Archive for June, 2013
30 Jun 2013

How To Open a Beer

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Hat tip to Henry Bernatonis.

30 Jun 2013

Martial Arts: Breaking Tiles

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30 Jun 2013

1928 Silent Film Version of Pan Tadeusz

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The process of rediscovery, generally involving painful efforts of reconstruction, of lost masterworks of the Silent Era of the cinema is still very much underway.

I am remembering with great pleasure the premiere in January of 1981 at Radio City Music Hall of Abel Gance’s “Napoleon” (1927). Karen and I found ourselves by accident sitting next to Susan Sontag (with whom we were mildly acquainted) and Lillian Gish (to whom Sontag introduced us), and we all had a very enjoyable time exchanging witticisms and appreciative observations.

Another major American premiere that we were fortunate enough to present at was that of Andrzej Wajda’s “Pan Tadeusz” (1999), shown at a Polish cultural center in the basement of an old church in the heart of that city’s Polish neighborhood. Polish-language art films were shown there regularly, and that movie theater is the only one I have ever attended whose concession stand featured wine and beer and Polish sausage as well as popcorn.

Adam Mickiewicz’s Pan Tadeusz, published in 1834, is like Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, a novel in verse.

In it, a family vendetta between two families of old-fashioned Lithuanian nobles turns into a revolt against the occupying
Russians in 1812, just prior to Napoleon’s invasion. Pan Tadeusz is for Poland what Don Quixote is for Spain, simultaneously the supreme achievement of its national literature, and moreover the definitive portrait of its national character. Pan Tadeusz was described by Worcell as “a tombstone laid by the hand of genius upon our Old Poland.”

There was not a dry eye in the auditorium as the background narration solemnly intoned the poem’s famous opening line:

“Litwo! Ojczyzno moja! ty jesteś jak zdrowie;
Ile cię trzeba cenić, ten tylko się dowie,
Kto cię stracił.”

Lithuania, my fatherland!, thou
Art like good health; I never knew till now
How precious, till I lost thee.

I had always assumed that the Andrzej Wajda version was the first, and only, attempt ever made to film Pan Tadeusz, but
I recently received some correspondence from the Polish cultural news web-site, Culture.pl, and when I went to investigate the site, I discovered that two attempts had been made to film the novel during the silent era, one of which, directed by Ryszard Ordyński was actually completed and released in 1928.

The film was, of course, lost, all copies believed to have been destroyed. But, as the Polish government cultural web-site reports, “in the 1950s… the Polish National Film Archive came into possession of a 40-minute, destroyed fragment of the film, which had an original running time of just under 3 hours. The year 2006 turned out to be crucial – several other incomplete copies of the film surfaced in Wroclaw. After years of re-mastering efforts, the “Nitrofilm” project team … managed to reconstruct almost 120 minutes of the original picture.”

A gala premiere of the re-release of this spectacular cinematic landmark took place in Warsaw last November 9.

New Horizons review

It will gradually be shown at film festivals world-wide, and will presumably eventually be made available on DVD.

29 Jun 2013

Amazing Car Auction

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Lambrecht Chevrolet in Pierce, Nebraska was owned and operated by Ray and Mildred Lambrecht for 50 years until they retired in 1996 at ages 78 and 75. Now 17 years later, they have finally decided to liquidate the dealership’s massive inventory of 500 vehicles, including a number of brand-new 1950s and 1960s Chevrolet cars and trucks.

VanDerBrinkAuctions sale, September 28-29, 2013

Hat tip to Iowahawk.

29 Jun 2013

Best Line of the Week

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Dan Greenfield
complains of being attacked by Paul Krugman: the same Paul Krugman, who has done for economics what Erich Von Daniken did for space exploration.

29 Jun 2013

Owl

28 Jun 2013

French Cartoon

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Hat tip to Madame Scherzo.

28 Jun 2013

Our Cat Plays With Toilet Paper, Too

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Via Theo.

28 Jun 2013

Canadian Weather Girl Creeped Out By Green Screen Spider

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28 Jun 2013

“Not Just a Social Revolution But a Cosmological One”

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Detail, Thomas Couture, Les Romains de la décadence [Romans in the Period of Decadence], 1847, Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Ron Dreher, back in April, explained the battle over Same Sex Marriage cuts very deeply into the culture, about as deeply as its possible to go.

What makes our own era different from the past, says [Philip] Rieff [in The Triumph of the Therapeutic (1966)], is that we have ceased to believe in the Christian cultural framework, yet we have made it impossible to believe in any other that does what culture must do: restrain individual passions and channel them creatively toward communal purposes.

Rather, in the modern era, we have inverted the role of culture. Instead of teaching us what we must deprive ourselves of to be civilized, we have a society that tells us we find meaning and purpose in releasing ourselves from the old prohibitions.

How this came to be is a complicated story involving the rise of humanism, the advent of the Enlightenment, and the coming of modernity. As philosopher Charles Taylor writes in his magisterial religious and cultural history A Secular Age, “The entire ethical stance of moderns supposes and follows on from the death of God (and of course, of the meaningful cosmos).” To be modern is to believe in one’s individual desires as the locus of authority and self-definition.

Gradually the West lost the sense that Christianity had much to do with civilizational order, Taylor writes. In the 20th century, casting off restrictive Christian ideals about sexuality became increasingly identified with health. By the 1960s, the conviction that sexual expression was healthy and good—the more of it, the better—and that sexual desire was intrinsic to one’s personal identity culminated in the sexual revolution, the animating spirit of which held that freedom and authenticity were to be found not in sexual withholding (the Christian view) but in sexual expression and assertion. That is how the modern American claims his freedom.

To Rieff, ours is a particular kind of “revolutionary epoch” because the revolution cannot by its nature be institutionalized. Because it denies the possibility of communal knowledge of binding truths transcending the individual, the revolution cannot establish a stable social order. As Rieff characterizes it, “The answer to all questions of ‘what for’ is ‘more’.”

Our post-Christian culture, then, is an “anti-culture.” We are compelled by the logic of modernity and the myth of individual freedom to continue tearing away the last vestiges of the old order, convinced that true happiness and harmony will be ours once all limits have been nullified.

Gay marriage signifies the final triumph of the Sexual Revolution and the dethroning of Christianity because it denies the core concept of Christian anthropology. In classical Christian teaching, the divinely sanctioned union of male and female is an icon of the relationship of Christ to His church and ultimately of God to His creation. This is why gay marriage negates Christian cosmology, from which we derive our modern concept of human rights and other fundamental goods of modernity. Whether we can keep them in the post-Christian epoch remains to be seen.

A must read.

27 Jun 2013

Born Gay

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27 Jun 2013

Life in a Nation Governed by 15-Year-Old Girls

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Photoshopped version of: Vasili Pukiriev, Неравный брак [The Unfitting Marriage], 1862

An inclination toward, and willingness to participate in, perverted sexual acts does not really endow morally feeble and psychologically defective people with membership in a category of society carrying with it special recognition and privileges.

There is no such thing as a “Gay.” There are only perverted sexual acts. Gay is a fake, artificially-constructed category padded out with all sorts and forms of deviance and abnormality: with sissies, with psychologically-damaged and socially-maladapted persons obsessed with envy of the opposite sex, i.e., transvestites and female impersonsators, with pedophiles, fetishists, and with persons who are sexually stimulated by self-abasement. In Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria, for instance, there were “more than five sexes and only demotic Greek seem[ed] to distinguish among them. The sexual provender [was] staggering in its variety and profusion. You would never mistake it for a happy place.” The ranks of the suppositious Gay identity are filled with neurotics, neurasthenics, eccentrics, the rebellious young, females disappointed in love, persons desperate for some form of self-distinction, dabblers, experimenters, and fellow travelers, debauchees, trend-seekers, self-destroyers and substance-abusers. They are so desperate for numbers that they have even added to their “LGBT” self-styled designation people who mutilate their bodies and ingest the hormones of the opposite sex.

If membership in a culture best noted for offering oral sexual services to strangers in public lavatories entitles you to have the government invent a parody version of marriage just for you, why shouldn’t fishing pals, business associates, bowling team members, bridge partnerships, drinking buddies, and people who counterfeit money or rob banks together not also receive federal benefits? If sodomy is worthy of federal recognition, approval, and protection, why not polygamy, bestiality, and incest? There are doubtless people in California who want group marriages and others who want to marry objects of public infrastructure and redwood trees. On what logical basis can they now possibly be denied?

If indulgence in vice makes you special and gives you status and privileges, why are only sodomites being so favored? Alcoholism is commonly considered to be an inheritable infirmity. Like the homosexual, the boozehound has no choice about his inclinations. Clearly, Anthony Kennedy ought to sit down and find some appellate case to which he can arrange cert, and start drafting his opinion that rumdums are equal, too, and cannot be denied their rights to employment or to driving vehicles.

We obviously live in a society led around by the nose by an elite which is too stupid to live. Any appeal to emotion and sentimentality will reduce even the learned Supreme Court Justice, nominated by a Republican and entrusted by Fate with the deciding vote, to the intellectual condition of a pubescent female in early high school who has been reading Black Beauty.

27 Jun 2013

Good Luck With That

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Ross Douthat predicts that Americans’ future liberty of conscience will be dependent on liberal magnanimity, and wonders (characteristically) if surrendering now might produce better terms.

Unless something dramatic changes in the drift of public opinion, the future of religious liberty on these issues is going to depend in part on the magnanimity of gay marriage supporters — the extent to which they are content with political, legal and cultural victories that leave the traditional view of marriage as a minority perspective with some modest purchase in civil society, versus the extent to which they decide to use every possible lever to make traditionalism as radioactive in the America of 2025 as white supremacism or anti-Semitism are today. And I can imagine a scenario in which a more drawn-out and federalist march to “marriage equality in 50 states,” with a large number of (mostly southern) states hewing to the older definition for much longer than the five years that gay marriage advocates currently anticipate, ends up encouraging a more scorched-earth approach to this battle, with less tolerance for the shrinking population of holdouts, and a more punitive, “they’re getting what they deserve” attitude toward traditionalist religious bodies in particular. If religious conservatives are, in effect, negotiating the terms of their surrender, it’s at least possible that those negotiations would go better if they were conducted right now, in the wake of a Roe v. Wade-style Supreme Court ruling, rather than in a future where the bloc of Americans opposed to gay marriage has shrunk from the current 44 percent to 30 percent or 25 percent, and the incentives for liberals to be magnanimous in victory have shrunk apace as well.

I’m still editing my own opinion, taking out all the epithets and toning down the pejoratives.

27 Jun 2013

Lost and Found

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

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