It Felt Like a Trap

I’ve spent the last couple of days of soaking up more films by Adam Curtis, one of the best living documentary filmmakers. Last year I watched The Power of Nightmares; earlier this year I saw The Century of the Self; lately I’ve been working through his two most recent: The Trap (2007) and It Felt Like a Kiss (2009).

It Felt Like a Kiss is an experimental film that is a haunting evocation of the essence of life during the Cold War. Its cast features “Rock Hudson, Saddam Hussein, Lee Harvey Oswald, Doris Day, Enos the chimp, and everyone above Level 7 in the CIA.” The excellent soundtrack was composed by Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz, etc) and performed by the Kronos Quartet, with loads of additional pop tracks from the period. There’s no real semblance of a plot or, unlike Curtis’ other films, any sort of thesis. It Felt Like a Kiss is quintessential Curtis in terms of look: heavy use of montages (including some dizzying works of editing genius) and heavy use of archival footage, proving that Curtis probably spends 8 hours a day poring through old film reels. Yet this is also a new Curtis — less documentarian, more artist. The result is a trippy hour-long exploration of the ironies, oddities, and ambiguities of 3 or 4 of the most pivotal decades in American history. Were the U.S. a psychotic individual, this film would be its deranged subconscious bubbling up, exposing some of the roots of our modern American madness.

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The Ir/rationality of Absolute Certainty

The conversation this afternoon in Epistemology was over this question:

Is it irrational to hold certain beliefs to be non-negotiable, absolute, come-what-may, no-matter-what-I’ll-believe?

Mrs. Guisleman says it isn’t, that it is inconceivable for there to be a proof proving, for example, that Christ did not rise from the dead or that Jesus is God (a couple of her no-matter-what beliefs).

I disagree, and believe that it’s an appeal to ignorance (just because you cannot think of possible opposing evidence does not mean it will never exist) and what were absolute non-negotiables at one time in Christianity (ie, beliefs that defined what a Christian was) are no longer held to be true at all, let alone no-matter-what beliefs (ex. indulgences).

Your take on it all?