Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Corporate Thriller, Arbitrage, Richard Gere, and Wendell Berry

In case you missed it, there was an interesting article in last Sunday's USA WEEKEND.  Its subject was actor Richard Gere, entitled "The Thinker," by Elysa Gardner.  They had the actor pose on a stool for a photo, in the mode of Rodin's "The Thinker."

The actor discusses Arbitrage, his current movie in which he stars opposite Susan Sarandon.  A thinker's thriller in the mode of Unlimited and Paranoia.

Gere says it would not be interesting if he were to play his character as one of the typical corporate sociopaths like Bernie Madoff.  Instead, he plays the corporate criminal as a man who is capable of feeling, who is morally conflicted.

Reading this, I wished that Gere had read Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test.  Do a web search to find the difference between a sociopath and a psychopath.  There's not much difference.  Authorities agree that both lack a conscience.  Some say that psychopaths are hardwired this way, while sociopaths get to that point because of envoiromental influences.

Stuart Margolin as Angel Martin

Arbitrage has an interesting cast, including Stuart Margolin who played Angel on The Rockford Files.  I thought we might be able to see it this weekend, but the local theaters opted instead to retain the popular propaganda flick, 2016 Barak Obama's America.

You can read the article on Arbitrage and Gere at this link.  In the printed version, there is a sidebar on the five books that Richard Gere is reading now:  Elie Wiesel's Night, Herman Melville's Moby Dick, Dave Eggers' A Hologram for the King, Steve Roden's I Listen to the Wind, and Jonathan Cott's Days That I'll Remember.

Gere says of Moby Dick, "I swear I'm going to get through it this time."  Back in 2003, when Gere was saying that we were rushing into war too fast, Republican Party media guru Ann Coulter wrote a column (link) taking him to task for using Moby Dick as a metaphor and asked him if he had actually read the book.  Interesting reading, for we can now see where that expensive war based on lies has led us.

I recall when Richard Gere spoke for compassion rather than knee-jerk revenge at ground zero of the World Trade Center and was drowned out by boos.

We would have been much better off had we listened to Gere and Wendell Berry (link) and the others who argued for temperance.  Instead we dove into wars we could not afford, a price tag capped by the Bush bail-outs, the sum of which is now blamed entirely on President Obama.
Wendell Berry at home in Port Royal, Kentucky

Journalist Tom Eblen, (link), in a story on Wendell Berry:

"Quoting his former teacher, the late writer Wallace Stegner, Berry said Americans have always tended to fall into two camps: boomers and stickers. “The boomer is motivated by greed, the desire for money, property and therefore power,” Berry said. “Stickers on the contrary are motivated by affection, by such love for a place and its life that they want to preserve it and remain in it.”
Boomer ideals dominate America’s economy and culture now, he said. Almost everything has been reduced to statistics. Like corporate ownership, as compared to individual ownership, big numbers distance us from the consequences of our actions.
“Now the two great aims of industrialism — replacement of people by technology and concentration of wealth in the hands of a small plutocracy — seem close to fulfillment,” Berry said. “At the same time the failures of industrialism have become too great and too dangerous to deny.”

Even the term economy has lost its original meaning, which had to do with household management and husbandry, he said. Most economists now “never ask, in their professional oblivion, why we are willing to do permanent ecological and cultural damage ‘to strengthen the economy.’”

Corporate industrialism, he said, “has failed to sustain the health and stability of human society. Among its characteristic signs are destroyed communities, neighborhoods, families, small businesses and small farms. It has failed just as conspicuously and more dangerously to conserve the wealth and health of nature.”
We can't control the world.  We can only control how we individually respond to it.  We can choose kindness, love, and compassion.

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