For people in the middle of some trouble, trauma, or grief, the light at the end of the tunnel can appear very dim or non-existent. On the other side of the hurricane, though the damage remains to one degree or another, it can be hard to remember the full reality of that particular time (at least until something triggers the emotions again in a similar way). In the midst of all the lingering effects of various degrees of trauma, healing is an open question. Can these wounds be healed? How and where? By whom? Those questions are at least part of what the films The Way Back and Driveways are exploring.
I wondered: how do you get a word that means both the place from where something is mined—and the thing that is mined—as well as the prey that is pursued? Indeed, the word “quarry” has a dual etymology. The latter meaning is from the Latin word (via Anglo-French and Middle English) for the skin on which the entrails of an animal were left for the hounds that pursued it. The former meaning comes from the Latin (again by way of French and Middle English) for hewn (square) stone. Two different Middle English words converging in modern English, spelled the same.
It’s an absurd premise: a tennis coach kidnaps someone to train with his player in preparation for the French open, which isn’t going to happen. They practice and train in the middle of nowhere: on sand, in swampland, on a narrow strip of grass. Oh, and they don’t have any tennis balls, or strings in their racquets, or real nets. And they have to keep moving from place to place because there is an unknown threat from an unknown war.
I will never be a good salesman. I remember when I was young, maybe toward the end of middle school or the beginning of high school, I used to go out a few times to sell newspaper subscriptions for the paper I delivered. There is very little that seems more awkward to me than trying to sell something, being declined, and continuing to meet objections with answers. Needless to say, I suspect that the only subscriptions I sold were to those who were already inclined to buy them.
“To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it,” Chesterton quipped in his book, A Short History of England. “If a man has a right to vote, has he not a right to vote wrong? If a man has a right to choose his wife, has he not a right to choose wrong? I have a right to express the opinion which I am now setting down; but I should hesitate to make the controversial claim that this proves the opinion to be right.”
Watching AKA Jane Roe, the new FX documentary by Nick Sweeney (on FX and FX on Hulu), the only thing I felt for Norma McCorvey was sadness. She claims to have been used, willingly, by both sides of the American abortion debate. Those who are interviewed confirm, sometimes with hesitation, those claims.
It is the fundamental crisis of every life: in its beginning is the beginning of its end. Every relationship, every project; everything that is built, created, or born has within it the seeds of its own death. In Light from Light (2019, for rent here), it is like a refrain: everything ends.
If you spent any amount of time in what used to be called “Christian Bookstores,” you might have seen—in the alcoves with the cassette and CD demo listening stations—two-column posters that said “Try If You Like,” listing “secular” bands on one side and sound-alike “Christian” bands on the other.
Two weeks ago, when I wrote about The Seventh Seal, I had one kind of response to it. Kyle Smith (and his commenters) at National Review had a very different response. Over the past year, people have had strikingly opposite reviews of movies like Joker, The Irishman, A Hidden Life, and Parasite. No doubt preference and taste account for some of those differences. Probably the egalitarian and democratic nature of the internet accounts for a few more (as “reviewing” movies is not limited to experts). When it comes to classic movies—cult or otherwise—some of it is inevitably nostalgia. But in terms of my own feelings about movies, I am more and more convinced that current circumstances play a determinative role in the experience of watching something.
In Georges Bernanos’ 1926 novel Under the Sun of Satan (Sous le soleil de Satan), Mr Malorthy is described as knowing “very little about that superior form of cheek which the clever call cynicism.” Today cynicism seems like just about the only stance left for anyone to take. There is very little room, it seems, for the sincere and the unironic.