Saturday, August 8, 2009

Greatest Moment this Summer

My favorite moment this summer may well have been when one of my students asked about one of the final shots in "Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control". The shot is of a row of female circus performers balancing precariously on large rolling spheres. My student's initial response to these shots was to think that they were either (a) completely random, introduced only to give the movie the appearance of whimsical fancy, or (b) completely gratuitous, introduced only to depict a number of scantily clad women playing with large balls. However, in the context of our discussion, as we noted various externalist themes running throughout the movie, this shot immediately struck me as central for understanding the precarious nature of feedback loops (or tightly coupled systems more generally). And I immediately thought of more than a few similar shots in the movie that reinforce this same exact point.

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