I recently discovered Jordan Peterson’s videos through Scott Adams of Dilbert fame. I first saw Peterson’s interview with the British broadcaster where he eludes her attempt to make him seem like an offensive, non-PC, heartless villain. I’m enjoying learning more from this gentleman and scholar. (Yeah, I’ve noticed the dearth of gentlemen and scholars, too.)
What he says is straightforward, commonsense, and I think most people I know follow his advice already because they had parents who provided such wisdom. Yet I do know that we all have blindspots and that blame is a tempting easy-out. The video is a healthy reminder and we all need those from time to time.
Below is a sample of the videos Peterson has made himself. These videos are getting a lot of attention and call for more responsible, mature behavior from all of us. No more Peter Pan Complex.
Warp & Weft
There was plenty of sadness in the first hour of Victoria this week. The episode began with Lord Peel talking with a phrenology expert, i.e. someone who measures a person’s head to determine by its size and shape his personality. The subject of this study is the guttersnipe, Boy Jones, who snuck inside the palace on several occasions. (Boy Jones’ escapades are based on history.)
This tomfoolery alarmed Albert who began complaining about how poorly the palace is run. There’s poor plumbing, poor budgeting, etc. and Victoria told Albert he could direct his energies on this and so he starts examining the cleanliness of the windows or any waste from the wine cellars, which makes that annoying Mr. Penge think twice.
Though she’s with child Victoria is not going to let that hinder her carrying out her duties, much to Duchess Buccheuch’s dismay. The duchess is particularly shocked that Victoria granted an audience with the silk maker who made her wedding dress. The silk maker wanted to present the queen with information on how the import of cheap silk is putting him and his colleagues out of business. To help the silk makers, ignoring Lord Peel’s and Albert’s advice, Victoria decides to throw a ball and require that her guests come in silk costumes.
Word gets out about the ball and the high price of Victoria’s gown (64,000£) and parliament and the poor are outraged.
Yet the ball starts out wonderfully. Lord M comes and shares a nice moment with Victoria, whom he’s been avoiding since he’s become ill and doesn’t want to worry her. There’s plenty of flirtation and dancing, but also a broken heart. Miss Coke, who’s recently come to the palace with the duchess, has eyes for Prince Ernst, Albert’s brother, but he’s still sweet on his paramour who’s now faithful to her husband.
However, when all the guests are dancing in their finery, the poor are out front of Buckingham Palace screaming for just since they don’t have enough to eat. Coincidentally, in front of the angry mob is Mrs. Skerret’s cousin, who doesn’t care for royalty. I’m not sure whom she left the daughter Skerret financially supports with.
When Victoria sees them she’s shocked and no doubt thinking of Marie Antoinette, who didn’t realize that if you can’t afford bread, cake is not within your price range either. Victoria simply tried to help and it backfired. She’s guilty of poor planning not indifference. There’s a scene with Victoria staring at all the left over food the day after the ball. While I do believe she’d give the remainders to the poor, I don’t think all this food would be left out over night and into the morning.
The episode ends with Victoria learning that Lord M is terminally ill. She visits him in the country bearing a gift of a mechanical musical bird that sings Mozart. It’s a touching scene where their sorrow is communicated more through looks and actions than through words. Bravo.
Finally, to make things worse, Dash, Victoria’s beloved dog is dead. Victoria finds him spread out on the floor when she returns from seeing Lord M. As the Armchair Anglophile points out, a servant should have noticed a dead dog, given that the palace is full of servants. Poor Victoria is distraught. Who can blame her? We’ll all miss Lord M and Dash.
Sins of the Father
Victoria gives birth to her first son, Albert. We’re presented with the typical labor scene and soon Vicki is getting around in that stroller for new moms. As with her daughter, Victoria finds it hard to find pleasure in her newborn. She thinks babies look like frogs when they’re first born. She falls into postpartum depression and there’s little help available. I was glad that they didn’t just give her some drug that knocks one out. As queen, the courtiers urge her to buck up, but she wasn’t removed to an asylum as was sometimes done in the era. (See this article.)
The big event in this episode is that Prince Albert’s father died. Hoping to lift her spirits, Victoria asks to go with Albert, but he thinks the journey is too exhausting for a new mother so he goes solo.
In Coberg, Albert sees his troublemaking Uncle Leopald, who can’t resist the temptation to make things worse for Albert so he plants the seed that Albert is illegitimate into his nephew’s head. Since his parents were estranged for much of his growing up, Albert believes this. It sure makes for a sensational story, but according to this article*, it’s impossible. Albert also worries that his children would be illegitimate. Well, no. Since Albert and Victoria are married they wouldn’t be, but a checkered past wouldn’t help Albert with the gossip-mongers.
Back in London, Lord Peel tries to get Victoria back into action. With her first child, she couldn’t wait to be out and about, now she’s so languid and depressed. It’s not till a bomb explodes at the Tower of London and the Queen should visit and console the injured. She realizes she must, so Victoria forces herself out and does cheer up the wounded. It does them all a world of good. Is this an oversimplification of depression? Perhaps, but I found it plausible and can still offer sympathy to those suffering with it.
To get an idea of the scope of the fire, I did some research. It was bigger than I imagined from the program. There was a fatality and some injuries. The fire raged from 11:30 pm till about 4 am the next day. J.M.W. Turner made several sketches of it.
Albert returns and matters turn to the poor run of the household. Rumors have gotten out about the royal family and the servants are suspected. The scandal is about Boy Jones, the guttersnipe who’s wily enough to somehow get into the palace. This was a real historical event. Heads may roll.
Since the chef Francatelli is spending freely and buying some luxuries he’s the prime suspect. However, Mrs. Skerret is sweet on him and confesses that her no-good cousin, who’s now drinking too much and continuing to just sponge off Skerret has been selling stories to the tabloids. I’m not alone in thinking this storyline has been week. Victoria felt she had to fire Skerret, though she admits the ladies’ maid has done a better job than any before her. It seems the norm, even today. However, upon his return, Albert insists Skerret gets a second chance, which was nice, but hard to believe since Albert is so concerned about security.
Victoria gets a new puppy from a royal in Muscat, who originally thought of sending something like a tiger. Really? Check with people, even royals before you send them an animal. The puppy does seem to work wonders for her mood. I love the program so I’m not going to analyze whether animals are that therapeutic. I know in many ways they are.
* The article appeared in The Sun, which is a sensationalist paper. My take is if they don’t think Albert was illegitimate, he wasn’t.
Kurosawa’s Drunken Angel has nothing to do with Christmas. It’s an engaging film that grabbed me with characters I didn’t expect to see in a film, Japanese or otherwise.
Have you ever seen a film where a doctor call his patients idiots? Or one where you saw the patient and punch and toss a doctor out of a bar on his hinny?
Till I saw Drunken Angel that is. Set in post-WWII Japan, Drunken Angel presents a Tokyo neighborhood on the edge of a smelly, dirty swamp. The city’s polluted and the society’s sick and poisoned. It’s a city where everyone shops at the black market as that’s the only store with any desirable goods. Kurosawa wants to show a society that’s gone to pot.
His hero is a doctor who’s openly alcoholic and drinks diluted medical alcohol as the real stuff’s hard to come by. Despite his drinking, the doctor is a wise, caring man, surrounded by exasperating fools. A gangster comes to his office complaining that a nail poked into his hand. When the doctor extracts it, he sees the nail is actually a bullet. During this encounter, the doctor notices that the gangster probably has tuberculosis, but the young man rebuffs his advice to get an X-ray.
The gangster runs a nightclub and fights getting the healthcare he needs every step of the way. The doctor yells at him, pesters him, and throws bottles at him. The gangster just doesn’t get it. Finally, he goes to a high class doctor and gets his X-Ray done, but does nothing about it.
If this wasn’t exasperating enough to a doctor who really cares, Miyo, his nurse, who’s usually a sensible, calming influence, starts thinking maybe, just maybe, she should go over to the jail to see the no-good older gangster whom she was involved with (I can hardly call this brute who gave her VD and then deserted her a “lover”). The older gangster just cares about money and power. He sends his thugs out to get chase her down, but the doctor protects her.
I watched this absorbing film twice. The characters, though rough and very flawed, were original and vibrant. Drunken Angel shows Japan, broken, polluted and corrupted, after the war. It’s a side I hadn’t seen and a critique of a society that’s lost its morality and except for one character its ability to tell the truth.
The Criterion Collection DVD has an illuminating commentary by Donald Richie. Listen to that if you can.
I heard that some Chicago schools have banned best friends, but I had to discover if that’s true.
Sadly, it is. The practice isn’t universal but it’s not new. In 2010 the New York Times reported about this trend.
Some teachers and schools ban or try to discourage best friends to shield children from the hurt when there’s a disagreement with a friend or the loss of a best friend.
I couldn’t disagree more. Yes, friendship features hurt, but it also offers joy. Children can learn to be loyal, forgiving, helpful, honest, giving and responsible from having a best friend. Also, is it the school’s job to protect students from the pain inherent in life?
It seems schools and teachers should offer wise counsel on dealing with all facets of friendships as they impact a class and the individuals in it. These lessons are as important as anything in school. As an adult, I have had to work in more small groups than those of 10 or more.
I have been blessed with close friendships that started in school. I’m in contact with many of my close friends from high school. I’ve lost touch with those from grade school, but I still reap benefits of lessons learned from having and even losing those relationships. An article in Business Insider validated my belief in having close friends stating:
The whole idea of No Best Friends, smacks of a dystopia like WE or 1984 where society dominates individual choice. If teachers don’t like dealing with social issues, they probably should find other work. It is part of child development, which is a class required for teacher education. There are plenty of books and films on friendship, which aid teachers in addressing the problems of friendship.
I think schools should allow students as much freedom as possible. A day at school, of necessity, requires a lot of rules: Don’t run in the hall, Don’t fight, Listen to the teacher, etc. There should be an area where children are free. You can’t legislate every facet of life. Children should learn to manage their social lives.
I’m wondering if children are getting punished for having best friends in these schools.
Kurosawa’s 1942 ironically titled One Wonderful Sunday should be called One Looooong Sunday. It just didn’t do it for me. The film depicts two young lovers on their weekly date in post-WWII Tokyo. Inflation is sky high and the couple just have 35 yen to spend. Times are tough as the woman’s shoes have soles that flap and holes. She can’t afford a winter coat and neither can he. Since they only can meet on Sunday, I assumed they both have jobs, which they never talk about.
Masako, the woman, makes every effort to stay cheerful, while despite some upswings in mood, Yuzo, the man reminds me of Eeyore, a real downer. Yuzo always sees the downside in every situation. Masako, would you really want to marry a man whom you’re forever bolstering and cheering up? Who does so little to support you?
At one point the couple tours a model home and he just complains about the poor craftsmanship, materials and high cost. Later we see where he lives. Hovel would be too kind. On the one hand, the gap shows how out of reach a good life is for the average Japanese worker at the time, on the other it showed me that nothing would every satisfy Yuzo, which is why time and again, I wanted to tell the smiling Masako to “Run!” Find someone who isn’t so needy. While some of his depression could be due to the emotional scars of serving in the war, Masako, it could just be how this guy is and he ain’t gonna change. That he just brought 15 yen for the day, while she had 20, can be taken symbolically as well as literally.
Masako and Yuzo had no plan for the day and ended up playing baseball with some kids, buying buns when the ball hit a bun shop, viewing a model house, meeting a homeless boy, looking for an apartment, visiting the zoo, trying to get into a concert (but scalpers bought the last of the cheap seats and Yuzo started a fist fight over that, which was understandable, but counterproductive), having tea, crying — a lot, pretending to own a café. Scenes were long — really long for me. I wished to see the couple in context because I never understood what Makasako saw in Yuzo, who seemed bipolar. The scene where Misako and Yuzo pretend to own a café, imagining the bombed out wasteland to be the site of the café was powerful. A later scene at the end when Yuzo pretends to be conducting the symphony they didn’t get to see fell flat. In that scene the depressed Yuzo gives up and Masako talks directly to audience pleading with them to clap so Yuzo’s dreams return. Evidently in Japan none of the audiences clapped. I don’t blame them at all. It was time for Yuzo to pull it together or Masako to wish him well and say goodbye.
Since Japan did flourish in the decades after this, perhaps I have too much knowledge that prevents me from liking One Wonderful Sunday. I know everything turns out alright for most of the Japanese so Yazo’s depression didn’t gain my sympathy.
Filled with pathos, 24 Eyes chronicles an elementary school teacher nicknamed “Miss Pebble” who teaches on a remote island from just before till just after WWII. “Miss Pebble” makes waves as she rides a bicycle to school. Heavens! The villagers have never seen a woman on a bike! To make matters worse, this teacher wears Western clothes. Lots of gossip surrounds this threat to a tradition bound village that doesn’t see many strangers. Despite all the obstacles and troubles, Miss Pebble stays the course giving the children all her best and forgiving them when their prank causes her to break her leg.
“Miss Pebble” is kind-hearted and sticks up for doing the right thing when the political climate is charged with suspicions and accusations, when a child’s essay may be considered “Communist” and teachers are suspended for political ideology. Many of her students are from poor families and face great hardships that break Miss Pebble’s heart time after time, culminating in seeing her students go off to a war she doesn’t believe in, but can’t protest.
We see the children grow from first graders to young adults. To make the film as authentic as possible Kinoshita, the director, cast siblings who were about 6 years apart. Thus the characters look as if they really have aged in a very natural way.
Twenty-four Eyes shows how the Japanese value close ties with teachers, how gossip is common and hurtful in a village, and how people looked back on the war.
While this is definitely a “three hanky” tear-jerker, there’s a beauty in Miss Pebble’s perseverance and kindness. She never grows bitter despite experiencing so many difficulties.
The black and white photography was exquisite and the actress playing the teacher was so sincere and open. It’s a beautiful window into the heart of Japan.
A classmate linked to this on her Library UX blog for a final reflection. It’s fascinating television, well written and acted. Yet, I don’t think you could broadcast this today. There’s no violence, edgy-ness or swearing. 😉
How a young lady should answer a letter in which her suitor intimates his wish to discontinue acquaintance.
I acknowledge the receipt of your last letter, which now lies before me, and in which you convey the intimation, that the position in which, for some time past, we have regarded each other, must hence-forth be abandoned.
Until the receipt of this letter, I had regarded you in light of my future husband; you were, therefore, as you have reason to know, so completely the possessor of my affections, that I looked with indifference upon every other suitor. The remembrance of you never failed to give fresh zest to the pleasures of life, and you were in my thoughts at the very moment in which I received your letter.
But deem me not so devoid of proper pride as to wish you to revoke your determination, from which I will not attempt to dissuade you, whether you may have made it in cool deliberation, or in precipitate haste. Sir, I shall endeavor to banish you from my affections, as readily and completely as you have banished me; and all that I shall now require from you is this, that you will return to me whatever letters you may have of mine, and which I may have written under a foolish confidence in your attachment, and when you were accredited as the future husband of,
Yours as may be,
A lady on declining further addresses.
In my behavior toward you, of late, you have no doubt observed a certain alteration in my speech and manner, amounting perhaps to coolness, or you may have thought, aversion; if so, you will be less surprised at the receipt of this letter, which is meant to intimate that your addresses to me henceforth cease. It is true that many protestations of a sincere attachment have passed between us; but, Sir, those protestations were made under the supposition that neither party would descend to deception; this you have done; in what particular I will not advert to, since your own consciousness will not fail to satisfy you fully on that point.
The subject of my letter will not admit of my being prolix; I have, therefore, only this add, that I expect you will return whatever letters you may have of mine in your possession. I herewith send you yours, also certain presents, which I wish no longer to regard as mine, and which I received from your hands, when I believed you incapable of deception, or of wounding the happiness of,
“The Lady’s Guide to Perfect Gentility (Excerpt).” American Eras Primary Sources. Ed. Rebecca Parks. Vol. 1: Development of the Industrial United States, 1878-1899. Detroit: Gale, 2013. 179-182. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.
On Sunday’s Downton Abbey finale, Rose finally was presented to society in a majestic ceremony with much elegance. I didn’t realize these women were presented to the King and Queen. I expected something like the presentation balls in the States (not that I’d been to one). I’ve read plenty of books and seen many BBC dramas, where this is mentioned, but I’m glad Downton showed us the real spectacle. Both Cora and Lord Grantham were stunning, as was Rose.
Thanks to my friendly, public library reference services, I’ve found out a bit about all this Presentation business:
From ABC-CLIO’s Daily Life through History website
The word debutante comes from the French, debut, which means, “beginning.” The young woman is said to be “coming out” when she is introduced, implying that she is leaving the sheltered world of family life to join a wider society. The tradition of formal presentation of a young woman is rooted in an old English practice where daughters of the aristocracy, who married within a very small circle of elite families, were presented to those of similar social standing when they reached a marriageable age. The practice continues to be associated generally with wealthy and socially prominent families.
In England, presentations took place during “The London Season,” which usually coincided with the sitting of Parliament. Generally, it began after Easter and continued until August when the grouse-hunting season started. Families of wealth and position made a mass migration from their country estates to London for “The Season,” to exchange their quiet life of limited entertainment for days of shopping, riding, and visiting; and evenings of theater, dances, and balls. It was regarded as the chance for young men and women of position to mingle and find a marriageable partner. Marriages were more likely to be made on the basis of social connections, eligibility, and finances than on common interests, compatibility, and love.
Before a young woman could join in the social activities of “The Season,” she had to be presented at court to the queen. This typically took place when she reached 18. Prior to that time the activities of a young woman of social position would be restricted to attendance at school and limited participation in any social functions. While the actual presentation would only take a few minutes, preparations for the event were extensive. There were rigidly prescribed rules for presentation that extended to dress and accessories. Unmarried women were expected to wear a white gown, although soft color over a white background was permitted. The gown had to have a train. The headdress had to have feathers and a tulle veil long enough to reach the train. The number and size of the feathers on a headdress varied with the whim of the monarch. Queen Victoria favored three large feathers.