The Amazon series The Man in the High Castle based on Philip K. Dick’s l962 novel of the same name is becoming prescient. Dick envisioned an alternate universe in which the axis powers won the Second World War dividing the spoils, ie the US amongst them. Philip Roth’s 2004 The Plot Against America painted a similar kind of parallel universe catalyzed by a putative Charles Lindbergh victory in the l940 election against Roosevelt. Today it’s no longer the Axis powers that are a threat but the Russians. Joseph McCarthy is probably peeing in his grave. The paranoiac vision of Dr. Strangelove is now coming true replete with the ultimate mole, in the form of a newly elected president. Actually most publishers wouldn’t even have accepted this novel, as it doesn’t allow for the willing suspension of disbelief. However, here it all is, real estate ventures, branding deals, golden showers all provided under the watchful eye of Russian intelligence, a practice know as Kompromat which is a far cry from the old Samizdat. In this new version of The Man in a High Castle President Trump appoints President Putin as director of the C.I.A in attempt to create a new business model of international relations, in which annexations and even invasions are simply looked through the lens of a business model, as mergers and acquisitions. Thus it doesn’t matter if Russia acquires the United States or the United States acquires Russia. In the net result, the two countries become one big happy family ruled by Putin & Trump LLC.
Friday, January 20, 2017
Thursday, January 19, 2017
For years, they were not a fixture of the Hampton’s social scene or anywhere. You could see them, pretending to study the menus in the window of tony restaurants as they ogled the crowds. Some people get into trouble when they have too much fun, parenting kids out of wedlock and becoming addicted to the pleasures they once merely enjoyed. Yet this couple found themselves getting into fender benders as their eyes riveted on the luxury cars parked outside of all the social gatherings they were never invited to and from whose windows emanated music and laugher that disemboweled these unwary travelers on the shoals of unfulfilled desire. There had always been a hope that they would one day be rewarded for the profession they’d made out of their very apartness from human society. However, as the years passed and it became apparent they would never receive recognition for their talented anomie, they began to undertake the things that people do who have nowhere else to go such as wait on the 12 items and under line in supermarkets, enroll in discount clubs and seek even greater discounts on bulk merchandise, like toilet paper, than the ones they already enjoyed. Finally one summer’s day when the rest of the community in which the had anonymously been vacationing (if that's the appropriate word for their extended isolation) had proceeded to their cocktail parties after spending the afternoon lying languidly on the beach, the feckless couple simply decided to give up and head back to the Metropolis. All the restaurants would be emptied of the fine people whose happy lives had always been a rebuke to them and they’d get home in record time since they’d be going against the traffic.
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
|"Pluperfect" watercolor by Hallie Cohen|
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
|"Judith Slaying Holofernes" by Artemisia Gentileschi|
Monday, January 16, 2017
|photograph of Maupal mural by Hallie Cohen|
Friday, January 13, 2017
If you read the lyrics to “Arrivederci, Roma” the hit Mario Lanza song that became the sound track for The Seven Hills of Rome (l957), you find it contains a scam. The crux is that if you throw a penny in the Trevi fountain you are going to “bind fate” so you will come back. But in the next stanza we learn that the minute the English girl throws her penny in the fountain a kid comes along and grabs it. Popular films were so lighthearted about the kind of poverty and despair more graphically portrayed say in a movie like Bicycle Thieves (1948). There a father Antonio (Laberto Maggiorani) and his son Bruno (Enzo Staiola) journey throughout the city in an exhaustive search to find a stolen item. De Sica’s masterpiece recalls Gogol’s famous short story The Overcoat where the poor civil servant Akaky Akakievitch is similarly deprived of something that symbolizes his dispossession. Here in a popular song, the notion of the turn around of fortune has far less gravitas but, is in some senses, equally invidious since the magic and enchantment of Rome and of believing that wishes will come true are removed all in one fell swoop—by a street urchin, of the kind that young Bruno threatens to become in the Bicycle Thieves' culminating scene where the father’s loss becomes compounded by a desperate crime. “While the English girl departs/a little kid comes by/goes into the fountain, picks a/penny, goes away!/Goodbye Rome!” The words are actually quite sad when you think about it since the meaning relates the fact that the enraptured tourist may never be able to recapture the promise of an immortal beauty, symbolized by Rome.