Last week I found this channel that, among other things, has several complete Ingmar Bergman films. Check it out:
This week I finally saw Ingmar Bergman’s Winter Light. What a beautiful film, in many ways. I absolutely loved it.
The most striking part, though, was a scene near the end where a supporting character gets his screen time to talk to our protagonist, a pastor plagued by doubt and melancholy. The church sexton confesses to the pastor that our apparent understanding of Christ’s suffering is superficial, limited to the cross.
He wonders if the emotional suffering of Gethsemane, and the spiritual elements of the crucifixion might not have been worse. He describes these scriptural details in a way that deeply intensifies the Lord’s suffering.
I sat up pretty straight during this scene. His confused reaching for truth brings him so close to a Latter-day Saint knowledge of the Atonement. I wanted to tap him on the shoulder and talk about the Book of Mormon. I wanted to show him Jeffrey R. Holland’s Easter talk below.
Sadly, YouTube doesn’t have a clip of just this scene. It starts around 7:00 in the 7th video in the linked playlist, and runs about 40 seconds into the 8th.
This week at the gym, I’ve killed time on the treadmill and cycling machine by perusing the June 9-16 issue of The New Yorker. It’s superb, even for their usual standard. I know, I know, The New Yorker needs fresh praise about as much as Shakespeare or oxygen (my verdict: they’re good!), but I haven’t paid close attention for the past few months, so please let me reconnect with this leisure of love…
First, Adrian Tomine’s cover offers further proof that he is the preeminent visual storyteller of our time. A man is unlocking his bookstore while, one door down, a woman is accepting a delivery from Amazon.com. A good picture can capture the ol’ zeitgeist, can’t it? Tomine’s genius is that the woman doesn’t look even remotely awkward or guilty. If anything, she’s disdainful of the loser who works next door. It’s just as well that we can’t see his face.
The first thing I read was Haruki Murakami’s essay, “The Running Novelist.” Ah, two of my favorite things, writing and exercise, combined! Murakami inspires the reader to be a Rocky of both marathons and manuscripts. It could have been an entry in The New York Times’ Writers on Writing column, were it not so good that it makes the most soaring of those essays look pedestrian.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: within the next three years, Haruki Murakami will win the Nobel Prize. I confess that at this point, the only novel of his that I’ve read is After Dark, but I couldn’t put it down, finishing it in under 24 hours (a major feat for me, these days). I desperately want to fit in Kafka On The Shore by the end of this summer. The American author William Faulkner may have invented magic realism, Colombia’s Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez may have perfected it, but the greatest current practitioner of that art is Japan’s Haruki Murakami. Even if you consider that the nominating committee tends to factor in politics and ethnicity into their decisions, Murakami still has good odds of scoring this ultimate literary triumph.
Next, I read Tobias Wolff’s poignant essay on Ingmar Bergman’s film Winter Light. Wolff’s honest musing on faith and doubt was incisive. I’ve long been a fan of Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (mocking it–e.g. Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey–is de rigeur, but sometimes an earnestly somber allegory can still be appreciated without irony; actually, the last time I saw it, I was surprised to notice just how much humor and warmth it has), and a few months ago I saw Wild Strawberries, a much more life affirming film, and one whose piquant flavor I hope to savor time and again throughout the sweet afternoons of life, like the fruit of the title. My library district doesn’t carry Winter Light; I’ll have to request it. Wolff’s story of spiritual pilgrims both on and off the screen touched me enough to want to go down that path for a couple hours myself.
And, of course, I love the cartoons. You do enter the cartoon caption contest every week, don’t you? And, like me, you never win, don’t you? Well, don’t worry, our hour of reckoning will come. Oh yes, the infidel cartoon editor will feel the wrath of our punchline’s steely blade. Soon…
As for today, I’ll be straddling a stair climber and soaking up a “new” short story by wordsmith Vladimir Nabokov, translated into English for the first time…