I dedicate the following works to this period of a sorry and absurd situation. So many around us do not understand the world has changed overnight in three months and will never be the same. We better start getting some solace in our minds from books, films, music, anything that will go beyond this blind alley of a no entry and no exit way in which we are trapped on the four sides, in the center, and nadir-wise as much as zenith-wise. We are in this Mayan universe dreaming of freedom when there is none. If a simple state-dependent and state-respectful judge signs a warrant you will not even know about, your telephone can be accessed and all your calls and a lot more can be given to the proper services that will take care of our health. If a simple state-dependent and state-respectful judge signs a warrant you will not even know about, the proper services will access your bank accounts, all of them, and know about every single operation you have conducted or received on them. If a simple state-dependent and state-respectful judge signs a warrant you will not even know about, all your administrative files — and I will say both private and public — will be entrusted to the proper services for them to be scrutinized, analyzed and victimized, and you along with them.
So, get yourselves tucked in your bed, and whistle in your mind a piece of music you like, and plunge, dive, go under, a lot more than six feet, to these imaginary worlds that only exist on media that are not real life.
You will find a friend there, and an enemy too, and you will be able once more to meet your friends and enemies in the pages and frames, in the decibels and pixels of these works. Have a good trip to the other side of the moon that only the Chinese have visited.
BBC — THE COMPLETE INSPECTOR LYNLEY MYSTERIES — 2001–2008
The mysteries are tricky and intricate and at times perverse and bleak. But they are always solved, except maybe once when a fake solution was accepted. Inspector Lynley is maybe posh, as The Guardian said, since he is a Lord by birth and practices policework as a profession, one of these few professions a hereditary lord can practice. There are very few.
His assistant is a woman who is quite different from him but the two together are a funny pair more or less always staying within acceptable irregularities according to police ethics. But Lynley is going to the crime with his impulsive belief and conviction, whereas Barbara Havers goes to it with her empathy. When dealing with criminals and psychopaths, empathy is a weak point since the criminals and psychopaths just want this empathy so that they can play on it and manipulate the police, the situation they are in. The last case is typical of that. Two criminals absolutely equal in horror and viciousness and they play differently on the two cops to capture somewhere the empathy or the hostility they need to save their fate, at least if they have any future fate. They seem to think so.
But in all these cases, it looks like some salient features are coming out like the fact many of these cases concern children or teenagers or very young men or women becoming the victims of people older than they are. But in the last two seasons, they seemed to have come to some kind of a dead end. The first paramour of Inspector Lynley moved out of the police after a dramatic accident that killed her baby-to-be. One season later she came back under the name of another actress but to be purely shot dead by some Bosnian woman trying to shoot the man who killed her whole family in Bosnia. So, Lynley had two wives in the series, and in both cases, they ended dead or at least estranged after the death of their unborn child.
There is maybe slightly too much of this family business and maybe not enough of the crime side of the cases. The criminals are too often psychopaths who do not have any depth. They are just psychopaths, and that is the way the cases are dealt with which is the problem. It is always some technical connection between a crime and a criminal, but no real exploration of the motivations. The first wife of Lynley in the series was a profiler but her profiling was very dry, as dry as a fingerprint on a weapon or some DNA on a glass. You could do better than that, even when you are the Earl of Asherton. The empathy side of Barbara Havers is better but it never has the upper hand.
That’s OK if you are only looking for some entertainment because the social or cultural depth is rather shallow, gliding over things as if they were hawks and then pouncing onto the prey as if the prey were a juicy piece of running rat or rodent.
AMAZON PRIME — TREADSTONE — 2019
A simple series directly from the Cold War, actually 1973 Budapest6Berlin-Moscow-Bucharest, transferred to modern time, slightly before Trump’s phenomenal anti-Chinese paranoia, but integrating a North Korean insane tale about I do not exactly understand what kind of recuperation of some old Soviet nuclear warheads. This is, of course, the typical western psychosis that cannot accept that after all Americans are not the only human, meaning intelligent, people or beings on this earth; The Russians can also be swift. The Chinese can definitely be smart. And even the North Korean can be civilized.
The obsession with the plotting power of all human beings who cannot ever survive but by plotting against other human beings or by counterplotting against some other human beings. And that is slightly schizophrenic, and it definitely makes us slightly doubtful about the sanity of this western world. And MAGA people would answer without any doubt, without any hesitation, without even any humor, sarcasm, irony, or dubitative smile, « But that’s obvious, isn’t it? How can you doubt it? You must be under the influence of some enemy force! »
The action though is too brutal to be realistic and credible. Too much mustard on the steak kills the taste of the meat and you only have the mechanical work of your teeth on the tasteless flesh swimming in mustard. I guess some TV series directors forget that the audience knows about stage make-up and special effects and stunts-people, men and women alike. The standard audience can only take such a level of violence as realistic if this audience is dreaming that violence every day and every night as the sole objective it should be for their lives.
Enjoy the action, the violence, the blood, and the drinks. The actors definitely drink too much, even if we know it is nothing but tea or water, even when it is vodka, i.e. small water.
BBC — DUBLIN MURDERS — 2019
An interesting series because it is a lot more than a detective story. For sure the police they show us in Dublin, Ireland, is not particularly glorious. The two main cops, Rob Reilly and Cassie Maddox find themselves in two cases that are reminiscent in some ways of an older case twenty years earlier or so. The trick — and we know it from the very start — is that Rob Reilly is, in fact, the kid Adam who was one of three kids in the early 1980s, two of whom disappeared completely, and the third one moved to England and disappeared from the scene. At the same time, their drama happened when they witnessed one night in the woods three bullies raping a girl. But 20 years later or so, the boy who had disappeared in England with his family and everything, Adam, is back as Rob Reilly. Adam has become Rob Reilly, and he finds himself in charge one of the new cases, that of a girl assassinated in the same woods as those where the rape scene he had witnessed with his two friends twenty years before or so had taken place.
A girl more or less disappears and is found killed on some altar in the same woods as in the early 80s. Later on, they find the body of a young woman known as Lexie stabbed to death in some ruins. Both modern cases are solved, and the killers are surprisingly not those we could have thought, but you’ll have to watch the series to know.
What is more interesting is the way all that is shown in a hazy and dark light. In the early 80s three kids witnessed a rape, two disappeared on the spot or nearly, and the third one was found clinging to a tree trunk crying, his T-shirt slashed and with blood that is not his. We will never know what happened to the first two, and we know about Adam. He was sent to a boarding school in England and he only came back to Ireland twenty off years later as an adult to be a detective in Dublin, with the secret intention to find out what happened to his two friends.
Adam is depicted systematically when he was a kid as someone who wanted to be up to his two friends but never could. We do not know exactly if the two friends took advantage of his inability to follow them at the proper pace so that they could bully him in a friendly way, and so he could remain their friend. Or if they tried to get rid of him by discouraging him by losing him in the woods. Or if they had more vicious intentions. Typical very young teenagers who are friendlily cruel with one another. Adam’s case is made worse by the decision of his mother to send him to a boarding school in England at 11 or 12, cutting him away from his home, country, friends, etc.
The second thing is the very graphic depiction of the three bullies: one is a chief in the triplet, and two are more or less weak followers. In modern times the girl who is assassinated is one daughter of one of the bullies. He has three daughters, an elder one who was the cause of his marriage since in Ireland at the time it was impossible to abort a child and it was normal for the two kids who got in such a situation to get married, and they did. Despite the fact these parents got two twins, later on, they could not give their first daughter any love and the mother clearly told her she was not wanted. One of the two twins is a promising ballet dancer and is to move in the fall to a dancing school in England. The mother is hysterical, and she is disabled by her guilt. She feels guilty about her life — which is pathetic and it is a little bit too late to change it — and about her children, the eldest daughter she hates, and the twins are not able, even the dancer, to make up for the forced and unhappy marriage of hers. The father is just gutless and submissive, doing just the right and proper things, which is, of course, the wrong thing to do with teenagers, and even with his eldest daughter who is taking over the place of her mother, making her mother’s problems even worse.
The killing of the daughter becomes a nasty family affair in which of course one boy from outside will volunteer to take the blame. The older episode will not find a solution. We will never know what happened to the two missing boys, and how can we know since, of the three bullies of the older case, one is the father of the murdered girl in modern times, a spineless pathetic and pitiful man. The second they finally find is a derelict vagrant more or less homeless man lost in his alienation, though not completely because he is one rare person who recognized Adam at first sight in Rob Reilly, who loses his self-control completely. The third one, the main bully and the rapist of the early 1980s has completely disappeared and we assume he is the one who did what had to be done to eliminate the witnesses, at least two witnesses, and traumatize the surviving one into complete oblivion (it is called PTSS in psychiatry). The two weaklings who are found still there are maybe taking advantage of the disappearance of the main bully to cover their backside, but we will not know.
The second modern times’ case is the assassination of Lexie. With a ridiculous undercover operation that did not turn properly, they discover the truth and the identity of the killer, once again a weakling in a group of five, reduced to four by the murder. Lexie was pregnant from one of the three young men there, but it is another one, the weak one who did the bad job for reasons that are so evanescent and transient that it shows the young man was weak to the point of being insane and then losing control of himself. That is so perverse, and normal at the same time, yet corrugated as a vision of society provided by the series.
Cassie Maddox gets nearly killed in that undercover operation and has to kill the one who menaces her who has committed no crime but he was the authority (the chief or the bully of the band) of the five young people and he could not accept his authority to be questioned by Cassie Maddow, once she had been revealed not to be Lexie, as she pretended, and he could have turned criminal because of that. The result is that he turned dead.
In this vision, there is absolutely no hope. This society is doomed to lying, killing, bullying, covering up, dissimulating, etc., and the list would be two or three pages of a simple thesaurus with words that all mean the truth is never told or permitted to come out.
GREEN BOOK — 2019
Entertaining for sure, but slightly more than that. How can an Italian New Yorker with probably no more than an average high school degree in his distant past, and in his pocket next to his gun, married to this gun as well as to his wife, and with two children, but a lot more bullets, though he will only fire two in the film, become the driver and friend of a Black musician, a pianist actually, but also a composer and a few other things like the fact he has a Ph.D. in psychology and he is a virtuoso pianist in classical music though he only performs what a Black musician can perform, i.e. jazzy slightly bluesy swing music with Chopin’s virtuoso qualities. And what’s more, he is slightly gay, and definitely wealthy because successful. The next hurdle is to be the white driver of a Black passenger and cross with him in the back seat for him to perform the whole Deep South. Tony Lip was mostly a muscular worker and his latest job was a bouncer in a New York music hall, and bouncing he did right from the beginning grasping full hug a rowdy customer, throwing him out of the place directly on the sidewalk and finishing him with a good old punching session when the drunk trouble-maker started expressing his desire to go back in.
So, there he is touring Dr. Don Shirley for two months from New York City to the deepest south you can imagine. You will definitely remember what it was in 1962 and if you do not remember because you were not alive yet, you will try to imagine and you will disbelieve that kind of southern discomfort racism and segregation were at the time, despite John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert. You will be able to compare how southern cops dealt with a white driver and a Black passenger in 1962 with the similar incident up north in December of the same year with snow everywhere and they are stopped on the road to be told they have a flat in the back and the northern cop will help them change the tire on the day before Christmas.
The most interesting event was when in the big white-only music hall where Dr. Don Shirley is supposed to perform for the last time in the evening Dr. Don Shirley is refused entry in the restaurant of the venue because he is Black. Then Tony and Doc decide to go eat in the Black joint down the street and there during a pause of the musicians Dr. Don Shirley gets on the platform and starts playing music on an old music hall straight upright definitely not grand piano, nothing to do with a Steinway super grand piano and he will not perform for the big white-only place. That might have happened, but that was the choice, or no choice at all, for many Black artists at the time: Be Black and Be-Bop in what you perform because a “coon,” as he is called in the film by some of these southern whites, is and will always be a “coon” and he, if not it, better play good old “coon” music and not Chopin. But if they want to make good money, they better play for the whites and their music halls where there is good money, even if they will be underpaid as compared to Miles Davis who is playing whitened Black music.
That was a time when everything was reduced to race, color, and there were only two groups: the whites and the colored, even if this colored side of the world was a real rainbow since white is no color at all as is well-known, but in this human case, white is not necessarily synonymous of bright, light, though tight would rhyme with them very well like in tight-minded. I remember the mother of a white student in North Carolina explaining to me in 1970 that the English teacher of her son, a Black lady, could not even speak English properly since for that teacher her son was “as dumb as my dumb.” So, it’s entertaining and morally boosting in this time of Trumpian epidemic and COVID-19 pandemic. To be the several million victims of two crowned viruses at the same time is brilliantly depressive.
THE REPORT — 2019
This is an essential film in the present situation and time. After 9/11 and with the war in Afghanistan and the War in Iraq, the United States launched themselves and their military personnel into a CIA controlled adventure that could be compared with Mengele’s experiments in Auschwitz. medically and psychologically trained and even graduated people devised from their textbooks directly into Guantanamo the procedure that should give good results. That was plain torture, physical, moral, and psychological. In Abu Ghraib, they even went further in the way to frighten and humiliate prisoners into telling whatever could be deemed interesting. The very first thing that has to be said is that the people who are behind this nightmare, the “thinkers” who think with their twisted perverse sadistic desires and impulses, or the torturers themselves, be they men or women only dealing with male prisoners, who find pleasure, bliss, enjoyment and even ecstasy in this mental perverse onanism, all of them, are deprived of any sense of humility and humanity. It is their vain proud belief that they can do whatever they want on whoever they can put their hands on to avenge 9/11 and to prevent whatever the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were bound to produce. They knew it was useless and ineffective and that even if it were effective it would not be moral or ethical, and it would be a stain on their own psyche and minds. They did it all the same and they were covered by all sorts of politicians and bureaucrats, from the president of The US down to the top-ranking CIA officials and down to some obscure executioners covered by the afore-mentioned absentee masters of ceremony, and these at the lowest level were nothing but executioners since that torture was to bring people so close to death that they would be so frightened and so disoriented that they would talk. And a few actually died with no real statistics to tell us how many.
Senator Dianne Feinstein had to fight for a lot more than five years to get a report written and to have it published on those events. That’s what the film is showing. It is dramatic and sickening to see — and the film is discreet in showing Bush, Obama, and consorts — their nearly impossible mission for one covering and for the other banning such practices that were so deeply ingrained in the American supremacist vanity of so many in the US.
And this is only the past because things now are done a lot more discreetly or via some other agents who are in no way connected to the US. Look at Yemen, look at Syria, look at the Islamic State, look at the Talibans, look at the Iraqi military and police forces, look at the Afghan military and police forces, etc. And look at the drones, and those are American, and how they torture a whole people in Syria, Yemen, and other places, with the fear that they are coming and they might kill one terrorist but they will kill ten innocent civilians. The result is that the terrorists are hidden even better so that the drones won’t come. Survival is a strange bird that is not afraid of any oil-spill in any ocean. To survive many people are ready to do anything that might prevent the cataclysmic drones.
In the present situation, the systematic provocations against China and the probably numerous CIA agents infiltrated in China itself as they were and still are in Hong Kong, all are trying to bring the pandemic after the trade war to a point when and where the US president will be able to retort with force to teach these “goons” a good old military lesson. If you listen to this “bully in chief” the US soon enough will no longer have any Walmart or whatever big retail stores you can imagine, but they will be able to produce a many-million strong army of drones. Boeing planes are grounded, Boeing planes are under scrutiny for sloppy technology, but Boeing drones will multiply and decimate everything and everyone in the world that will dare speak against Boeing. The battle here is to destroy all non-American brands and to only tolerate those foreign brands that will kneel in front of and play obedience to the US president who soon will be forever if you listen to the mermaids singing in the Styx, down in Hades, conducted by the ferry navigator Charon. The French hopping frog Sanofi has a chance if they produce a vaccine for COVID-19 by December 2020 and provide it to Americans first to Keep America Great Again.
Do not believe torturing and war are in the past. The US is engaged in such an adventurous tempting caper that it can get nasty any day. Who cares in the White House that the count of deaths by the end of the month of May will be widely over 100,000 and that unemployment will probably reach 40 million, as long as the US will be ready to use fire and furor, to destroy as they have never done before, except in Tokyo and Hiroshima and Nagasaki, their targets which are North Korea; China and Venezuela. And they keep Iran in store for some entertaining pause. The worst warmongers ever seen in the USA are now in power and preparing to remain there for some more time because nothing serious is standing in front of them, and even so, the contender is just on the same line as for China, North Korea, and Russia. All-out force, power, brutality. They have declared war on one-fourth of humanity.
That’s what this film brings up in your mind when you listen to every single word it contains. And there are many words to be listened to.
DOWNTON ABBEY — THE FILM — 2019
Of course, they are back, and “in one century they will still be there and the Crawleys with them.” (not quite verbatim) The show is brilliant and as rich as expected even if the parade was a little bit short. But this film is catching up on the unfinished business of the series, and there was so much unfinished business.
But today things have changed in so many ways. Brexit is bursting out, exploding the United Kingdom and the COVID-19 pandemic is blowing up our modern life. It is not some nostalgia about trams in York and parade uniforms that will change one iota to it. The world is no longer what it used to be. Regalia and luxury are no longer the targets of most people. They still love parades, but they do not want fair money to be wasted in such useless carnivals and in military operations that lead nowhere like in Iraq and Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria.
The Irish Republic, and Ireland, will be reunited someday soon, and Brexit and the pandemic are the guarantees that it will happen and no one will be able to stop it, just as much as one day Scotland will be an entity by itself who will have its own diplomacy, even if still in some kind of a union with England and Wales, … or not. Just as much as the United Kingdom, or Great Britain more realistically, will still be part of the European Union, maybe on a special arrangement, but they will, because the USA is not the future of Great Britain. They are too selfish, self-centered, and imperialistic.
If we then look at this film, it disappoints me slightly because the series was so deeply concerned by social issues and even the political problem of Ireland and their independence. The film is so far from that social thinking, and that political awareness. The little part about Ireland is insignificant. The attempt to kill the king, from a point of view that is neither clear not neat, is pitiful. The grossly vain and selfish parade with meals, etiquette, a slight rebellion in the house against the servants of the King who are arrogant and not even more talented than anyone else in the local and regular household’s servants, all that is leading nowhere at all.
We do not have one single glimpse into the reality of England or Great Britain or even the United Kingdom, not to mention the British Empire. Just glamor and music. One widow in the Earl’s family who had a daughter from a plebeian man, without it being known, incognito and behind closed curtains, hidden from everyone, and this daughter turned into the maid of the widow, that’s pitiful and pathetic. And the grandmother of the Earl’s family manipulating her disgust about it and making the widow believe there is a good solution within the family and that she will be welcome if she comes back, only for one single reason, to marry the widow’s daughter — and daughter — with the Earl’s Irish Republican plebeian son-in-law to provide him with an estate. It is Machiavellian but totally unethical. Matchmaking is always unethical. It is called arranged marriages in some other circles. At least the two persons here concerned are adults and willing to play the game. But even so…!
And the gay side story is funny but it does not solve the deeply anti-gay attitude of this society, and nostalgia there is beyond any understanding, even if it pretends there was a gay man in the royal household, a servant, of course, nothing else. To be gay was good enough for servants and it could not in any way be a normal orientation for everyone, as if Oscar Wilde’s lover were not an aristocrat, a Lord mind you. At least D.H. Lawrence is more open on the subject than this film, with a real gay relationship between an aristocrat and a plebeian. That makes the whole film sad and far from the powerful truth, the series dealt with at times.
THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD — 2015
Initial Review 27/12/2019, ROMANTIC ROMANCE FOR ROMANTIC PEOPLE
First of all, and above all, it is a black, practically exclusively black movie, with Eatonville as a black incorporated city (I just wonder if that was possible even in the 1920s. In this city, a woman becomes the center of the story. First, she is married at 17, or maybe 16, to an older farmer. She runs away, with no specification about a divorce, and then marries an ambitious and rich black man who creates the city of Eatonville and becomes the hardware store owner and manager and the mayor of the city. He wants his young wife to be obedient and play the game of the mayor’s wife. She does not want that. Her husband dies and she becomes the hardware store owner and manager, with some man in the manager’s position. She elopes with a younger man, Tea Cake, aka Jody, and they go to the Everglades where they mix in some settlement with local Indians. But a hurricane comes, and they do not go away, so they are nearly killed, but manage to survive though Tea Cake is bitten by a rabid dog and will eventually die. Then she goes back home to her hardware store, and to a friend of hers, Phoebe.
That is the drama and the romance is the love story between the woman, Janie Starks, and the man Tea Cake. Since it is exclusively or practically exclusively black and Indian the film does not contain, much about the social, political, racial or ethnic environment, apart from a few, very few, sequences on the position of women in this black society, and it is apparently not interested in it. It is at this social and political, racial, and cultural level bland, very empty.
And yet some elements are marginalized that are essential. Janie was raised by her grandmother in a very strict way because both her mother, the daughter of Janie’s grandmother, and her father abandoned her at birth. She is living with that deprivation trauma and that is to last in her. Her grandmother tried to create in her a strict sense of what is proper in life, and it is to own land and to earn a decent living by working hard. And a woman must stay in her place which is discreet, invisible, secondary, marginal. She transferred this deprivation trauma onto her successive husbands. Her first husband was too old for her to be interested and he only wanted work from her, including by buying a second plow, so she could plow reg fields the way he did. She eloped. Her second husband is not much better, except that he is rich and in the black community where he arrives he can buy extra land for it to grow, and then he can build a hardware store, and then he can become the mayor and then he can bring public gaslight to the city and get the city incorporated. But he wants Janie to cover up her hair and stop being overfriendly with locals, with men particularly. Strangely enough, this community is composed exclusively of Black people who are running away from racism and exploitation, from reconstruction controlled by the whites and kept under duress by lynching and the KKK. But the film does not even give a glimpse of that deculturation, of that exploitation, segregation, elimination that sounds like a genocide. The film does not show these black people as hard-working and this community as successful within the surrounding white society, and the difficulties it should have raised. Apart from some background music, there is little about that specific culture Black communities developed in a full acculturation process.
The only interesting thing is the lack of romance for Janie with her first two husbands who do not satisfy her needs for adventure and total oblivion of the world when in love, to the point of forgetting what a hurricane is in Florida. And she finds that with Tea Cake who is himself an uprooted and even rootless Black man, only attracted by the unknown result of an adventure, taking life as if it were a gambling experience, to the point of gambling Janie’s money and his own car and losing it all; to the point of refusing to move when the hurricane came and losing it all, including this time his life from being bitten by a rabid dog. And this life deculturated out of any roots and supposedly, illusionarily acculturated into some kind of gambled future result that has to come all by itself from the enjoyment and bliss of a fully and only present experience that does not think of tomorrow morning at all and does not remember yesterday evening. That can only lead to a catastrophe, and it does. Back in Eatonville with her store as some kind of life-provider, and her friend Phoebe, romantically captured by the drama of Janie’s life, she can enjoy any foolishness since she has nothing to do to earn a living. She is pitifully and pathetically uprooted and rootless and this time till death her part from life itself.
All that is nothing but Post Traumatic Slavery Stress Syndrome. The escape into a fully autonomous Black community and then into the bliss of immediate mainly sexual enjoyment and thrill, dressed up as love for the present instant provided it shared with someone who just expects nothing more than the frenzy of this very immediate instantaneous and short-lived, even if experienced as long-lived, climax.
As such it is interesting but there are not many new elements different from what we can find in any romance, except that it is sexually rather modest. But I guess the film can provide young black people with role models, though I am not sure these role models are anything but some fantasizing. But role models are always fantasizing, and even at times plain phantasms. It will be perfect for the people who believe life is romance, even if romance is a way to entertain the idea that life could be different from the hard work we know. And the only solution proposed in the film to the trauma of slavery, Reconstruction and segregation is escaping from white society, building an entirely Black community and pretending you are entirely independent of this white society. How could Janie be satisfied when her second husband bought her a fancy dress from the big white store in some big white city, that she had to wear it instead of wearing the fancy dress her black friends had made for her.
It is quite obvious that escape, oblivion, and total careless recklessness cannot compensate for the enormous deprivation, alienation, and exploitation slavery has hammered and whipped into the unconscious and subconscious implicit bias that Black is deprived of any density, past, present, and future. Isn’t it the absence of light after all?
TONI MORRISON — THE PIECES I AM — 2019
No one has to introduce anyone to Toni Morrison, The Nobel Prize winner in Literature. To say she was a black woman writer is to reduce her despite what many people have said, including herself. She recaptured in the USA in that very difficult period that was her lifetime (1931–2019) the true position of women in Homo Sapiens emerging a long, very long time ago out of Black Africa and migrating to the whole world and giving birth to the whole humanity. Women were those who gave life, guaranteed the survival of their communities and their species, working out the expansion of the species and their migrating to the whole world, starting with northern Africa, then Asia, then the Middle East and Europe and then finally, after the peak of the glaciation in the Magdalenian, the Middle East again, Europe again and the Indian subcontinent. And I did not forget the migrations to the southern Pacific and South America up to Mesoamerica probably sometime just after the Peak of the Ice Age, or maybe sometime before, and of course not from Siberia to Northern America in the same conditions probably some time just after the Peak of the Ice Age, or maybe sometime before. Women in Black Africa were then essential seers and speakers who could speak to the Spirits they could see beyond the surface of things, and they could speak to everyone on any occasion. They were not alone but probably the greater number of those who could do that. That was not the result of any segregation, but of a necessary and extremely gratifying division of labor that gave women this extremely central responsibility to generate the next generation of Homo Sapiens in a slightly greater number than the initial generation so that they could expand and migrate. They also had the great responsibility to avoid in-breeding and guarantee the openness of the genetic palette of Homo Sapiens. Toni Morrison is a direct descendent of this female responsibility from 300,000 years ago to 15,000 years ago. Then things changed with agriculture and herding.
The force of this heritage is enormous, unfathomable, unvanquishable. They probably had their own way of counting and transmitted it to the kids they were carrying in their wombs, breastfeeding, raising till they became autonomous around six or seven in order to prepare them and bring them to their fertility and their procreative age. Women taught human language to these kids, and they developed that human language from scratch, and this time with the help and collaboration of men who were busy hunting, making tools and weapons. Hunting was possible in the savannah by running after the fastest running animals and by relaying themselves along the way they managed to wear out these animals and then bring them back as food. Homo Sapiens had become long-distance fast bipedal runners, men and women alike and that started their genetic emergence. During that time, women were raising the next generations and doing some important work, like painting the caves and engraving a lot of things in and on stone and stones, on bones, and probably on wood and other media that were not very durable. Ivory, horns, bones, tusks, teeth, antlers were a lot more durable indeed.
Toni Morrison is still taking us to the very roots of Homo Sapiens civilization and as such brings up to us the direct heritage from Black Africa, the cradle of humanity. So to call her a Black woman writer is not false but in the mind of those who say so, it is a way to pretend she is not universal, she is not at the heart of humanity, she is not taking into account most of humanity that is not black. And these very savant learned intellectuals or just ignoramuses (ignorami if you want to make fun of their snobbish arrogance) don’t seem to know we all came from Black Africa and women were the heart of this humanity for 285,000 years as opposed to 15,000 years after the agricultural reversal that made men dominant and invented slavery that did not exist before. Toni Morrison is thus representing the redemption of our humanity by bringing up out of oblivion the strongest and deepest dynamic that brought us where we are today. She is one voice that calls for the epiphanic apocalypse that will not destroy humanity but redeem it from our state of total perdition with wars, pandemics, pollution, and all kinds of segregation, racism, and genocide.
That’s what you are going to feel and experience in this documentary and I hope you can and will enjoy it. Toni Morrison was the Redeemer. Not alone and I will disagree with the assertion that Ralph Ellison with his Invisible Man was still in the claws of white supremacy because his character was invisible to the whites. I am afraid she missed there an essential point: his character had been made invisible to himself by white supremacists and he is unable to get out of it and he locks himself up in a coal cellar with as much electric light as possible to try to make himself visible to himself with absolutely no other audience but himself. But that is PTSS dementia and Ralph Ellison is so much ahead of his time in 1947. This novel was the first black novel introduced in the English Literature syllabus at the University of California at Davis by myself in 1973. And that was my second choice. I would have preferred Ishmael Reed, but the paperback I wanted to teach, The Free-Lance Pallbearers, was no longer in print. Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin are some of the novelists that are taking us back to the Black African Homo Sapiens heritage, along with Alice Cooper and Toni Morrison, and a few others, like Angela Davis I met in 1974 in Davis, California. I was the only white man in the room where she met the Black student activists.
ALBAN BERG — LULU — MARC ALBRECHT — PATRICIA PETIBON — SALZBURG FESTIVAL — 2010
This opera took a long time to be completed after the death of Alban Berg’s widow in 1976, because she opposed any change in the opera from what her husband had done. Friedrich Cerha completed the score and the world première was in Paris’s Opera Garnier directed by Pierre Boulez, stage direction Patrice Chéreau. We have the sound recording of this premiere production, but we cannot reach any video recording, not even archive recording for any research. Paris’s Opera Garnier does not provide what they must have in some drawer in some well-protected room. That’s the absurdity of the principle of some that what is evanescent has to remain evanescent. One thing is sure the musicians and the singers did not object at being recorded and at the recording being commercialized, merchandized.
This here production is at least on a DVD so that we can have a fair idea of what it was. And that would have been a shame not to be provided with this recording. What surprised me most was the opera house itself, the stage that is so vast, so wide and deep that we could have a Bastille Day parade there in Salzburg. With mirage planes, mind you. Ask Gildas Bourdet how he brought a TGV and a Boeing on the Tourcoing stage of his, a long time ago. Luckily will I say the depth of the stage evades our vision because of monumental backdrops that reduce what could have been a stage abyss, a real mise-en-abyme. But the width may cause some vertigo with some members of the audience. That’s when being close to the stage might be a disadvantage. On this stage, we do not have a great number of actors or singers at the same time, so that the video can easily keep the camera on the smaller space where the actors are doing something. Zooming like that may change the general sensation you can have in front of such an enormous space, but it makes it easier to concentrate on the action and the singing.
The producer of this video and opera insists on the symmetrical mirror-like structure of the opera and the stage director Vera Nemirova used the backdrop and the mobile pyramid in the middle of the stage as a mirror, or a set of mirrors, from time to time, so that at times we actually have the audience on the backdrop reflected in a big mirror there. That’s funny. I am not so sure that the idea that the architecture of the opera is mirrorlike and symmetrical is true. The first act and the last act are not really symmetrical, and how can they be when they are antagonistic, oxymoronic, openly contradictory as if Beauty and the Beast were nothing but two B-B images in two mirrors looking at each other symmetrically. At the beginning Lulu is well-off as a “femme entretenue,” living with the top society, and that will go on in the second act with all the top financial and colonial society. Note here I find it surprising that in 2010 when all artists and many simple educated people consider that black-faces are a racist attitude and practice (ask Justin Trudeau about it) against Black people, this production used the practice to make the white painter of the first act (and we saw him half-undressed so that we can be sure he was not a white face there) become the Black customer of the last act. That was common at the beginning of the 20th century with a black-faced servant in Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss, and I saw it in Paris’s Bastille Opera in the 21st century, but I consider that is no longer acceptable. It is not because in Roman times the losing gladiators were often killed on a thumb-down order from the emperor that in Peplum films today we still do it. It is high time we have black characters played by black actors or singers.
A lot more than decadence this opera depicts a society that is anything but human. It was said in the opening scene by the animal tamer at the beginning and it is regularly reminded to us, like for instance with the question “Was bist du?” and the answer “Ein Tier!” But the first victims of this animal-like social chaos, a jungle, in other words, are women who are nothing but sexual objects, though they are not supposed to think sex is for their own pleasure. They are only sex objects, just like Lulu becomes nothing but a picture that is brought in many duplicates at the end to be glued everywhere. Then everyone who opposes the manipulations and schemes of the financial elite, who might only be a band of gangsters, or of the colonial elite, becomes the “enemies of the people” meaning the enemy of the elite since the elite of any society has a tendency to think they are the people. This highly chaotic society is in no way decadent because it would mean it was better before. It was not and it has not been better since the development of agriculture, and slavery along with it, in a society that became centered on men at the very same time, 15,000 years ago, all over the world, at the end of the Magdalenian. This society is chaotic because it is controlled and governed, managed and dominated by a narrow elite of people who have none of the fundamental qualities to be an elite of any sort/ They were born like that, handicapped from birth in other words. They are brutal and ruthless. They look down upon all those other human “animals” around them and they believe they are the justified and righteous tamers of these wild beasts that 98% of society is, and in this 98 %, 50% are women because women cannot even be part of the elite even if they are born with a title they inherited more or less because there was no male to inherit the title.
So, where is the symmetry in this long descent to Hades not to say Hell, even if “Der Teufel” is referred to several times, isn’t he? It is a descent to hell and the Styx is difficult to cross since there are only one ferry and one ferryman, Charon. Many won’t reach Hades or Hell and they will die a second time and decay on the bank among the invasive Japanese knotweed or Reynoutria japonica, their eyes picked by some ravens. No psychopomps for most of them, and no pity for them at all, please. One dimension of this decaying chaotic society is sex. Sex is nothing but an alienating merchandise that turns women into objects and men into cruel clowns. Sex leads to death, and that’s normal since it is the little-death we all know and most of us practice, specifically because it brings us into contact with death itself, that moment when nothing is real anymore when the whole world is nothing but a climax of bliss that takes us down to the deepest chasm and abyss in no-where-land for a few seconds. Lulu is shown as a willing individual in that perspective, a woman who wants to engulf herself in that contact with death, and she brings death on other people and she will eventually bring death onto herself when she pays her last customer, Jack the Ripper mind you, for something HE should have paid for. Then she has really touched rock-bottom and she discovers that this rock bottom is nothing but quicksand. Have a good night.
The music is great in its extremely complex architecture that wants us to believe it is freewheeling under no control whatsoever. We reach the point when we do not listen to the music at all because it has become part of our mental landscape that enables us to penetrate the action and the singing, the words and the bodies (despite the reserve as for showing the skin and the flesh of the actors, except probably Patricia Petibon who is alluringly tempting and desirable, at least for those in the audience who are obnubilated by a patch of flesh as big as a postal stamp, in other words, the perverts. That’s probably the best quality of this music in our century: it has become part of our mental vision of our sonorous world, and the Little Night Music by Mozart would wake us up at once, with its first three notes. And I said three because that’s enough to draw us out of our entirely musical mental soaking or fermentation. Sol-Ré-Sol, or if you prefer G-D-G, is by far enough to make us stand at attention as if it were a national anthem. And I mean what I say. Alban Berg’s music has become part of our musical mental awareness so much that it accompanies our simplest actions without even us knowing it.
A beautiful performance even if slightly concupiscently running a riot in our back mental eye, the one that looks at some body-parts that rhyme with lock and dock, and the Cockney people in London would love such cock-and-buttocks prelude, fugue, nocturne, and even Tenebrae, you know Charpentier’s favorite little death music.
ANDREA DI STEFANO — THE INFORMER — AMAZON PRIME — 2019
A convict free on parole is working undercover for the FBI. He intentionally though reluctantly gets himself incarcerated again in order to infiltrate the prison-mob at a maximum-security prison and guarantee drugs’ providing to the prisoners for the boss of the gang he is following for the FBI. He just had to break his parole. Some staged domestic violence will be enough. But an extremely rotten and ambitious FBI area boss moves over the FBI agent for whom Pete Koslow was the informer and decides to get rid of him and have him executed inside the prison, burning at the same time the operation against the gang and satisfying himself with getting two underlings.
But an agent in NYPD decides to teach the FBI a lesson and to save Pete Koslow who is warned by a black prisoner about what is going to happen so that he manages not to be killed, but to kill his white assailant and then to take hostage one warden and to get loose in the prison where he stages a hectic and wild escape. He is helped in it by the FBI agent he was an informer for and manages to escape from the ambulance when he was transferred to a hospital as the warden he had taken hostage and was killed in Pete’s prison clothes when Pete had put on the hostage’s uniform and identification.
The NYPD agent will finish the job and provide him with a passport and documents necessary for him to escape after seeing his wife and daughter in Central Park, from a distance and assessing all the FBI agents around them ready to terminate him.
We all know the FBI is rotten and the police are not much better. At least that is common in many films and series. We all know prisons are the best crime schools on the planet and that real power is money and no matter what crimes you may have committed, you will always be the boss in the prison if you have the money you need to buy the wardens and the stuff you need to satisfy the “commercial” demand among the prisoners. Prisons are a real crime university and a fully-free-trade market-economy, all managed from some clandestine crime authority, outside the prisons, of course, provided with direct or indirect lobbying agents everywhere necessary.
Entertaining but not outstanding. Especially since the ending is really sad.
ERIC KRIPKE — THE BOYS — 2019
They could do something with this topic of super-heroes if they did not get stuck in the moralistic hypocrisy of doing good things for the world as long as the world venerates them. That kind of dependence on super-heroes is the proof our society is wrong and deeply sick, and not only on some coronavirus, COVID-19 or COVID-2075. It is childish and it ruins the serious questions at stake here and it is not superheroes.
What about a single private company in the whole world capable of having their superheroes everywhere and to make the weather they want, killing those they don’t like and call bad ones, possessing, controlling and even alienating all those they want to be their servants, and torturing those who refuse. That’s no longer childish, that’s plain mentally underdeveloped.
What about having a super substance, a Compound as they call it, that enables a kid, if taken early, to develop a superpower of any type and then to keep it alive with regular consumption of the drug. That’s a real problem that we should not even be able to touch, approach, discuss, represent and certainly not advocate. And that’s what they do. But of course, when you know Eric Kripke is the master puppeteer behind the series you know that’s the only thing they are going to do.
This type of TV series is habit-forming, worse than all the opioids in the world and it is also a crowned virus in a way that makes the audience delirious and soon enough these people in front of the screen are going to get so dependent that they will have to be sent into social intensive care and probably end up with a good-sense-ventilator, hoping after a couple of weeks there, they may regain consciousness and be ready to walk into society again.
Understand me well. The famous comic strip superheroes have nothing to do with these shameful, in fact shameless, pale imitations that are there only to make money by attracting advertising like flies. The DC comic strips had a real social dimension, a real dreaming dimension. This series has none of that. It is a caricature of a culture that was born in the most exploited and alienated dregs of society and for them and to defend them. Here let me laugh! Homelander spoils a mission on a hijacked plane, so he just leaves and let the plane crash. Frankly!!!
Anyway, his name, Homelander, is an insult to plain simple naïve and innocent young people, since he wears the name of the most obscure, non-transparent, non-democratic and threatening security institution in the world. That’s a symbol. Make a series that becomes habit-forming and people get addicted to it and the main superhero who is the worst hypocrite you can imagine is the acme of “totalitarian security” in the deep state we know.
They could have done better, but with another creator, author, and producer than our dear Eric Kripke (Eric Kripke is an American television writer, director, and producer. He is the creator of The WB series Supernatural, the NBC series Revolution and Timeless, and the Amazon series The Boys.) He always tries in the series of his I know to erase the deepest social problems in American society, but always with some superficial allusions or links to Indians, to Jesus, to the Torah, so that he can say that he is open to everything and everyone, though he is only open to making an audience dependent. This is not the opium of the masses but the opioid of all TV audiences.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU