Tag: tragedy

A Machine for Preventing Civil War

 

Scott Alexander, in a 2017 post at Slate Star Codex:

People talk about “liberalism” as if it’s just another word for capitalism, or libertarianism, or vague center-left-Democratic Clintonism. Liberalism is none of these things. Liberalism is a technology for preventing civil war. It was forged in the fires of Hell – the horrors of the endless seventeenth century religious wars. For a hundred years, Europe tore itself apart in some of the most brutal ways imaginable – until finally, from the burning wreckage, we drew forth this amazing piece of alien machinery. A machine that, when tuned just right, let people live together peacefully without doing the “kill people for being Protestant” thing. Popular historical strategies for dealing with differences have included: brutally enforced conformity, brutally efficient genocide, and making sure to keep the alien machine tuned really really carefully.

In 2018 Nikki Mark’s 12-year old son, Tommy, went to sleep one night and never woke up. In an inspiring and heartbreaking conversation with Bridget shares her immediate reaction, what she’s learned, why she said yes to everything that came her way, the project she channeled her grief into, her family’s bond, and the incredible outpouring of support they received from their community. She and Bridget discuss how we’re not taught to deal with death or support someone who is struggling with tragedy, and how if we learned a little bit more about death we’d learn how to live. Her fierce determination to share the lessons her son taught her, her belief that she can turn the pain into something else and rise up to live in a way that honors her son, the knowledge that we should all be playing more and that life is supposed to be fun, and her ability to see the beauty in overwhelming tragedy, is an inspiration and motivation for anyone struggling through darkness. Support the TM23 Foundation to honor Tommy’s memory & legacy.

Full transcript available here: WiW85-NikkiMark-Transcript

My Heart Is Still Aching

 

Twenty-five years ago, I was invited by a rabbi whom I’d interviewed for a book I was writing, to give a talk to a group of student rabbis and cantors. The students were attending a college in L.A. for their training, and I was invited to speak to them because I was a Jew who had essentially left my religion behind and became a Zen Buddhist. The rabbi who invited me thought I could shed some light on the reasons Jews were abandoning Judaism.

At the end of my talk (where I basically told my own story), we opened the floor for questions. Most people were kind and curious and, of course, disappointed that I wasn’t actively engaged in Judaism. I thought I’d made my own situation clear by explaining that I’d never connected with my heritage in a deep way and found that Zen fulfilled many of my hopes for a spiritual life.

At one point, a young man made the following statement: “It sounds to me as if you are a self-hating Jew.” He said it calmly with no rancor. I was very surprised at his comment, and responded equally as calmly and said that I thought his observation was incorrect, since I hadn’t left Judaism in anger, but because I hadn’t connected with it in a deep and meaningful way. I blamed no one for that outcome.

Member Post

 

We saw Little Women last night. It was the idea of the ladies, and Jack and I had go along with it. As a Right Thinking American Man, I dreaded it. But, by the end I was charmed. I am sure that if director/screenwriter Greta Gerwig were interviewed by Stephen Colbert, she would present as […]

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ACF #27: Oldboy

 

Here’s another Eastern classic–after Kurosawa, a modern Korean movie by Park Chan-wook. George Dunn and Peter Paik and I discuss Oldboy, the centerpiece of the Vengeance trilogy, which won Park the Palme d’Or in Cannes. Korea’s transformation into a prosperous democracy and Oh Dae Su’s transformation into a superman go together to first conceal and then reveal the dark secret at the foundation of civil society: The sacred law on which politics is based is the family, which must obey public laws. This is tragedy in a modern setting, moving between the epitome of wealth and the underworld of crime, incredibly violent, but also strangely hopeful about the possibility of reestablishing civilization.

ACF Critic Series #9: Paul Cantor

 

We’re adding a new critic to the ACF podcast: America’s eminent Shakespearian, Paul Cantor! He’s a writer I admire and from whom I have learned much on Shakespeare–much to my surprise and delight, he’s getting into film criticism in a big way and he’s in the mood to talk about it. We have a long interview to offer you, the first in a series of discussions about pop culture in America. We go from Godfather to Breaking Bad, we get to super-hero movies and ancient mythic heroes–to tragedy in Greece and in Shakespeare’s England–and lots of other things about TV and movies in-between. Also, we do more than a little talking about Mark Twain. Listen and share friends, join the conversation in the comments, and read more Cantor!

ACF Anniversary Edition: Terry Teachout on Vertigo

 

Friends, the American Cinema Foundation movie podcast is on its first anniversary. To celebrate, the celebrated Terry Teachout joins me to discuss Hitchcock’s Vertigo. It’s a pleasure to have him join and I am even more pleased to announce we will be doing such conversations in future, with whatever regularity circumstances permit. I’m also glad to return to Hitchcock, who was on my mind last year, when the podcast was just getting started–I was preparing for my journey to America, to become a Publius Fellow at the Claremont Institute, and at that time, thinking about Hitchcock’s reflections on American society–I did several podcasts that I thought revealed the power of tragedy: Psycho (with a discussion of the moral teaching of the art on display in the movie), The Birds, and later Rope. That was when I conceived a book on Hitchcock’s movies from 1948 to 1963–his analysis of the post-war transformation, which mirrors his own change from the thriller to the horror. Listen and share, friends–I hope you will be delighted with this conversation and find some insights!

Member Post

 

Akira Kurosawa is the most famous of the Japanese directors & one of the directors with an acknowledged, plausible claim to title, greatest director. This is a difficult thing to decide. We have to consider that & why he admired John Ford. If people who admire Kurosawa are right about him, that would suggest John Ford […]

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Member Post

 

I expect most people on Ricochet have lives to live, so that the experience of folks who live out fantasies might be of some exotic interest, in the way visiting Europe has been interesting to Americans, every now & then, but not too soon after escaping the dead hand of the past… I expect, further, […]

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Member Post

 

Americans seem to live with the illusion that love is a good thing. This is because democrats do not read books. In English, the great writer is Shakespeare, than whom no greater can be imagined. One cannot read the love stories in Shakespeare without coming to three basic insights: First, love leads to civil war […]

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