Lesson 8: Terrence Malick; What Is a Visual Ellipsis?
“Unless you love, your life will flash by.” These are the last words of the voice-over for Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life trailer. There isn’t much that distinguishes them from others appended to other posters for other movies, except that they carry the literary expectations we have for the person who chose them. Malick is our eyes’ Poet Laureate. His gift is making images from ideas; words are his back-up tools.
The new film (apparently booed in Cannes but who cares we love him anyway) stars Sean Penn, who also starred in Malick’s The Thin Red Line, too. A non-traditional “war story,” Line was an adaptation of James Jones’s novel. Here is the trailer.
Writing About War
Jones wrote beautifully and brutally, but what Malick did with his words was less an interpretation of a story than an interpretation of an idea; the idea in that case was war (the promise of the “idea” for the new film is evolution, and family). Spielberg chose the beaches, but Malick chose the jungle.
"When compared to the fact that he might very well be dead by this time tomorrow, whether he was courageous or not today was pointless, empty. When compared to the fact that he might be dead tomorrow, everything was pointless. It just didn't make any difference. It was pointless to the tree, it was pointless to every man in his outfit, pointless to everybody in the whole world. Who cared? It was not pointless only to him; and when he was dead, when he ceased to exist, it would be pointless to him too. More important: Not only would it be pointless, it would have been pointless all along. This was an obscure and rather difficult point to grasp. Understanding of it kept slipping in and out on the edges of his mind. It flickered, changing its time sense and tenses. At those moments when he understood it, it left him with a very hollow feeling."
Poets distill battles down to a few lines. Malick took a battle and drew it out—to a dream.
Ellipsis, Made Visual
Unless you love, your life will flash by is not Shakespeare. Malick’s films give meaning with very few words. The words are important, but the value is in the spaces between the words. It’s ellipsis, made visual. And visual ellipsis is an elegant metaphor for how many soldiers experience the memories of battle.
What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
An ordained Lama in a Tibetan Buddhist lineage, Lama Rod grew up a queer, black male within the black Christian church in the American south. Navigating all of these intersecting, evolving identities has led him to a life's work based on compassion for self and others.
- "What I'm interested in is deep, systematic change. What I understand now is that real change doesn't happen until change on the inside begins to happen."
- "Masculinity is not inherently toxic. Patriarchy is toxic. We have to let that energy go so we can stop forcing other people to do emotional labor for us."
We were gaining three IQ points per decade for many, many years. Now, that's going backward. Could this explain some of our choices lately?
There's a new study out of Norway that indicates our—well, technically, their—IQs are shrinking, to the tune of about seven IQ points per generation.
Here's why generalists triumph over specialists in the new era of innovation.
- Since the explosion of the knowledge economy in the 1990s, generalist inventors have been making larger and more important contributions than specialists.
- One theory is that the rise of rapid communication technologies allowed the information created by specialists to be rapidly disseminated, meaning generalists can combine information across disciplines to invent something new.
- Here, David Epstein explains how Nintendo's Game Boy was a case of "lateral thinking with withered technology." He also relays the findings of a fascinating study that found the common factor of success among comic book authors.
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