My dissatisfaction was whiny and irrational, as I well knew, so I kept it to myself. When I thought about it—which I did, a lot—I rejected the term midlife crisis, because I was holding a steady course and never in fact experienced a crisis: more like a constant drizzle of disappointment. What annoyed me most of all, much more than the disappointment itself, was that I felt ungrateful, the last thing in the world I was entitled to be. Hopeful that rationality might prevail, I would count my blessings, quite literally—making lists mentally, and sometimes also on paper of all that I had to be thankful for. Reasoning with myself might help for a little while, but then the disappointment would return. As the weeks turned into months, and then into years, my image of myself began to change. I had always thought of myself as a basically happy person, but now I seemed to be someone who dwelt on discontents, real or imaginary. I supposed I would have to reconcile myself to being a malcontent.
Q. “Did Charlie ask you to steal?”
A. “No, I took it upon myself. I was—we’d get programmed to do things.”
Q. “Programmed by Charlie?”
A. “By Charlie, but it’s hard for me to explain it so that you can see the way—the way I see. The words that would come from Charlie’s mouth would not come from inside him, [they] would come from what I call the Infinite.”
And sometimes, at night, they “creepy-crawled.”
Q. “Explain to these members of the jury what you mean by that.”
A. “Moving in silence so that nobody sees us or hears us…Wearing very dark clothing…”
Q. “Entering residences at night?”
They would pick a house at random, anywhere in Los Angeles, slip in while the occupants were asleep, creep and crawl around the rooms silently, maybe move things so when the people awakened they wouldn’t be in the same places they had been when they went to bed. Everyone carried a knife. Susan said she did it “because everybody else in the Family was doing it” and she wanted that experience. These creepy-crawling expeditions were, I felt sure the jury would surmise, dress rehearsals for murder.
Q. “Did you call your group by any name, Susan?”
A. “Among ourselves we called ourselves the Family.” It was, Susan said, “a family like no other family.”
I thought I heard a juror mutter, “Thank God!”
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders. Vincent Bugliosi, Curt Gentry
As courage and intelligence are the two qualities best worth a good man’s cultivation, so it is the first part of intelligence to recognise our precarious estate in life, and the first part of courage to be not at all abashed before the fact. A frank and somewhat headlong carriage, not looking too anxiously before, not dallying in maudlin regret over the past, stamps the man who is well armoured for this world.
And not only well armoured for himself, but a good friend and a good citizen to boot. We do not go to cowards for tender dealing; there is nothing so cruel as panic; the man who has least fear for his own carcass, has most time to consider others.
Excerpt from the essay, Aes Triplex, by Robert Louis Stevenson. Check out the whole thing at Project Gutenberg
After a long wait, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has finally landed in theaters. Set in 1969 Los Angeles, the primary story features the fictional Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). His career in decline, Dicaprio’s Dalton is thrilled to learn that two of the hottest new stars in Hollywood Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate have moved in next door to him. With the infamous Manson Family murders lurking over the story, Once Upon a Time traverses old school Hollywood on the eve of one of its darkest crimes. This serves as the backdrop for Once Upon a Time, which weaves in fictional characters and real life Hollywood stars into a revisionist history that only Tarantino could pull off—complete with subtle homages to classic cinema, characters, and celebrities. Below, we have a guide to all the characters who appear in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and their real-life counterparts.
Soldier of Orange (Dutch: Soldaat van Oranje, IPA: [sɔlˈdaːt fɑn oˈrɑɲə]) is a 1977 Dutch film directed and co-written by Paul Verhoeven and produced by Rob Houwer, starring Rutger Hauer and Jeroen Krabbé. The film is set around the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II, and shows how individual students have different roles in the war. The story is based on the autobiographical book Soldaat van Oranje by Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema.
A pleasing imaginative construction entertained incessantly, and to his injury, by the patient, but without the delusion that it is a reality. A waking dream—known to be such by the dreamer—of military or erotic triumphs, of power or grandeur, even of mere popularity, is either monotonously reiterated or elaborated year by year. It becomes the prime consolation, and almost the only pleasure, of the dreamer’s life. Into ‘this invisible riot of the mind, this secret prodigality of being’ he retires whenever the necessities of life set him free. Realities, even such realities as please other men, grow insipid to him. He becomes incapable of all the efforts needed to achieve a happiness not merely notional. The dreamer about limitless wealth will not save sixpence. The imaginary Don Juan will take no pains to make himself ordinarily agreeable to any woman he meets. I call this activity Morbid Castle-building.
The same activity indulged in moderately and briefly as a temporary holiday or recreation, duly subordinated to more effective and outgoing activities. Whether a man would be wiser to live with none of this at all in his life, we need not perhaps discuss, for no one does. Nor does such reverie always end in itself. What we actually do is often what we dreamed of doing. The books we write were once books which, in a day-dream, we pictured ourselves writing—though of course never quite so perfect. I call this Normal Castle-building.
Lewis, C. S.. An Experiment in Criticism (pp. 51-52).
What’s it about?
Four days after a Weiberfastnacht’s eve party (Wed. 20 February 1974), where Katharina Blum met a man named Ludwig Götten, she calls on Oberkommissar Moeding and confesses to killing a journalist for the newspaper Die Zeitung.
Katharina had met Götten at a friend’s party and spent the night with him before helping him to escape from the police. The next morning, the police break into her house, arrest her and question her. The story is sensationally covered by Die Zeitung, and in particular its journalist Tötges. Tötges investigates everything about her life, calling on Katharina’s friends and family, including her ex-husband and hospitalized mother, who dies the day after Tötges visits her. He paints a picture of Katharina as a fervent accomplice of Götten, and as a communist run amok in Germany.
Katharina arranges an interview with Tötges. According to Katharina, upon his arrival he suggests that they have sex, whereupon she shoots him dead. She then wanders the city for a few hours before driving to police headquarters and confessing to murder.
The book also details the effects of the case on Katharina’s employers and friends the Blornas; Mr Blorna is her lawyer, and Mrs Blorna one of the designers of the apartment block where Katharina resides. Their association with Katharina leads to their exclusion from society.
Excerpt, from page 19:
Meanwhile the occupants of the building had been questioned; most of them had little or nothing to tell about Katharina Blum. They had occasionally met in the elevator and passed the time of day, they knew that the red Volkswagen belonged to her, some had thought she was a private secretary, others that she was a buyer in a department store; she had always been smartly turned out, pleasant, although a bit on the reserved side. Among the occupants of the five other apartments on the eighth floor, where Katharina lived, there were only two who had more detailed information to give. One was the owner of a hairdressing salon, a Mrs. Schmill, the other a retired employee of the electricity works by the name of Ruhwiedel, and the startling thing was that both statements included the assertion that from time to time Katharina had received or brought home a gentleman visitor. Mrs. Schmill maintained that this visitor had come regularly, maybe every two or three weeks, an athletic-looking gentleman of about forty, from an “obviously superior” background, whereas Mr. Ruhwiedel described the visitor as a fairly young fellow who had sometimes entered Miss Blum’s apartment alone and sometimes accompanied by Miss Blum.
What did you think?
* It’s written like an investigative report.
* Much of the larger background/context is assumed.
* The timeline jumps around some.
If you can get into that, or get past it, you might enjoy it.
Part of the Desultory Notes International Book Club…
PHILOSOPHER: Yes, it is one’s instinctive desires, one’s impulsive desires. Now, if one were to say that living like a stone tumbling downhill and allowing such inclinations or desires or impulses to take one wherever they will is “freedom,” one would be incorrect. To live in such a way is only to be a slave to one’s desires and impulses. Real freedom is an attitude akin to pushing up one’s tumbling self from below.
YOUTH: Pushing oneself up from below?
PHILOSOPHER: A stone is powerless. Once it has begun to roll downhill, it will continue to roll until released from the natural laws of gravity and inertia. But we are not stones. We are beings who are capable of resisting inclination. We can stop our tumbling selves and climb uphill. The desire for recognition is probably a natural desire. So are you going to keep rolling downhill in order to receive recognition from others? Are you going to wear yourself down like a rolling stone, until everything is smoothed away? When all that is left is a little round ball, would that be “the real I”? It cannot be.
Kishimi, Ichiro. The Courage to Be Disliked: The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness (p. 143). Atria Books.
Did my book result in any reforms in the corrections system? I like to think so, but I’m sure of only one. In Newjack I describe B-Block, the immense building where I worked. Housing six hundred inmates, it is one of the largest freestanding cellblocks in the world. Horrific and very dim inside, it seemed as if the windows hadn’t been washed in fifty years. I included that detail in the book. The wife of a B-Block inmate sent me an e-mail after visiting her husband and wrote, “My husband just wanted you to know that a month after your book came out, they washed the windows.”
So there’s the power of the press for you.
Ted Conover, on his book Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing, quote taken from Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University