July 2011

Beginners and the Tree of Life

Over the past two weekends Sandy and I saw three films, The Tree of Life, Harry Potter and Beginners. I can’t say anything about Harry Potter because I spent the time resisting a very powerful Sleep Spell.


“people like us, half of them think that things will never work out; the other half believe in magic.”


That is ‘the memorable quote’ from Beginners. For me a perfect and very human and humane film about being real. Funny and touching it looks at Oliver’s relationships with his girlfriend in the present, with his recently deceased father in the near past and with his mother in his childhood .. and with the dog he has inherited from his father. I found it joyful and life affirming. I’ll get it when it comes out on DVD.



“there are two ways through life, the way of nature and the way of grace. We have to choose which we follow.”


That is ‘the memorable quote’ from The Tree of Life, a beautifully made film which like Beginners dealt with the human experience. The film is centred around ‘Jack’ a man defined by a past that ‘wrestles within him’ and the roots of that wrestling in his childhood and the tension between the ‘Way of Grace’ (acceptance/love) embodied by his mother and the ‘Way of Nature’ (will/ego) embodied by his father. Beyond this the film points to deeper roots in the origins of the universe and life and centres on the loss of Jack’s brother at 19 though we only see him as a child. The film is beautifully made and poetic rather than prosaic in tone.


The two quotes epitomise the difference in the way the two films approach their subject. Tree is portentous and places human life in the context of the evolution of the universe. Beginners is wistful and playful and places human life in the context of human life. I like Oliver better than Jack, not just because his personality and history are much closer to my own but because even if he ‘thinks that things will never work out’ he chooses to be compassionate and dance with the magical even if he can’t yet believe in it.


The Way of Grace and the Way of Nature complement each other like Yin and Yang; Will and Acceptance, pessimism and believing in magic meet at the point of compassion and human kindness. Beginners gets this; I don’t think Tree does.




Everything is connected. The crisis in Somalia is connected to the financial crisis and to the hacking scandal and to the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. The connection lies in the way wealth and power are distributed and in the way we relate to each others as humans.

The connection is conspiratorial in the small social conspiring of those who have power and those who are under the allure of power, it is conspiratorial in the machinations of those who find rationales for making war, it is conspiratorial in the way the rich maintain their privilege. It is conspiratorial not only because the elites work together but because they employ lies to attain their ends. If there was a conspiracy of truth and compassion rather than of lies and self-interest then maybe the people of Somalia would be recognised as important enough to be rescued.

The Elimination of the Middle Class

“There is a transnational ruling class, a “Superclass”, that agrees on establishing a world government. The middle class is targeted for elimination, because most of the world has no middle class, and to fully integrate and internationalize a middle class, would require industrialization and development in Africa, and certain places in Asia and Latin America. The goal of the Superclass is not to lose their wealth and power to a transnational middle class, but rather to extinguish the notion of a middle class, and transnationalize a lower, uneducated, labor oriented class, through which they will secure ultimate wealth and power.

The global economic crisis serves these ends, as whatever remaining wealth the middle class holds is in the process of being eliminated, and as the crisis progresses, the middle classes of the world will suffer, while a great percentage of lower classes of the world, poverty-stricken even prior to the crisis, will suffer the greatest, most probably leading to a massive reduction in population levels, particularly in the “underdeveloped” or “Third World” states.”

Andrew Gavin Marshall, ‘The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century’

I found this quote on Third World Traveler. It looks like a website that everyone should be looking at.

Financial Crisis Explained

These two videos are a good introduction to understanding the financial crisis and how it affects institutions and nations but only an introduction there is a lot that I don’t understand. If Greece owes money to the banks and can’t pay then the banks have a problem but since our pension funds are invested in the banks as well as investments from countries like China which have a surplus then we have a problem if the banks collapse. But why should we give money to Greece to pay back the debt to the banks or to pay the interest on the debt. We have to borrow money from the banks to pay off the debts of Greece but we are never going to get the money back from Greece so we’re borrowing to lend money we can never get back. If the banks are in trouble and we have to stop them going under why not lend them the money so that they owe us? My brain hurts.