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“I like your tan–that’s very Christmassy…”

We watched one of my favourite X-Mas films tonight–Robert Montgomery’s The Lady in the Lake, co-starring the wondrous Audrey Totter. Chandler’s novel, upon which the film is based, is probably the worst of the Marlowe narratives–it belongs to the period of “cannibalized” books that intervened between the great 1930’s short stories and the even greater one-two punch of The Little Sister and The Long Goodbye. In the early-to-mid-forties, ol’ Ray was drunk and torpid (as opposed to later in the decade, when he was drunk and on fire!), and who knows what stagnant bottle his novel about corrupt police and perfume executives wafted out of… Montgomery (and screenwriter Steve Fisher) wisely chose to switch the setting to a publishing house and made Marlowe (the world’s most demented abuser of simile) an aspiring writer, and they decided the whole thing would work better at Christmas–of course they were right on all counts. The film is best known for its’ virtually unrelenting use of the “subjective camera” technique to simulate first-person narration (Montgomery’s excellent performance is almost all voice-over). I’m not sure if it does that, but it’s a fascinating viewing experience nonetheless, mainly for the way it forces us to look the crazed participants in the drama (particularly Audrey Totter) in the eye!

Friedrich, at Two Blowhards, declares that “nihilism is dead”. Along the way to this statement, he asks:

I mean, who really thinks they are here on earth to pursue perfect liberty, perfect justice or perfect fairness as ends in themselves? Aren’t liberty, justice and fairness valuable only as means to some end? But can we really be surprised that the average American ends up living a life of ‘mindless consumerism’ when he or she can’t state a social goal more profound than ‘eliminating injustice’?

As a matter of fact, I think “liberty, justice and fairness” are valuable things in themselves… There is no shame in embracing a political system that limits the ability of the thumotically inclined to arrogate power over other human beings to themselves (whilst making excellent use of their power-lust–someone’s gotta run the country, might as well be the damned!). I do agree that much of life is about “overcoming resistance”, but this battle ought to remain within the confines of the mind–other people are not objects of resistance to be overcome–they are objects to rejoice in! “Overcoming the other” only brings the strong thinker closer to complete isolation–and the madhouses are filled with “Supermen” who made it all the way to the state Nietzsche was so eager to achieve.

Book of Illusions–major thumbs up! And Mr. Auster is right–“Nothing that happens to us is ever lost”. He also does wonders with Hawthorne’s great story, “The Birthmark”. I should stop right now–I’m prety exhausted, and I’ve been coughing so much that a customer who phoned the store tonight greeted me as “Madame”! That’s not good…

Good night friends
Dave

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