Amoeblog

Empathy for the Devil: The Lives of Others (2006), Black Book (2006), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

Posted by Charles Reece, December 28, 2007 06:12pm | Post a Comment
Doing terrible things in an organized and systematic way rests on "normalization." This is the process whereby ugly, degrading, murderous, and unspeakable acts become routine and are accepted as "the way things are done." There is usually a division of labor in doing and rationalizing the unthinkable, with the direct brutalizing and killing done by one set of individuals; others keeping the machinery of death (sanitation, food supply) in order; still others producing the implements of killing, or working on improving technology (a better crematory gas, a longer burning and more adhesive napalm, bomb fragments that penetrate flesh in hard-to-trace patterns). It is the function of defense intellectuals and other experts, and the mainstream media, to normalize the unthinkable for the general public. -- Edward S. Herman

Sympathy is much easier to come by than empathy.  Funny that, since it would seem easier to disinterestedly understand the conditions leading to another's feelings and reasons behind his or her actions than to actually share those feelings and agree with those reasons, particularly when the other is so different from oneself.  I suspect the dominance of the word 'sympathy' is largely due to not enough people appreciating the need for 'empathy,' or even understanding what the word means, as if the two terms were synonyms.  Thus, when the more ethnographically inclined among us suggest America needs to understand the environs or rational structures of a foreign entity perpetrating some act that we deem immoral, they get called traitors, or sympathizers.  HUAC in the 50s springs readily to mind, as well as the right-wing media's reaction to the intellectual Left's take on 9-11.  Classical liberalism, which serves as the bellwether for America's moralizing, defines the human as a self-regulating rational individual, and thus any action taken by an entity (our state, another state, or some hodge-podge collection of disagreeing radicals) that violates the rights of the human so defined is, ipso facto, inhumane.  Thus, any attempt at humanizing, eliciting empathy for, the ad hoc devil will be received about as judiciously as Hannah Arendt's "banality of evil" in 60s Israel -- which is to say, not very to downright hostilely.  This negative reaction is always despite any potential moral agreement that the devil should still be hanged.

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Cinema Direct vs. Cinema Verite - The Quest for Cinematic Truth

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 15, 2007 12:55pm | Post a Comment
Today marks the one billionth time the term "cinema verite" was applied incorrectly. This time it was in reference to a commercial for blue jeans or cell phones or something. I know what you're saying: "They're just words, man" or, "why do we have to categorize anything?"

Jay Ward's "Cap'n Crunch and Friends" $13.98 at Amoeba

Yeah, I see your point, Mr. Manson. Why don't I prepare for you a fro-yo topped with Cap'n Crunch, which is my term for rat poison? They're just words, after all. Oh, and the yogurt isn't really yogurt.

My point is, what is most often referred to as cinema verite is not only philosophically diametrically opposed to actual cinema verite but (more damningly), it conflates irreconcilable understandings of the nature of reality, God, the universe and everything else!

Cinema Direct -or- what pretty much everyone erroneously refers to as Cinema Verite

Cinema Direct is documentary genre that began in Quebec in 1958. The Quiet Revolution, a cultural assertion of the French-speaking majority under the rule of the Anglo-minority, encouraged the development of a distinct Quebecois identity.

The most unfortunate by-product of la Revolution Tranquille

As part of this cultural expression, filmmakers sought to re-instill truthfulness in the documentary genre, which, by the 1950s was usually studio-based propaganda rife with dramatizations and mickey mousing. In 1922's Nanook of the North, for example, Nanook (actually an Inuit named Allakariallak living in Inukjuak, Quebec) was built an oversized igloo to share with his wife (who wasn't really his wife) to allow a camera crew and sufficient lighting inside. He was filmed hunting with a harpoon. In the scene, Allakariallak looks in the direction of the camera laughing and smiling memorably. He only knew how to hunt with guns. You can almost hear Robert Flaherty taking him aside and asking, "Could you act... you know... more Eskimo?"

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Summer of Sequels? Presents -- Jason Bourne

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 13, 2007 10:05pm | Post a Comment

Jason Bourne is a guy who's trying to remember his past and figure out who he is because he suffers from amnesia.
In his quest, he was informed that his real name is David Webb and he was born in Nixa, Missouri but he seems to totally ignore that, or at least they don't depict him trying to glean anything from this.

So I'm here to help fill in the blanks, like it or not. No spoiler warning.

Webb is an occupational family name meaning (in O.E.) "weaver." OK, so Jason/David's family is from the British Isles. He looks pretty Irish. Nixa, Missouri is in the Ozark Mountains. In 1717, the Ulster-Scots, aka Scots-Irish, began to move to the area, which was  mostly abandoned by the indigenous population during a famine in the 13th century.



the Ozarks, a mix of the Shire and Rivendell

Rich, slave-owning planters on the South Coast called the new inhabitants "hillbillies" because, as Protestants back in the British Isles, they had supported William III of Orange (Billy) and lived in the hills.