Empty Days

Saturday, March 20, 2004



Officially it's the first day of spring. This said, we are going to get down to -17C tomorrow. I guess the calendar needs serious reform.

***

Watched "Now" with Bill Moyers on PBS yesterday. He had this Mark Twain actor, Hal Holbrook, as guest. Wow - what an angry guy! But I liked most of what he had to say - especially about political correctness ("it forces you to lie in silence"). Also really good bits on half-truth/half-lie in media culture. Fortunately there is an online transcript of the whole affair, so I don't need to paraphrase.

I was especially impressed with Moyers' unwavering kindly cool in the face of such an unsettling display of negative emotion and hurt as Holbrook projected. It's been a long time since I've seen somebody so bitter talk his bitterness out. Pretty catharsic.

***

From the transcript (a Mark Twain number by H.Holbrook):
Man is the only animal that deals in the atrocity of war. He is the only one that for sordid wages goes forth in cold blood to exterminate his own kind. He has a motto for this, 'our country right or wrong'. Any man who fails to shout it is a traitor. Only the others are patriots. Say, who is the country? Is it the government? In the republic the government is merely a servant, a temporary one. Its function is to obey orders not originate them. Only when the republic's life is in danger should a man uphold his government when it's wrong. Otherwise the nation has sold its honor for a phrase.
On PolCor:
HOLBROOK: You see, I got a feeling about political correctness. I hate it. You know the "Silent Lie" that he's talking about that you played here earlier on this show? That's what political correctness does. It causes us to lie silently instead of saying what we think.

We live in a democracy. We have this extraordinary opportunity to use our mind and say what we think, to speak as we think. Sometimes what we say is objectionable to other people. Sometimes words we use are objectionable to other people. But that is part of a free society.

And in order to communicate with each other, we got to get mad at each other sometimes.
The rest of this last bit is especially scorching.

[ Update: found out from another blog that Bill Moyers is about to quit PBS - the farewell letter quotes his interview with Holbrook. Clearly, I was not the only one deeply impressed :-0 ]





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