Sunday, January 24, 2010

Secret of the Arts

'Fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters; united with her, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of their marvels.'
Francesco de Goya

AVATAR - The Gospel According to James

In a challenging opinion piece written for the NY Times, Ross Douthat asserts that AVATAR is James "Cameron's long apologia for pantheism--a faith that equates God with Nature, and calls humanity into religious communion with the natural world."
"...pantheism has been Hollywood's religion of choice for a generation now. It's the truth that Kevin Costner discovered when he went dancing with wolves. It's the metaphysic woven through Disney cartoons like "The Lion King" and "Pocahontas." And it's the dogma of George Lucas's Jedi, whose mystical Force 'surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.'"
An appealing myth, no doubt, and "a form of religion that even atheists can support," but ultimately, Douthat concludes, it offers little solace. Read the whole piece HERE.

The Real Test

"No drug, not even alchohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power."
--P.J. O'Rourke

Naked and Conflicted

In her excellent NY Times Book Review essay, The Naked and the Conflicted - Sex and the American Male Novelist, Katie Roiphe contrasts the vigorous sexual explorations of the previous generation of Great Male Authors with the current crop of politically correct, sexually neutered navel-gazers. "Rather than an interest in conquest or consummation, there is an obsessive fascination with trepidation, and with a convoluted, post-feminist second-guessing."
"The younger [male] writers are so self-­conscious, so steeped in a certain kind of liberal education, that their characters can’t condone even their own sexual impulses; they are, in short, too cool for sex. Even the mildest display of male aggression is a sign of being overly hopeful, overly earnest or politically un­toward. For a character to feel himself, even fleetingly, a conquering hero is somehow passé. More precisely, for a character to attach too much importance to sex, or aspiration to it, to believe that it might be a force that could change things, and possibly for the better, would be hopelessly retrograde. Passivity, a paralyzed sweetness, a deep ambivalence about sexual appetite, are somehow taken as signs of a complex and admirable inner life."
As an antidote, I know of at least two novels I would highly recommend...