WHEN: 4:15pm EST, June 27th, 2013
WHERE: In my apartment in Portland, ME
FORMAT: DVD on a 24” Philips CRT television
MENTAL STATE: Contemplative, but tired out.
PART AND WHOLE:
Cinema 52 is a three-year project. Each year, I watch one movie 52 times. With this viewing I had reached the very middle of my year of Jurassic Park and as such, the very middle of the three-year experiment. This had gotten me thinking a little bit about fractals, and the idea of self-similarity (the phenomenon of an object or system displaying similar properties at different scales).
Playing around with that idea, does the opening of Jurassic Park (the raptor-loading incident) encapsulate the themes of the entire film?
An attempt is made to contain nature.
Nature breaks free.
Okay, that that’s oversimplification of the idea to an extreme, but what implications might the idea have for this year and the Cinema 52 experiment as a whole?
THAT’S WHERE IT ENDS:
Was that opening bit an interesting little idea? I kind of think so. Too bad it represents the full fruits of my mental processes for the viewing. With each passing week, finding topics to write about has become more and more of a strain. This week, before I started, I jotted the idea down on a sticky note. Barring anything better, this would be my viewing:
Not a promising start.
As I started my viewing, I was not inspired by any wondrous ideas or poignant discoveries. Dead in the water, I returned to the idea of self-similarity, and was able to piece together the opening scene/whole movie comparison. It’s frustrating when strain though you might, you are unable to come up with new and interesting thoughts. It’s really no surprise. I’ve been at this for half a year. But only half a year. There’s another half yet.
Which, when I started thinking about it, led me back to the idea of self-similarity.
Take a close look at the following three graphs. They represent the NASDAQ over the course of a day, six months, and five years. Can you point out the jarring differences? What do you see?
They tell me I should invest in dinosaur cloning!
Well, despite representing sets of data of three vastly different sizes, they all fall into the same basic patterns. From the graphs alone, it’s impossible to tell what scale we’re looking at. That, in a Malcolm-esque poorly described nutshell, is the idea of self-similarity. Complex sets of data will look similar across different scales. There will be stunning statistical similarities.
So how does that idea apply to Cinema 52?
Ok, so watering down that (already watered-down) idea, I asked: how does one Jurassic Park viewing compare to a year of viewings? To the whole Cinema 52 project?
I started this particular viewing with a goal in mind, fully engaged, with a sense of purpose. By the middle, my interest was fading, my attention wandering. Except for a few moments of interest, I ended in a bored state, merely staring at the screen. It’s a pattern I see from week to week. It’s the same pattern I saw during last year’s High Fidelity viewings.
Okay, but does the same pattern show up on a larger scale across an entire year of Jurassic Park?
Well, I started the year with lofty goals in mind, fully engaged, with a sense of purpose. Now, in the middle of the year, my attention is fading. My attention wandering.
So will the pattern hold true? Will I, with only fitful bursts of inspiration, finish out the year a bored wreck?
It’s impossible to say. Because generalized feelings aren’t hard data. Even if they were, I’ve watered down the idea of self-similarity to a point where it’s more just a conversation point. Geez, I’m a worse scientist than Malcolm.
And he’s barely a scientist at all.
But I can say that right here, right now, I’m tired of watching Jurassic Park, and am grasping at straws.
Oh, hey. This article even fits the formula:
It starts out strong.
Peters out in the middle.
Sputters to an end.