The women of Asghar Farhadi’s (اصغر فرهادی) films
The women of Asghar Farhadi’s (اصغر فرهادی) films
It is not a journalist’s job to protect us from the ugly facts. Neither is it his job to protect the sensitive from the painful truth or anyone, really, from anything.
In fact, speaking more broadly, it is not a journalist’s job to make the world a better place, to ensure our right thinking, or to defend the virtuous politicians that sophisticates like himself voted for while excoriating the evildoers elected by those country rubes on the other side. It is not his job to do good or be kind or be wise. The idea that any of this is a journalist’s job is a fallacy that seems to have infected the trade in the 1970s, when idealistic highbrows began to replace the Janes and Joes who knew a good story when they heard one.
Because that’s the journalist’s job: the story. His only job: to tell the whole story straight.
In the greater scheme of things, Williams’ suicide is a small story, but it is part of a bigger story: the story of our country and our world. That story unfolds only slowly, and no one knows what wisdom it will ultimately reveal. The best we can do is tell each chapter whole and true, without piety or fear or favor."
I would just like to take this moment to say that that is the biggest bunch of self-serving, self-aggrandizing, falsely noble bullshit I have read in a long time. “The story of our country and our world” my eye.
The details of Robin Williams’s suicide are no more relevant to “our country and our world” than the details of anyone else’s suicide. If journalists have some moral obligation to “tell each chapter whole and true,” they’re leaving a great many chapters wholly untold, and indeed unacknowledged.
But that’s the nature of the beast, isn’t it? All the stories can’t be told, so all of us who are in the business of writing have to choose. And when journalists like Klavan choose to write about exactly how Robin Williams took his own life, are we really supposed to believe that he does so out of some high-minded devotion to “the story of our country and our world”? People have a perverse and often malicious interest in the sufferings of celebrities and will pay to read about them. They won’t pay to read about a worn-out junkie who deliberately overdoses in a cheap apartment in the San Fernando Valley. Let’s at least be honest about that.
If Klavan wants to write “without piety,” then he should start by ceasing to be so piously sanctimonious about his own motives. (via ayjay)
Well said, ayjay — and you hit on something there that is so important. Choice. Curation of detail is literally what journalism is. Anyone can sit around with a microphone, it’s asking the right questions and piecing together relevant answers into a narrative that constitutes the creation of, you know, news. “Telling the story straight” is not a thing. (Have we not collectively grown out of that yet?) But regardless, it’s not even a good thing to strive for. It removes human judgment, as if inclusion of details on suicide were a neutral choice in a field where there are fundamentally no neutral choices.
“More girls should join boys’ teams so it could be a tradition and it wouldn’t be so special.” - 13-year-old Mo’Ne Davis, the 18th girl to play in the Little League World Series in its 68-year history, the FIRST girl to throw a Little League World Series SHUTOUT. Her fastball? 70 MILES PER HOUR. #throwlikeagirl #BlackGirlsROCK
I’m in print!
My article on Native American representation in young-adult fiction is in the September/October 2014 issue of The American Conservative, which landed in subscribers’ mailboxes today. It will come out from behind the paywall sometime over the next month or so, at which point I will be sure to share it so everyone can read it. I can’t wait to share it with you — this is huge for me personally, as being published in print in my favorite publication is a major life goal accomplished. But it’s also important to me for a more significant reason. Like I said in a post last week, the people at TAC completely redefined conservatism to me, and their willingness to publish articles like this is perfectly characteristic of that. They care, not just on a distant policy level but a serious personal level, about American identities. They care about histories more than history. They care about alternative and underrepresented viewpoints. They have done wonders for me professionally, sure — but even more personally.
I’m looking forward to sharing the article with you, and to hearing your thoughts on this beautiful burgeoning genre. And for now, just smiling a lot.
About Elly | dir. Asghar Farhadi (2009)
Anónimo ha dicho: What does Conservativism mean to you?
Hey, anon. Thanks for the question, and for waiting so long for an answer. I’ve been trying to answer this question myself for much longer, believe me.
This summer I got a really good education in the subject while working at The American Conservative. (Yesterday was my last day there.) The people at TAC helped me scrape out the cobwebs around a school of thought I respect a lot more now than I used to. Conservatism once was a euphemism for an American party line to me. Now I understand it to be a worldview and a self-conception based largely in values that I share, but oriented toward ends I do not.
— B.D. McClay voices the same complaint I had about Orange Is the New Black: it’s a good show that could be great if it took religion (and class, actually) as seriously as it takes race and gender.
My last post as an intern at The American Conservative digs into the decades of policy and wider national issues behind the events of this week in Ferguson, Missouri.
Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel,
unto all that are carried away captives,
whom I have caused to be carried away
from Jerusalem unto Babylon:
Build ye houses, and dwell in them;
and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them;
take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters;
and take wives for your sons,
and give your daughters to husbands,
that they may bear sons and daughters;
that ye may be increased there, and not diminished.
And seek the peace of the city
whither I have caused you to be carried away captives,
and pray unto the Lord for it:
for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.
Jewish history gives today’s Christians an alternative to cultural secession, Samuel Goldman writes in TAC:
The emphasis on securing peace through ordinary life does not absolve the exiles of their responsibility to remain holy. But theirs is to be a holiness based on upright life rather than the independence of a homogeneous community. Reassuring those who feared that they could not continue their relationship with God in exile, God explains, “ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” The Babylonian captivity is thus the origin of Judaism as a law-based religion that can be practiced anywhere, rather than a sacrificial cult focused on the sacred temple.
The piety that God encourages, therefore, can be practiced by ordinary people living ordinary lives under difficult circumstances. God enjoins the captives not only to live in Babylon, but also to live in partnership with Babylon. Without assimilating, they are to lay down roots, multiply, and contribute to the good of the greater society.
Today in 1898, hostilities ceased between Spain and the United States, effectively ending the Spanish-American War. The Spanish-American War was the most overtly imperialistic war in U.S. history, and a key historical reminder of imperialism’s consequences.
Ted Galen Carpenter recalled the war in 2012 amid calls for military action in Syria:
Much has been written about the role of the so-called Yellow Press—the Hearst and Pulitzer newspaper chains—in producing highly biased and inflammatory accounts that led the United States into war. But influential members of Congress served as willing allies of that effort. Both President William McKinley and his influential political adviser, businessman Mark Hanna, were reluctant to take the country into war. Pro-war agitators had more of an impact on congressional opinion.
As in the lead up to the War of 1812, there was a major gap between the issues hawks stressed and what appeared to be their real motives. During the mid-and-late 1890s, the Yellow Press and its congressional allies focused on the brutal treatment that Spanish authorities meted out to inhabitants of Cuba, one of the handful of colonies remaining in Madrid’s once vast empire. That treatment was indeed harsh, but it was no coincidence that the most vocal advocates of U.S. support for Cuba’s rebel forces were also advocates of U.S. imperialism. Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge asserted that the sympathies of the “generous, liberty-loving” American people were “with the Cubans in their struggle for freedom.” He added that Americans would “welcome any action on the part of the United States to put an end to the terrible state of things existing there.”
But just as the emphasis on the British practice of impressment and the Redcoats’ illegal outposts on U.S. territory served as a fig leaf for the less noble goal to seize Canada, the focus on the Spanish authorities’ atrocities in Cuba concealed a growing desire to seize Spain’s colonies in the Caribbean and elsewhere to increase the reach of U.S. power, especially naval power. To the cheers of congressional warhawks, the main targets once war erupted were Spanish installations in the Philippines and Puerto Rico, neither of which had much relevance to Madrid’s behavior in Cuba.
American forces quickly crushed the decrepit Spanish navy and army units, and the United States acquired the far-flung colonies that Lodge and other imperialists so desired. But the aftermath was not exactly pleasant. Not only did the U.S. victory lead to a prolonged, bloody insurrection by pro-independence forces in the Philippines, but the new U.S. territorial holdings entangled the Republic in an assortment of headaches over the long term in both the Caribbean and East Asia.
Those experiences should be kept in mind as McCain, Graham, Lieberman, and other congressional hawks seek to push the Obama administration into war against Syria and Iran.
Some things never change.
SUCEDE que me canso de ser hombre.
Sucede que entro en las sastrerías y en los cines
marchito, impenetrable, como un cisne de fieltro
navegando en un agua de origen y ceniza.
El olor de las peluquerías me hace llorar a gritos.
Sólo quiero un descanso de piedras o de lana,
sólo quiero no ver establecimientos ni jardines,
ni mercaderías, ni anteojos, ni ascensores.
Sucede que me canso de mis pies y mis uñas
y mi pelo y mi sombra.
Sucede que me canso de ser hombre.
Sin embargo sería delicioso
asustar a un notario con un lirio cortado
o dar muerte a una monja con un golpe de oreja.
ir por las calles con un cuchillo verde
y dando gritos hasta morir de frío.
No quiero seguir siendo raíz en las tinieblas,
vacilante, extendido, tiritando de sueño,
hacia abajo, en las tripas mojadas de la tierra,
absorbiendo y pensando, comiendo cada día.
No quiero para mí tantas desgracias.
No quiero continuar de raíz y de tumba,
de subterráneo solo, de bodega con muertos
ateridos, muriéndome de pena.
Por eso el día lunes arde como el petróleo
cuando me ve llegar con mi cara de cárcel,
y aúlla en su transcurso como una rueda herida,
y da pasos de sangre caliente hacia la noche.
Y me empuja a ciertos rincones, a ciertas casas húmedas,
a hospitales donde los huesos salen por la ventana,
a ciertas zapaterías con olor a vinagre,
a calles espantosas como grietas.
Hay pájaros de color de azufre y horribles intestinos
colgando de las puertas de las casas que odio,
hay dentaduras olvidadas en una cafetera,
que debieran haber llorado de vergüenza y espanto,
hay paraguas en todas partes, y venenos, y ombligos.
Yo paseo con calma, con ojos, con zapatos,
con furia, con olvido,
paso, cruzo oficinas y tiendas de ortopedia,
y patios donde hay ropas colgadas de un alambre:
calzoncillos, toallas y camisas que lloran
lentas lágrimas sucias.
— Walking around - Neruda (via iaminthepause)