Thursday, August 26, 2021
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Have you sometimes thought, dear sweet friend, how many tears the horrible word “happiness” is responsible for? If that word didn’t exist we would sleep more serenely and live in greater peace.
- Gustave Flaubert, Letter to Alfred LePoittevin,
June 17, 1845
Thursday, August 12, 2021
I believe that one of the few things that stands between us and an accelerated descent into darkness is the set of values inherited from the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. This is not a fashionable view at this moment, when the Enlightenment can be dismissed as anything from superficial and intellectually naive to a conspiracy of dead white men in periwigs to provide the intellectual foundation for Western imperialism. It may or may not be all that, but it is also the only foundation for all the aspirations to build societies fit for all human beings to live in anywhere on the Earth, and for the assertion and defense of their human rights as persons. In any case, the progress of civility which took place from the eighteenth century until the early twentieth was achieved overwhelmingly or entirely under the influence of the Enlightenment, by governments of what are still called, for the benefit of history students, “enlightened absolutists”, by revolutionaries and reformers, liberals, socialists and communists, all of whom belonged to the same intellectual family. It was not achieved by its critics.
- Eric Hobsbawm, “Barbarism: A User’s Guide” (1994)
Monday, February 24, 2020
Bill Forsythe wrote and directed. To judge by the many extras on this Criterion Collection release, his sensibilities are far more abstract than one would suppose. He emphasizes several times that he wanted MacIntyre to be as bland and nebulous a person as possible, he didn’t want a strong and domineering leading man. Mac’s assistant Danny, played by a young and goofy (and pre-Dr. Who) Peter Capaldi has a much more forceful personality. As Forsythe points out, if Local Hero had been given the typical Hollywood treatment the two characters would have been merged into one. No doubt. And Mac would have been a manly type with a love interest (in the actual film Capaldi gets the love interest, not Riegert). And instead of a charming and eccentric oil millionaire there would have been some unbearable asshole as the heavy (think of the EPA Administrator from Ghostbusters). And of course our leading man would have put that son-of-a-bitch in his place at the end of the film, and probably become rich and famous in the process. Then freeze-frame on our victorious hero, cue the rock-n-roll (Journey, Pointer Sisters, Bob Seger, etc.), fade to black, roll the credits. I think it was federal law that every comedy in '80s had to end this way.
|Peter Riegert and Denis Lawson|
Friday, February 14, 2020
|Jean Gabin and Magali Noël|
|Lino Ventura, Albert Rémy, and Jean Gabin|
Thursday, November 28, 2019
Thursday, November 21, 2019
Indignation and goodwill are not enough to make the world better. Clarity is needed, as well as charity, however difficult this may be to imagine, much less sustain, toward the other side. Perhaps the worst thing that can be said about social indignation is that it so frequently leads to the death of personal humility. Once that has happened, one has ceased to live in that world of men which one is striving so mightily to make over. One has entered into a dialogue with that terrifying deity, sometimes called History, previously, and perhaps again, to be referred to as God, to which no sacrifice in human suffering is too great.
Thursday, November 14, 2019
The Americans and the English are bound together at present by the ties of war, and by that sort of cousinly love which expresses itself in private by foaming at the mouth.