not in our stars, but in ourselves
1. Looking for some literary Halloween ideas? The Paris Review has got you, baby.
2. In genuinely spooky, breaking news, Grantland is shutting down. Wait, no, let me rephrase: ESPN is shutting down Grantland. Fuck yo’ couch, ESPN. Between this and The Dissolve, um, dissolving earlier this year, 2015 has been very unkind to online publications of intelligent, engaging, funny content. I guess my dream is dead. Do any of you know anyone at The A.V. Club? Yes? Cool, hit me up.
3. Speaking of! Here’s a great little essay by Kyle Daly about effective horror movies rejecting armchair psychoanalysis as a way to “explain” why someone or something is evil. It doesn’t work in real life, so why would it work in fiction?
Academics who study conspiracy theory contend that the theorists cling to ideas like mass shootings really being false flags dreamed up by a government looking to seize guns, because people desperately want, sometimes need, to believe in a rational, ordered universe. It’s less terrible for a disturbingly large number of people to believe that the federal government routinely engages in vast, fascist conspiracies than to recognize that people can do terrible, monstrous things for no good reason. Nothing is scarier than the idea that there are terrors in the world that can’t be framed or understood in any simple or rational way. Truly great works of horror understand that.
I read an essay (or a chapter in a book? it was all so long ago) in uni about the impossibility of predicting how child abuse victims will process that abuse as they grow up, and how it will affect them. The author (really wish I could remember the title and the author’s name, sorry sorry sorry) said it wasn’t ever a clear case of cause and effect; it was more like the weather, where one event could lead to any number of difficult-to-forecast outcomes. Anyway. Same with characters in film and literature: they’re all the more interesting if they’re not reduced down to a single reason they are who they are. It’s like Hannibal says: “Nothing happened to me. I happened.”
4. Since it’s nearly Halloween and all, here is Hark! A Vagrant‘s extremely accurate summary of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown.”
5. I didn’t watch this week’s GOP debate, either. I got drunk and watched Brett Ratner’s objectively terrible Red Dragon instead. My time was better spent that way. But the real Jeb (Lund) watched, and he wrote this for The Guardian, and he’s right:
Both Paul and Bush should just drop out of the race, but there’s no reason to expect that they will, because dropping out would be the most practical outcome. If the Republican primary process were governed by the rigors of making any sense, no part of it as currently constructed would exist. Up is down, high is low, water is dry, we wear shoes on our heads, hamburgers eat people and everyone can and will run for president forever.
With Bush there’s some small reason to keep going even if he can’t win. Overlooking the fact that it has to gnaw at Bush’s ambition to forsake the presidency after his idiot brother had the job, a lot of people have sunk a lot of money into Jeb! 2016. Those people probably want a return on their investment, and Jeb! probably feels some obligation to give them a little effort for the cash. Meanwhile, Rand Paul has given every indication over the span of his career that there is no privilege of which he believes himself undeserving, so the process of matching his self-abnegation to the American people’s massive disinterest cannot happen overnight.
They’ll keep running, because they can, because nobody will tell them to stop, and because they don’t really know, in their heart of hearts, that it’s over and has been since the first debate.
And so they will go on, as we all must, heedless of the consequences, locked into a struggle unbounded by time or sanity, doomed to another five months of the same arguments, the same peevishness, the same victimization, the same existential threats, the same unreflective boasting, the same rage, the same, the same, the same. We have never had so much of the same for so long, and it will never leave. We have always been the caretakers here.
Boats beating ceaselessly against the current, etc., etc….
6. Lund also wrote about Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi Committee hearing, and how the GOP essentially rolled out the red carpet for her presidency. It’s funny: I posted that article on Facebook, and a number of my friends seemed to think I was doing so in the spirit of “yeah! go Hillary!!!” Nope. If we didn’t consistently elect fucking morons to “serve” in the legislative branch of the United States government, then perhaps Hillary would have been forced to answer some real questions about her warmongering as Secretary of State. But no, that would require piecing together information and drawing logical conclusions; and, as we all know, reality has a well-known liberal bias.
7. Yeah, yeah, I’m way behind on my dumb movie project. I’ll catch up. Don’t worry.
8. Final spooooooky link for you, all about the Grand Guignol Theatre in Paris. Consider this your trigger warning if you’re squeamish about blood and any kind of violence. Here’s a parting shot, though:
With the onset of the war in 1939, and the German occupation of Paris just a year later, the theater never really recovered. By the end of the war, the world had apparently seen enough horror and sadism. In a TIME article in 1962, the year the Grand Guignol would close, the theater’s final director, Charles Noonan, explained the lack of audience. “We could never equal Buchenwald,” he said. “Before the war, everyone felt that what was happening onstage was impossible. Now we know that these things, and worse, are possible in reality.”
What a world.