Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Other Mexico (movie review)

Speaking of Tahrir Square, that "square" in Mexico City, Zócalo, certainly saw crowds, during the contested elections, perhaps up to 3 million, with encampments lasting for 47 days. I had a camera's eye view of these 2006 events in an Italian production written and directed by Francesca Nava.

No, not from Laughing Horse Books. This was on loan from Multnomah County Library, chosen at random as I was escorting a young visitor.

I appreciated the Italian soundtrack, with English subtitles, with frequent delvings into Mexican dialects. I still find that Italian resonates with my Italian upbringing, adding fun spin.

This documentary is a generally sympathetic portrayal of Subcommander Marcos and The Other Campaign. By eschewing electoral politics, this network sought to play a role similar to that of the media conglomerates on the other side of the aisle.

The Italian talking head intellectuals have this curious spin on the word "utopian" such that it means both "implausible / unattainable" and "forever the albatross for the left, not the right."

The "right" always has that default aura of being the established order (status quo). I'm still thinking a pole flip might be in order, just to even out who carries the handicap.

Anyway, I'm curious how either end of the spectrum manages to shirk its responsibility to offer dreams for a brighter tomorrow. Doesn't any memeplex with some pretense to a half-life have its own version of Autorama or the Borg Cube?

Are we tracking with Paolo Solari, perhaps Gaudi? If not, then with whom? Where are you leading us, oh leaders? Seems an obvious question.

"The future" is not just for "the left" to have to concern itself with, if politics is to make any sense at all.

Oh sure, I've looked at NAZI positive futurism from the times, confirmation that not just liberals have to advertise a Tomorrowland.

But then my right winger friends are quick to assure me that that was a kind of socialism -- the NAZIs were leftists -- whereas my left winger friends remind me how many an Anglo-American capitalist was quick to cozy up to the fascists in Germany, Italy and Spain. Henry Ford only backed out at the last minute, occasioning some fury (or at least frustration) in the Fuhrer.

Both left and right still claim democracy as their own. Expedient? Some say it can't work, I realize.

Rallying around one individual as the leader is as non-democratic as scapegoating one individual. Sub-commander Marcos, a student of philosophy, walks a fine line. He listens, shares time at the microphone, is appreciative of others.

As a Subgenius, I can identify with the automatic humility the title Subcommander must confer. Praise Bob.

Again, how does "the right" manage to not be "utopian" and what is the meaning of that word? Obviously, I'm curious because of my American Transcentendalist ties, where we include such titles as Utopia or Oblivion.

Especially funny about this film, though not at its core (the film is not all that funny), were the theories as to why Subcommander Marcos always wears that mask. Is it because he's so handsome that if he took it off, he'd fall in love with himself in the mirror and forget about revolution?

Leave it to the Italians to ask such questions. Such a Romantic culture. At almost the same time, I was reading Bill Moyers on the corrosive effects of sentimentalism on democracy. Indulge in sappiness at the expense of the facts, at your peril.
The late scholar Cleanth Brooks of Yale thought there were three great enemies of democracy. He called them "The Bastard Muses": Propaganda, which pleads sometimes unscrupulously, for a special cause at the expense of the total truth; sentimentality, which works up emotional responses unwarranted by, and in excess of, the occasion; and pornography, which focuses upon one powerful human drive at the expense of the total human personality. The poet Czeslaw Milosz identified another enemy of democracy when, upon accepting the Noble Prize for Literature, he said "Our planet that gets smaller every year, with its fantastic proliferation of mass media, is witnessing a process that escapes definition, characterized by a refusal to remember." Memory is crucial to democracy; historical amnesia, its nemesis.
This video opened with an interesting preview about the Karen and their struggle to escape oppression by the Burmese. Prayer for Peace: Relief & Resistance in Burma's War Zones is another DVD to look for, next time I'm using the card catalog.