17 February 2010


I finished watching the BBC Anthony Hopkins War and Peace. Since I am a native English speaker I found it easier to watch than the Sergei Bondarchuk version. It is much longer and smaller. 17 hours versus 8. So in the BBC version they use all the Maria Bolkonsky Nikolai Rostov romance business, while in the Bondarchuk version it is mostly left out. The battle scenes are far smaller. Bondarchuk used 150 000 soldiers and the BBC could not have used more than a few hundred. If you are a native Russian speaker and can see it full sized in a big theater I am pretty sure you would like the Bondarchuk version.

Also the weird thing that Bondarchuk did with having all the villains -- Helene, Anatole, and Dolohov -- the only blonde speaking parts in the movie was not replicated. Only Helene is blonde. And I do not believe Bondarchuk made quite so much about Pierre being a mad terrorist. Anthony Hopkins was really a maniac when he went out to assassinate Napoleon in the BBC version.

That is the ending of the box of Christmas presents I bought for myself at Amazon. The 5 DVD set was an extravagance. I was reminded that you can save yourself a lot of money at Amazon if you always read a couple of the two star (**) reviews before the click to add the item to your shopping cart. I am going to adhere to this at least until next Christmas when the impulse to splurge will surely be irresistible again.

One thing I got that was absolutely worth the money was my copy of Kenneth Burke's Motives of Rhetoric. I am reading it slow and close for the second time. I just finished a section which may be the most interesting part.


You can see it for yourself on google books. The passage on "Carlyle and Mystery" is eight pages. He uses the phrase "pudencies of social intercourse". Hard to forget that. He points out that, although Oscar Wilde was a hedonist, his obsession was not so much with pleasure as it was with social climbing. The message is that clothes are almost identical with the human selves wearing them. I was reminded of a conversation I had at a T group many years ago where this educated fellow insisted that our persona was trivially by definition our self. He claimed it was obvious our "social self" and our "self" were the exact same thing.

Instead of a living, breathing, fluctuating human being, he sees me as some dude in one of those Dewar's scotch glossy ads from the back cover of Esquire or GQ.

Name: T group guy
Occupation: swashbuckler
Last book read: the Necromicon in the original Arabic
Mission: to surf the Banzai Pipeline, to summit Everest, to jam with the Rolling Stones
Scotch: Dewar's

adjacent to photo of me looking smug in my library in front of hundred old dusty leather bound volumes.

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About Craig

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Houston, Texas, United States
I have been living in the lovely neighborhood of Spring Branch in the great city of Houston since late in 2005. I started out with the idea of making this blog about my life in this neighborhood. That did not last long. Right now I am posting every five days on the alternating topics of literature, philosophy, psychology, and metaphysics. This project has been ongoing since July 27, 2010 and I believe it will continue for at least a few more months.