What was read and viewed during the sad, bad month of November 2021

Was it a sad, bad month, November? I read most of Athan Theoharis’ Abuse of Power, which is generally pretty good; watched Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, which is interesting; saw The Lusty Men, which is more something to think about than a great film.

… I’m happy that it’s over. But now I’ve bruised my ribs pretty bad from a MTB fall. Let’s just say that my son got sick and then he broke his finger and then we spent our first holiday as a “broken family.”

11/1-4
— Now I know you’re thinking, “what, you didn’t consume anything for four entire days!?” Okay, there were probably more than a few Seinfeld episodes (recently added to Netflix’s dwindling online menu). But also, it’s been a busy time. Lu’s birthday was on the 11/2. He’s 11.
Also, I probably read a few comic books here and there. Idle pleasures. Nothing to write the blog about, really.

11/5
— Newton, Philosophical Writings: “Correspondence with Robert Boyle” (28 February 1678/9). Aether. Newton’s answer to diffraction and … gravity. What I do not understand is how it effects higher densities in the proximity of objects. That is required in order to explain diffraction, right?

11/6
— Newton, Philosophical Writings: “De Gravitatione” (1685), 20 pp. Flows of aether explain gravity.

11/7
— Cynthia Ozick, Trust, 15 pp.
Narcos: Mexico, 2.4-5 Jumped the shark or not, bad television is like an addiction. And this is still much better than reality tv, which is crack for the brain—both damaging and habit-forming.

Photograph of Isaac Newton's copy of the Principia, taken by Andrew Dunn, 5 November 2004.
Website: http://www.andrewdunnphoto.com/
Sir Isaac Newton‘s own first edition copy of his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica with his handwritten corrections for the second edition. Taken by Andrew Dunn, 5 November 2004.
Website: http://www.andrewdunnphoto.com/

11/8
Trust, 15 pp.

11/10
Casino Royale (2006), 60 minutes. The things that used to give me joy about the beginning of this movie, aren’t so much. It is a remarkably psychological movie, I think, and that is interesting given that it’s basically an action film from a very tired franchise. But CR is unique among all of the Bond films. Most of them are tripe, including later Daniel Craig-Bond films.
— Newton, “De Gravitatione” (1685) Newton takes on Descartes. Reading this, you see what Nietzsche meant in his critique of the will to knowledge. Mendacity, to use a Nietzschean term (in translation—not sure what the German was).
Read Gleick’s short biography of Newton a few years ago, and it led me to believe that Newton was—to quote an erstwhile friend—a quirky person that no one probably liked (my friend, a philosopher in New Mexico—I actually know a bunch down there—described the Greeks this way [she is/was philosopher specializing in contemporary and feminist philosophy. I miss her]).
Regardless, I have to admit my approval for Newton’s anti-Trinitarianism … even if I admire the Trinity as an aesthetic doctrine. Yes, I just wrote those words. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it for a while.
Last thing, Newton’s account of aether has been making me think of Bernoulli’s principle. The latter has been a sort of conceptual problem that my brain has puzzled over for years, to be honest. Apparently one of Daniel Bernoulli’s forebears wrote about gravity with reference to aether … which may be apropos of nothing, I admit.

USS New Jersey, starboard side, Camden, New Jersey, United States. Taken by Brian M Schaller, 23 April 2018
A636, USS New Jersey, starboard side, Camden, New Jersey, United States. Taken by Brian M Schaller, 23 April 2018. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Brian_W._Schaller/Attribution

11/11
Trust, 15 pp. A rather annoying exchange between our narrator and Enoch. Perhaps one of the first times that we’ve really had a sense of what character the narrator, to this point mainly a mask, may have.
But the weight of the Holocaust is palpable. And the narrator seems ignorant in an inexcusable sense.
Tour of turret two of the U.S.S. New Jersey.
My son Lucian is going through that phase where all things related to WWII warcraft are fascinating. Or, the clean, unreal parts of warcraft. He’s never seen Saving Private Ryan, which for all of its faults—and it does have a few very serious faults, not least of which is the story’s framing—provides what I can only suppose (having no such experience) is a more accurate representations of the horrors of war.
Being a movie it is incapable (no Chantal Akerman was available … okay, partially a joke, but the boredom of Jeanne Diehlmann (1975) was both necessary and magisterial) of presenting war’s boredom.
So Lucian is fascinated by battleships, these hulking vestiges of a past never to be present again. The U.S.S. New Jersey is docked just across the river from Philadelphia in Camden, New Jersey. I’d known about this for probably more than a decade but as I’d grown out of Lucian’s present fascination, never had the inclination to visit. But we visited it and toured turret two (say that five times fast!) and it was impressive in magnitude and organization.

11/13
— Terry Eagleton, Ideology of the Aesthetic, 30 pp.
Ernest and Celestine (2012). Eventually overdubbed (?) with the voices of Forrest Whittaker, Mackenzie Foy, and LAUREN BACALL!!!!

11/14
— Newton, “de Gravitatione”
— Athan Theoharis, Abuse of Power, 10 pp. For a good review of this book, see what Scott McLemme wrote in the pages of Inside Higher Ed. A spot on assessment.
Deadpool vs. Hawkeye, #1-2. Say what you will, that Deadpool is just hilarious!. Although I just found out there was an encounter between Deadpool and Bullseye (as the Dark Avengers Hawkeye) and desperately want to read.

One page of Deadpool vs. Hawkeye.

11/15
Ava (2020), 55 minutes. Turned off at approximately the point where Common’s character asks Ava (Jessica Chastain) if she is wonder woman. Um, no. And this movie is freaking stupid. If there’s a bad movie watching hell, it’s being forced to sit through this more than once.
Abuse of Power, 15 pp. Say what you will, that Hoover was lower than a snake in the ground.

11/16
Deadpool vs. Hawkeye, #3-5
Great British Bake Off [hereafter GBBO], 9.1

11/17
— GBBO, 9.2
Abuse of Power, 10 pp.

11/18
— GBBO, 9.3
— Randall Jarrell, “Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” Found this for Lucian to read. I’d read it back years ago probably when I went to the Prague Summer Writer’s Seminar back in the hazy summer of 1994. The Czech Republic (then) hadn’t recently emerged out of socialism’s cocoon.
Randall Jarrell I love. For the poem “Next Day,” which I just cannot quit. I think it indicates my depth and profound understanding of the vicissitudes of female experience.

Screenshot of the poem "Next Day," by Randall Jarrell, which was read in November.

November 19
— GBBO, 9.4
— Newton, 10 pp.
— Jarrell, “Eighth Air Force” Further attempts to provoke my son’s nascent intellect with references to things that might appeal to him.

11/20
— GBBO, 9.5
— Newton, 10 pp.
Abuse of Power, 5 pp.

TCM’s Robert Osbourne introducing the 1952 Nicholas Ray film “The Lusty Men,” starring Robert Mitchum and Susan Hayward

11/21
— Newton, 10 pp.
Robert Boyle, Free Enquiry into the Vulgarly Received Notion of Nature, 18 pp.
The Lusty Men (1952). I don’t know what’s funnier: the anticipated search results for this Google query or the actual plot of the film, namely of some rodeoers that just have to learn what’s valuable the hard way. Regardless, Robert Mitchum and Susan Hayward are good in this. Hayward’s character is a little more interesting than Mitchum’s.
It’s a Nicholas Ray film. Yes, the Ray who made They Live by Night (1949), with an incredible Cathy O’Donnell; In a Lonely Place (1950), starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame, to whom Ray was married; On Dangerous Ground (1951), with Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino, and a darling of critics but honestly never had impressed me; Johnny Guitar (1952), with Sterling Hayden (who I love) and Joan Crawford; and Rebel without a Cause (1955), with James Dean, father of the famous Jimmy Dean Sausage empire, and Dennis Hopper, I don’t think everyone knows.
— Shelley, “Mutability
— Tolstoy, War and Peace, 20 pp.: Bezukhov experiences a profound satisfaction in being held as a prisoner by the French troops in Moscow

11/22
— Boyle, Free Enquiry, Section II
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) This is an interesting film and I think I mean that in all of the sense of the word interesting. It is genuinely something to think about, which is part of what interesting means, just as much as it is something about which you might say, oh, that’s interesting in a summarizing way.

The Real Part of November, Thanksgiving

11/25
Abuse of Power, 25 pp
— GBBO, 9.6-7
Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler…, 15 pp. Began reading this as an attempt to participate in a book club. Best intentions. Didn’t finish in time and didn’t go to the meeting. It’s very pomo (postmodern). Not Kathy Acker pomo.

11/26
Finch (2021) On the tour to publicize this film, Tom Hanks stopped at the Jimmy Kimmel Live show. I speculated that he was being rude to Jimmy Kimmel. But perhaps he just didn’t have much to say about Finch, which is not great. It’s not bad either.
I suppose it has an interesting premise, namely, that the robot is created to take care of the dog. Was that the premise at the beginning of the film? I confess I was not giving it all of my attention. A certain device may have been in hand.

This picture is sort of hilarious, really. If you look at Hanks’ expression, even he’s like, WTF am I doing? Didn’t I make this movie before?

11/27
It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) Viewed while visiting my father and stepmother in central Virginia. I watch these things out of curiousity and because of what I call my film education. But this was bollocks. An eminently B film. Maybe even C film.
— GBBO, 9.8

11/28
Abuse of Power, 30 pp.

November 29
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler…, 20 pp.

11/30
— GBBO, 9.9
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler…, 10 pp.
— Lewis Carroll, “Jabberwocky”


Curious what I’ve been reading/viewing lately?