Watching the world leaders attending COP 26 and G20 vehemently discussing achieving the net-zero policy makes me wonder how Greta Thunberg can get away with her angry facial expressions and vitriolic remarks that would otherwise have been simply unpleasant. How powerful Greta Thunberg’s vehement narrative on her newfound purpose in life has become! Now the world leaders vow to her harmoniously, when they should know better as expensively educated men that the goal of net-zero carbon dioxide will require live human sacrifice and stultify the truth about carbon dioxide in its relationship with the earth.
To begin, you have to understand carbon dioxide is not evil but necessary to keep the appearance of this planet. The principal effect of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere stimulates plan growth, aka the fertilization effect. Thanks to its grim colorful image of the reaper as a hazardous element, its function to make the green greener sounds cynically antonymous. Also, carbon dioxide warms the planet earth, lest it turns into a dwarf planet like Saturn with frozen lakes adumbrated with gas-filled clouds. Besides, only 1/6 of a degree per decade has been increased, the amount inconspicuously perceptible and critical to producing any apocalyptic effects on the earth’s surface. Thunberg and her comrades command that all nations achieve net-zero in carbon dioxide emissions, which means using fossil fuels, which is too costly for underdeveloped and developing countries to keep up with. The poor always remain poor because of this unfair authoritarian policy without regard to the national economic system and social situations forcefully measured in the Outrageous Bed of Procrustes. In effect, most pollution in the world comes not from Western Europe but from those countries where the industrial revolution was the counter-product of colonialism or communism. Therefore, if these countries strive for the net-zero goal, they will fall by the wayside of their social progress for the welfare of the people by spending the national treasure on achieving the pyrrhic goal.
I have never seen an aggressive environmental campaign such as this at present. Of course, climate irregularities have always existed, but humans have remarkable skills to adapt to new surroundings with the power to think as a bipedal species. Dostoevsky said we could get used to anything, even hanging. But the current seismic environmental zeal with the Swedish teenager seems more unpleasantly cataclysmic with her militant warrior approach. The matching ensemble of the haughty voice is heartless, laughing at how the famous and influential adults are fumblingly and funnily reacted to her like dolts. Could it be her ambition to prove herself to the world that despite her autism and want of beauty, she could become the most well-known and influential girl in the world? After all, even the women politicians and intellectuals fall in love and even marry. The whole scene reminds me of a teenager dissatisfied with herself venting her depression and anger with a holler from the rebels against the demands placed upon daily tasks of life. In William Golding’s dystopian juvenile literature Lord of the Flies, Jack, the antagonist, plays innocent along with his followers in the eyes of adults. Greta is the female version of Jack. And the world leaders at COP26 and G20 are the officers who rescued the band of children and boarded them on the ship, not knowing what would happen soon. But Greta has much more followers to her alter of Climate Catastrophism.
It always amazes me that some people can get away with their character flaws and faults under the aegis of social status and wealth, such as modern-day celebrities. The celebrities of the bygone days were kings and queens whose God-given authorities indemnified them from punishment. Their entitled strangeness swiveled my head in wonderment at the stupendousness of freakiness. Ironically, this anecdotal recounting of the cruel-to-be kind potentates reminds me of a tenet of Logotherapy, which explains that a healthy dose of suspense in life helps us escape boredom, resulting in excessive indulgence in perverted pleasure-seeking.
This book tells of the infamous kings and queens and some aristocrats. They are famous and lesser-known, mainly from Russia and Eastern Europe, which gives a somber ambiance to the tales of weirds born with silver spoons in their mouths. The most memorably horrible and ignoble characters that left indelible marks on my consciousness are as follows:
1. Elizabeth Bethany: This diabolically perverted Hungarian countess whose uncle was a king of Poland had a fixation on blood and pain in devotion to youth and beauty. Some say she was trained to be cruel, but I think it has to do with her connatural inclination for cruelty passed down in her lineage. Her aunt was a Satan-worshipping noblewoman who sought erotic pleasure in young girls, which Elizabeth also learned and practiced in her castle. She had her trusty three maids lured beautiful young girls, usually from poor families, under the pretext of training them for top-rated maids-in-waiting with generous munificence to the families. What happened next was all over but the shouting. Bethany tortured the girls in unthinkably cruel ways and bathed in their blood because she believed doing it would restore youth and beauty. She deserves no revisionist or appeals on the crime against the girls under her care. Nevertheless, modern-day feminists and the radical leftists are moved to portray her as a wrongfully accused Calvinist woman in a time when sectarian religious rivalry and antipathy were rampant. Her being charged by a Lutheran minister in the town does not ipso facto constitute Lutheran machination of destroying the Calvinist influence in the region. If the minister conspired to concoct any such plot, he would have targeted a man, not a woman whose social status was not entirely regarded as equally significant as a man even in high birth.
2. Vlad the Lad, aka the Impaler, aka Dracula: The proverbial bloodsucker ruler had a penchant for impaling men, women, and children for leisure and punishment. The point was to give them slow deaths to heighten the apex of pain till the last breath. The legend of Count Dracula is loosely based on this Romanian ruler who might have inspired an idea of shashlik, kebab. Or any skewed food. Thanks to the detailed accounts of how Vlad artistically mastered impaling, I swore off any such skewered food lest it should conjure up the vista of the impaled helpless.
3. Frederick I of Prussia: A stout and short, the king’s obsession with men in great height was his actualization of ideation. He had the tallest men in all the regions of Europe, especially from the North, to establish the royal military version of a freak company called “The Potsdam Giants.” The recruits, or in many cases, abductees, were consisted of a former woodsman, laborers, and farmers, allured by abundant compensations promising dazzling delights of secured lives. Yet it was an empty promise, beguiling the simple-minded low-class foreigners, who were subjected to mistreatments and even punishments should they attempt to escape. The king’s pastime was to call upon the guards at any time anywhere, including in his chamber at night, and watch them in full uniform, admiring their impossibly imposing physique that he coveted but could never have. Thank God that his son Frederick the Great disbanded the freakish guards no sooner than had he succeeded his father upon his death.
I wonder if these royal characters were due to in-breeding abnormalities, which were usually customary in European dynasties to preserve their noble royal lineage. It also testifies that keeping means in one’s life is a blessing because extreme wealth and poverty lead a soul astray due to listlessness and exasperation, resulting in amoral walking dead subsisting on the pain of the others. Robinson Crusoe’s sagacious father was right in saying that the best is the upper station of low life. Mel Brooks once uttered, “It’s good to be a king.” Unfortunately, it only applies to these afore-described weird and evil characters. A good king or queen doesn’t.
In a post-industrial age, when the mingling of classes in streets is a norm, and social mobility is a reality in a society, the stories about royal families become reality period dramas that seem to give them a status that fuses the capriciousness of greek gods with the glamour of Hollywood celebrity.
When I saw twitter’s promotion of Oprah Winfrey’s Harry and Meghan interview, I thought no wonder they were sought-after media darlings, living Romeo and Juliet, and something to talk about when things looked bleak and boring. And I honestly feel no qualms about them being a subject of gossip or the tabloid because they live in public eyes, albeit they most clamor for the privacy of their lives. Otherwise, what is the absolute need to broadcast their stories on a central television station at prime time? (No YouTube, please, in respect of their royalty.) Oprah Winfrey, who now seems to have replaced Barbara Walters’ seat, looks fit to the royal couple pleading for upscaled sympathy from the American public unfamiliar with the constitutional monarchy and possibly slightly partial to the name and images of monarchy without knowing them well.
To put the wedding story of Prince Harry and Actress Meghan Markle on a par with Cinderella story is to ignore the fact she is from a privileged class in the States with expensive private education and parental support. Despite Princess Diana’s aristocratic family background, people sympathized with the lonely Diana because of her doe-eyed, ever muliebral innocent beauty that looked impossible for debauchery. By the same virtue of beauty fused with sensualness of exotic charm, the American actress/model Meghan charmed Prince Harry, who would even venture to Hesperides’ garden to bring her a golden apple should she request. And now Harry lives in the Golden State, the land of his Helen, with a face launching waves of media coverages.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said that beauty tames the savageness of brutes and allays the hardened souls of criminals. Oscar Wilde added that a beautiful woman is the subject of conversations wherever she goes. The lovely Meghan beaming with sparkling amethyst eyes adorned with apricot cheeks reminded me of a modern-day Helen of Troy. After all, Helen’s prodigal beauty saved her from her first the ireful sword of her first and lawful husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta to whom she betrayed the slain Paris’s brother Deiphobus, her third husband. Despite vehement feminist catchphrases brandishing anti-sexism, beauty is still a woman’s privilege to achieve social escalation in work and an undefeatable power to purchase indemnity for all faults and foibles.
In addition to the claimed blackness of Meghan’s heritage, the media seems to shoehorn it to fit her estrangement feeling in the procrustean bed to a histrionic degree because one cursory glance at her wouldn’t strike her as a black woman at all. I honestly think that if a woman is beautiful, then where she comes from does not matter. In fact, I feel something is not quite right when someone in her position keeps playing a race card as a chance gambit to muster her retinue against the criticism raised by her unwilling participation in royal attendances and cavalier attitude towards learning the royal manners, which appear antithetical to her carefree American spirit hard to domesticate.
Call it an acrid narrative of a woman who juggles the daily affairs of life with what she has. Or you may say it is the usual cynical delusion of reference to those who got it all out of passionate envy burned in a fury. Yet, the interview appears to be nothing but their formal excuse for their present life, public proclamation of their still regal sovereignty warning people not to speak ill of them, which is probably directed to the ordinary whom they regard as meddlesome. Well, then let them be whoever they want to be. Playing Romeo and Juliet’s roles in a public theater in long-run shows will only lose favor with the audience, especially with Romeo now being well-stuffed, looking like a rich American, and Juliet still looking fabulous like a luxurious Beverly Hills demimonde.
When I saw the movie poster of ‘Cat’s Eye’ (1985) on Amazon prime, I was at first hesitant to watch it because it showed the stereotypical association of the cat as a witch’s familiar or something to that nature of foregone horror repertoire. But perhaps I was more afraid of what I would see and reconcile to the stereotype that the cat could not be the dog. Despite all of the phantasmagorial display of the flights of thought, the cat of the poster’s uncanny resemblance to my seven-month-old tabby Toro won me over the resistance. I rented it for Saturday Afternoon Home Cinema with the expectation which was akin to curious Alice in Wonderland. Be it ever magical or bewitching in a softly purring way, the result is one big wonder conflated with doses of warmth and mirth, whimsically betraying the genre classification as horror and the writer’s Craft of Gothic Fantasy like you never knew.
‘Cat’s Eye’ is a threefold anthology film based on Stephen King’s short stories, the first two from his “Night Shift.” King wrote the last story, especially for the movie. It tells a story of a traveling cat who comes upon three separate incidents during his search of the mission to save a life from danger, as annunciated by a spectral girl. In the first two stories, in which the cat takes an incidental role of witnessing human frailty and duality of evil and good, he goes by the names of “The Kitty” and “Sebastian,” showing the characters of the name doners per se. And who says that the cat is a harbinger of destruction as witch’s familiar? He is the judge of the character as if taking in the sun God Ra’s appearance, who was said to be meowing during what he was doing, representing the sun’s benefits for life on Earth in the Book of the Dead. Kitty and Sebastian do not directly intervene in the characters’ fates in the first two stories. It is the third story in which the cat takes charge of the narrative as the main actor with the name “General” on the stage.
Stephen King is known for his excellent story-telling skills combined with supernatural and psychological elements of lonely and misunderstood characters with wounded hearts dealing with their enemies in extraordinary situations. In the tradition of Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Ernest Hemingway, King’s narratives are always free from a baroque figure of speech with florid adjectives and complex sentences that flaunt the ego of an unapproachable writer on the mighty throne of English Literature. That is why King’s stories are attractive and widely acclaimed because they deal with the ordinary lives that are not ordinary when seen in close-up. That alchemical ingredient gleams through this movie, showing how our lives are vicariously interrelated, weaved by multiple strands of contemporary life that we all live now through the cat’s eye. Herodotus, the father of western narrative history, knew the connectedness of separate human lives and combined them into one vast story of humanity employing parataxis, individual narrative accounts’ integrity. King’s “Cat’s Eye” follows Herodotus’s narrative trail.
The movie’s real star that brought the fiction into reality is undoubtedly the tabby, whose performance is so wonderfully natural and deeply impressive that it eclipses the human cast’s performance. And yet, there is no credit for the feline star without his real name and a shred of information. He is now long gone, but then I see my tabby Toro at home and wonder if the actor cat might have been his great-grandfather because of the striking physical resemblance and reflective demeanor. But then I think anyone who has a tabby may be delighted to feel that way because otherwise, King might not have written for this film charmingly, which is unusually lovely with high paws.
A critic, according to Abraham Lincoln, has a right to criticize, but has a heart to help. Being a critic requires erudition drown upon a wealth of reading combined with a natural sagacity grown from enriched humanity wielded into an alchemy of words. A good critic with a poet’s heart guides the public with a lantern lighting the artist’s labyrinth in his world and helps us see the unseen in the far corner of a maze with a wealth of knowledge, sans arrogance of intelligence as Roger Ebert.
Unlike his other contemporary peers, Ebert was liberal in views, conservative in beliefs, and fair in judgments, the commendable attributes shared by Samuel Johnson, a 17 century English social/cultural critic, essayist, and dictionarian. He wrote a public in his mind and showed no peremptory atmosphere typically attributable to influential critics showing off their mastery of language not accessible to all due to their expensive private high education. Once Ebert trenchantly criticized a specific movie for its crude violence, abject dystopian portrayal of reality, and shuddering absence of humanity. The director of the film remonstrated with him in a public letter that Ebert’s criticism ignored the fact of life, which is akin to earthly circles of hell. Ebert replied to the director that if that was how he looked at the world, then it should not be forced upon the audience’s minds, exerting his raw and one-dimensional creation of reality upon the sentiments and judgments of the audience. Ebert believed that the world was worth living because there’s hope among the odds to sparkle before our eyes with joy flitting at our sides. This belief should be an essence of Arts that gives off beauty, pleasing to our senses that grows into reason. That is the purpose of arts, to which film belongs.
For this reason and my kindred perspectives on films in general, I miss Roger Ebert, although his writings are perennial. He didn’t grandstand with politically charged views on movies. He believed ‘Art is for Art’s Sake’ because films and books and paintings are not to be used as propagandas for a specific party ideology but to be appreciated for the minds’ food. W.H Auden said of his duty as a poet in society was to defend the use of language. I think Roger Ebert as a film critic in society was to defend the use of film as art to give life a shape.