I'm a professional bookseller, and as I peruse the literary criticism aisle I'm noticing that more and more there are books exploring how books and film can be used as therapeutic tools, can make you a better person, either because the writer of the book/director of the film is evolved company and capable of great empathic reaches into all of her characters (for example, "Jane on the Brain"), or because they tend sympathetically and well to ailments the reader might be suffering from -- depression, or whatnot (for example, "The Novel Cure"). It strikes me that in this age of #metoo, we have impetus to make this way of exploring film a priority.
I remember very specifically thinking of how certain directors who don't get much respect from critics, but whom I feel I benefited from simply by being "in contact" with, might find themselves re-evaluated in this new environment. Rob Reiner, Paul Greengrass, Nora Ephron, Nancy Meyers, Ron Howard, Ridley Scott (didn't we all love how he reacted so instantly and decisively to "Spacey," out of the right reasons), JJ Abrams (James Cameron?), are never directors to get the critical esteem of Soderbergh, Malick, Allen, Eastwood and company, but if I had to isolate which of these two groups to introduce new students to so they become experimental and innovative, I suspect I'd actually take the former, for from them they'd feel a greater level of support and love than, I think, from the latter, which is what I think you need, primarily, to follow your play wherever it leads, to take risks, and innocently discover in explorations you found novel that you've become "new" to the world too (if want stylistic innovators, the question we might want to ask ourselves is, what kind of parenting produces them?, not, what kind of artistic forbearer?, a question Richard Brody brings to the fore in his review of "Whiplash": https://www.newyorker.com/…/whiplash-getting-jazz-right-mov…, and which Stephanie Zacharek discusses in her review of "Phantom Thread": http://time.com/5075162/phantom-thread-movie-review/).
Richard has recently done a take-down of the myth of the old-fashioned vulgar but passionate studio boss. I think further take-down is required so that we become loosened from the perhaps misbelief that in order to be innovative in film, you have to study "Criterion" quality, study "cinéma," so that redemption goes to directors -- respected critically or not -- who have a reputation for giving support to the actors and from whom you can feel that if they're challenging you, even "hard," they're fundamentally WITH you. Literature respects both Joyce AND Jane Austen, Faulkner AND Louise May Alcott. What we seem to get is respect for Malick and also for... Whit Stillman, maybe? which doesn't feel the same. We should aim to be the same. (And because I think this our fix, that we still sour on what we take as "oversensitive," "snowflake" culture -- a sour, abuse-enabling inclination that persists even through #metoo -- I disagree with Brody that, unlike as before with Hawks and Hitchcock, simply because there are so many venues to encounter films these days we won't find that a subsequent generation ups a number of directors we take only as makers of popular entertainment more into the realm of bolder respect: no, we're going to find the same happens to us, owing to reasons evolving within our grasp.)
Why do I like "Breakfast Club" so much? -- because the director wished all of the characters well, and because he created what proved a protected space, a safe zone, where the characters could challenge one another and (very believably) grow. This is where I start, and from there I become interested in camera, mise-en-scene, lighting, style... but only FROM and AFTER there, however afterwards in depth. I need to feel there is goodness in the film, goodness in genesis and intent, that is, which certainly doesn't mean offering happy pills, which only means you're broken into subservience and ultimately are after revenge. Thoughts about this, or about how other movies can enable what universities are bravely doing and offering nurturing, protected spaces for people to feel respected and comfortable conveying their own ideas? Don't movies like "Spotlight," with ample strong displays of how to encounter people with respect, and what generously comes to you once you do that, remain intact in terms of our respect, even if exposed brilliantly for their numerous shortfalls? And even if "Star Wars" was "classic-cinema of New Wave but with childish sympathies," wasn't experiencing some of these "sympathies" validating, emboldening... more than a pat on the back -- what we might have needed to take courage, actually venture a leap, and breach into -- gasp! -- adulthood, a consideration I also think valid of equally gooey, syrupy, simplistic, catering, ostensibly-childish-mentality-maintaining "Titanic"? (Another way of saying this is, if we want more Malicks, we need people who've, first, boned up on their "Spielbergs"/"Ron Howards" -- the good, nurturing parent, that is -- and then presented them with Malick's corpus, for they won't have as much problem fearing his disrespect if they venture past him, or care if doing so, risks making them invisible to an audience that just wants more repeats of what they're accustomed to.) Would we really be better off if we didn't have either and only had, say, '80s "Sex, Lies and Videotape"? Or just more too cool for school... the last of the bunch to forego the cigarette and coffee for the vegan smoothie, thinking this shows not our being fixed on regressive social forms but our being one of the few remaining in adult proclivity?
Before I leave, I very much respect that goodness is a complicated issue -- progressives/innovators aren't always more polite or appear less monstrous; they can behave in ways which make them seem appropriate to call out as actually cruel and lacking in basic human decency. But the sensitive appreciate where the heart ultimately is, and those remaining unbroken, will be drawn to it, even if hard or impossible to justify why.
Margaret Dumas I homed in on your blog here, Patrick, because I saw the photo of the cast of Spotlight, one of my favorite movies of all time. However, I'm not sophisticated enough to have an actual response to what you're saying because, well, I'm just not sophisticated enough! Will leave it to others more schooled than I in the art of directorship.
Brien Rourke Please don't sell yourself short, Margaret Dumas. And, I urge you to not mischaracterize circuitous and opaque prose as being, in any way, "sophisticated". I got through it. I can barely discern a word of it, much less a coherent message. The second paragraph comprises two --two!-- sentences.
Some folks write to communicate to the reader. Some, regrettably, write to impress ... themselves. If our author here has managed that, it's a low bar indeed. I could use some sort of Rosetta Stone for this gobbledygook.
Oh, and for the record, a writer who, off the bat, seems to confuse 'peruse' for 'cruise' doesn't come off as all that sophisticated.
Maureen Daniels You are not at all unsophisticated, Margaret!
Valda Vee Brien Rourke I agree. I appreciate the effort but I like economy in writing, much like the rules for writing a scene: get in as late as you can and out as soon as you can. Make your point and go.
Kat Van Margaret, as opinionated as I can be, no one's opinion about art or entertainment is wrong, even if I think it is. Too bad for me, right? (Not being sarcastic.) We often end up liking critics/reviewers we agree with the most, as we relate to their judgement. It doesn't matter if an opinion is expressed in five words or 500. Your reaction is yours and it is right for you, and it deserves to be heard.
So, don't ever sell yourself your short. Your life is your filter and it is valid - period.
Sometimes I write like Patrick: thinking out loud and expressing every turn of mind. That's all that happened here. He is recording his thought process.
Sometimes I get it out in five words and it's as accurate as when I have to sweat every detail.
If you like 5 words over 500, then go for the five words. That's your right.❤️
Margaret Dumas Thanks one and all.
Margaret Dumas Sometimes I feel like a sow's ear among silk purses on this site, Brien, reading such in-depth exchanges about the art of movie-making between people far more knowledgeable than I. But they always 😏say keep reaching upward to learn, so I guess that's why I keep coming back. At 70, I am nothing if not a life-long learner.
Margaret Dumas Ah, sweet. You're very nourishing. Thanks again.
Thomas Zorthian Unfortunately, this person often posts these obtuse verbal fusillades that are impossible for the normal English prose reader to untangle. He is unable to express his thoughts coherently and disguises that by throwing out a multitude of sound and fury that signifies nothing. This is not meant as an attack on his person, but a genuine attempt to let the writer know that his ideas are not clear to the reader (and to let those who don't understand realize the fault is not theirs). Perhaps he could convey his ideas to a friend who knows how to write clear, understandable prose so that we could all understand what he is trying to say!
Laura-Jean Kelly I.. "got it"...but obtuse is the word thanks. It's a lot of work.
I think this post is about the Idea of supporting the Idea of making art or the Idea of art/ film coming from goodness. The Idea that films from well adjusted people is of a higher plane. A higher ideal. This Idea in my opinion is a theoretical Idea. Cuz who really knows what influenced these so called good/ healthier people like ron howard to make their movies. We dont know that they were emulating good people who came before them.
Maybe the Idea doesnt have anything to do with the result. It is just Them. Not something that can be analyzed orbe marketed as an Idea to make "good" films.
Some art is made by fxked up people and some is made by healthy good people.
That's my idea.
Laura-Jean Kelly Thanks Kat!
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Wayne Overbo Personally I would appreciate a precis of this post
Brien Rourke Here, allow me ...
Wayne Overbo Lol !!!!
Brien Rourke I've attempted one or two of Señor Hyphen's "essay" contributions here, but I soon backed away in the interest of good cognitive hygiene. At long last, I forced myself through this particular tome, thinking I may not have fully and properly immersed and thus denied our author a fair shake. Alas, I almost drowned. Now I'm the one who's shaken.
I'm reminded of a pet admonition of an old friend: "Stop talking and say something."
Précis #2 ... if this clip doesn't auto-advance, just move it up to the 1 minute and 15 seconds mark ...
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Simón Cherpitel Very nicely & very well said, Patrick, even tho i found SPOTLIGHT lacking anything to pull me back to see again....& personally i like 16 CANDLES far more, & am happy to ignore the unPCness of the worst Asian parody since Mickey Rooney had BREAKFAST AT TIFFANYS. I am hugely empathetic with your call for "goodness". Thank you for taking the time to put into words.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston You're so welcome, Simon!
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David Pelfrey RE: “Thoughts about this, or about how other movies can enable what universities are bravely doing and offering nurturing, protected spaces for people to feel respected and comfortable conveying their own ideas.”
There was a time when I thought I might spend a lifetime in that realm, but too much of the combative, authoritarian impulse that was emerging with critical theory put me off many years ago.
Today I see too many instances in which the creation of ostensibly nurturing spaces is done only for those with the approved ideas, the process is anything but brave, and what gets conveyed first and foremost is that there exist correct and incorrect ideas, and the goal is to locate ever more imperceptible lines of demarcation (a la intersectional edicts, just for openers) see: Lindsay Shepherd affair at Laurier University for most recent example.
So as far as the notion of spaces set aside to nurture goodness, I would NOT want to see this set of circumstances offer any influence on motion pictures. While a movie set, soundstage, location, etc. might function as a space where some education takes place (for creators and audience), that doesn’t strike me as the main purpose. I care only about the net result on the screen.
Probably not the best examples here off the top of my head, but while I fully grasp the morality play that is inserted into The Third Man, along with a central admonition not to romanticize shady characters, what I walk away with, every time, is a reminder that visual style, rhythm, and the element of surprise are why I sit down to watch a picture.
The same applies to (in my experience) Foreign Correspondent and to Michael Clayton. I am a long way from caring about a blow delivered to Nazis or corporations by those pictures. I am further removed from anything to do with how the director conducts his affairs in the real world.
Those psychological thrillers ARE effective at convincing me that paranoia exists along a continuum of visual tropes and rhythms (much of which was created via cinema over decades), and when properly deployed those elements take us to a space where we experience, if only briefly, new encounters that simply never take place in the real world.
Short version: I wonder if an equally successful route to, as you say “to follow your play wherever it leads, to take risks, and innocently discover… “ might be to care not one jot about hashtag concerns of the day. (Call Western Union if you want send a message. Offer therapy to no one except your DP.)
None of this may be getting at the core of what you propose here. If not, then my apologies. But I do like seeing thoughtful, detailed posts like yours, Not enough of them to suit me these days.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston The most interesting thinking I am finding at the university level, are from students who really care about nurturing safe zones for people to have their say. I am thinking specifically of some of the students' insistences, at I think, Yale, or maybe Columbia, that professors warn students when material they are presenting might traumatize them... the specific context was Greek plays, I believe. Attacks against these students made them out to seem dogmatic, zealots, but in their language and thinking I could tell I was dealing with the best of the new generation, the most supple and sensitive and brave, in their thinking. These are the kinds of people who, if they created films, would ensure everyone participating in the creation of it felt well-treated and respected, and I have zero doubt that the films themselves would prove the most riveting for me to watch, in terms of the sorts of things that you enjoy about film. The side that opposes them, the people akin to those favouring that U of Toronto psych professor you mention, Jordan Peterson, don't get my listen even when they present arguments that appear compelling, because they betray themselves, their regressive, more circumscribed, less bountiful and interesting mindset, in their language, tone, lack of empathic, interested reach into all that is being communicated by those they might have an easy time -- if the larger social context is right for them -- seeming the least interested in variety.
The hashtag concerns can be read by me to mean a movement one might be less encouraged to disgrace as but a concern. #metoo, to me, can almost be read as akin to, say, Romanticism, in that all of a sudden things that were of no interest to people are suddenly put front and centre, and we rejoice in recognizing an evolution in feeling, an opening up to much more that had always been there. I mention Romanticism, specifically, because the Romantics were the ones who really rediscovered Shakespeare. It was like 1827 or so, and a new sensibility had taken over which was now able to see a great genius that predecessors had favoured as less worthy of notice than Racine. They were awake to the more, of the world. That's what's happening with #metoo, to me.
I love the things you love about film, and I have a limit to how much I can like a film if it's not innovative in that way. But take Spotlight, I can take it as in this instance me being privy to watching these people as real -- forgetting all about it as art, as a kind of style... realism or whatnot -- and thinking the same as I would if it really was real, all really happening before me, and I was some fortuitous fly on the wall: I would love them, and feel therapeutically better for the experience as well. It's part of a fight, even if not at the level of style where it could in fact be just as easily, to make us all more amenable to insisting on a kind world, one that lets people know if you try to express yourself you won't not necessarily be challenged, but you'll always draw respect for your effort to participate and enhance our shared space of interacting and communicating, of prompting and inspiring.
Thanks very much for the your thoughts and your support. I hope I was reasonably clear in response.
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Kat Van Nice post, Patrick, worthy of quiet Saturday.
Some movies are gratuitous in their negativity and offer little socially or artistically. Why do I watch any of them? Because some felt they should be seen; it is then up to me to decide why it is popular and earns an insane amount of money - clever marketing, or the person next to me in the grocery store is possessed of those same feelings/actions in the movie.
Movies that are deeply disturbing are worth seeing, as they can expose a reality that I may never see, but may need to understand to be a better human. I wish I could unsee "A Clockwork Orange," but it surely informed about violence and its origin, and our response to it. Was that the goodness of that film? (Serious question, not snark.)
While I may lean to "goodness films," I won't walk away from the opposite or the inbetween. Am often willing to go out of my comfort zone, but that said, I just won't do gory horror movies. They give me nothing to take away but irritation. Horror that is a metaphor for the human condition is different.
I do, however, look at the staging, the lighting, the effects, the make- up as equal to the acting and the script. Really appreciate the subliminal cues and am often surprised as to how they take me over. I want them to take me over.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston I remember Stephen King's response to Kubricks' "the Shining": "I think he set out to hurt people." If the innovation is strong in a film, I always feel the support and love that went into the person who sought out and succeeded in doing something new. I don't actually believe there is such a thing as an innovator who is ever absolutely a troglodyte. Some time in their past someone gave them enough support and love so that they could venture out in some new space, and not feel like they'd be brutally abandoned for it. I feel this in their innovation, even if it's mingled with other less appealing motivations, as was probably true with Kubrick.
The only exception I can think to this is that sometimes bad times, times when the overall social energy is nervous about progress, and seems to want sacrifices, can perhaps give liberty to the creative efforts of misanthropes and withdraw it from others. In such an environment, movies like "Dark Knight" or, say, Nicolas Winding Refn's efforts, become, sadly, not entirely a waste of our time. Anyway, this is a theory I'm testing out... this exception.
Rodney Welch Goodness sometimes arrives dressed in a wolf’s clothing.
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Jaime Eagle You are a guy to have dinner with and talk movies. Thank you for not talking in breezy hipsterese, and for valuing the words and phrases you craft. I don't feel that I would have to be shy in that I would know only a percentage of your life, but I would love to play opposite your Andre. Thanks for the insights.
Jaime Eagle "life" should be "lore."
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Thanks Jaime.
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Ramesh X Barathalvar Treatise on heart over head but appreciate the notion to challenge what is the critical consensus of what good is.5 Thumbs up for Spielberg.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Thanks. To me, more how heart leads to head, than one over the other.
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Simón Cherpitel I am setting out to sort out at like-tears-in-rain.com the top 1500 movies of all time….. re this post, i am wondering if anyone besides myself sees the saga of Said Anwas & Said Anwar portrayed in Puttnam/Hudson’s CHARIOTS OF FIRE….? or even relates to what i’m talking about?Manage
Elizabeth Lloyd-Kimbrel ~ I'm not sure I understand the question -- Are you meaning a Biblical parallel, i.e., the sons of Adam, Anwar/Anwas, Cain/Abel, body/soul, sacred/secular? (I'm guessing you aren't referring to the contemporary cricketer!) I don't think the dichotomy between Abrahams and Liddell is quite that stark -- they were competitive (and supportive), not adversarial or undermining -- but there is a "different brothers" aspect. Is that what you are getting at?
Maybe this should be its own, separate 'original post'?
And WOW about that poster site! (And the lovely dedication to your father. :'( )
Simón Cherpitel Thank you, Elizabeth.... actually the Anwas/Anwar dichotomy comes from Javanese spiritual lore...& the Christian/Jewish/Muslim Cain/Abel is closest to it. Anwas operated via his own will & became a powerful entity, Anwar served his 'father's' will, that is God's will & became equally powerful. Abrahams ran from his personal will, Liddell felt he was following God's will in running. They are two different paths & one is not necessarily right & the other wrong. As people we are free to choose what path to take.
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Valda Vee Aisle
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Noted.
Valda Vee Patrick McEvoy-Halston English teacher. Lol. I don’t have to proof read everything, but I thought you’d appreciate it, given the time you put into writing the post.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Valda Vee You know it's funny, I thought there was something off about "isle" when I put it out there... I literally thought, this can't be right, I know this isn't right, but "aisle" did not come to my rescue (possibly because one is your sole "isle" when you peruse through an "aisle"). You did. Thanks.
I don't however appreciate your repeated likings of Rourke's posts, who writes insulting trash. Your students may not like that you affiliate yourself with people who openly ridicule others' contributions, hoping to encourage crowd harassment and online bullying.
Jack Clare as someone who writes for fun, i wouldn't view this as bullying. this is a genuine audience reaction. don't waste it. we develop in parallel with our adversaries, without whom we'd be nothing. if there were no danger, there'd be no development.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Jack Clare The adversary is not interested in encouraging conversation, but in shutting people down... humiliating them, so hopefully they become people whom if they speak again, they become public sport. There is no growing from this, in the same way there is no growing from any kind of successful effort to reduce and humiliate your person. Your view, thank god, is becoming less pervasive, for it worked to destroy a lot of people, and prevented us from benefiting from their contributions.
Jack Clare i did another comment, which didn't post for some reason
Jack Clare in the second comment, i had said that even if they are wrong about the work, there is still lots to learn about rhetoric from interactions like this
Jack Clare i, for one, certainly do not see you as public sport. i welcome your contribution, and look forward to reading the next.
Jack Clare just as i enjoy reading and engaging with practically everything that is posted in here.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Jack Clare If someone can make posts like this, without providing us the sense that they'd rejoice if the person got laughed off a site, then perhaps it's just rhetorical style. That is, if they gave a sense that it was british parliamentary style... where you ridicule, but you don't want the other party removed, and would in fact stand up to make sure it didn't happen if it looked like that was developing: you know you yourself have no more avenue than the other. The scene out of "Lost City of Z," for example. Maybe that's what you sensed. I didn't. I think he would have loved it if the ridicule got out of hand... he was already proceeding to up his already proffered attack, and gathering likes.
Jack Clare maybe he would, but my point stands.
believe it or not, my initial comment was one offered in solidarity.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Jack Clare Well, I'm talking "safe zones" and you're for the making fun of someone's name as a character-building experience, which doesn't seem so solidarity to me. I appreciate than it a public forum you supported the worth of my contributions: that certainly is solidarity to me. But in the internet universe, when people start feeling enfranchised to lambast others as offering "word salads," "gobbledygook," or characterizing them as parasites to good hygiene, that's often what others' make out as further enfranchising the known constituents of a troll-ridden environment, and the death of anyone taking a genuine risk.
Jack Clare i’m not for it, but people like that, and worse, are in the world, so it’s a lot more productive to get used to them in a relatively safe environment like facebook
Patrick McEvoy-Halston If university students wanted to share their interpretations of films informed by contemporary critical theory, do we want a space where we'll be able to encounter them? We will not get it if predators like the one discussed feel that this is their field. They need to experience censure.
Jack Clare and, as a disciple of hg wells, i do believe that without necessity and risk, there is no possibility for substantial progress. that seems to me to be a fairly logical and uncontroversial idea.
Jack Clare it seems contradictory to me that you think that the perfect environment for risk takers is one that completely lacks risk.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Jack Clare To get rid of them, we need people who haven't been defaced by their forever having to be put down by them, for they won't have been bullied into accepting it, because, "why should others be exempt from what they had to go through?" Universities are trying to create an alternative space where people like this might be nourished. The response you're offering, is gathering steam, ostensibly owing to the real life fact that what universities are doing is simply coddling, reducing a person's depth and level of interest, not genuine nurturing, but actually owing to the fact that they know these students are going to gain leverage from this kind of supportive environment, and it'll mean further progress in a world they increasingly experience as in dire need of punishment for already accrued social gains.
Jack Clare i favour the aristotelian idea that every virtue, taken too far, becomes a vice.
Jack Clare how would you propose to “get rid of them”?
Patrick McEvoy-Halston The law. Words do physical and mental damage.
Jack Clare if university students want to engage in film theory and criticism, they better get ready to have their ideas shredded. that’s the entire history of academia
Jack Clare i’ve been the victim of bullying, you don’t have to school me on it
Jack Clare in any case, it appears you’re willing to read the worst into everything that i say, despite my intention being kind-hearted, so that’s quite enough for me
Valda Vee Patrick McEvoy-Halston A few likes does not an affiliation make. With whom I affiliate or the reason why I (excluding the obvious murders and deviants) is certainly not in the realm of concern of my students, however, I was not aware that Mr Rourke had an agenda to encourage crowd harassment and online bullying. I’d didn’t pick up that he is a danger to society and I did find his turn of phrase amusing. I appreciate your want for an open and safe environment but one progressive school I visited recently allowed all forms of language and expression in a specific forum called Home Group. Students could express their feelings towards one another and present issues with no censorship at all. All students were encouraged to contribute or not. I found this environment quite preferable and very encouraging way to deal with diverse perspectives. It was challenging.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Valda Vee I sincerely doubt that after someone spoke, they allowed students to pass around youtube videos poking fun of the speech. I sincerely doubt that after someone spoke, they responded that this student clearly is speaking only to impress herself, and in so doing is setting a very low bar indeed. I doubt the teacher then shut down other students who might have objected to this "response," allowing the student to finish his thoughts saying that not only did he find her fraudulent in motive, but a failure in result, convincing to no one she actually possessed any sophistication at all. Please tell me how the student was further permitted the poking fun of the presenter's name. Please go into details as to how this progressive school, which came to mind in your reading the above "amusing" poster, actually did demonstrate what I say it is preposterous to say that any progressive school would permit. This sounds like what a rightwinger would want to inflict upon every liberal out there who is trying to create environments where diversity can flourish. A zone of torture.
Valda Vee Your diatribe seem to be making references to some specific situation or experience or is it hypothetical? It’s very confusing. My example of the progressive school was not sparked by Mr Rourkes comments. It just happened to follow on. You are ranting now and I’m sorry, but you are just becoming boorish and overbearing.
Jack Clare in my own experience, the kinds of behaviours that you describe are fairly common in a high school environment
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Valda Vee It seemed to follow from your appreciation of Rourke's "amusing" comments in this forum. You found him contributing here, so presuming if people were behaving like he was in school, you'd of found no sign of malicious intent there either... no need for the censor to step in. If you're finding me overbearing, I respect that, then please just opt out. I wish you well with your day.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Jack Clare I agree. I wish they weren't. I think it means a denial of the kind encouragement students deserved.
Jack Clare i agree 100%, but i don't think a total solution to this problem exists.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Jack Clare Well, I disagree with that. Society is forever finding itself absent curses they thought would always dog humankind. But we don't need to be fuelled by this level of optimism to significantly improve. We'll see through #metoo many, many things improve, that many thought were lost.
Jack Clare i'm more than happy to hear proposed solutions, but i've never been presented with one that i find to be more than a topical fix. pure exclusion of the perpetrator seems to me to be a fairly "right-wing" response, to use the term stereotypically.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Jack Clare You can at least start by identifying the behaviour as predatory. That's what some of us are doing when we insist on assigning someone not as an idiot, or a jerk, but as a predator -- we're resisting a longstanding societal instruction to downplay and thereby excuse and necessitate abuse. It informs people it is absolutely NOT okay, will not be tolerated, and that people who report it are not showing cowardice but outstanding strength and helpfulness, in that by their actions they're reducing the need for other students to suffer. I don't want any kind of rightwing response to the perpetrator, but please know that a lot of people responding that way to #metoo are expressing what appears to be near castration fears, as if a social movement of improvement can only be about striking down men for past crimes. Ultimately the way of thinking I'm getting at is informed by the knowledge that one of the reasons you need to stop abuse as much as possible, isn't only because human beings deserve to live unstiffled lives, but because one of the things abuse does is create people who are driven to repeat the abuse upon other people -- perpetrators are each and every one of them, someone who was powerfully abused.
Valda Vee Patrick McEvoy-Halston re Home Room (20 mins at the start of each day): no censorship. The only rule was that each student was allowed time to speak/air their feelings without interruption.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Valda Vee Okay. But did any of them start dissing or downgrading other students with their allotted minutes. Would this have been allowed?
Valda Vee They had a real go at each other.
Valda Vee But this was only allowed in Form Group. Not at other times, as far as I could tell.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Valda Vee You can imagine it sounds fascinating to us... a bit like the forum in "Margaret." But they were really allowed to call names? That was within bounds? Could they insinuate -- gay/effete, tribal, stupid? If so, if the teachers are liberal and had reasons... I'll check out a link to the philosophy if you know of it. I didn't mean to express disrespect of your expression of genuine excitement at this. I respected your delight and interest.
Valda Vee They could swear, attack, defend, allege, vent, express anything they wanted, use any language, but allow each person air time to air either a grievance with the school, someone in the school, or class, in the world or they can share a happy experience. No rules about what it was they wished to talk about. Other students can also criticize or make their feelings known on what is expressed. It’s totally open. The private/ independent school is philosophy based. It’s called Alia College. Its in Melbourne, Australia. It’s anti bullying policy is clearly described on the website. I understand that the culture of bullying that happens in any school, is greatly undermined at Alia because of this forum in which freedom of expression is allowed.
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Patrick McEvoy-Halston Anyone else out there who might like to try out something in a post, perhaps including a variant of writing which isn't "economical" -- in and quickly out -- please know that you should have support from the NewYorker. We don't tolerate trolls whose purpose is to create an atmosphere where participation might entail your humiliation. We want the surprises you might present us with. We don't want trolls to think this is their field. We're not tolerating it anymore in larger society, and not so here, either.
Valda Vee And there I was just about to have some empathy for you and you go and do the very thing that you are sensitive about.
Valda Vee Patrick McEvoy-Halston your response does not appears to take much of a stand for your principles. No worries.
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Ralph Benner Hurt by criticism that his posts are often incomprehensible, Patrick has decided, as a form of retaliation, to speak for The New Yorker and act as troll monitor.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston I don't mind being called incomprehensible. I mind mockery, where one tries to reduce another person and make them fit for public forum sport, hopefully leaving them feeling humiliated and self-hating. That's what the above person was attempting to do, not generate a critique. You missed this, or chose to ignore this, because you're one of the people who does this here, Ralph, and you probably would object if rather than being someone who offers stinging criticism, you were likened to an online abuser, and so here you deliberately misrepresent.
This forum will only be interesting, at least to me, if it isn't the rearguard of society that feels comfortable here. If guys who toss around terms like word-salad (which you've used, and, I think, got away with, when others used the term against Richard found themselves deleted), gobbledygook, and who are trying desperately to humiliate other posters, own this space, it'll be something to avoid, however much it seems perfect place for you.
I hope as this forum progresses we see other people who post outside what we might be expecting, and who risk being misunderstood, for that'll be sign that people feel this is a safe enough a space for them to try things out. If we see none of this, I suspect it'll be because they've figured the forum is sufficiently owned by people who weren't sufficiently cowed away from being jerks, that is, from behaving predatorily.
Mark Schaffer So here's my take on the fascination with noir, excerpted from a longer musing..Hope its comprehensible..Maybe the New Yorker will like it.,I need the work and ego boost...
From the vaults. Enjoy - That's why I love noir. You've got these people with no visible means of support, always blowing town for Mexico or a boat to Argentina, or living in a hotel and eating at the corner drugstore. Its the fantasy of the impulsive act. The whole noir world is a big fantasy for men, as well. I think that the reason certain men (and women) love noir is it shows them a type of masculinity that is no more, for better or worse. It also delineates a completely different way to be a man, in contrast to the tentative, deliveratiive type.I personally think that alot of guys are fanboys of noirish heros, because these characters are are comfortable in their skin, smoke, drink, bed women, carry themselves through the world differently than the schmoe who takes the 5:42. To that guy, these men and women are superheros. All that's missing is the cape. I wanted to bring this up in the FB page in a more refined statement but that's the first draft. Noir is about empowered men and women who are no more. How badly would that guy on the 5:42 like to blow town and carouse with mysterious women in shady bars in dangerous alleyways? To be continued. Maybe.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Mark Schaffer This appears to be sincere thinking on your part, am I right? Wouldn't you prefer a space where you wouldn't have to first sort of poke fun of yourself, your pretensions to be seen and recognized, before you'd feel safe to post it? That's what I want... as well as a space that informs people we don't presume that if you're sharing your thoughts you're only preening, but being generous to the rest of us, for giving us something to think about and perhaps for introducing us to very new thinking. No slurs. And no take-downs or mockery of you would be tolerated, even if despite your hopes it actually did prove incomprehensible to some. What we don't want is a site that reinforces some people's sense that it is right to mock people who offer their thinking if full without first providing the like of the sort of self-belittling cover you demonstrated for us here, simply because these people expose their own need to be seen and recognized, a shameful childhood denial they can't be reminded of. When these types hang out together, they become the kind of environment that people later expose as empowering predators.
Thomas Zorthian Patrick McEvoy-Halston As I stated in an earlier post, criticism of your writing is not a criticism of you. I would like to understand your ideas but cannot decode your prose. From what I can decipher, you seem to be promoting some positive ideas (although I also sense a whiff of censorship in your thinking), but I cannot fully engage with your ideas if they are not presented in clear prose. I suggested in the earlier post that you convey your ideas to a friend that can write clear prose and then post what the friend writes. You could also ask a friend to edit your prose. This could help you to learn to write more clearly.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Thomas Zorthian And so you ignore that others in their response to my post have expressed how much they appreciate, very specifically, my writing. Saying that you find someone lacks an ability to write clear prose is only convincing to a person, if that person can't recall numerous other authors who've received exactly the same criticism. If they can, they have to look to other benchmarks to search to see if there might still be something to the criticism. With you, this suggestion -- "convey your ideas to a friend that can write clear prose and then post what the friend writes[!]. You could also ask a friend to edit your prose[!]. This could help you to learn to write more clearly[!]" -- not only suggests you have abominable lack of reach into how others receive your words (what about me that you were able to perceive, lent you to believe I would be receptive to someone approaching me as grammar school teacher to adolescent student?), but that "clear prose" might not so much want to count you as their representative.
For surely "clear prose" doesn't want to be represented as a string of single syllable words, all that can be managed by any child of five years, and can't possibly be allowed to represent what the American experiment has come to unless it really is the childish trance of Trump. No to your advice that I pass my writing on to a friend. No to your advice that I present their re-writings to the group in lieu of my writing. No to you ever making this same point to me again, for your having now had a chance to do it, as you admit, twice. I've heard it. Didn't pass it out over. Also, loud and clear. Thank you. Now please desist.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Thomas Zorthian This was a harsh response on my part, Thomas. But the environment I want is where people feel empowered to prompt people on how undemanding their prose is, how unequal it is the expression of complex thought, of one's own complex, attentive, and careful mind. Traditionally in American culture there has been very little avenue given this consideration, and everyone ends up thinking that no one has ever expressed support for prose that isn't of exactly the one type you advocate. They have.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Thomas Zorthian Here for example is how one person, who writes plain clear prose himself, responds to Updike, whose sentences, with all their modifiers, can go on for pages: I really read him for his beautiful, complex sentences and for his inspiring eye. He’s been called a lyric writer for the way he could paint life’s look and its feel. His sentences are unabashedly lush compared with today’s more pervasive plain style, a refreshing break from it and an inspiration to enhance my own considerably plainer style. He also makes me want to see better, to look at the world and capture it.https://richardgilbert.wordpress.com/.../john-updikes.../
Here's some thinking on the virtue of lengthy sentences, on the refreshing demands they make of us: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/.../7-of-the-most.../Manage
Patrick McEvoy-Halston And the it's not a critique of you but of the prose, is patently bullish*t. See above... and if you don't see it there, the feeling receptors of your senses aren't being allowed full access to your brain, because they might deter its already determined course. You can liken someone to being pretentious, and lambast them for it, or you can casually assume that they wouldn't be at all offended if you took it upon yourself to encounter them as a child, making requests to them you'd never apply to an adult (they can present your work for you! no slight to you done there!), it's all the same -- implied demeaning of the person in comparison to the largesse that is you. What do we really need more of? The pompous voice that administers discussions and websites, begrudged to have to have any dealings with these fools at all, but who steps in when at last resort the voice of authority just has to make itself heard? That's the whole concept of what is authority in film culture. These guys, always rooted to some time when there wasn't so much fluff, and who think we should be so glad of them returning to restore some semblance of clear thinking. Some of us hope this dusty, presumptuous male culture, which has ties to the wrong end of #metoo, gets further Nora Ephroned, and sinks its way wholly into the ground.
Mark Schaffer I did 25 years of freelance music, film, and book criticism for several well known papers and periodicals, plus have published a few books..And have the royalty checks to prove it..I'm not sure what your take on what I posted means..
Valda Vee Patrick McEvoy-Halston Updike is no Proust. You should have put quotation marks around the passage you used from the article.
Thomas Zorthian It's been a while since I read Updike, but you, sir, are no John Updike. I guess my main objection to your labyrinth prose is that it makes some others feel that they are not educated or smart enough to understand what you are saying, when in fact it is the fault of the writer. Also, I am averse to pomposity and arrogance. .......And what ever happened to Canada Nice? .......As far as the political content, it is clearly forbidden within the rules of the group. This is a film appreciation group, not a class in polemics. Maybe this is the wrong place for your muddled musings. Clearly you refuse to hear any criticism, so this will be my last post regarding your work.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Thomas Zorthian I'm very glad to hear you're not going to be reaching out to me in future. Everything you try and explain to me about the ostensible absolute way of things are in a profound state of doubt in mind -- about childrearing through history, about philosophy, about writing, about the ostensible absolute virtue of the predator Woody Allen. You try and bring the weight of "everyone knows such and such so go read some books you ignorant person" into our "conversations," and all I end up thinking when I hear of your usually quite conservative and rearguard assumptions, is that I hope this forum becomes constituted of people who frustrate your preferences a lot. I don't welcome your company, and I strongly suspect that the people you find pompous and arrogant would probably include people of advocacy culture that I take profound courage from and count myself amongst. I don't know this place called Canada Nice that you expect solace from, but I'm glad I didn't service you in your expected fashion, because it sounds horrible.
Thomas Zorthian Patrick McEvoy-Halston Though I did not plan to comment again, I feel I must defend myself. You may not welcome my participation in this group, but I will continue to post. This group is open to all, as long as civility is maintained. I reserve the right to defend myself if you reply to this with the same vitriol you demonstrated in this last comment, but beyond that I will try to refrain from commenting on your posts. I also ask that you not presume to know what my political leanings are, but I will not reveal those because group rules ask that politics should be avoided.