November 29th, 2003

breaking bad

Courage and healing

I went to see 'Master and Commander' last night, as I had hoped. Like 'Seabiscuit' it is a straightforward and positive story, told with some style and with truly excellent acting all round. Both films proceeded without any of the bum notes and disappointments that one has almost come to expect in modern films. They were pleasures like eating a good meal or going for a good walk (two pleasures I haven't had much chance to experience lately which might be why I harp on them), although they were not mind-expanding or life-shaking experiences.

Master and Commander asks the question 'How should a man live?' I am not certain how much the question and its answer are intended to apply to women, but I include myself in it nevertheless. The opinion of the author is very clear: great variation in intellectual and ethical stance is available, but a man must live authentically and bravely. Courage is more important than anything else, in increasing the range and depth of experience, and allowing you to function as a living thing.

Seabiscuit advocates the currently unfashionable notion that living things can be healed rather than discarded if they become damaged, and that the investment of money and time in repairing them can be justified. This is the philosophy that underpins Socialism in my opinion, though in the film it is associated with the New Deal in 1930s America. In both cases the idea - hateful to the right - is that the broken thing should be supported and brought back to health rather than trampled underfoot by competitors. Then, when it is repaired, it can support and heal others in its turn.

Another thing that interested me in these two films was the portrayal of strongly differentiated characters as complementary to each other. People who know me will know that this is one of my most loved themes. I might write a bit about that in a separate post.
breaking bad

New Romancer

I have been browsing blogs this morning. I recommend this discussion on Crooked Timber, which I am halfway through reading at the moment. It is about the various merits of genre, popular and literary fiction, which is a topic I am very interested in. My emotions are strong but my opinions inchoate. The comments are various and contradictory.

Neuromancer is far and away the most important novel of the last 25 years. I think that's probably true.