Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Saturday, August 30, 2014

THE GOOD OLD DAYS


I receive unsolicited phone calls of a non-political nature every day -- usually at what normal people consider the dinner hour, which is just about when Susie and I are going to bed.  Ordinarily I hang up or yell at the telephone, but the evening before last I actually lingered long enough to hear an offer from Time Warner Cable, my feckless Internet/cable/telephone provider.  It was for a special one year discounted rate for something called EPIX, which was promised to give me a host of movies and other shows for only $4.99 a month.  I thought, "What the hell," and told the lady to hook me up.  Half an hour later, channels 594-599 were activated, and I began watching what was offered.  Pretty good stuff for the price, by the way.

This afternoon, Susie and I stumbled on and watched all the way through Star Trek: The Motion Picture [1979] with the entire original TV cast.  I was a devoted Star Trek viewer from 1966 to 1968, and then an equally devoted viewer of Star Trek:  The Next Generation, Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine, and even the rather weaker Star Trek: Voyager, along with a number of the Star Trek movies [such as Wrath of Khan with the redoubtable but somewhat long in the tooth Ricardo Montalbán.]

Star Trek: The Motion Picture is not exactly a great movie, as those of you who have seen it will attest, but it affected me deeply nonetheless.  I had forgotten how much more hopeful a time that was.  Despite all the terrible events -- the assassinations of Martin and Malcolm and Bobby -- and the horror of the Viet Nam War, there was a spirit of genuine rebellion in the country.  It was possible to believe that America was decisively embarked on a progressive journey to a new and better nation.  As I watched the closing scenes of the movie, I teared up at the thought of what then seemed possible and what has since been lost.  I know, I know, a hard-eyed Marxist analysis would have put paid to those sentiments even then.  But we do not live by economic analysis alone, and it is necessary to have hope, even irrational hope [as Herbert Marcuse so brilliantly explained in One-Dimensional Man], if we are to tap into the deep pre-conscious wells of psychic energy required to make even marginal changes in the real world.

Just as the movies of the Thirties, despite their fascination with the doings of the toffs in their evening dresses and tails, breathe with a faith in working-class men and women [who are not compulsively misdescribed as "middle class"], so there are movies from the Sixties and Seventies that capture that spirit of resistance to the old order and hope for a new.

I really do not think I am just an old man saying "It was better when I was young."

2 comments:

Michael Llenos said...

Dr. Wolff,

I think the '50s were the best of times for milk and honey and plenty in the USA. Then, I believe, everything went to the heap pile with the '60s and afterwards. That's the time, I think, the country completely lost its innocence.

Although, you've mentioned Star Trek TMP, you haven't mentioned Star Wars: A New Hope, which came out some two years before ST: The Motion Picture. That same SW's movie, I think, really helped get the American public out of their post Vietnam War syndrome.

I believe that because of the never ending War on Terror people are looking for more and more movies that bring a tale of hope and escapism at the same time, just like ST: The Motion Picture did in 1979 and still does today.

J.J. Abrams, who directed the last two Star Trek films, is working on Star Wars 7, which a lot of fans are patiently waiting for. Hopefully, that movie will bring much needed hope and happiness to an ever increasingly melancholy world.

David Auerbach said...

The great movie (indeed one of the greatest) that investigates "escapist" entertainment brilliantly is "Sullivan's Travels". It is brilliant throughout, but the scene in the church, with the prisoners watching a cartoon, is one of those rare scenes that grabs the head and the heart at the same time.