Skip to main content

Posts

THE HINGE OF HISTORY

Yesterday, my cat located a mouse in my office (a small crowded room filled with books, and boxes of books and papers); before he could pounce, I locked him briefly in another room, and set about trying to rescue the petrified mouse, crouched in a corner. I picked it up, and was going to put it outdoors, but it wriggled free, and is now somewhere else. I am sad to think that now my cat may locate it before me, and do his catlike thing, and play with it to death, but I tried.This is not to try to show I am better than other people, or cats, since I am a meat-eater and wear leather, but I do shy away from directly encouraging or facilitating death in living creatures; even seeing mosquitoes killed makes me uncomfortable, though of course I kill them. This does not stop me from enjoying Bond films, though I am against most acts of violence in what is called reality - historical actuality. If I am conflicted, that is likely because, like many over-educated white middle class Westerners, I…
Recent posts
The new live action Mulan from Disney is now playing on TV, put there by Covid-19. It is a remake of a hugely-popular and more, well, comical, animated version from more than 20 years ago, that has great nostalgic pulling power for many now-older online film addicts; the plan is to charge a lot of money to download it, and share with one's younger friends and family, to pass the bug on.
Reviews have agreed: It's well-made, apparently inoffensive state of the art, and the lead actor is appealing. It features several legendary Chinese actors, and is never less than good to watch, with a rousing score. It is also directed by a woman from New Zealand best known for the excellent Whale Rider from 2002.
Unfortunately, the movie is also, almost by accident it might seem, a disturbing propaganda delivery system, which will be most dangerous in China, the main market for the film in cinemas. The villains (Mongols apparently) are trying to overthrow the Empire/Emperor so it is the inversi…

IN FOR A PENCE?

It is possible to disagree with, or even recoil from, VP Pence's right-wing conservative political and social and religious beliefs, and still recognise that his recent conference speech was a remarkably powerful rhetorical exercise in firing up the new Republican pro-Trump base (down to its nasty transition pun); AND as clear a delineation between choices in any American election they've had since Reconstruction. 'Freedom vs. Control' may be an extreme version, capitalism vs. socialism also a slight exaggeration, but this is the final battle (for now) of the so-called 'Culture Wars' that have been brewing in the US since Nixon in 1968.It's the ultimate American struggle, between the angels of our better selves with a progressive liberal agenda, versus traditional, evangelical, broadly Constitutional literalists, who think America has always been great, needs little correction, and is exceptional in the eyes of God - basically FDR versus Bush Jr. slash Chen…

THE KILLERS HAVE A NEW ALBUM

Imploding The Mirage, as critics and reviewers will quickly inform you, is a title that refers to the famous Las Vegas casino's demolition, which made way for something arguably even snazzier, or more empty. Born in Vegas, that most artificial and symbolic of American places (famous for gambling, glitz, misadventure, criminal origins, and mass murders), The Killers - named after a Hemingway-based film noir, but following in the footsteps of numerous rock acts that have signalled their outlaw claims with similar names (Jerry Lee Lewis was called The Killer) - are a very American rock band. That their lead singer, Brandon Flowers, is famously a Mormon and allegedly a straight arrow, albeit flamboyant on stage, only adds to the resonant enigma - they are part of the myth of the American Dream, while in classic post-modern mode, nod to the artifice, albeit a non-nihilistic one with a God.Their inoffensive, hummable songs, mainly about broken hearts, yearning, broken lives, and hoping …

A RELIGIOSE BLOOD-SPATTERED NOIR SHOT IN BROAD DAYLIGHT

David Ayer's LA-based gangster picture,The Tax Collector, just released, is a uniquely terrible film - and one that will be a cult classic in ten years.
Reviews rightly observe that the film is ultra-violent, and depicts Latino culture as one enmeshed in a criminal lifestyle, with Shia LaBeouf playing a particularly nihilistic enforcer; as such, it has been summarily dismissed as exploitative, and perhaps borderline racist. These are easy accusations, and miss the mark. It is a terrible film, but also, astonishingly bad, and therefore, most watchable, for any fan of B-movies and crime cinema. Firstly, let's address the all-Latinos-depicted-are-bad claim - not true. The main character, the Tax Collector for various gangs in LA, David, has many family members who are entirely good, decent people. The film is especially careful to establish a pecking-order, and many people in the community are preyed upon, ordinary citizens; moreover, even the murderous African American gang that w…

LOVE AND HATE ON EITHER HAND

[Note, in light of the subject of this essay's continuing refusal to apologise, recognise their errors, or show any humility or empathy, it is hard to maintain a sense of compassion for them; I thought they were merely ill - it seems they have deep hate; however, despite the recalcitrance and hole-digging, which seems deeply misguided at best, at worst, despicable, I will seek to maintain the position of trying to separate the sin and sinner. Though, for the time being, I can support those who now seek to publicly remonstrate and demonstrate against Twitter and this person's ongoing foul fusillades against the Jewish people. It's time for Wiley to take responsibility and acknowledge the pain he is causing. I pray he does.]
Wiley has made a series of totally offensive and wrong anti-Semitic comments on Twitter, and was immediately banned (for a week) by the social media company - that false friend that encourages discord and profits by it - and has lost his management team, …

Do No Harm

Don Share's recent resignation letter from Poetry magazine contained a fascinating claim that poetry was a promise - a promise to the reader to ultimately do no harm to them. Writing in the context of having published a very long, probably mediocre, and offensive poem filled with racist slurs, by a young, privileged, white American poet, in his famous magazine, this makes a noble sense. At a time when systemic racism is a vital issue to confront, editorial decisions have meaning - symbols matter, and time and space given over to less important themes or concerns can appear to be, or actually be, hurtful, and damaging.
Share was writing primarily as an editor, willing to take responsibility for his selections and choices, but he is also a poet, and a scholar, whose expertise relates to Seneca and, in the modern period, Basil Bunting. Bunting, a disciple of Ezra Pound, could hardly agree with Share's idea of harm, nor would the stoic Seneca, since the stoics believed harm only re…