Believing things to be true because one wishes them to be true is a prime malady of the human condition. It is an opposite of objectivity, reflecting a shortfall of intellectual honesty. It has led to wars, famines and other guarantors of human suffering.
Meditation for Thursday of Week 18 in the season of Growth
Forthrightness is another value that runs head-on into humility. Still, there is a value in speaking directly and honestly. We can explore the parameters and potential resolutions of this and other conflicts through our narratives, true and fictional.
- Brian Kellow, Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark (Viking, 2011).
- Sanford Schwartz, ed., The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael(The Library of America, 2011).
- Francis Davis, Afterglow: A Last Conversation with Pauline Kael (Da Capo Press, 2002).
- Will Brantley, ed., Conversations with Pauline Kael (University Press of Mississippi, 1996).
- Pauline Kael, For Keeps: 30 Years at the Movies (Dutton Adult, 1994).
- Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies (Henry Holt & Company, 1991).
Many journalists exemplify the value of being forthright:
- Art Cullen, Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience, and Hope from a Heartland Newspaper (Viking, 2018): “As Cullen writes in his new book, ‘Storm Lake,’ when he and his brother John began to publish their newspaper, they had one thing in mind: ‘Print the truth and raise hell.’”
- Lesley M.M. Blume, Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World (Simon & Schuster, 2020): “On Aug. 31, 1946, when The New Yorker published John Hersey’s 'Hiroshima,' the 30,000-word article’s impact was instantaneous and global.”
- Kazimir Malevich, Suprematist Composition: White on White (1917)
Film and Stage
- King Lear, Shakespeare’s cautionary tale about a father who unwisely chooses false flattery
- Ran, Kurosawa’s brilliant adaptation of “King Lear”
- The Mortal Storm: a blunt assessment of Nazi Germany before American entry into World War II
- Diary of a Chambermaid, a social criticism
- Amélie, a study in being too coy
- Sitting Pretty, about a brutally honest caretaker
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Domenico Scarlatti’s 555 keyboard sonatas are crisply constructed little works, approximately five to fifteen minutes in duration. In them, Scarlatti presents simple musical ideas, to be executed with dispatch. Though their brevity leaves little time for thematic development, Scarlatti left us with a collection of works in these sonatas that laid the groundwork for later developments in the form, and simultaneously was fine music on its own. Here are links to performanes of selected sonatas performed by Scott Ross, Kipnis, Pogorelić (piano) and Gould (piano).
- Alice Munro, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (Thorndike Press, 2002).
- Alice Munro, Emily of New Moon (New Candian Library, 2007).
- Alice Munro, Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You (Random House, 1974).
- Alice Munro, Runaway (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004).
- Alice Munro, Dear Life (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012).
- Alice Munro, Dance of the Happy Shades (McGraw Hill, 1973).
- Alice Munro, Friend of My Youth (Alfred A. Knopf, 1990).
- Alice Munro, The Beggar Maid: Stories of Flo and Rose (Random House, 1978).
- Alice Munro, The Moons of Jupiter (Alfred A. Knopf, 1982).
- Alice Munro, The Progress of Love (Alfred A. Knopf, 1986).
- Alice Munro, Open Secrets (Alfred A. Knopf, 1994).
- Alice Munro, The Love of a Good Woman (Alfred A. Knopf, 1998).
I was not beloved of the villagers,
But all because I spoke my mind,
And met those who transgressed against me
With plain remonstrance, hiding nor nurturing
Nor secret griefs nor grudges.
That act of the Spartan boy is greatly praised,
Who hid the wolf under his cloak,
Letting it devour him, uncomplainingly.
It is braver, I think, to snatch the wolf forth
And fight him openly, even in the street,
Amid dust and howls of pain.
The tongue may be an unruly member—
But silence poisons the soul.
Berate me who will—I am content.
[Edgar Lee Masters, “Dorcas Gustine”]
- Edgar Lee Masters, “Voltaire Johnson”