Archive for category Sean

Three Quotes About The Character of The Irish

“The Irish are a fair people; they never speak well of one another.”
Samuel Johnson

“The Irish are often nervous about having the appropriate face for the occasion. They have to be happy at a wedding, which is a strain, so they get depressed; they have to be sad at funerals, which is easy, so they get happy.”
Peggy Noonan

“When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. Maimed, stark, and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious.”
Edna O’Brien

Dark Watchmen Vs. The Architect of Fear

Is this the day? Is this the beginning of the end? There is no time to wonder. No time to ask why is it happening, why is it finally happening. There is time only for fear, for the piercing pain of panic. Do we pray? Or do we merely run now and pray later? Will there be a later? Or is this the day?

This is the opening narration for the original Outer Limits episode “The Architects of Fear” where a group of scientists fake an alien invasion in an attempt to forestall escalating international tensions and a potential nuclear holocaust. We took in the Dark Knight over the weekend and this quote could have opened the third act of the film where the Joker is threatening the Gotham City with widespread destruction.

The Dark Knight is a dark film about a city fighting a terrorist. it’s one of the grimmest movies I have seen in a while. It’s not as downbeat as “Seconds” but certainly the “Empire Strikes Back” may be the last mass market film to end on so low a note. It’s very well done but definitely a movie with adult themes.

Heath Ledger’s performance is chilling. His Joker reminded me of Lewis Black on a rant (who they should consider now that this will be Ledger’s last role). It becomes clear that the Joker is truly an agent of chaos, his real goal is for the citizens of Gotham City to lose their faith in orderly society (“the hidden conspiracy of goodwill”) and descend into anomie. I viewed It as a cautionary tale for any free society fighting terrorism.

“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
Freidrich Nietzsche Aphorism 146

Batman is challenged to drop his own code of ethics and use whatever means necessary. But in spite of horrific provocation is able to follow his internal compass.

“Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” Juvenal

Which is normally translated as “But who will guard the guardians?” and Alan Moore interpreted as “Who Watches the Watchmen?” (more on that in a moment). To locate the Joker Batman engages in a massive invasion of privacy, but does so in a way that he has no personal control over the information gathered or the mechanism he created, allowing it to be destroyed when it’s no longer needed. This is in the face of a villain who is killing any government official who tries to stand against him, and for good measure follows through on his threat to blow up a hospital.

Although I said it was a dark film about adult themes the boys both enjoyed it and we had a long discussion about civil liberty, and the difference between the police, the National Guard, and the Army. And the difference between the way that a free society fights criminals, affording them protection under the law, and enemy combatants who are committed to the destruction of a society.

“The mature man lives quietly, does good privately, takes responsibility for his actions, treats others with friendliness and courtesy, finds mischief boring and avoids it. Without the hidden conspiracy of goodwill, society would not endure an hour.”
Kenneth Rexroth in the “Introduction to Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God Is Within You”

Ultimately, when confronted with the challenge to kill complete strangers or be killed themselves, Gotham’s citizens–even its criminals–refrain.

The previews included the new Watchmen movie, which looked outstanding. If you haven’t read the comic graphic novel, it’s an extremely dense and intricately plotted exploration justice, vigilantism, and what it means to be a hero. My personal preference would have been for a 12 episode miniseries, with each episode an hour to 90 minutes long to do Watchmen justice, but that’s probably harder to fund and monetize and it’s taken more than two decades to bring it to the screen as is. It will probably get redone in 30 years as a hypertext movie to do it justice.

Alan Moore was apparently not aware of the Outer Limits episode “Architects of Fear” when he wrote Watchmen, but became aware of it as he and Dave Gibbons were collaborating on it, inserting a reference to it in the last issue.

We watched the the “Architects of Fear” again tonight, and I was surprised and how scary it was and how poignant the concluding narration remains:

Scarecrows and magic and other fatal fears do not bring people closer together. There is no magic substitute for soft caring and hard work, for self-respect and mutual love. If we can learn this from the mistake these frightened men made, then their mistake will not have been merely grotesque, it would at least have been a lesson. A lesson, at last, to be learned.

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Somedays I Miss St. Louis

Or perhaps it’s just my childhood.

“If we hadn’t our bewitching autumn foliage, we should still have to credit the weather with one feature which compensates for all its bullying vagaries – the ice-storm: when a leafless tree is clothed with ice from the bottom to the top – ice that is as bright and clear as crystal; when every bough and twig is strung with ice-beads, frozen dew-drops, and the whole tree sparkles cold and white, like the Shah of Persia’s diamond plume. Then the wind waves the branches and the sun comes out and turns all those myriads of beads and drops to prisms that glow and burn and flash with all manner of colored fires, which change and change again with inconceivable rapidity from blue to red, from red to green, and green to gold-the tree becomes a spraying fountain, a very explosion of dazzling jewels; and it stands there the acme, the climax, the supremest possibility in art or nature, of bewildering, intoxicating, intolerable magnificence. One cannot make the words too strong.” Mark Twain

I miss the change of seasons, not just the alternation of hot and wet but four seasons. I miss ice storms and the power going out. Now of course I would be responsible. But as a boy it was my parents’ problem and changes in routine–no school!–were welcome.

“The true object of all human life is play. Life is a task garden, heaven is a playground.” G. K. Chesterton

I miss thunderstorms and lightning, the just right warmth of autumn winds, the way that snow changes the landscape, and the brisk cold of winter giving way to spring. But my blood has changed, so now whether I return in summer or winter I am completely uncomfortable. But it wasn’t always this way.