It began as curiosity, an alienated feeling, the desire to understand. It became a temptation. The occasional trace of a melody would wriggle into my imagination. So what if I snuck away to enjoy a hot single now and then? No one had to know. But now I’ll admit it—I have two pop stations preset in the car. And I’m not ashamed.
Tired of rants about how awful capitalism is? Here’s a fun trick: ask the people you’re discussing it with not to use the term “capitalism.” Politely suggest: since we seem to mean different things by it, let’s just say what we mean without using that one word. It might induce them to think, instead of grabbing pre-fab terms of abuse off the shelf and blaming every problem on that villain from central casting, the capitalist.
Emotionally loaded and so vague as to be almost useless, the word “capitalism” masks the massive phenomenon’s complexity—its fuel in varied motives, its entwinement with a legal order, and (most importantly) its moral ambiguities and mixed blessings.
But aren’t you bored? Thinking is just so . . . boring. Let’s complain about capitalism instead.
The new Magnificent Seven remakes John Sturges’ 1960 classic of the same name and has lots of complaining to do about “capitalism,” at the expense of its predecessor’s subtle and interesting civilizational themes.
Cultures show their substance by what they make easier and what they make more difficult.
Grammar has consequences. My grade school still taught, in the 1980s, that words have gender; people have sex. For decades, grammar nerds have bristled at official forms asking whether their “gender” is male or female. It’s like being asked, “What’s your part of speech?”
Somewhere along the line “gender” became a polite substitute for “sex” (perhaps to reduce snickers from adolescent boys). But with sex, gender, and the difference between them now playing into legal and public policy decisions, the confusion of these words means we can barely state the issue. Our gender trouble begins with grammar trouble.
The X-Files at its best celebrates that “the truth is out there”—objective, weird, and always slipping from our complete grasp. At its worst, the show makes heroes out of cranks and confuses power for politics.
Over the course of nine seasons and a miniseries now airing on FOX, the show portrays two FBI agents investigating bizarre events. The dour, imaginative Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) partners with the second best sci-fi heroine that has ever been, the calming, rational, and courageous Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson).
There are basically two—and in fact incompatible—kinds of X-Files episodes, with two distinct approaches toward the truth that is “out there.” There are the show’s conspiracy episodes: Is our world controlled by evil cliques manipulating reality and hiding the truth? Then there are what fans call the monster episodes: Is human life by its nature given to evil, good, and in between; to weirdness and wonder, harboring some truths that, happily, remain beyond us?
Final grades were due a few days ago, and for those of us who teach, grading season has just come to a close. With visions of student papers dancing in my head, I can’t keep from thinking, Rashomon is a perfect movie for our culture.