La Trêve is seriously getting under my skin. I’ve just seen the seventh episode. About halfway through the sixth and all through the sevent things get very harrowing and chaotic and I’m discounting lots of things I was assuming.
This is so far much darker than Trapped, which had an unambiguous hero who was going to do what he thought was right no matter the personal cost. There are no heroes here and the central character of Peeters is shaping up as an out of control monster, maybe not of his own making since he’s trying to self-medicate his grief over his dead wife with his own improvized cocktail of drugs that he’s seen guzzling anytime he thinks no one is looking but nonetheless he’s become a danger to himself and everyone around him and there’s no mystery why he’s been institutionalized (though the exact nature of the institution is left ambiguous).
I’m wondering if there’s some kind of wordplay with the title in the original since rêve means dream, if I’m not mistaken and each episode begins with a dream (nightmare really) of a different character and their relationship to Driss whose death initiated the collective nightmare in town. But I don’t know French anywhere near well enough to work out the double meaning if there is one.
I just realized that the movie this reminds me most of is Werner Herzog’s Heart of Glass, which depicted a medieaval village’s collective descent into madness. I don’t know if the show can maintain this quality for the remaining three episodes but it’s one of the more amazing things I’ve seen in…. oh, a long time.
I’m almost halfway through the La Trêve, a Belgium murder mystery (10 episodes) and I still haven’t figured out what it’s about. The story starts off clearly enough. A newly widowed policeman with a checkered past moves with his teenage daughter to a town where he lived for several years as a child. He’s hoping for some down time, but before he can even report for duty he’s called to the site of a suicide (an African player in the town’s very bad fourth rate soccer team). He quickly realizes it’s not a suicide after all.
Most of the landscapes in La Trêve are prettier than this, really.
After the first couple of episodes I thought it might be (like the great Icelandic show ‘Trapped’) about modernity and globalization (the African migrant in the middle of the countryside in French speaking Belgium) and capital flooding and erasing the past (there’s a big-money project to create a dam that would submerge a lot of the surroundings). Now… I’m not so sure.
What I have noticed is the contrast between the public and private. The show takes place in an idyllic wooded corner of Wallonia and has hypnotically beautiful landscapes and arresting images (one of a small town at night with a lighted cathedral on a hill under massive storm clouds and framed by phone lines was my favorite). But the interiors are cramped an ugly, filled with an excess of cheap crap that can’t be put in any kind of aesthetic order. And the actors all look all too real, kind of beat up by life and not Hollywoodish at all in their ill-fitting cheap clothes, bad hair and ugly-sordid sexual encounters.
The European style known as poubelle blanche…
When I say I’m not sure what’s going on I mean the overall theme of the show beyond the murder. I’m kind of sure I have a good idea of who did it, though (again like Trapped) uncovering it won’t be cathartic at all, but traumatic and painful.
This is a pretty good article on the supposed feminist nature of the hijab. The way it is written is kind of agonizing as you can feel the author trying to make their way through a crowded place full of barefoot people without stepping on any toes. But nonetheless there’s some good stuff, especially the part of supposedly feminist women wearing hijab as a symptom of cognitive dissonance (the result of staying in a religion their education seems to disqualify for them – trying to ascribe progressive values to regressive practices so their status as highly educated and religiously observant won’t clash so much in their own minds).
Unfortunately the site the article appears on was designed by a miserable misanthrope who hates the idea of people reading long thoughtful articles. The format is probably phone friendly which means brain hostile. Only small bits are visible at any one time and attempts to scroll are met with white spaces and and then losing your place and trying to scroll back up a little and ending up back at the very beginning. I gave up trying to read it at the site – I copied it and dumped it into word and printed it because… that was easier than trying to navigate the misbegotten sludgeheap that the site thinks readers want. Readers don’t want that, mouth-breathing phone-slaves might but readers want (and deserve!) better formats.
This is what psychologists call a double bind, you are drawn in by interesting content and then slapped with formatting that’s actively hostile to the reader.
There’s an Olympics going on and I find I couldn’t care less, even though it’s the Winter Olympics which I used to enjoy much more than the summer version. I’m not even sure why they still exist…
The peak Olympic time was from some time after WWII until around the time that Warsaw Pact countries were able to escape the Soviet sphere and the Soviet Union imploded. During that time of the the Olympics functioned as a low stakes front in the Cold War. One the one side you had Western athletes with the semi-monastic ‘amateur’ status and on the other side there were the Soviet and satellite forces who were functioning professionals (not sure how the Soviets viewed it but that was the American take).
And, in pre-cable or even early cable years they were a massive event that disrupted regular inflexible programming schedule for a couple of weeks. Just happening every four years highlighted their special nature. There were one of the largest spectacles in the world that combined human interest (those up close and personal athlete portraits), political interest (of the nation state variety) wrapped up with idealized specimens of seeming natural perfection doing amazing things.
None of that is true anymore, no big political rivalry in the world at present lends itself to athletic proxy competition. The world is not starved for spectacle, it’s glutted with so many spectacles that none of them seem very interesting anymore. And all the athletes (at least the contenders) come across as canny professionals cum performance enhancing specialists carefully calculating how to get past the next random drug test.
The road from then to now was long but I’d say 1988 was the last real Olympic year, 1992 they were becoming a shadow of themselves wtihout the CCCP and in 1994 they broke off into the awkward schedule where the winter and summer games are staggered so that every two years there’s another godammed Olympics.
They serve no purpose anymore beyond the purpose that every other godammed thing in the media does – to sell things and let celebrities brand themselves. Apparently a big celebrity this time is a filthy communist who’s charmed western media who don’t know and don’t care how many thousands of her countrymen her obscene royal family has starved to death or murdered.
If the entirety of the Olympic games were to disappear tomorrow I’d be relieved. But in the current year vast money making, bribe inducing, drug bloated circuses of whorish excess serve as their own justification.
As stated before I love conspiracy theories. I love how people build worlds within worlds within worlds in the search for meaning spinning out vast mythologies to replace the traditional mysticism they can’t bring themselves to believe in anymore (or use them to buttress waning scraps of faith they can muster up).
Anyhoo, there are some that I just cannot get into no matter how hard I try. The latest, lamest conspiracy craze seems to be the Mandela Effect. The idea is that the CERN super-collider (or some other event) has changed history retroactively by creating new time lines in the past… or something like that.
But after watching about three or four videos it becomes very clear what’s actually going on and it’s so banal I feel dumb writing this, but I guess not everybody realizes or accepts this so…. here goes.
In the normal course of events, human memory does not store units of language longer than a couple of words and at some level it doesn’t seem to be working with language at all but rather with meaning and associations (which have their own rules). Similarly, images (which includes writing) are not stored as images but as meaning and representations of meaning (and associations).
Anyone who’s used search engines for a few years knows the feeling, you’re looking for a specific quote that you seem to remember vividly but it doesn’t turn up anywhere and when you do find it you find that it’s subtley different from what you remember – the meaning is the same but the surface form is just different enough that you couldn’t find what you were looking for.
At the collective level, people often edit what they’re hearing without realizing it. Many mis-remembered elements are probably improvements of the originals. So that back in the 1970s people were fond of pointing out that Humphrey Bogart never actually said “Play it again, Sam” in Casablanca though many people thought it was one of the most memorable lines in movie history. When Darth Vader says “No, I’m you’re father” people add in Luke’s name in their memory because that’s who he’s talking to. “Sweet dreams are made of these” is a better rhyme (for “the seven seas”) than “made of this”. etc etc etc.
Watching the lengths people go to in order to construct a meaningful universe is often bemusing and sometimes kind of admirable, but this is just lame. Stop it, already.
I made an offhand comment that with the advent of Neo-Victorian values (manifested in different ways across the political spectrum) I would expect something like matchmaking services to return. By that I meant people who make a business out of personalized introductions to pre-vetted customers. I don’t mean anything like computer dating or dating coaches but people (probably women) who create networks of eligible people interested in marriage and make suitable introductions.
Then I googled NYC matchmaking and found this.
A quick browse suggests these are more professionals and part of their services are dating coaches for men (who, it’s pretty clear, are most of the clients). Probably this includes diplomatically excising woman repelling habits they might have.
This is also almost too literal, I was thinking of something not quite so obvious and something more middle class.
I have the idea that in the West (broadly defined) androgyny and gender bending and the social interchangeability of the sexes have gone about as far as they can go and most of the cultural momentum now is about retreat back into traditional gender roles. This is playing out in different ways and for different reasons and with different goals across the political spectrum but it’s all going in that direction.
On the Right there are things like MRAs and PUAs (if that’s still a thing, is that still a thing?) but most of what the Left is embracing are things that also lead right back to traditional gender roles and the idea that women need to be modest (hijab-o-mania among supposed feminists) and need special protection #metoo!metoo! around male predators (which is all of them). Even transgender rights are about strict conformity to socially approved outer norms of behavior. Intersectionality in practice has come to mean a complex system of social etiquette of the type that women traditionally set up to compete with each other in public.
I’m sure that many feminists would not be delighted to know that feminism in practice is now largely about reinforcing and enforcing gender etiquette but as they say people don’t make social change…. social change makes people.