Film Film Review

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018)

Unhinged, swashbuckling, zany cinematography keeps this very long movie feeling loose and unpredictable to the end. After 25 years of disaster and setback, Terry Gilliam’s quixotic project took on an epic depth of meta-layering. 
Adam Driver delivers a warm and funny version of an unlikable character (or caricatured stand-in for the director himself). At its best moments it captures the magic of Fellini’s Mastroianni in 81/2; complete with larger than life set pieces. Jonathan Pryce is so fun to watch, and really hooks you with his anachronistic psychotic chivalry. 
Despite pacing issues in the third act, the movie makes up for it with a generous overflow of ideas. This sprawling slapstick comedy is a profound meditation on the price of art.

Book Review

Meeting the Universe Halfway

A mini book review of Karen Barad’s Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (2007)

I found this book because of a shared pet peeve, that of hucksters misusing the concepts of quantum physics to promote Self-Help Books like “The Secret”. Karen Barad’s massive book does not spare any detail. Her exhaustive tome dives deep down into her decades-long study of Neils Bohr’s philosophy of science.

Thinking through Bohr’s misunderstood theory of “complementary” against Heisenberg’s theory of “uncertainty”, Barad grounds her theory of Agential Realism. Matter matters, but for real here. She uses a beautiful metaphor of the refraction of light (as opposed to mere reflection) to poetically frame her insights. Combined with her fervent commitment to “intra-agency” as a more accurate model for embodied reality, all of these big ideas serve as impressive tent-poles to this sprawling and generous work.

It can be overly repetitive in sections due to its unflinching commitment to clarity via scientific language, but perhaps with good reason. To err on this side make sense here – rather than slipping into the sloppier ease of Pop Science styling which this book is in large part a polemic against.

Committed readers are treated to a final section that is a wild tour of the intra-entangled mind of a species of brittle star (Ophiuroidea, similar to starfish). This is the feminist physics you’ve been looking for. Taking the profound implications of quantum reality seriously is still making my head spin a bit, but hey, that’s ontology for ya!