Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

Have Any Breath Mints?

January 8, 2010

  I can see a television when I shave in the morning and while I often watch CNN or the local news, sometimes I turn to Despierta America on Univision (must see!) or VH1 or a movie channel.  While flipping through early on New Year’s Eve I found, in black and white on AMC, hay bales moving around a field to the tune of Three Blind Mice.  Remember that one?  The Three Stooges are awesome!! 

  I couldn’t stop laughing and nearly cut myself.  Wife rolled her eyes, tisk-tisked me, and asked when I was going to grow up.  For the umpteenth time.  Jeesh.  She’s lost hope.  Nyuk, nyuk.  After she left though I began to wonder about the evolution of humor.  Later I googled the notion for a bit and found but turgid prose. 

  Hobbes’ thought that life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” before the grace of government came to mind.  Seems logical to me that it might have been an evolutionary advantage to have been able to be funny while standing around a campfire gnawing on mammoth bones.  Life would have been tough (to coin a phrase). 

  I’ll bet that the hot cave chicks were turned on by a smiling fellow able to flatulate via his axilla while the others stood around in a inchoate state of depression.  How else could Fred Flintstone ever have attracted Wilma?

  Base humor must go back to the moment of our awakening, or I guess I mean back to when we first developed a sense of self awareness.  Once you leave speculation and get to recorded history there are plenty of examples. 

  In the Greek play Peace by Aristophanes for example (421BC), a giant dung beetle plays a major role transporting the main protagonist to heaven to plea for the gods’ intercession.  Bystanders are urged to avoid moving their bowels and thereby distract Trygaeus’ coprophageous mount.  It is an antiwar comedy celebrating the coming of peace after ten years of war on the Peloponnesian Penninsula.

  Interesting that the work of which the Stooges were most proud was also related to war.  They considered their best to be “You Nazty Spy” which in 1940 was a mockery of Hitler and the Third Reich.  Moe played Hitler, Larry was Ribbentrop, and Curly did Hermann Goering.    

  Certainly the standard of humor of an age rides the zeitgeist.  There was no need of subtlety during the thirties.  The Stooges appeared in their first film in 1930.  The Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup came out in 1933.  Etc.

  It’s 2010.  Where are we now?  Lord help us.  Here’s a clue:  

Vide Cor Meum

November 27, 2009

Vide Cor Meum, “See My Heart” in Latin, is the title of this beautiful aria written by Irish composer Patrick Cassidy.  It is fashioned after an early sonnet of Dante’s from his La Vita Nuova (“The New Life” in Italian).  The poem recounts a dream of Beatrice, his first love.

Dante but crossed paths with a nine year old Beatrice and was so smitten that he wrote: “Behold a god more powerful than I… from then on love governed my soul”.  Nine years later to the day he came across her again and she addressed him “virtuously”.  Then, “I left the crowd as if intoxicated and returned to the solitude of my own room”.

There he fell asleep and had the dream.  Love embodied held a burning heart in his hand and said to Dante “Vide Cor Tuum” (“see your heart”), woke the sleeping Beatrice, and fed it to her.  She died and they rose toward heaven.  In life they married others and she did die young – at 24.  Dante must have believed that Beatrice so felt the great power of his love that unable to requite, perished.

Guess my roommate is lucky to have me.  Anyway, what is truly incredible about this ethereal piece of music is that it was composed specifically for the film Hannibal and is an essential part of it.  How could the character of a sophisticated cannibal be better shaped than with prosimetrum from Dante employing the metaphorical eating of a heart? “Then he (love) woke her and that burning heart he fed to her reverently.”  Dante!  OMG

The scene around its performance underscores Dr. Lecter’s erudition and sheds light upon his feelings for Clarice.  He has loved her from the first moment of their first meeting, cherishes every encounter, but knows that it can never be consummated and that he must take great care toward her protection.

In the bit below we see such depth of feeling that one unfamiliar with the story line would find the Giancarlo Giannini character caddish and Lecter movingly urbane.  Indeed, Inspector Pazzi’s wife Allegra seems quite taken with Dr. Lecter when from memory he gives the sonnet from La Vita Nuova.  The short shrift given by Giannini’s Pazzi seals his fate as much as anything else.  Ironically, in Lecter’s company bad taste can be fatal.

Vide Cor Meum (Translation from the Italian/Latin)

Chorus: And thinking of her
Sweet sleep came over me
I am your master
See your heart
See your heart
And of this burning heart
Your heart
Chorus: She trembling
Obediently eats.
Weeping, I saw him then depart from me.
You is converted
To bitterest tears
Joy is converted
To bitterest tears
I am in peace
My heart
I am in peace

See my heart

Hearts and Hope

November 6, 2009

  This week, courtesy of NPR, I had occasion to listen to a fascinating program about stem cells on Speaking of Faith.  Host Krista Tippett visited the regeneration lab of Fr. Doris Tayor at the University of Minnesota.

  Problem with organ transplants is rejection.  Patient has to take powerful drugs for life to avoid a new heart from making an Alien-like exit.  Ms Taylor is working on a method to build a new heart out of one’s own cells. 

  Not yet in human trials, she starts with a heart from a rat cadaver and washes out all cells leaving an interstitial “scaffold”.  Then she uses stem cells to build a new heart upon that structure.  Below you can watch a video showing steps in the process culminating in a new beating heart!*

   Speaking of Alien: the video reminded me of the horrible part of Alien Resurrection where Ripley stumbles upon a lab filled with disturbing experiments with/on humanoids eerily similar in presentation to Dr. Taylor’s rat hearts in beakers.

  For her part, Taylor says she wouldn’t undertake anything she wouldn’t do on her mother.  People tell her that “she isn’t building hearts, she’s building hope”.  “The universe has given me tools: I’m going to use those tools.”  Progress is a series of discoveries.  When ill, our ancestors chewed on willow bark which we now use in the form of aspirin.

  Marveling over the beauty of the natural architecture of a heart with Dr Taylor, moderator Tippett said that “One of the things that I’ve been fascinated in… with scientists in general is how scientists have such a regard for beauty”.  Reminded me of a post far above in which I discuss nuclear weapon development by scientists eager to push forward savoring the “sweet technological problems…” 

  I’m all for progress and favor stem cell research, but I’m beginning to disagree with Keats’ famous lines from Ode to a Grecian Urn

Beauty is truth, truth beauty.  That is all
Ye know on earth and all ye need to know 

  This here universe is a whole lot more complicated than that.   Billowing cumulus might be beautiful, but so is a mushroom cloud.  Taylor indeed does give us hope.  We can make ourselves sick (physically or metaphorically), but we can also make ourselves well.

  All parts of our bodies are continually regenerating and the stem cells do the work.  Taylor calls it “endogenous repair, internal repair”.  Ageing of tissues and bodies is the failure of stem cells.  Stress ages stem cells by a known process. Decrease stress increase the life of a cell and a body.

  “… there’s a spiritual component to all of this” Taylor says.  “What we think impacts who we are.  She recruited well known Tibetan Buddhist monk Mathieu Ricard and measured stem cells in his blood before and after a meditation session.  “What we found was a huge increase in the number of positive stem cells in blood.”

  In an unrelated study of the neurological correlates of happiness at the University of Wisconsin – Madison Ricard was subjected to an extensive  examination with hundreds of sensors affixed to his noggin for a three hour ride in an MRI.  He was so far outside normal parameters that he was dubbed the “happiest man on earth”.  Wonder what he knows.

*Interestingly (but I guess not surprisingly), process sounds very much like morphogenetic architecture in which a pattern or process is observed in nature, algorithms developed, computer let loose, and voila: an, uh, as yet unbuilt research lab for the Santa Fe Institute designed by son and friends.

Andrew Surface 1


** For the complete interview and more video go to:

“The Fewer the Men the Greater the Share of Honour”

October 23, 2009

  OK.  Enough.  Enough with the peace and quiet.  I’m not a girlie man.  Back to the blood, guts, and gore.  Real thing this time though, with The Bard’s representation to boot.

  Sunday (October 25) is St Crispin’s Day.  It’s named for twins Crispin and Crispinian who were martyred in about 286AD.  They were removed from the liturgical calendar by Vatican II, but they’re not what make the date noteworthy anyway.  Several historically important battles have been fought on October 25s: The Battle of Balaklava (The Charge of the Light Brigade) in 1854, The Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Pacific in 1945, and The Battle of Agincourt in 1415.

  The event at Agincourt occurred because King Henry V of England invaded Europe to prosecute his claim on the throne of France, the hand of Princess Catharine daughter of Charles VI King of France, and a dowry of 2 million crowns.  It is notable because of the fact that the English force of some 6,000 defeated catastrophically the French who numbered perhaps as many as 30,000. 

  Several factors worked to King Henry’s advantage including: the composition of the forces, the nature of the battlefield, and the sure knowledge that defeat would mean annihilation.  The resulting motivation helped overcome fatigue, hunger, and disease.

  Over 80% of Henry’s men were archers/longbowsmen.  Half of the French were dismounted knights and men-at-arms, a thousand or so mounted knights, and the balance archers.  These counter posed armies came to face each other in a very narrow strip of recently plowed open muddy land surrounded by dense forest.


  Short and simple, the English and Welsh archers on the flanks loosed tens of thousands of arrows killing and wounding many, hitting French horses on their unarmored hindquarters driving them madly through their own ranks. 

  The armor laden French pressed forward wave upon wave, but slogging through the muddy bottleneck tired quickly, were easy prey, and fell in huge piles.  Some even drowned in the mud.  Crucially, they were unable to outflank their opponents because of the thick wood on both sides.

  Once all arrows had flown, the English moved upon the French with hatchets and swords.  Without the weight of armor they tore through the horrible wallow with relative ease.  At the end of some three hours there were approximately 112 dead Englishmen, and as many as 10,000 French.  Uh, whoa.

  King Henry’s glory has regaled far more than just those with particular interest in military history through the agency of one William Shakespeare.  His Henry V dramatizes the story and Hank’s “St Crispin Day Speech” has to be one of the most stirring and momentous in all of literature.  After reading the play, you should rent and watch the film version with Kenneth Branagh in the lead role.  Or maybe be lazy and just watch the clip below.  Either way, be careful with your cutlery for a while thereafter.

Ah, The Peonies!

October 9, 2009


    Ever see the movie Heat?  It’s a really great cop v robber flic with Pacino (cop) and De Niro (robber).  Val Kilmer is a steely with chinks bad guy too.  Ashley Judd’s his wife.  De Niro and crew are skilled, astute, and only go after the largest of hauls.  Last one eight figures.  Movie is wonderful, mesmerizing, in your face violence.  In fact, De Niro demands that his last victim “look at me, LOOK AT ME!” before delivering the revenge fueled coup de grace.

  My savor of the gunplay and bloodletting came to mind while reading a bit about the President of Liberia – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – the first female president of an African country.  Question: “If women ran the world, would wars still exist?” Answer: “No. It would be a better, safer, and more productive world. A woman would bring an extra dimension to that task – and that’s a sensitivity to humankind.  It comes from being a mother.” 

  Question: “But if women had power, they would be more likely to acquire the negative traits that power breeds, like selfishness and territorialism.”  Answer: “It would take a very long term of women absolutely in power to get to the place where they became men”.*

  What is up with us men?  I remember studying the Yanomamo people who inhabit a bit of the jungle between Venezuela and Brazil.  Napoleon Chagnon wrote the best selling anthropology treatise of all time about them.**  They were fascinating for having been theretofore untouched by civilization.  Real time look at primal.  Garden of Eden it was not.  Guys sat around blowing hallucinogenic drugs up each other’s noses all day while women slashed, burned, and cooked.  Third of the men died violent deaths.


  I’ve read elsewhere that our incredible inability to get along is what led to the original diaspora from Africa.  Group gets to 5,000 or so in size, factions arise, violence attends, they spread out.  Years on, given half a chance, a group more technologically advanced wipes out one less so.  Jeesh.

  Somehow though we’ve made it this far.  Truth and beauty do exist and are known to exist by men and women alike.  President Sirleaf might well see more soulful women than men, but some men have tamed or cathected their urges and transmogrified their blood lust. 

  Mountaineers, for example, challenge gravity and weather to suffer a cold and frightful experience risking their contribution to the gene pool all the while.  First ascensionists get to pick the line and have naming rights when successful.  Sometimes position and kinesthetics combine to make a stairway to heaven.  On the massive Gogarth Sea Cliffs in North Wales for example, Ed Drummond put up a spectacular route which he named “Dream of White Horses”. 

Dream of White Horses

  Or – just saw an exhibition of Cy Twombly’s late work.***  Unspeakable beauty.  Unspeakable.  The representation below of one picture from his “Peony Blossom Paintings” conveys only the slightest of hints of an in-person experience, but alongside panel six he has a haiku by Takarai Kikaku inspired by 14th century samurai Kusunoki Masashige: 

Twombly Peony 2

Ah, The Peonies

For which


Took off his Armour

Cool, huh?

* NYT Mag, 8/23/09

** Yanomamo, The Fierce People by Napoleon Chagnon, Holt Rinehart Winston 1968

***Cy Twombly: The Natural World Selected Works 2000-2007.  The Art Institute of Chicago May 16 – October 11, 2009

Why try? It’s beautiful!

August 21, 2009

  The film in question, Berlin Alexanderplatz, is an influential work made for German TV in 1980.  Rainer Werner Fassbinder largely followed the novel written by Alfred Doblin in 1929.  It is the difficult story of an attempt to lead an honest life from the midst of robbers, whores, pimps, and killers.

  This short hommage by Laurie Anderson alludes to a Buddhist parable in which, near the end of his life, the sage gathered his disciples close to a pond into which he reached and withdrew a lotus flower.  As he held it up and moved silently among them,  his confused followers made obtuse attempts to relate it to the teachings. 

  Finally the master came to Mahakayapa who, zapped with understanding, smiled broadly and thus was given the white flower.  “What can be said I have said to you”, smiled the Buddha, “and what cannot be said, I have given to Mahakashyapa”.

  Why even try to explain the beauty of a flower?  Such effort impedes appreciation.  Sin.

What Fassbinder film is it?
The one-armed man walks into a flower shop
And says: What flower expresses
Days go by
And theyjust keepgoing by endlessly
Pulling you Into the future
Days go by
Endlessly pulling you
Into the future?
And the florist says: White Lily.

ooooh yaaaa

August 14, 2009


   A while back I said that my favorite movie was The Wizard of Oz.  It’s still a pretty great flic, but the way I now constellate things has been eclipsed by Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  The latter has recently been all over the movie channels due to the untimely death of director John Hughes.

  Ferris opens and closes the film succinctly summarizing his approach to life, as well as the best work of many philosophers that I particularly admire:  “Yep, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Life moves by pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around you might miss it.”

  There is an early allusion to his predecessor Huck Finn.  Ben Stein, as teacher taking roll reads: “Bueller, Bueller, Bueller.”  No response.  Same thing happens in Twain’s book when Huck skips class.  Guess which one said of his ploy: “it’s childish and stupid, but then so is high school”.  Could be either.

  The storyline is also like that of Ulysses (Joyce’s that is) in that while a rich and deep tale, it only spans one day in a life.  There is even a counterpart to Molly Bloom’s famous soliloquy at its end: “…first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes”.

  After following Ferris across Chicago (instead of Dublin) for a day his girlfriend, Sloane Peterson, is amazed and totally taken by his preternatural wisdom, adroit maneuvering, and incredible joie de vivre.  This is a high school comedy though and so at the end, watching him with confidence enter a gauntlet impassable for all but he, she simply offers:  “He is going to marry me”.

  As sort of a coda after the narrative is complete Bueller looks at us and says “You still here?  It’s over.  Go home, go.”  He has committed  day of his life to show us how to take hold of our own.  He figures that those who’ve learned something are on with it and those who haven’t will never get it. 

Only that thing is free which exists by the necessities of its own nature, and is determined in its actions by itself alone.
Happiness is a virtue, not its reward.
Thus shall you think of this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.
-Diamond Sutra as translated by the Dalai Lama
What, me worry?
– Alfred E. Newman


April 10, 2009
        Had a great few days visiting son in Philadelphia.  Undertook examination of several different important bits of our culture. 
      First was Kenny Powers, the lead character of the HBO show Eastbound and Down which you’ll find disgustingly hilarious if you’re a guy.  Only disgusting if you play for the other team. 
      Kenny never read any Greek tragedies otherwise he’d have recognized his hubris and the show would have been one-of and not a series.  It starts with him, as a rookie pitcher, winning the World Series for the Atlanta Braves.  He immediately develops a hugely oversized ego, declares himself a free agent, and begins a long obnoxious fall.  
      Our star levels out as a substitute high school gym teacher living with his brother and family.  He happily tells the school principal that his fiancé was an old KP flame and the flame that he was still in love with her chest. Drunk and high on ecstasy at the school dance he parts the crowd to strut his stuff for her.  
      There is a video of it on You Tube which I thought about inserting here, but didn’t after wife said “You better be careful, I’m a substitute too.”  Matter of fact, I looked at all of the clips on You Tube and found none appropriate for this more or less PG space.  
      Next day son and I went to an incredible show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art – Cezanne and Beyond – which intersperses about sixty works by the master with over a hundred by his heirs.  The experience makes for the enlightenment of even the most benighted philistine.*  Just take the two pictures below. 
      On the left Painting with Two Balls 1960 by Jasper Johns and (one of many of) M. Cézanne’s Mt. St Victoire (1903) on the right. johns-j-painting-with-two-balls  There is an elemental simularity – without the balls and thrust of the mountain both would be pure abstraction.  In a cezanne-msv-2very real sense the one by Johns is a reflection of the other.  Relation I mean.  Cezanne himself said “In my thought one doesn’t replace the past, one only adds a new link to it”.  So here we have the Fin de Siècle revolutionary dressed up for the 60’s.  Shows the truth in the saying: “Mediocre artists borrow.  Great artists steal”. ** 
      Son then had to take an exam (Mr.”I got ’em all right…” since the crib) and I went to another museum – the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts where many great American artists took training.  Importantly for me, this included William Merrit Chase whose (one of many) portrait(s) of his wife hangs in our museum here in town.


      I have returned many times to visit  Mrs Chase In Pink starting years ago when I was younger than both then were to now older making all manner of attempts to divine something of the nature of their relationship.  Without success.  I was never able to learn anything.


      Thus I was pleased to find another portrait of her at a much younger age in PAFA thinking that a youthful impetuosity might betray something for me.  No luck.  Thinking about this while reading a review of the Cezanne show I came across a description of M. C’s portrait of Mme. C calling her his “inscrutable muse”.  Aha!

      I’ve written in a post below how it feels to be caressed by the cerebrations of an artist/spouse and realized first that both women enjoyed each sitting.  More to the point neither was a mistress, but a life partner and a hint of ire or eroticism or pretention or whatever (while well within the power of the artist/ husband) would indeed be a betrayal of confidence and likely the last such opportunity.

      Later that afternoon as I was relaxing in son’s apartment enjoying the urban street noises below and waiting for him to return I looked through a book by one of his professors: Arup Uber Engineer Cecil Balmond.  In it (Element)  he draws attention to the, uh, congruence of all the myriad wonderful patterns found the world about  and says: “We are the nervous system of a great mystery”


      Ya, but I’m working on it. 

    *Given a hint and some time, even Kenny would figure out to what the two balls relate…

    ** Jasper Johns said about a Cezanne picture: “As for the Cezanne, it has a synesthetic quality that gives it great senuality-it makes looking equivalent to touching”.

Could It Have Been Her Perfume?

March 20, 2009

  Most don’t realize it, but there is more involved with a rich experience of a perfume than simple inhalation.  If you rush it or force it, all is lost.  In fact, it is best not to inhale at all.  To maximize the olfactory uptake, especially of a really fine subtle sent, you let it flow through your nostrils of its own accord.  Allow it to linger.  Then maybe draw in more very gently and slowly.  While keeping an eye on she off whom it floated.

  The very old part of your brain that manages the sense of smell will conjure something up for you to combine with the view.  Unfortunately the process often ends up feeling like inhaling screen or something out of Bosch. Get what you pay for, tart. 

  But sometimes when my wife walks past I’m left in a special sort of ethereal reverie.  An unexpected existential elevation – transitory to be sure, but all the more effective for the fact.  Oh yaaa.  Wow!  That’s who she is…

  One’s sense of smell can be  incredibly generative.  The briefest waft can catalyze memories by the torrent.  I remember once when my kids were very young I picked up a crayon and smelled it.  A hallucination ensued of me in my youth with coloring books and my brothers at our kitchen table.  Proust began his novel In Search Of Lost Time with the protagonist sniffing a small French cake called a Madeline which act brought forth such cerebration that seven volumes were required to get to the denouement.

  Remember in Silence of the Lambs when Lecter first meets Clarice and says: “You use Evyan cream and sometimes you wear L’Air du Temps, but not today…”?  It was a crucial part of the flic for a variety of reasons.  We already knew that he was a beast, but then in that dungeon we learn that he was cultured and preternaturally discerning.

  The choice of that particular scent was prescient. The name translates as “the air of the time” or zeitgeist in other words.  The film went on to win five Academy Awards and could thus be said to have been at the leading edge of consciousness back then in the early nineties. 

  What in Lord’s name does that say about us?  That millions around the world would pay good money (and still do) to watch a horrible cannibalistic psychopath?  Does it numb or sensitize?  It’s interesting to juxtapose Dr. Lecter and Hanna Schmitz (cf March 6 below).  Few would find Lecter banal.  Should that be reassuring in some way?

  In the end, after his gruesome escape when he called Clarice from calm repose, how was it that his feelings toward her would have him say: “I have no plans to call on you, Clarice, the world being more interesting with you in it”?

  Could it have been her perfume?

Can’t Read It Out Of A Book

March 6, 2009


  In the New Yorker Anthony Lane called the film version of The Reader “dramatic roughage”.  Rex Read, in an advert pull quote, used the phrase “one of the most uplifting films of the year”.  Wikipedia holds that the main theme has to do with how Germans have struggled to come to terms with the holocaust and what it did to postwar intergenerational tension. 

  That’s not what I got out of it. At all.  Or rather, I guess I buy the above, but was nearly overwhelmed by something else.

  For me it was a deeply troubling personification of Hannah Arendt’s observation that the perpetrators of the holocaust were in no way special.  She called it the “banality of evil”. In fact, by either deliberate allusion or fortuitous coincidence, the main protagonist’s name is Hanna(h).  Hanna Schmitz. Late in the book one even learns that Frau Schmitz became familiar with Arendt’s reportage of the Eichmann trial which led to the coining of that chilling phrase.

  Frau Schmitz was a simple person who could not read and was ashamed of that fact.  The shame led her to quit good jobs twice so as to avoid promotions and discovery.  The first led her to take work as a guard for the SS at a concentration camp.  The second to recall the first and leave her then current circumstance and the life of a young lover.

  From the moment we meet her (which in story sequence is 1958) Schmitz appears to be a joyless working woman.  Her apartment is quite spare and she works as a conductress on a streetcar.  The highly publicized eroticism of her chance encounter and subsequent affair with fifteen year old Michael Berg is diversionary. Years later the mature man, our narrator, looks back and realizes that she’d had a “seductiveness that had nothing to do with breasts and hips and legs, but was an invitation to forget the world in the recesses of her body”.

  The story takes its name from her perusal of literature by a variety of means for first, other attempts at escape, but later for insight. She becomes absorbed, as do we… 

  Several years after her disappearance, Michael learned that her (literary and then physical) departures were not from the workaday world but instead from the memory of her complicity in the deaths of 300 innocents in the camps.  There could though be no real escape.  “…escape involves not just running away, but arriving somewhere”.

  During her trial we watch as she, lone among her group of defendants,  subconsciously struggles to understand why she did not unlock the doors of a burning church in which women and girls were penned.  She had been instructed to keep order and that was what she had done.  It had been her job.  “What would you have done?” she asks the judge who did not respond.  For himself or us.

  One can only say what one thinks one would have done in a hypothetical situation.  It is easy to be heroic from several points of remove.  Look only to Cambodia and Rwanda and Srebrenitca for subsequent episodes of horror in which multitudes of common people chose not to break rank. 

  Just before her scheduled release from prison, Schmitz tells Michael that “no one understood me…and when no one understands you then no one can call you to account… Not even the court…But the dead can. They understand.  Here in prison they were with me a lot.  They came every night, whether I wanted them or not.  Before the trial I could still chase them away when they wanted to come.”

  By that time she had taught herself to read and as indicated above had read the likes of Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, and Arendt.  She learned that the dead were many more than 300 and decided that if they understood she would join them to finally thus enable her own understanding.  She hanged herself. 

  Only the film could be called uplifting and then only in the narrowest of senses.  At the end of the movie (not the book) Michael begins to attempt to remove some of the distance between his daughter and himself by taking her to Hanna Schmitz’ grave and initiating a cathartic dialogue.

  So, for his daughter there could perhaps be some measure of understanding.  But not for us.  It has happened again.  And again.  And again.