On “Wonder Woman”

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.” 

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A Guided Tour Through a Graveyard: Some Representations of War and the Hazards of Strong Contextualism

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.

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“Atlanta’s” Elevator to the Sanctum

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.

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The Hammer and the Paint Brush

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.

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Lieutenant Weinberg’s Lament

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.

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Untethered

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.” 

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Among Women

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…

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My Meeting

“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.

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