The Intern

My rule is only reviewing films above a personal rating equal or higher than 8, but I’m making an exception with this one, The Intern (2015), which I rated 7.5

The film’s gorgeous, but not entirely in the good sense —I mean, this is one of those movies in which everything’s perfect: the characters are pure congeniality and charm, everything goes smooth at work, the boss never yells at anybody, conflicts are worked out, highs are not so high and downs are gentle… An entirely make-believe world.

So why am I commenting? Because its director, Nancy Meyers, has the courage to vindicate men and ask for them in a world where personal choice, independent of sex, with the accompanying taking of responsibility for one’s actions and decisions, should be the way to go.

I’ve said before that we need, more than ever, strong women who stand up against the rampant sexism (and racism, bigotry, intolerance, authoritarianism) of this time of receding freedom and giving up of individual agency we’re passing through. Strong men, too.

La razón para meditar

Escribe Alan Watts:

El arte de la meditación es una manera de ponerse en contacto con la realidad. Y la razón para meditar es que la mayoría de las personas civilizadas han perdido el contacto con la realidad. Confunden el mundo tal como es con el mundo tal como ellos lo piensan, tal como hablan de él y lo describen. Porque por una parte está el mundo real y por otra hay todo un sistema de símbolos —referentes a ese mundo— que llevamos en nuestra mente. Son símbolos muy, muy útiles; toda la civilización depende de ellos. Pero, como todas las cosas buenas, tienen sus desventajas, y la principal desventaja de los símbolos es que los confundimos con la realidad, de la misma manera que confundimos el dinero con la auténtica riqueza y nuestro nombre, la idea y la imagen que tenemos de nosotros mismos, con nosotros.

Nueve meditaciones.

El verdadero problema surge cuando no solo confundo el mundo con mi descripción del mismo, sino también con mi prescripción del mismo, y tengo poder para imponer tal prescripción; entonces no solo me pierdo yo mismo, sino que llevo a los otros a la perdición —me he convertido en un autoritario iluminado (o iluminada).

‘Til the madness around is gone

I’ve declared a moratorium on current Hollywood films and on TV series from Netflix et al. Don’t get me wrong: I actually love being educated on pluralism, lgtbism, feminism, intersectionalism; I enjoy being shown how bad, aggressive, sexually predators white men are; I love watching male buttocks and what not, and wouldn’t dare want to see a bit of female flesh with filthy, lusty eyes; I can’t but applauding when the Asian character, the lesbians lovers, the African-American gay couple, the husband humbly backing up and sacrificing all to his empowered and outwardly Ennui woman’s career, show up. They invariable do, as of course they should.

But I…, I know I shouldn’t but… —I get bored. I’m ashamed of myself and I’m sorry and I say so. It’s a bit like the Catholic mass of my youth —necessary, rightly compulsory, predictable, and reassuring —but what a bore! I apologize and promise to reform and like the shows and internalize the truth and re-socialize myself in the right way. In the meantime, though,

Episode 6 of season 1 of Upstairs, Downstairs, A Cry for Help, stands out in the series. Written by Julian Bond, the lines spoken to Lord Bellamy by his solicitor showing him how he would serve himself and his family better by way of retracting his rape accusations against a fellow nobleman and by dropping the defense of his pregnant young maid are devastatingly brilliant. And directed by Derek Bennett, what could have been another common story to cater to the audience turns into a bitter yet way more satisfying one, in which upstairs is beaten, both in knowledge of the ways the world goes round and in generosity and goodwill, by downstairs.

Likewise, episode 15 of season 1 of M*A*S*H, Tuttle, is a joy to watch. Also masterfully written and directed, you could say it’s a novel take in the classic, for a reason, The Emperor’s New Clothes‘ tale. Hawkeye and Trapper make up an entirely fictitious Captain Tuttle, who nonetheless ends up being buried with honors, with the whole platoon claiming his friendship or acquaintance.

There is a truth, whether you like it or not

In his essay Is there a God?, when discussing the various arguments traditionally offered to justify the existence of God, Bertrand Russell says:

There is a moralistic argument for belief in God, which was popularized by William James. According to this argument, we ought to believe in God because, if we do not, we shall not behave well.

Upon which he argues:

The first and greatest objection to this argument is that, at its best, it cannot prove that there is a God but only that politicians and educators ought to try to make people think there is one. Whether this ought to be done or not is not a theological question but a political one.

Since we are not concerned with politics we might consider this sufficient refutation of the moralistic argument, but it is perhaps worthwhile to pursue this a little further. It is, in the first place, very doubtful whether belief in God has all the beneficial moral effects that are attributed to it.

I’m not interested now in the question of God —just let me say I’m not that impressed with Russell’s reasoning. I’m interested in what he says next (my emphasis):

However that may be, it is always disastrous when governments set to work to uphold opinions for their utility rather than for their truth. As soon as this is done it becomes necessary to have a censorship to suppress adverse arguments, and it is thought wise to discourage thinking among the young for fear of encouraging “dangerous thoughts.” Freedom of thought and the habit of giving weight to evidence are matters of far greater moral import than the belief in this or that theological dogma. On all these grounds it cannot be maintained that theological beliefs should be upheld for their usefulness without regard to their truth.

Add private corporations and twitter mobs to governments, replace the old dogmas with the newer ones, and here we are —Totalitarian’s Paradise.

The Straussian Way

In a considerable number of countries which, for about a hundred years, have enjoyed a practically complete freedom of public discussion, that freedom is now suppressed and replaced by a compulsion to coordinate speech with such views as the government believes to be expedient, or holds in all seriousness. It may be worth our while to consider briefly the effect of that compulsion, or persecution, on thoughts as well as actions.

First paragraph of Leo Strauss’s essay Persecution and the Art of Writing. More needed than ever. Time has come to again speak, write, film, act innuendo-ish and listen, read, watch, understand beyond words, scripts, behaviors. Outspoken opposition is no longer possible nor advisable. Time to go deep and subvert, the Straussian way.

Beware of Wrong Ladies

So she comes up one day, young and beautiful, gets friendly with the couple, and steals her husband.

Dory ends up in serious medical treatment but manages yet to write this beautiful song:

Beware
Of young girls
Who come to the door
Wistful and pale
Of twenty and four
Delivering daisies
With delicate hands
Beware
Of young girls
Too often they crave
To cry
At a wedding
And dance
On a grave
She was my friend
My friend
My friend
She was invited to my house
Oh yes
She was
And though she knew
My love was true
And
No ordinary thing
She admired
My wedding ring
She admired
My wedding ring
She was my friend
My friend
My friend
She sent us little silver gifts
Oh yes
She did
Oh what a rare
And happy pair
She
Inevitably said
As she glanced
At my unmade bed
She admired
My unmade bed
My bed
Beware
Of young girls
Who come to the door
Wistful and pale
Of twenty and four
Delivering daisies
With delicate hands
Beware
Of young girls
Too often they crave
To cry
At a wedding
And dance
On a grave
She was my friend
My friend
My friend
I thought her motives were sincere
Oh yes
I did
Ah but this lass
It came to pass
Had
A dark and different plan
She admired
My own sweet man
She admired
My own sweet man
We were friends
Oh yes
We were
And she just took him from my life
Oh yes
She did
So young and vain
She brought me pain
But
I’m wise enough to say
She will leave him
One thoughtless day
She’ll just leave him
And go away
Oh yes
Beware
Of young girls
Who come to the door
Wistful and pale
Of twenty and four
Delivering daisies
With delicate hands
Beware
Of young girls
Too often they crave
To cry
At a wedding
And dance
On a grave
Beware of young girls
Beware of young girls
Beware

Or in dramatized style, by Kate Dimbleby and Naadia Sheriff:

The story’s real, she’s of course Mia Farrow, I learned about Dory Previn in Woody Allen’s autobiography Apropos of Nothing, and I love her music now.