I’m in Madrid at the moment for the annual meeting of SASE, the “Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics ” (the main organization for economic sociologists). One of the panels tomorrow is an author-meets-critics session on Gary Herrigel’s recent book, _Manufacturing Possibilities._ While I won’t be on the panel, I have written a review of the book, which Gary has in turn responded to – both are below the fold. The review and response are also available in PDF form if you prefer to read it that way.

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Silent Film You Love?

by John Holbo on June 23, 2011

Of course, there’s more to life than stuff with big words aimed at early readers. There’s stuff with few words aimed at early viewers! Here’s a good deal on a nice, quite comprehensive collection of the very earliest silent films, Landmarks of Early Film, Vol. 1 [amazon]. I lectured about some of this stuff in my Philosophy and Film class last semester, because I focused on sf – crossroads of speculation and spectacle. It’s a common critical complaint that Lucas/Spielberg-style special effects blockbusters killed a lot that was great about American cinema, in the 1970’s. Then again, film was industrial light and magic from the start, pioneered by the industrious likes of Edison and Georges Méliès (stage magician). No film could be truer to the authentic roots of the medium than whatever Michael Bay is working on right now. Probably that new Transformers movie or something. Maybe that explains why so many of these early films are boring. But in a fascinating way.

What are your favorite early/silent films? What early cinema do you really, honestly, just love to watch. No grading on a curve or so-bad-it’s-good ironizing. I watched quite a bit of Charlie Chaplin, while I was reading Sunnyside. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I’ve posted before about loving Dreyer’s Passion of Joan of Arc. I’ve never watched any Buster Keaton; never watched The General, for example. Should I? I love Metropolis but I recently watched Fritz Lang’s Woman In The Moon and didn’t really get into it. It veered between dull and draggy self-seriousness and extreme silliness. Although Fritz Rasp (a.k.a. The Thin Man, from Metropolis) was fun.

Who do you think should get the moon gold, should it exist? Defend your answer. (Maybe that inter-title should be an inspirational poster.)