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Monday, May 22, 2006

Errol Morris and Adam Curtis

Although it's now over 6 months old, I just discovered this quite wonderful conversation between two of the most brilliant and provocative nonfiction filmmakers ever, Adam Curtis [The Power of Nightmares] and Errol Morris [The Fog of War].

Small sample:

EM: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the sheer perversity of The Power of Nightmares.

AC: Perverse?

EM: I’ll give you an example of a perverse argument – that Johnny Mercer brought down the World Trade Center. [The Power of Nightmares traces the odd career trajectory of Qutb, a founder of Islamic fundamentalism, to a high-school in Denver, Colorado and a senior prom where the students danced to Mercer’s Baby It’s Cold Outside. ]

AC: The person I love best in the whole world is a sociologist from the late 19th century named Max Weber who believed that ideas have consequences. People have experiences out of which they form ideas. And those ideas have an effect on the world. It is true that a man listening to music back in 1949 had an experience that became one of the rivulets that ran into his formation of an idea. And that idea, in a very strange way, led people to do destroy the World Trade Center. Now, of course, that's the construction and maybe people prefer to believe that history is much more complicated. Which, of course, it is. But the construction has a truth to it.

. . .

AC: Last night on television someone who was pro-the Iraq war was saying that the alliance between the insurgents in Iraq and the foreign fighters is the equivalent of the Nazi-Soviet pact and that that's what we’re really fighting against. It’s all so weird. That the men who sit in neon-lit rooms with very nicely done tables and who question you and tell you things, are actually weird.

EM: Yeah. Well, as we all know, the banal and the weird are not incompatible.

AC: That's the whole point - that's what's so fascinating about our time. The banal and the weird are one and the same thing.

EM: Yes. They hold hands.



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