"New rubbish dialogue reaches me every day, and none of it makes my character clear or even bearable."
-- Alec Guinness, writing from the set of the original Star Wars
The droid BB-8 and Rey (Daisy Ridley) bond in the desert in Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens.
I finally saw Star Wars: Episode VII -- The Force Awakens.
I liked it a lot better than I liked the prequels, probably better than any Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back. It's corny, it's derivative and it is essentially fan service, a valentine to the culture it was created to exploit. I'm glad it made a lot of people happy, because there is real value in that. I worry about what it means when a product like this occupies so much space in our lives, when it blots out the sun like a looming Death Star.
A Star Wars movie is an event around which a lot of people coalesce, but people also come together in the wake of natural disasters and terrorist attacks, and no one suggests those are good for us. Star Wars movies are just movies, just light and noise, but they have somehow attained an unassailable place in our culture. As I'm writing this I'm acutely aware of the probable backlash -- the inevitable accusations of trolling and contrarianism that follow any attempt to parse the unearned popularity of what is essentially a good-natured, winking hunk of junk. ...
A Princeton PhD, was a US diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. For the Open World Leadership Center, he speaks with
its delegates from Europe/Eurasia on the topic, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United" (http://johnbrownnotesandessays.blogspot.com/2017/03/notes-and-references-for-discussion-e.html). Affiliated with Georgetown University (http://explore.georgetown.edu/people/jhb7/) for over ten years, he still shares ideas with students about public diplomacy.
The papers of his deceased father -- poet and diplomat John L. Brown -- are stored at Georgetown University Special Collections at the Lauinger Library. They are manuscript materials valuable to scholars interested in post-WWII U.S.-European cultural relations.
This blog is dedicated to him, Dr. John L. Brown, a remarkable linguist/humanist who wrote in the Foreign Service Journal (1964) -- years before "soft power" was ever coined -- that "The CAO [Cultural Affairs Officer] soon comes to realize that his job is really a form of love-making and that making love is never really successful unless both partners are participating."