“But perhaps the most striking and frightening aspect of the German flight from reality is the habit of treating facts as though they were mere opinions.”

Hannah Arendt The Aftermath of Nazi Rule – Report from Germany. (1950)

Hannah Arendt was born today in 1906. These days, her theories and commentary feels all too relevant.

“Trust Love All the Way”: Go See If Beale Street Could Talk

If Beale Street Could Talk, the Barry Jenkins movie based on the James Baldwin novel of the same name, is a fantastic, beautiful, political, loving movie. Trish Rivers and Fonny Hunt are a young Black couple in love and expecting a baby when Fonny is arrested for a rape he didn’t commit.

Barry Jenkins and James Baldwin have one thing in common. An image/prose language that is both realistic and, at the same time, incredibly poetic. Compared to Moonlight, the outstanding 2017 Academy Award winner, Beale Street is comparatively conventional in parts, but similarly terrific. The beauty of the love between Trish and Fonny, the support of Trish’s family is in contrast to the ugliness of the racist system.

The acting of the entire cast is exceptional, Regina King as Sharon Rivers deserves winning all the awards this season, including the Oscar for best actress in a suporting role. The two young lead roles, Kiki Layne as Tish and Stephan James as Fonny are great, particularly their close ups were tremendously heavy or heavenly light, depending on the scene. The breathtaking dialogues at the window in prison reminded me of the intensity of the prison dialogues in Steven McQueen’s Hunger.

Once again, Glenn Weldon of NPR’s Popculture Happy Hour podcast also sums up this movie together perfectly: “If Beale Street Could Talk has a gorgeous urgency.” 

I saw it as a Valentine’s Day preview at Zebra Kino Konstanz. The movie will be released more widely in Germany on March 7th, 2019. Go see it if you have a chance.

Post-Everything: My Favorite Songs of 2018

I’ve stopped attempting to make a top 5 list of my favorite songs of the year quite some time ago. Instead, I have a running list of songs I’ve loved every year on Spotify. Here is the 2018 list.

I don’t think I’ve listened to this much punk and angry pop music in years. Must be the enraging times we’re living in.

(Featured image: Naked Lunch at Obstwiesenfestival 2018. My favorite show of the year.)

“Do You Favor the Country Becoming More Politically Correct?” Is Not a Neutral Question

A recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll and the connected article results in what they call a “warning for Democrats: Americans are largely against the country becoming more politically correct.” The question in the poll, like the framing of the article, is.. odd.The full question is:

“In general, are you in favor of the United States becoming more politically correct and like when people are being more sensitive in their comments about others, or are you against the country becoming more politically correct and upset that there are too many things people can’t say anymore?”

Asma Khalid called this a good definition of politcal correctness in the most recent episode of the NPR Politics podcast. I don’t think so. The question is neitehr a fitting definition of politcal correctness nor a neutral one, but rather a definition that at the very least leans towards the use of the term “political correctness” as a right-wing fighting word. It connects “politcal correctness” to censorship.

Not using certain words and supporting certain concepts isn’t about censorship, it’s about not continuing to hurt people.

“In trying to see and hear what professional critics never see and hear, I felt as though I was attending one endless block party. In New York City, Benjamin’s mechanical reproduction has clearly become Baudrillard’s cybernetic apocalyptic ecstasy of communication, in which everything is repeated to the point of meaninglessness. Or is it rather that the massive proliferation of entertainment as compensation, as escape, as the conspicuous consumption of the flattening of history and political consequence, is what urban existence is all about?”

Michelle Wallace “Entertainment Today” (1988)

John Kelly and Convenient Cultural Amnesia

Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Sympathizer,  comments about John Kelley’s remarks on immigrants:

Convenient amnesia about one’s origins is an all-American trait, since we believe ourselves to be the country in which everyone gets a new beginning.
What some of us also forget is that at nearly every stage of our country’s history, the people who were already established as American citizens found convenient targets to designate as unable to assimilate: the indigenous peoples; conquered Mexicans; slaves; or the newest immigrants, who were usually classified as nonwhite.