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I see this movie as the statement of someone who dearly wants to piss off his old man yet still wants to be taken seriously by him.

I remember watching this movie the summer before my senior year of high school with my two best friends.  We had no idea what to expect.  We quickly fell into a trance as we watched it.  Afterwards, we knew it was unlike any movie we had ever seen, and were frustrated because though we sensed a profound message in it, we were baffled as to what it was.

I would love to read a diary elucidating your cheeky preacher's kid interpretation of the film.

In the film, "The Good Shepherd" there is an incredibly descriptive exchange ...

Yes, that scene, and what Damon's character says at the end of it, hit me hard, too, because at first, it seemed to have the ring of sinister truth to it.  But upon reflection, it strikes me as too pat paranoid-conspiratorial.  Even for that period.  The supremacy of Anglo-Saxons in the U.S. power establishment has been on the way out since the beginning of the last century.  (No doubt it was Eric Roth's intended irony that James Jesus Angleton was half Mexican.)  If there are "Anglo-Saxons" in the upper echelons of the U.S. elite who are still trying to ensure Anglo-Saxon supremacy in their country, they are loons.  They will eventually fade into the permanent irrelevance where they belong.

The strength of the U.S. -- and the West in general -- is in its inclusive diversity.  One generation ago, a marriage between an Italian Catholic and an Irish Catholic in Boston was considered a "mixed marriage".  Today such a notion would be quaint to say the least.  It will take a long time, but eventually the U.S., and the planet, will get to a point where Edward Wilson's mindset of ethnic supremacy and hierarchy will be as outdated as believing that the world is flat.

Yet they had two things in common--both were Swedes and both were bitterly opposed USA involvement in World Wars I AND II.

Was this due to a typically Swedish strain of pacifism?  I vaguely recall a diary or discussion thread that dealt with modern Sweden's traditionally pacificist political outlook (though I may be mistaken).  Is there a conventional wisdom as to where this pacifism emerged from?

I also wondered how anyone who enjoyed Bergman's "frivolous" movies and read Thorstein Veblen for fun was ever supposed to fit into W's America.  The short answer is, we are not designed to fit in.

The operative word being W's.  America is a work in progress.  We -- you and I, everybody -- are designed to fit in that America, the one that we must continue deliberately to evolve with hard work and perseverance.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Mon Aug 13th, 2007 at 05:43:22 AM EST
One generation ago, a marriage between an Italian Catholic and an Irish Catholic in Boston was considered a "mixed marriage".

Sorry, I should have written "Two or three generations ago".

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Mon Aug 13th, 2007 at 05:52:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for this bruno-ken.  Very thoughtful.

I would love to read a diary elucidating your cheeky preacher's kid interpretation of the film.

This would perhaps fill a whole book.  But simply, in Protestant societies, the clergy was the dominant intellectual class for several centuries.  This made it an occupation that provided an entry into the upper classes for young men of ambition--especially in countries such as Sweden with a state church.  Bergman's father was certainly this kind of social climber.  The problem with being a clergyman, however, was that the career advancement wasn't based on scholarship but a reputation for being a stern moralizer.  This fact cannot be hidden from the children.  So the preacher's kids grow up completely comfortable with the language of moral authority and an understanding that this is just a tool like a loan portfolio is to a banker. This leads to an insider's perspective.  I heard my first funeral joke at 9.  Playing chess with death is a sophisticated funeral joke--one that says Bergman understood the implications of his father's careerism.

Was this due to a typically Swedish strain of pacifism?

I think so.  Folks seem to forget how warlike the people of the North once were.  I read somewhere that the Swedish Army still has more captured battle flags than any other on earth.  One effect of this vast experience of warfare is that all illusions of the "glory" of war are eventually shattered.  The other effect is that that eventually everyone who thinks war is a good idea is eliminated from the genetic pool.  Swedes are not pacifists like Ghandi--they are much more pragmatic.  For them, warfare is the strategy of the partially evolved and the extremely stupid.  The fact that war is evil is a trivial argument by comparison.  And because they have the battle flags to prove them, these assumptions are not questioned by reasonable Swedes.

The operative word being W's.  America is a work in progress.  We -- you and I, everybody -- are designed to fit in that America, the one that we must continue deliberately to evolve with hard work and perseverance.

I would love to believe you are correct.  But I didn't fit in well with Johnson's and Nixon's war against the Vietnamese either.  Trust me on this, if my culture had ANY influence in this country, we would NOT be killing people in Iraq, we would NOT have for-profit predatory medicine, we would NOT be having a phony debate on climate change, etc.  (This is not to say Swedes are perfect--the role the Nobel committee has played in legitimizing the nutball wing of the economics profession should be considered a crime against humanity.)


"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Tue Aug 14th, 2007 at 04:00:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Swedish pacifism developed greatly after loosing the over sea (Baltic sea that is) empire. Squeezed between two emerging greater powers - Russia and Germany - war was for a very long time not an option. Sure there was the late 19th century dreams of reqonquering Finland (from Russia) and uniting Scandinavia under the Swedish kings, but there was no possibility to do so. Sweden went from having a war (almost) every year up to 1814 to not having any wars at all. Thus those politicians and thinkers who scorned war as a mean were succesful, while the warhungry was unsuccesful. I think this left a mental-cultural impression on how to be succesful in life.

BTW, there was some contemplation on attacking Russia in 1914 to get Finland back, but it was deemed impossible given the state of Swedens military. (Good topic for contrafactual history though, given how even ww1 was.) And Sweden sent volonteers to Finland during the winter war (1939-1940), with equipment, officers and all. But Sweden has not been in a formal war since 1814, and that might be some kind of record.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Aug 14th, 2007 at 11:37:06 AM EST
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