Saturday Morning Cartoon

What great bit of vintage animation will the prairie dog feature this Saturday, you ask? Does the Three Robonic Stooges in Canada count?

No. I didn't think so.

Pick of the Day: Cold Souls

The thing that pisses me off most about market fundamentalism is that it turns everything (and everybody) into a commodity. Under this "philosophy" if you can't put a price tag on something, it has no value. I also reject the idea that the market, by allowing people to act on their self-interest in competition with each other under the constraints of the law of supply and demand, functions as some sort of super-efficient mechanism for allocating scarce resources (the so-called "invisible hand" that Adam Smith wrote of in the 18th century).

To begin with, markets focus on short-term outcomes. But what's good for a person/corporation/society short-term does not automatically translate into medium and long-term well-being. Currently, we have a system that rewards uber-selfish greedheads who have no qualms about grabbing as much as they can, and when called on their bullshit behaviour, they simply shrug and say they're charging what "the market" will bear. And if you happen to be a person who doesn't base their entire self-worth on the amount of money you've been able to accumulate, and baubles of conspicuous consumption you've been able to buy, and instead prefer to strive for personal fulfillment and the long-term best interest of society? Well, what do you know you pinko commie bastard?

I'm paraphrasing there. But I'm sure you're familiar with the rhetoric.

What does the above rant have to do with Cold Souls, which screens tonight at the RPL at 9 p.m. and tomorrow at 7 p.m.? Usually in our society, the idea of a "soul" is confined to religion. But for me, "soul" has a much broader meaning, encompassing a sense of social responsibility, and a recognition that while material needs are important, they do not define all that we are as human beings.

Probably the biggest existential crisis our culture faces is the need to realize that seeking self-fulfillment through material gain is an impossible proposition. We can never have it all. There's always a new product, a new service, being rolled out. It's the nature of our modern economy. True peace of mind stems not from having more than everyone else, and lording it over everyone with obscene displays of conspicuous consumption, but from being true to yourself, and not compromsing your principles in the pursuit of short-term rewards that are largely illusory anyway.

The challenge, of course, for those who wish to protect and nurture their souls is how to do so when we live in what amounts to a soul-destroying world. In this surreal U.S./French co-production directed by Andrij Parekh, Paul Giamatti stars as an actor in rehearsal for a production of Chekov's Uncle Vanya who decides to seek relief from the burden of his soul by visiting a New York company that specializes in the extraction and storage of souls.

Intrigued? Here's the trailer. (YouTube)