I recently happened on an old book I’d encountered before: Sigmund Freud’s Moses and Monotheism. The first time around, I didn’t know what to make of it; now, after some reflection, I think Freud was a poor historian, and at times even a poor therapist (at least as psychoanalysis’ “version 1.0”), but I think he had moments of intrigue — Moses and Monotheism, I’d now say, was one of them.
I pre-ordered Harold Bloom's latest book, Possessed by Memory: The Inward Light of Criticism, months ago and had completely forgotten it was coming out today. Thanks to a quick email, I realized it was now waiting for me on my Kindle bookshelf. I can't overstate how excited I am to finally read this.
For the past few months, I’ve been ruminating on King Lear, a play I had previously never seen before. I had the opportunity to watch Ian McKellen play Lear on 27 September 2018, broadcast by the National Theatre Live. Shortly thereafter, I watched Anthony Hopkins’ own performance in Amazon’s recent adaptation. And shortly after that, I read the Yale Annotated Edition of King Lear, with an essay by Harold Bloom at the end. Since that late September, I’ve been fascinated, maybe even a touch obsessed with this piece and its titular figure. With some effort, I’d like to see if I can express what King Lear has evoked in and elicited from me over the past four months.
Michael Moore’s 2002 Bowling for Columbine ambitiously seeks to explain what led to the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999, with numerous detours into related topics. Moore’s thesis is clear: a ubiquitous, uniquely-American climate of fear fostered Columbine. Despite "slippery logic, tendentious grandstanding, and outright demagoguery,” Bowling for Columbine’s “disquieting insights into the culture of violence in America should occasion sober reflection from those who would prefer to stop their ears" (Scott n.p.). Despite its failings, Bowling for Columbine may better be experienced as a ritual; the film may place the viewer in liminality, a non-rational state in initiatory rituals, meant to bring participants to a “threshold,” at which they are fundamentally changed (“Liminality”). Wielding facts and figures in service of its threshold, disregarding accuracy, Bowling for Columbine tears down the ideologies and kneejerk solutions behind which one may hide the senseless trauma of Columbine. At this threshold of powerlessness, with an as-yet unprocessed trauma in full view, the individual may achieve what philosopher Slavoj Zizek refers to as “the courage of hopelessness” (Courage).