Archives for November 2013


"It is true, we only see what we look for, but we only look for what we can see." Heinrich Wolfflin The last posting generated a long comment thread. Not surprisingly, it wasn't about the main subject of the post, but about the shorter film critique at the end. There is no escape from the implications of mass culture. I want to examine, a little, two things; one is the idea of fashion, and the other is how this is the way in which the classical idea of culture has been subsumed in a sense by the rise of the culture industry. And by extension, then, the ways fashion has affected even political thinking. From the middle of the 19th century, ideas of style became something labled … [Read more...]

Odds & Ends

There is a very good piece here, by Marc Parry on Alice Goffman's book on crime in the U.S. (this is Erving Goffman's daughter) "On The Run". This serves as a good intro to the topic of the white liberal denial of inequality. And perhaps no single story better encapsulates the criminalizing and loathing of black people by the state, and that denial by a large chunk of the white populace, as the Renisha McBride killing. From Joel Reinstein: "A 19-year-old African American woman is dead for the "crime" of asking for help after a car accident in a predominantly white suburb of … [Read more...]


Tim Parks wrote a short essay in The New York Review of Books recently. His subject was literature and style. He concluded it this way: "Such is the future of literature and literary style in a global age: historical novels, fantasy, vast international conspiracies, works that visit and revisit the places a world culture has made us all familiar with; in short an idea of literature that may give pleasure but rarely excites at the linguistic level, rarely threatens, electrifies, reminds us of, and simultaneously undermines the way we make up the world in our own language. Perhaps it is this development that has made me weary with so much contemporary fiction. In particular I have … [Read more...]

The Real

One of the problems with a lot of writing about film is this idea of "popularity". And with this idea, in the broadest sense in which it is used, comes an association of film as populist. One of the strange elements in Hollywood film, Hollywood naturalism (and in a way, all of Hollywood is naturalistic, even if its fantasy naturalism), and I could easily call this Hollywood corporate real-ism, is that the first thing eliminated from narrative are the frustrating and soul destroying trivialities of daily life. I remember watching several episodes of Ray Donavan (Showtime) this year, which takes place in Los Angeles. And Ray is forever driving all over the city, and seemingly gets from … [Read more...]

No Longer Unaware

There is an excellent introduction by Piere Vidal-Naquet, to Marcelle Detienne's Masters of Truth in Archaic Greece. He outlines the shift from myth to reason in the eras before Parmenides. The historic moment in which Kings disappeared but Gods remained. And following upon that a greater distance for man from what had been declared the truth, i.e., the King, an intermediary to the Gods. The germane issue though, is that truth, in a new poetics of speech had become enigma. A zone appears between truth and oblivion. Negativity is now a shadow border to the truth. "The ambivilance of efficacious speech in most ancient works of Greek thought, however, was preceded in the classical city by an … [Read more...]