Monthly Archives: September 2020

This is Hell

I’ve been thinking about a whole course on Hell for a while now. It would include Doctor Faustus, Ciaran Carson’s fabulous translation of Dante’s Inferno, Brecht’s “Hollywood Elegies,” and Elvis Costello:

Hell is also when the douche from sculptnation rips through the afterglow of a good song by saying “cardio burns fat.”

Hayti ou Ile St. Domingue

A map made by Pierron, Buchon, et al in 1825. From the David Rumsey Map Collection. Full title:

Carte geographique, statistique et historique de Haity. Hayti ou Ile St. Domingue. Dressee d’apres la carte du Chevalier Lapie par Pierron. Grave par B. Beaupre, Rue de Vaugirard, No. 81, a Paris. J.D.L. script. Fonderie et Imprimerie de J. Carez. (1825)

Chahine’s Saladin (303/415)

Youssef Chahine’s 1963 film Saladin the Victorious was shot in Ultrascope for a beautiful widescreen aspect ratio, and the film’s color is equally striking. The first battle sequence makes effective use of both of these elements in unusual ways.

The psychopathic Renaud commands his troops to attack a group of pilgrims as they pray. In the absence of sophisticated fx Chahine uses a fast-paced montage replete with swish pans and rack-focus shots to capture the violence of Crusaders descending on unarmed civilians. In an era before the advent of more sophisticated versions of theatrical blood the wounded bleed a startling, vivid red. Here’s an image I pulled from another blog to give you a sense of the scale and color. Though it’s dominated by cooler blues note the red bits.

Marrow Commentary (225)

Chesnutt explicitly addresses contemporary social issues in his dramatization of the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898. The meetings of the cabal— Carteret, Belmont, and McBane— offer a window into the White supremacist political imagination. In chapter III, “The Editor at Work,” we witness a discussion about the situation in Wellington, according to these men, and their proposals for action. Carteret is working on an editorial arguing that African Americans are incapable of full engagement in civic life. Note the reasons he lists, ranging from a lack of formal education to “natural” inferiority. He is particularly concerned with the consequences of miscegenation or what at the time was referred to as “racial amalgamation”: interracial romance and social mixing. 

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Troublesome (225)

“Revolutions have to be thorough. You spare the kids – they run off and warn your enemies. If you’re going to take that road, you’d better make up your mind to take it to the end. That is the horror of the thing. It’s all well and good to say that these killings came out of rage. I don’t doubt that to a certain extent they did, but the real horror is that even if they hadn’t, matters would have probably taken the same course. A revolution is either thorough or it’s doomed. Real revolutionaries know that, which is why they have to proceed in cold blood.” 

— Eugene Genovese from Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property