RE: A Question of Empathy
You know something REALLY horrible? In partial-birth abortions, doctors ("doctors," maybe?) are trained to turn the child around so it comes out feet-first: because if they accidentally allow the little one to take a breath, it becomes a legal citizen. "The banality of evil" hardly covers it.
RE: All That Dark
I’m not sure “And then I woke up” refutes what’s gone before. “And then Job died” doesn’t mean that the Book of Job ends happily up to the very last sentence and then suddenly drops back into tragedy; the end of a dream simply means that conscious life must resume, ideally fortified anew by whatever wisdom the dream has imparted. Bell may not be a profound thinker, but he is a fundamentally good person (if not a spectacularly dynamic lawman); and the Coens appear to go out of their way to portray him as being surrounded by good people who care about him--his wife, his old friend in the wheelchair, even the fat cop who commiserates with him at the end. He may believe that God is displeased or disappointed with him, but he still obeys: and isn’t that precisely where the truest virtue appears? Granted, Bell leaves a good deal to be desired in the hero department--as does Moss, and Wells. If the movie has a candidate for heroism, I suppose it must be Carla Jean. Of course, as Prever notes, she doesn’t even slow Chigurh down. (I hope Joey will forgive me for calling him Prever here, it just seems more professional somehow.) But then again--not to belabor the point--it’s not really the purpose of the Christian hero to beat up the bad guy, is it? “If I called for help, twelve legions of angels would fight for Me,” and “You could have no power over Me unless it were given you from above.” Now, is it a stretch to read all this subtext into the Coens’ screenplay? Maybe, but one thing seems clear to me. Chigurh may win in the end, but the Coens are almost inarguably presenting him as an argument in favor of good. Maybe the message of his car crash is simply, “S--t happens: EVEN to the bad guys,” maybe there is no vengeful Providence, and maybe none of it means anything at all. But still, hasn’t Carla Jean beaten him merely by dying as a human being--even if there is no Heaven and no God? What has he really won, after all? He has nothing, he is nothing. Even if this widening gyre, this blood-dimmed tide, is all there is--still, is it wiser to turn away from what illusory meaning and solace exist in small, paltry loves and friendships, wiser to be a lonely man with a psycho haircut and an air tank? I don’t know if I’m convinced that the Coens are explicitly arguing for the Christian deity, but they’ve certainly presented a compelling case for goodness, even if only by so clearly portraying the alternative.