Friday, October 23, 2009

Rejoinder from a friendly critic

John, who the hell are you? You speak as if there is some dispensation of fate that makes you ineffectual. You pretend to philosophy, but you and I know that this is nonsense. So you pose as a weakling who has nothing to say or if you did it didn't matter anyway. Who are you? John Cougar?

I just watched a few episodes of Michael Sandel's Justice video, and he provides a much more reasonable argument than yours. He deals with questions that are inevitably of interest to anyone who thinks. He refers to real arguments like utilitarianism (Bentham and Mill) and he contrasts those arguments with radical defenses of individual self ownership found in libertarianism (Nozick).

You sit around and navel gaze, but Sandel attempts to reason himself out of this problem. He recognizes that there may be no completely satisfactory argument, but at least he makes one. You rely on obscure poems by RPW and think that enough to state a point. You need to make a better argument.

You need a gadfly to keep you from falling into the complacency of your own reverie. So let me suggest Sandel's videos. I remember you mentioning that you liked his book 'Liberalism and the Limits of Justice,' but you suggested that it was ultimately pointless because it took its argument from John Rawls. You thought Rawls was ultimately not worth wasting your time with. What makes you such a snob? Explain why you are so much better than the others.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Reason for Warren

It is somewhat strange when you hold onto what at an earlier time in your life you took to be something great, but that in later life has not been ratified. In fact later life has told you--in accordance with the fashion of the day--that what you used to hold onto was stupid. Nonetheless, you hold on for some reason. There is a certain recalcitrance.

Quoting a Robert Penn Warren poem could be such a case. His poem "Speleology" may be of some historical interest, but everyone knows that Warren was a New Critic, and such formalism we are told is the driest of the dry reading of poetry. Who needs it? And if one wants to get more specific, then one could say that Warren was one of the Southern Agrarians, and everyone knows that those guys were reactionaries--or at the least--they were dreamers who had no idea of where history was leading. Not only were the Agrarians reactionaries, but they were probably racists to boot--so, the argument goes. In this view, Warren's poetry is bad from the point of view of justice.

In spite of it all, one might say that the Agrarians were holding onto something that was born to die, and the newborn has obviously superseded it. Who reads the Agrarians today other than a certain sort of Russell Kirk conservative? Holding onto what they considered dear--as well as what they thought important for human flourishing--is evidence of a reactionary utopianism. Life is found in what is newborn--or so it is said. You cannot stop change. As Nietzsche said, you may as well be a crab.

In this view, the Fugitive poets--as Warren and his crew were known--were simply an interesting historical phenomenon. Since their time there have been too many interesting literary movements--movements that reflect the real historical struggles of people of color, post-colonial liberation, and sexual expression. This is now the postmodern world where there is no longer any authority other than the imperative to reject all all authority--one must assert authority itself. One must realize that there is nothing other than the sheer audacity of one's own poetic making. In this way, the southern renascence writers were just as much as any other group of writers an attempt at identity formation--except that they were white males with elitist tendencies (even if they didn't emphasize this fact). The justice of democracy cannot tolerate such elitism, and consequently they are forgotten.

Today the Agrarian's narrative has been shown (according to some) to be the racist and reactionary tale that it is. Nowadays one must look to a more considered genius like Junot Diaz. He speaks the argot of the street from an excluded other, but nonetheless has a fondness for Tolkien, comic books, and video games. This is where the new Arion's leap must find its dolphin's back in multicultural America. Strangely in this postmodern world, one must be the ultimate modern--as Machiavelli had it in The Prince--in that one must have the agility to change with the changing times, and in such change one should still be able to direct the matter in the way one wants it to go. This is what is called freedom. There is no end other than what one directs it to be. For instance, hip hip poetry which takes prose and breaks it into lines which rhyme. This must be the future, but it is entirely in keeping with Tocqueville's claim that democrats are generally lazy, and as a rule, seek after abstraction. In this way, contemporary hip hop poetry--slam poetry--seems not to be able to reflect on its own condition.

It is ironic how modern postmodernism is. The modes of the day will pass too--like the various modes of production of which Marx speaks. One must learn how to read the new, but unlike Marxism one damn well better have a good science to be able to stay hip. This science needs real predictive powers--a science based on one's own creativity, as it were. Yes, one must have one foot in the door of the past, but even more important one needs a foot in the door of the future--a door that one can alone choose or even construct. This sounds like the typical modern liberal ideology in that it is the choice for what best brings about the desired end for oneself, but in poetry it is often contrary to the to desire that one has chosen. Nonetheless, all that is ordered is based on my choice--or at least it is based on "our" choice in the present here and now insofar as I can read myself into the general will. "Yes we can!" says the poet of the present who claims to read the motions of history and time as he (or she or we) makes it real.

To the contrary of all this, Warren's poem "Speleology" speaks of an inescapable question. Who am I? This question cannot cease to exist regardless of the various historical forms one places upon it. One can run from it, but this question always sneaks back in. Yes you can do what you want--you even have a right to do what you want--but who the hell are you? If I don't recognize your authority, this lack of recognition calls into question the basis of your so-called creativity in the first place. You think you are an individual in in your idiosyncrasy--I think you're full of shit.

So poetry should look to someone like Robert Penn Warren instead of so-called postmodern poetry. Warren was a poet who at least understood the discipline of form, and even as he changed, he was one who held on to what he knew, and that was what was handed down to him from his teachers. What did he hold onto? Warren was no rigid doctrinaire. He acknowledged mistakes, and at times he suggested improvements. His forms changed, but throughout all this change he remained constant to the truth. Truth was an everlasting concern. He was no slave to fashion, as even Harold Bloom came to realize. In Bloom's attempts to make a place of surety for himself in the midst of the anxiety of influence and against Warren's modernism a la Eliot, he came to lionize Warren's poetry--perhaps in acknowledgment that one cannot escape a fundamental question like that found in "Speleology"--who am I?

Warren never lied in the way of fashion, but like all god poets he lied. As a poet--a maker of images--whose concern is truth, he told it "slant" as Emily Dickinson would have it. To be sure, Warren was not a philosopher, but he shared the same philosophical question and issue. If one takes the Platonic quarrel between philosophy and poetry seriously, then one must look at Plato's own poetry in the form of dialogues. This is poetry after all. Contrariwise one might come to see the philosophy in Warren's poetry.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

ASS--A Secret Society

If you seriously take the time to browse the bookstores near my home, i.e., the usual suspects of chain stores, you'll notice that entire shelves are devoted to secret societies. So much publicity on what is occult is odd, but to add fuel to fire, if you peruse the history shelves you'll find plenty of other books devoted to similar topics, e.g., there are usually a couple of books on that favorite topic of the role of Masonry in the founding of the U.S. Then there is the shelf on gnosticism in the religion section promising to reveal the hidden secrets of all reality, and the current events section is littered with books regarding all sundry of conspiracy theories.

On a different note, I offer an extra credit assignment in my Government class where students can read a book on several selected topics in politics, history and philosophy, and then write up an analysis of it. For the last few years I've had Robert Kagan's Of Paradise and Power on the suggested reading list. I thought that students post 9/11 might be interested in the topic of American foreign policy, international political affairs, and globalization. For the sake of fairness on this topic, I suggest writers as diverse as Andrew Bacevich, David Harvey, Walter Russell Mead, Francis Fukuyama, Niall Ferguson, Joseph Stiglitz, Chalmers Johnson (and others). Regardless of the politics of these writers, I suggest them because I have read them, and have found their arguments interesting and worthy of being heard.

Nonetheless, many students are attracted to Kagan's book (some of them for the sheer fact that it is short). Prior to reading it, they surely know nothing regarding his claim of a "Kantian" Europe and a "Hobbesian" America. These students do not follow foreign policy debates in detail. Rather, some are interested in Kagan's book (apart from its length) because the subtitle mentions the "new world order." These students tend to be males aged 18-25. They are interested in new world order (if they don't think it's about professional wrestling) because they have heard about the conspiracy.

Are they insomniacs who listen to Alex Jones or George Noory? Are these the students responsible for all the Larouchian flyers on campus? Have they been watching too many episodes of Lost in between bong hits? Do they regularly watch the Hitler, er, the History Channel? Are they Dan Brown fans? Whatever may be the reason for their interest, they know that the world is invisibly ruled by the secret society, and they think I'm in on it too because I recommend Kagan's book. It's the secret conspiracy, and it's as obvious as the nose on your face. It's hidden in plain sight. No doubt, after reading Kagan, they are sorely disappointed in that he speaks of no conspiracy. Perhaps they are also disappointed that I'm not in on it after all. Their poor professor must be a dupe.

Well in order not to disappoint any longer, I thought I may as well live up to the expectations of the general culture and start a secret society. Indeed I've always been somewhat cautious and private, and have been known on occasion to speak obliquely about delicate issues. There just might be things that are not for popular consumption. The vulgar have no experience with things beautiful, difficult and rare, so one must indeed wear camouflage. The question is not whether to start my own secret society, but rather--why have I waited till now to start one?

A Secret Society (A Parody)

A Secret Society (ASS) is a society of thinkers and doers. We include those who know what exists beyond mere convention, but we, unlike other secret societies, mean to do no harm to the conventions of the day. We consider ourselves poets and philosophers alike. Perhaps our society is more contemplative in inception than others, but we are nonetheless happy to see our members become movers and shakers in business, politics, medicine, education, and science. That being said, we harbor plenty of losers too, and all of us comprise the true Illuminati. This is our all inclusive-exclusive nomenclature.

A Secret Society serves the desire of those who want to be part of a secret society, but who wish not to be known as members of a secret society. You
may think--isn't this the case for all members of secret societies? We disagree. Secret societies from the Knights Templar to the Rosicrucians to the Stefan George Circle to Skull and Bones to the Bohemian Grove always give names to their societies. Exoterically their names may sound harmless, but their names provide an indicator for those who are on the outside--names which allow outsiders to impugn all sorts of evil motives to them. One can speak, for instance, of the Masons, and one knows one is speaking about some group which distinguishes itself from the rest. This is no simple trade union of masons. This is a secret society and there is something dubious there to behold.

From our perspective, the case of the Masons is most emphatically not a secret society, because we are truly A Secret Society. The Masons, et al., are child's play compared to us. Everyone knows we exist, but noone knows our name. They simply think we are a secret society. We members of A Secret Society know better. Let others speak of the Knights Templar--we know better regarding what it's really about. We don't read Rene Guenon and Julius Evola for the forgotten knowledge of Tradition which will save the world. The world needs no salvation in that way. We don't read Karl Marx, and hence we have no need for a popular front. We're truly hidden in plain sight.

We members of ASS simply belong to a secret society. When asked if we belong to a secret society we can honestly answer, "Yes we belong to A Secret Society." When asked the name of this group we answer that we are obliged to keep the name secret, but we can easily admit that it is A Secret Society.

Our purpose is as indefinite as the indefinite article suggests, and this gives us the distinction we crave. In one way we are similar in intent to other secret societies. As with all such societies, one must become a member to know the deeper meaning of the things of A Secret Society. However, only we know the true way of secrecy.

If you wish to join A Secret Society, there is no doubt a rite of initiation. It is not too taxing, but for now its details must remain secret. You must ask a member of A Secret Society for them.

With us it all appears to be up in the air, as it were. But believe me when I tell you, there is A Secret Society, we are it, and it is looking for you.

The Father of My Best Friend's Wedding Planner

I have a friend up in Seattle who makes video games. Let's call him G. He and I spent too much time awasted watching movies. We watched them over and over again, but we spent times away from the TV screen too.

In some ways I think my friend G is a genius. I remember driving in his car through Big Sur and the landscape brought ideas into his head. He saw the mountains which are just short of rolling hills. He saw the cluster of trees gathered here and there. It made a beautiful contrast between a yellowish brown and a deep evergreen. We wound our way through this scenery looking for Pacific Highway 1--we found it eventually. But the way there was interesting as usual--as between me and G there is always conversation of interest. We began to discuss landscape in general, and I noted its effect on us in terms both beautiful and sublime. I surely brought up something from Burke or Kant at the time, but G saw something different. The way the late afternoon sun shone on the grass and green gave him an insight into a better way to program video games. Landscape is a major issue in making video games, and an overly fake version of it can make or break the game. Verisimilitude in the name of the game, and the Big Sur provided a type of landscape that was realistically possible in computer code. As I sat there I was amazed in my subjective aestheticism. G saw this too, but was ahead of me. He saw its application to the purpose of a good video game.

G wasn't always ahead of me. We became friends through the medium of videos--VHS at the time. As I said, we watched video after video, and wasted much time doing so. I remember these times as well spent. I got to indulge my pleasure in certain movies, and I got to enjoy it with another. I knew my friend G looked at things differently than me (at the time little did I know of his true acumen at digitally making what is a simulacrum of what is). Still we had a good time.

None of what G and I said or did in this time was worthy of greatness, but in terms of personal memory it was important for me. One can only hope that from the beginning of personal memory one may be able to point to that which is larger than oneself. One can only hope that one's own life is not so idiosyncratic that it cannot escape from its own solipsism. I look at the times G and I watched movies as one of those times spent doing nothing that may have been more than what it appeared to be, viz. two dudes sitting watching movies. I surely didn't know that this would lead to a road trip where we would be winding and wending our way through the Big Sur landscape.

The problem of modern thinkers whether rationalists like Descartes or empiricists like Hobbes is how do I get out of my own head. Can I escape this modern conundrum through the telling of a tale as asinine as my friend and me watching movies? Lets hope so. I think the idiosyncratic pleasures of me and G were more than some self-sufficient pleasure that can only be remembered in reverie. G and I may not be the best of friends, but he makes video games and I still think of this moment. You buy video games, and you may on occasion think about your past experiences. It surely is not all in my head. You probably saw many of the movies we saw together.

So we watched movies--as many as we could get our hands on. We would go to the local Blockbuster or Hastings (this was in Texas after all) and rent a movie or two. We watched many things, and over time I convinced G to go with my tastes--i.e., films by directors like Woody Allen, Robert Altman, Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Bernardo Bertolucci, Martin Scorcese, Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma, Alfred Hitchcock, Roman Polanski, Jean Pierre Melville, Francois Truffaut, Krystof Kieslowski, Bob Rafelson. We also watched Akira Kurosawa. We watched Charlton Heston in Omega Man and Soylent Green. We watched all five Planet of the Apes films. We watched Quentin Tarantino and Whit Stillman too. We watched Ghost in the Shell. We watched Citizen Kane. We watched old westerns by John Ford and Howard Hawkes. We watched Rebel Without a Cause. Perhaps the favorite was Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. We watched whatever was the new release--like movies starring Julia Roberts and Tom Cruise and Nicholas Cage and Nicole Kidman and Bruce Willis and Michele Pfeifer. We watched the comic book movies--Batman, Spiderman, Superman, X-Men and Hulk. Anything with Jennifer Connelly was good enough to watch. Humphrey Bogart was a favorite, but we also watched quirky low budget flicks like Where's Marlowe?--blockbusters like Star Wars (for the umpteenth time)--and hipster movies by Danny Boyle. We watched cheap giallos by Dario Argento. It was a lazy film buff's education. No direction, rhyme, or reason. Whatever we had heard was good we watched. Whatever we heard you ought to watch or whatever was supposed to be a classic or whatever looking interesting or whatever was popular or whatever had a good movie poster--it was all worth watching most of the time (or should I say it was something to do).

Remember, this was before Netflix. And this leads me to the time I brought up the idea of a movie spoof--a parody of movie marriages called The Father of My Best Friend's Wedding Planner. Now it should be noted that G and I kept a notebook of all the nutty ideas we came up with. It was known as the Dope Notebook--not necessarily because we were smoking dope, but because we knew we were a couple of dopes saying stupid shit. Stupid or otherwise, it was hilarious. My movie idea stuck with me, and like one of the erstwhile Wayans brothers, I was ready to make my movie. It would take the piss out of every marriage movie, but in a way--which all good parody does--respects the conventions because in general it agrees with the conventions. The Father of My Best Friend's Wedding Planner was to be a real laugh riot that confirmed the truths embedded in every marriage movie.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Pastime that Everyone can Enjoy

Shooting Beer Cans With a .22 in Texas

Compared to shooting skeet, shooting beer cans with a .22 rifle is more fun, but there are no contests in this sport as far as I know. There’s no better time than now to make a push for its legitimacy.

Perhaps a little explanation is in order. First you need a rifle with a clip that holds fifty rounds or so. Semi-automatic action is to be preferred, but it doesn’t really matter. Once you acquire a gun and plenty of ammo, then you need to find some out of the way property. It is better if you own this land because law enforcement doesn’t take well to shooting guns on public property—let alone shooting on another’s private property.

In this sport the rules are relaxed. They change depending on circumstance, such as which teams are playing and whether it’s summer or winter. However, one inflexible requirement is a case of cheap beer (in cans of course). You may need several cases if there are many players. Seasoned players are best at deciding the proper number of cases. One rule of thumb has it that you do not want more than five or six players per match.

With all these pieces together you are ready to play.

Drive to the venue in the late afternoon and begin drinking. After a few minutes of comraderie (about 15 minutes or so) one of the players must “chunk” an empty can in the pond or what have you. Some sort of standing body of water is good, in that the cans float awaiting a hit, but cans may also be propped up on a log, a ledge, or any sort of precipice. However, this propping up requires more exertion, time and potential danger than “chunking” a can in the water. Besides, it takes away from the pleasures of “chunking.” So water is to be preferred.

Regardless of venue, each player has his or her (sometimes there are female players, but it depends on the team) shot at the can. Meanwhile beers are continually consumed at a relaxed pace in order to replenish the targets. If you get a hit, you can yell “look at that” or “hell yeah” as the can suddenly sinks or flies high into the air. With each hit, the other players offer their “ohs” and “goddams.”

While shooting, there is usually some schlock rock like Def Leppard playing from the speakers of a Ford (or Chevy) pick-up truck. To be sure, the musical choices and automobiles vary. Beer can shooting has been known to take place listening to contemporary indie rock from a BMW. Classic country is a favorite. At one match the Wu Tang Clan serenaded the players. Cigarettes are often smoked to excess, and there is much banter and laughter. The banter is of a lewder sort than that even found in some baseball dugouts. Depending on the teams, there may be illegal recreational drugs, but this is entirely optional because possession of both firearms and drugs can make one mighty fine felony. This is to be avoided.

If all goes well the sun has set by this time, and you are able to contemplate the stars. Wildlife—of the varmint and armadillo variety—appears, and before you know it the cases of beer are gone. Nonetheless, you're still shooting the gun. Someone may pull out a shotgun—say a 20 gauge—but at this point, all players know the game is near its end. Still, it all depends…

Overtime occurs when one player offers to make a "beer run," but this has been known to end in sudden death. It’s a risky move, and good players know whether or not to continue.

In this sport no one wins a medal, but all get drunk. Some even get laid—but this hopefully occurs afterwards.

Note: As with all sports, young ones must be shepherded into the finer points of its play. There are youth leagues that use pellet guns and coke cans. Please take care when dealing with our precious youth. They are the future.

Message from TBC--SSOIL (Texas Beer Can--Shoot the Shit Out of It League)

Explanation of Speleology

Having a blog with as pretentious a title which I have given my own, and having to deal with a topic as general but as utterly relevant as the shadows on the wall, is a task more than which I think I am capable. So why bother? But one must give a title to one's task, and this is it.

I will accept the burden (even if the title was chosen randomly in a moment of inspiration as I was trying to choose names on blogspot that had not yet been named). So let me explain the title and the the initial posts I have made as far as I am able.

The first question is speleology. Yes, I am thinking of Plato's Republic, but I do not see myself in that league. Nonetheless, there is a cave and Plato is correct about that. One of the several ways in which his image is correct consists in Augustinian terms--that of being born and having to die. This is the cave of my own and anyone's own life. Now this will surely make my assorted assertions lack any authority, insofar as they are true of or for anyone. Between the poles of birth and death there remains a compulsion to say something. It is impossible shut up about it. Whatever is said under Tocquevillian equality of conditions has as much authority as anything else, but it must be said. Such is the world we live in.

In such circumstances, I'm not trying to be anyone from the perspective of anywhere, but rather I wish at least to clarify the point of someone from somewhere. This perspective is ordinary in that it accepts much of the wisdom handed down from the past to the present, and kept in trusteeship for the future. But it is also ordinary insofar as it is the point of view of exurban Houston, Texas. That is to say, I live in League City, Texas.

League City is a sort of non-entity. Neither league nor city it exists equidistant between the urban megalopolitan sprawl of Houston and the older charm of Galveston. All the folly, excess, and childishness of contemporary American life is in ample supply, but folk around here try to lead decent lives and they more or less succeed at doing it.

I assume anyone can understand this perspective insofar as it is an opinion regarding what is available as an image on the wall for any and all to see. This image is politics, film, literature, etc. You know--the things of the culture as we say. This will be the content of this blog. At times I may render judgment upon Roman Polanski (I mean his films), at others I will indulge pretensions toward philosophy.

To be sure, philosophy is knowledge of that which is beyond the image of the things that are everywhere omnipresent, and it seeks knowledge of nature of all things as they are themselves. So philosophy may be impertinent. That being said, I will remain in the realm of opinion, rumor, and innuendo. I have no problem with reporting knowledge based on gossip, but I'll try to avoid the kind of hearsay that only seeks to be contentious for contentiousness' sake. I'm philosophic enough to desire wisdom, even if I question whether I'm incapable of such heights, and even if I encounter situations in the present whereby I must make decisions regarding right and wrong despite the lack of wisdom. While I may pretend to philosophy, I have no desire to further the agenda of social science which claims that if one can relate all of the facts, one need not make a choice since the facts speak for themselves.

While I seek a degree of public anonymity in this blog, I also do not wish to be labelled by others as being that which I am not. No doubt, I will inevitably be labelled abstract and full of shit. I can live with that, but I at least want to give content of such accusations because I hope that there is more to such abstraction and bullshit than the simple ornament on a life that is said to be merely interesting. For with the ordinary experience of my own mortality, I have discovered the extraordinary fact that I am not at all complacent with it. It makes me uneasy that I am a being born to die. So at times I will turn to Augustine, Pascal, Kierkegaard, Heidegger and others as philosophers/thinkers who address this issue with acuity.

I can't help but be astonished by this mortal fact of my life, and so I can't help but wonder what this is all about. So I will write what could be considered a self-indulgent blog--but it hopefully has a view toward toward the question regarding what is living the best life. This will be a perennial question--i.e., the good life--instead of mere morbid introspection. Furthermore, I hope to be able to draw some conclusions--I wish to avoid the question as the ultimate point of questioning, let alone avoid the life whose sole end is irony. I may be postmodern, but not in that way.

Now it seems that this is too heavy a topic for an explanation. So let me begin again. In fact, to avoid such navel-gazing is one reason for focusing on the shadows on the wall. These things on the wall are not me, but they somehow signify something important about me and everyone else. The emphasis on the shadows is an attempt to keep me grounded in a way that is outside of myself, and if I can see them and say something that means something to someone else, then it means that I have not been too blinded by the light outside the cave as it were.

Like you, I cannot help but be fascinated by (as well as enmeshed in) the concerns of family, career, religion, and politics. I'm just like anyone else--I have a history of which I am simultaneously proud and ashamed. I have been thrown into a situation within which I have no special insight, but with which I must deal on a day to day basis with whatever wits I have available to me. In this way, the cave seems to be a proper image for this situation--even as Plato presents it with chains and all. Yes, I too desire to break out to the Isles of the Blessed, but I wonder about being forced back into the cave in order to rule it too. I have never been to the Isles, nor do I have any claim to rule the cave. Nonetheless, this is the issue at hand--the freedom of the Isles or the necessity of rule in the cave.

But--with all this hifalutin talk--you may be wondering why I place a popular actor like Al Pacino from a mediocre movie like Carlito's Way as the central icon to this blog. Well, in this film Carlito Brigante (Pacino) is literally dying just after he escaped from his death in prison. One can cheat death only so many times, and the film shows this. Here was a man who lived according to what the available image he knew provided for him, and it led him to prison. Upon release, he had found a new way of life, but the images--the movie as a whole--wouldn't let him leave his old life. He dies at the beginning of the film just to let us know that the images of the movie are themselves in control. Carlito's continuous refashioning of his own ambition has its limits--even for someone as brilliant in the ways of the street as he is. This is the definition of tragedy.

There is a scene in which any decent viewer knows that Carlito can escape his past. His girlfriend Gayle tells him so, and we all know this to be true too. His friend David Kleinfeld asks him, "Are you in?" Is Carlito in on the break-out of the mobster from Riker's Island Prison? Carlito could easily say no, but he owes a debt of obligation to his friend David. Saying no is easier said than done. David asks, "Are you in?" and we the audience hear "R-U-N." We know what Carlito should do--he should run from this--but we know he cannot hear what we hear. We see what Carlito sees, viz. Paradise as a new life with his new wife and future baby, but his vision is clouded by debt. A debt we all perhaps fell as well.

Unfortunately, the film only let's us see the possibility of running as a dream that does not exist. In Carlito's saying wish for an escape which no one else believes, we can only wish it for him and Gayle in the future. This is not to be. The film is ruthless in that it lets us have no idea what happens beyond the scope of Carlito's own subjective narrative of the tale. This is a typically death haunted, locked in my head, solipsistic narrative that nonetheless speaks to the way we live now.

So if I discuss shadows on the wall of the cave, I recognize the trap in doing so. Yet, in these shadows there may be rumors of something else. I hope in this blog to be able to verify a few of them.