One of the few online blogs I subscribe to is “Brain Pickings Weekly” by Maria Popova. (Full disclosure: she listed The Power of Film in her piece, “(Almost) Everything You Need to Know about Culture in 10 Books” in 2011, so I was first attracted to her site by self-interest, but I’ve stayed a subscriber because she is always interesting.)
Today, her free newsletter discusses a new book by Daniel Pink in the article, “Ambiverts, Problem-Finders, and the Surprising Secrets of Selling Your Ideas.” There are several good ideas there for creative people.
The piece is at http://www.brainpickings.org/. It’s the third article on today’s page.
Character is most deeply revealed in moments of decision that produce change.
I think this is a principle of life, too.
Change can occur when the character makes a decision to do something different than what they’ve been doing before (like seizing control of their destiny, for example). Or the change can take place in the audience, when they recognize something they hadn’t known about the character, so that they change their attitude towards the character or their conception of them. Aristotle called this “Anagnorisis,” Notice that the change in the character can take place simultaneously with the audience. There are significant examples of this in Casablanca, Citizen Kane, The Godfather, and, Apocalypse Now, to name just a few. Read more
The media are full of commentary on the National Rifle Association’s claim that film, tv, and video games are one of the main factors behind violence in our society. At the same time, there is a lot of commentary on Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and not only the issue of violence in this and his other work, but his propensity to use “the ‘N” word.”
Controversies about the effects of drama have been with us at least since Plato and Aristotle, and any argument that continues to be debated for centuries suggests to me that there will never be a resolution because people frequently talk past one another or focus on different facets of the diamond-like structure at the center of the debate. Read more
When Psycho came out in 1959, a teenager killed his grandmother, and at the trial tried coping that old plea used in ecclesiastical and civilian courts for centuries, “The Devil made me do it.” Seeing Hitchcock’s film, the killer claimed, made him so mentally deranged he was compelled to kill his grandmother. His defense failed.
When the National Rifle Association’s Wayne Lapierre spoke for 25 minutes on Friday about the mass murder of children and teachers in a school in Newtown, Connecticut, much of his time was devoted to answering his own rhetorical question, “isn’t fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?” Various politicians echoed Lapierre’s accusations. But then, some politicians always have.For the last 2,500 years, the most popular and memorable dramatic stories have tended to be filled with sex and violence. Some people have always been offended by this, and periodically throughout its history, theaters have been condemned, censored, and shut down as a result. Other people have argued that, rather than being a danger to individuals and society, the depiction of these deep human impulses on stage and screen produces “catharsis.” Read more
As we approach Christmas, it is timely to consider that one of the most important characteristics of heroes is that they are usually intermediaries.
Lincoln, with his all-encompassing mission of bringing two battling regions and two races together into a single union is clearly an intermediary. Oscar Schindler, who was one of the rare members of his tribe to develop sufficient compassion to save the lives of those he could from the other side. T.E. Lawrence, repeatedly went between not only two great tribes, the British and the Arabs, but also went between the tribes of Arabs themselves, inspiring them (unsuccessfully) to have a vision of their own potential as a single entity. Gandhi went between the British who controlled his country and the great mass of impotent citizens who needed someone to lead them. Pi Patel in Life of Pi learns how to cross between the human world he is at first trapped in to the animal world and ultimately into a spirit world. Read more