"I certainly never write a review about a book I don't think worth reviewing, a flat-out bad book, unless it's an enormously fashionable bad book." --
says, John Gardner in Conversations with John Gardner
Quoted from 'Dictionary of Library and Information Science Quotations'     Edited by Mohamed Taher & L S Ramaiah. ISBN: 8185689423 (New Delhi , Aditya, 1994) p.150. Available @ Amazon.com

Saturday, May 05, 2007

So much of visual literary genre, so little time to categorize it

Religion and Film Intro

Religion in film

Other than traditionally known genre (prose, poetry, fiction, etc.), literature continuously evolves in different dimensions, and hence pop up new genre. Visual literary genre, as some have called it, is yet to become fashionable in the literary circles. Until then, whatever appears in the following themes will wait for an umbrella term:

  • Religion and Film with special contributions from scholars such as, Anton Karl Kozlovic
  • Esotericism in popular culture
  • Religion and infotainment in South Indian literature with special contributions of U.R. Ananthamurthy
  • Qawwali (mystical songs) in popular culture, with a new interface given by Isaac Sequeira in his book: Popular Culture: East and West, etc.

    This just in: BrainPOP Adds “Arts & Music”
    Yahoo untangles licensing web for lyrics service Antony Bruno, Sat May 5, 2007, DENVER (Reuters/Billboard) A new music lyrics service launched by Yahoo illustrates the potential and the challenges of integrating lyrics into digital music products today. File photo shows the letter from the GPO (General Post Office) demanding settlement of an unpaid 'radiophone' bill on the back of which John Lennon wrote the lyrics for the Beatles song 'I'm Only Sleeping', is demonstrated by a porter at Christie's auctioneers in London September 28, 2005. (Stephen Hird/Reuters)

    What's in a name, anyways. I find the work of Anton Karl Kozlovic so much in the field of visual literary genre. For a list of his recent publications click here.

    A word about categories and classification of this genre. Library of Congress uses categories (aka subject heading), such as, Religion and literature, Motion pictures Religious aspects, Religion in motion pictures, Religious films, etc.. Moreover, to catalog and categorize a religious publication about online media (such Cyber worship, guide to religions online), Library of Congress has a single subject representation, and that is, Religions--Computer network resources. The organization of this knowledge is, evidently, long overdue and probably there is no time for this activity. Alternative descriptions for the field of religion-and-film (aka sacred cinema) are spiritual cinema, holy film, cinematic theology, cinematheology, theo-film, celluloid religion, film-and-faith, film-faith dialogue) [descriptions courtesy: Anton Kozlovic].

    Back to Anton Kozlovic's work, I find his visualizations are embedded with analysis, as well as, synthesis. Precisely, what appealed me was his scholarly essay oriented towards building an understanding of diversity and accommodation in today's multicultural and multifaith societies:

  • Consequence #1 - Nothing Happened: Real or Imagined?
  • Consequence #2 - Understanding the Other and the Dialogic Process
  • Consequence #3 - Insightfulness into One’s Own Faith and Sharing it with Coreligionists
  • Consequence #4 - Tolerance and an Increase in the Public Good
  • Consequence #5 - Conversion: How to Ameliorate the Fear?
  • Consequence #6 - Frustration: Suppressed Desire?
  • Consequence #7 - Defection and Beyond: Confirmation of the Worst?

    These seven serve also as taxonomy of the interfaith dialog. And for this analytical article, "Seven logical consequences of interreligious dialoguing" see my book: Mohamed Taher Cyber worship in multifaith perspectives (pp. 188-204). Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. [see also this book discussed in the media]

    I asked him to say five things that people don't know about him. The following is what he has to say:

    1. My mother was an Australian country girl (Murray Bridge, South Australia) who left home for the big city (Adelaide) to work as a shop assistant when her Norwegian father and Australian mother died during her teens. My father was an unskilled European migrant (Koper, Slovenia, Yugoslavia) who left home for a better life overseas when his father took him to a cross road and told him to pick a direction, escape and get a life. Given the choice of migrating to Argentina or Australia he asked which was the furtherest away from the war and he ended up in Oz, the land down under, whereupon he was immediately captured by love and got married. Both my parents never completed their basic schooling and saw little value in academic education. My mother wanted grand children (and knitted little booties which she left strategically lying around the house to remind me) whilst my father wanted me to get a trade and a government job as soon as possible, and so he kicked me out of 4th year high school (called Leaving) to start an apprenticeship as an electrician. I wanted to stay in school longer and go to university but my boiler attendant-cum-drain layer father stopped me by saying: “University is for smart people, so why do you want to go there?”

    2. Emotionally crushed, I subsequently won an apprenticeship with the Electricity Trust of South Australia (ETSA), one of 28 out of 1,400 applicants, which made my parents very proud, with my mother counting the board money before I even got my first pay packet! I dutifully did it for 4 years, graduated and worked as an A-class tradesman for 1 year whilst also attending night school to study radio servicing, motor mechanics, supervision, personnel management and public administration before deciding that I really was a nerd and wanted to die a university educated man. At work one dreary day, and at a time when talking about religion and politics was forbidden, I was mentally bored whilst reconditioning fuses and had an imaginary conversation with my future son. Yes, I did say I was bored! During that mental conversation, I was arguing why he should go to university and offered up all my best arguments when this “son” suddenly said: “If it’s so bloody good dad, why didn’t you go to university yourself!” I was gob-smacked and decided then and there to practise what I peached. (Whether this “son” was God, an angel, a guardian spirit, part of a Jungian archetype or my Freudian subconscious, I leave it up to you to decide). So, I left my secure government job, to the dismay of both parents, went back to high school and did my 5th year (called Matriculation) as a mature age student. Amazingly, I passed and was accepted into The University of Adelaide to do a BA studying psychology, anthropology and politics (religion studies was forbidden by university statue and it required me to study at another tertiary institution, which I did). All of this success was accompanied by the further dismay of my parents, who hoped I’d work it out my system, become “normal” again and would return to my electrician job. No such luck for them. During my university years as the black sheep of the family (“He wants to study instead of going to discos, how sick is he?”), I worked intermittently as a drain layer’s assistant digging trenches for my father to pay my board and keep the snide remarks of relatives at bay (e.g., “What’s wrong with you son?, Why doesn’t he want to work?”).

    3. Many years, trials and tribulations later, with bulging biceps and ten degrees, my PhD on the biblical cinema of Cecil B. DeMille was submitted, whilst simultaneously establishing myself as an international scholar of academic articles (approx. 80 publications in 50 different journals in over 10 different countries—see below). I specialised in the areas of Religion-and-Film, Cecil B. DeMille Studies, Interreligious Dialogue, Computer Films, Popular Culture, Philosophy and the New Age. I plan to publish many more articles and a succession of books in these areas before old age claims me and my mind. In short, I had pursued my father’s dream (i.e., a tradesman with a government job) and then I pursued my own dream (i.e., academic success), interrupted by a two year stint as a 24/7 carer for my dying father and blind, invalid mother. Regrettably, both parents died before seeing my full accomplishments but at least I got my wish and can now die happily myself, preferably sometime way off into the future.

    4. I love popular films more than opera/theatre/dance, philosophical debate more than sport, small dogs more than the race track, the gym more than smoking, spring water more than booze and will probably die because some beer swilling hoon hits me with his car as he speeds to his next foot match whilst I’m walking my dog to the local shop to get some spring water and a DVD.

    5. I’m a big science fiction fan and love all the classic movies (e.g., The Day the Earth Stood Still, Forbidden Planet, The Incredible shrinking Man) and TV series (e.g., Star Trek, Dr. Who, Stargate). In the future, I plan to publish more articles and books in this area, most probably highlighting the innumerable religious subtexts hidden within these ostensibly secular films, whilst simultaneously hoping that my many relatives will have finally forgot that I used to be a tradesman and stop asking me to dig trenches or fix their lights and power outlets for free (i.e., love-jobs; because “you love me”)!

    --- End of the Five things ---
    See also:
  • RELIGION & CONTEMPORARY FILM - Course Outline @ American Academy of Religion
  • Certificate Course in Cultural Analysis The course is of interest to students of Literature, History, Sociology, Journalism and Communicative English (with a focus on Christian perspectives)
  • Seamless Structured Semantic Web -Will Tags, Clouds, Ontologies, Taxonomies, and Facet Analysis help?
  • The Souls of Superheroes - Faithwise Review of the Week
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