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The set is dressed up, down to the smallest detail.  Actors are in place. The director cues lights, camera, slate, calls out, “Action”.  Everything animates, yet moments later, as if taking back time itself the director cries out, “Cut! Cut!..” By the furrow in their brow, everyone knows Maestro is not happy. Something is amiss.

In this instance, fictional as it may be, actors playing Nazis, (or Terrorists, or Banditos) despite being members of the ethnic group that are represented stereotypically, are not being authentic enough. They’re somehow not menacing, leering, or dark enough to satisfy the director’s vision. This auteur is known as a tyrant, goes for hyper-realism, stark verisimilitude.

This idea straight from central casting- e.g., Aryan-looking people ‘playing’ Nazis- is fascinating. Natives in costume, acting out their customs, galloping across the plain, depicting scenes of slaughter. What runs through the mind during such times of simulation, how do ancestors affect performance? Typecasting aside, is it not strange to inhabit a shadow atrocity your kin actually lived through?  

Practically speaking, playing a part, even being an extra is good work if you can get it. Everyone needs to eat. Traditionally, to play a part, a two way suspension of belief is required. The “actor” pretends something that isn’t so is so, and an audience pretends too. Both seller and buyer agree, each get what they think they need and plot is advanced. In the movies, life itself is the goods, except with one catch, anything, anything goes. The director calls the dance and we all play along.

In so-called real life this notion does not apply. There are laws of physics and limits of tolerance. If an air traffic controller, for example, wants to see planes coming into the runway upside-down, there are going to be a lot of dead bodies. This will not play in Peoria, as the saying goes. There used to be clear distinctions between make-believe and life. As long as a film is true to itself, the unthinkable is possible. Suspension of belief is the magic that greases the wheels. In real life however, the rubber always hits the road at some point.

Now in these most peculiar of times, we see everyday people,“actors”, playing out twisted and dangerous directives. Non fictitious abuses of power, norms upended, precedents demolished, commons ravaged…we are facing a phenomena which can be termed, “suspension of disbelief”.  Actor and audience each pretend to pretend what’s not OK is OK. The picture is out of control, actors have gone off the rails, but somehow because the carnage is in the script, production continues. And the director, as has happened before in megalomaniacal blockbusters, has become unhinged.


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A Sun Play of the Ages

I'm finding it interesting how much our system is held together by habits and polite following of custom. When someone stops following them, our system can't handle it. Founders didn't quite envision this.

It is also interesting how much terrorists look like terrorists, businessmen look like businessmen, doctors look like doctors - all the roles have associated costumes. (For spinoza: Men Die Sooner - https://youtu.be/vZFNbbtVN9o )

Dogen has a way around the disbelief, perhaps. Just sit.


Assuming we're on a collision course with the end of things as we know them, it offers a unique opportunity to reshape things as we do want them. If it ain't broke, it cannot be fixed. So breaking might be a necessary step before rebuilding. Perhaps energy should be placed in formulating what we truly want next.

One other thought is that the time to protest and demand things is when your party is in power. Right now, right-wing GOP folks should be out protesting and pushing Trump further to the right, demanding all their goodies. Instead, they sit back and snark. This is the time to get yer stuff! March on Washington!



Here's a better link, to the full piece, which includes the observations intended...:



"If it ain't broke, it cannot be fixed"

The fix is in; the stage is set “in these most peculiar of times.” The length of this four-year movie is immutable, locked in place by constitutional decree. If the occupier of the White House does not commit “high crimes and misdemeanors” there’ll be no intermission, and no remission. We’ve been tied to the railroad tracks. It’s in the script.

Wait! Can Elisabeth Warren be written in to save us from this monstrous auteur?


Heart of Darthness

Sometimes I write to send a plumb line down into my feelings. I might think I know what I think, but throwing it out there is like putting paint to canvas, inevitably forms emerge that weren't even suspected. I wish more people on this site would dare themselves to share.

While mulling the ideas that took shape above, I thought the theme was something along the lines of 'Day of the Locust', or maybe 'Heavens Gate'. Great over-reaches, spectacle for the sake of spectacle, with decadence as an unavoidable by-product.

What pushed through as I reflect was a line from Hitchcock, (paraphrased), "The greater the evil, the better the film". It's this idea that compels the director into madness. Only when darkness reaches its height can the protagonist achieve their glory.

This is the fault line between suspension-of-belief, and suspension-of-disbelief. In fiction, when such conflicts are depicted it can lead to catharsis and resolution. In real life, these same demonizations and delusion of might and infallibility historically beget disasters that take generations to heal, if ever.


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