Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bacon, Feminism, Marriage


Louis CK on Littering in New York City   (1:36) and Environmentalists and Christians (2:44)

God: What do you need food for? Why didn't you eat the stuff I left you?

Human: . . .Yeah, but it doesn't have, like, bacon around it.

Speaking of people being ignoramuses, why are people calling the new Mad Max feminist? Because it has women characters who do stuff?

I used to roll my eyes at the bumper sticker, "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people," but now I'm afraid it's true; it is just that simple.  

Men in action movies = humans

Women in action movies = OMG! Feminists!

Yes, it's a little pathetic how far we've not come.

Louis CK, again:

(But who is this "we" you speak of Louis? I would say, "Women didn't win the vote until 1920".)

On the cheery side: Ireland voted for gay marriage!

When I was biking around Ireland in 1986, the entire country was gearing up to vote on legalizing divorce, which they then voted down. (Divorce didn't become legal in Ireland for another ten years.)

I have read no analysis of the Irish vote on same-sex marriage, but as a Catholic (sort of), I would say this makes sense:
marriage is a sacrament, one of the holy things God set up for folks.

If you believe this, and you believe in equality, it's not too hard to do the math.

I think sometimes we forget, marriage is a conservative social institution: everyone settle down, now, and register with the state.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Cruisin'. . . on Top

I. Marz made this Mad Max: Fury Road: Cruisin' vid. Smokey Robinson. Perfect.

If you don't want 2 hours of vehicular stimulus, you can get the gist of the movie in just these 24 seconds:

II. That's the cool version. And now she's made this hot one:
Mad Max: Fury Road: Get on Top (by Red Hot Chili Peppers)

"I bite but, she bit me..."

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Movies That Are Better Than Books, I

Poodletail asked what movies I thought surpassed the books they were based on.

The very first one that popped into my mind was The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007).

That's almost an unfair example:  
a movie by a painter vs. a book by a paralyzed writer (Jean-Dominique Bauby) who has to blink his one remaining eye to select a letter. 
But then, art, like life, is unfair. 

Images can tell (some) stories better than words, and Schnabel is a visual filmmaker.

Some movies are better because their book told a good story but wasn't well written, like the Harry Potter series.

Full disclosure: I'd probably think (almost) any movie with Alan Rickman was better than a book.

Sometimes a movie just nails it, even though the book is also excellent. I'd rewatch To Kill a Mockingbird before I'd reread it, even though it's a good book. (Actually, I'm a little reluctant to rewatch it, fearing it won't hold up...)

Still, those opening shots, at least, remain perfect: I can hear the sound of the objects in the box--(Hollywood-style moviemaking relies way too much on movie music instead of sound).

Some futuristic/ alternative world stuff is hard to write (read) without getting bogged down in description and can be far better on screen, like 2001: A Space Odyssey (or--this is debatable--but I prefer Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy as a movie) or Blade Runner:

I just saw the new Mad Max (Fury Road), and a book could be a better vehicle to convey the inner life of the characters, but you sure couldn't get better vehicles.

Charlize Theron and her rig

I want to think more about this, but I've got to write an index.

* *  * Can you think of a movie that is better than the book?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

I washed my hair so I could Skype.


Well, darn. 
I was going to Skype for the first time ever this morning, with a dear old friend who relies on Skype--I even washed my hair last night so I would look presentable--but due to time confusion, the call's not happening today.

I've always dreaded Skype––it mixes two things I'm nervous about: the phone + being presentable at home––and I'd geared myself up to do it, so I feel let down and am sorry to miss catching up with my friend. 

But since I dreaded it, I'm also a little relieved.


Speaking of hair, if you've got yellows in your grays, as I do, here's an old trick:
rinse with bluing.

After spending $20 on shampoo + conditioner that didn't do much (except clean my hair), I bought a $2.99 bottle of Mrs. Stewart's Bluing in the laundry section of the grocery store
--it's for whitening whites (made from a very fine blue iron powder, bluing is gentler on fabrics than bleach)--
added a few drops to a clean milk carton of water, and after 4 rinses, the blue had color-righted most of the yellow. 

It darkens the remaining dark hair too, but if you use too much, it also turns it blue.


Speaking of old fashioned things, here's a funny mention of pencils in Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life, which I finished last night. He's talking about going to high school (in the early '60s):
"I brought home good grades at first. They were a fraud––I copied other kids' homework on the bus down from Chinook and studied for tests in the hallways as I walked from class to class. After the first marking period I didn't bother to do that much. I stopped studying altogether. Then I was given C's instead of A's, yet no one at home ever knew that my grades had fallen. The report cards were made out, incredibly enough, in pencil, and I owned some pencils myself.

All I had to do was go to class, and sometimes even that seemed too much."

I see there's a movie of the book, but I'm not particularly interested. It's not the story that makes this book good, it's the words.

And now me and my clean hair are off the the Farmers Market.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Bag, Boy, Begonia, Bocadillo, Bike

1. In my garbage research, these embroidered plastic bags from the corner store are the coolest things yet. Thanks, bink, for the link!

From "El Barrio Bodega"(series), 2013, by artist Nicoletta Darita de la Brown.

2. I reluctantly picked up Tobias Wolff's memoir This Boy's Life from a Little Free Library box. Reluctant because I've already read so many memoirs of hard childhoods; but I'd heard many times that it was good. And it was free. So...

OMG, is it ever good!  An example, about TW going to his first confession in the Catholic Church. Earlier he has written, "I was subject to fits of feeling myself unworthy, somehow deeply at fault."

Preparing what to say to the priest...
"I thought about what to confess, but I could not break my sense of being at fault down to its components. Trying to get a particular sin out of it was like fishing a swamp, where you feel the tug of something that at first seems promising and then resistant and finally hopeless as you realize that you've snagged the bottom, that you have the whole planet on the other end of your line."

I had to stop after reading that and just sit there. And the book's full of that sort of thing--all in simple ("simple") English. 

3. There'll be no new apartment for Marz and me:
the apt. management company stuck to their requirements that we each qualify separately; that is, that we each make 3 x the entire rent. 

Not all companies are so stringent, but many are. We'll just stay here for now.
I'm a little relieved: my resentment had flared up at the building owners' greed and inflexibility. As much as I worry about my capacity for resentment, it just recently occurred to me it is on my side, even if it's annoying, and it can be a trustworthy indicator of the likelihood of future happiness. 

Our landlords here are not greedy: 
they're pals of mine from the hippie collective restaurant I worked at when I was 19, and it's only because they rent out part of this house that they can afford to own it and live here themselves. 

They charge us as little as they can. 
Alas, this means they don't put any $$ into fixing the place up, but I talked to them yesterday and said that at least the windows must be glazed this summer, or the panes are going to fall out, and they agreed.

4. Then I went to the nearby K-Mart and bought two hanging baskets of bright begonias for the little porch, and I set up my two sand chairs out there.
I usually do that as soon as it's warm enough, but I hadn't this year. When you stop putting energy into a place, it gets grim.

Now we have another room in the nice weather. 
I'm going to go to the nearby Mexican panaderia and buy little loaves, and Marz is going to pick up tuna fish canned in olive oil from the co-op, and we'll sit there and eat Camino-style bocadillos (sandwiches on long, not sliced, bread).

Me and E. eating bocadillos in Spain (2011), by bink, from her blog post "Bocadillos... again" >

I feel better, too, because the next-door neighbors have been quiet after one loud night. 
The caretaker next door told me they'd gotten a warning. If they're sane enough to quiet down in response, they aren't like the previous neighbors who were barking mad. 
Fingers crossed. 

So, I'm feeling OK about staying here. It'd be nice to have a quiet, well-kept up place, but this is not bad, and maybe if I get a full-time job we'll look again. 
Until then, I'm going to make the best of what it is.

5. And finally I took my bike in for an overdue overhaul and some replacement parts, including a whole new drive train.

The young woman who took my order said, "You're going to have a new bike!" 
For $200.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Apply Myself

^ From Street Art on Melrose
I applied for a job yesterday.

I haven't really been looking for work, but I guess apartment hunting triggered some internal Search Mode.

I went online and checked the county's job site, and there was a communications job that actually sounds like fun--writing weekly newsletters, designing fliers and invitations, stuff like that, for Public Works.

Public Works?
That's Bikes & Garbage!
My heroes.

No doubt Public Works is as dysfunctional as any other gov't department, but at least they're not advertising crap.

[I walked into Target the other day and almost had an out-of-body experience: the entire contents of the store appeared to me as garbage. And within a few weeks, that is where most of it will be--in the garbage.

Hey, I just searched "bikes & garbage" and see that in in Northampton, MA, you can hire Pedal People >
to haul your trash, all year round.]  

Anyway, the salary scale starts at $38,000––normal for some, but riches to me. 
(Even if I'd worked in Activities full-time, it'd have paid only $22,000.)

The county job only requires a few years of writing/editing experience, so I imagine there'll be lots of other applicants?
I'm not getting my hopes up high, but it's encouraging to apply for something I'd kinda like to do.

It was even fun to apply: 
I could list lots of the wandery, free things I've done, such as photographing a community garden throughout 2013 for my neighborhood's annual calendar.

And I wouldn't mind working full time, I don't think.

I've already done a lot of stuff that's best done when one's knees are young, inspired (when I was fifteen) by Cary Grant's speech in Holiday:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015



Thanks to Julia for putting me onto Vintage Chinese Posters of Babies in Space.
One has a version of the toy rocket I'd posted yesterday, and the perfect pose for a "WHATCHA THINKIN BOUT" meme too.

Btw, Star Trek's Sulu is Japanese, not Chinese, but by the 23rd century Earthkind is one big happy family.

Monday, May 18, 2015

From My Desktop

I spent the weekend apartment hunting, which is time consuming and nerve wracking--rental companies want you to earn 3x the rent, which of course I don't, but I also have zero ($0) debt and no car (so no car expenses)--will they take that into account?

We shall see...

Meanwhile, I've neglected the book proposal I'd hoped to have done today--I'm going to see if I can crank it out now.

So for today's blog, I'm just going to put in three pictures I've had on my desktop for a while.

1. I'd left Glenda Jackson off my round up of women who impressed me in the 70s---she definitely was one. I learned most of my English history from her Elizabeth I (as well as The Six Wives of Henry VIII).

Maybe her most impressive role is her speech in parliament after Margaret Thatcher's death about MT's “heinous social, economic and spiritual damage”. 

2. Pronouns are the latest frontier in the gender/sex universe, right?

I love the way people are bending them, and I appreciate a little levity in my freedom fighters, like the academic blogger of Feminist Ryan Gosling.

3. L'astronave is Italian for "spaceship," you know; I'm always on the lookout for midcentury spaceship kitsch like this. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Time to go a-hunting?

I've always said I'd rather have time than money. And for most of my adult life, that choice has served me well: 
I've had tons of time for the things I love, like making art, blogging, reading, watching movies, going out for coffee with friends, volunteering, sleeping, and thinkin' about stuffs

But is this still what I want?

I don't know. At midlife, I feel that all that wandering around thinkin' has granted me powers that I could put to good use in some kind of work.
Work that pays decent money. 

I really don't know, though... I've never pursued money. But now I feel it would be nice and really useful to have some more of it.
Just lately, for instance, I've been thinking about moving somewhere nicer, since the slumlord of the house next door keeps renting to nocturnal people with anger issues. 

Also, my apt. is falling apart. I've lived here 13 years, and the landlords, who are lovely people and my pals, have repaired almost nothing. They don't repair their part of the house either, so it's not personal or anything.
But it would be such a treat to live with windows that aren't falling out of their casements!
Radiators that get hot!
Stoves that don't give off a mysterious gassy odor that the gas co. insists is safe!
Taps that don't drip!
A fridge that seals!

But the thing is, my crummy little apt is insanely cheap. I'm almost embarrassed to say. ($475. For everything, even wi-fi and laundry. And I split that with  Marz. )

This is important because I've barely made any money in the past dozen years. Besides preferring time to money, I can see, looking back, that my life force was pretty low for a long time after my mother killed herself. (Huh.)
So, even supplementing my earnings with money I've inherited (thank you, relatives), I've hovered at or under the poverty line

The other night when the neighbors were yelling at each other, I thought, I don't want to live this way.

It scares me to think that way, though, because it really has worked so well for so long. But I looked online for apartments to rent--they mostly cost almost twice as much, but they look so nice. I'm actually going to look at one tomorrow. 
May as well look. 

I also looked at jobs. 
The ads mystify me though. 
Could I be "a cross-functional team leader fully capable of initiating, creating and executing global campaigns across multiple channels"?
Maybe? (I don't actually know what that means.)

So, I don't know, don't know, don't know...  

But it seems desire is pushing me toward change, one way or another...
Desire may be the root of suffering, in one sense, but in another sense, it's the fire that gets watery people like me to move.

 This is more what I think of when I think of going to get work:

Bye, baby bunting,
Father's gone a-hunting,
Mother's gone a-milking,
Sister's gone a-silking,
Brother's gone to buy a skin
To wrap the baby bunting in.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Garbage Art: Dogs and Beachcombers

Thank goodness---I woke up this morning eager to get going on the proposal. Sometimes (but not always) it goes this way: just when I feel most mired in procrastination, my energy pops back up.

Here are a couple neat pieces of art about garbage:

I. I like this one because of the rag-picker's dogs, who, unlike the woman, look like they're in good health. I suppose they gets lots of juicy garbage to eat?

"Arrested Rag-Pickers in City Hall Park, New York, sketched by C.G. Bush", Harper's Weekly,  July 6, 1867
---from the Library of Congress

II. These bits of rulers cast up by the sea are as beautiful in their way as beach glass.

Above: "28 Objects that Measured the World," by artist Steve McPherson

From the Anchorage Museum's exhibit "Gyre: The Plastic Ocean":

"Steve...combines and arranges found objects from his local coast, with a summary text that gives a potential identity and history to the collated flotsam and jetsam." 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Parrots & Procrastination

Do you save images and then forget where you found them?

I try to keep track, but I don't remember where this little budgie-type parrot with its fetching cap came from, but it makes me smile.
Which I need: 
working at home again, I'm feeling a bit anxious. More accurately, I'm feeling a bit anxious about not working.
That is, I'm supposed to be putting together the book proposal-outline, and I am... but at glacial speed.

On top of feeling anxious about it, I'm also feeling disappointed that I'm feeling that way, so it's one of those emotional traffic jams when one emotion stalls and others pile into it (dismay, chagrin, etc.).

I do miss having to go somewhere to attend to work that must be done right then and there. But though it's hard, I'm 100% glad to be back writing at home, and I don't regret leaving health care at all. (I know I could go back to it, but when I think of it, I cringe.)
It's just that I'd hoped my powers of procrastination had magically dried up and blown away while I was gone, and that's not the case.

Oh, well. I know I'm not alone, which is kind of cheering. Procrastination is totally common, and I've only got a middling case of it, in fact, since while it feels crummy, it's never so strong that I don't eventually get rolling, and that feels great. 
I just wish I could do it with less resistance.

At least I can't stall by watching any more Sherlock, because I have now rewatched all nine episodes (in three days), and there won't be any more until next spring. (Whew.)

Sherlock is a parrot: a clever bird that becomes a menace if it's bored.

Though I'm not a Sherlock type––I'm OK being bored (or, rather, I'm not bored if I have nothing to do), I become a menace if I'm overworked––the show cheers me up because the characters are full of anxiety about work. 

And it's another love story based on work, which I enjoy. 
(It was smart of the show's creators to make John's new wife part of his (and Sherlock's) work, and not just a domestic/sex partner.)

I like how John & Sherlock sit around together a lot. Here's another sitting picture--(fuzzy 'cause I screencapped it off Netflix).

And now I am going to sit (-up straight) and stare at my proposal, and probably even grind out a line or two.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Cops on Cars, Detectives in Chairs

Give cops a car, and they will perch on it, irrespective of gender.

The first female cop-buddy show, Cagney and Lacey ^ (1981–1988), which I liked at the time but have never watched since. 
This week I'm rewatching the BBC Sherlock, which is even better on second viewing. Sherlock & Watson don't have a car, but there's lots of good perching (and sitting and slouching and lying around). 

A post on on S & W and their chairs: "A Study in Chairs".

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Some Women in Seventies Film, Part I

I've been thinking about what it was like growing up female, from nine years old to nineteen, in the Seventies, and what my influences were.  So here I'm only listing films I actually saw in that decade, plus one on either end, that made a big impact on me. I was a little surprised at what a long list it is.  

1969: Kim Darby, True Grit (w/ John Wayne)
"She reminds me of me," Wayne's character says.

1971: Ruth Gordon, Harold and Maude (w/ Bud Cort)
I wanted to grow up to be like Maude. At some point I realized I sort of have grown along those lines. I mean, I also wanted to grow up to be cool and remote, but instead I've become much more comfortable making an ass of myself. A much better direction for me.
This movie was so important to me in high school that it was only when Marz pointed out the movie's flaws a few years ago that I even saw them. They are many. I still don't care.

1971: Elaine May, A New Leaf (dir. Elaine May) (w/ Walter Matthau)
I don't know why this movie isn't more famous, Elaine May is such a comic genius. I also loved her famous flop Ishtar (1987), after which she never directed again. The New Yorker's film critic Brody calls this "one of the great tragedies of cinema history, comparable in significance to the premature end of the directorial career of Erich von Stroheim and the scattering of Orson Welles’s. "

1972: Liza Minelli, Cabaret 

What a ditz. But all is forgiven by her final performance of "Cabaret". (Hm, kinda like the ending of  A Star Is Born.)

1972: Diane Keaton, Play It Again Sam
"Linda" is similar to Keaton's Annie Hall character, who I didn't like (talk about a ditz), but Linda and the Allen/Allan character in Play It Again are friends (mostly), not lovers, and their relationship is based on their compassionate support of each other's neuroses.  

A similar humorous exchange about meds ("Have you ever had lithium and tomato juice?") will show up again in Silver Linings Playbook (2012).

1973: Barbra Streisand, The Way We Were
A bad movie, but in one amazing scene, Katie (Barbara Streisand) defends Eleanor Roosevelt even at the expense of her marriage to the Robert Redford character.

1974: Cicely Tyson, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
1976: Tatum O'Neal, The Bad News Bears (w/ Walter Matthau)
1976, Sissie Spacek, Carrie
This poster is the other side of the usual image of Carrie covered in blood. I felt just like this in high school. When I hear of violence perpetrated by people who feel powerless, I think of how satisfied I felt when Carrie burned down the school gym.

1977: Jody Foster, Taxi Driver (w/ Robert DeNiro)

1978: Veronica Cartwright, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (w/ Donald Sutherland)

Brooke Adams is the main heroine in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but I love Cartwright: she shows how utterly terrifying the situation is, but manages to come through anyway (almost).

1979: Veronica Cartwright & Sigourney Weaver, Alien
1979: Sally Field, Norma Rae (w/
Ron Leibman)

Besides telling a great story, Norma Rae is a rare female/male example of the Romance of Working Together: 
an attraction built on the closeness and respect that comes from sharing meaningful work. When the characters are male/female, this usually resolves itself in sex. 

The tension of it not being resolved is a source of slash: Kirk/Spock, Starsky/Hutch, Sherlock/John... Is it "slash" if it's male/female, like Mulder/Scully?
Norma Rae is one of the few fictional instances of a male/female attraction ending with nothing more than a handshake.

1979: Judy Davis, My Brilliant Career (Australia, dir. Gillian Armstrong)

I was disappointed to rewatch My Brilliant Career--it's pretty preachy and dated. But it was shocking at the time that the character chooses a life of writing over the handsome Sam Neill.

1980: Gena Rowlands, Gloria
Gloria's shooting down mobsters to defend this kid who gets left on her doorstep, but she's no sentimental mother.

I see I've left out Faye Dunaway, Ellen Burstyn, Gilda Radner, Madeline Kahn, etc. etc. Maybe I'll have to put together a Part II.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

What I'm Reading

1–2. By Frances Partridge:  
A Bloomsbury Album,
 and Love in Bloomsbury: Memories (green book)

< Lytton Strachey, Rosamond Lehmann and her brother John looking at pictures

Frances married Ralph, who was desired by Lytton, who was beloved by Carrington, who was married to Ralph, until he met Frances.

As related in admirably straightforward fashion by Frances, none of this reads like a soap opera. She writes sensibly about the lives of a group of people who had a little (–to a lot) more than usual money, time, intelligence education, and, some of them, creativity.
How's that for faint praise? Can you sense I'm not a huge Bloomsbury fan? Still, I like reading the calm observations of F.P.'s published journals (which continue into her nineties).

2. Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash, by Susuan Strasser

By far the best of the books I've been reading on the topic--explores historical forces (poverty, war, urbanization) that shape our attitudes toward and handling of garbage.

3. A Man Called Ove, a novel by Fredrik Backman

Someone recommended this--was it you, Lady C?
I've just started it and so far it's good bedtime reading--episodic bits from the life of a
Swedish curmudgeon coping with being widowed, retired, and annoyed by other people.

4. Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth, by Camille Bacon-Smith

I'd given this to Marz for Christmas and just started browsing through it after a brush with writing fanfic myself. 
It's from 1992 so it's not only interesting on fan fic but inadvertently interesting on pre-Internet communication:
the author comments at the fast speed of fan communication: at one point, she got feedback from readers around the country within six weeks!

5. Chicago Manual of Style
I wouldn't read this just for fun, (though it might make good bathroom browsing), but now I'm doing some proofreading again, it is kind of fun to hunt down answers; it's like looking for the correct nuts and bolts to hold the writing together. 

6. The Ship of Brides, by Jojo Moyes (book already returned to the library)

Especially when I'm reading a lot of nonfiction for work, I want to read lightweight fiction before bed, and this fit the bill.  
Nothing profound, but not too fluffy, this novel follows the fate of four out of a few hundred Australian war brides being transported to England on a naval ship at the end of WWII. I would read more by this author.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Cry, the Beloved... Uncle?

Marz says I am not the only one who tells her they're not all that keen to revisit the Seventies (worst decade of my life). (Or they say can't see the seventies through the smoke... I do remember a lot of folks spending most of their time high).   
But the decade is coming at me from every direction, and actually I'm enjoying the associations.

The other night I binge-watched all 13 episodes of wonderfully funny Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (= only 5 hours, on Netflix), and one of the characters, an American Indian man, says something about how he can't go out east because it makes him cry to see the land.

< Comanche actor Gil Birmingham with Kimmy Schmidt's white cocreator, Tina Fey

[Positive review of the Native American supblot from Indian Country--(not everyone agrees).] 

Anyway, if you were alive in the 70s, you probably get the reference, right? 

The crying Indian in the 1971 Keep America Beautiful ad campaign against littering---my thing! 

And my people, too, turns out. 
The actor Iron Eyes Cody spent his adult life playing and even living as an Indian of Cherokee-Cree ancestry, but he was born to 100% Sicilian American parents.

Ha! Yeah, looking at him again, he looks a whole lot like my Uncle Tony.

Speaking of references to 1970s ads, do you get the reference of this Kirk piece by the wonderful Rabbittooth? (I didn't.) 

It's a parody of the 1978 ad for Eveready batteries with Wild, Wild West star Robert Conrad daring you to knock the battery off his shoulder.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Thinking about Thinking (and getting muddled)

Last night I had to stop the DVD during the final speech in Hannah Arendt (2012 Germany, dir. Margarethe von Trotta), because I was so moved and weepy, I needed to catch my breath. 

The movie is about philosopher Arendt's controversial report on the 1961 trial in Jerusalem of Nazi functionary Adolf Eichmann. (You know, he was in charge of running the mass deportations of Jews to concentration camps.)

Published as a book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, Arendt's original articles are viewable in the New Yorker magazine archive-- not the easiest way of reading them, but it's interesting to see them in their original setting, accompanied by ads for luxury items.

Eichmann's defense, famously, was that he was just following orders, legal orders he had taken an oath to uphold.
In the movie Arendt says of him, 
"In refusing to be a person, Eichmann utterly surrendered that single most defining human quality, that of being able to think. And consequently he was no longer capable of making moral judgments."

Below: Arendt watching the live broadcast of Eichmann in the press room. Director von Tratta said she set it there so she could show the the real footage of Eichmann (if nothing else, the movie is worth watching to see it). 
Later learned that Arendt really did spend much of her time in the press room she could smoke!

In the movie's final speech that moved me so much, Arendt (Barbara Sukowa) gives an impassioned, romantic defense of the Art of Thinking:
"We usually call thinking being engaged in that intent dialogue between me and myself. .... 
The manifestation of … thought is not knowledge, but the ability to tell right from wrong, beautiful from ugly. And I hope that thinking gives people the strengths to prevent catastrophes in these rare moments when the chips are down."
I felt so grateful that someone was championing thinking (in a movie!). And since I heard of it as a teenager, Arendt's idea of the "banality of evil" has been really important to me:
 the idea that evil isn't necessarily an act of will on the part of sexy Satanic sorcerers (as Hollywood portrays it) but is the thoughtless act of dull bureaucratic functionaries like Eichmann, who have emptied their minds to be filled up by others. 

If Evil is the work of people like Voldemort, well, I'm off the hook. After all, I'm not that powerful. 

But if evil is more a matter of omission---of failing to take action or failing to think, of handing over that ability (to think, to act) to other people or institutions (because it's easier, or because we don't trust ourselves)...

That's me.

Similarly, if doing good is not the realm of superheroes alone, but comes about through the ordinary acts of ordinary people, then I am encouraged that I, too, can be/do good.

But when I went to bed after seeing the movie, I felt suspicious of my emotional reaction. It reminded me of how I felt about The Lives of Others, another romantic German film. 
They're both emotionally rousing, like listening to Beethoven.

But do I really believe that Thinking (and Art) manifests in the "ability to tell right from wrong, beautiful from ugly"?

No, I don't.
NOT thinking may open you to being manipulated into doing stupid, bad things, but Thinking isn't necessarily a remedy.

Obviously being a great thinker didn't stop Arendt's philosophy professor and the lover of her youth, Martin Heidegger, from joining the Nazi Party. (I don't know enough about Arendt to go any further with this debate though.)

You don't have to be a great thinker to do Good. The people I worked with who lived with dementia were no longer capable of intellectual thought, which requires time, but they could still feel compassion and do Good in the moment. If someone was upset, for instance, others would offer comfort.

Not being able to think well does not lead to evil or mean you can't do good. 
But letting other people think for us is a different matter.
-Isms of all kind work that way: adherents empty their brains and substitute other people's thinking for their own. 

Maybe the group-think is good: 
Let's all pull together to recycle garbage! Here, we, the government, will make it easy so you don't have to think about it.

Or maybe it isn't: 
Let's all buy water in plastic bottles! Here, we, the ad agencies and drink companies, will make it easy so you don't have to think about it.

Is buying plastic bottles of water evil?
No, "evil" is the wrong word.
What's the word for unthinking, short-sighted actions that cumulatively do great harm? 

Hm... "Stupid"? 

So, have I circled back to what I said I didn't agree with---that thinking "manifests in and ability to tell right from wrong"? 

Well, even if it can (no guarantees), it doesn't give you power to act on that ability. 
I'm always bemoaning along with St. Paul, Why don't I do the good I want to do? Like, I just bought a bottle of Vitamin water the other day, surely one of the stupidest products. But, hey, I was thirsty.

This is a central problem of being human. It's not the same as "evil," though. Stupidly buying plastic is far, far removed from loading human beings on trains and sending them to their death.

And I have now thought myself into a state of confusion. :)
I'll post this, and in a while, maybe I'll realize more clearly what I think. Or not.

At any rate, I loved Hannah Arendt--whether I agreed with all of it or not, it is wonderful to see a movie that makes me think.

Also, you can think of nice things to make with plastic bottles:

 Plastic Bottle Sculpture in Rio, from 70 Things to Do with Plastic Bottles.
"Loved it" film review in the Tablet: A New Read on Jewish Life by J. Hoberman, the former Village Voice film critic: Hannah Arendt, Guilty Pleasure.

"Hated it!" review by Richard Brody in the New Yorker: "Hannah Arendt and the Glorification of Thinking"