Hissing Cauldron of Lust
Like all generally good things, some issues of The New Yorker can be better than others. Any issue which features a movie review by Anthony Lane already is heading in the “better” direction. So it is with the December 5th issue. Lane begins with one of his trademark openings:
The hero of “Shame,” Brandon (Michael Fassbender), lives in what you or I would call New York, but St. Augustine would call a hissing cauldron of lust.
The issue then takes us, via Nicholas Lemann to Brazil and a story on the relatively new President, Dilma Rouseff, anointed successor to the still legendary Lula. In the process one learns a fair amount about the recent history and economic miracle of the powerhouse of South America.
Shifting gears, we’re then led to Zuccotti Park where George Packer gives a human face to the OWS crowd, via a man who came East from Seattle out of desperation and found both community and disillusion. (The man’s photo, seated on a park bench with a wool cap and hood bears — to my eyes– an uncanny resemblance to New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg … give or take a billion dollars.)
The cream on the morning’s coffee is offered by the well-known epicure, Adam Gopnik, writing on Tolkien and his epigones and their tales’ continuing fascination for teenage readers. Gopnik writes:
Kids go to fantasy not for escape but for organization, and a little elevation; since life is like this already, they imagine that it might still be like this but more magical.
Which, come to think of it, is also why I continue to re-subscribe to The New Yorker … or, for that matter, Commonweal — for some organization, a little elevation, and a trace of the magical.