Sunday, May 1, 2016
Crazy, right? And yet the reason this man seems so clearly, evidently nuts is that no one shared his belief. It was a private lunacy.
It would be comforting to think only isolated people are prone to the kinds of imaginings that lead to explosive violence. But in fact, there's no evidence to support this idea. Most isolated people don't bother other people. (And in fact, this Uber driver was not particularly isolated. He had a family.) What's actually true is that the greatest acts of violence are perpetrated not by lonely people, but by people whose lunacy is stoked by fellow believers -- by those who share and encourage a communal fantasy about a higher power who is directing them to shoot or blow something up, in the name of God or country or some other cause. Social groups can do a lot of damage. And the bigger the social group is, the less apparent it is, when that group becomes murderous, that its members are not only violent, but insane. Collectively insane. They have convinced themselves that ordinary people going about their business are actually not people, but targets.
Commonly these people are angry because something in their world is no longer the way it used to be. They want the world around them to match a world they think
Friday, April 1, 2016
Elizabethan and Jacobean legislators didn't get around to outlawing firearms, since it was such a novel thing to be able to carry one around rather than to have to wheel it onto the battlefield. The big social violence problem during Shakespeare's time was caused not by guns, but by swords, of the new super-sharp and supple Spanish and Italian varieties, with which young men were in the habit of challenging each other in taverns and alleyways
Monday, February 29, 2016
So what?, you say. So nothing. It's just something that's going to happen. At least, we plan for it to happen, though, as Shakespeare points out -- usually on gloomy
Monday, February 1, 2016
It's not that I didn't like Ron Howard's In The Heart of the Sea (based -- I'm guessing loosely -- on Nathaniel Philbrick's nonfiction book by the same name). Shipwreck dramas are among my favorites, and this one was kind of fun to watch. The idea had great potential. Around 1850, a young Herman Melville visits Nantucket to interview the last living sailor from the Essex, a ship that was sunk in the 1820s by an angry whale. He's looking for material. So far, so good. The excellent English actor Ben Whishaw plays Mellville, and the no less brilliant Irish actor Brendan Gleeson plays the haunted old sailor who served as cabin-boy on the Essex (and who looks way older than he should look thirty years after early adolescence, but maybe that's what nightmares do to you). The visual details of period and place are well rendered in both the Nantucket and the ocean scenes. The story is mostly portrayed through flashbacks, which center on the experiences of the boat's first mate Owen Chase, played by Chris Helmsworth, who -- despite the hideous Australio-Boston accent he comes up with for the Massachusetts-born Chase -- showed talent playing Thor and hosting SNL and is not so bad here, apart from one thing. There's only so much you can do with a crappy script.
What made this script bad was either the screenwriters' intentional abandonment of any attempt to make its characters speak like New Englanders did two hundred
Friday, January 1, 2016
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Now, an actor as good as Rylance deserves to be listened to. He knows his craft. But if you sense something fishy about his argument, it's because it's fishy. My
Thursday, November 5, 2015
What was their motive? And how did they fail? More to the point, how did they come so close to succeeding? And most importantly -- was Shakespeare secretly in league with them?
You'll get some unusual answers to those questions in my forthcoming novel, Gunpowder Percy. Will Shakespeare is the least of its cast of characters, which includes Guido Fawkes (the guy himself, pictured above left), the playwright Ben Jonson, the iron-willed and feisty gentlewomen Anne and Eliza Vaux, mad