5 February 2012

Once Upon a Time in the West by Leone, 1968

Filed under: Movies — ktismatics @ 9:55 am



  1. what I mostly remember about this film – and I don’t want to know more, because I hate the Western genre – is this melodramatic framing, with long, lingering close-ups – and how the whole thing rested on editing instead of the story, as you’d have it in a conventional Western. This language later became de rigeur in comic books, much of Spielberg’s movies and a plethora of other media outings. And I remember Leone later made ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, which I did see, and which was a fascinating study of nostalgia.


    Comment by Center of Parody — 6 February 2012 @ 7:31 pm

  2. It’s an abstract, iconic Western, very fine. In this opening scene there seems to be no reason for the men in the leather dusters to be waiting for Charles Bronson to get off the train, or why they would have a showdown with him. The whole point is the setup and staging, the fetishized cowboy-objects, the homage to the cinematic tradition.


    Comment by ktismatics — 6 February 2012 @ 7:48 pm

  3. In WHAT WAY is it very fine?

    I saw A Dangerous Method, but I´m going to wait for you to open a post before I say anything of substance about it.


    Comment by Center of Parody — 7 February 2012 @ 3:04 am

  4. That’s the Cronenberg movie about Jung — I’ve stopped keeping track of new releases so I didn’t know it was coming out. It’s not in my local theaters yet, though now that you’ve alerted me I’ll try to go see it when it gets off the train. I presume you recommend it? You could say that Once Upon a…West is a dreamscape populated by Jungian archetypes.


    Comment by ktismatics — 7 February 2012 @ 6:31 am

  5. Cronenberg is downloadable in crystal-clear quality, no need to wait for the cinema. I found that many have accused him of abandoning his old body horror in favor of a costumed bourgeois Viennese drama, but I thought that the woman (who comes to stand between Freud and Jung and who is the ”libidinal focus” of the movie) is the body horror, given her hysterical contortions as well as the general idea that she is the embodied Unconscious, the Drive. Overall I liked the movie; there is the interesting idea that Freud and Jung were in a latent gay relationship, where Freud was clearly the top, while Jung, who succumbed to the Russian woman;s masochistic charms, was the anxious bottom. Then of course there’s a plethora of topics to discuss about their different approaches, and how that relates to the age of quantum physics.


    Comment by Center of Parody — 7 February 2012 @ 2:12 pm

  6. That film didn’t appeal for some reason, even though Cronenberg and Mortgensen make a great team. Cronenberg’s films succeed or fail depending on strong male leads (which is why the Jeremy Irons ones didn’t ‘do it’ for me. Also, his problematic approach to female characters is sometimes reflected in the casting – Kiera Knightley? Too ‘vacant’).

    As for OUATITW – it’s amazing in the cinema, but for some reason feels clunky and boring on DVD. Repeat viewings are strangely disappointing – I keep expecting it to be more ‘layered’, especially considering it’s from a story by Bertollucci and Dario Argento. It feels like much ado about a corny Randolph Scott plot.

    I still can’t work out if Once Upon A Time In America is a mysterious ‘dream’ masterpiece or a boring, indulgent, potboiler piece of shit. Think I prefer Leone when he’s just lewd and crude, like the first two ‘Dollars’ films.


    Comment by David W. Kasper — 7 February 2012 @ 5:23 pm

  7. I’ve never seen anything by Argento; maybe I’ll queue one up, see what the library has available. Practically never do I watch a movie a second time until I’ve pretty much forgotten what it’s about. Loved all of the “Dollars” movies, though the only one I’ve seen again since initial release has been Good/Bad/Ugly.


    Comment by ktismatics — 7 February 2012 @ 6:36 pm

  8. BERTOLUCCI irritates the fuck out of me. Even Cronenberg’s turn towards costume drama is more bearable. With the exception of NOCOVENTO – which was a good movie – every film is about his total desperate post-menstrual nihilism, he has the same personality as the Marlon Brando character in Tango. He was fifty five years old, already at the age of twenty. But I finally had a fit watching ”Stealing Beauty” in the 1990s, the Liv Tyler vehicle, and the only movie in which she actually looked good. You’d think the movie is a profound artistic meditation on the transience of beauty, but it’s just another goddamn LAMENT for BErtolucci’s own waning libido.

    Argento, on the other hand, is great. Like Brian De Palma, he is interested in the relationship of beauty and horror, and his movies have a horrific beauty. In the midst of all his genre antics, he is a much greater artist than Bertolucci.


    Comment by Center of Parody — 7 February 2012 @ 11:12 pm

  9. I believe that both you and DWK have seen far more films than I have. Bertolucci — didn’t he do that Romeo and Juliet? Maybe that’s it — until quite recently I’d watched mostly wide-release movies that would actually be screened at the local theater, something to do on a Saturday night. Lately I rarely go out to a movie — I may have seen 2 or 3 all last year. And I don’t spend much time researching movies I might want to watch at home. And I don’t typically associate movies with their directors. I was amazed that in France the library alphabetized its DVD collection not by film title but by director.


    Comment by ktismatics — 8 February 2012 @ 7:06 am

  10. Oh, Bertolucci did Last Tango. I loved the juxtaposition of that heterotopic apartment with the supposed cinema verite being enacted by the boyfriend out in the so-called real world. I see that he also made a movie of Sheltering Sky — loved the novel, might read it again one day, but probably won’t see the movie.


    Comment by ktismatics — 8 February 2012 @ 7:11 am

  11. The assemblage of archetypes in Once Upon has utilitarian value for me as an idea; so too did Last Tango, which I saw for the first and only time within the last decade.


    Comment by ktismatics — 8 February 2012 @ 7:21 am

  12. From this article about the best player on Michigan State’s basketball team (where I went to school):

    The basketball junkie embraces all, studies many, disregards none. He watches guards, forwards and centers. Offense, defense and rebounding. Different tricks to get off a shot, ways to wedge a body past an opponent. Joe Dumars, Charles Barkley, Kevin Love – Michigan State senior forward Draymond Green has digested film of them and so many others in adding layers to the most unique and diverse game in college basketball.

    “I try to take stuff from everybody. I take stuff from Kobe (Bryant),” Green said. “It’s crazy, you know, I’m not similar to Kobe, but Kobe isn’t as athletic as he used to be. So I try to watch things he does to get his shots off, to get whatever shots he wants. I try to watch Carmelo (Anthony), the way he uses his body. He does a great job of using his body. I try to watch guys like Carl Landry, Chuck Hayes, Paul Millsap, guys similar to my size. I’ve went back and watched film on Barkley, stuff he used to do. I watch stuff on Dirk (Nowitzki), how he gets his shot. He’s 7-feet, but he’s always fading, he’s always doing something. He don’t jump high, don’t move fast.”


    Comment by ktismatics — 8 February 2012 @ 9:55 am

  13. Zeferrelli (flamboyantly gay, power-worshipping, Fascist sympathizer) made Romeo & Juliet, and the (quite good) TV series of Jesus of Nazareth.

    Bertollucci (Freudian-Marxist) made The Conformist, which is one of my favorite movies ever – a big influence on Coppolla, Paul Schrader and Scorcese. Also, Spider’s Strategem and Last Tango In Paris are still great, even if the latter is a little dated now. Novocento and the Last Emperor are as good as historical epics get – much better than David Lean.

    Dario Argento is known for gratuitously misogynistic horror movies. A lot of striking visual flair, but overrated. Also quite creepy that he cast his young daughter in his psycho-sexual scenarios.


    Comment by David W. Kasper — 8 February 2012 @ 11:28 am

  14. Bertolucci’s favorite subject is decadence – of the upper classes, of sexuality, of morality, of modernity. But his depictions of vacuity in this regard are aestheticized. He LOVES IT. And so in the end, he is the selfsame decadent patrician that he observes, supposedly with a critical distance: BORING!!! I have not seen The Conformist, but more people have told me that this is an exception to the rule within the Maestro’s opus, like Novocento. Obviously a great talent gone to waste.

    As for misogyny in 1970s-1980s horror, I’ve done that debate to death. Some think that if one shows a wimmin getting raped or murdered, one necessarily derives pleasure from that situation. Following that logic, horror directors should have shown how the wimmin turn against their stalkers, cut off their dicks and show them off as trophies at Marxist feminist conferences (that would have made for really CREEPY HORROR, I admit). And this is indeed what we got in the 1990s, ball-busting heroines like Sigourney Weaver, and then horror movies where wamyn strike back (Wes Craven et al) However, comparatively, a Brian De Palma film is around ten thousand million times more critical of misogyny, than any of these so-called feminist products that came afterwards. While the ball busting new horror hypocritically manipulates the woman as being ”just as manly as men”, that is to say denying her the singularity of her own gender, De Palma shows how women are structurally prostituted by society.


    Comment by Center of Parody — 8 February 2012 @ 12:21 pm

  15. I’m going to get the library to reserve The Conformist for me. You know, misogynist Marlon Brando did get his comeuppance from the woman in Tango.


    Comment by ktismatics — 8 February 2012 @ 2:01 pm

  16. DWK’s article on blawging is exemplary except that he completely doesn’t mention the social function of blawging. EVen though this hasn’t continued seamlessly, there were moments at the Parody Center
    which resembled in the best possible way drunken nights in a pub with socialist intellectuals – just like we had it in the seventies and the eighties. I enjoyed it much more than sitting in a pub.

    Also, DWK maintains an old-fashioned distance between himself and his public persona. But I think it’s becoming
    increasingly obvious that this border has vanished, and Paul Mason – despite the failings of his book – had interesting things to say about this.


    Comment by Center of Parody — 8 February 2012 @ 4:01 pm

  17. I did mention the social function of blawging. I forgot to mention that almost all blogs are the product of failure, or at least serious alienation. That’s why theories generated by that format arise the way they do.

    DePalma IS a misogynist. Cronenberg is ABOUT misogyny. Hitchcock had a dirty old man’s obsession with icy blondes. DePalma had a dirty young man’s obsession with Hitchcock’s obsession. The diminishing artistic returns of post-modernism.

    I’m sure you’ll post screenshots of the Conformist when you see it. Every shot is beautifully composed.


    Comment by David W Kasper — 9 February 2012 @ 1:37 pm

  18. Maybe the Cronenberg has already come and gone from these parts, seeing as it was released in 2011.

    “the product of failure, or at least serious alienation” — Do you have empirical research supporting this contention, or is it tautological? Is non-blogging a product of success and social embeddedness? This sounds like one of those “theories generated by that format.” Maybe the greater the hitrate the greater the fail/alienation. I presume that all the winners have moved on to Twitter by now so they won’t bother us any more.


    Comment by ktismatics — 9 February 2012 @ 3:15 pm

  19. I” presume that all the winners have moved on to Twitter by now so they won’t bother us any more.”

    Incredibly and laughably, that does seem to be exactly what has happened. And even the few Twitterers I used to enjoy reading have ‘maxed out’, as it were. An efficient enough receptacle, I suppose.

    “Do you have empirical research supporting this contention, or is it tautological? ”

    Yes, he’s only talking about the bleugs that he’s associated with, not thriving ones that exist all over the place, from the elite bleugs like Huffington post and TPM on down.


    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 9 February 2012 @ 4:44 pm

  20. “Incredibly and laughably, that does seem to be exactly what has happened. ”

    Or rather, that has also to be qualified by the ‘blogosphere’ being referred to by this type is only the leftist blogosphere of some variety–either medium-spiced or hard-Marxist do-nothings. But mainly, I should add that Facebook is probably far more important than Twitter, and it is used very effectively by businesses who do have real products of high quality–like that gallery I’ve been posting about. I’ve decided to keep looking at their Facebook page and they may then announce that ‘everybody is welcome’ or something as the days near. I’d still sort of like to hear if Ms. Wilson has anything like what we saw in this, although she did tell the owner she thought the post was ‘insightful’ (which would have included your comments which emphasized what I was saying about the piece of wall.)

    But it’s even dumber than just ‘going to Twitter’. One of the bleugers I used to like said he ‘was bad about email’, and that it was ‘because of Facebook’. I had no idea what he was talking about. I guess email seemed like the telephone to him by early 2010. He still holds down a bleug, but rarely posts (maybe every 3 months or even less).

    I can definitely see Facebook as useful for business expansion, and an art gallery using it is excellent. Twitter gets more into gossip and things of no substance, mostly just going around in circles.


    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 9 February 2012 @ 4:53 pm

  21. I just read in a local marketing research that the new generation doesn’t differentiate anymore. Their colleagues from work are simultaneously their friends on Facebook et cetera. Paul Mason thinks that this is good, that technological advancement in capitalism can bring about a new kollektiva.

    DePalma IS a misogynist. Cronenberg is ABOUT misogyny.

    And Bertolucci is an ONANIST. How do you support your argument that De Palma is a misogynist? Stop throwing empty expletives and LIVE UP TO YOUR CLAIMS. FACTS. ARGUMENTS. EXPLANATIONS.


    Comment by Center of Parody — 9 February 2012 @ 5:20 pm

  22. Twitter is mostly a cellphone intervention, isn’t it? It seems that there’s some stringent limit on the number of characters per Tweet that probably corresponds to the length of a text message. I don’t have a cellphone — another indicator of my alienation fail I presume. I’ve looked at a few of the Twitter logs linked on some of the blogs, which give me at least one side of what I presume are ongoing conversations with some other Twitterer. I can see the value of getting quick updates and opinions about new books, newspaper articles, movies, music, etc. of mutual interest. I’m usually not particularly up-to-date on cultural developments so I probably wouldn’t have much to contribute.


    Comment by ktismatics — 9 February 2012 @ 5:22 pm

  23. Cronenberg is ABOUT misogyny.

    He was certainly scared shitless of the WAMYN, although I think ultimately neither Freud nor Jung needed her, Jung should have accepted his desire to take daddy Freud’s dick. But this part of the movie was boring. What was interesting is the idea that this wimman somehow has direct access to her Unconscious, that she is Unconscious incarnate, embodied. You might have noticed (if you’d seen the film) that she recounts her childhood memories without a problem, directly – there is no repression. She seemed like the Reichian element in the triangle.


    Comment by Center of Parody — 9 February 2012 @ 5:27 pm

  24. I’m usually not particularly up-to-date on cultural developments so I probably wouldn’t have much to contribute.

    If you can overcome your resistance, which is normal in your age group, although I don’t think it has much to do with age, more with the openness of the mind, you’ll discover that the medium is more about the communication and less about the content. But, this needn’t lead to the devaluation of content. To the contrary, I think the presence of all these parallel channels allows you access to content in ways that are much more efficient, and exciting, than before.


    Comment by Center of Parody — 9 February 2012 @ 5:37 pm

  25. Do you Twitter, C of P? I’d say that it’s normal in my age group to have a cellphone. Twitter not so much.


    Comment by ktismatics — 9 February 2012 @ 5:47 pm

  26. No never was drawn to Twatter, though I read Twatters regularly.


    Comment by Center of Parody — 9 February 2012 @ 6:17 pm

  27. Like

    Comment by Center of Parody — 9 February 2012 @ 6:23 pm

  28. “No never was drawn to Twatter, though I read Twatters regularly.”

    We all know you used to Twitter, and with whom. You don’t Twitter for the most obvious reasons. I don’t Twitter because too many responses are expected, and it ends up a matter of hours, as I’ve noticed with reading Dominic’s regularly.

    John, did you read this that I posted on one of my Facebook posts yet? http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/opinion/sunday/the-death-of-the-cyberflaneur.html?_r=1&ref=global-home

    There’s even a recognizable Facebook look by now.


    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 9 February 2012 @ 7:14 pm

  29. I read it as a link from your IDNYC blog. I think I mentioned here once that I never read a blog entry before I put up my first Ktismatics post. Every now and then I wander around other blogs that I don’t regularly visit, but almost never any more do I cruise through previously uncharted waters. You have a Facebook too? I don’t have one of those.


    Comment by ktismatics — 9 February 2012 @ 7:23 pm

  30. No, I don’t have Facebook, but the gallery owner put the link to my post on her Facebook page, not the gallery site. If such a thing can really be used just as an objective thing, it’s good promo. I haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. I didn’t want my own bleug till I had the book as the basis for it, and it’s grown out of that, but I have found that I have to spend more time on it than I did when I just commented. On the other hand, I can fully flesh out ideas, as right now as I make my way through Gravity’s Rainbow, than I could as a commenter. By a long shot. Sometimes it’s upsetting temporarily when the bleugers tell you everything you do is shit, but not for very long. I’ve been able to work through things that had to do with other bleugers very well since I’ve had my own, and this was always thwarted until I did. Having it makes me come with new ideas, although I didn’t expect it to.

    My main ooint on this thread is that the leftist bleugosphere is absurd in talking about this tiny corner of all bleugs is the only one that counts. They define things differently from anyone else, and are a kind of ‘duchy’, like say San Marino or Monaco (at least in terms of world influence.) They define ‘Republican’ as anyone who is in the mainstream, and really do hold down a tacit agreement with each other that there are no Democrats who are not exactly like Republicans. The accepted definition of Republican is totally ignored. Sometimes, real events (like Obama and Boehner and other Wall Street sucking sounds) do make it look as though there is no difference, but what I wrote at Harry’s Place in an earlier post is that the one solace the hard Marxists have is really each other, and they WERE hypnotic even to me until I read the post on Chomsky: This was backed up by several on the thread, who realize that Chomsky is not even known of by most people, but that his particular brand of total anti-americanism has indeed infected all of academia, much of the media, etc., I hadn’t realized how powerful a negative figure Chomsky is, that is to say, I wondered why, since I discovered and read Harry’s Place and talked to them about my problems with Seymour (Seymour and Harry’s Place are always at each other’s throats) , I would still read for amusement Lenin’s Tomb rather than Harry’s Place, and I’d read Arpege’s Twitters even though I disagreed with all of them. This didn’t stop me from reading the NYTimes, of course, which the hard Marxists don’t pay any attention to either, or most other things, but this really rang a bell when I realized the fact of ‘The Holy Chomsky’. And I really do think he’s just a senile old fart, NO BETTER THAN ZIZEK, maybe even worse. I then remembered several years ago that Dominic said to some conservative commenter ‘No going after Chomsky here, say what you want about Zizek’, but not Chomsky’, although the quote is not perfect. But now I see the tiny world of the hard Marxists, and how nobody is paying any attention to them, although I still read some of it as a form of entertainemtn. But their TRICK is to act as if the msm really somehow doesn’t EXIST, more than that it’s BAD. That was what fascinated me about them for so long.


    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 9 February 2012 @ 7:40 pm

  31. I haven’t read the piece on Chomsky yet. I find him informative especially when he does fact-checking on obscure parts of the world that aren’t in the headlines. Having come out of psychology I knew him more as a high-profile psycholinguist who did politics as a hobby. Some day I should read one of his political books.


    Comment by ktismatics — 9 February 2012 @ 8:02 pm

  32. And when I say ”rabid individualism of capitalism” I don’t mean just that things are fast and stressed out, because you have of course villages in Holland that move at a snail’s pace. It’s also that people generally have become paranoid, distrustful, and self-immersed because their mental position is that you’re a competition. So you don’t feel any particular impulse to group with them. I feel that this is something that’s clearly changed from the older times – both here and in Eastern Europe.

    The Dutch like to congregate in various organisations and clubs, though, so maybe that’s what I should do – a gay swimming club, or the society of Yugo nostalgia. However I don’t even see space for that, as the moment you’re out of work there are several dozens institutions breathing down your neck to find new work, as soon as possible, without delay, we mustn’t jeopardize productivity, etc.


    Comment by Center of Parody — 10 February 2012 @ 12:51 am

  33. …so I find that again, I am spending the entire day on the computer – polishing the portfolio, looking for vacancies, conjuring up good application letters, and the like.


    Comment by Center of Parody — 10 February 2012 @ 12:52 am

  34. his particular brand of total anti-americanism has indeed infected all of academia, much of the media, etc.,

    As if there is absolutely no reason to hate America, I mean just look at all the WONDERFUL THINGS it has done for us since the break of the century! To name one of your favorite topics, I read in Dutch press yesterday that half the population is overweight, which statistics clearly relate to 1) the availability of American-inspired fast food and 2) the sedentary lifestyle, again influenced by the American model of sassiety, where people wash down reality TV shows with burgers and then suffer from bipolar binges. And then all those lovely smart bomb excursions into the Balkans, and the Middle East, and you name it, climaxing with Angelina Jolie shooting a ”political film” in Bosnia like some crazed pop starlet version of Susan Sontag; in fact the only place where America hasn’t bombed yet is Russia, because it’s too chickenshit to pick on a really powerful bear. In Western EUrope you can at least have some respect for the colonialists’s LONG HISTORY, but America is like a HICK COLONIALIST, without history, without manners, without anything really but the knowhow to make tons of money off other people’s misery. If I was American right now, I’d apply immediately for asylum in New Zealand or something.


    Comment by Center of Parody — 10 February 2012 @ 5:37 am

  35. Like

    Comment by Center of Parody — 10 February 2012 @ 5:40 am

  36. Here’s a link to a recent Chomsky piece. I find it commendable: rhetorically contentious, but backed up by evidence. Most of the piece is dedicated to America’s war in Southeast Asia, launched and escalated by Democratic presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Then he shifts to Obama’s perpetuation of Bush’s policy of indefinite detention of suspected terrorists, held without due process at places like Guantanamo. I think that’s a fair indictment of Obama, who when running for office promised to close Guantanamo. That the elected Democrats repeatedly fail to separate themselves from the right wing on such important matters is worth emphasizing and reiterating, especially for Democratic voters who had every reason to expect Obama to fulfill his campaign commitments.


    Comment by ktismatics — 10 February 2012 @ 7:43 am

  37. Obama did fulfill many of his campaign commitments. I’m aware of some of Chomsky’s good points, but he’s to be predisposed toward You’re still in that phase, and probably will stay there, good 3rd-partier that you are. He presents himself as a ‘saint of humanity’, when all he really is is an opportunist of the U.S., including financially, another ‘dog that bites the hand that feeds it’, and is right about some things. It’s his PERSONA that is the problem. Arpege and Wayner are far more anti-American still, and Arpege said that the 9/11 truther business was the one thing she thought Chomsky was wrong about. And SHE hasn’t changed her name, just burned up her old bleugs.

    I read Chomsky’s ‘Hegemony or Survival’, and it seemed sensible all the way through because of the ravages of Bush and Cheney, but the idea that Chomsky is so important that he won’t come out for 9/11 trutherism so as ‘not to embarass the government’ is total bullshit. Although they’ve got a point: When you have any profile at all, you don’t start talking shit that’s going to make you look like a total inmate.

    And again, after OBL was killed, Chomsky’s reaction was of an unbelievable stupidity, and THERE is where you see the garbage of his mind. Traxus and Arpege and Wayner all wrote it up, celebrating Chomsky’s impotence in the face of Obama’s 100% success, and all the hard leftists had their Mongoloid stance on this ‘tragedy’, Jodi Dean’s among the most retarded (she was almost in tears), and Adam Kotsko and the theologians backed up Chomsky’s incredibly stupid bullshit about ‘who was worse than whom’, which had absolutely not a THING to do with it. But Adam Kotsko is esp. worth singling out, because he’s the one that wrote that, not only was OBL ‘not as bad as Bush’ (he was worse, just not as stupid), but that Obama was ‘much worse than OBL’.

    You can’t walk a fine neutral line on all these things, and I definitely think you try to do this. You understood the need to get rid of OBL, but the ‘failure’ that the ‘failed bleuger’ (and he is) of ‘alienated bleugers’ could apply to most small-size bleugs if they’re too wishy-washy. That Obama has not succeeded in a lot of things does not make him a failed president, but the ‘failure quotient’ that Wayner is talking about is the ‘desire and love for failure’. This shows in most of the bleugers to some degree. Failure seems to equate with ‘sincerity’. Chomsky is himself a huge failure, though famous and deified. It’s quite possible to be a huge failure when you’re famous, and Joan Didion has proved herself to be insofar as, in her own recent public pitifulness, she has actually cancelled out her seeming toughness and self-reliance that had been the hallmark of her decades of fine work; and this is because she can’t do without the public. Hitchens was much gutsier, writing that review of G.K. Chesterton while in great pain and on morphine. Whatever you thought of him, he didn’t absent himself from his own guts. Not everybody values this (obviously, since they’ll threaten in order to retain their own lies–and who wouldn’t in some cases?)

    All of which proves what Nick and I have always said about chomsky, he long before I did: He does actively promote anti-Americanism in ALL CASES. That’s why the hard left was hypnotic and more ‘interesting’ to read than Harry’s Place, which is a lot more fair and a lot more humane. There is nothing humane about some bunch of impotents who can do nothing except find failure in everything AS A VIRTUE.


    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 10 February 2012 @ 10:26 am

  38. From an international perspective the Republicans and Democrats aren’t far apart either in ideology or in enacted policy. Within the US there remains a distinction, at least at the level of rhetoric. So when Gingrich chastens Romney for being nearly indistinguishable from Obama, he still says he’d support Romney because Obama is a national catastrophe. And I’d certainly still prefer Obama over Romney, even if their differences are more at the level of rhetoric (does versus does not worry about the poor). Santorum? No way. Will I vote for Obama’s re-election? Yes. Will I be enthusiastic in my support of Obama? No; I expected him to do better than he’s done.

    Here’s Obama’s latest “accommodation” to the Roman Catholics on birth control:

    But what the White House will likely announce later today is that the relationship between the religious employer and the insurance company will not need to have any component involving contraception. The insurance company will reach out on its own to the women employees.

    “Reach out” almost certainly means “for an extra fee.”

    I agreed with every substantive point Chomsky made in that article I linked. I think that the Democratic party has moved consistently to the right ever since Reagan, and I find this disappointing. Still, the Democrats used to be the party that was going to make the world safe for democracy, which meant military adventures like Vietnam. Now that interventionist mantle has shifted largely to the Republicans — I don’t believe Kerry would have invaded Iraq, even if it was Clinton’s fly-overs that made the invasion possible. And Obama does flirt with attacking Iran in a way that makes me wary. As for Chomsky’s tone, he goes out of his way to point out that the US founding fathers didn’t extend equal rights to women or to slaves; he doesn’t note that these rights were subsequently extended through the active leadership of the left. I seem to recall that in the past he has commended such extensions of democracy to wider swathes of the populace. I don’t agree that Obama is worse than Osama. As I said here previously, I regarded OBL as a war combatant: just because he was hiding in a bunker away from the front lines doesn’t mean he should be safe from attack. But that issue wasn’t addressed in the Chomsky article. I presume that Chomsky believes that OBL “did it,” not that he’s obfuscating in order to preserve his radical base.


    Comment by ktismatics — 10 February 2012 @ 10:57 am

  39. “I expected him to do better than he’s done.”

    I’m more aware this time around that the federal government either can’t or won’t do much about jobs, which has definitely emerged as the most important domestic concern since the last presidential election. It’s not clear whether a Democratic president would have pushed the financial institutions bailout that GW enacted just before he left office, but Obama certainly wasn’t reluctant to extend it on his watch. It’s mostly been the state and local governments ratcheting down public employment over the last four years, but it seems that both Dems and Reps in Congress are going to resist the extreme austerities of the EU, no longer concerning themselves overmuch with Tea Party demands for reducing the federal debt. Mostly it’s corporate globalization, with the automation and outsourcing of jobs shrinking the American workforce and paycheck. The big corporate investors don’t care about America one way or another. In that regard it’s possible to commend the governmental capitalism of places like Singapore and Big China, whose governments do intervene in the economy in ways that protect national interests. The American government intervenes largely to enhance corporate interests, including recent moves to eliminate US income tax on domiciled corporations’ profits earned in other countries.

    Anyhow, we’ve strayed pretty far from the original topic of the thread. Maybe I should create a catch-all post where I would move all off-topic commentary on any thread. I’m not sure I know how to do that though, to move a comment from one post to a different one.


    Comment by ktismatics — 10 February 2012 @ 11:27 am

  40. The big corporate investors don’t care about America one way or another.

    You know – at least that is the impression we have ALWAYS had in Europe, I remember hearing it from my parents, and grandparents, and their parents, and then hearing it again in Holland from many people, and most recently in London. That in America, one is under the impression that this bunch of poorly educated dumbasses basically swallow everything from the government which doesn’t even give a fuck about them. The impression is amplified by Michael Moore’s movies. I’ve always been tempted to defend Americans against such generalizations, because if nothing EUrope has the responsibility to EMANCIPATE its former colonies, and then also Europe is being disgraceful in quite the same fashion to its own folk, like the Greeks.


    Comment by Center of Parody — 10 February 2012 @ 11:41 am

  41. I;’m not the least bit interested in discussing Chomsky any further. I’m only interested that it took me so long to realize that, for me, he’s dead. And an asshole.

    As for the ‘slugout’ you want a la Dynasty, you won’t get it. You made your choice the other day –not between two people, but in favour of having no credibility at all–at least you learned not to say ‘warszawa’ on the net–but you do act as if it registered with nobody. I consider all of your parody work to be utterly worthless. Probably my bipolarism, I’m ‘either for it or against it’–and I’m against you and wayner. The ‘either for us or against us’, btw, and John ought to have known this, was only about the U.S. vs. Al Qaida, and was said by Bush long before the Iraq War.

    Whether you want to see that there are ‘terrorists’ in the White House is your own ass’s business. There are not terrorists per se. Not all terrorists have been Islamic, but the large majority has been. Of course, there has been the I.R.A., and Serbia as an entire nation has been terroristic to Muslims. There have been American terrorists like Timothy McVeigh. But your delusion that I have anything to do with you after the other day is all wrong. Even the Richard I just respond to obliquely by now. I consider anybody who writes for you to be suspect (not as terrorists, but as anything at all). Your preaching is simply absurd, because the throwing of threats at me was only because you continued to use the ‘w.’ word. I took down the posts, but that is because I haven’t time to waste with CPC anymore. And the lafayette’s posts have been of no interest since then. It is interesting that when people make a fool of themselves, some of them are energized to try even harder to make even greater fools of themselves. Two ‘maso bottoms’ was right. Although I do recognize that gluttony woudn’t think that was enough; as I said, the other ‘maso bottom’ is NOT going to accept that nomenclature. You’re basically alone now, because you’re troll even told you the truth:


    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 10 February 2012 @ 12:37 pm

  42. “The big corporate investors don’t care about America one way or another.

    You know – at least that is the impression we have ALWAYS had in Europe, I remember hearing it from my parents, and grandparents, and their parents, and then hearing it again in Holland from many people, and most recently in London. That in America, one is under the impression that this bunch of poorly educated dumbasses basically swallow everything from the government which doesn’t even give a fuck about them.”

    This is all crap, because although it’s true that corporate investors don’t care about ‘America’, they equally don’t care about ‘Europe’. It is exactly the same. And the European attitude about the U.S. is severely out of date. Nick was right to start harping on ‘Old Europe’, even if I disagree with a lot of his Austrian economics extremism, and his desire for China to ‘win the war’ against America by now. Nick Land is NOT Paul Krugman, who is one of the few totally serious people at work today that is listened to. He is so far beyond Chomsky in his balanced assessment of what is most likely to work that it’s not even funny. Chomsky is really just some sort of Dalai Lama for atheists and other commie hobbyists. He’s not taken seriously because it’s just a demographic, the old Village Voice-style America-hater group. It did seem as though the Iraq War would mean suicide for the U.S., but it hasn’t. But as for Americans being ‘hick’, there are no longer any more ‘hicks’ in the u.S. than in Europe, and Europe is actually what is failing in a big way now. It’s a disaster, much worse than here. Even culturally, Europe doesn’t produce as well as the U.S. by now, although it used to be a lot artier. Europe is pretty much ‘over’ in a lot of ways. It doesn’t set trends (Gingrich’s idiotic remarks notwithstanding), and it doesn’t have the power. It’s not volatile like the U.S., but it’s half-dead as well. The Socialist programs do work in the rich nations of Europe, but they aren’t the ‘forced-down-your-throat’ things that the hard Marxists require. That’s where the ‘p.c’. filth comes in. At some point, the joy of Communism is understood to be ‘bleak’ as in the Pynchon passage I quoted, people are not really friends.


    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 10 February 2012 @ 1:07 pm

  43. Come to think of it, Sergio Leone indulged some very nasty misogyny too. He even had an offensive ‘fun rape’ scene in Once Upon a Time in America. Also that bizarre scene in OUATITW when Claudia Cardinale beds Henry Fonda for no reason whatsoever (like it’s entirely unrelated to scenes before or after).

    Something vaguely homoerotic about all that unexplained male bonding in his films too. One guy appears. Then another guy does, and suddenly they’re a team. They just ‘hook up’ based on stares (many, many stares) and walks alone. ‘Keeping up the love’ despite all the sadism and casual backstabbing.

    May be heretical, but I’ve come to find Ennio Morricone’s music very irritating over the years too. So overbearing and repetitive.


    Comment by David W. Kasper — 10 February 2012 @ 4:10 pm

  44. The misogyny of Henry Fonda’s character Frank certainly wasn’t erotically charged, at least not for me. It was sadistic for sure, inasmuch as he had just killed Claudia’s husband and stepchildren and was about to steal her homestead out from under her — and he points all this out to her with a smirk. She gave a little speech as I recall saying that she’d do anything to keep her stake, even fuck Frank, and of course she was also the archetypal whore with a heart of gold so she had the necessary skill set for the job. Immediately afterward though we have the auction, at which she says she doesn’t care how much she gets for the place, just so she can get out of there — so what happened to that spunky working-girl attitude from the prior scene? The story continuity is often incoherent.


    Comment by ktismatics — 10 February 2012 @ 5:09 pm

  45. Yeah maybe that’s why I prefer the first two Dollars films – much tighter, simpler stories. Good the Bad and the Ugly has a disjointed clumsy narrative, nonsensical in parts. Fistful of Dynamite and Once Upon a Time in America have way too many incoherent scenes (patched over with ‘operatic’ music?).

    Think he’s been very influential on modern movies, but not really in a good way – it’s all about ‘the moment’ or impact without coherence, emotion or depth. As much as James Bond movies are.


    Comment by David W. Kasper — 10 February 2012 @ 6:09 pm

  46. “I prefer the first two Dollars films – much tighter, simpler stories”

    Here’s an excerpt from an interview with John Williams, whose 1965 novel Stoner has been subject of discussion two posts after this one:

    I asked John what his own idea of “audience” was, and how he took it into consideration in doing his own work.

    “I write for the reader, more than I write for myself. The reader who puts down ten or twelve bucks for a book—really much more than that now—deserves some respect and consideration. We’re arrogant about this, and people are more intelligent than we think they are. The so-called `common reader’ is sometimes an `un-common reader’ and can click in and understand and like things more than most of us think they can.”

    John feels the reader deserves a story, too, and that “The so-called `new novel,” whatever that is, almost tries to make fun of the idea of story. They use it, but they use it almost as a parody kind of thing.”

    When Williams’ Augustus and Barth’s Chimera were named co-winners of the NBA fiction prize for 1973, it seemed to me that the judges were acknowledging that the “story” or “traditional” type novel, and the “new” or “experimental” kind of novel were in fact of such different intent, that rather than attempt to judge one kind against the other, it made more sense to honor the best of each almost as “separate but equal” categories. I wondered if John felt this was a sensible way of judging current fiction.

    “I think not, and I’m not trying to knock Barth at all in saying this. I enjoyed Chimera, it was kind of fun, but the other kind of stuff that he does and the kind of stuff [William] Gass does, I really think it’s a dead end. I think the difficulty is that if you’re too `original’—in quotes—you become repetitive, and it becomes less and less `original’ as things go on. It’s almost like the thing of `it has to be new’ because if it’s been done once it can’t be done again. When people tell me that I try to remind them about sex—you don’t just do it once, you know?”


    Comment by ktismatics — 11 February 2012 @ 8:30 am

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