|Apple Iphone 6|
Thursday, February 11, 2016
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
|Portrait of Dostoevsky by Vasily Perov (1872)|
It is easy to see how writers like Mailer, Hemingway and Plimpton (who all boxed), Isak Dinesen (who hunted game), Gloria Steinem (who became a Playboy bunny) Jean Genet (who was a hustler and criminal), Peter Matthiessen (who explored dangerous places like the Himalayas) and most recently William Vollman (who explored his dark side in varying dangerous milieu ) challenged bulls or added tails to their tales. It was the only way to differentiate themselves from their colleagues, meek Kafkaesque creatures who lived in fear of rejection and waited for telephone calls or the return of sases (remember them) from imperious editors who could make or break their careers. Even running for your life at Pamplona or performing half naked in a sex club and facing the leering eyes of inebriated businessmen was better than dealing with the literary world in a places like London, Paris or New York. Graham Greene was another writer who put himself in danger whether exploring the criminal world of Nice (J’Accuse: The Dark Side of Nice) or in his varying travels through Mexico, Africa and Caribbean. V.S Naipaul chased his high in his well documented sadistic relationship with his mistress. Many writers and artists, whose art evolves from their quirky and eccentric way of doings things and ofttimes their inability to conform to the more narrow lifestyles afforded by run-of-the-mill professions, occupied the world of haute boheme. But few would go to the lengths of colorful figures like Norman Mailer who stabbed his then wife on eve of his candidacy for the mayoralty of New York. What made Dostoevsky engage in dangerous revolutionary activities that in a famous instance found him in danger of execution? Was he looking for material or was he just trying to escape from the lot of being your typical weirdo and egghead whose ego would one day be trampled by an insensitive world? “Not having heard from you, I was wondering about the status of my submission,” is the kind of note that writers today may text or e mail. Even a firing squad is better than that.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Todd Haynes' Carol evidences the same disconnect that infuses the lives of its two central characters Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) and Therese Blivet (Rooney Mara). At one point a young Times reporter, Dannie (John Magaro) who’s got a crush on Therese comments “I’m charting the correlation between how characters behave and what they really feel.” The scene in question takes place in the projection room of a movie theater and Dannie could be commenting on the movie we're watching. One understands why the sexual orientations of Haynes two characters, deriving from the l952 Patricia Highsmith novel, The Price of Salt, or Carol, on which the film is based, run afoul of the mores of the Eisenhower era New York the film portrays. However it’s at the same time hard to comprehend the why and wherefore between Carol and Therese. The idea of the relationship makes total sense, particularly with reference to the cocktail of transgressive sexuality and class that fuels the action, but there’s little magnetism between the two characters (at least as they are portrayed by Blanchett and Mara) There are all kinds of wonderfully subtle touches. Blanchett is the reticent seductress, yet it’s her ambivalent prey who ignites the actual sexuality. In the end, Mara’s eyes seeking out those of her lover never seem to hit their mark. And there are memorable lines. “Just when you think things can’t get any worse, you run out of cigarettes,” Carol says. “I never say no and it’s selfish,” is one of Therese’s signature remarks. The movie’s Manhattan is pure Hopper, off center silhouettes in window frames and lonely street corners illuminated by harsh overhead light. Carol takes the form of a mystery, but the true mystery lies in the nature of an attraction between two people that, at film's end, still remains an enigma.
Monday, February 8, 2016
|Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody (photo: Roy Erickson)|
Friday, February 5, 2016
|painting by Juan Francisco Casas (photograph by Hallie Cohen)|
Thursday, February 4, 2016
|"Death of Caesar" by Vincenzo Camuccini|
Civility is a tightrope walker. It’s a word that connotes the kind of obligatory manners that are tantamount to hiding the truth or it can be an overarching principle that transcends subjectivity and that has its own epistemic truth. For instance, shock jocks like Howard Stern claim to be saying what everyone's thinking. That’s the same tune Donald Trump is playing. When he talks about keeping Muslims out of the country until further notice, he's merely iterating what others are too afraid to express. When he throws out insults about women nursing babies, having periods or using the toilet, he's simply indulging in harmless bathroom humor. However, what's missing in these kinds of outbursts is civility. From the point of view of cognition, civility is a concept that allows us to give even our foes and opponents full breadth as human beings--despite the fact that they may have opinions which differ from our own. You can win the battle and lose the war (as we well know from Iraq). Denigration can indeed reduce an opponent’s power, if it is done artfully, in a debate. But at the end of the day, we exist in a polity—a country, city or state that reflects the fact that we’re social animals. That’s where the word politician comes from. Thus if we continue to seek feelings of triumph and power, placing civility to the side, then we have made our own bed and must sleep in it. Caesar sought triumph over accommodation and even his close friend, the thoughtful Brutus, eventually turned on him.