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Aaron Barlow's blog

"It's All Right Ma, It's Life and Life Only"


All of this nonsense about doing it alone! Teabagger Joe Miller, whose career would never have been possible without government (he's a West Pointer, for one thing); Sharron Angle, who graduated from a public university and whose husband worked for the government; Christine O'Donnell, who claims to have been a marketing consultant, seems to have based her career on political advocacy—working for funded organizations, not producing anything herself; Rand Paul, who would be no one if it weren't for his father's noteriety and successful career in Congress. All of them—and, if you scratch the surface (or so it seems) of almost every teabagger—almost all of their followers owe a great deal of their success to government in one form or another.

Yet they continue to bellow the myth of their rugged individualism.

Damned Fame, Anyway


The day after the height of the brouhaha over Terry Jones and his powerful (24-member) church and its threat to religious tolerance (and the day of the first reported death resulting--in Afganistan) comes a review of Joaquin Phoenix's new movie, I'm Still Here, about the ennui of fame.

Sometimes the fates collude, perhaps trying to make us think, and not just react.

The Libertarian Fallacy

Oh, I know... to limit the fallacies of libertarianism to just one is a disservice to logical thinkers everywhere. However, when you try to look at the whole of libertarian illogicality at once, you end up near despair: There's just too much of it.

So, let me concentrate on just one fallacy, the idea that ownership stems from the individual and rests with the individual absolutely... or (even that being to broad, in terms of the number of fallacies involved) just on one bitty aspect of that, the idea of creation implying unencumbered ownership.

Twisted Tea Thinking

"I made it on my own. And I will take care of my future and my children on my own."

That's a fine sentiment, but it contains its own logical (or philosophical, really) flaws. For one thing, if it is so important that you make it on your own, why are you ensuring that your children cannot do it on their own, by providing for them? Wouldn't you be doing them more of a favor by cutting them off completely--at least once they reach adulthood?

Hey, I wouldn't do that... but then I don't believe anyone ever makes it on their own. We all rely on others--libertarians notwithstanding.

Inside the Net

For a quarter of a century, I generally traveled rough. Not at the level of the homeless, but close enough to share, occasionally, their sleeping places, their means of getting about, their ways of finding food. Generally, when moving about, I was below the safety net—and did suffer its lack. Police were not friends to me, and even a US passport sometimes provided surprisingly little help. In Prague in 1968, I was turned away by the Marine guard at the embassy entrance. Filthy, long-haired, my papers did not redeem my appearance.

The Power of Movies

Quentin Tarantino’s fictional Shosanna Dreyfus in Inglourious Basterds wasn’t the first to substitute a film for showing to a Nazi military crowd. Though there were no luminaries in the audience, that honor probably goes to Nikola Radosevic, who recounts in The Tramp and the Dictator how he switched movies shown to a crowd of German soldiers in Yugoslavia, putting up Charles Chaplin’s lampoon of Hitler, The Great Dictator, instead of the expected fare.

William Holden and Me

Perhaps, were he alive today, William Holden would be another of those big stars playing small parts in Quentin Tarantino films. He would be perfect for it: understated, but able to convey a wide range of emotion with a look, Holden always seemed about to hit the skids—in life, and in his film roles. In addition, he wasn’t scared of movies not for the squeamish. And he understood that the comic is not anathema to the serious, that the two, when all is said and done, are pretty much the same.

James Agee

Writing on John Huston for Life magazine on 9/18/1950, James Agee began:

The ant, as every sluggard knows, is a model citizen. His eye is fixed unwaveringly upon Security and Success, and he gets where he is going. The grasshopper, as every maiden ant delights in pointing out, is his reprehensible opposite number: a hedonistic jazz-baby, tangoing along primrose paths to a disreputable end.


[Hi Folks... I've been away for far too long. Thing is, I haven't been writing about the issues I used to, but have been concentrating on a book on the movies of Quentin Tarantino that will be appearing soon from Praeger. Now, I am continuing to write on film, and have even started a blog on that (www.aaronbarlow.com). I'd like to share my posts here. Maybe they will amuse; perhaps they will even spark a little discussion.]

What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Film?

That title, adapted from a Raymond Carver short story, should be the question at the heart of all discussions of Quentin Tarantino's new Inglourious Basterds. The movie sits at the intersections of film and our world, history and fantasy, and reality and myth. Yeah, it has unpleasant aspects (what Tarantino film does not), but that, too, is part of another of the crossroads at the heart of the film, the one between bad and good—or, to put it another way, between the human tendency to see what we do as fine and dandy and what the other does as evil.

One Man’s Terrorist: Quentin Tarantino and the Nazis

Yesterday, a copy of the screenplay of Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino’s new movie, arrived in my mailbox, from Amazon.com.  I read it today.  I haven’t seen the movie yet (it opens in the US next Friday—and I will certainly be watching an early showing, popcorn on my lap), but I am ten times more interested in seeing what Tarantino does in filming his script than I was two days ago.

Some Fiction for Diversion

Dim changes approached. He rolled over to see: faint colors crawling slowly under the corrugated-zinc door. Little light came with them, dull, sliding grays reaching tentative, translucent fingers through outlined cracks. He imagined that they were seeking sneaky purchase for pulling themselves into the room. Furtive, their movement were, certainly. He watched through slitted, sleep-encrusted eyes while, cautious and silent, they explored new means of encroaching upon the cinderblock chamber where he had been sleeping.


“But it’s just a false dawn, not real day, not so soon.” He closed his eyes again as his cracked lips mouthed the words that soothed him. “Nothing dangerous here, not for awhile.” A pause and a sigh. “It shouldn’t be so bad, anyhow: merely one more start; another aching morning.” But then he groaned, thinking ahead. “Cool, yes it is, for now, but calling the scalding sun.” Another pause, and an expelled breath: these prefaced a mumbled attempt at irony: “Just another coming day here in the Sahel.”


He stretched, then, and pretended to relax, turning his head away from the door, trying to recover the quiet he’d felt before hearing his own words.


But the world, oblivious, wasn’t going to allow that.


Merciless and unyielding, it sent the sudden sharp whoosh of a military jet roaring low overhead, jerking his eyes wide, demolishing any sense of quiet in the coming African dawn and shooting a spike of pain, a missile into his forehead.

When Is a Recovery? And, Is It, Even Then?

All the talk of a ‘jobless recovery’ going on gives me the heebie-jeebies. What bothers me is that people get left out of the equation. The economy becomes nothing more than Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on the idea that if it goes up, things get better for everyone. A rising tide floats all boats sort of argument.

Somehow, I suspect, that’s related to ‘trickle down,’ even though the water’s going in different directions.

Speaking From the Middle

Now, I ain't no economist, and I ain't no economist's son—but I do have eyes, and ears, and I do live in the United States.  And the people around me, for the most part, are those  who make (probably) something well under $100,000 a year.  For the most part, we've lived reasonably comfortably for the past twenty years.  Our homes have increased in value steadily even though our income has not.  Our children graduate from college (a good sign for the future) and, though they are generally saddled with debt from student loans, jobs (until recently) have been there for them.  With a little luck and careful purchase, many of them were able to buy their own homes, were able to use the increasing value of their homes to offset the burden of college debt.

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