baleanoptera: (The Wire Omar)
Thoughts regarding The Wire seasons 1 -3, with a few remarks about season 4 for good measure.

I have recently rewatched the first three seasons of The Wire. I’ve wanted to do that for some time, and for a strange reason I apparently found the time during the busiest exam schedule. Or its possible I was just trying to find an excuse not to read yet another book on politics, rhetoric and advertising.

At any rate these are some thoughts jumble together and they span all the three seasons, with references to season four. To summarise: SPOILERS FOR ALL FOUR SEASONS!

cut for SPOILERS, quite a bit of text and bulletpoints )
baleanoptera: (The Wire Omar)
Thoughts regarding The Wire seasons 1 -3, with a few remarks about season 4 for good measure.

I have recently rewatched the first three seasons of The Wire. I’ve wanted to do that for some time, and for a strange reason I apparently found the time during the busiest exam schedule. Or its possible I was just trying to find an excuse not to read yet another book on politics, rhetoric and advertising.

At any rate these are some thoughts jumble together and they span all the three seasons, with references to season four. To summarise: SPOILERS FOR ALL FOUR SEASONS!

cut for SPOILERS, quite a bit of text and bulletpoints )
baleanoptera: (Wire McNultey)
Another link from Jason Mitchell’s blog – this time about The Wire

I especially liked this part:

For many critics, bloggers, fans, and even creator David Simon himself, The Wire is best understood not as a television series, but as a "visual novel." As a television scholar, this cross-media metaphor bristles – not because I don’t like novels, but because I love television. And I believe that television at its best shouldn’t be understood simply as emulating another older and more culturally valued medium. The Wire is a masterpiece of television, not a novel that happens to be televised, and thus should be understood, analyzed, and celebrated on its own medium’s terms.

I think it touches upon something I’ve been pondering myself. Because recently a lot of the Norwegian media have started to discover The Wire and several (so called) intellectuals and writers have gone out and said "Oh, this is more like a book than television" or "This is so much more than television". All of which has really bugged me. Mostly because of the reasons Mitchell mentions above. For The Wire’s storytelling isn’t simply done by dialogue or acting, but also in the filming, the use of location, colour and shade and in the use of music and camera panning. All of which are audio-visual tools that novels cannot use.

Granted I'm also guilty in saying that The Wire can resemble a novel, specifically in how it is plotted and thought out. Yet I feel there is a difference in saying the storytelling can resemble a novel, and saying it is a visual novel – or "more than television". (Or you know – this might be me just trying to cover my own tracks. ;D)

I suspect the attitude that The Wire is more akin to novels or more than television harkens back to television’s status as the unruly youngest child of the cultural arena.

At any rate the essay, though long, is highly recommended. But please note that the essay is a little spoilery for all four seasons.
baleanoptera: (Wire McNultey)
Another link from Jason Mitchell’s blog – this time about The Wire

I especially liked this part:

For many critics, bloggers, fans, and even creator David Simon himself, The Wire is best understood not as a television series, but as a "visual novel." As a television scholar, this cross-media metaphor bristles – not because I don’t like novels, but because I love television. And I believe that television at its best shouldn’t be understood simply as emulating another older and more culturally valued medium. The Wire is a masterpiece of television, not a novel that happens to be televised, and thus should be understood, analyzed, and celebrated on its own medium’s terms.

I think it touches upon something I’ve been pondering myself. Because recently a lot of the Norwegian media have started to discover The Wire and several (so called) intellectuals and writers have gone out and said "Oh, this is more like a book than television" or "This is so much more than television". All of which has really bugged me. Mostly because of the reasons Mitchell mentions above. For The Wire’s storytelling isn’t simply done by dialogue or acting, but also in the filming, the use of location, colour and shade and in the use of music and camera panning. All of which are audio-visual tools that novels cannot use.

Granted I'm also guilty in saying that The Wire can resemble a novel, specifically in how it is plotted and thought out. Yet I feel there is a difference in saying the storytelling can resemble a novel, and saying it is a visual novel – or "more than television". (Or you know – this might be me just trying to cover my own tracks. ;D)

I suspect the attitude that The Wire is more akin to novels or more than television harkens back to television’s status as the unruly youngest child of the cultural arena.

At any rate the essay, though long, is highly recommended. But please note that the essay is a little spoilery for all four seasons.
baleanoptera: (Norge bryggen detalj)
Maybe you noticed that a few of my post titles are called "Picturing History"? You might have chalked this up to bad title-imagination, and you wouldn’t be far wrong – but there is also an underlying method to the madness.

This then is a meta-like post trying to sort out all the different arguments and views I’ve played with in the Picturing History posts. I’m not rightly sure this will interest any one but me, but it might. And if you’d like to take peek at that part of by brain that revels in academic geekery – well this is a good opportunity.

The present post considers the difference between, and the juxtapositions of, history and memory. With history being the science concerned with correct historical facts and an objective view. Memory would be its bastard baby – filled with emotion, value and pathos. It’s sometimes wrong, but it’s never uninteresting. To simplify: history would be the encyclopedic reference, and memory the bloody, lusty and colourful tale spun around the same event.

In which I say a quick definition, but clearly mean a rather long one. It can be skipped. )

So in conclusion; memory doesn’t have to be factually correct to work or have value. Take for instance Casablanca. Rick never says "Play it again Sam", but "Play it Sam. Play As Time goes bye" Yet "play it again" is the one people remember and the one most often quoted when referencing the film. So just because some thing is recalled incorrectly does not mean it’s not functional. (The disclaimer here would be that if it is just one person that remembers incorrectly the memory will not work. The memory aspect needs to be a collective thing – a common base of reference.)

Memory comprises of anecdotes, tales and phrases within a culture. I felt The Wire season two did a beautiful job portraying how memory forms the backbone of a collective identity. This is probably why I did a huge post on it.

Sometimes we remember based on slightly crooked information – like the World war II photos by Robert Capa. Or we remember and form a view based on how we want things to look and how we are used to things looking more than the way things were. There is our habit of recalling the Middle Ages as dark, mysterious. Or our recollection of Antiquities as dotted with white marble statues, when in most of them were painted. Quite festively.

Cut for Caligula - in colour! )
The question then arises; Even if we remember all these things slightly incorrectly, does that make our memory without value? I would say no. For if memory, as I proposed earlier, is part of what forms our identity - then all these memories, even the factual wrong ones, are important in understanding of who we are. To say the white marble statues are wrong, simply because they aren’t historically correct, would be false. For we have grown used to seeing the white marble, and for us it holds all manner of significance in addition to being a historical artifact.

Memories in the forms of Memoirs can also be important in that they give us a more emotional, sometimes personal, dimension that has a habit of being sidetracked by historical facts. For me the beauty of the HBO series Band of Brothers is not its historical dimension, but that it brings to life memories and a memory culture.

Somethings we need to remember. And we don’t need facts to be reminded either – a painting, like Anselm Kiefer’s Lot’s Wife, can do just as much to trigger memory as a list of historical artifacts can.
a finishing quote, aka the words of wisdom )
baleanoptera: (Norge bryggen detalj)
Maybe you noticed that a few of my post titles are called "Picturing History"? You might have chalked this up to bad title-imagination, and you wouldn’t be far wrong – but there is also an underlying method to the madness.

This then is a meta-like post trying to sort out all the different arguments and views I’ve played with in the Picturing History posts. I’m not rightly sure this will interest any one but me, but it might. And if you’d like to take peek at that part of by brain that revels in academic geekery – well this is a good opportunity.

The present post considers the difference between, and the juxtapositions of, history and memory. With history being the science concerned with correct historical facts and an objective view. Memory would be its bastard baby – filled with emotion, value and pathos. It’s sometimes wrong, but it’s never uninteresting. To simplify: history would be the encyclopedic reference, and memory the bloody, lusty and colourful tale spun around the same event.

In which I say a quick definition, but clearly mean a rather long one. It can be skipped. )

So in conclusion; memory doesn’t have to be factually correct to work or have value. Take for instance Casablanca. Rick never says "Play it again Sam", but "Play it Sam. Play As Time goes bye" Yet "play it again" is the one people remember and the one most often quoted when referencing the film. So just because some thing is recalled incorrectly does not mean it’s not functional. (The disclaimer here would be that if it is just one person that remembers incorrectly the memory will not work. The memory aspect needs to be a collective thing – a common base of reference.)

Memory comprises of anecdotes, tales and phrases within a culture. I felt The Wire season two did a beautiful job portraying how memory forms the backbone of a collective identity. This is probably why I did a huge post on it.

Sometimes we remember based on slightly crooked information – like the World war II photos by Robert Capa. Or we remember and form a view based on how we want things to look and how we are used to things looking more than the way things were. There is our habit of recalling the Middle Ages as dark, mysterious. Or our recollection of Antiquities as dotted with white marble statues, when in most of them were painted. Quite festively.

Cut for Caligula - in colour! )
The question then arises; Even if we remember all these things slightly incorrectly, does that make our memory without value? I would say no. For if memory, as I proposed earlier, is part of what forms our identity - then all these memories, even the factual wrong ones, are important in understanding of who we are. To say the white marble statues are wrong, simply because they aren’t historically correct, would be false. For we have grown used to seeing the white marble, and for us it holds all manner of significance in addition to being a historical artifact.

Memories in the forms of Memoirs can also be important in that they give us a more emotional, sometimes personal, dimension that has a habit of being sidetracked by historical facts. For me the beauty of the HBO series Band of Brothers is not its historical dimension, but that it brings to life memories and a memory culture.

Somethings we need to remember. And we don’t need facts to be reminded either – a painting, like Anselm Kiefer’s Lot’s Wife, can do just as much to trigger memory as a list of historical artifacts can.
a finishing quote, aka the words of wisdom )

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