Oct 312012
 

From Charles Pierce’s piece:

 

It is vitally important that the Republican party be kept away from as much power as possible until the party regains its senses…. It is important, too, that you vote for one of these men based on whom else, exactly, he owes.

… Obama owes the disgruntled. Romney owes the crazy. And that makes all the difference.

 October 31, 2012  Scratch File
Oct 272012
 

Milton- Poet, Pamphleteer and PatriotI found Milton interesting early in his life, but as he got older, I was less and less interested in what he was doing. He seems like an unpleasant person. By the time the war was over, the Commonwealth had crumbled and Milton was off in the country writing Paradise Lost, I had lost almost all interest.

The most useful part of the book is its history of the British Civil War.

 October 27, 2012  Book Logs
Oct 262012
 

I wait for P. T. Anderson’s movies and, aside from Punch Drunk Love, have never been disappointed. Magnolia is one of the best movies of the nineties and There Will Be Blood, of the aughts.

Like BloodThe Master focuses on one character and one actor intensely, and so, continues a shift in the kinds of movies Anderson is making. If early works wove a tangle of stories into a sweeping, seamless whole, these last two movies seek out depths by sitting and staring.

What I liked best about this story was that I had no ready context for accounting for the characters’ behaviour. Although credible and real, they were alien enough that I had to observe and assess their actions and intentions moment-by-moment. What is he doing? Does he really mean that? What on earth is she talking about? And these weren’t simply suspense-based questions about plot. They are mysteries, and their solutions are completely wrapped up in my own responses and judgments. Do I like this character? is a question that carries interpretive weight here.

And the result was that I couldn’t look away. I didn’t dare miss anything. And as I watched and the movie began to draw to a close, more and more information began to fall into place opening whole new possibilities about what was going on earlier. It was absolutely exciting to live through the screening. (And I did feel like I was living through it.)

And of course, it was technically flawless and absolutely beautiful to look at and listen to. The use of music and the quality of the photography are unmatched by anything I have seen recently. A beautiful movie, and there’s no higher praise than that.

So I remain an admirer and a fan. What a movie.

 October 26, 2012  Movie Logs
Oct 202012
 

How Much Is Enough?What is the good life? This book looks through the humanistic tradition–mostly the European but with passing attention to the Chinese and the Indian as well–to offer an answer. The resulting survey is often inspiring. It’s answer (and one I agree with) is: one where you work enough to have what you need and the rest of your time is spent in leisure. (Leisure here means purposeful purposelessness in the sense of an artist or a parent or a philosopher who works intensely to achieve a purpose that is good for nothing outside of itself.)

Oddly enough, despite agreeing wholeheartedly with the discussion of work and leisure, I was unsettled by the economic proscriptions. The cultural language is conservative. Turned political, it hints at dark corners, sometimes catholic, sometimes oppressively political, and I found myself pulling back. In a world as inegalitarian as ours, I don’t trust (instinctively and rationally) that political proscriptions aimed at permitting greater leisure will support me rather than simply rest upon my shoulders.

My clippings file follows after the break. It is long and was pulled out of the bowels of the Kindle Machine (may its battery boil over and corrode its circuit-riddled heart), and so it has locations (good for computers) rather than page numbers (good for readers).

Continue reading »

 October 20, 2012  Book Logs
Oct 202012
 

Changes in the LandA history of the Massachusetts colony’s early years that focuses on the way English colonization altered Native Americans’ and the colonists’ sense of what land is and is for. Very good.

What follows after the break is my very long clippings file, copied from my Kindle (may it melt in the sun and die) and thus with location numbers rather than page numbers.

Continue reading »

 October 20, 2012  Book Logs Tagged with: