April 28, 2016

Now Playing

(Reviewed August 29, 2014)

A portrait of modern sanctity which — very oddly, in my view — asks not to be taken too seriously

(Reviewed August 27, 2014)

The movie it took twelve years to make — about a childhood that appears to be taking much, much longer

America: Imagine the World Without Her
(Reviewed July 31, 2014)

Another foray by Dinesh D’Souza into the lists in order to break a lance on President Obama — and Howard Zinn. At least the latter is effectively unhorsed.

(Reviewed June 30, 2014)

An austerely beautiful film by the Anglo-Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski that could hardly be a greater departure from his earlier My Summer of Love

ENTRY from April 27, 2016

In the issue of The New Statesman dated 23 April 2016 — the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death — you may find a sort of symposium titled "Shakespeare, our contemporary: the Bard 400 years later," which offers a forum for a selection of big thinkers to ruminate on how "the Bard" is, really, pretty much just like them, despite being dead for four centuries. We find among the contributions of various kinds and qualities references to Henry V and Tony Blair’s "dodgy dossier" in support of the Iraq war (Rowan Williams), King Lear as respresentative of "the British rentier class" of today (Will Self), Macbeth and "the war on terror" (James Shapiro), As You Like It and "gender fluidity" (Andrew Marr), and Hamlet and "the cycle of evil," which is Germaine Greer’s even less persuasive variation on the pacifist cliché about "the cycle of violence."

Does it matter that Shakespeare would not have understood any of these terms? Do the authors’ points about these and other anachronistic expressions depend on whether or not a miraculously resurrected Shakespeare could first be taught their meaning and then persuaded that it had been something not entirely unlike his own meaning 400-odd years ago? The actress Imogen Stubbs, in making the point that The Tempest resonates with distant echoes of the modern scientific pursuit of bodily immortality, allows her fancy to wander in this direction, writing that Shakespeare’s

work can be preserved for longer and longer as technology advances. And who knows? Maybe one day Shakespeare’s body will be dug up in a car park and his DNA will be analysed and reassembled and then, like the Globe, Shakespeare will be reconstructed anew. He can buy Richard III a latte at the Globe café and try to justify his misrepresentation of him, before whipping out his laptop and composing a masterpiece about genetic engineering to be performed by holograms — being sure to save it to the cloud, with the password "BraveNewWorld".  Full Entry

Media MadnessMy book Media Madness, is available for order from Encounter Books. Less a polemic than an attempt to understand the origins of the mass media’s folie de grandeur, the book is a warning even to those who are deserting the big networks, newsweeklies and large-circulation dailies not to carry with them into the more attractive world of niche media the undisciplined habits of thought that the old media culture has given rise to. To order this book, click here.

Honor, A HistoryAlso available, now in paperback, is Honor, A History, which was first published in 2006. A study of Western cultural artifacts, from the epics of Homer to the movies and TV shows of today, it is focused on explaining why Western ideas of honor developed so differently from those elsewhere — and especially from the savage honor cultures of the Islamic world. The book then goes on to trace the collapse and ultimate rejection of the old Western honor culture from World War I until the present day and to suggest the conditions that would have to prevail for its revival.

Recent Articles

A Man or a Mouse? March 31, 2016.
On the political consequences of the decline and fall of America’s honor culture — From The New Criterion of March, 2016 ... Full Article

The King of Tastelessness February 29, 2016.
Inexperienced? Maybe only a veteran of "reality TV" like Donald Trump has the right experience to be president today — From The New Criterion of February, 2016 ... Full Article

Manners Makyth Man January 31, 2016.
Why should anyone suppose that the media have standing to censure Donald Trump’s manners when they are so ill-mannered themselves? — From The New Criterion of January, 2016 ... Full Article

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