. Jackson of Detroit and Pastor Paula White of greater Orlando, who is called Trump’s personal minister.

Prayers have been a tradition at U.S. presidential inaugurations since 1937. Rev. Billy Graham, 98, presided at inaugurations for Presidents Nixon, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. His son Rev. Franklin Graham, 64, prayed for George W. Bush in 2001 and will return Friday for Donald Trump.

Monday's mood at the National Cathedral was decidedly anti-Trump.

Monday’s mood at the National Cathedral was decidedly anti-Trump.

The choir of the Washington National Cathedral will perform at the inauguration, and on Saturday it will host an interfaith prayer service for the new president. At Monday’s memorial service for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Cathedral hosted an event where speakers openly challenged the incoming president.

The tradition of a church service before the inaugural ceremony will continue. The Washington Post reports: “Trump, who identifies as a Presbyterian, plans to follow tradition and attend a private family church service at St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House the morning of the inauguration.”

Review of Dave Barry’s new book “Best.State.Ever.”

29093310The best thing about humorist Dave Barry’s new book is the title. With a mocking and adolescent tone, the title has literal and interpretive meanings that allow us to giggle about Florida truly as the best of states, the worst of states, and a quixotic state of mind. The book neither proves nor disproves a literal achievement of “best state” (a game showing waiting to happen) but it does entertain in typical, good-natured Dave Barry fashion.

As a fellow Floridian, I enjoyed following Dave’s drives around the state to storied tourist attractions and aging oddities, but much of it was old news. The most revealing chapter covered a retirement community in central Florida (shocking, I know) where people dance until they die (Best.Twist.Ever.). Although sarcastic and knowingly hyperbolic, Dave laughs while still managing to empathize with his subject of old people in a fish bowl. They are too easy to catch and throw back, yet there’s some charm and whimsy to this fish tank, where Dave would never want to live—but now he understands why so many do.

img_2954Other chapters have him driving to Key West to get drunk (shocking) and to Weeki Wachee Springs to see real mermaids (bucket list material). These chapters are like shooting fish in a barrel—they’re just too easy, and they’ve become clichés. Old-school, unfiltered Florida is obviously “the best.” Where’s today’s Florida of competitive commercialization? He visits the trendiest of night clubs in South Beach and gives it too much credit. Boring. I wanted him to rip it like he did in his Miami Herald column on Santa’s Enchanted Forest, a pathetic Miami attraction and multi-layered oxymoron, which deserves an annual reading.

The book “Best.State.Ever.” is fun and fluffy. I certainly agree that Florida deserves the crown for info-tainment, and I challenge any other state to even try to snatch the title. Such mind games are a breezy, harmless distraction from the actual state of our states.

It’s also refreshing to have PG-rated humor in an X-rated world. Our states hold great potential for humor, but our nation is really pushing the boundaries. Considering the state of U.S. politics, the book Dave should be writing right now is “Best.Nation.Ever.” We are killing it.  quote-a-printer-consists-of-three-main-parts-the-case-the-jammed-paper-tray-and-the-blinking-dave-barry-121-5-0562