My personal beef with Altman

Saturday, December 03, 2005
A lot of people think this movie is fabulous. One guy on IMDB says he thinks about it every single day, even though it was made in 1973; another says he watched it twice last week. I really don't get it.

Of course, I'm not a habitual movie watcher. Movie buffs seem to distance themselves from the movies they watch in a way that I just can't; to me, watching a movie is like spending an hour and a half in somebody else's mind.

Last night we watched Robert Altman's 1973 movie "The Long Goodbye." Warning: if you're considering seeing it, my comments here are spoilers, so stop now, but I'll leave you with this one thought first: Robert Altman hates everybody.

Being in Altman's mind for an hour and a half is a really desolate experience. Even the people who love Altman films will talk about his 'misogyny' as a feature of his work, as though it were morality-neutral; and it's true that the women in The Long Goodbye are uniformly flat mannequins, from the naked yoga druggy cultists who live next door to Marlowe to the lead female character, whose motives are inexplicable because they are not those of a real human being.

But Altman's women aren't just flat mannequins; they are flat mannequins that Robert Altman personally hates. Nor is he just a misogynist; he hates his male characters too, to the point where he can't understand their motives either (and so at the end of the movie, Marlowe is shown going skipping down a street playing a harmonica like Harold at the end of Harold and Maude -- having just murdered a man who has been his friend since boyhood. This is Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe we're talking about).

I must say, Altman is great at putting you right inside his mind; it's just that it's not anyplace you would ever want to be. I refuse to excuse Altman on the grounds that he is an artist; I assign him full responsibility for his hatred of humanity.

Starting with the (apparently) famous Coke bottle scene, which I knew nothing about in advance, and which more than half of IMDB reviewers didn't even comment on (and when they did it was only to claim that it was a scene that really redefined movie violence for the other artistes of Altman's generation). The Coke bottle scene is, to my mind, one of the really unforgivable moments of cinematic history.

A thug is visiting Phillip Marlowe (played by a mumbling Elliott-Gould-as-Trapper-John) with his henchman. He has brought along his lovely flat mannequin girlfriend, who is so innocent that she enters the apartment where the thug is shaking down Marlowe because she's been scared by something that made a noise when she was left out in the car. She is beautiful and sweet and utterly brainless and unreal, since she apparently habitually drives around with her lover and his henchmen and never is touched by the violence she sees them perpetrate.

The thug praises her beauty and her innocence and tells Marlowe that he loves her above everyone in the world but his family. He instructs his hoodlums to get her a coke from Marlowe's refrigerator; he empties it; and then he brutally bashes it across her face so hard that not only must her bones all be broken, the glass breaks and she is hideously cut by the breaking glass. She screams and writhes horrifically as the blood pours down her face and gets all over everything; the camera rests lovingly on her at length, while we are privileged to ponder the utterly brainless destruction of her beauty and innocence.

(Altman loves this crap. He loves it. He did it also in McCabe and Mrs. Miller, in a scene in which gangsters slay in cold blood a good and innocent 17-year-old boy after a long and drawn out preamble. I saw it years ago, and I do think about it often, but that's not a good thing).

After that, I was unwilling to stick around Altman's brain any longer. I suppose I am writing this article as a way to try to get back at him for polluting the world with his hideous vision of the destruction of innocence, goodness, and beauty. Thanks for listening.

(and if you liked that.. you should hear what I have to say about "The Talented Mr. Ripley").

58 comments:

terrye said...

That seemed to be the mindset of the times. Everything is bad and pointless and there is no beauty in the world..so let's just smash everything.

Depressing.

Speaking of not liking women I always found Ernest Hemingway and D.H. Lawrence a tad on the conflicted side myself.

Skookumchuk said...

All the movies of that era are now to me pretty much unwatchable.

I would much rather sit through eight uninterrupted hours of Chinese opera with no bathroom breaks than half an hour of Altman.

Morgan said...

I'm pretty sure the attraction to these films was the recognition by the viewer that there was some behavior by which he could still be appalled. Or that there was not.

Extreme depravity as entertainment never quite did it for me.

terrye said...

I know I hated Clockwork Orange. For the same reason.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

There are many many movies in which women are nothing but mannequins. Why is that? It's pathetic.

Syl said...

Sometimes I wonder who is the naive one. I mean there exist women like that, it's not just made up for the movies. They are totally dependent on men, but get into the wrong crowds. And sometimes bad things happen to them. Brutally bad things.

America is not made up of happy homemakers on the one hand, and independent professional women on the other.

I mean, do I really have to state that?

Morgan said...

There may be some peope like that, but I don't know them. And it's so boring when characters are clothes hangers. Even worse when they have no role other than to be frightened and scream.

Granted, fictional characters are generally not supposed to be like people you meet in real life, but why would you make any character duller than average?

chuck said...

Speaking of not liking women I always found Ernest Hemingway and D.H. Lawrence a tad on the conflicted side myself.

And Picasso too. On the other hand, I think Matisse liked women.

Speaking of Picasso, does anyone else think that Guernica is full of phony emotion? Do you think Picasso really cared?

Rick Ballard said...

Chuck,

Name a commie who wasn't. Faux compassion and the willingness to impose collective altruism at bayonet point are the very heart of Marxism.

It takes more thought than I am willing to expend to think of any art produced by a real leftist that will stand time's test. That goes double for the dreck drenched in Freud.

Morgan said...

So, what do you think of "The Talented Mr. Ripley"?

gumshoe1 said...

morgan said:

"Granted, fictional characters are generally not supposed to be like people you meet in real life, but why would you make any character duller than average?"


ummm...because you're
a really bad author/screen writer??

terrye said...

I like the women in An Tyler's books. They seem real to me.

truepeers said...

Taking up Rick's challenge, I can think of some great art by reformed lefties who were transformed by revelations into the falsity of their erstwhile revolutionary desires. It is harder to think of unforgettable art created when the artist was still a confirmed and serious leftist. IMHO, most of modernism is forgettable, except inasmuch as its inherent violence and revelling in the sacrificial must be remembered for cautionary purposes. Picasso and Guernica will not be forgotten for this reason. But what about someone like Orwell? - the greatness is that the cautionary tale regarding modernism comes fully revealed in the art itself. A leftist who learned how to see through the left while at the BBC. What's missing there?

chuck said...

A leftist who learned how to see through the left while at the BBC.

Orwell lost his illusions about the Stalinist left in the Spanish Civil War. What he got to see at the BBC in WWII was the making of propaganda. I think he was a socialist until death, although he changed a good deal from 1936 to 1950. What I always found somewhat curious is that he seemed to hold to many of the Victorian virtues while pushing for socialism. It is part of his charm.

Morgan said...

gumshoe:

I suppose that's one explanation.

And I can't really think of any others...

Rick Ballard said...

Truepeers,

It's hard to find the collective spirit in Orwell's most famous work. Collectivism and the corollary Freudian angst genre just aren't going to hold up well. Lies rarely do. I think that may be the essence of why modernism produced so little of lasting merit. It's all pretense and faux empathy based upon idealizations never lived by anyone.

Impressionism will have a longer life for just that reason. I don't tire of looking at Monet's work and there is no modernist whose work I have any desire to see ever again.

Buddy Larsen said...

I remember that scene in McCabe--Altman lovingly lingers on the sweet, charming kid--close-ups of freckled rface and all--for 20 mminutes, then he walks him onto a rope bridge crost a creek and has him shot by loud revolvers to slo-mo bloody pieces for another 20 minutes (seemingly). It was unpleasant as hell--and not the least advancing of the story--as say a similar scene in "The Wild Bunch" was made to be by Sam Peckinpah.

Dogwood said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
truepeers said...

It's all pretense and faux empathy based upon idealizations never lived by anyone.

-yes i think it's true that modernism, for the artist, is more theory than practice - this is especially true with genres like the novel. But it is not all faux empathy, nor was it never lived by anyone. The reason the empathy can seem false in a work like Guernica is that the work's intent is not really empathy for the war's victims, but rather to stiffen our spines for the revolutionary fight to come. This art-as-toughening-up-initiatory ritual cannot be disconnected from real life practices. Modernism became a deadly reality for many via the totalitarian state. Did Mengele lack empathy? Perhaps, or perhaps the purpose of his experiments was such that the question is besides the point. Just as the artist's experimenting with sacrificial figures is the product of a snobbish decision to put empathy aside in the name of some greater project.

Buddy Larsen said...

There's the rub, 'peers--what greater project has ever been admitted of, by any of the great religions? They all demand the counter-intuitive "means justify the end." meaning, you can't destroy a human in the name of humanity, but you can destroy a human in the name of a human. It's where nazi philosophy hit a far stronger brick wall than the usually-cited and usually pallid debunkings of the master-race notion.

Buddy Larsen said...

Shows clearly in the architecture and plastic arts. Beautiful and horrible.

Buddy Larsen said...

From nature's point of view, humanity is the important thing, but a human is unimportant. The nazi maypole and blood-and-iron and greenie fastidiousness were all about agreeing with nature, and opposing G*d, Who asks for the leap of faith, that a human and humanity are the same thing. The idea I think has always been to keep us from eating each other--a horror which the nazis--and the soviets--were inducing all up and down the lines of their transgression.

chuck said...

The reason the empathy can seem false in a work like Guernica is that the work's intent is not really empathy for the war's victims, but rather to stiffen our spines for the revolutionary fight to come.

When the Nazis marched into Paris, Picasso did... nothing. I suppose that counts as toughening up of a sort. I don't think he really cared, except for himself, Sartre likewise. As to the horrors of war, compare Goya. I don't think the difference is entirely that Goya is more realistic. Or maybe that *is* the key. Bloodless abstraction and symbols versus actual experience.

At least Picasso wasn't ironic. Modernism had not yet declined to the point that nothing was important and saying so was.

Buddy Larsen said...

The Jews--as embodiments of conscience and the tradition of G*d--I believe were supposed to start eating other in the camps.

Witness that the camps' line-managers were corrupted Jews, with actual nazis as few and far between as possible, on the ground, inside the wire.

Witness also the piles and piles of starved-to-death Jews--often seen as a testament to nazi efficiency, in fact a testament to their utter failure--on the spiritual plane--against the Jews, against G*d.

Make any sense, 'peers? Or am I being offensive with this line?

truepeers said...

It's where nazi philosophy hit a far stronger brick wall than the usually-cited and usually pallid debunkings of the master-race notion.

Buddy, Please clarify, I'm still grasping for this essential point. Do you mean that Nazidom had to fail because people are not willing to die for a man, Hitler?

Buddy Larsen said...

Well, you have a strong point, but what 'made' Hitler a man to die for? Wasn't it his spellbinding of the future of humanity? After all, no royal blood--which was a thing a peasant might be willing to die for up to the Napoleonic Era, was ever podsitednijn nazi phenomenology. Just the future of humanity.

Forex, Hitler came to power on his request and promise: "Give me one hard century, and I'll give humanity 1000 years of glory".

The 'hard century' idea is how the SS could see itself as a martyr for taking on the 'holy' task of the Holocaust.

Buddy Larsen said...

jeez...'posited in' is the gibberish word above...late hour, clumsy eyes/fingers.

chuck said...

...but rather to stiffen our spines for the revolutionary fight to come.

And, I would add, propaganda in consequence. Compare to Minoan pottery, 4300 years old and still looking good. Hell, cave paintings still look good. Guernica strikes me as false and dated.

truepeers said...

Make any sense, 'peers? Or am I being offensive with this line?

-well, you are obvioualy right that the Nazis proved a spiritual failure. They self-destroyed, some killing their children at the end. I wonder, however, had they won the war, only to find, obviously to us, that they had not resolved the human condition, i.e. only to find that their lives were still full of conflicts and resentments and in need of "jews" to scapegoat, would they have had to evolve spiritually and make something more of fascism? Perhaps, but I doubt it. It's hard to imagine a hundred year reich, let alone a thousand.

WHere you risk being offensive is in calling the "line managers", corrupted Jews. Some no doubt were corrupted from certain perspectives, but if the alternative is death...? Since that is no one's decision to make, is it immoral in not making it for oneself and just doing whatever to survive? I mean self-sacrifice is the right choice in a non-zero-sum environment, but was Auschwitz such? Jews are not, as individuals, better than other people. They get stuck on the same fundamental dilemmas. Jewish culture and Judaism may have proved its relative worth in illuminating our dilemmas and paradoxes, and so it has survived over the millennia; but don't confuse this with the ability to make the right moral decision when faced with the two contradictory moral imperatives: survival, and not doing evil.

truepeers said...

Yes, well obviously many Germans bought into the hard century idea. But I think the ideology would have hit a brick wall sooner or later, because as I just suggested, killing all the Jews would not have a lasting magical effect on society. It would not bring eternal peace. Perhaps, killing millions of Jews would have had an effect equivalent to sacrificing ten witches in earlier, more mythologically dense, times. A little release of tension, a temporary respite from conflict and resentment, but sooner or later these always return and the successful culture is the one most creative at finding the means of transcendening the next problem which always comes along.

Anyway, what I guess I'm saying is that it is not so much a question of whether people were willing to do everything for Hitler - that would never have had as powerful an attraction as the idea of fighting for Aryan purity and global leadership. It was this idea that had to prove a failure for the Nazi idea to fall. Hitler himself could be sacrificed to that idea.

Buddy Larsen said...

"Do you mean that Nazidom had to fail because...."

No. the point is, it *didn't* have to fail. We--humanity--lucked out by the skin of our teeth.

Gestapoism was at heart a method of malignant permanence--it took the crude gotterdamerung smashing delivered by the Allies supreme effort of will, to stop it.

Hitler exposed something about G*d and free will.

That's why there's so much in the air about endtimes and him as the antichrist.

He 'proved' the Jewish point, that we humans individually have to validate something, too.

The 'hot' interactive God of Christianity didn't come out of Hitlerism nearly so well as the 'cool' remote, abstract G*d of Judaism.

The ocean of difference between Europe and America induced a lag in that dawning realization, which may now be catching up in the evangelical fascination with Judaism.

Buddy Larsen said...

The 'corrupted' adjective was a bad choice of words. My point in bringing it up was to point to the depth of the depravity of the nazi vision. Their idea was to set the icons of conscience toeard G*d and respect-for-a-human against their own ideas.

Buddy Larsen said...

i say all this as if i knew what I'm talking about--the tone is just shorthand, to avoid all the extra typing of adding conditional clauses--I mean everything as a "does this make sense?"

chuck said...

I suspect Hitler would have been unsuccessful in getting Germans to settle the Ukraine in the little communities of farming warriors as he planned. That whole part of the enterprise would have likely gone down as a failure. I suspect the economy would have also gone bankrupt or stagnated. Slow or fast, these various socialist utopian ideals all seem to end up at the same endpoint. Well, I take that back, the Mormons seem to have survived and adapted. Then again, Brigham Young was probably a lot brighter than Hitler and land was easier to come by.

Buddy Larsen said...

Chuck--you're right--the big bright blue sky over wide open Utah, covered the seemingly-dark elements long enough for those elements to evolve a detente with with the larger culture.

Reminds me of the polygamy joke "I don't care how you brig 'em, just brig 'em young!"
(*groan*)

How you feel about the chances of nazism's survival--had it fought a smarter war or the allies a weaker one--would depend on whether or not you believe a highly-refined and efficient secret-police society-within-society would be vulnerable to internal dissent. Clues might be--how many secret-police societies have had to be clubbed to death from the outside? I'd say, nearly all of them. That's what makes them so chilling--unless serendipity provides an outside force, such a society in control of the world might last until the solar system goes supernova.

truepeers said...

Gestapoism was at heart a method of malignant permanenc

-well, i don't believe any method can be permanent. The idea that one can is the essence of utopianism or, I suppose, dystopianism. But had they won the war, the Nazis would have discovered all kinds of problems in maintaining order and productivity over the long run. No doubt they could have kept things in some kind of tyrannical despotism for a long time - there is a certain stabilily in tyrannies - but not forever... no, I don't believe it is possible to enthrone a methodology forever. Even the methods of evil have to evolve and risk corruption.

Hitler exposed something about G*d and free will.

That's why there's so much in the air about endtimes and him as the antichrist.


-no doubt the first point is correct, but I don't follow too closely the ideas about endtimes and antichrists. WHat Hitlerism shows me is the imperative to avoid beliefs in endtimes and that means avoid dwelling, nihilistically, in apocalyptic moods. Sure we can now blow ourselves to smithereens, but that's just to say now we can take seriously the question of how to forever defer this possible eventuality. So yes we have to validate something. If that is not god, it is at least survival - of humanity and its culture.

The 'hot' interactive God of Christianity didn't come out of Hitlerism nearly so well as the 'cool' remote, abstract G*d of Judaism.

The ocean of difference between Europe and America induced a lag in that dawning realization, which may now be catching up in the evangelical fascination with Judaism.


-yes, but it is not just the evangelicals. THe whole of "highbrow" postmodernism has a jewish sensibility. To put this briefly, postmodernism can be summed up as the refusal to privilenge any figure of centrality. If no one figure or authority can be so privileged as to control the center, it must be figured as the paradoxical absence that is, originally, the Jewish conception of the Messiah.

But, Buddy, are you suggesting that had the Nazis won, we would never have become postmoderns? What would have kept the Germans from fighting each other as time and the inevitable tendancy to conflict progressed? ANd who knows what would have proved the stronger - ethically, militarily - to come out of that intramural contest? War, when battle is engaged, may be about survival. BUt i don't think you make gOod soldiers simply in the name of survival or loot. We also need to fight for causes, as would become clear when Nazi turned on Nazi.

truepeers said...

All police states we have known have been destroyed from the outside because there was an outside to destroy them. If the Nazis ruled the world, the inevitability of human conflict would have taken the form of civil war. It is much easier to organize a society against an outside foe. And much harder to maintain order when you don't have one.

Buddy Larsen said...

'Peers--I don't always follow you, okay, I don't always understand the ideas, but I do always get the message that a strong philosopher can dig deep, and find optimism. And for that, I thank you.

As for rebuttals, I got nada--I'll sleep on it and see what it looks like in la manana de la manana.

Sleeeeep beckons, gotta go knit up the day's ravel'd sleeve...;-)

MeaninglessHotAir said...

Buddy,

With modern technology at its fingertips, such a society would be absolutely unstoppable. The UK and Singapore are practically there already.

Chuck,

It's odd that we agree that the urge to socialist utopia led by the Single Bright Shining Ruler always comes to grief on the national level, and yet we run our corporations on exactly this principle. Most of them are outright dictatorships, not democracies, and the very idea of voting for our bosses is considered ridiculous. Yet academic departments vote for their chairmen and that seems reasonable. Why is socialist dictatorship bad on the national level and good on the corporate level?

By the way, have you ever read Heinlein's story "If this goes on..." about a rebellion against a future religious dictatorship run by the Mormons?

MeaninglessHotAir said...

The 'hot' interactive God of Christianity didn't come out of Hitlerism nearly so well as the 'cool' remote, abstract G*d of Judaism.

That's a fascinating insight.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

Truepeers,

I'm not clear on the "inevitability of human conflict". I'm not certain that we cannot change into something different, something more beehive-like. I'm not sure that we're not very close to it already. Of course you can argue that we wouldn't be "human" anymore. True but irrelevant. We're already not "human" anymore in many senses.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

Buddy,

Toynbee describes what he calls the "Universal State" which represents the mature stage of a culture. One in which it is no longer particularly creative. He seemed to view it as an inevitable stage of growth. The world is now backing toward such a thing on a global scale, ineluctably it seems to me. The first stage will be to pull down the current "Jews", i.e., the US.

Your comment about the difficulty of resisting a totalitarian state from within reminded me of Gibbons's famous similar comment about the Roman Empire, and how it was essentially impossible to resist the government and that there was essentially nowhere to run if you fell under a cloud. The same situation existed under classical Chinese Empires, with various dynastic leaders. Which led me to think about Toynbee. Which led me to wonder how long until the UN controls the Internet. And has access to our Google records.

truepeers said...

Good night Buddy. Perhaps I will be more coherent on the morrow too. Just remember, the Mormons survive and prosper because they don't control the marketplace in which they must survive and prosper. Their seemingly anachronistic or heavy ritualism is a way of protecting their productivity against the consumer market's constant call to consume to the point of self-destruction. Seemingly archaic ritualism can buttress one against self-destruction as long as it does not try (or succeed in) controlling the whole show. If it goes for total control it will destroy the markets and freedoms on which human survival and productivity depend. Humans cannot exist without exchange. Too much control will always bring conflict and war in the end.

Buddy Larsen said...

Corporations and totalitarianism sho nuf do share--Moussolini (sp?) knew it well, the developer of industrial fascism formed Italy's strongest corporations into a quasi-department of the gov't--and Hitler followed the model. corporatism is actually the theory-split between national socialism and communism--Lenin went 'internationalist' to keep the appearance of a wedge. But boiled down, both were robbing systems run by armed might controlled by gangsters who only appeared in public wrapped in the national flag. Charlie Chaplin tried to warn us....

truepeers said...

MHA,
the inevitability of conflict stems from the nature or anthropology of human desire. Desire is not simply appetite or a reflection of our subsistence needs, but is something supplemental to our natural drives, which is why you can have two identical shoes, but the one with the NIke swoosh can sell for twice as much.

Animals have appetites and drives that allow, in some cases, for hive like behaviour. Humans have desires because animal order was not enough to keep the first (proto)humans in line.

What we desire, essentially, is the sacred - e.g. the Nike swoosh - as the source of human significance. The sacred keeps us ordered in a non-animal way, but it also creates a basis for conflict that goes beyond the natural animal impulse to war over scarce resources. The sacred, as source of both order and conflict, is paradoxical in a number of ways.

So it's a tough topic. ANd I am tired and it's late. WE can take this question up later. But the inevitability of human conflict lies more in the nature of our desire - a desire we learn from each other, and in an inevitably competitive fashion - than in our appetites or natural drives. More than simple subsistence needs, humans are driven by desires for *significance*. ANd this brings us into conflict over the central figures of significance that human society is organized around.

None of htis is to suggest that great violence is inevitable. In fact, I think over time we are learning to rely, most of the time, on more minimal forms of violence within our conflicts. Consumer society is preferable to what came before for this reason.

truepeers said...

The same point holds for corporations and Mussolinis as for Mormons: you can have a tyranny as long as you don't have total control. Tyranny may work, for a time, as a market strategy, but not as an overall long term human strategy.

chuck said...

MHA,

Why is socialist dictatorship bad on the national level and good on the corporate level?

Scale and permanence. Likewise, transfer of power in corporations may involve a great deal of infighting, but armies don't marshall in the night and march in the morning. Dictatorships are efficient on small scales and for limited times, then they stagnate or incompetence rises. Internationally this leads to wars and conquest and the same happens in the business arena, but the results are not nearly so bloody and the losers can go work for the winners.

By the way, have you ever read Heinlein's story "If this goes on..."

Yes, I read the Heinlein novella which is included in the book Revolt in 2100. However, ISTR that Nehemiah Scudder wasn't a Mormon. Indeed, if I recall the protagonist bailed out from his ram jet over Utah and received aid from the Mormons; Mormons were part of the resistance. I think Heinlein rather admired Mormons, actually. He gave a talk for the Red Cross on the campus of USU back in the 70's and shortly after published The Number of the Beast that starts, if you recall, at the same USU. I just wish that the physics department was actually that good ;) Anyway... here we go:

When this novel begins the United States is controlled by a religious dictatorship. That regime began when an Evangelical/Protestant preacher (whom the author compares to Huey Long) used his television station and Ku Klux Klan-like stormtrooper tactics to get himself elected president, after which his administration suspended democratic elections.

The protagonist of the novel starts out working for this Protestant theocracy, but decides to escape and ends up helping to overthrow it. To make his escape, he parachutes out of an airplane into Provo, Utah, where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been forcibly suppressed, but where the Latter-day Saint people are still against the dictatorship. Later, Latter-day Saints are one group (along with Catholics and dissident Protestants) who help overthrow the dictatorship.

Example, from near the end of Chapter 14:

The Mormon Battalions had their own togs, and they were all growing beards as well - they went into action singing the long-forbidden "Come, Come Ye Saints". Utah was one state we didn't have to worry about, now that the Saints had their beloved Temple back.


Buddy:

The 'hot' interactive God of Christianity didn't come out of Hitlerism nearly so well as the 'cool' remote, abstract G*d of Judaism.

I don't think that God survived Hitlerism in any form. Atheism is more like it, IMHO. I'm speaking of Europe, of course. The hot God of Christianity continues to win converts in Africa and I have met several evangelical Koreans. I also hear that there is a continuing movement afoot in China, not to mention a revival of religion in this country. Not that I really have much sense of the latter myself.

chuck said...

MHA,

It just came to me: let a hundred tyrannies bloom. There yah go.

PS,

Family tyrranies can be among the worst and most families are tyrannies, albeit enlightened ones ;)

Buddy Larsen said...

I know the theory on why the Diety would permit the Holocaust...but the explanations are 'head' explanations, none that I've heard have gotten me in the knowing heart that is the essence of faith. Except one, that the Passion had to be moved from a human to humanity. follow this out, and the chosen people really are the Chosen People. And anti-Semites are a legion of the damned, walking among us.

Buddy Larsen said...

referring to chuck's I don't think that God survived Hitlerism in any form. Atheism is more like it, IMHO.

Buddy Larsen said...

MHA--thanks for the reminder to read Toynbee. Been meaning to forever, it seems.

truepeers said...

SO I guess, BUddy, that's what you'd call a Judeo-Christian explanation?

No doubt the Holocaust was a challenge to Jewish ideas of having a compact with g-d; but, so far, Jewish faith is surviving in enough places to assume it will go on, and not just in secular pomo form.

CHuck may be right that God had not survived in Europe, but right now Europe's survival is looking a little dubious. IF God is at least an anthropological fact that cannot be just forgotten (even when everyone is an atheist the concept of god remains powerful, not forgotten or forgettable) this suggests that respect for the sacred will return in one shape or form, be it Islam, a renewed Catholicism, or some secular faith in the sacred and humanity.

Buddy Larsen said...

I don;t know what I'd call it, 'Peers. a rationalization, I guess. I'm not even sure I have any standing to comment, being non-Jewish. but the Holocaust can't be just a vast nullity. Even tho there's a strain of that within that 'Jewish-sensibility' pomo world which you mentioned earlier. The 'Maus' cartoons come first to mind--how that seemingly modern theme gained press--inroads into popular culture--while the absolute sacrifice of the Warsaw Uprising faded into a 'different' era--as if it is too painful, and the era had to be simplified into something like strong-horse/weak-horse, or even Stockholm Syndrome. this simplification has obviously worked on some segment of the population, which can today, with Holocaust still in living memory, call itself Christian Identity movement while wearing the swastika.

truepeers said...

I think the Holocaust is so fundamental to the politics and culture at present - for better adn worse - that we need not worry that it will just be forgotten as a nullity. It is proving the key to our present turning point in history, or perhaps to the last turning point to which we are now in turn reacting as we see the ethical limits of the victimary model that emerged in the wake of the Holocaust, especially since the late sixties, and that is now being corrupted by the "Zionists are Nazis" meme. But, as with everything, the deeper historical and spiritual perspectives on what has been going on will take time to gel. But it has started, so don't give up on the question - many good and bad answers out there.

Buddy Larsen said...

I think you're right. Maybe it's as simple as the terrorism bringing back the incomprehension, but whatever it is, the world is Humpty Dumpty, the Holocaust is the Fall, and all the King's horses and all the King's men will never put Humpty together again.

And he shouldn't be. But the repair should be--must be--worked on every day.

Depressing? --au contraire--reminding of the taste of life.

truepeers said...

Well, whatever happens to Humpty we can never go back to the way it was. And in every era we are always fallen beings. The only thing is to ask how, now, are we going to transcend our present problems, using all our knowledge from the past but not trying to reproduce what can never be the same twice. In other words, how to use established wisdom and culture to do something again for the very first time?

Buddy Larsen said...

...and back to the future we go!

smartparrot said...

But Altman's women aren't just flat mannequins; they are flat mannequins that Robert Altman personally hates.

I love it!