Monday, October 23, 2006


There are "important books. I would define an important book as either having a direct impact on the world (the writings of Marx or Luther, The Jungle), or having a wide impact on the realm of ideas, so that the way we think about things is affected by the book (Frankenstein). So there is no doubt there have been important books.

But have there been important films? If you think so, please provide me examples.

I do not include as "important" those works of art that change only the way other works of art are made or thought of. That's insular. I'm talking about "important" in the blood, bone, and guts world or important in the realm of ideas about living in the world. I'm also not in this case arguing about books that are personally important. All individuals can cite works that impact and change them and their worldviews. I would only include the work as important if many people could cite the impact.

The Stupid Thing I Think About Sartre's No Exit
I believe this is the most misinterpreted play ever written. People glob onto the obvious line "Hell is other people" and believe this is the main theme of the play. Look closer; it's not. In the play, hell is the guilt and remorse an individual feels for knowingly committing "sins," not in the divine sense of right and wrong but in breaking individual integrity. Read the play and tell me why I'm wrong.

Academic Freedom and Meaning
I see three fundamental flaws in the arguments of conservatives like David Horowitz and Tucker Carlson that complain that liberal college professors are forcing their views on students, teaching students that America is bad, etc.

1. Classroom: these people don't have an understanding of pedagogy, the college classroom, or the current attitudes of young Americans. As a professor, I face dull-eyed students, long silences, and lack of energy frequently in the classroom. In order to engage students into thinking and discussing issues, I will sometimes express extreme viewpoints simply to provoke thought and response.

2. Adulthood: college students are not "kids" who are being inflicted with the brainwashing of a professor's political views. They are adults. They should have the ability to think critically about what they are taught.

3. History: would these people prefer that the history of racial discrimination and injustice in America be ignored? This history includes slavery (and the institutional racism that has lingered since), the genocide of Native Americans (and the institutional racism that has lingered since), and the less well-known treatment of Asian-Americans (biased immigration laws, internment camps, exploitation of labor for mines and railroads). And should U.S. foreign policy post-WWII be filtered only through a pro-American viewpoint?

Why the Aliens can Destroy Us
Here is a new feature at Costanza Book Club. I think that when the aliens come to destroy humanity and take earth for themselves, they could make a legitimate argument that humankind deserves to be destroyed. The Holocaust alone is evidence that people are lousy and maybe another sapient species would do better (though of course if they had to wipe us out in order to try do better, then they would be no better than we are, but that's the paradox of this new gimmick). I intend to be far less grave and cite only artistic examples for the aliens to use to justify wiping us out.

In the film The Producers, the song "The King of Broadway" was cut from the film but "That Face" was left in. This is the greatest travesty in the history of art and entertainment.

1 comment:

  1. deep throat. bonnie and clyde. birth of a nation.