not in our stars, but in ourselves
1. It’s Veteran’s Day, so there’s lots of crass branding and one-day sales and lots of other horseshit all over the place – so we can pat ourselves on the back and pretend we really care about veterans, when that’s demonstrably not the case. Anyway, most people here in the U.S. are enjoying a day off, so maybe read this thing about veterans on death row. The article itself is worth reading, and makes good points, but I thought one of the comments was – amazingly enough – even more insightful. In response to one person saying that vets shouldn’t be treated as “common criminals” if they commit a crime when they come back home, someone calling himself TheCarsonUltimatum responded:
While agreeing with the overall point, I’m wary about these divisions in it. We seriously need to ask: why do veterans deserve unique treatment? Not that they don’t deserve it (they do!), but asking that question will tell us a lot about what our social priorities should be. Obligations to veterans are not just a pension for their service, they are about society making itself better. We know that youth in the violence-plagued inner cities suffer PTSD, have limited opportunities for social advancement, and suffer crumbling infrastructure and bureaucratic neglect. But, when they commit crime they are caught in your category of “those who didn’t contribute anything positive to America.” For me, the most conservative aspect of veterans rights discussions is “Treat veterans better.” The more radical aspect of the politics is “Make America a better place to justify their sacrifice.” This means fostering opportunities for all, providing the best health care for any and all trauma (serving in war or living with gang violence in Chicago), and getting rid of silly punishments like the death penalty.
I think that’s a pretty good point. One wonders what pro-death penalty politicians who routinely genuflect to the military industrial complex – sorry, to veterans – would do if you were to tell them that 10% of inmates on death row are veterans. It’s almost as tantalizing a thought exercise as asking “pro-life” (anti-woman, I mean) politicians whether they’d kill Baby Hitler, and hearing them respond in the affirmative.
2. Once more, I did not watch the GOP debate last night, because my patience for that particular pageant is non-existent. Fortunately for me, however, Jeb Lund watched, and wrote a nice, scathing little recap for Rolling Stone. Here’s a sample:
Carson himself now defies categorization. Describing his answers as naive and “something you hear in junior high” insults an educational institution teeming with spontaneous aggression and fervid masturbators. His replies invariably start out sounding like something printed in a book with hard cardboard pages toddlers can chew on with impunity and end up as something orbiting a distant planet. It is impossible to diagram the connective tissue between a Carson idea and conclusion, because causation is dependent on things existing in reality. Ben Carson not only doesn’t know the answer, he may not be able to recognize most of the nouns in any question.
He believes that the United States became the world’s number-one economic power by 1876 because “we had an atmosphere that encouraged entrepreneurial risk-taking and capital investment,” apparently unlike all the other countries. He claims that “putting the special ops people in [Syria] is better than not having them there because they — that’s why they’re called special ops, they’re actually able to guide some of the other things that we’re doing there.” We can also defeat jihadists by making them look like losers by “destroying their caliphate.” Oh, so only that? OK. Somewhere in there, he talked about a general telling him, “Outside of Anbar, there’s a big energy field.” He probably meant a field above a lot of untapped oil or natural gas, but you never know with Ben Carson. It could be a giant invisible barrier to trap a gas being or imprison a false god who will then take over the starship Enterprise. It could be the sort of thing our phasers are totally ineffective against.
Stunning. A few of my extended family members and their friends are the kinds of people to whom Carson appeals, but I don’t think they watched the debate either; I’d be surprised if they planned to vote, honestly. Pity. I was hoping to see if they thought he sounded like he was making sense. Could have been funny.
3. Speaking of funny: “poverbs.” He’s an Arrested Development character come to life. I’m convinced of it. Can we get him a talk show after he drops out of the race? I’d love to watch his talk show. It would be mesmerizing.
4. I’m telling all of you (because there are, like, so many of you) in order to hold myself accountable: I will be going to yoga on a weekly basis. Since I started getting more serious about lifting weights and running, my body has been happy about the whole being-strong thing, and very unhappy about the whole stiff-muscles thing. When I get up from the couch, it takes a couple of seconds of legitimate hobbling before I can walk somewhat normally. Additionally, since my injury last March, I’ve had incredible soreness and tightness in one of my muscles. On a friend’s advice, I’ve been taking a magnesium supplement, and that’s helped quite a bit; but what it really needs is regular, focused stretching out. My gym is wonderful, but their yoga classes are all either too advanced for what I’d be able to do at this point, or they’re at a time when I can’t go. What I need is yoga specifically for athletes/gym rats – and another gym near my apartment offers just such a thing. There’s yoga for lifters four nights a week, and yoga for runners one night a week. The latter is a little bit easier for my schedule, so I’m going to start doing that this week. If it seems prudent, I’ll two classes a week. Hold me to it, reader(s). It would be so nice to be able to touch my toes easily again.
5. If you think you’ve ever seen anything better than this, you’re lying to yourself:
6. As a palate cleanser after the parade of old white dudes in Bunker Hill, I’ve been reading Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist. It’s good, but it does feel like a series of blog posts – not essays, really. If someone offered me a publishing deal to put my blog into book form, I’m sure I’d take it…but, well, I hope the essays get more substantial as I get deeper into the book.
7. This probably deserves its own entry, but I’d rather not subject myself to the extensive range of emotions a full-length post would call up: Bright Wall/Dark Room is doing an all-Hitchcock issue, and RogerEbert.com posted one of the essays about Vertigo. Lauren Wilford writes a much more sophisticated, heart-rending version of something I’ve been saying for years (see my crummy post about Vertigo and my crummy-but-academic paper about Poe and Hitchcock, which hits on that theme as well). Read Wilford’s entire essay, which gave me several lumps in my throat, especially here:
It’s dangerous to be compared to a partner’s former loves. At best, you’ll come out feeling superior; at worst, you can find yourself spiraling into obsessive research, trying to find out exactly where you stack up amid evidence of his taste. Knowing too much about what your partner likes can drive you mad—like finding his browser history full of pornography starring actresses who look a lot like each other and nothing like you.
“Vertigo” takes this anxiety to a twisted new level. Judy knows exactly what Scottie’s ex was like, because she played her. She knows every inch of the painful distance between her real self and his ideal.
It is Judy’s fate to remind men of someone else.When Scottie admits that he is attracted to Judy because she reminds him of Madeleine, Judy replies, “It’s not very complimentary.” But she clings to the hope that she can convince him to love her as she is. When she decides to go out with Scottie as herself, she goes to her closet to pick a dress. She pulls out the gray suit she wore as Madeleine, seems to consider it— and then buries it in the back of the closet. She is tainted by the knowledge of his desires. There are no unrestrained, innocent choices anymore. She can put on that purple frock and pray he’ll be appeased, but that gray suit will haunt her. When a woman in the suit walks past their table at dinner, Scottie turns his head immediately, not even bothering to hide his attraction. Judy slumps, crestfallen. There’s no use.
“Vertigo” is a film about fake female madness and real male madness. Judy’s “possession” as Madeleine in the first half of the film is benign, compelling, and carefully controlled. On the contrary, Scottie’s obsession with turning Judy into Madeleine is unhinged and threatening. Judy’s chameleon allure is a double-edged sword. In the first half of the film, she puts on the Madeleine costume to gain power over Scottie. In the second half, Scottie exerts his power by demanding the Madeleine costume in exchange for his love. When you know how to realize a man’s fantasies—to tap into his precise desires—you might be surprised to find you’ve pushed yourself as a drug and created a demanding addict.
Been there, done that. 0/10, would not recommend.