Daily Archives: October 30, 2010

Saturday Night at the Spookies: “The Haunting”


It’s Hallowe’en and we need a horror movie.  The Haunting is one of those classic New England set pieces concocted with clam chowder loaded up with corn.  But it works, thanks to the haunted performance of Julie Harris, and to the cinematography, which evokes uncanny effects with no special effects at all, just light and shadow.  And sound, also sound.  Which might just stay with you to disturb your dreams.  Martin Scorcese calls it the scariest movie he’s ever seen.

One caveat, however — the music is of the sort that Frye would have hated: all burps and blops.

Here he is in Fearful Symmetry:

Art protects us against nature: it would be impossible to find pleasure in tragedy or laugh at many of the predicaments of comedy if we did not feel this protection.  In nature there is misery, in art tragedy; in nature there is mysterious evil, in art ghost stories.  (CW 14, 262)

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Quote of the Day III: “Corporatism”

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”

Who does that sound more like?  Liberals or “conservatives”?  Barack Obama or Rupert Murdoch?

The quote is from the father of fascism, Benito Mussolini, who knew that the fascistic merger of state and corporate power involves authoritarian principles, not liberal ones.

Here’s a fun quiz.  Below is a short list of actual right wing organizations in the U.S.  However, one of them is a name Frye came up with in 1942 to describe an American fascist organization.  See if you can guess which one.

American Life League

American Society for Tradition, Family and Property

Coalition on Revival

Committee for Justice

Defenders of American Democracy

Eagle Forum

Plymouth Rock Foundation

Traditional Values Coalition

(The answer after the jump.)

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Video of the Day II: Curb Stomp


You’ve no doubt seen on the news this video of a Rand Paul supporter stomping on the head of a MoveOn protester, but take a look at the clip with no one offering an opinion on it while you watch, and then see what you think.

The stomper, Tim Proffitt, has since been charged.  He’s also requested an apology from Lauren Valle, the woman he stomped, because he hurt his back while stomping her.  Valle has declined to do so.

Benito Mussolini


I wish I could have found a better version of this famous clip, or at least one with sound.  But the seventeen seconds of clownish facial expressions here capture perfectly how, their terrifying capacity for evil aside, people like Mussolini are always ludricrous creatures.

On this day in 1922 Benito Mussolini became prime minister of Italy.

Frye in “Two Italian Sketches, 1939” describes ascending to a mountain village in the hope that he might be allowed to “forget about Mussolini for a few hours”:

When we get there we find, however, that the town has been made into a “national monument” and Mussolini’s plug-ugly sourpuss is plastered all over it.  His epigrams, too.  For every conspicuous piece of white wall in Italy is covered with mottoes in black letters from his speeches and obiter dicta–the successor to the obsolete art of fresco-painting.  One of them says, with disarming simplicity, “Mussolini is always right.”  “The olive tree has gentle and soft leaves, but its wood is harsh and rough,” says another more cryptically.  “War is to man what maternity is to woman,” says a third.  “The best way to preserve peace is to prepare for war,” says a fourth, and it looks just as silly in Italian as it does in English.  Another one of the few not of Mussolini’s authorship reads: “Duce! We await your orders.”  Up here they present us with “We shoot straight.” (CW 11, 189)