The best tales of the supernatural, from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, use fantasy to dramatize emotions that are too dark and overpowering to be treated conventionally. Sam Raimi’s marvelous Spider-Man 2 takes audiences into some pretty deep waters too.
Since bursting onto the national scene in 1989 with his celebrated documentary Roger & Me, Michael Moore has gone from being that goofy overweight filmmaker in tennis shoes and a baseball cap to being the resolute voice of the common American. His battles with the powers-that-be have cast him as a modern-day Frank Capra.
Even in Maine’s rain and fog I catch them, often in pairs, or waiting, patient, perched on a scarcely bending twig of our aged forsythia, then working the window box petunias till the coast seems clear, while I hover, motionless, on the shadowed porch, hungry for still another glimpse of ruby throat and emerald layered coat, the delicate dip of beak in cup, the tilted head, the blur of wings, that sudden flash of movement— now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t. Whatever it may be in me— some wandered/wondered child— that makes me watch and wait, this late, the daily hours to catch their, almost holy, visitations, I’m grateful for it, mindful too of one who, every once in a long while, still hovers back there just beyond, behind the nearest edge of solitude, or prayer, or even glimpses of the tiniest of birds.
Even after years living with the blind, guide dogs continue gazing into the dead fish of their owner’s eyes. The dogs are not stupid. They simply see what eyes can’t see behind the bloodless husk of facts. And soon enough, their guileless trust awakens something in the blind: not sight, exactly, but the cognizance that they are seen—which is another kind of seeing—call it faith, blind faith.
A professor of the theory and practice of social media, Clay Shirky, doesn’t let his students use electronic devices in his classes. It’s not just that he can’t compete with the hardware or the software. Studies show that multitasking is bad for the kind of cognitive work required in a classroom. It has a negative effect on memory and recall. One study showed that students who multitasked in class scored lower than those who didn’t. The presence of electronic devices also distracts those who aren’t using them. “I’m coming to see student focus as a collaborative process,” Shirky said (Washington Post, September 25).