Sunday, September 08, 2013

The Art of Ozu

An Autumn Afternoon (1962) 

Ozu is amazing.  He was doing films about nothing before Seinfeld was born.  Okay, it's not about nothing, it's about a daughter getting married and leaving her father.  But it's a low-key comedy, quiet, unobtrusive, humble, pitch perfect. 

What's amazing about Ozu is he takes these real life conflicts, these small moments that occur in just about everybody's life, and he makes them interesting.  What helps Ozu too I think are his actors, who, like Hitchcock's, underplay everything, they hide their emotion.  It's also fascinating to see characters avoiding conflict, by refusing to answer a question, they'll grunt or something. 

So much is going on underneath in an Ozu movie.  He's got no car chases, no deaths, no violence, no sex.  Should be boring and it's just brilliant.  This is his last film, in my opinion his greatest, but you can't go too wrong with any Ozu, really. 

And damn this film is beautiful.  It’s so gorgeous.     

What Is Heaven Like?

I don't know, but I like this.

I like blue, so maybe that's it.  I like islands

I also like clarity.  I'm a huge fan of Hugo Black.  One think he did was fight for clarity in the law.  He would read the law and follow the law, as written.  Sandra Day O'Connor, on the other hand, is perhaps my least favorite jurist.  I felt like she was always making the law murky and unknowable.  The Undue Burden law.  Don't break the undue burden law!  
Look at that water.  That is clear water.  You can't hide in that water!  What you see is what you get.  I love the purity of this image, the cleanliness of it.  I love the dark blue sky, the white sand and the aqua cool ocean.  I like the bridge man has built.  I like that we have a path to nature.  Beautiful. 

Plastic Surgery Nightmare #1

Sexually speaking, we are a liberal society.  Our people have a lot of liberties and freedoms.  Some people argue we should have even more liberties and freedoms.  For instance, that we should legalize prostitution. 

I like living in a sexually open society.  But there's a dark, ugly side to human sexuality, too.  And that's a side that liberal society often represses and hides. 

For instance, here is a recent photograph of Joan Rivers, who has had some work done. 

I can't imagine she's happy with a permanent Joker smile. 

Why do we do this to ourselves?  Why do we pay a surgeon to intentionally scar our bodies?

She wants to look young.  She is desperate to look young, to defy death, to give the appearance of eternal youth. 

Why youth?  Because young women reproduce and have babies, and old women do not.

Sex is not a contract or a roller coaster ride or a fun tingle in your body parts.  Sex is primal.  It is how we reproduce as a species.  Sex creates babies, all the time.  We are glib and stupid about this.

Here is a baby who was aborted.  I am sure the photographer used a zoom lens.  So maybe this image is not upsetting in real life.  Maybe it's not a homicide.  But I look at that tiny arm, ripped off by a surgeon, and I have to say I am appalled.  

I like our sexually liberated society.  I like the freedom in it.  But to have this freedom, we censor and hide all the bad stuff.  You probably won't see "plastic surgery disasters" in the New York Times, nor will you see photographs of aborted babies.  We hide these images.  

I think our society is actually quite weird on the subject of sex.  I think forcing miscarriages is weird, and intentionally scarring your body is weird.  I think it's a perversion of medical skills, and an abandonment of medical ethics.  These doctors are violating their Hippocratic Oath.  

But we really can't blame the doctors.  We pursue sex with a single-minded intensity.  I know I do!  And doing so makes us crazy, and it makes us do crazy things.  And while we should expect crazy to go hand-in-hand with liberty (nonconformists by definition refuse to conform), I also think we should hold up a mirror to the crazy, and show our people what we are doing.  And our media has failed us miserably in this regard. 

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Abortion and Women's Health

One of the important briefs in Roe v. Wade was filed by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.  In it, the ACOG argues, "The medical procedure of induced abortion is potentially 23.3 times as safe as the process of going through ordinary childbirth."

This is a rather shocking statement to make.  The political organization that represents all the obstetricians in our country is arguing in federal court that an abortion--a forced miscarriage--is safer for a woman than a childbirth.  And not just safer, but 23.3 times safer.

This is counter-intuitive, to put it mildly.  Pregnancy and birth is a natural, healthy event that billions and billions of women have undergone since the dawn of humanity.  Yes, there are certain dangers in a pregnancy.  But, one might add, there are even more dangers to a woman in a miscarriage.  Indeed, much of the dangers in a pregnancy revolve around a miscarriage.  A miscarriage signals that something is wrong with the pregnancy.  And when something is wrong with the pregnancy, there is a danger to the mother.

And yet in 1973 the ACOG is flipping this understanding on its head.  In its Roe v. Wade brief, the ACOG is arguing that an abortion--a forced miscarriage on a healthy pregnant woman--is safer and healthier than a pregnancy itself.  The political body that represents obstetricians in our country is telling the Supreme Court that pregnancy is a danger to women, and a miscarriage is the cure.