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For all its no-nonsense masculinity, Hawksian cinema has always been very stylized. His array of adventures make their stoical gestures in an enclosed world where such gestures are sufficient unto themselves. Unfortunately, about half of “Red Line 7000″ consists of real footage of apparently suicidal stock-car racing in America, and it is harder to believe in the validity of stylized stoicism as a direct statement on the modern world. Hawks, unlike Preminger, has taken his studio-conditioned out-look out into the real world and there is consequently a fatal disharmony between the old movie myths he seeks to perpetuate and the insistent iconography of the modern world he is unable to ignore. Unlike Antonioni, Hawks believes that the sentiments of 1935 are appropriate to the cybernetic ’60s, but “Red Line 7000″ fails to establish his thesis. If Hawks has represented much of what I like in the cinema, Warhol represents much of what I resist. We live in an era when many people are as pathologically frightened of being put on as of being put down. Magazine articles are written to warn us of the perils of alleged artists who do not take their audience seriously, and Warhol is usually cited as the worst offender. I have found in the past that with me a little Warholian cinema goes a long way, but it suddenly strikes me that I have never seen anything by Warhol entirely lacking in interest. I happened to stumble into the Cinametheque one night in search of his Fire Island opus which is reportedly too salacious even for the American Civil Liberties Union. As a last minute replacement for the mysteriously unavailable Fire Island film, the management reprised “The Life Story of Juanita Castro,” which I had never seen, and it shook me up considerably simply by making me laugh for long stretches of time, not so much at it as with it. –“Clip Job : Sarris Considers Warhol,” Andrew Sarris, The Village Voice, from December 1965
The world almost missed out on the final film clips of Michael Jackson–which some might consider a loss; and wouldn’t it have been better if the “Age of Twee Hipsterdom,” as identified by Harper’s Contributing Editor Christian Lorentzen, was actually over, and the “muscular, bravura” filmmaking of Wes Anderson vanished from the earth? And is it really better to prefer the current films of Lars von Trier, a director who was once described in Harper’s Magazine as having suggested that “gang rape might be a simple girl’s way of gaining entry into heaven”? (subs only)?
Marx never wrote about cellulite, though I am quite sure he suffered from this “unsightly
condition.” He endured several excruciating physical ailments throughout his lifetime:
carbuncles, insomnia, bronchitis, a bad liver, pleurisy and haemorrhoids. If he were alive
today I am sure he would definitely have a few more “backaches” to contend with, the
current cellulite epidemic being one of the many. It might be very much lagging in order of
importance, but nevertheless an examination of this modern phenomenon vividly illustrates
the manipulative powers of both advertising and marketing, two wasteful and exploitative
processes which are an integral part of capitalism…. Advertising and marketing constitutes part of the modern system of production and
consumption. Advertising in particular is the dominant cultural form in capitalist society. It
mimics and subverts every genre of art and cultural practice to enhance and alter the
meaning of lifeless objects. But advertisements do more than exaggerate the basic function of
a product. They imbue products with all kinds of social abilities. Marx called this process the
fetishism of commodities. But surely people buy a particular soft drink or breakfast cereal
because they like its taste and are thirsty, hungry or want to keep regular: they are not
hypnotised into thinking that they are going to be or have the beautiful woman in the TV
commercial? But advertising does not adhere to such a crude formula. Utilitarian items such
as food or drink become exaggerated props in advertisements that subtly portray or imply
an ideal lifestyle. This ideal is not an outlandishly glamourous way of life. It is a comfortable
and customary one which we can all realistically aspire to, one which the product will bring
us nearer to. But some commodities bring us nearer to this coveted lifestyle than others. –“Marxism and Cellulite: A consumer’s guide to marketing,” Catherine Lyons, Red Banner: A magazine of socialist ideas
The relationship between do-it-yourself funerals and the illicit market for online sperm is complex; to simplify it one might use this equation calculating the “phenomena of association,” but the one thing that is eminently clear is that money is important, particularly in New York, and pretty much everywhere else, too…
Although shepherds and shepherdesses have been in short supply in the United States, versions of pastoral have flourished here. The cult of the Noble Red Man, or, as Mark Twain derisively labeled it, “The Fenimore Cooper Indian” (a type given to long speeches in mellifluous and extravagantly figurative English), is an obvious example. So is the heroizing of simple cowboys, farmers, and miners in the western stories of writers like Bret Harte, the movies of John Ford, and the art of Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell, Maynard Dixon, and Thomas Hart Benton. Both Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The Grapes of Wrath might be read as pastorals in Empson’s sense. The chief loci of American pastoral have been the rural South and the Far West, while most of its practitioners have been sophisticated easterners for whom the South and West were destinations for bouts of adventurous travel. They went equipped with sketchpads and notebooks in which to record the picturesque manners and customs of their rustic, unlettered fellow countrymen. –“American Pastoral,” Jonathan Raban, The New York Review of Books
To find an American shepherd, one must first understand the Basque diaspora, but really, what is being discussed here is not ranching or even dogs, but rather “romantic exoticism” of a sort that is uniquely American, like crypto-Jews or tribal tattoos, or the myriad ways in which one can become a Veblenian “connoisseur in creditable viands of various degrees of merit, in manly beverages and trinkets, in seemly apparel and architecture, in weapons, games, dances, and narcotics,” as discussed by Mark Kingwell in this month’s Harper’s Magazine (subscription only)
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”