Daily Update: Thursday, February 18th, 2016

02-18 - Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

We have no Saints to honor on this date; but in 1885 Mark Twain’s novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published in the United States.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn had been published on December 10, 1884, in Canada and England; the American publication was delayed because someone defaced an illustration on one of the plates, creating an obscene joke. Thirty-thousand copies of the book had been printed before the obscenity was discovered; a new plate was made to correct the illustration and repair the existing copies. The work has been popular with readers since its publication and is taken as a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It has also been the continued object of study by serious literary critics. It was criticized upon release because its coarse language was deemed inappropriate for women and children; it became even more controversial in the 20th century because of its perceived use of racial stereotypes and because of its frequent use of what has become known as “the ‘n’ word”. In 1955 CBS tried to avoid controversial material in a televised version of the book by deleting all mention of slavery and omitting the character of Jim entirely. According to the American Library Association, Huckleberry Finn was the fifth most frequently challenged book in the United States during the 1990s. A 2011 edition of the book, published by NewSouth Books, replaced “the ‘n’ word” with “slave” (although being incorrectly addressed to a freed man) and did not use the term “Injun”. The initiative to update the book was led by Mark Twain scholar Alan Gribben, who said the change was made to better express Twain’s ideas in the 21st century. Responses to this “updating” of the classic work included the publishing of The Hipster Huckleberry Finn which replaced “the ‘n’ word” with the word “hipster”. The book’s description includes the statement “Thanks to editor Richard Grayson, the adventures of Huckleberry Finn are now neither offensive nor uncool.” My personal objection to the novel is that it ends badly; once Tom Sawyer re-enters the story the novel devolves into a lazy plot and worse writing.

Last night our LSU Men’s Basketball team lost their home game with Alabama by the score of 69 to 76; our Tigers will next play an away game with Tennessee on the afternoon of February 20th.

Before I woke up at 9:00 am, Richard had gathered up the trash and wheeled the trash bin our to the curb. I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, then read the morning papers and ate my breakfast toast. I then did my Internet Devotional Reading, burned a CD of my January 2016 photos for myself, and burned a CD of my January 2016 photos for Liz Ellen. I then prepared the monthly packages to send to Liz Ellen.

Richard and I left the house at 1:00 pm; our first stop was the post office, where, while Richard mailed off Liz Ellen’s packages for me, I texted Liz Ellen to tell her we had just mailed the packages. We ate lunch at D.C.’s Sports Bar and Steakhouse, and at the Hit-n-Run I purchased my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for Saturday night’s drawing. At Wal-Mart I got two sets of Invisible Shield® screen protectors for my Galaxy Note 4 (more anon), and Richard got my salad supplies and some groceries.

We arrived home at 2:15 pm, and I installed my Invisible Shield® screen protector on my Galaxy Note 4.Richard went to bed a little before 4:00 pm; I made my lunch salads for tomorrow and Sunday, and watched Jeopardy! And I will now join Richard in bed. Our LSU Women’s Basketball team will be playing an away game with #12 Texas A&M tonight; I will record the score of the game in tomorrow’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow we have no saints, but tomorrow is the second of three Ember Days for this season of the year. Tomorrow is also a Friday in Lent, so tomorrow is a day of Abstinence from Meat. Tomorrow is the anniversary both of when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, allowing the United States military to relocate Japanese-Americans to internment camps during World War II (1942) and of when President Gerald R. Ford rescinded Executive Order 9066 (1976). We will return to the casino for the start of our work week, and on my breaks I will continue reading Julian’s Gospel: Illuminating the Life & Revelations of Julian of Norwich by Veronica Mary Rolf. Our New Orleans Pelicans will be playing a home game with the Philadelphia 76er tomorrow evening; I will record the score of the game in Saturday’s Daily Update. And our LSU Baseball team will be starting their season with a home series with Cincinnati; I will record the score of that game in tomorrow’s Daily Update as well.

Today’s Parting Quote on this Thursday afternoon is from Jean Rouch, French filmmaker and anthropologist. Born in 1917 in Paris, his life was uneventful until he arrived in Niamey, Niger as a French colonial hydrology engineer in 1941. Rouch became interested in Zarma and Songhai ethnology and began to film local people and their rituals. In the 1940s he met Damouré Zika, the son of a Songhai/Sorko traditional healer and fisherman, near the town of Ayorou on the Niger River. After ten Sorko workers in a construction depot which Rouch supervised were killed by a lightning strike, Zika’s grandmother, a famous possession medium and spiritual advisor, presided over a ritual for the men, which Rouch later claimed sparked his desire to make ethnographic films. By 1950 Rouch had made the first films set in Niger with au pays des mages noirs(1947), 1948′s l’initiation à la danse des possédés and Les magiciens de Wanzarbé in 1949, all of which documented the spirit possession rituals of the Songhai, Zarma, and Sorko peoples who lived along the Niger river. Zika and Rouch became friends, and Rouch began in 1950 to use Zika as the focus of his films in demonstrating the traditions, culture, and ecology of the people of the Niger River valley. The first of 150 films in which Zika appeared was Bataille sur le grand fleuve (1950–52), portraying the lives, ceremonies and hunting of Sorko fishermen. Rouch spent four months traveling with Sorko fishermen in a traditional pirogue filming the piece. During the 1950s he began to produce longer, narrative films. In 1954 he filmed Zika inJaguar, as a young Songhai man traveling for work to the Gold Coast. Filmed as a silent ethnographic piece, Zika helped re-edit the film into a feature length movie which stood somewhere between documentary and fiction, and provided dialog and commentary for a 1969 release. In 1957 Rouch directed Côte d’Ivoire Moi un noir with the young Nigerian filmmaker Oumarou Ganda, who had recently returned from French military service in Indochina. Ganda went on to become the first great Nigerian film director and actor. By the early 1970s Rouch, with cast, crew, and cowriting from his Nigerian collaborators, was producing full length dramatic films in Niger, such as Petit à petit (Little by Little: 1971) and Cocorico Monsieur Poulet (Cocka-doodle-doo Mr. Chicken: 1974). Still, many of the ethnographic films produced in the colonial era by Rouch and others were rejected by African film makers because in their view they distorted African realities. He is considered as one the pioneers of Nouvelle Vague and of visual anthropology, and the father of ethnofiction. Rouch’s films mostly belonged to the cinéma vérité school, a term that Edgar Morin used in a 1960 France-Observateur article referring to Dziga Vertov’s Kinopravda. Rouch’s best known film, one of the central works of the Nouvelle Vague, is Chronique d’unun été (1961) which he filmed with sociologist Edgar Morin and in which he portrayed the social life of contemporary France. Throughout his career he used his camera to report on life in Africa, and over the course of five decades he made almost 120 films. With Jean-Michel Arnold he founded the Cinéma du Réel, the international documentary film festival, at the Pompidou Centre in Paris in 1978 (died 2004): “Glory to he who brings dispute.”

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