motion picture, it's called

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Maimonides on how to read Guide of the Perplexed

"You who consider that you understand a book that is the guide of the first and last men while glancing through it as you would glance through a historical work or a piece of poetry: collect yourselves and reflect, for things are not as you thought."

Moses Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed, 1.2

Monday, February 16, 2009

Most Beautiful Unknown Libraries: Eger Lyceum, Eger, Hungary

Hungary’s Eger Lyceum Library is partially the story of a failed university. Eger would have been a fine site for a potential Central European country university along the lines of a Tubingen or Heidelberg – Eger is the sight of an ancient bishopric (now an archbishopric) and has an excellently preserved Baroque city center, as well as being sited in Hungary’s vineyard region (always something that appeals to students). Unfortunately, the bishops of Eger waited a bit too long to start on the potential university – by the time the bishops completed the large central university building in 1765, the Empress Maria Theresa was not willing to countenance another Jesuit instition, so the building instead became a large lyceum.

The pride of the library is the large ceiling murals, which depict heretical books being miraculously struck by divine lighting at the Council of Trent.

Monday, February 02, 2009

New DVD Review: Rossellini’s The Taking of Power of Louis XIV, Part I

The number of truly political films – films that examine politics as politics and not as a phenomenon of economics, culture or religion (i.e., examining politics as anything but politics) – are actually very rare. One of the few that does is the newly released DVD version of Rossellini’s The Taking of Power of Louis XIV, originally create for French television in 1967.

Part of the interesting features of this film is that it is a film that examines a monarchy without the sentimentality or romanticization of the vast majority of historical films about past statesmen. That is, past statesmen all saw themselves as politicians trying to solve concrete political problems. But most historical films don’t take the politics of their statesmen seriously, instead tending to focus on non-political matters like the statesman’s psychology, sexuality, love affairs, personality quirks, religious beliefs – i.e. things above politics, things below politics, but not politics.

Rossellini’s taking politics seriously leads to the movie more closely resembling a Renaissance history play than anything else, particularly one of the “accession of the young prince” dramas like Shakespeare’s Henry V.