I've been thinking a bit more about Kill Bill, digesting it, and realizing that while I thought it was good, it's actually better than I gave it credit for. Besides making clear references to dozens of Asian films and film styles I will never, ever see or become familiar with, it has a basic self-referential integrity that I have to respect, and that in-your-face suspension-of-disbelief that, with my origins in theater, I almost always love. For example, in high school we did Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt, and the director cast as the mother of Peer Gynt (a Norwegian) a six-foot tall rounded black girl. She was wonderful, which was why he cast her, and the underlying mechanism of theater is to engage the audience, connect them with the characters, and enable them to have a visceral emotional investment in the happenings onstage. The connection is with the characters, these spirits in front of the audience, entities who somehow exist beyond the actors conveying them. She was Peer Gynt's mother: that the actor was black and the actor playing Peer Gynt was white became irrelevant, because the production ignored it and the audience was there to join in the production. Similarly, Kill Bill takes place in the modern world, with the convention that almost no one uses guns, those effective but ultimately impersonal tools for killing. Instead, everyone uses Japanese swords or the occasional bizarro ninja weapon (those are all real, by the way). The sword holds a unique place in Japanese culture: swords elsewhere may be well-made, but good Japanese swords are exquisite. Traditional Japanese swordsmithing is a religious activity, involving ritual and purification on the part of the smith, and the final product has a soul. Armed combat already has a powerful personal edge, of contact and connection with the opponent; imagine how much more powerful that becomes with weapons that have souls of their own. I think Kill Bill gets that across, and more, and as in theater, the convention that prevents the bad guys from blowing away Uma Thurman with machine guns becomes wholly unimportant as the story takes over.
Aikido test tomorrow night. If I think about it I can get anxious, a familiar enough path in my consciousness; but I'm more than ready, so anxiety is a ridiculous and unpleasant distraction, and easily avoided. Something in me has changed in the past month or so, deeper than a mood swing, but nothing radical...a firming up, somehow, so that in focusing on the details of being ready for the test, I have brought together scattered threads of myself that have perhaps wandered aimlessly for the past few months, and now they have been fused and I am, as always, more myself than ever, and the testing process is both the cause and the demonstration of that.
I find I've been talking a lot over the past year with friends who grew up as only children, and I'm trying to articulate some of the complexity of my relationships with my brothers--now we're all grown up, and while there's nothing between us I would call even "unpleasant", there's some stuff I would label "awkward"; the short answer is that it's all bound up with how the three of us related to each other growing up, and how our memories of that contrast with the men that we've become.
God, I love being me.