With great solemnity, “Defense” Secretary Robert Gates imparted on West Point cadets this Friday a hard-earned pearl of newly discovered wisdom:
“In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it,” Mr. Gates told an assembly of Army cadets here.
In other words, ”Never get involved in a land war in Asia.”
Sounds like good advi… Wait,what? Not everyone knows this already? Inconceivable!
Any culturally literate person has seen The Princess Bride at least once in the last 24 years1 and certainly knows about the most famous classic blunder:
Over a decade ago, a Russian paleontologist wrote an alternative take on the War of the Ring from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Recently translated into English, Kirill Yeskov’s The Last Ringbearer tells the tale from the point of view of Mordor, the bad guys in Tolkien’s epic.
History is usually written by the victors, but now the truth of the War of the Ring has finally come out. Gandalf is a warmonger bent on destroying a bastion of civilization dedicated to reason, science, technology, and industrialization because science “destroys the harmony of the world and dries up the souls of men!” The elves are bent on world domination and Aragorn is a Machiavellian schemer whose strings are pulled by his wife, the elf Arwen.
If you’re intrigued, you can learn more about The Last Ringbearer from the Salon.com article “Middle-Earth according to Mordor” and, also on Salon.com, the author’s own account of why he wrote the novel. You can download The Last Ringbearer for free and give it a read. Here’s to hoping Christopher Tolkien doesn’t aggress against Yeskov by launching a copyright or trademark infringement lawsuit.
Zack Snyder, director of 300 and Watchmen, has a new film project coming out in 2011 that may be of interest to genre-loving libertarians: the upcoming movie Sucker Punch. It may not have an overtly libertarian theme or plot, but it does appear to center around an issue that is relevant to libertarians, particularly women and libertarians interested in the time period in the US in which this film is set, the 1950s.
The premise and setting of Sucker Punch remind me of Angelina Jolie’s film Changeling, directed by Clint Eastwood, written by J. Michael Straczynski of Babylon 5 fame, and set in 1928. Both films depict periods in the United States in which it was all too easy to commit someone, particularly a woman, to a mental institution against her will. In Changeling, Jolie’s character is involuntarily committed to the local hospital’s psychopathic ward by a corrupt cop for political/job preservation reasons. In Sucker Punch, the main character, Baby-Doll (what’s with the name?), is involuntarily committed to a mental institution and scheduled for a barbaric lobotomy. I suppose we’ll have to wait to find out why and by whom she was committed.
So, in Sucker Punch, as in Changeling, it appears we will be presented with a story illustrating (wrongful) involuntary commitment, the unequal status of women in recent US history, a struggle for freedom and to maintain one’s sanity in an oppressive medical institution where the authorities insist you are insane. Unlike Changeling, which was a historical film, Sucker Punch will be an action fantasy.
Last week I launched a new website called Prometheus Unbound. I aim for it to be a sort of online “magazine,” a libertarian review of fiction and literature. The site will feature reviews, news commentary, articles and editorials, and eventually (I hope) interviews, from a libertarian perspective. I’m entertaining the possibility of publishing original fiction in the undetermined future, but won’t be doing so anytime soon.
I’ve already got a number of posts up, some old and republished from other sites, some new. I’m hoping this won’t be a one-man show, so I’m looking for some regular writers as well as submissions from irregular or part-time contributors. There are already a few others on board, so you should start to see posts from them before long. If you’re interested in contributing a review, news commentary, or the like, contact me.
You can learn more about Prometheus Unbound, my reasons for creating it, and what I’m looking for in submissions by starting with my introductory post. I’m particularly interested in science fiction and fantasy prose fiction, but Prometheus Unbound will be open to submissions dealing with just about any genre or medium, including film, tv, comics and graphic novels, and poetry.
Cross-posted at Is-Ought GAP.