I make much in these blog posts of my plebian cultural tastes. I am forever going on about how many games of FreeCell I play and the schlock novels I read. Now this is not a mere Internet pose. I really did watch The Young and the Restless daily for more than twenty years. I really do read schlock novels, although I stopped reading Robert Ludlum novels after I discovered that he is dead and his novels are being written by Clive Cussler [who is now so successful that his novels are written by someone else -- sort of like Ford motor cars being made even after Henry Ford died.] And the FreeCell win counter tells me that on this computer alone I have played more than 8,500 games.
Why do I do this? Mostly, it is because it amuses me to represent myself as a cultural doofus when I have spent my life explicating the arcana of the philosophy of Kant, the economic theories of Marx, and the finer points of Game Theory. But partly it is because I am painfully conscious that I am not, as I repeatedly observe, a true scholar, inasmuch as I cannot really read German, know very little math by the standards of real mathematicians, and have never actually taken a course on Economics in my life [although I did teach Introductory Micro once.] I think I figure that if I say it first, I will forestall the inevitable scoffing by those who really are expert in the various fields I pretend to have mastered. My intellectual life is a constant high wire act without a net.
Perhaps the most often repeated of my self-deprecations is the meme I have fashioned [if I may appropriate a useful word] of myself being dragged off to see good films by Susie despite my preference for shoot 'em ups with no redeeming social value. Now, I really do like movies featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger or Steven Seagal or Tom Cruise [despite his regrettable embrace of Scientology], but recent experience is compelling me to reconsider my self-description.
Last weekend, Susie dragged me off, for the third time in a row, to see a good film at the local Indie theater, and yet again, I left the theater thanking her for making me pass up the latest blockbuster at the multiplex across the street. This time the movie was Chef, a modest little feel-good movie about a gifted cook who cuts loose from the constraints of a successful restaurant [owned by the villainous Dustin Hoffman] and finds his inner artist running a sandwich truck. Oliver Platt does a nice turn as a restaurant critic, and Scarlett Johansson, whom I have always found a trifle weird, shows up to advantage as the chef's gorgeous, successful [at what?] ex-wife. The movie is really about a father's bonding with his son, and the most violent scene is the chef's brutal dismembering of a pile of vegetables with his trusty chef's knife.
Now look. Despite my life-long infatuation with Kant, I am an empiricist at heart, so when evidence piles up that one of my cherished beliefs is false, I feel a certain compulsion to reconsider. Maybe I actually like good movies. Who knew?
However, just today, the Arts section of the NY TIMES has a full-page ad for a new Jason Bourne book. My heart fluttered as I anticipated, in the fullness of time, yet another Matt Damon classic. Old habits die hard.