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Tag: Doc Jensen (1-4 of 4)

'Cosmos' then and now: The 'personal voyage' of Carl Sagan, the Hollywood cool of Neil deGrasse Tyson

Like reboots of most anything, be it the Star Trek film franchise or the Hannibal television series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (premiering Sunday, March 9 on Fox) does not require familiarity with its original incarnation to be appreciated and enjoyed. Yet comparing the two shows, and their first episodes, is instructive. The first Cosmos, broadcast on PBS in 1980, had a different subtitle: “A personal voyage.” The person implied was the viewer — all of humanity. It was also the creative intelligence behind the series, astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan, who died in 1996. His widely watched series explored all of creation, and expressed all of himself — his mind, his heart, his hopes, his fears. Sagan wanted to use popular culture to evangelize science, exploration, and a worldview that was infinitely bigger than the world itself.

Inspiration for the series sprung from disappointment. In 1976, Sagan, then a member of the Viking Lander Imaging Team at NASA surveying Mars with robots, was dismayed by the lack of attention given to their historic, important work by the news media. At the time, the cultural narratives about space focused on the question of alien life and hospitable planets, and Team Viking couldn’t support reductive storylines about little green men or interplanetary manifest destiny. But Sagan was convinced the public was hungrier for knowledge — and more capable of appreciating complexity — than the press assumed. In the companion book to Cosmos, Sagan wrote: “I was positive from my own experience that an enormous global interest exists in the exploration of the planets and in many kindred scientific topics — the origin of life, the earth, and the Cosmos, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, our connection with universe. And I was certain that this interest could be excited through that most powerful communications medium, television.”


'True Detective' episode 2 react: The Fault in Our Stars

“Seeing Things” was about the search for truth and the avoidance of it. It was about being known, and wanting to remaining unknowable. It was about the occult — not in the supernatural sense of the term, but in the Latin, as in ‘that which is clandestine, hidden, concealed,’ and how our understanding of a person or thing changes when secrets are revealed. So it was about SPOILERS! READ FULL STORY

'The Hunger Games': The opinions, theories and mild confusion of a moviegoer who never read the book

The Hunger Games grossed $34.8 million in the United States last Sunday (en route to a record-setting $152.5 million weekend), and exactly $40 of that total came from my household. My wife and daughter are fans of Suzanne Collins’ novels. My son and I were newbies to the dystopian world of Katniss Everdeen and the cruel Survivor-gone-psycho reality show that was The Hunger Games. I “enjoyed” the story, as much as one can “enjoy” a YA-style riff on Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery whose second best quality was its artfully sustained tone of suffocating hopelessness. (The best quality: Jennifer Lawrence, who made this coldly cynical enterprise not only watchable but also meaningful. I loved the True Grit of this budding counterculture heroine.)

The whole set-up — from the Reaping to the countdown to Battle Royale outside the Cornucopia — was just heartbreakingly scary. They were trapped. Like, buried alive trapped. And I felt their despairing, mind-blowing panic. READ FULL STORY

Doc Jensen's 'Lost' meets 'The Lost Symbol' Book Club, part 2

lost-symbol-lost_lA few weeks ago, I began a project comparing Dan Brown’s latest blockbuster crypto-thriller The Lost Symbol to ABC’s crypto-drama Lost. My sketchy hypothesis: Even though they are completely different stories, both entertainments share similar mystic / mythological / philosophical / conspiracy theory-ish reference points. I envisioned an academic endeavor with absolutely no redeeming intellectual value, that wallowed in being ridiculous and illogical. Just me, screwing around for geeky-silly giggles. Whoo-hoo! Screw screw screw! Giggle giggle giggle!

Naturally, given the great ambition and high stakes I set for myself (read: sarcasm), I found this project pretty easy to back-burner when my editors decided to assign me, like, real work (see: this week’s feature on Where The Wild Things Are, opening this Friday, and — taking off my impartial journalist’s hat for a sec — one of the best films of the year). Still, I have always remained tickled by the prospect of connections (loose or otherwise) between Lost and The Lost Symbol, and with extra time again on my hands, I return to the game with vigor and restored sense of fun: I’m finding that Brown’s slow-starting story is much more enjoyable when read through the cracked lenses of my bizarre Lost bifocals. To wit (or not): READ FULL STORY

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