Ice Friday: Oscar Wilde’s “Dorian Gray”

I never approve or disapprove of anything now. It is an absurd attitude to take toward life. We are not sent into the world to air our moral prejudices. The reason we all like to think so well of others is that we are all afraid of ourselves. The basis for optimism is sheer terror. We think that we are generous because we credit our neighbor with the possession of those virtues we are likely to be of benefit to us. As for a spoiled life, no life is spoiled but one whose growth is arrested.

Alien Covenant: Blandly Gratuitous

I have a weakness for Ridley Scott’s Alien franchise, partially due to its ominous vision, but mostly because the original was so well made, everything from characters and plot to music and foley. The franchise has struggled with the basics ever since, but none as tremendously as Alien Covenant. If there was one good thing to say, it would be the revelation that the alien is, indirectly, our own creation. However even this is tainted, as the cyborg responsible only did it as revenge for having been forced to serve tea to his creator.The film is a gratuitous, gruesome mess. Lowlights abound – a floating head, aliens bursting from mouths and spines, alien eggs kept in the basement – but most depressing of all is the self-plagiarism from Ridley Scott’s other franchise, Blade Runner, stealing Roy Batty’s line, “That’s the spirit!” in the midst of yet another bland and deadly tussle. Sadly, there is no spirit here, just horror cliches and a cgi crew big enough to colonize another planet. Which they should not do.

Trump and the Apparent Decline of Meaning

The New York Times: Trump Appears to Push Aside the Leader of Montenegro. This assault on language – and people – appears to be the New Republican way.

Ice Friday: Aesop’s “The Fox and the Lion”

A fox who had never seen a lion one day met one and was so terrified at the sight of him that he was ready to die of fear. After a time, he met him again and was still so frightened but not nearly so much as he had been when he met him first. But when he saw him for a third time, he was so far from being afraid that he went up to him and began to talk to him as if he had known him all his life.

Ice Friday: Italo Calvino’s “Enchanted Garden”

The pale boy was wandering about his shady room furtively, touching with his white fingers the edges of the scales studded with butterflies; then he stopped to listen. The pounding of Giovannino and Serenella’s hearts, which had died down, now got harder than ever. Perhaps it was the fear of a spell that hung over the villa and garden and over all these lovely, comfortable things, the residue of some injustice committed long ago. Very quietly, Giovannino and Serenella crept away. They went back along the same paths they had come, stepping fast but never at a run. 

Confessing What The Dog Says

I got a try-out for a swimming part in a film and found myself alone in the pool, playing basketball, making every shot. A woman appeared, slim and beautiful, and fouled me, keeping her hand on mine, and then I was trying to get the ball, and her suit was undone. More people arrived and I began to forget my lines, and was told as much in the long debrief, that I had started well and then lost momentum, and that there might be a next time once the group went on tour in Australia and New Zealand. I found my father, long dead, having a cigarette on the back patio and couldn’t understand what he was doing there. “I stay up to 11:00 every once in a while.” The dog was there too, and I confessed that it could speak, saying the same thing again and again: “Smoking again?” I felt bad about him being dead, stealing his wife, because she was so beautiful and now all mine.

Ice Friday: David Mamet’s “Oleanna”

Ah. (Pause) When I was young somebody told me, are you ready? The rich copulate less often than the poor. But when they do, they take more of their clothes off. Years. Years, mind you, I would compare experiences of my own to this dictum, saying, aha, this fits the norm, or ah, this is a variation from it. What did it mean? Nothing.