Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina
Reminds me of the Roddy Piper movie from the 90’s, They Live. You can’t see them unless you have a special pair of sunglasses.
From the IMDB description: “They influence our decisions without us knowing it. They numb our senses without us feeling it. They control our lives without us realizing it. They live.”
This is a good contemporary example or follow up on the previous essay about Frederick Nietzche. It all reminds me of the request by Odysseus to the Cyclops to “obey custom, respect the rules of the gods, and respect visitors and neighbors. Polyphemus scoffed (they always do) saying his kind doesn’t fear Zeus or any other god, then bashed two men to death and ate them.
The blind poet knew theses types and we too are beginning to see them again in numbers. In fact I think it’s much more probable to graduate from college today knowing something about Nietzsche and Steve Bannon than it is Homer. But not only our classical literature has been canceled but even out classical prayers and plain chants are so rare as to excite curiosity among Christians at the Queens funeral. Marquette University shutting down it’s classic’s program and having lost the normal “way” is a sign for all of us. Awe struck millions experiencing just a glimpse of solemnity at the royal funeral should be another.
Maybe one day the American people will run out of bubblegum.
I had seen “They Live” years ago but remembered it only dimly. We watched it last night. My judgment is that it is a competently made piece of junk, with far too many distracting action scenes that last too long, but with several solid premises, especially the greedy humans who collaborate with the aliens. Surprisingly, Rowdy Roddy Piper is as good or better than most actors in such films–better than Chuck Norris and Arnold, certainly. One forgets the acting required of WWF performers.
I think your judgement is basically right. The movie does have a cult following, probably because of the the premises you mentioned and because of Piper’s acting. I recall that he was the only wrestler I enjoyed watching back in the 80’s. I would watch his matches sometimes, if I caught one on TV but usually ignored all others and kept flipping through the channels.
Trivial question of the day: Why did Roddy Tombs change his last name to Piper?
Because he had his friends play the bagpipes before his entrance into the wrestling arena? And as a weird aside Tom, The young bagpiper who Wyer and I had play and process one happy afternoon in Kansas for your reception and good talk on Herodotus, died suddenly from Covid about a year ago leaving behind his wife and a young growing family. I always associate the bagpipes with a certain Scottish solemnity which is probably misplaced since I know they are piped for all sorts of festive, military and personal occasions as well —- like right before Roddy Tombs would enter the charged atmosphere of the arena!
A fake name for a fake Scot? It went with the fake accent and the kilt? The red face he would give himself when he was throwing a fake fit?
Oh yes, he actually did play the bagpipes! How could I have forgotten? It’s been a long time. I remember seeing him play them now. I had to be reminded. I also forgot he was Canadian.
I believe he had learned to play the pipes and actually did play them on his big occasions, e.g. at a wrestle mania/ Although I am anything but a Mike Myres fan, I did enjoy the Scottish satire in “So I Married an Ax Murderer.” Toombs is a common name in England and Scotland.
Toonbs is also a great Southern name. For example, Robert Toombs of Georgia was the first Secretary of State of the C.S.A.
(I have always maintained that if President Davis and his cabinet had followed Toombs’s sage advise and not fired on Ft. Sumter, the CSA would have in time negotiated a peaceful separation from the USA. But then, maybe not. Lincoln wanted war, and he was going to get one…one way or another.)
Toombs was, I believe correctly prudent, but Lincoln’s statements, correspondence, etc, reveal that he was determined to bring on the war. He actually bragged that he had tricked South Carolina into firing on the “Star of the West” and then Sumter.
I remember sitting in a classroom in eighth grade and being bored by the science textbook we were studying. We had come to the well known story of Pavlov’s dog. I remember being put off by the way Pavlov had manipulated the dog. As an aside, and only as an aside because any thorough discussion may well have affected his career, the teacher slipped into the conversion just a few words, and said something like, “you know, you’ve all been conditioned just like Pavlov’s dog.” He mentioned TV commercials along with this. and one or two other examples. I remember thinking that no, that couldn’t be true. But yes, it most certainly was true, and universally so.