Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
The latest smarmy self-masturbatory leftist-thought-affirming cable teevee show is in the news once again. It seems actor Jeff Daniels has the role of one of the “good” people in the cast, and you know what I mean by that if you’re familiar with Aaron Sorkin’s work. The “Brian the Dog” character, sensibly leftist, slightly quirky but voice-of-reason. Daniels has ignited a controversy lately; that, too, means something, in this case that the actor is an insufferable left-wing prick, a Hollywood-halfwit oikophobe just as bad as any other:
And I remember reading [the speech], going, “You may not like it, you may disagree with it, you know, for those who are patriotic and wave the flag and don’t want to hear it, but there’s nothing in it that’s not true.”
And that, and all of it, each phrase, each thing that Aaron has Will say, it’s all true. I’m sorry to tell you, but it’s true. So that really resonated with me, and, to be able to say that, to be able to take words like the way this guy can put them together and throw it at the lens, throw it at an audience, it’s, for an actor, it’s gold.
I infer that the speech resonating with Mr. Daniels is this one:
Toward the end (2:56) he says “The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one.” We have to give his character that much, for it is really true, and this must be what makes it a “great” speech if anything does. But that also defines why it’s such a terrible speech. Not that I disagree with the identification of the problem; it’s a terrible speech because that’s where it stops. That is where the thinking ends.
I’ll explain. What does the gardener do when he says “The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one”? He puts a plan in place to kill off the identified problem, be it a mole, a rat, slugs, weeds. For the sake of the strawberries…or the lettuce or whatever. His efforts are to create something and to preserve something. Killing off the mole is just a means toward a greater end. Identifying the pest, therefore, is nothing more than a means toward a greater end. The plan that is put in place to get rid of the vermin is just the first in a long series of steps toward the building, or growing, of something else.
This does not apply to Sorkin speeches. If the sad piano-tinkling litany of “Will McAvoy” seems familiar to you, recall this clip from The West Wing when the Sorkin-rage machine settled its crosshairs on Dr. Laura Schlessinger:
First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one! And this “Dr. Jacobs” character certainly is a problem…now then…what is the follow-up from the speech? What’s the take-away? The “action item,” as they say in business. Well, we’re not thinking like a strawberry farmer very much, are we? The Schlessinger stand-in is just-plain-bad. She needs to go! Somewhere. So, something is done to diminish her in some way…maybe not assassinate her, but perhaps abduct her? Muzzle her. Or merely insult her. Whatever, she needs to go down! That’s your action item.
This a pretty good distinction, if I dare say so myself, between a creative force and a destructive one. Destruction is always easier. The question to ask is, once you figure out what is the source of “the problem,” is the thinking all done? If you’re killing something off for the purpose of creating an environment in which something else can thrive, then the answer is an emphatic negatori…you haven’t even gotten one percent done, and you darn well know it. You aren’t making a neighborhood good for kids, just by going vigilante on all the child predators. Draining a swamp and killing the snakes, is not all that has to be done to build a building, or a city. And killing off the weeds is not all you have to do, to get a crop of strawberries. These destructive-within-creative processes, are just first steps. Nothing more.
But for a purely destructive force, the thinking is done. The next thing to do is action — or, to go through the thinking again, so that one can convince himself and others that the thought-pathway is good and true and right. So they can all self-medicate in it together. Position those crosshairs over the hated target…click a mental trigger, make a silent “blam” sound, imagine a gratifying impact of some kind…and, repeat. It feels so darn good. Let’s do it again.
No more thought necessary. No other challenges defined for such thinking; the thinking’s done. That’s a workable definition of destructive effort, as good as any other. Well, with a Sorkin speech, it applies. The thinking is done. All McAvoy can do is sit there and act smug, basking in his glory.
I do not know what I am supposed to conclude, or how I am supposed to conclude it, from “We lead the world in…number of adults who believe angels are real.” From the context, it seems there is some factual evidence to back this up, and yet there is “absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we are the greatest country in the world.” Therefore, I’m reading this as: Adults who believe angels are real, do not make their country great. Am I reading that right? What if it were to be spelled out more methodically, as a Socratean syllogism? Seems to me, somewhere in there you would have to have an item that says “adults make their country great, if and only if they think on unprovable theistic things the way Aaron Sorkin thinks on them,” or something like that. Which, now, is as good a definition of intolerance as any other: You’re a problem if you don’t agree with me about everything.
So the speech is not bad because I disagree with it; the speech is bad because it is inherently dishonest. It has to engage in selective incoherence, in order to keep up an appearance that it is something different from what it genuinely is: A homily of intolerance and destructive intent. It must arouse an attraction, a sense of appeal, that it does not deserve because it has to engage in obfuscation in order to arouse it. But once the facts are recited and somehow substantiated, and the inferences are drawn from the available facts — inferences that cannot be stated out loud, because then it would be immediately apparent that “anti-American” would be an accurate and fair adjective to apply to it — I do not know what is to be done. A great speech should be providing those things, or at the very least, a strong push in the right direction for us to equip ourselves with those three things: Facts, meaningful opinions drawn from the facts, and things to be done based on those sensibly drawn opinions. Just like three legs on a sturdy barstool or table. Without the three, the structure collapses. Go to a speech that history has determined to be great, with some unanimity; for example, a Reagan speech. And you’ll see what I’m talking about there. Fact, opinion, thing to do. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
Hollywood dipshits like Aaron Sorkin are tragic, because they’ve spent their lives on stage or behind the stage, and yet they have no idea what a great speech really is. Will McAvoy doesn’t like America; the actor who plays him, agrees with the character; Sorkin wrote the lines, so we know he agrees; all of them will dislike me, with great bluster and grandeur and inflection I’m sure, if I call them “anti-American” even though that is precisely the sentiment they share. I don’t know what is to be done based on these anti-American thoughts they have. They don’t seem to know either. Nor, agitated by destructive impulses as they are, do they very much care. They’ll just marinate in the thoughts, best-case-scenario, and then chew out anybody who notices the anti-American thoughts are as anti-American as they are. Weirdly, they’ll insist that such an observation is wrong, even evil, although there is no other discernible sentiment by which their thoughts can be identified, other than “America bad.”
But you’ll notice something else in the Reagan speeches that is absent in the Sorkin speeches; it is tightly coupled with the vital element of the thing-to-do, although at the same time, distinctly separate. The optimism. The “America’s best days are still ahead” thing. It’s one thing to point out the car is lost and the direction is a bad one and the road doesn’t lead anywhere — quite a different thing entirely to come up with a plan to get the car where we want it to go. No speech can be great if it aspires merely toward the former and not toward the latter. Sorkin speeches are well defined by now, they’ve been on our idiot-box for a few years by now. And they bear much of the responsibility for the reason we call it an “idiot-box.” They really are speeches for idiots.
I’m sad for Aaron Sorkin. But I’m sadder, still, for the idiots who think his speeches are great. Yes, they can arouse lots of passion and lots of adrenaline and lots of “It feels so good to listen to this speech.” But those urges and impulses are flashpoints of sentiments that were present in the psyche before the Sorkin speech came along, much like the gasoline is all over the house before the match is tossed in. And deep down, I think everyone understands these urges and impulses are not good for anybody. And this is the lie that makes the Sorkin speech supposedly so “great”; the speech is merely an instrument, conjuring up the flame from the liquid accelerant, igniting an additional adrenaline push that “this feeling I’ve been having, is a good one, a true one, a right one.” Which is not true.
Things are what they are. If “America sucks” is all you’ve got to say, then yes, it’s okay to call you anti-American. A pro-American pundit who is merely identifying problems to be solved, would come up with some solutions.
Also, creation is creation and preservation is preservation. Destruction is destruction. If your thinking is all done once you’ve positioned the cross-hairs, you aren’t creating or preserving, because you aren’t engaging the thinking necessary for either of those two things.
Aaron Sorkin is a shitty speechwriter. There are testimonials that he is a great one, and ways to gauge him as a great one. But these things are just not accurate. I don’t say that merely because I personally dislike the speeches, although there is that; the speeches are destructive by nature, they about as useful as tits on fish, they don’t point anything out, they only confirm superficially feelings that were there already. I don’t care how much loot he has in the bank, or how many Hollywood bigshots know him on a first-name basis, or have him on speed dial. If this is his big contribution to our society, he’s a fail.
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