Thursday, January 24, 2008

Torrential Downpour

Distinct Voices
The Big Lebowski is a brilliant film largely because so many eccentric characters speak with such distinct, unique rhythms, patterns, and mannerisms. The Sopranos, too, is a brilliant show in part because each character has his or her own way not only of speaking, not only of moving, but even a distinct aesthetic of being. The Simpsons is yet another show with the remarkable power of providing many distinct voices.

This isn't an easy feat to pull off. In Seinfeld, for example, Jerry, George, and Elaine often come off sounding remarkably the same. But when a show or film does pull it off, it is a great aesthetic achievement.

Can a misanthrope love humanity?
Can a person be a pacifist believing in the dignity of all people, while really not liking to be around people much? It can be easier to love humanity in the abstract than to love actual people. Can a person try to live by Christ's ethic of forgiving everybody who wrongs him/her, but while finding most people rather annoying? In some ways it's easier to forgive grand tragedies than to forgive people for being merely annoying.

I feel these two articles are somewhat related (besides both being in "Spiked" and coming to here through "Arts & Letters Daily." Frank Furedi writes critically about how "the science" has become a moral authority. Helene Guldberg reviews Christopher Lane's book on overdiagnosis of psychological issues.

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