Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Pre-Release review of a Dystopian Debut

Click here to see My review of Stephen Oram's dystopian thriller Quantum Confessions

I was asked by Wordery to do a review of Oram's debut and you can read it all at the link above. It was a scintillating read and novel in its combination of spirituality and science.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dead Poet's Society - Remembering Robin Williams

'The question, O me! So sad, recurring -- What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here--that life exists, and identity; 
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.' - 
O me, O life
Walt Whitman

Dead Poet's Society is the film that made the most profound impression on me growing up, and a huge part of that was Robin William's enigmatic portrayal of Mr Keating. The teacher who even now is not really allowed to exist but gets his students living and feeling, aiming to make their lives mean something. Williams affected me again in Good Will Hunting, he was the master of these roles of quiet profundity, which could reach into the person watching and alter them. That's how I choose to remember him. He contributed some of the best verses in the powerful play. 

Any lover of literature should make watching this film a priority. There are an abundance of references to Whitman, Frost, Herrick and Thoreau - especially the Carpe Diem poetic tradition (which is Mr Keating's ultimate message). Todd is the student I really identify with, afraid to speak out and not believing in what he has to say, and then there's the ultimately tragic Neal. Keating changes their lives, perhaps riskily and unconventionally, but also in a way that ultimately gives them self-esteem and makes them feel alive, for however short a time. The question we're left with is: is living intensely for a short time ultimately more worthwhile than going through the motions for an eternity? Perhaps yes.

Keating is responsible for the best of these boys, not the tragedy. Keating's fate is probably, sadly, realistic but he is a lovely ideal to look up to. Some people I've watched the film with found the ending too depressing and failed to see the hopeful and positive elements - essentially for them the tragedy overshadowed the other messages of the film - which it did for the powers at the school as well. As Mr Keating says, we must always remember to look at things in a different way.

Robin Williams will always be a genius in his own right and I hope that any conversation about depression and mental health that has now been started actually continues so that a real difference can be made in the lives of sufferers and that there's not so much fear and stigma attached to talking about it. 

O captain, my captain - Rest in Peace and thank you for your art. 


'We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race and the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.' 

'You must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation." Don't be resigned to that. Break out!'