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Wednesday Open Thread

66 comments to Wednesday Open Thread

  • “You Get Nothing!” – Ain’t it the truth.

    Nothing like early morning editing – to get those synapses a-poppin’!

  • -fritz-

    Coffee and crumbs! Hey! That’s all you deserve! Well, some of you anyway! I’ll let you figure it all out while I take Mrs.-fritz- to work.

  • Daniel Crandall

    Willie Wonka speaking to Re-dumb-licans on behalf of Obama’s Demon-crat administration.

  • David Marcoe

    I am supremely tired of partisan politics. I’m also immensely tired of just about everyone on the right missing the issue of culture. Even those who get that “culture is up-stream from politics” think of it in terms as an arm of activism or a campaigning tool. It’s always, “If we just figure out a way to communicate our policies…” Or, if they’re a little smarter, “If we create stories with (insert free markets, entrepreneurs, family values, etc.)…” It always seems to fly right over their heads that these things are only means (like free markets) or specific expressions (like entrepreneurship) of larger virtues that emanate from a larger moral vision. Until there is a concerted effort to reclaim the moral and spiritual imagination of our culture, where politics and economics gets checked at the door, we’re going to keep losing.

    That’s part of why efforts like Declaration Entertainment miss the mark. The other reason is that they keep refusing to adapt their message to the idiom of the culture; they keep making cultural products–books, movies, games, or whatever–that preach to the choir in their own vernacular. But both deficiencies stem from an inability to step back and examine their work with in a larger pattern.

    Of course, there’s the counter-argument: What about films like (to use a very recent example on this website) The Dark Knight Rises? What about it? As the most political film of the series, its primary visual motifs were the French Revolution and Marxist guerrillas. It’s political message was painted in the broadest possible terms, with no direct references to current events. Of course, that’s also setting aside the larger mythic and even spiritual themes at work in the movie, and missing one big point: it communicates in an “idiom” that the average non-political moviegoer can understand.

    That’s the challenge for an artist in this age. Just as Tolkien resonated moved a generation with LotR and Rowling authored a “generational text” with Harry Potter, an artist has to meet their audience on their ground, to communicate a vision in a way that they can understand. And if you want art to effect change in any substantial way, you have to remember that real art has nothing to do with partisan politics, but if you can communicate a vision, and capture the moral imagination, then you can effect a change in worldview, and the politics will follow.

    • David Marcoe

      Also, it’s easy to see why politics is, at first gloss, more attractive than art. It’s more concrete, immediate, and decisive, and it’s easier to grapple with on an intellectual plane that art, which can be hard to quantify and predict. The effect of art can be slow, indirect, and express itself in unusual ways with in the larger culture. The consequences of an idea or a worldview may not be seen decisively for generations or centuries, and only then in hindsight.

      • Matt Helm

        Art needs to ween people off of the free crap mentality, and make fun of how people act. Once people know they’re being ridiculed, they’ll stop dressing, acting, etc., the way they do. Art also needs to expose the abhorrent behavior that the culture, media, and politics, defend.

      • David Marcoe

        Art needs to ween people off of the free crap mentality, and make fun of how people act.

        And that’s part of what I’m talking about. Directing art as a political tool to address what has been happening in the last five minutes only produces bad art. Now, that’s not saying art can’t address political issues, which would be silly, but art can’t be devoted to one narrow issue. If we’re going to “ween people off of the free crap mentality,” along with other things, we have to present a vision of human flourishing that, through contrast, withers the worldview that makes the “free crap mentality” possible. It’s a matter of symptoms and disease. Treating the symptoms through art produces ephemeral works that don’t deeply penetrate. Treating the disease (by dealing with issues of ethos and worldview) produces art the moves people and endures.

      • David Marcoe

        Another issue: How do you deal with postmodern mind’s indifference or even hostility to dialectic? Try any amount rational argumentation concerning morality or the nature of truth and it slides off like water off a duck’s back. At best, you might get them to shut up, but you certainly won’t get them to think. That’s because postmodernism is a hermetic system, whose appeal is Gnostic. It’s anti-rationality–its claim that you can construct your own reality–is part of what makes it attractive. But it primarily acts on the imagination and its no coincidence postmodernity talks so much about metanarratives and the stories we tell ourselves. Our thought process doesn’t begin with abstract logic, but with imagination, for imagination is the faculty by which we first “see” a thing, and reason the faculty by which define what we see. So, when the imagination is impoverished, the reason is darkened. We have to light the darkness for reason to have light by which to see.

        • David, we’re living in a culture of narcissism, how do we penetrate the darkness? How do we reach through the self absorption, with logical argument? with film or literature? What art would they avail themselves of, and what would motivate them to do so?

        • David Marcoe

          What art would they avail themselves of, and what would motivate them to do so?

          They already do avail themselves, or at least a reasonable approximation thereof, in the form of popular entertainment. And that entertainment is popular because it communicates to them in a way we can understand. The challenge is to produce better art, with a better vision, that they can understand. This is why I brought up Tolkien and Rowling. Tolkien is perhaps an even starker indicator of potential success, a socially and culturally conservative Catholic who wrote a fantasy work that became the unofficial manifesto of the hippy generation, but Rowling is the most recent example. Even though she is of the political, the Harry Potter series are books presenting a Christian worldview, but they speak through a postmodern idiom (tropes, conventions, and formulae) even while they are dense with elements and symbols from the classics of Western literature. In fact, she turns postmodernism on its ear with minutely planned narratological jujitsu, but that’s entire book in itself.

          Those works exploded in popularity, in part, because they answered felt need in people in a way they could understand. What I’m arguing for is that lightning shouldn’t only strike once a generation. These works succeeded for a reason. Of course, what strikes the fancy of the popular mind is as ineffable as the creative process itself, but we can at least learn to make good works of art. Do we really want to hold up Fireproof or American Carol as artistic high points? Or do we want more of The Passion of the Christ?

          And that’s where imagination and reason come in. The poets came before the philosophers, the mythic before the dialectic. Man’s thinking begins with imagination, before abstract reasoning. If the imagination is that by which we first “see,” and the imagination is darkened, then there is no light by which the reason can then see. So, as Lewis put it, we have to “baptize the imagination,” to tell better stories, with a better vision. There’s a reason that we talk so much in this age about narratives and the power of stories.

          That’s essentially the philosophy behind the work of Fantasists like Tolkien, Lewis, L’Engle, Chesterton, and others. In particular, the Inklings were united by a shared philosophy founded on the thought of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who had extensive theories about imagination. It’s their work and those of their intellectual descendants (Rowling is one) that are among the handful of examples of success from “our side.” So, their work is the starting point for my examination.

        • David Marcoe

          correction: they understand

        • David Marcoe

          correction #2: she is of the political Left

      • Daniel Crandall

        Politics is never more attractive than art. Unless we’re talking Art Buchwald, then, yeah politics can be more attractive.

        • David Marcoe

          It’s easier to understand and pursue for most than art. Like I said, its appeal is concreteness and immediacy. It’s the seemingly easier road to enact change.

  • Texacalirose

    Based on early reports on the fiscal farce, I’m getting a lot and it’s not pretty. As the onion is peeled, I am put in the position to be really, really glad that I don’t make >$400k. Now ain’t that somethin’? Who-da thunk it? What a country.

    But Boehner says he’s going to concentrate on spending cuts now … All rightey then. I’m going to concentrate on how to make less money. I don’t want to work as hard as I’ve been. I want to concentrate more on myself, my aura, my mojo. Call me Julia.

    • Daniel Crandall

      “Boehner says he’s going to concentrate on spending cuts now…”

      And I’m going to concentrate on Monkeys flying out my anus-region. I wonder which will happen first. I’m betting on seeing smelly monkeys before I see Washington DC actually decrease spending.

      • Texacalirose

        Do those monkeys fly as high as the pigs? Just wonderin’ cuz those pigs will be flying in the same air space for the same reason.

  • JimmyC

    Good choice of movie clip for today, although the ending of Thelma and Louise might be even more appropriate.

    • -fritz-

      What a load o’ crap, Matt! I’m really surprised they didn’t use a rubber hose on the kid to get a confession out of him. Now he’s forever marked by the pissers and moaners of the knee-jerk reactionary left ! Bastards!

  • Texacalirose

    FWIW, effective today, I’m no longer a Republican. Big deal. Who cares …

    • -fritz-

      What a colossal a$$!

    • Daniel Crandall

      Hey! President Jerk-FACE! I make less than $20 an hour, am eating up savings to see my family and loved ones for a few days during the holidays because I can’t get extra time off AND YOU take more of what little I earn by boosting withholding taxes back up 2%. THEN celebrates by making me foot the bill for YOUR flight back to Hawaii. Monumental F***ING! *SSHOLE!!!

  • -fritz-

    ED: Help!

    -fritz-
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    January 2, 2013 at 8:34 AM · Reply

  • Scott M.

    Better late than never

    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/02/16301483-pennsylvania-governor-to-detail-ncaa-lawsuit-in-news-conference-at-penn-state?lite

    Bullies cease to be bullies when someone stands up to them.The NCAA had no right to levy these sanctions against the Penn State football program because of the criminal acts of an ex coach,and they damn well knew it,and they damn well knew they could get away with it because of emotion.Penn State and Pennsylvania can be sued by the victims of Sandusky,and well they should,but the attack on that program was nothing but punitive.Glad it’s an antitrust suit,because the NCAA is a trust,and a rotten one at that.

  • Scott M.

    The word “soup” generally makes me cringe(Campbell’s Soup makes me shudder),oh but this is so perfect

    http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Classic-Senate-Bean-Soup

    • -fritz-

      I have a personal recipe for Great Northern Bean Soup which is so delicious. The only problem is that within 5 hours of eating it, you will lose your wife/girlfriend, your children, your pets, and anything else that lives at your place! Seriously! It is wonderful, but not user friendly! :D

  • JimmyC

    “So, we’ve got this cold-blooded, bloodthirsty reptile that needs a name. What should we name him?” “Only one name seems appropriate for such a creature.”

    • Texacalirose

      Love her! I sang “Doggie in the Window” and thought it sounded sooo exotic to take a trip to California. (And now it’s still a trip and what a drag it is coming down.)

      RIP, Patti.

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