Local Stories, Events
Ref. : Civic Events
Ref. : Arts & Education Events
Ref. : Public Service Notices
Books, Films, Arts & Education
07.11 7,000+ Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency and Unveil Three-Point Plan to Combat It [Fox News and Betsy DeVos never talk about this stuff so it must be Bull Shit, right?]
Ref. : Letters to the editor
Health Care & Environment
07.17 Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen forced out by board [Given that states have lost abortion rights on political grounds recently, Wen's philosophical approach to protect abortion rights based on ‘health care’ was smarter – therefore it was that smarter strategy that was killed at the secret meeting.]
07.17 What is happening in America's Cancertown is tragic, immoral and evil [Niggardly white government policies could change to produce better students, better jobs and net revenue instead of costs. But it seems they enjoy more cruelty—like Trump.]
07.15 Extinction Rebellion protests block traffic in five UK cities [Non-corporate human animals make their annoying bleating sounds...]
07.14 A Glacier the Size of Florida Is Becoming Unstable. It Has Dire Implications for Global Sea Levels [The willfully ignorant needn't read more, Trump]
07.13 'Climate Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life [Willfully ignorant governments—having fired many of their best scientists—have made themselves too stupid to despair]
07.13 Trump administration to approve pesticide that may harm bees [The worst government money can buy!]
07.10 Plastic Has A Big Carbon Footprint — But That Isn't The Whole Story [Fixing our world begins by educating your consciousness with the best truth from trustworthy news sources—so you'll then insist truly bad things will get fixed. But if instead you are educated by untrustworthy news sources—then your consciousness could be warped to where you are hating and fighting with your best friends. Clue: untrustworthy news sources never seriously report news about the world's most critical emergency—Global warming.]
07.09 Judge reinstates Madrid's low emissions zone [Yeh!]
07.07 How Solar Panels Work (And Why They're Taking Over the World) [Hope they leave space between panels for wild flowers to grow so birds and butterflies can flourish!]
07.04 US produces far more waste and recycles far less of it than other developed countries [As expected—and made worse by Trump—the U.S. is best at being the worst]07.03 Booming LNG industry could be as bad for climate as coal, experts warn
07.03 Caravan of Americans battling diabetes heads to Canada for affordable insulin [3:36 video; Like Central Americans flee for their lives from criminal drug gangs, Americans flee for their lives for affordable pharmaceutical drugs]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
07.18 Inside Trump's DC hotel, where allies and lobbyists flock to peddle their interests [Also, too much ignored by media, the $millions "donated" corrupting moderate Democrats and Republicans every election cycle must stop]
07.18 This Republican's Case for Medicare for All [A well-informed Republican is rare, so let's hold him in the light so others may learn]
07.18 Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after president attacks Ilhan Omar [1:03 video shows Trump pandering to his ignorant idolaters, and together they're making America a greater shit-hole country]
07.16 As Trump Sows Discord, Chief of Staff Mulvaney Reportedly Focused on 'Building Empire for the Right Wing' [And the South shall rise again...]
07.16 Turnstile teaching [The problem is NOT the color of students skin, as our fake President reflexively thinks. The problem is the lax attitude and deficient funding by government to always do a much better job for a better future.]
07.16 Contempt [Variations of frequent loss & theft of property title by organized legal efforts against black owners]
07.15 Australia 'deeply concerned' about China's treatment of Uighur people [What are the reasons, exactly, that justify harsh imprisonment of a million people?]
07.15 Zuma tells South Africa corruption inquiry he is victim of foreign plot [Unaccountable corrupt governments are so in fashion these days...]
07.14 Warren vows to probe U.S. crimes on immigrants if elected [Can you imagine living in a nation with a working Justice System? How far we've fallen!]
Economics & Corrupt Capitalism
International & Futurism
07.18 ‘No rioters, only a tyrannical regime’: Thousands of Hong Kong seniors march in support of young extradition law protesters [Most people around the world have more in common with these Hong Kong Chinese protestors than with the ignorant people at Trump rallies]
07.18 Dozens Arrested as Over 1,000 Jewish Activists and Allies Shut Down Entrances to ICE Headquarters Demanding Closure of Trump Detention Camps [Obviously these are not the immoral and less educated right-wing jews who support Netanyahu, Trump and ICE, and who slowly exterminate Palestinians when no one is looking]
07.17 Trump Murdered the Iran Deal—And Europe Isn’t Too Happy About It [Only psychopathic Saudi Arabia and Russia are U.S. ’allies’ now...]
07.15 Australia now has the highest minimum wage in the world [From 1960 to 2018 – the U.S. has fallen from 1st place to below the tenth place and off the chart]
07.14 At least 24 Yellow Vests lost eyes in violent protests. Now they're more determined than ever [Protests of all kinds will continue until systemic inequality loses political dominance]
07.13 After a Police Shooting, Ethiopian Israelis Seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reckoning [Since so-called modern humans evolved there have been 10,000 generations of people. It is extremely far-fetched to think anyone is racially pure. SO ALL THIS HATE IS INCREDIBLY STUPID.]
07.13 Brazil’s President May Appoint Son, Friend to the Trumps, as Ambassador to U.S. [Friend of the Trumps, so we know they're all brain-dead except about near-term profits. They are clear-cutting the Amazon Rain Forest to feed-then-butcher millions of methane farting cows, over and over. Yep, that's there business plan. So therefore the rest of the world will hopefully plant billions of trees elsewhere to sequester CO2 to offset what the Bolsonaro family and investors are destroying. What's wrong with this picture?]
07.13 Trump’s Cruelty and Mexico’s Duty [Our president is immoral to his core and reacts to things like a child, not understanding that his actions are often crueler than they should be. And that cruelty will never completely be excused or forgotten—the people's hatred of Trump is growing, like the Texan's hatred when President General Santa Anna laid seige to the Alamo, which was Mexico's territory at the time...]
Steve Jacobs' "Disgrace"
Malkovich cowering in a toilet: an image to remember
The film, like the book (but perhaps in clearer outline) is about humiliation, suffering, enduring.
J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace is a hard, concentrated novel, painful to read, unyielding, uncooperative, unfun. In the film version, what better actor than John Malkovich could convey Coetzee's own unwillingness to do anything to ingratiate himself to the reader? The actor projects a cold self-assurance. It may not matter that his South African accent, faulty at best, fades in and out; or that he seems too distant and affected to be any kind of literature teacher, let alone one currently teaching Wordsworth, a devotee of Byron.
The same thing happened with Malkovich's performance as Valmont in Frears' "Dangerous Liaisons"—his Midwestern drawl grated; he lacked suavity, lacked charm. None of it mattered because he had such evil, such confidence, such panache, such an edge, that he held the screen and transformed himself into a new compelling kind of 18th-century French Iago of love. Besides, in "Disgrace," as his character's daughter Lucy, the South African newcomer Jessica Haines is equally important and very good, less flawed by casting incongruities than Malkovich. And as Coetzee's comment has acknowledged, the most important thing to the adaptation is how the film can convey the beauty of the South African landscape better than his book did.
What's most disturbing to people about the novel is this: it conveys ideas through the protagonist David Lurie (Malkovich's role) about how South Africa has been trashed, how the blacks hate the whites, how the country is a place of anarchy and violence, that are clearly Coetzee's own views. How dare he do that and make no bones about it? But since he's ruthlessly honest, how dare he not? The novel was the first I read by Coetzee, and it didn't make me run out to read more. But the book became the first time a writer won a Booker Prize twice, and four years later Coetzee was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Maybe he was doing something right.
And so were the Australian Steve Jacobs, who directed this adaptation of the book, and his Moroccan-born wife, Anna Maria Monticelli, who wrote the screenplay and produced it. Outsiders that they are, they have nonetheless produced an adaptation that makes a complex book clearer without mangling or oversimplifying it. This kind of international production may grate upon the spirits of South Africans, but they wouldn't be likely to enjoy an all-local production, either. All one can say is that this is a book that works well as a film, and that adapts successfully without a lot of changes.
David Lurie (Malkovich) has had several wives but he "wasn't made for marriage." A womanizer, a sensualist, at 52 he's losing his physical attraction; he's looking old. Even his Malay prostitute lets him go. He forces himself upon Melanie Isaacs (Antoinette Engel), a mixed-race student in his romantic poetry class. When they have sex, she turns away as if repelled, but she submits. He's found out and threatened by Melanie's boyfriend, yelled at by her father, boycotted by the students, and, at an administrative hearing, he's so unrepentant he ends by being forced to leave the college. He goes to the Eastern Cape, where his lesbian daughter Lucy has recently been abandoned by her lover. She grows flowers and vegetables she sells in the local market, and she arranges for David to help Bev (Fiona Press), a middle-aged lady whose animal shelter work consists primarily of euthanizing unwanted dogs. In and out of the property he now shares with Lucy is Petrus (Eriq Ebouaney), an almost mythically neutral, philosophical black man who owns land there and is gradually taking over, but who also made Lucy's garden land arable.
Then enters the outside horror. Three young black men appear when Lucy and David are returning from a walk and ask to use her phone. They invade the house, rape Lucy, nearly kill David, and shoot all Lucy's dogs, wrecking the interior of the house and stealing David's car. One pours a bottle of methyl spirits over David and sets fire to him, locking him in the bathroom.
This sequence is more powerful than the book. After his arrogance, to see Malkovich cowering beside a toilet bowl with his face burned is unforgettable. Eventually he returns to Cape Town and cowers before Melanie's family, asking forgiveness. It's not quite believed, but it's as much of a transformation as such a man is capable of. But it's Lucy's response that's more important: she refuses to report the crime, and refuses to leave. She cooperates with Petrus, who defends the youngest perpetrator. He turns out to be family, the son of his new wife's sister. He says it's over. Reconciliation. In fact, the attack may not have been so random.
David says it'll never be over and will be passed on to those who come long after them. This may be an endgame. But they were born here and they remain. The important thing is that Lucy stays, and so does David, after returning to Cape Town to apologize—and be serviced by a prostitute.
The film, like the book (but perhaps in clearer outline) is about humiliation, suffering, enduring. It's about sexuality and about living with other beings, other animals. Viewers who don't find "Disgrace" "real" astonish me, though people and events are symbolic as well as specific, always richly both, and always simple and complex. David sleeps with Bev to please her, because she's lonely, and she wants it. Of course it's the sort of good deed that pleases him, but there is humility in it, as is his help, however unenthusiastic, with the animals. Malkovich's arrogance becomes complex because the most vivid images in the film are the ones of him cowering and afraid. In order to maintain his Byronic arrogance as a genteel rapist of "coloured" young women, he has given up his pride and his status. "Disgrace" is a film for smart people. It's as tightly coiled and thought-provoking as the book, and nearly as good.
©Chris Knipp 2009. Visit the author's website.
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This story was published on September 28, 2009.