(Reviewed December 18, 2013)
A genuinely moving story of a mother in search of her lost child which, nevertheless, suffers from an all-too familiar sort of self-righteousness
(Reviewed December 13, 2013)
A very funny but moving portrait of an old man, living in exile from his own life, who receives an unexpected touch of dignity and love
Blue is the Warmest Color (La vie d'Adèle)
(Reviewed November 25, 2013)
A visual delight which there are numerous but often mutually contradictory reasons for feeling guilty about enjoying
12 Years a Slave
(Reviewed November 23, 2013)
The racial grievance industry proves that there is life still in the biggest grievance of all, thought by the merely naive far to ante-date any living memory
Teach English with a Degree in Elementary Education.
The neoclassical dictum that art ought to represent reality is obviously something of a dead letter when reality itself loses its shape and its hitherto clear outlines before our eyes and becomes clouded by ideology. Reality to Marx meant something quite different from what it was to his philosophical predecessors (". . . the point, however, is to change it"), and the ideologues of the various -isms which have since followed the Marxist lead have continued to repudiate any attempt to represent reality in favor of correcting it. This propagandistic purpose has a baneful enough effect on original attempts at art, though we might grant that it is fair enough for those — assuming there are those — with a taste for such things. But applied to existing works, it has a fundamentally falsifying effect that ought to be troubling to anyone with a residual respect for the truth independently of its ideological utility.
Just look at this description, from the U.K. Independent, of a reworking by one Ella Hickson, a playwright, of the Peter Pan story for the Royal Shakespeare Company:
ENTRY from December 18, 2013
Forget Wendy the happy homemaker, demurely prepared to be mother while the Lost Boys get to be eternally, irresponsibly youthful, or Wendy the damsel in distress, waiting for the plucky boy to save her: Hickson’s Wendy is multi- dimensional, allowed to play house, but perfectly capable of fighting her own battles too. "I am Wendy Darling, I am brave and I am strong and I am going on an adventure!" is both her "happy thought" and her rallying cry. . .Wendy and Peter Pan is set to be a swashbuckling adventure, where girls get to spar with pirates rather than be rescued from walking the plank. And there’s a terrific scene which will have you mentally punching the air, as Wendy, Tink and Tiger Lily — a frankly badass trio — ditch the sneering jealousy to pal up and "kick some pirate bum". Tink, rather than being a trembling Disney waif, is a "Big Fat Gypsy Tink" and stomps around mardily in hi-tops, while the Native American princess Tiger Lily is more Hunger Games, with sturdy boots and a bow. Not that the play is fully modernised: it’s set in 1908, a date between the publication of the original play and the novel. But it was also a significant year for women’s rights — mass protests in Hyde Park attracted crowds of an estimated 300,000 — and indeed, even Mrs Darling gets a radical make-over in Hickson’s version, becoming a suffragette.
My new book Media Madness, is now published and 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.
Also 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.
No ears to this request.
November 30, 2013.
Could there have been some method to the Republicans’ madness when they blundered into the government shutdown? — From The New Criterion of November, 2013 ...
November 29, 2013.
In whose interest is the new cultural project to cut us off from the past? — From The American Spectator of November, 2013 ...
The Dream Team.
October 31, 2013.
We console ourselves for our inability to remedy the evils in the world by insisting on our morally creditable feelings about them — From The New Criterion of October, 2013 ...