Monday, March 23, 2020

609 - Cartesius, Part 2, Italy, 1974. Dir. Roberto Rossellini.

Monday, February 10, 2020

609 - Cartesius, Part 2, Italy, 1974.  Dir. Roberto Rossellini.

Rene Descartes is restless again.

He is currently staying in the Netherlands, with his friend Isaac Beekman, where he has been reading and thinking and writing.

Specifically, he is in Breda.  In North Brabant.

But now he wishes to travel.

To Franeker.  In Friesland.

Descartes stayed in Breda ten years ago.  And when he left, he promised his host he would keep him apprised of his work--of his writings on mechanics and algebra.

But Beekman waited in vain.  Descartes did not write.  Now he is back and leaving again, and Beekman is about to go through it again.

Descartes is not very good at keeping in touch with others.  He spends a lot of time alone with his thoughts.  This trait will eventually come to haunt him.

Descartes believes he can apply mathematical principles to philosophical ideas.  He shows Beekman his illustrations of a lens and the way it reflects and refracts light rays.  He says he can demonstrate with the same clarity and simplicity the abstract ideas of metaphysics.

He audits a class demonstrating the ideas of blood flow developed by Dr. William Harvey.

He travels to Amsterdam.

In Amsterdam they talk history and business, namely, the sea merchant trade.  They talk of Huygens.  A woman shows Descartes her "automoton," a kind of 17th-century Zoltar machine.

He checks out a large outdoor telescope and speaks with its astronomer Ciprus.  They debate the value of using a telescope.  They discuss Kepler.

He has his portrait painted.  The theologian Dr. Gerolamus brings him a letter to take to Mr. Reneri in Deventer.  Descartes and Dr. Gerolamus discuss the scientific method in its relation to theology.

He travels.  His servant Bretagne gets sick with a fever.  He goes to the university and gives a lecture.

A man named Antoine Poquet, a leather merchant, comes to call on him.  Sent by Father Mersenne.  To collect the new treatise which Descartes had promised to send.  Descartes asks Poquet to inform Father Mersenne that he has not finished it and is working on it day and night.

His servant Bretagne dies.

His new servant, Helene, is feisty with him, and their banter is the closest we get to actual, non-expositional dialogue.  She speaks in proverbs, the wisdom of the servant class juxtaposed with the wisdom of the great philosopher.

Of all six films in this series, Helene seems to be the one who most approaches a developed human character as opposed to a mere performer woodenly speaking lines.  And one senses that this actress--good luck finding her name--might have had some real talent.  But then again, it might also be the refreshingly witty contrapuntal dialogue she is given to say that infuses some life into this dry biscuit of a film.

The servants discuss Tulip Mania, the surge in the tulip market that creates a bubble and subsequent crash in 1637.  They are in awe of the man who sold his house to buy five tulip bulbs, believing that he will become rich, not knowing what Rossellini shares in dramatic irony three hundred thirty-seven years later, that the man is going to lose his shirt.

Jan Maire the printer comes to call.  The smell of the his inks--the aniline and the lead--in his clothes makes Helene sick.  Jan Maire agrees to print Descartes' treatise.

After observing Helene, the good Doctor Plempius, informs Descartes that the patient is not sick but very well indeed.  She is with child.

No wonder his servant is feisty with him.

Descartes declares his fidelity.  But he does not marry her.  He retains her.

Descartes' baby is born and baptized.  A girl.  Francine.

Descartes travels to Utrecht.  He visits the salon of Madam Anna Maria van Schurman.  She receives the greatest scholars of the Netherlands.  He is one of them.  They have been waiting for him, patiently.  His absence has been keenly felt.

It is here in the salon at Utrecht that Rene Descartes first shares with others the treatise that will reverberate through the Western world and establish him as one of history's great thinkers.

"I think; therefore, I am."

He presents it humbly, thoughtfully, and in context, as a reasonable conclusion to a rigorous theorem, unaware of the effect it will have on his own generation and others to come.

He will have supporters and detractors, and defenders against his detractors, and he will take comfort that the number and intensity of his detractors demonstrates the force his ideas are making upon society.

Yet despite his triumphs as a scientist and philosopher, Descartes encounters grief in the loss of his father and of his baby girl Francine.  With a grieving servant-lover standing invisibly beside him, he commits to a colleague that he will turn further inside himself, closing off his heart to the world, and hoping that the further excursions of the rational process will lead him to find some kind of comfort in the death of his daughter.

For all of the pedantry that this made-for-television film musters, as well as the series of films of which it is a part, at least it provides an appealing production design for the viewer to appreciate while trudging through the cinematic sludge.  While Rossellini may have abandoned narrative structure, camera movement and lens choices, dramatic lighting, acting ability, and other fundamental filmmaking tools, he nevertheless maintained his eye for aesthetic visuals and provided a handsome world for his performers to inhabit as they tell his textbook histories.

Every frame a Jan Steen.

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My mind is attracted to mathematics, as I think I have told you many times, only because they allow one to employ certain processes which in my opinion can demonstrate metaphysical truths with more clarity than what is usually achieved by using the demonstrations of philosophy.

And you think you can bring the same clarity and the simplicity to philosophical proofs by using mathematical processes?

Philosophy does not consider merely the material realities, but by means of reason it guides man toward the contemplation of God.

Are you sure that mathematical processes are adequate, by their very nature, to bring the mind of man closer to a reality as subtle as that of God?

I shall never speak of the matters of theology.  Never.  They depend on truths that are revealed through the word of Jesus Christ and his prophets.

But where the subjects of philosophy are concerned, I say that they should be examined with all of man's reason.  It is by this means that I have proven the foundations of physics.

And using the same methods, beyond physical science, I am firmly convinced that I can demonstrate questions both of philosophy and of metaphysics.

As for your question, if mathematical processes are by their very nature suited to bringing the mind of man closer to the mystery of God, I will say to you that all of creation is his work and the mathematical truths that depend on him, are also his work, like the rest of creation.

To say that such truths are separate and independent from him would be like comparing God to a Jupiter or a Saturn.  It would be like trying to subject him to a reality outside of him and independent of him.

The clarity of mathematics, its rules, come from God and are subject to him.  Why then should we fear that they may be used by us men as an instrument to know all truths?

I shall write you.
This I truly do not believe.

The thought of your friendship will always be a great comfort to me.

The blood of all living beings pulses inside the veins and is moved and pushed in all directions at once, so all the veins pulse in the same instant because they all depend on the heart, which moves them constantly.  These are the teachings of Aristotle, who like all the ancients, called veins what we today call arteries.  The heart is the cause of this movement.

We must know how to correct our errors with humility and if necessary start over without presumption.

The road to knowledge is terribly slow and has nothing to do with the illusory excitement of the imagination.

In our century the only way to learn new theories is to travel, to visit the university, and compare differing scholarly opinions.

"We must liberate ourselves," as Bacon has written, "from the idols of false philosophy and build a new science."

Martin Horky.
I have never heard of this gentleman.
A pompous man, upon seeing the true pattern of the sky through the telescope, he was disturbed because it did not correspond to the pattern of stars that he had studied in the manuals.  So he wrote to Kepler that the telescope, if turned toward terrestrial things, does marvels.  It enlarges objects and can reveal everything that can be seen with the naked eye.  But when aimed at the sky, it is useless.

Kepler was able to calculate the orbits of all the other planets around the sun, the speed and the distance between the planets.

The Pleiades. . . . The wonders of the heavens.

An honest man is not obliged to read every book.  There are many other things to be done in life, and knowledge does not depend only on what a man has read, but also on what he has seen.

It seems to be the fruit of an immeasurable haughtiness.  You would deprive human reason of its awe of the creator and of the Bible, to which you make no reference at all.
Many have reproached me for this, but I can assure you, sir, that I work with the utmost humility, looking into the nature of things, because I believe that these are all creatures of God and bear the sign of truth, whereas a man's fantasies, from which many obscure theories are born, are the fruit of haughtiness.

He who has known sickness will appreciate wellness all the more.

There is no long day that does not come to night.

The sleepy fox catches no prey.

Time and tide wait for no man.

He who eats lives.
He who fasts dies.

Make a good reputation for yourself and you can sleep without worries.

Order is bread; disorder is hunger.

The morning hours are golden.

Patience pushed to the extreme becomes anger.

This house is too small for you.  You are like a crane in a pigeon hutch.

A man of your stature and condition who lives like the last tramps.

Nobility cannot be appreciated without refinement.

He who talks sows, and he who listens reaps.

A blow of the tongue is worse than the blow of a spear.

When you are angry, you are certainly prettier.

The moon ignores the barking dog.

To complain is to be half comforted.

What is philosophy?
I am a philosopher.  I love wisdom.
You?  You are crazy.  I am wise.

While the fox moralizes the chickens are in danger.

A word spoken cannot be unspoken.

A promise is an obligation.

The wiser man yields.

Your mistress is rich, and those with money are brave.

In my mistress's photo album it is painted so well it seems real.

Jan Van Goyen.

My grandfather told me that his father, like everyone else back then, purchased goods and paid with herrings.  That was a sure coin because it was nutritious.  But this mania over tulips is so foolish.
Oh, you are the fool.  Everyone is speculating, especially the rich who know what they are doing.

Everyone knows that a bird is only as pretty as its plumage.

Your clothes have an unbearable odor.

It is your smell.  I am sorry.
She needs some vinegar.

Giving advice is easier than acting.

Helene, you must not be ashamed.  This is the most wonderful gift you could ever give me.

I shall never abandon you.

Once the damage is done, the madman comes to his senses.

Tranquility comes with sleep.

A child, my dear Doctor, merits a good glass of wine.

Our book is the Bible.  Our teacher is Calvin.  Listen.

God commands each man to follow his vocation through his life's work.  But man, alas, by his nature, burns with restlessness and often due to frivolity, ambition, and greed, he is tempted to forsake his vocation and to embrace different works that confuse him.

He who promises much rarely keeps his word.

I shall never do what I should not do.

Francine, I baptize you in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.

Gentlemen, I have written a proposal for a universal science, that can raise nature to its highest level of perfection.

Here is one of my new constructions.  We all know that sometimes the senses fool us.  I suppose, then, that none of what we see is as the senses make it appear.  But by doubting everything it immediately appears clear to me that I think.  And if I think, I must be something.

I think; therefore, I am.  Therefore, I exist.

This certainty of existing comes from within myself.

I am a substance whose natural essence consists of thinking.  Totally independent of any material thing.  Well, this I to which I refer is the soul, thanks to which, I am what I am.

I have also verified that none of the things that exist--the earth, light, color--appear superior to me, more perfect than I.  But who placed within me the idea of a being more perfect than mine?  I asked myself.  Certainly a nature more perfect than mine, capable of conceiving of the idea of perfection, which is to say a supernatural being that is absolutely perfect, which I indicate with a single word:  God.

In my treatise, I also prove, with absolute clarity, the existence in me and in the world of a thinking substance distinct from the corporeal, but which of these two is the nature of God?  I shall prove that God can certainly not be a composite of two substances:  the corporeal and the thinking, because the mixture would be a sign of imperfection.

Dear Rene, you speak of the existence of the soul and of God in a very unusual way.

You have moved me.

Your design is very bold and terribly shrewd.

He who possesses a treasure and and does not know it is poorer than he who has nothing.

A pot of gold is not worth a hearth.

She is not a miracle.  She is a perfect machine of nature.

I am leaving.
May God bless you.

Project for a Universal Science. --> Discourse on the Method. --> Meditations on First Philosophy.

Mr. Descartes, you have created a subtle logical construct, a perfect mechanics of reason, without ever referring to feelings, passions, to the heart of man.  You have never cited the Bible, and in writing about God you have never noted that his nature is a mystery, from which derives the necessity of faith for us.  By its nature faith is an impulse of the soul that resides beyond reason and illuminates it.  With your writing, on the other hand, you have shown that there is nothing, outside of reason, that is capable of guiding man to the truth.

He has written about geometry and mathematics, optics and physiology, to seek a new way of philosophizing in which no proposition is admitted that does not have absolute mathematical evidence.

From his childhood, he has used this method of research.

Gentlemen, however much force my reasoning may have, I cannot hope that they will have a great effect on the spirits unless you take them under your protection.  And I do not doubt that you will take such attentive care of this text that you will first of all correct it.  And then, the reasons by means of which I will prove that there is a God and that the human soul differs from the body will be taken to the extreme point of clarity and evidence.  I hope that you will declare all this and give public testimonials.  The truth will cause all scholars and men of ingenuity to subscribe to your judgment.

With the name of God I refer to an infinite substance by which I myself and all other things were created and produced and I could not have the idea of an infinite substance, I who am finite, if it had not been planted in me by a truly infinite substance.

Science has prevented me from living.

We each have our vocation and must live by it faithfully.

Everything we have comes from God.  It is his mercy.

Of course I shall continue to live and think, but now I shall close my eyes.  I shall close my ears.  I shall extinguish my senses.  I wish to erase from my thoughts all images of corporeal thing and to spend time only, only with myself, and to live closed within my heart.  And perhaps, searching within myself, I will succeed little by little in calming the pain of these days.

I will prove to myself that a being, a soul that thinks, also doubts, affirms, negates, knows few things, and is ignorant of many, loves, hates, wants, stops wanting, remembers, imagines, feels.  I shall try, through my pain, to extend my knowledge.  I shall certainly consider whether I can still discover within myself some other being that I have not up to this moment perceived.  I have the certainty of being a reality that thinks, but whence does this certainty come?

Monday, February 10, 2020

608 - Cartesius, Part 1, Italy, 1974. Dir. Roberto Rossellini.

Friday, February 7, 2020

608 - Cartesius, Part 1, Italy, 1974.  Dir. Roberto Rossellini.

Renee Descartes is restless.

Descartes considers himself to be like a pilgrim.  He wanders through his own thoughts as he roams across Europe.  Living off his maternal inheritance.  Nomadically searching for a place to stay where few people know him.  So that he may be at peace to work through his thoughts.

For the purpose of observing men and things.  In order to discover "the infinite faces of the truth, and those of error."

He misses the comfort of his own bed, though.

He goes from Paris to Holland to Italy and back to Paris, only to prepare to leave again.

Descartes has decided to throw out all of his assumptions and begin anew.  As if he were a man with a barrel of apples.  He throws out all the apples at once, and then studies them one by one, placing only the healthy apples back in the barrel and leaving out the rotten ones.

As a young man at school, Descartes was precocious.  He read more voraciously than anyone before him.  He requested special permission from his Jesuit mentor, Father Marsenne of La Fleche, to check out books ahead of time and to read at a faster pace.

He got in trouble for talking during his fencing lessons.  Because his mind was on the latest ideas about which he was reading, and he wanted to discuss them.

Descartes meets Theophile de Viau, the poet.  The libertine.  They have different backgrounds, different approaches to life, and different temperaments, yet they get along.  They are both in search of a kind of freedom whereby man might determine his own fate.

When Descartes returns to Paris after some time abroad, he finds Theophile's effigy being burned, along with his writings.

Descartes watches from a distance.  "Intolerance is like the plague," he says to his friend.  He has returned after three years away, in Holland and in Italy, but already he wishes to leave again.

French Parliament has passed laws condemning men to death who teach ideas that run against those which are officially received.  "Death to the libertines!" the people shout.  Descartes' friend informs him that Theophile has already escaped Paris, so that his effigy is all that will be burned.

Descartes is developing 21 rules on how to think.

Whereas the scientists of his day typically focus on nature--the customs of man, the virtues of plants, the movement of the stars, the transformations of metals--Descartes has decided to study the mind itself.

The human mind is the source of knowledge.

Without the mind, there would be no knowledge.

Therefore, Descartes seeks knowledge of the mind.

How it works.

And how it should work.

He does not know when it will be published.  He has more travelling to do first.

Throughout Europe.

And through his own thoughts.

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It is absurd to compare Galileo and Aristotle.

Aristotle built his doctrine on a perfect system of syllogisms, whereas Galileo's science originates from his observation of the universe.

Cornelius Agrippa, Natural Magic.
    magnetism, the camera obscura
Giovanni Battista Della Porta.

You are in too much of a hurry, my dear Descartes.

Our goal is to acquire knowledge to help souls with God's favor.

Latin, the Humanities, Logic, Natural and Moral Philosophy, Metaphysics, Theology.

He is convinced that if the new sciences approach the truth, they will help us discover and love God, who is the ultimate truth.

You are a lover of physics.

But truthfully you have always been diligent in every subject.

I have been a student in this college for nine years.  There is no place in the world where philosophy is better taught.

The most important thing is that you not lose yourself in the world, and that everything you do be for the greater glory of God.

My God, how I adore your hair.  It lies in soft waves on your brow, gently caresses your beauty, and makes me jealous when I kiss you.  Your mouth is amber and rose, but your words pierce me if you do not tell me now, while kissing, that to love is an act sublime.
-- Theophile de Viau.

And what to think of those who forego prayer to God and the saints, only to address magical prayers to the stars?

What would we think of those astrologers who would dare make up a horoscope for our Lord Jesus Christ?

A learned man is neither a fortune-teller nor a wizard.  He is a lover of truth.  And like Aristotle, he believes that nature clearly reveals it to us in the study of causes and in the succession of phenomena.

Aristotle is an eagle.  The others are mere chicks.

In the search for truth, Aristotle says one thing.  Plato says another.  Epicurus yet another.  Augustine seems to indicate a way that differs from that of Thomas Aquinas.  Telesio, Campanella, Bacon, and the other innovators have yet other theories.  You say apart from Aristotle they are all chicks.  Are you not perhaps exaggerating?

The summae of the scholastics founded on Aristotle's doctrines seem to be perfect constructions that lead to the truth when examined within the cloistered walls of a library or a college.  But they appear quire far from it when compared to the thousand upon thousand phenomena that constitute the reality of our world.

Who among these men will teach us something whose truth is absolute and cannot be doubted?

The first rule:  The aim of our studies must be to direct our mind toward solid and true judgments on whatever matters may arise.  If a man is seriously intent upon finding the truth, he must not apply himself only to one particular science, because all the sciences are connected and dependent on each other in a unity of knowledge.

The second rule:  We must occupy ourselves only with those objects whose certain and indubitable knowledge we feel we can achieve by means of our intelligence.  On this subject we must realize that of the sciences known today, only arithmetic and geometry are free of falseness and uncertainty, because they consist entirely in the logical deduction of a series of consequences.  They focus on a pure and simple subject matter and do not rely, in order to exist, on anything that concrete experience may have rendered uncertain.  With their help, only through a lack of attention, can man fall into error.

The third rule:  We must not pause to study the opinions and conjectures made by others or by ourselves, but attempt to intuit, aided by the clarity of evidence, the true content of things.  To this end, we will rely on intuition and deduction.

By intuition I do not mean the inconstant result of perceptions or of our imagination, but the concept that flows from a pure and attentive mind, so clear and distinct that no doubt remains surrounding it.  For example, two and two are the same quantity as three and one, and that is four.

As for deduction, it is all that which we accept as necessarily true as a consequence of previous knowledge that has already been obtained with absolute certainty.

From this rule all the others are derived, and most notably the fourth, which I deduce from the previous three.

"The search for truth requires a method, a method that can guide our thoughts with order, proceeding from the objects that are simpler and easier to know and gradually ascending to the more difficult ones.  Once we have intuited a certain number of simple propositions, if they result in clear and distinct concepts, with one continuous movement of our thought we shall go on to reflect on their mutual relations.

In this methodical search for truth we shall make use of our intellect, our imagination, our sense, and our memory, both to intuit distinctly the simple propositions and to rightly compare the things we seek with those already known.

I believe that all things that can be within reach of man's knowledge follow one another in the same manner as those long chains of simple and easy reasons which geometers usually employ to craft their most difficult proofs."

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

607 - The Age of the Medici, Part 3, Italy, 1972. Dir. Roberto Rossellini.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

607 - The Age of the Medici, Part 3, Italy, 1972.  Dir. Roberto Rossellini.

Part 3: Leon Battista Alberti: Humanism.

It is only in God that the ultimate science is realized.

So says Leon Battista Alberti, the Christian humanist of Renaissance Florence.

Alberti meditates on great ideas.  The greatest thoughts of the greatest thinkers from antiquity to today.  The greatest spiritual ideas.  Philosophical ideas.  Aesthetic ideas.  Mathematical ideas.  Scientific ideas.  Etc.  And he fuses those thoughts together.

Alberti and Ciraco enter the Cathedral as the choir sings.

They see the painting of Masaccio.  The crucified Christ.  The Trinity.

A woman speaks to them.  She does not understand the painting.  Why does Masaccio give God the same dimensions as humans.  Ciraco argues that Masaccio has liberated himself into new forms.  Alberti states that he has applied the new science of perspective--principles of geometry.

In this time period it is scandalous to represent certain things artistically in certain ways.  But change is coming.  The application of science to art.


Toscanelli has found a way to calculate the circumference of the Earth.  According to his calculations, the Earth has a circumference of 28,000 miles.  Today we understand it to be 24,901.  Toscanelli had to work it out with far less technology.  He came close.


Niccoli Cusano has acquired a Codex of Sappho's verses from Crete.  How?  Manuscripts such as this one are rare, hard to come by, and expensive.

Yet Niccoli has a library filled with them.  We know, because we are standing in his library.

Niccoli reads.

Some say the most wondrous thing on this black earth,
is an army of horsemen.
Others, instead, of troops.
Yet others, of ships.
But I say, that which one loves.

Cosimo de Medici appears.  Niccolo takes him aside to speak in private.

Niccolo wants to borrow 50 florins.  Cosimo wants to know why.  After all, Niccolo already owes Cosimo so much money.  Niccolo says that comforts him.  Because 50 more florins is immaterial to what he already owes.  Cosimo presses him.  Why?  Niccolo tells Cosimo about a manuscript he wishes to buy.

Cosimo presses him further.  He extracts from Niccolo a list of all the manuscripts he currently wishes to acquire.  By the end of it, Cosimo has talked Niccolo into borrowing 620 florins rather than merely 50.  For if that is what it takes to acquire all the manuscripts, then that is what he should borrow.

Niccolo thanks Cosimo as Cosimo smiles and leaves.  We infer that the debt will never be paid, nor that Cosimo wishes it to be.  Through the feigning of credit, he expresses his largesse.

Cosimo is really a Benefactor.  A Patron of the Arts.

Cosimo de Medici is the Godfather of 15th-century Florence.  He is kind to you, and exceedingly generous, as long as you are loyal to him.

Political Intrigue

The men discuss the Pope.  The current Pope.  The one to be.  The other one.  They watch a procession.  They discuss the possible outcomes of the next vote.  No worries.  We will ensure that the right one is elected.


Alberti has developed a way to take measurements of the depths of the seas.  There is no sounding yet.  Alberti describes it.  He is given leave to build it right away.

They are motivated because the great ships of Rome lie sunken off the coast, and they wish to retrieve them, to study them, to reverse engineer them.  They want to understand everything that made Rome great.  To achieve it as well.  And to surpass it.

Alberti demonstrates various machines at work  For example, a machine for cutting groves in metal to make a file.

Later he shows off his collection of mirrors.  Mirrors of all shapes and curvatures, which distort the human face in many different ways.


Alberti has written two works on architecture, yet they arise from mathematical theory rather than practical experience.  But as much as he has his detractors, which we saw in the previous episode, he has more so supporters, and he is talked into embracing his talent and pursuing his craft to practical advantage.

As Alberti reaches his mature years, he shares his wisdom with Cosmio's grandson, Lorenzo de Medici.  It is up to him to continue the tradition begun by his predecessors.  Always have money.  Always provide for your family.  Never leave your offspring in a condition where they have to beg.  With money comes opportunity, the opportunity to focus on what is really important.  The advancement of civilization built on the acquiring of knowledge.

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Do you think that drawing, painting, sculpting statues is possible without assiduous study?  I say it is indispensible for every artisan, every sculptor--Donatello for instance--for every painter to try to discover the universal model of reality, which is to say, the model that lives in nature.

The different parts that make up a body have fixed and symmetrical proportional relationships.  Discovering the mathematic and geometric rules that govern these relationships means capturing the very essence of the archetype, of the universal model on which nature is based.

How long will you have to work to discover this archetype?

I shall begin immediately to write that which is clear to me about painting and about the sculpture of statues.  And then I will seek some more.

Perspective, you say?   I do not understand you, but I do not see the magnificence of Christ.  I do not see divine power.  The artisans have always depicted a glorious, immense, and infinite God in accordance with a holy tradition.  But Masaccio has painted the body of Christ like that of a man.  There is nothing divine about it.  It does not inspire devotion.

But Christ made himself man, and Masaccio looked at his humanity.

He looked at men as the center of human becoming.

What is important to me in looking at that painting is that art and science have met.

Today one cannot be a good artist if one is not also a good scientist.

It is only in God that the ultimate science is realized.  Because its infinite simplicity contains within it the multiplicity of things.  He is the eternal form in all things, which is the potential that wondrously gives each thing its essence.

God is supremely simple and eternal unity, intelligence, and mysterious perfection, a whole and not a part.  He is the cause of everything.  He is present in everything that is in the universe.  And we can say that man, in his fashion, is a God, but not in absolute terms.  Man is a microcosm, and in him lives the world.

The ancient builders, of course, were truly great.  But this century has had men so superb and numerous in such a diverse array of arts and doctrines that they can be compared to the ancient masters.

In architecture, in devising devices to transport large weights, in building war machines, I believe that our men have even surpassed the ancients.

I am glad to know that I have been useful to him.  That is why I wrote them, why I studied the arts and became an architect.

Rome is great, despite the destruction.

Gold is useless unless you transform it into works for the city, works for men.

I have seen that good must be built up like a building, stone upon stone, just as a city must be built family upon family.

All that we have we owe to the family into which we are born.  That is what protects us in spite of the evils of men.  And there is no place in the world where care and diligence toward things can be shown than inside a family.  It is no small thing to leave one's children riches and knowledge enough so that they will never be obliged to pronounce that bitter phrase: I beg of you.

I have seen that if the world asks men to be slaves, many will do so.  But when the world honors genius, then many, many men become geniuses.

When one is intelligent, one can build.
When one is mad, one destroys.

Have you ever wondered why we live in a time of such great innovations, so fervid with ideas, so rich with intelligence?  It is because today we honor intelligence.

Acting is only the extension of knowing.

The existence of an immense multitude of men has a reason.  Their number is necessary so as to increase a million fold man's ability to understand, his knowledge.

The proper function of the human race, taken in the aggregate, is to actualize continually the entire capacity of the possible intellect.

Monday, January 20, 2020

606 - The Age of the Medici, Part 2, Italy, 1972. Dir. Roberto Rossellini.

Monday, January 20, 2020

606 - The Age of the Medici, Part 2, Italy, 1972. Dir. Roberto Rossellini.

Part 2:  The Power of Cosimo.

Every frame a fresco.

Every other frame a tapestry.

Ten months have passed since Cosmo's exile, and the big banks have suffered no losses.  In fact, they are doing better than ever.

The Pope has fled Rome for Florence by boat on the Tiber.

Leon Battista Alberti stands before the base, beholding the bronze statue.

David by Donatello.

A revelation.  A Judeo-Christian subject designed and cast in a classical sculpture form.

David as a youth.  With the shepherd's laurel wreath wrapping his hat, crowning his head.  Holding Goliath's sword in his right hand.  Standing in triumph on Goliath's severed, helmeted head.

In the nude.  In the round.  Carved and cast on all sides.  To be seen from below.

Alberti stands with the apprentice.  Donatello is not in.  Alberti remarks that such works are not to be relegated to niches, as mere accents to service architecture.  But to stand alone in full glory, in the open for the public to see.  All sides.  All angles.  To see what Donatello has achieved.

The apprentice assures him.  The work will indeed stand in the Palazzo.  Commissioned by Cosimo himself.

Cosimo.  The great banker.  The great de Medici.  Exiled for ten years.  Settled in Venice.  But he took his bank with him, and the money flowed out of Florence.  To the magnet.  The magnate.

Florence needs him.  So after only one year of the ten years of exile, Cosimo returns.  And the money flows again.  And the power.

Back in Florence Cosimo de Medici pays off the debts of powerful men, and in doing so he gains allegiances and consolidates factions, drawing the power back to himself.

Meanwhile, Leon Battista Alberti continues to visit artists and artisans--to the neglect of his job at the curia--to marvel at their art and discuss philosophical ideas.  Alberti is himself an artist, a sculptor, an architect, a mathematician, a poet, and an author.  He has published two books on how to design buildings, which his detractors claim are based on mere mathematical theory devoid of actual experience.

Alberti visits the architect Pippo Brunelleschi.  Cosimo visits Pippo at the same time.

Pippo is competing for the commission to design the dome for the Santa Maria del Fiore.  Or at least the lantern that goes on top of the dome.

A man named Ghiberti is competing against him.

Pippo and Alberti show Cosimo a "perspective."  An inverse woodcut which, seen through a small hole from the back of the wood, appears in three dimensions in a facing mirror.

Cosimo favors Pippo.  He will help him.  As if by divine intervention, Pippo wins the commission.  But we know that Cosimo is behind it.

This second part of the Medici trilogy, among many made-for-television movies Rossellini filmed near the end of his life with the goal of education in mind, is not at first easy viewing.  Instead of actors performing their roles, they speak their roles, explaining through exposition the ideas Rossellini wishes to convey.

Yet the film methodically rewards the patient viewer.

The production values are high.  The colors are rich.  The information appears well researched and generously delivered.

One can learn some of the minutiae of 15th-century Florentine government, economic, religious, and social life.

We hear a sermon on the nobility of the soul and salvation through faith in Christ.

We engage in a dialectical conversation on the benefits of high Latin versus the Vulgate.

We discover the process of coining florins from gold.

We witness political intrigue as Cosimo stays one step ahead of his enemies.

We ponder the efficacy of grace as a Christian man falsely renounces his faith in order to escape the Turks, and then seeks absolution upon returning home.

Along the way, Rossellini uses Alberti as his mouthpiece to showcase great ideas.

Particularly the usefulness of a universal liberal education for the development of the Renaissance man.

As Alberti maintains, "Each art contains parts of all the others."

And one may naturally draw parallels between this work and Andrei Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev.  The devout artist.  The casting of the lantern on top of this dome.  The casting of the great bell on top of that one.  With action occurring in front of the frescoes.  The crucified Christ ever standing before our steady gaze.

*                              *                              *                              *                              *

Alberti - I want to arrive at the Opera del Duomo in time.  Today they are choosing the architect for the construction of the lantern on the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore.

man - You must decide between the curia, sculpture, painting, or architecture.  You spend more time in the workshops of the Florentine artisans than you do in the curia working for us.

Alberti - One cannot merely be a member of the curia, or merely a scholar of ancient texts, or merely a sculptor, merely a painter, merely a priest, or merely a merchant.  Each art contains parts of all the others, because the arts of man live in the same reality of the world, in which all things, though appearing to be separate, live together with all others, and only together with the others can be known, possessed, and loved.  You know that our fathers in Florence were not merely merchants or merely men of letters, merely priests or merely artisans.

Anyone who writes or speaks should aim to be understood. - Leon Battista Alberti

You have made robbery ethical.  You have made greed reasonable.  And to give nobility to this greed, you explain with scholarly knowledge that florins are a gift from God.  You build monuments, churches, domes, statues, sacred frescoes so the world will see you as devout, humble, God-fearing men.

Between philosophy, knowledge, and commerce, one wonders what our world is
coming to.

*                              *                              *                              *                              *

The men of this century and of this city believe themselves to be the only masters and creators of everything.  They seek knowledge in the writings of pagans and forget that living and reasoning are born of the spirit that God has given them.  They forget that nobility of spirit is more beautiful than the sun, than the moon, than the stars and the sky, and that none of the things created by God is superior to it, because he created it in his image.

Let man, then, retire to his room and let no one come between him and God himself.  Stand before the Lord God and think and think again, and leave every other matter or occupation by the wayside.  Because matters of conscience are more important than those of the world.  Earning money, providing for your families, protecting yourself from your enemies, all of these things are important.

But saving your soul is more important.  The soul, in greatness and virtue, is above water, above fire, above air, above the entire earth, above the moon, Mercury and Venus, above the Sun and Mars, above Jupiter and Saturn, and all the signs among them.  The soul is above all 72 constellations.

If there were as many empyreans as there are drops in the sea, as much sand in the desert or stars in the sky, all their beauty taken together could not be compared to the excellence of the human soul.  But it is a most miserable thing when it strays from God.

Mothers, do you know who is the most miserable of men?  Who is the poorest?  A bird is born with feathers, a fish with scales.  But man is by nature born naked.  The puppy barks, the fish swims, the bird takes flight.  Man, when he is born, knows only how to cry.  We must all remember that man lives because he is mind incarnate, troubled soul, a container of brief duration, an ephemeral ghost of time.  He is born, he scans the road ahead, consumes his life, is always on the move like a wanderer passing through, a guest where he is welcomed, a slave to death.

And where is his salvation?  His salvation is in his faith in Christ, which he fulfills by being true to himself, to his family, to his city.

As for the faith that is our salvation, as an example I will tell you an ancient story.  A man had left his young son under an oak tree, guarded by a dog called Bonino.  Upon returning from the fields, he found his son dead, with his throat bitten, and next to the body was the trembling dog.  In a fit of rage, the man killed the dog with an ax, and only then did he realize that under its belly the dog held in its paws a horrible snake, a snake it had killed to defend his son.  In tears, the man regretted his ire and buried the dog with a stone on which he inscribed this saying: "Here lies Bonino, faithful champion to the end, killed by the ire of an unjust man."

The years went by and the pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem became accustomed to stopping to pray over this tomb, thinking it the resting place of a champion of their faith.  One day, a man afflicted with a serious illness, after having prayed, was healed.  Others prayed, and the miracles continued to multiply.  The men of the area then erected a chapel in order to give a more seemly burial to the body of the man they considered a saint.  But when they devoutly opened the tomb to move the bones, they saw that they were the bones of a dog and were scandalized.

An old and saintly monk then comforted them with these words: "Where there is faith, even by means of a dog, God can perform miracles and exhort men to repent.  In prayer, our soul calls out to God, and God answers the soul and gives it what it needs without giving weight to the words themselves."

Friday, February 15, 2019

605 - The Age of the Medici, Part 1, Italy, 1972. Dir. Roberto Rossellini.

Friday, February 15, 2019

605 - The Age of the Medici, Part 1, Italy, 1972.  Dir. Roberto Rossellini.

Part 1: The Exile of Cosimo de Medici.

Rossellini is in the final stages of his life.  He was born in 1906 and will die in 1977.  He made his groundbreaking neo-realist films in the 1940s and 50s.  Now in the 70s, and he in his 60s, he wants to give back to his viewers by bringing them the history of the great civilization in which they live.

Thus, he has devoted himself to making teaching films.  The purpose of these films is to help provide the viewer with a classical liberal arts education, to fight again the narrowing of specialization, and to help liberate the viewer to live a broader, more all-encompassing life.  He is putting together a Great Books of cinema.

His production values are as rich and vibrant as ever.  As you watch this film, it is a marvel to realize that it was made for television.  Especially in a time when many people still have small, square, black-and-white TV sets.  It is rich with color.  And with exquisite wardrobe.

As with yesterday's film, Blaise Pascal, we have people standing around talking.  The focus is less on the art of living the part and more on the art of literature and history delivered orally and in performance.  People make speeches.  Sometimes they are aware of the camera and the audience.  The camera is often still, sitting on a tripod, and in a wide shot.  But the artistry is not necessarily less excellent for it.  It is just focused on different things.  It is a kind of a hybrid between acting and a history lecture--an engaging and informative history lecture.

While learning history, one is also exposed to science and art, philosophy and medicine, painting and sculpture, architecture and music, mathematics and civics.  The humanities.

Through the lives of the Medici.

The great director Vittorio de Sica's son, Manuel de Sica, composed the score to this film.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

604 - Blaise Pascal, France, 1972. Dir. Roberto Rossellini.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

604 - Blaise Pascal, France, 1972.  Dir. Roberto Rossellini.

Since today is Valentine's Day, we shall make you aware that it was Blaise Pascal who said, "The heart has reasons which reason knows nothing of."

And yet, if we do that, then we shall also make you aware that he was not talking at all about some sappy romantic sentimentality.

He was talking about the limits of reason and the need for humans to go beyond it in acquiring understanding.  He was talking about matters of faith.

Blaise Pascal was a great reasoner.  He had one of the greatest minds in the history of Western Civilization.  He began his career as a mathematician at age 16 and continued work as a scientist and inventor before eventually turning to theology, the Queen of the Sciences.

He worked with conic sections, vacuums, and pressure.  He invented calulating machines.  He developed Pascal's law in fluid mechanics, Pascal's theorem in projective geometry, and Pascal's triangle in pure math.  Then he developed Pascal's wager in philosophical theology.

His most known work is the book published in 1670 called Pensees, which means Thoughts.

Roberto Rossellini filmed, among other things, stories about historical figures, so it was natural and appropriate for him to film a take on the life of Blaise Pascl

Etienne Pascal is the new Royal Intendant of the Rouen Province.

He arrives and sets up his office.

He is a devout man.  Before work he reads.

"Moses was tending his flock on the mountain of God and the Lord appeared to him as a flame of fire from the midst of a bush.  He saw the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.  Then Moses said, "I will see this great sight,  why the bush is not burnt." - Exodus 3:1-3.

Etienne's secretary was corrupted by a merchant of Rouen.  So he fired him.  Now he needs someone to help him bring the tax register of Rouville parish up to date.

His 17-year-old son Blaise is good with numbers.  He hires him.

Blaise calculates the tallage quickly.  His father is surprised.  He warns him to be careful.

Father Marsenne has sent a book.

Rough Draft of Attaining the Outcome of Intersecting a Cone with a Plane.  By a Lyonnais geometrician named Mr. Girard Desargues,  Scholars find the work to be obscure.  So they refer to it as the Lesson on Darkness.

Blaise will not find the work to be obscure.

Blaise wants to read it.  His father tells him that he will not understand it.  But he understands it.  And he masters it.

While other family members do their chores outside, Blaise stays upstairs in his room calculating.

His sister Jacqueline wonders at his work.  He is spending hours in his room.

She declares, "Your calculations will never rival the beauty of God's creatures."

He replies, "Aren't these also part of creation?"

He stays up all night.

His father is concerned for his health.  And warns him that success could fill him with delusions of grandeur.  Blaise assures his father that he understands the need for humility.

"Father, I know a man is truly great when he knows he is nothing."

"Hold fast to that idea and you will prosper."

His father likes geometry too.  So he takes Blaise's work to study it so that they can discuss it together.  He loves his son and wants to spend time with him.

After reading the work, Etienne secretly sends it to Father Marsenne.

Father Marsenne admires it and intends to publish it.

Mouline, the master tanner of Rouen, comes to call on Etienne.  Mouline cannot pay his tallage.  The townspeople have decided his maid is a witch.  They have stopped buying his tanned hides.

Mouline believes it is a valid accusation due to the spell cast on his son.  The authorities have already arrested her, but there are so many witch trials already scheduled that it will take months before her case comes to trial.  By then he will be ruined.

Perhaps, Etienne Pascal can help move the trial forward and help spare Mouline.

We see the witch trial.

Roberto Rossellini plays it straight.  He does not present the judge, or the jury, or the prosecution, as religious fanatics or hypocrites but as otherwise reasonable people who are stuck in a world of superstition, attempting to find justice according to the limited understanding they have.

He presents the trial itself as absolutely ridiculous.  It is shocking how they think and what they do.  But they are earnestly doing the best they know how.  Blaise himself is confused by it, and his attempts to understand these strange traditions lead him to a more rational approach that dispenses with unfounded superstitions.

Blaise has drawn up plans for a calculating machine.  He has given them to the cabinetmaker in order to build the machine.  He shows his father.  His sister is not interested but his father is.

"God does not condemn those who seek to understand Nature's marvels in order to share them with mankind."

Chancellor Seguier is awakened by his attendant, who then reads to him.

"O righteous Father, the world hath not know thee, but I have known thee., and these have known that thou hast sent me.  And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast love me may be in them, and I in them." - John 17:25-26.

His servants wash his feet.

Father Marsenne has arrived, along with the geometricians, Etienne and Blaise Pascal.

As he is putting on his socks, he has them show them in.

They have brought the calculating machine.  It performs addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of all whole numbers without error.

Chancellor Seguier is impressed.  He will show it to his majesty the King.  Who himself is the most excellent craftsman in all the land.  When the gunsmith Pomerol retired, he showed his secrets only to the King, whom he believed was the most worthy to learn them.

Seguier has heard of the young Pascal, who wrote the treatise on conic sections, and he says that Cardinal Richelieu has heard of his sister Jacqueline, who has a gift for poetry and acting.  She had been under the patronage of the Duchess of Guillaume when she was 12 or 13 and enchanted Cardinal Richelieu with one of her performances.

Then he states that she thereby obtained from the Cardinal a pardon for her father, "who had lost our favor."

It is because he is too zealous in his studies.  It has gone to his brain.

Though we are experts at fixing broken bodies, a science learned on the battlefield, we know nothing about such humors.

He is given, while ill, the letters of Saint-Cyran, a disciple of Jansen.

He works on his idea for the vacuum.  Mercury tube.  Air pressure.

He discovers the value of dipping one's feet in brandy, of applying heat to the feet.

Then he turns to philosophy.

"If I seek a void in nature, it is to discover its mirror in the heart of man."

Can you know or love someone through reason alone?

Not the God of the philosophers but the living Christ.

Read the Gospels.

There is an infinity in things beyond our grasp.

Take that away and try to be less superstitious.

"But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken by God, saying, 'I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.'"  [God is not the God of the dead but of the living.] - Matthew 22:31-32.

Blaise's sister Jacqueline goes to the Convent of Minims.  Blaise is at first skeptical of their motives, but they prove true to him.  Later he goes to hear Rene Descartes, who is the invited guest.

Pascal and Descartes exchange ideas while there.

He presses through reason to faith.

He will go on to write his Thoughts, as he gets sicker, takes the viaticum, and eventually dies.

The film itself is deceptively simple and straightforward.  Passing from point to point in Pascal's life.  And for a director known as the father of Italian Neo-Realism, there is a bit of a lack of realism in the period costumes.  It often looks like 20th century people dressed in 17th century clothes.

Yet Rossellini wisely takes the time to trust actor Pierre Arditi to speak long passages from the Pensees as extended monologues and soliloquies.  In context.  While grounded in physical behavior.  So that the viewer can witness this mind on fire as he contemplates important ideas.

If you have never read Pensees, take some time to check it out and get to know Pascal for yourself.  It is worth your time.  And check out the movie.

And see a man born into a superstitious society, rejecting it for a life of science and math and reason, who, now free of superstition, through that reason most reasonably returns to the faith of his heritage.

Peace to this house, and to all who dwell therein.

*                              *                              *                              *

Reason seems unsure in its place in the world.

It isn't a chain of reasonings but intuition.
They are not quantifiable.  They are infinite.
But the infinite universe we live in will never cease to be infinite.
The geometric method.

Is it not better to begin with the infinite and move down to the simple?

Only God can know them because only he is infinite.  Christians profess a religion for which they cannot give a reason, and even declare that any attempt to do so would be foolishness.
Certainly, it is in lacking proofs that they are not lacking in sense.
What do you mean?
Since God is infinitely incomprehensible, then understanding him by means of reason is a contradiction in terms.  It is not because our reason is limited that we should have a limited idea of God.  God is, or he is not.  Reason can decide nothing here, except to admit there is an infinity of things beyond understanding.  You are not a skeptic, because skeptics know man has a deep need for certitude, and a man like you would not be satisfied with less.  Nor dogmatic, because we all know that life is uncertain and in constant flux.  Where does that leave us?  God is, or he is not.  To which side shall you incline?  Since this game could be played forever without outcome, you must wager.  It is not optional.  You are embarked.  But neither to the reason nor to the heart is it satisfying to wager on what is finite.  Why?  Because if you wager on what is finite and limited, and you win, you gain nothing, and if you lose, you lose all.  If instead you wager on the infinite, if you win, you gain all, and if you lose, you lose nothing.
But aren't we still uncertain?
Yes, of course, but you hope.  And instead of counting only on your own strength and risking despair, you place your hope in the reality of a superior existence.
And if I lose?
You will have fought the good fight, and will have become a charitable and sincere friend.  And, in the meantime, God might reveal himself to you.

"The year of grace 1654.  Monday, November 23, feast of Saint Clement, pope and martyr, and others in the martyrology.  The eve of Saint Chrysogonus martyr and others.  From about half-past 10:00 in the evening until about half-past midnight.  Fire.

God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob.  Not of philosophers and intellectuals.  Certitude, certitude, feeling, joy, peace.  God of Jesus Christ.  Deum meum et Deum vestrum.  Your God will be my God.  Forgetfulness of the world and of everything except God.  He can only be found by the ways taught in the Gospels.  Greatness of the human soul.  O just Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you.  Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.  I have cut myself off from him.  Dereliquerunt me fontem aquae vivae.  'My God wilt thou forsake me?'  Let me not be cut off from him forever!  This is eternal life, that they may know you and the one true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.  Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ.  I have cut myself off from him.  I have run away from him, renounced him, crucified him.  Let me never be cut off from him.  He can only be kept by the ways taught in the Gospel.  Sweet and total renunciation.  Total submission to Jesus Christ and my director.  Everlasting joy in return for one day's effort on earth."

Hear us, holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God, and be pleased to send thy holy angel from heaven to guard, cherish, protect, visit and defend all those who dwell in this house through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

May almighty God have mercy upon you, forgive you your sins and bring you everlasting life.  Amen.

May you be pardoned and absolved of all sins by almighty God.  Amen.

Receive, brother, the viaticum of the body of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  May he keep ou from the malignant foe and bring you to life everlasting.  Amen.

The Lord be with you.
And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.

O holy Lord, Father almighty and eternal God,  we pray thee in faith that our brother may benefit from the holy body of our Lord Jesus Christ, thy son, which he receives as an everlasting remedy for body and soul from him who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

May God never abandon me.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

603 - Personal Shopper, France, 2016. Dir. Olivier Assayas.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

603 - Personal Shopper, France, 2016.  Dir. Olivier Assayas.

Unknown:  I know You

Maureen is alone.  She works as a personal shopper for a fashion model named Kyra.  But she rarely sees her, and they rarely talk.  They text.  And Kyra leaves Maureen notes for when she drops off her clothes.

Maureen is good at what she does.  She knows Kyra's tastes.  She buys her dresses, pants, accessories, jewelry, and shoes.  She knows what Kyra will like.  She knows what Kyra will love.  She knows what Kyra will despise.  And she makes quick decisions that prove to be right.

But Maureen is also alone in that she has lost her twin brother Lewis to death by congenital heart disease, a disease which Maureen shares.  She and Lewis promised each other that whoever died first would return to leave the other one some sign of the afterlife.

Lewis considered himself a medium.  He was sensitive to spiritual forces.  So Maureen followed him and claims now to be a medium herself.  Though she is less confident.  The couple who wants to buy the house in which Mauren and Lewis grew up has hired her to test the large, empty, dark place for the presence of spirits.  They do not wish to purchase a haunted home.

So Maureen goes and spends time there alone.  Searching for Lewis.  She senses something.  She hears strange noises.  Creaks and moans.  And water faucets seem to turn themselves on.  Yet when she does finally see the spirit in the house, it is not Lewis.  It is a woman.  Who emits ectoplasm.  Who is angry.  Who seems lost.

Whose presence scares Maureen.  Induces fear in her.  Causes her finally to flee.  Leaving her lost in Paris, not going to Oman to visit her boyfriend Gary, holding on to her "stupid job" so that she can stay and wait.  Hoping to find her brother.  To seek and sense the sign he might leave for her.

Until she finally finds a companion.

Sort of.

In the person named "Unknown."

Who begins texting her.

You know Unknown.  He is kin to Anonymous.  You yourself have received his texts and calls.

It is just that this Unknown knows her.  Knows her whereabouts.  Knows her actions.  From Paris to London.  Aboard the train.  Around town.  And back from London to Paris.

Giving Kristen Stewart the opportunity to showcase some of her finest acting.  With her cell phone.

She lays bare her soul.  Delves the deeps.  Exposes her vulnerabilities.  Invites the audience to love her as she embodies the unguardedly human.

As The Devil Wears Prada suddenly morphs into The Talented Mr. Ripley.  Before it turns into The Shining.

As this motorscooter-driving, leather-jacket-wearing, deadpan-talking, cynically-minded pokerfaced smoker faces her deepest fear.

A fear far greater than spending the night alone in a large, dark empty house with an angry spirit.

The fear of facing herself.

And finding herself.

And trying to decide if she likes herself.

By crossing the threshold into doing the forbidden.

As her Unknown companion encourages her.

Practically pushes her into it.

Maureen wants to be someone else.  Wants to be feminine.  Wants to be pretty.  Wants to be elegant.  Wants to be attractive.  Wants to be desirable.  Wants to be loved.

She indulges her desires.

We are not necessarily saying that Maureen does to Kyra what Tom Ripley did to Dickie Greenleaf.  Nor that Ingo functions as her own Freddie Miles.

After all, Ingo himself may be . . . well . . . we will let you see it and decide.

Though we might throw in for good measure that there may be a bit of Swimming Pool in here as well.  Or that Maureen might have a beautiful mind.

If only she could hear from Lewis.

He has the answers she is looking for.

Of who she is.

And what there is to come.

Unless . . .


*                              *                              *                              *

It's extremely difficult to find a portal into the spirit world.  That's just the way it is.

Her works were made before the creation of abstract art.  But Hilma af Klint kept her art secret.

In her will she decided that the earliest they would be viewed would be 20 years after her death.  So 100 years ago, Hilma af Klint painted for the future, and that future is now.

The idea that there is a world beyond our world.

You already have a stupid job.  It wouldn't change a thing, but the pay is better.

Love?  It never crossed my mind, no.  It's just physical.

I'm a medium.  He was a medium.  I'll just know it.

Lewis thought they were spirits.  I'm less sure.  But yes, somewhat.  I mean, there are invisible presences around us always, and whether or not they're the souls of the dead, I don't know.  And when you are a medium you're just attuned to a vibe.  It's an intuition thing.  It's a feeling.  You see this door, slightly ajar.

I have to give his spirit, or whatever you want to call it, a chance to prove him right.
That's why I'm still waiting.  Then I guess I'll live my life and let it go.

I need more from you.  I'm gonna need more from you.

You're not my brother.  You're not my brother.