Thirty years tracking Hannibal Lecter

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Imagine a world in which Hannibal Lecter was unknown.  It existed until 1981, when Thomas Harris published the novel ‘Red Dragon’.  My own relationship with the Hannibal Lecter myth now spans three decades and takes in unimaginable changes in the world as well as in myself, which is to be expected in the span of almost half a life.  That relationship began when I was an undergraduate student, still naïve and inexperienced in the ways of the world with which I coincided.  That’s why I think of it as a personal experience.  A journey that has significance to me because of the way I experienced it, not as an impersonal series of film reviews.  A journey that did not come about as unaffected by changes in the real world, and the fictional ones I traversed.

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The Expanse (2011 – )

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The series of books is definitely entertaining, and often genuinely engaging, even if each 600-page book is probably a third longer than it needs to be.

Authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, writing collectively as James SA Corey, pad their narratives with long character ‘insights’ that are often counterproductive in exposing the authors as not quite as insightful as they may think they are. Or as being slightly contemptuous of an audience they regard as simple-minded enough to think of other people as simple-minded.
Nevertheless, they have a winning formula.

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Free speech does not reveal truth

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Brendan O’Neill is a controversial polemicist whose radical politics are difficult to unpick and fathom. When he wrote about truth and free speech in the March 2017 edition of Spiked, of which he is the editor, I found myself nodding in full agreement with some paragraphs, but recoiling from others as misrepresentation and bad reasoning. I think O’Neill is pushing his own agenda, which has free speech in mind only so long as it serves his own interests.

Here’s my own reasoning, staring with a summary of O’Neill’s argument.

Broadly speaking, his argument is that we are being lied to and censored in the name of truth by ‘what we might call the new clerisy: the insulated, technocratic-leaning political class that has dominated public life for the past 30 years or so’. The term clerisy is borrowed from extensive but tendentious Milton quotes. It is extended by referring to ‘the political and cultural establishment’ as a new kind of church assembly functioning to determine what topics can and cannot be discussed, and what is the truth of them.

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Luther (2010-2015)

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English television at its best. Idris Elba as the leading man. Ruth Wilson as the delectable psycho killer bitch Alice Morgan. What more would you need to recommend this piece of television history?

Nothing really, but for me it’s all about the sub-text.

You can never be sure that others see what you see. You can’t even be sure that what you see is what the creators intended. But it’s all there regardless. Once it’s released, the mise-en-scène and dialogue don’t undo and recreate themselves in some alternate fashion.

What I see is that Luther and Alice are the same person. Split personality. Two halves of a whole. Yin and Yang. Call it what you will.

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Assassin’s Creed (2016)

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The two halves of the film don’t really fit together: contemporary evil corporation manipulating duped experimental subjects, and Renaissance intrigue, murder, and mayhem. Welded together with the crude device of a conspiracy plot more at home in a Dan Brown novel than in a sane mind: The Catholic Church seeks to enslave mankind with evil intent. Presumably giving all the Anglo Protestants in the USA justification to arm themselves to the teeth, form militias, and destroy civilisation to save it from destruction by the Catholics. A fine piece of contemporary American logic.

Worse, from my perspective: there is a substantial portion of dialogue in Spanish, forcing me to turn to sub-titles, which I have always thought of as destroyers of a film. Both for distracting from the visuals, and for usually being the work of illiterate gremlins guessing at original meaning rather than translating it.

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Evil bitch spearheads drive to turn ‘public service’ into ‘enemy control’

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Jack Waterford’s editorial for syndication by the Fairfax press on Department of Human Services’ baleful chief, Kathryn Campbell, is a rare pleasure to read.

In the era of inarticulate, anti-grammatical social media clicks and grunts that has subverted even nominal writers, Waterford’s considered prose paints a fairly stark picture of a narcissistic, sociopathic, top-down manager unduly influenced by her career as a defence force reservist general.

Instead of repeating Waterford’s excellent points, they are taken as read here, though extended beyond his intentions.

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Cosmos: an ideological odyssey

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Neil deGrasse Tyson’s script in the 2014 documentary series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, is a relentless defence of science against an always unnamed superstitious barbarism. The vehicle is the explanation of how we came to understand our universe as we do today by scientific investigation standing against shadowy forces of ignorance and ideological zealotry.

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It’s not elitism, but its absence

Some semi-random thoughts on where to from here, and why.

What could be more predictable than a news media looking to fill column inches/actuality minutes with blamestorming the election of a vulgar nincompoop by finding fault with his opponents.

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Bridge over troubled water

Australia has an opportunity right now to emerge from the shadow of a moribund American imperium and become an independent centre of influence in South East Asia.

It is a narrow window of opportunity the squabbling children who call themselves our leaders probably don’t even recognise. But it’s there, beckoning us to act.

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