When I was young and things made sense, every summer Hollywood would release a handful of outrageously expensive movies in which aliens, sentient robots from the future, natural disasters on CGI steroids, etc. would wipe cities off the map and send audiences home happy. Cleansed.
Most of what I’ve read about Patty Jenkins’s 2017 Wonder Woman, and most of what my friends have said about the movie, has been strongly positive, and the aspect of the film commented on most positively is its sometimes explicit, sometimes implicit feminism. I have no quarrel with these pieces and comments; I saw the film twice and thought it not only intelligently, brashly feminist but also stylish–the classiest and least patriarchal superhero film I’ve seen in a long time, and I’ve seen a lot of them.
Watching it as a pacifist, though, I was aware of another pattern of meaning, one having to do with the film’s naturalization of war and marginalization of peacemaking, of what William James called “the war on war.”
I shall describe and attempt to interpret a difference in representations of war in two television series made by the same people about the same war, Band of Brothers, which aired in 2001, and The Pacific, which aired in 2010. I hope to show that despite influential argument to the contrary—most notably Paul Fussell’s celebrated The Great War and Modern Memory—it is imprudent to make strong historicist or contextualist claims that the transformed nature of war since 1914 is a sine qua non for explaining modern ironic and anti-heroic representations of combat.
Many characters kill people
in the show I watch with my daughter.
What is this teaching her?
The men take their shirts off, often.
The first ten episodes of Donald Glover’s marvelous FX series Atlanta aired weekly from early September through November 1, 2016. Its first season, in other words, unfolded throughout the weeks leading up to the presidential election. In retrospect the power of its first season may live on in as a powerful snapshot of what we were, or thought we were, in the last months of Obama’s America. It wasn’t a particularly pretty picture, but the very different feel of national events since November make me wonder if Atlanta‘s spectrum of tones can be repeated in the next season. Season One is almost always comic, but its humor ranges from darkly satiric to tender and romantic as the show conjures up rootsy yet media-savvy depictions of life in Atlanta.
Scott Spencer’s River Under the Road is a condition of America novel that’s right on time even though it’s set in the 70s and 80s.
I had read Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son when it came out in paperback, 1993. I had read Tree of Smoke, which won a Nat’l Book Award in 2007. That, I didn’t like so much, but after Johnson died, in May, I decided to read the earlier one again. If you can recommend another book of Johnson’s to someone who didn’t like Smoke but did like Jesus, I am buying.
If it makes you feel any better, Americans are not all THAT divided. For example, there’s what NYT’s Frank Bruni called “the recent ugliness at Evergreen State College.” Long story short, student activists invited Evergreen’s whites to report to an off-campus “all-day program focusing on allyship and anti-racist work” rather than going to class. The so-called “Day of Absence,” held this year on April 14, is an annual Evergreen event that usually sees students of color meeting offsite for programs and conversations. This year, organizers opted to flip the script.
The ending of Eugene Goodheart’s “Untethered” (see below) got me thinking about the recent death of Robert Silvers–founder/editor of New York Review of Books. What follows is the sort of magpie-minded essay that would’ve driven Silvers around the bend but there’s no escaping the river between his sensibility and my poor brain so let’s roll…
The author was an English professor for over 40 years. What follows is an excerpt from an essay he wrote after his retirement. An essay (to quote a phrase from a longtime reader of Goodheart’s work whose correspondence helped inspire it)“in the spirit of one no longer bound by job or profession or any other tethers (except the inevitable one of mortality), someone sailing under his own wind wherever it might take him.”
Conflict is abuse, harm is heteroglossic, and other phantasmagoria from an Oakland Sunday…
Jill Soloway’s TV series I Love Dick is based on the autofiction by Chris Kraus. In Soloway’s version, everything is peeled away but a woman’s desire, and no one knows what to do with it. The woman burns. It is a job and a career move.
Growing up I used to have a dream…not of being President, or rich, or famous. The dream I had was sinister. Its props were a slide and stairs and landings. In the dream I would take the stairs to the slide then ride down the slide and at the bottom step off onto a landing only to find another slide. I would sit down on it and continue into the depths, ever deeper…
The kind of fundamentalist school I went to churns out two kinds of individuals: super-Christians—with gleaming smiles surgically implanted on their faces—and drug addicts. I’m exaggerating, of course, but only slightly.
“Why is there evil in the world?” the Zen Master was asked, and answered, “To thicken the plot.”
In Santa Monica I attended a Sunday evening Al Anon meeting. Al Anon is one of a spectrum of meetings based on the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and it’s specifically directed to those of us who are involved with either recovering or practicing alcoholics or addicts. One may be involved by family, marriage, friendship, work or other circumstance, but the involvement is what qualifies each of us for the meeting and brings us to it. It’s what we talk about, in a variety of ways as great as our numbers.
Spurs (and cathartic art lovers) lose after Kawhi goes down.
Posts from the first one hundred days…
Destruction is desired. Chaos, a tantrum shitstorm in the face of a massive cultural turn to increased freedom for all.
Out in the Midwest, the Default don’t provide much connection to Black Culture. The barrier’s mostly cultural I’ll admit, but I’d like to suggest the geographical plays a part as well. Bumping bass amidst corn fields and moldering barns just feels mostly lonely. To “get” hip-hop you really got to put some work in.