Thursday, October 2, 2014

On Barry Lyndon and Destructive Society

a young Barry Lyndon watches his first love dance with an English officer
   
It is perhaps natural for people and their contemporaries to believe their present civilization is the most advanced as compared to civilizations passed.  These modernist "snobs"  will point to the intricate complexities of technologies and the ever-changing variable of a more populated world as proof of greater sophistication.  To these people, events that happened in prior years were the results of rudimentary means, sub-standard tools, and antiquated sentiments.  There is little hope to glean any wisdom from the past, since no one then had an iPhone to take a selfie of his or herself and text it to their friends.  The narcissistic pool which reflects the current generation's image back at them is alarmingly shallow and slow-moving; a liquid quickly becoming putrid before drying up altogether.

Learning and forming a correct world view takes determination.  A student must be able to sort out the propaganda, discard the garbage and hold onto some of the facts and truths which he can rely on to make informed decisions.  As most of the time the student will be led astray of the facts within a government-sponsored classroom, the onus of understanding falls squarely on the students shoulders; for he must struggle to live in the world designed purposefully for his demise.  More than tutelage, expensive schooling, or time spent in the classroom, determination is required to learn what really happened, the true causes, to make reasonable conclusions.    

"It would require a greater philosopher and historian than I am to explain the causes of the famous Seven Years' War in which Europe was engaged; and, indeed, its origin has always appeared to me to be so complicated, and the books written about it so amazingly hard to understand, that I have seldom been much wiser at the end of a chapter than at the beginning, and so shall not trouble my reader with any personal disquisitions concerning the matter."

-excerpt from William Thackeray's novel, The Luck of Barry Lyndon    


 The scene above is from Stanley Kubrick's movie adaptation of Thackeray's book, Barry Lyndon.  Redmond Barry (Ryan O'Neal), is an Irishman that enlists in the British Army after a series of misfortunes, and in this scene,  marches toward French riflemen in the horrible meat-grinder of war.     

Kubrick's films can be interpreted on a number of levels, though some recurring themes appear over and over throughout his movies.  It would be safe to say Kubrick was disillusioned by the false romanticism and folly of war.  Also, an argument could be made that Kubrick believed the caste and class system created by money silly and arbitrary.  And in Barry Lyndon, he was able to portray the emptiness that is bred by a society completely self-absorbed in war and economic status.  In Barry Lyndon, Kubrick, unlike other movie directors is able to lay bare some of the puzzling subtleties found within society that not only maintains the status quo, but at the same time are completely negative, totally destructive, and have few redeeming qualities.

Even though the story is set in the 18th Century, many of the problems human beings face in the film are the same problems faced by people today.  We face the consequences of perpetual war and institutionalized economic injustice on an enormous scale.  The Federal Reserve counterfeiting machine continues to pass its phony credit to fund terribly destructive wars and maintain the socio-economic status quo.  The distance between the "haves" and the "have-nots" is epic today-  probably significantly greater than the era when the fictional Barry Lyndon lived.

According to the National Pulse, very little has changed in a few hundred years.  People are still consumed with mostly the wrong things and leave too little room for real love and prosperity.  Greed and jealousy are ever-present and needed survival traits that reward the most ruthless.   The natural world is conquered, paved over, and lifeless.      

Much can be learned examining historical periods such as the Seven Years' War.  Often called the first world war, today some  combatant countries are allies, some countries no longer exist, and some countries expanded.  Over 1 million lives were lost-  war is one of the best means by which to lose life.  Of course, the nobility did not fight as they don't today.  They sit in the palatial mansions, profit from the fighting, and realize that war helps them maintain their own status as a rich person.              





   

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