was discussing V for Vendetta
(the movie version, not the comic) in a flocked post on her journal, and it had me thinking about my own reaction to the movie. No one (and by "no one" I mean "neither deliriumdriver
nor I") denies that it's a powerful emotional experience while one is in the theatre, but there is a sense in which it sort of falls apart when one thinks about it afterwards. (As opposed to, say, Donnie Darko
, which had me screaming at the screen all through the ostensibly science-fictional parts because they made NO SENSE WHATSOEVER.)
Politically I suspect I am sympathetic to the views of the filmmakers, and I don't have any problem in principle with a movie being intended to be used to promote a political agenda; the intentional fallacy almost ensures the result will be richer and broader than the filmmakers intended. Some of my favorite literary works, from Shaw's plays to Rand's novels, were intended to serve as polemics (but succeed as literature for me insofar as they are read as failing at those intended goals; Shaw was a horrible polemicist because he always gave the devil the best lines). After all, texts don't speak with moral voices
, or rather with a unified moral voice, speaking differently to different people in different situations in different places and times (who speak, so to speak, different languages).
Although from an aesthetic viewpoint I suppose I prefer a little more ambiguity à la Shaw (although the movie did impose ambiguity at points, and I suppose asking for the ambiguity to be "resolved" would mean asking for the movie to no longer be ambiguous), but I don't know what political message the movie was trying
to make--or, to avoid the intentional fallacy, I'm clueless how I should be constructing the author-function. I mean, texts don't speak with a moral voice in themselves, but the message to me in this socio-historical moment was . . . I'm not sure. I guess I walked away with a feeling that dystopian governments are bad. Which is all fine and good, but did I really need to be convinced of that? Does anyone?
The claim that there is a point at which a government's authority becomes illegitimate and the only solution is violent insurrection is one that I can respect (and which, at its extremes, I suppose I hold--as probably everyone who is not a pacifist does). But the movie doesn't seem to answer the question of at what point a government has usurped its own authority, so I don't quite see what the point of the exercise was. There are not-stupid arguments that we have already reached that point, as Bush (or at least, Bush's lawyers) seems to be of the opinion that under Article Four he has the right to do whatever he deems necessary without oversight
which to me is an interpretation of the text which makes Roe v. Wade
look downright conservative.
And on some levels I'm just an idealist: is it better to live in a flawed government (and how flawed is flawed?) or to die for an ideal one. I'm already on the record that I'd rather a person let the Earth be destroyed than compromise their ideals, and this seems to be a related sort of ethical dilemma. I'd rather let terrorists blow up America than let people's civil liberties be infringed upon*, because otherwise what we're left with isn't really America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. And practically speaking, I have to admit that this isn't a realistic perspective (hence the idealism).*Anyway to rephrase this sentence so the preposition isn't at the end of the clause? It's one of those passive constructions I'm so interested in, like "who(m) was whispered to."
As far as I can tell, V for Vendetta
just channels (from the viewpoint of the filmmakers [at least as I construct the author-function] righteous and legitmate) anger with Bush and the current administration to a strawman (which I suppose considering the tradition of Guy Fawkes' Day is somehow strangely appropriate) and if anything I think that hurts
their (my?) cause, because I walked out of that that theatre complacent with my life (it was better than the fictional England!--even though on reflection I'm not 100% sure how so) rather than, say, formulating plans to blow up the White House (or, as a nice middle ground, ready to fill out a cheque to send to the ACLU). (Which reminds me I really should fill out a cheque to send to the ACLU. Why am I putting it off*?)"Off" is acting as an adverb in this question, if I'm not mistaken. Or else "put it off" just counts as idiomatic.)
I think my initial response to V for Vendetta
was that I was too close to the events to really judge, and I think that was a wise stance. I mean, Nineteen Eighty-Four
--on which most of you know I did my honors thesis--is a pretty shallow book if one reads it as a diatribe against Communism (or the Catholic Church or the BBC), and my English teacher who said that Animal Farm
isn't "really" about animals, but "really" about Russians, plain didn't understand symbolism. (Animal Farm
is "really" about animals and figuratively about Russians--but it's also figuratively about a lot of other things since symbolism is never an A for B substitution the way metaphor is.) (And a simile is a type of metaphor, except insofar as it isn't really a type of figurative language since similes are literally true.) (Most of my teachers probably didn't understand symbolism, which signals to me either a) I don't understand symbolism, or b) our educational system--both public and private--is a mess.) Brave New World
--well, one of the things I like about Brave New World
is that I can't reduce it to a single line of thought; I have no clue against what Huxley thought he was complaining. He's a little like Shaw in that respect I suppose (and I suppose that Brave New World Revisited
could be seen as the equivalent of one of Shaw's prologues).
So the conclusion, insofar as there is one, seems to be that I should stop searching for V for Vendetta
's moral voice (because it doesn't have one) and enjoy it (or not enjoy it, whichever the case may be) solely as a work of art, one which asks questions but does not provide answers. This is, of course, the type of hermeneutical process I outlined in my honors thesis, suggested for use on the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four
, based on part on this passage from Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
6.53 The correct method in philosophy would really be the following: to say nothing except what can be said, i.e. propositions of natural science—i.e. something that has nothing to do with philosophy—and then, whenever someone else wanted to say something metaphysical, to demonstrate to him [sic] that he [sic] had failed to give a meaning to certain signs in his [sic] propositions. Although it would not be satisfying to the other person—he [sic] would not have the feeling that we were teaching him [sic] philosophy—this method would be the only strictly correct one.
And because it seems an appropriate way to end this post, and because it's just that awesome, and because some of you might not be aware of it: Philosophy Songs
, a site full of philosophical song parodies including "Antinomy" (to the tune of "Chim Chim Cheree"), "Solipsism is Painless," "Hume on the Brain," and (my favorite) "Supererogationisticextraobligation"!