The summer blockbuster Troy is neither as bad as it might be nor as stirring as it should be. As directed by Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot), it is an entertaining display of sword-and-sandal heroism via the medium of modern movie technology. But since this is a story about the Trojans, Achilles and Hector, providing a decent adventure story is simply not enough.
If God is your answer to every question, eternal and absolute once-and-for-all kind of answer, without a doubt, no wondering, dithering or hypothesizing, no clever juggling, struggling, pondering or agonizing no raised eyebrow or pursed lips, no tilted head with faraway gaze— just straight out, eyes glazed, one syllable, constant and unequivocal, you smiling, smiling, always smiling sweetly to every question: God; Then, all questions vanish, all questions perish, and you stand like a post from one of your fences, not even enough of you for the upright of a cross like one Jesus chose at the end, facing death, and desperately asking the ultimate question: God, where are you? and hearing nothing, resigned to silence, said, Nevertheless, I AM and died the Lamb still with his question. Now there’s an answer, God.
The German occupation of France, a sinister and embarrassing epoch for the French, tends to be treated by them with dutiful solemnity or avoided altogether. Therefore the gleeful irreverence of Jean-Paul Rappeneau and his team of screenwriters in Bon Voyage is refreshing, even liberating.
The girl in the pew next to me is doing her math between prayers. I peek at the certainties on her page yearning for a time I knew clearly that the sum of e to the minus x from nothing to the infinite was always and everlasting one and I could prove that everything that rises must converge.
Now the slow hardening of my brain's arteries has rubbed those crisp clear certainties until they're ragged with doubt and experience. Was the sine the one next to me over over the big one? Or the opposite? Was the answer a precise one or pi, that vague pipe dream that we've chased to 51 billion places and still don't know exactly?
I chant my beliefs and wonder what proofs I am seeking here. Add up the blessings of the world and subtract the sins and you've got what? Add up my own petty closed set of real and imaginary without limit. Can it ever exceed zero?
The mass is over and the little girl kneels in the aisle crosses herself, the sign of our shared belief in a world beyond or the mathematician's plus sign, the sign that says with a certainty: something more.
No one understood my nightly need to be reassured I’d wake up again the next day. Eyes closed, I saw no sheep but the tufts of pampas grass looming silver like a solitary path. The scroll hung above me, a verse in five and seven, its flowing hand thin and illegible—I still knew it was about our life not lasting very long. How is it that adults were okay with such a prospect? In July, bamboo blades rustled against paper cranes and prayer strips; I wondered how I’d made the cut, when I wasn’t a boy my father wanted, wasn’t a koi princess my mother said would magically turn her tail into a pair of legs. I looked for the fabled rabbits on the moon, a family of them taking turns to pound rice into pearly cakes along their dark, elliptical orbit.
A copy of the Bay Psalm Book, the first book published in America, will be auctioned off by Sotheby’s and is expected to bring between $15 and $30 million, making it the most expensive book ever sold. One of two copies owned by Old South Church in Boston, it is one of only 11 remaining copies published. The proceeds will be used to help replenish Old South’s endowment once $7 million of it is used for deferred maintenance. The church historian resigned over the congregation’s decision to sell one of its treasures, but the rest of the congregation overwhelmingly supported the decision (New York Times, November 15).