Recommended Reading Around the Web: Pedro Almodóvar on his new film, Zadie Smith on Brexit, and Core
I have nothing of my own this week, loathe to weigh in yet again on the presidential campaign, though the blockhead at the top of the Republican ticket provides a never-ending stream of, let's say, fodder for rant, invective, and screed. I am reminded of what they used to say about Curt Schilling when he played for the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1990s. Every fifth day when it came his turn to pitch, Schilling was a horse. The rest of the time he was a horse's ass. For Trump there are no fifth days.
I know. Trump is not the only one. Hillary Clinton...well, it appears that we have seen what we will get from HRC, the bad with the good. We might hold out hope for better but should not expect it. Enough said. As for Green Jill Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson, don't get me started. But I digress...
Pedro Almodóvar talks about his new film Julieta, Brexit, and other topics in an interview with Jonathan Romney (Pedro Almodóvar: ‘Nobody sings. There’s no humour. I just wanted restraint') that appear in The Guardian.
Based on stories from Alice Munro’s 2004 collection Runaway, it charts the biography of one woman played by two newcomers to Almodóvar’s cinema – Emma Suárez, as Julieta in middle age, and Adriana Ugarte as her younger self. Structured as a flashback, the complex narrative takes in a dreamlike night of passion, a love triangle, subsequent tragedy and Julieta’s retreat into depressive isolation. Rather than melodrama, Almodóvar has said he was after something more austere this time – "pure drama".
"Not that my other films are impure," Almodóvar explains.... "'Impurity' has a moral meaning in Spanish, which I don’t like. I just wanted much more restraint."
Intriguing, n'est-ce pas.
Zadie Smith's essay Fences: A Brexit Diary in the current issue of The New York Reivew of Books is a fine piece on the British referendum with analysis and commentary relevant to the national nervous breakdown afflicting the U.S.
The night before I left for Northern Ireland, I had dinner with old friends, North London intellectuals, in fact exactly the kind of people the Labour MP Andy Burnham made symbolic reference to when he claimed that the Labour Party had lost ground to UKIP [the right-wing, populist UK Independence Party] because it was "too much Hampstead and not enough Hull," although of course, in reality, we were all long ago priced out of Hampstead by the bankers and the Russian oligarchs. We were considering Brexit. Probably every dinner table in North London was doing the same. But it turned out we couldn’t have been considering it very well because not one of us, not for a moment, believed it could possibly happen. It was so obviously wrong, and we were so obviously right—how could it?
After settling this question, we all moved on to bemoaning the strange tendency of the younger lefty generation to censor or silence speech or opinions they consider in some way wrong: no-platforming, safe spaces, and the rest of it. We were all right about that, too. But then, from the corner, on a sofa, the cleverest among us, who was at that moment feeding a new baby, waited till we’d all stopped bloviating and added: "Well, they got that habit from us. We always wanted to be seen to be right. To be on the right side of an issue. More so even than doing anything. Being right was always the most important thing."
Corey Robin, writing in Jacobin, again takes up the theme that Donald Trump is not an aberration, far from it, but rather stands in a Republican tradition that goes back at least to Reagan and, I think it could be argued, even further to Goldwater in 1964 when an unholy alliance with Southern segregationists began the party's transformation from the party of Lincoln to today's mess.
Why do I keep harping on the non-newness of Donald Trump, why do I keep resurrecting the multiple precedents for his candidacy against those who would argue for its novelty and innovations?
Part of the reason is that it is an offense against history and memory to pretend that the GOP of the past was somehow a party of reasonable men, clearheaded and basically decent moderates who were taking the car out for a Sunday spin when it all of a sudden it got hijacked by neighborhood toughs and crazed yahoos.
This is not a new argument with me. I’ve been trying for years to explain to dubious liberals and skeptical leftists that Trumpism is what this party is all about, that the "rational, prudential conservatives they think they know are in fact ultra-revanchist songstresses of domination and violence." (From Reagan to Trump)
Corey Robin is the author of The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin and a contributing editor at Jacobin.