Ace Of Spades Does “The Other Side of The Wind”

ie9ybrhceuuozazbrohuAs part of a retrospective on Welles for its weekly movie post.

His opinion matches my own. It’s an odd little movie, ambitious and self-referential, with an element of satire, both of Hollywood culture in the 70’s and of the art-house trends of that decade. The film within the film, which has the same title, is colorful and stunning to look at but also incredibly basic, to the point of being plotless. That’s a pretty strong critique of what avant-garde cinema tends to do, which is to say, spin its wheels fast enough to dispense with such pedestrian things as narrative, and then to expect plaudits for it. Which it usually gets, because, as the main movie demonstrates, everone wants to act like they’re in, even when nothing they’re looking at makes any sense at all.

Is it as good as Citizen Kane? I don’t think so, but what is? Not that I accept the notion that Kane is the Greatest Movie Ever Made, (because what does that even mean?) but it is a good movie. Kane tells a man’s story, beginning to end, and in the process of doing that leaves open the notion that for everything we know about him, there was more, a core of him that he alone will take to the grave. It’s watchable and provocative.

This doesn’t rise to that height. It lacks the Everyman subject. Movies about Hollywood are inevitably more interesting to people who are in Hollywood than the rest of us, and while it’s certainly fun to see Welles pronounce a plague on all their houses (if in fact that’s what he’s doing, but I think that’s there), there’s a kind of been-there-done-that to such a message. The provincialism of the elite is a well-mined subject.

But that’s just my opinion. There’s a larger value to the work that makes it worth checking out:

This is like discovering that Emily Dickenson had a complete collection of poetry hidden under her mattress since her death, or da Vinci had created another masterpiece but no one had laid eyes on it since the 16th century. This is akin to finding a trove of Greek drama previously unknown to exist, or a lost Shakespeare play.

I’d advise looking at the accompanying documentary, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead, as well.

How to Remove Facebook From Your Life

Full Disclosure: This article on Medium is by the official account of Gab, the free-speech Social Network that grew up in the aftermath of the first round of Twitter going after conservatives. So, they’re not exactly a neutral observer, and if you don’t care about free-speech for people you don’t like, then you might find the opening paragraph tendentious.

However, it has useful information about what you can do to get control of your data, including pictures and links. It also has the Holy Grail, the actual Deletion of your Facebook account.

For my part, I don’t use Facebook very much (following the article’s suggestion, I saw the app page, and found precisely 4 active apps, one of which I decided to cull.

But you might find it useful, so I’m passing it along. (H/T: Ace of Spades)

View story at Medium.com

 

Two Reruns: A Moving Tribute and a Glorious Hilarity

First, in honor of Pat Conroy’s passing, his own eulogy of his father, the Great Santini. The essence of it:

We were raised by the men who made the United States of America the safest country on earth in the bloodiest century in all recorded history.

Read the Whole Thing.

Second, Ace of Spades reposts the madness of his Kaboom Lamentation:

Kaboom was for people — children, I mean — who had decided to give up on life. And it’s a sad thing for a six-year-old to have already thrown in the towel and said, “Ah well. The hopes and dreams of kindergarten are ultimately exposed as so much folly. Give me the Kaboom, Ma. I’m ready to settle.”

It just keeps getting funnier from there.

Why Celebrities Kill Themselves

It doesn’t take much to interpret Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s untimely death of what’s looking increasingly like a heroin overdose as an unconscious leap into the void. When I first read the accounts, I was struck by two facts:

  • Hoffman had been clean, or so he said, for 23 years before last year.
  • The brand of heroin police found in his appartment “Ace of Spades” hadn’t been seen on the streets of Brooklyn since 2008.

To which Stacy McCain adds a third:

  • Hoffman had 50 bags of the stuff in his pad.

Which shouldn’t surprise. When the monkey returns to the back, he usually does so with a saddle and a bullwhip. The yearning to throw away all reason follows fast behind the surrender to addiction. So calling this a waste of a fine talent, which it is, is kind of beside the point. Hoffman reached a place where his talent and his career and his children did not sustain him like another hit did. People take drugs to self-medicate, to make some problem go the hell away for a few hours.

And sure, you can say “What problem did he have? The Oscars? The respect of his peers? The $10,000-a-month appartment? I’d like to have those problems!” But again, those are all beside the point. Success is not happiness. It never has been and never will be. Success may be connected to happiness, but they don’t equate. And that goes double for anyone in the entertainment industry. When I heard the news about Hoffman, I wasn’t even a little bit surprised, despite knowing next to nothing about his personal life at that point. I didn’t need to. He was a famous entertainer. Famous entertainers do drugs. These people are not happy.

Celebrities either start believing their own hype, and decide to pester the known universe with their particular moral notions (Sean Penn, the People’s Commissar of Burbank), or they wall themselves off into hermetic seclusion and grow almost alienated from their own life’s work (Harrison Ford approaching every interview with thinly veiled contempt for everyone involved with it). Some even become the masters of their own media empire (Tom Hanks). But a sizable number follow a path of self-indulgence from their new status and self-disgust for their participation in the brutal circus of fame towards inevitable self-annihilation.

Because Pop Culture is so important.

The Discreet Charms of the New Class

I first read Ayn Rand in college, and enjoyed her insofar as she expressed things I had previously pondered but never fully articulated. Her philosophy attempted to wed Aristotle with dialectical materialism, and I’m not entirely sure how well she pulled it off.

But she did hit upon some under-spoken truths in her major works, of which I have always appreciated the line that kicks of Francisco d’Anconia’s speech in Atlas Shrugged: the one that posits an “aristocracy of pull” which would replace the old naughty aristocracy of wealth. And it is that idea which analogizes into the New Class that Matthew Continetti captures in his look at the upcoming nuptuals of Sam Kass and Alex Wagner in “Love in the Time of Obama” (h/t Ace and Instapundit, which should give you an idea of how significant New Class range-finding is in the wingnut blogosphere).

Both Kass and Wagner, let it be said, are talented. Or at least Wagner is. I haven’t had dinner at the White House. Wagner is pretty, bubbly, and informed, and though her show reminds me of an interminable seminar on theories of representation in the West, I’d rather watch an hour of her than any of the other MSNBC hosts. Yet I cannot help being struck by the disjunction between her attitude toward conservative elites and her attitude toward herself, toward her own part of the upper crust. I cannot help being struck by the unknowingness with which she and her guests establish categories such as “rich” and “elite” that exclude everyone they know.

Both of them are where they are because of who they are and who they know. Now, this has always been true. Knowing the powerful is always better than not knowing them. But in the New Class, that’s the first of the only two criteria for membership. The second is a sycnophantic devotion to the State as such, to the power of Institutions to Do Amazing Work. Matt Yglesias can snark merrily about income inequality and such from his tony DC rowhouse that costs more than the yearly salaries of everyone at my workplace, combined, because his work provides endless justifications for Leviathan. Ted Cruz, on the other hand, went to Harvard but is a pariah in the circles Kass, Wagner, et al. move in. Going to the Right Schools makes you one of the Right People only if you have the Right Opinions.

And it strikes me that ideological devotion and credential makes a frightfully weak foundation to build a fortress on. Traditional aristocracies, ancient and medieval, rested on control of productive land and military prowess. As technological advancements spread both wealth production and lethality around in the Early Modern period, the medieval nobility gradually lost power.

The Senate of Rome followed a different path. Senators in the Republic held their positions for life so long as they owned sufficient land, and held prestige insofar as they demonstrated other aristocratic virtues, of which the chief was the ability to command soldiers in war. With the coming of the Empire, senators switched from being statesmen to synchophants, playing a Game of Gossip with the Emperors for Caeser’s favor. By the end of Caligulia’s reign, most of them were dead, replaced by new families from the minor nobility and provinces.

So building an aristocracy on Opinion and discreet tax-farming seems destined to fail. But perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps the real source of the New Class’ strength is their ability to control What can and cannot be said. Obama is a moderate and a statesman, because our masters who went to the right schools and learned the right way to say the right things say he is ad nauseam.

All of which is another way of saying that Orwell was at least as much of a prophet as Ayn Rand.

Jonah Goldberg on The Vital Importance of Saying “I Told You So.”

Normally, when a piece of legislation is flawed, the spirit of bipartisanship demands a responsible effort to fix it. In this way, both critics and proponents can work together democratically to best benefit their constitutents.

But not this time. This time, the Democrats can eat it. This time, they passed a law that every Republican voted against, that hordes of citizens rallied to stop. This time, they told us we were crazy, stupid, and racist for not bowing to the New Order. Now that the New Order is falling about their ears, we must savor the deliciousness of their tears. As Jonah Goldberg points out, this is Nemesis at work.

And Schadenfreude (or schadenboner, as Andy at Ace of Spades prefers) is the only appropriate response from the right. We said this wouldn’t work. We said that people would lose coverage. We said that giving one-sixth of the economy to the government was a bad idea. And now that we’re proven right, to point this out is a necessary act of truth-telling for the Republic.

Because:

If Obamacare had been a shining success from Day One, do you think the Democrats would be in the mood to share the credit? Then why should Republicans be in more of a mood to share the blame?

Chew each bite 25 times, proggies.

UPDATE: Pocket Full of Liberty puts this in starker terms: “Do nothing, GOP.