Ghost Dog, Said and induction

I suppose this might turn into a bit of a rant blog about films that perhaps I’m not qualified to judge. Then again, maybe having seen them and having fingers and a keyboard is all the criteria requred by that sublime medium, the mother of procrastination, free speech and the banal. In any case. I watched Ghost Dog last night. Most interesting movie. In case you are a philistine, having neither heard of nor seen Ghost Dog (I counted myself among that unhappy gathering but a day ago), I ought to explain. The story is that of a hired gun used by the mafia for hits. He sees himself as bound to his master, the mafioso who calls the hits, by an honour code which he derives from that of the samurai. Various things begin to go wrong and essentially, the whole thing turns into a thriller. The interesting part of it is that every one of the characters in the film has a different background. Ghost Dog himself is black and American, the mafiosi are obviously Italian American, the ice-cream guy is Haitian. I think the point is to highlight to some extent how little it really matters what you look like rather emphasising the importance of what goes on inside. Ghost Dog himself is a Samurai in the present day and in the hood.

In the last day, this seems to be a recurring theme in much that I have seen. I was listening to one of those heavenly podcasts, this time about Edward Said. He and Chomsky were apparently proponents of what I thought was a rather lovely sentiment. They asserted that the concept of nationality or perhaps cultural heritage should be seen, rather than as some label or definition with which people are to be branded, as an invitation for the possibility of entering into that culture. Living in Manchester certainly fills many people with a feeling of a Manchesterness inside them (or perhaps it’s just me). Ghost Dog follows a similar line. He is not really a black guy who lives in the hood. He really is a samurai. These distinctions of race, physical attributes and even something so fundamental as language are really independent of the essence of the human being. It seems to me that this is somewhat similar to Locke’s criticism of the principle of induction justified by his ideas of architypes. What I’m trying to say is really nothing more profound than “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

I apologise to anyone who actually reads this – many of the things written herein are simply the half-baked mental meanderings of someone who is exposed to a cacophony of culture on a daily basis, and distinguishes a few ideas from the din without necessarily understanding anything.

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