Philosophy, literature, mythology, psychology, climate, history.

Posts Tagged ‘violence

Pauline Kael on Violence in Film

leave a comment »

“It’s the emotionlessness of so many violent movies that I’m becoming anxious about, not the rare violent movies (Bonnie and Clyde, The Godfather, Mean Streets) that make us care about the characters and what happens to them. A violent movie that intensifies our experience of violence is very different from a movie in which acts of violence are perfunctory. I’m only guessing, and maybe this emotionlessness means little, but, if I can trust my instincts at all, there’s something deeply wrong about anyone’s taking for granted the dissociation that this carnage without emotion represents. Sitting in the theater, you feel you’re being drawn into a spreading nervous breakdown. It’s as if pain and pleasure, belief and disbelief had got all smudged together, and the movies had become some schizzy form of put-on.” – from “Killing Time,” a review of Clint Eastwood’s Magnum Force; The New Yorker, January 14, 1974

For years I struggled to understand what anyone saw in Pauline Kael, who alienated me early on with withering reviews of Stanley Kubrick. But the more I read of her, the more her reviews make me want to read, and to write, and to think.


Written by Mesocosm

August 9, 2012 at 10:40 am

Posted in Film

Tagged with , ,

Is global violence steadily declining?

leave a comment »

Harvard professor Steven Pinker, perhaps best known for The Language Instinct, his popular account of cognitive linguistics, has written a new book with the provocative thesis that violence has been steadily declining over the last several thousand years. From genocide to war, from capital punishment to violent crime, the available data, such as it is, all shows a downward trend. Pinker gives a compelling overview of his argument in “A History of Violence” on

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined is scheduled for release this week.

(image: a Bronze Age Skull from Troy, Neues Museum, Berlin)

Written by Mesocosm

October 3, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Posted in Links

Tagged with ,