Sunday, December 9, 2007

the wondrous Cohen Brothers

"No Country for Old Men" was a paean for reality. I loved it and accordingly I went and saw it three times in the theater. So, what is the antithesis of this cinematographic gem? Ah, yes, I know exactly! Once, when I was a seminarian there was this guy who lived down the hall. He didn't speak to other human beings- except in the language of philosophy. His typical social interactions consisted of one way conversations that went like this, "If only our confused modern culture would embrace the brilliant Scholasticism of Aquinas the world would be much better off." Apart from my general skepticism concerning people who make the distinction between the evil modern world and good medieval world, I just found such comments exceedingly entertaining. But I digress- what truly creeped me out about my sophist neighbor was his love for curling up in the library with a hefty volume of Nietzsche on Friday night. I can think of a few things I'd rather do- for example, drinking drain cleaner. And to think, he hates Nietzsche! But that's not the point. Sitting around and reading gobs of literature by insane people while entertaining the delusion that I can change the world by doing so, is foolish. Descartes, Montesquieu and Diderot wrote and then Robespierre and a whole pile of people acted, perhaps too much. John Locke and Thomas Paine wrote and then George Washington and a bunch of colonial traitors staged a revolution. Nietzsche wrote and then Hitler and then a bunch of fascists...well, you know what happened. Marx and Stalin... Misinterpreted? Misapplied? I can put my all my faith in political and philosophical systems or I can put it in God and do my humble part. I know I at least won't be wasting my time. "No Country for Old Men" doesn't paint the world in rosy colors. This is not a stock Western either! I think it is even a bit dark to be "dark comedy." Chalk-full of cold dispassionate brutality it doesn't pretend this is anything new nor ending anytime soon. This movie has its own category- REALITY CHECK. Near the end it really gets to the heart of this matter. Things will never work out quite the way we want and they never will. So much for Manifest Destiny and the American Dream! So do we give up? No! We keep working. "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling," curing cancer, police, parking tickets, etc. This is good. Trying with the expectation of being the savior, well, "That's vanity." Helping even one single person have a better life? That's a goal satisfying enough for me. And, God knows, with a musician's salary, I won't be moving mountains with my money!
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