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Friday, June 29, 2012

The Road to Dotage

-- By Tom Phillips


What a pleasure it is to run into one’s self in an unlikely place.  A few days ago I was browsing in the Northshire bookstore in Manchester, Vermont, filling time while my wife looked for a gift.   In the psychology section of the second-hand book nook, a title jumped out at me: “The Delights of Growing Old,”[1] with a cover drawing of a rakish, unmistakably Parisian gentleman, nattily attired and puffing a cigarette.   His name was Maurice Goudeket;  I’d never heard of him, but within a day he became something like an alter ego.    

Like Goudeket, I am in my early 70s, a writer and journalist, finally released from the need to seek gainful employment; comfortably retired, healthy, and happily married.   He was a Parisian and I’m a New Yorker, but we live the same way:      

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Protest Gene

-- by Tom Phillips

Readers may have noticed that this blog has no fixed subject.  Its theme is not a particular issue, but rather an attitude of protest – against anything seen as an abuse or excessive concentration of power.   Thus I have railed against greedy bankers and their conservative cronies, the Israel lobby, Iranian censors, arrogant American patrons of the arts, establishments of religion, etc.   Protesting is nothing new for me.  I have been speaking out, writing, agitating, organizing, marching and occasionally fighting against the powers-that-be since I was 12.   It’s a family tradition, which I learned at my mother’s knee.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Five Broken Cameras

a film by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
at Film Forum, New York

"Five Broken Cameras," a new documentary film from the occupied west bank, is less about the Arab-Israeli conflict than the Heisenberg effect.  That's a concept from physics, that the very act of observing alters the thing being observed.  Film-makers know the effect increases dramatically when the subject is human and the observing is done with a camera.  And when the film is  intended as advocacy or propaganda, the effect goes off the charts. 

Don’t get me wrong:  the Israeli-Arab conflict on the west bank is real, and bloody, and tragic.  And I agree with the film-makers’ protest against Israel’s settlement policy.  But much of what happens in the film is generated not by the conflict itself but the presence of the cameras, including the five of the title.  These are supplied by Israeli peace activists to a Palestinian west bank resident, each camera subsequently shot up or smashed by the Israeli Defense Forces.  The cameraman, Emad Burnat, serves as the narrator of the film, directed by Israeli Guy Davidi.