Jeg skal ikke ta debatten om intervjumetodene i et TV-program som ikke engang er sendt ennå, men det er et premiss der jeg ikke er enig i: At det er useriøst å konfrontere noen hardt med hva de står for, og hvorfor de gjør det. At gode debatter alltid er lavmælte.
Det finnes to verdifulle måter å føre en debatt på. Den ene er at du lytter på motparten, og forsøker å forstå hvordan verden ser ut fra deres perspektiv. Den andre er at du angriper motparten med alt du har, for å finne svake punkter i tankegangen deres – og din egen.
Den første passer godt når folk ikke forstår hverandre, når en debatt er fastlåst i fordommer og sinne. Derfor brukte jeg den tilnærmingen mye i blåbloggen før valget. Målet var å forstå, og formidle forståelsen.
Den andre passer godt når du virkelig vil til bunns i en sak, og er spesielt nødvendig når en debatt er fastlåst i konsensus og høflighet. Da gjelder det å presse motparten på alle punkter, belyse tåkeprat og inkonsistens. Slike debatter går ofte forbausende dypt: Ned til grunnfjellet for hva vi tror, og hvorfor vi tror det.
Dette fungerer best når den som angriper selv ikke er skråsikker. Hensikten er ikke å overbevise, men å belyse og avsløre.
Vi trenger begge tilnærmingene, i balanse. Gruppeklem og boksekamp. I Norge har vi nok ofte for mye av det første. Da trenger man en real boksekamp – mellom tykkhudete folk som ikke tar aggresjonen med seg ut av ringen.
The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942, USA) – Monty Woolley is America’s greatest intellectual, a friend of statesmen and actors, and a royal ass. He is forced stay for a while with a small-town family that represents everything he despises about the middle class, and he punishes them with his temper, his tyrannical demands, and his outrageous Hollywood friends. I have a suspicion there are specific people being parodied here, including, brutally, Harpo Marx. Watched it all. Wikipedia confirms it: the movie parodies Alexander Woollcott, the critic, and .. yes, Harpo Marx. They both loved it, and at one time played their own roles in the stage version. (Read about Woollcott and Harpo’s unlikely friendship in Harpo’s autobiography.)
Captains of the Clouds (1942, USA) – James Cagney flies about in Canada, transporting things in his boatplane, and he’s a real jerk about it too. Watched: 11 minutes.
Son of Fury (1942, USA) – Tyrone Power grows up with a Dickensian uncle who has stolen his inheritance. As an adult he takes his revenge. You can rarely go wrong with a good vengeance theme, but the South Sea island paradise clichés, complete with a submissive native girl, ruin the second half, and there’s too little swashbuckling to justify the title. Watched it all.
The Payoff (1942, USA) – Cheap gangster movie. But I like the idea of displaying the title and cast as a newspaper frontpage. Watched: 4 minutes.
I’ve really enjoyed Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy. At worst, it’s non-stupid fantasy, and that’s good enough for me.
So I expected to enjoy Last Argument of Kings, the last book of the series. I did. What I didn’t expect was how good the ending would be. More than good – perfect.
The ending clears up an inconsistency that bothered me earlier: The use of heroic fantasy themes in an otherwise realistic story. By realistic I don’t mean naturalistic, but that people act as people do. Abercrombie is skeptical of “heroes”, and sees the good in every “villain”.
So it was odd to see the story apparently build up towards a standard heroic climax, with even a sort of Fellowship of the MacGuffin in book two. Would it all end in Glory?
The answer is no. Looking back, everything makes sense. Every use of heroic fantasy tropes is eventually undermined or sullied in some way. The ending isn’t tragic, but it reveals the heroism to be a facade. A tale for the gullible.
Abercrombie’s cynicism isn’t the kind that believes there is no good in anyone, or that there’s no difference between right and wrong. It’s the kind that says that great leaders and warriors are not likely to be altruists, humanists or democrats.
As one character says: Only people who mean to deceive you ask you to trust them.
These are Abercrombie’s first books. I look forward to his next.
I am certain that when Warehouse 13 was pitched to Syfy Channel, somebody used the line: “It’s about that place where they store the ark at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Then they added: “And all the technology will be steampunk-like.”
And then there was great rejoicing at Syfy, for they had found the perfect hook for their target audience.
One of the creators of the series is Jane Espenson, of Whedonverse fame. The Whedonverse is a Kevin Bacon-like construction based on the assumption that anything one of Joss Whedon’s former writers or actors is involved in is worth watching. This is surprisingly often correct.
Warehouse 13 is harmless, not brilliant. The characters go about looking for magical Artifacts that have belonged to historical celebrities. Edgar Allan Poe’s pen, Lewis Carroll’s mirror, that sort of thing. Stupid. Charming. I like it.
I’m not very tolerant of serious television. Serious television has to be perfect. Of less serious television I ask only that it be adorable. Warehouse 13 has clunky 1930′s video cellphones. Enough said.
It’s ironic that I haven’t been able to review either of the two perfect&serious television shows I’ve watched the last year – Mad Men and Damages. I’ve tried, but I don’t know what to say. There’s nothing to add.
But I keep coming back to these dumb&fun sci-fi shows. The Middleman, Stargate: Atlantis, Doctor Who. One day I’ll go after one of the serious ones as well.
I morgen møtes regjeringspartiene for å bli enige om hva de skal gjøre de neste fire årene. I den anledning gjenopplives sommerens bloggaksjonen mot innføring av EU’s datalagringsdirektiv.
Les hele oppropet hos Liberaleren.
Her er det jeg skrev om dette i sommer.
Som jeg fryktet klarte Arbeiderpartiet da å kvele debatten, ved å si minst mulig om den. Aksjonen illustrer dermed tre ting:
- Når bloggere står sammen kan de få mye oppmerksomhet innad i bloggmiljøet, men ikke nødvendigvis mer enn det. Det lengste dette kom ut over bloggmiljøet var vel artiklene til Magnus Blaker i Nettavisen.
- Arbeiderpartiet er ikke mer idealistiske enn at de hysjer ned viktige debatter de ikke ser seg tjent med å ta.
- De som setter dagsorden i de etablerte mediene syntes ikke dette var en viktig sak, og lot derfor Ap slippe unna med dette.
Det gjør det spesielt viktig at bloggerne snart finner ut av hvordan vi selv kan sette dagsorden. Jeg tror det er godt mulig vi taper denne saken. I såfall kan det kanskje være den oppvekkeren vi trenger for å ta utfordringen seriøst? Når mediene ikke makter å fange opp viktige debatter har demokratiet vårt et problem.
Men journalister og kommentatorer som ikke gjorde jobben sin før valget, har altså nå en ny sjanse.
The Palm Beach Story (1942, USA) – Claudette Colbert wants to use her good looks to charm money and other gifts out of rich men. Her husband would rather that she didn’t, so she runs away for a divorce. Contains my favourite resolution of a confused identity love farce. Watched it all. Best scene, (despite the racism):
The Black Swan (1942, USA) – No relation to Nassim Nicholas Taleb. This movie is about pirates, the amusing kind, who murder and rape like other pirates, (at least we see them walk out of a burning city carrying tied up women, so we can assume that murder came before this scene, and rape afterwards), but it’s all in good fun. They’re such charming bastards, really, and English patriots too. Watched: 13 minutes.
Tales of Manhattan (1942, USA) – Brotherhood of the traveling suit. Charles Boyer is preposterous in the first tale, and I’m not staying for the rest. Watched: 10 minutes.
The Mummy’s Tomb (1942, USA) – When did horror movies start becoming good? Even the classics are bad, and this isn’t a classic. Watched: 4 minutes.
The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942, USA) – Like I said. I can’t even be bothered to make the obligatory “the peasants, they are revolting” joke. Watched: 6 minutes.
Mrs Miniver (1942, USA) – In England in the distant and carefree year 1939, Mrs Miniver buys a hat. My mind wandered off at that point, but there may also have been a conversation with a vicar. Watched: 7 minutes.
I dag er det føderalt valg i Tyskland. Akkurat som foran det norske valget kan tyske velgere ta valgtester på nettet. RTL har laget en på engelsk. Så nå kan vi altså alle finne ut hvor vi hører hjemme i tysk politikk.
Ta den her.
Selv havner jeg på Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP), som Wikipedia beskriver som “liberal, pro-business” og “marked by skepticism of public intervention and of socialist as well as socially conservative policies”.
Jeg har aldri hørt om dem. Men det høres ikke så dumt ut. De framstår litt som den tyske motsatsen til Venstre, bare langt mer markedsliberalt. Et eksempel til etterfølgelse.
Nå må jeg finne noen andre slike tester. Dette er jo den perfekte nøkkelen til å forstå politikk i andre land.
Link via politikk.biz.
I was looking forward to reading Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life from 1962, because I’ve seen it quoted in many interesting places, but after a few pages I realize I already know what he’s going to say. Half of his message, I predict, is a defense of knowledge and expertise, which I agree with. The other half is praise of aloof, high-brow intellectual culture, which I don’t agree with.
His examples of 50′s anti-intellectualism include McCarthyism, parents who want their children to enjoy themselves at school, and the fact that Eisenhower liked western novels. I can see why a mid-20th century intellectual would make that connection, and why he would be so impressed with the heavyweight thinkers of the Kennedy administration, but .. quite a lot has happened since.
I’m saying all this based on the 20 first pages of the book. So I could be completely wrong. It’s just that .. this is all so familiar. It seems to represent an earlier step in a debate that has progressed a lot since. The debate interests me, but not in this outdated form.
It feels like a defense of a position, the authority of the Superior Expert, which seemed more secure then than now. Today you’d have to be more humble and cautious about it.
Again, this is a first impression, but with 19 unread books in the queue, that’s how I decide what to read.