20 March 2012: Merchant of Venice reread, and, an outing to see Lincoln

Lincoln 001

Lincoln, Edward G. Nilges, after Daniel Chester French, Art Institute of Chicago 2002: pencil, pen, Gimp modifications: copyright (C) by Edward G Nilges 2012: moral rights asserted.

Congee, Merchant of Venice.

Hot food allows you to eat slow and savor its flavor and character.

I’m rather more familiar with the Merchant than with the Pericles masque although rereading either yields riches. I have seen both in performance although I haven’t seen the 1980s BBC “all of Shakespeare” version of the Merchant of Venice…the BBC Pericles is the only version I have seen of that play, and it dropped down on me riches from the sky as Caliban was given.

Was also privileged to be taken to the cinema by Grantham volunteers to see Steve Spielberg’s movie, Lincoln: thought I might miss this being unable to get to the IFC under my own steam: in fact, at one point, I climbed four successive stairs rather than have my handlers go through the trouble of hooking up a wheelchair handler. It was agony to do so because despite the fact that my right leg supports my weight, my left leg is seriously atrophied, probably because of the Deep Vein Thrombosis that resulted from my airline flight to my son’s funeral. There’s almost no muscle there although I am able to push the “oar” on my primitive rowing machine at Grantham with the atrophied leg.

Several Amazon posters have already complained that the film Lincoln is “boring” especially in the first parts because like Malick, Spielberg now presumes to educate film-goers using the success of Saving Private Ryan, and the more questionable success of Schindler as “entertainment” as a basis. But visually the film captures the change in mood that accompanied the 13th Amendment.

It’s true that the almost silent dumb-show footage of Lee’s surrender was crude by comparison to the neo-Secessionist propaganda of Gettysburg and Gods and Generals. Gettysburg managed to ignore Lincoln and G & G went out of its way to present Northerners as people without a case of their own who merely wanted to keep the South in a Union.

Instead of using second-tier actors to present Lee (who has no lines in the film) and Grant (who lacks Grant’s hardtack quality that comes through in Grant’s Memoirs) Spielberg should have tried to engage the actor who played Lee in Gettysburg and G & G, Martin Sheen, and developed Grant more as a general who hated war … and who in consequence and tragically invented total war.

If we treat Civil War films as entertainment this means we think we know the war but many Americans do not. Gettysburg and Gods and Generals were a great education in the equipment, tactics and strategy of the Civil War but both presented the combatants as morally equivalent which they weren’t. Spielberg has answered these films with a film of his own but may not know it.

Trivial Pursuit (sigh)

Got to bank, got “signature waiver chop” but things drag on. Turns out that I have to MAIL this doc to Balitimore (Social Sec HQ). My doctor has done so with registered mail. STILL no word on when the transfers can be actually started so I can pay my bills. I will call Manila FBU in the Philippines daily until this is resolved. It is very frustrating to be treated as a potential thief when this money is mine. I’ve been pounding on chump vending and money machines too long. I do things for the short money and my life is like water poured out on the ground.

I am however fortunate to wind up at Grantham where my life shall be preserved within the “friendly confines” of a hospital where the billing clerks, unlike Japanese guards, can’t kill me.

I have emailed my land lord, Ming the Merciless, to wait a bit long before trashing my stuff in my flat. I am hoping to get some credit for paying my rent on time for seven years!

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