Early March Linkdump

Aeon Magazine has a very good article by Damien Walter about the importance of creating a culture of creativity. Considering how you have to fight as a teacher to be allowed to bring a bit of creativity into your classes and how many students just plain don’t know what to do with it (apart from drawing penises) and how some of them blossom when allowed to be creative, this really resonated with me.

Linguist John McWorter claims that text-speak is not a symptom of the decline of the English (or any other) language, but a new way of writing like we speak. Found via Jay Lake. Of course, David Crystal has been saying something similar for years.

At Tor.com, Emily Asher-Perrin explores what happens when you watch the Star Wars prequels with the sound muted, i.e. without the often bad dialogue, and finds that the much maligned prequels are visually stunning. This post is a response to Camille Paglia’s recent assertion that George Lucas is the greatest visual artist of our time. Now that George Lucas isn’t skilled at handling dialogue and that he is a very good visual stylist aren’t exactly revolutionary insights. Nonetheless, it’s interesting how many of the moments I do like about the prequels are visual rather than dialogue related. Though that moment between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan in The Phantom Menace does not mean what Emily Asher-Perrin thinks it means. Plus, she misses one of my personal favourites, the very end of Revenge of the Sith, when Obi-Wan takes baby Luke to Beru and Owen Lars, a scene that’s entirely without dialogue. Beru takes one look at baby Luke and her face literally lights up. Then she turns away, Luke clutched protectively to her chest, leaving Obi-Wan standing there, making it very clear that Obi-Wan will not get his hands on Luke while she and Owen live. This little moment explains Luke’s whole childhood right there and also redeems the Lars family, who in the original trilogy had appeared mostly as obstacles who try to keep Luke from his destiny. And that’s exactly what they do – only that they do it out of love and in an (ultimately ill-fated) attempt to prevent Anakin’s fate from repeating itself. It’s also striking how much those dialogueless scenes (not just Obi-Wan delivering baby Luke to the Lars family, but also Bail Organa bringing baby Leia home) manage to offer a hopeful ending to an otherwise bleak and hopeless movie. No matter how bad things may get in the new Empire (and seeing the Death Star in the very early phases of construction just moments before makes it clear that they are going to get very bad indeed), those two kids are loved and they’re going to be all right.

Talking of SF design, Ray Cusick, the BBC production designer who created the iconic Dalek design, died aged 84.

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