This week’s selected media: July 16, 2023: The Sorrow and the Pity, by Marcel Ophuls, The Comfort Crisis, by Michael Easter, and The Perfect Storm (the movie), based on the book by Sebastian Junger

July 16, 2023 by Joshua
in Tips

I read and watched this week:

The Sorrow and the Pity, by Marcel Ophuls: I started watching this four-and-a-half hour documentary months ago. I’d been meaning to watch it for years, as I think it’s regarded as one of the great movies of all time. It interviews French, British, and Germans who lived in a French city under Nazi occupation, about 1940 to 1944, or worked with them.

It doesn’t fall into easy cliches. The people are human, including the German and the French fascist. The French were more divided than I expected. Some admired Petain. Some fought for the resistance. Others resisted in different ways. Some supported communism; others detested it and hoped Hitler would defeat that element in Europe. The German still wore his medals decades after the war.

It’s not exciting, but it sticks with me and reminds me that past times weren’t simple, no matter how black-and-white we’ve painted them since. It’s obvious, but a movie like The Sorrow and the Pity make such platitudes visceral.

I recommend it.

The Comfort Crisis, by Michael Easter: One of my neighbors in my building recommended this book to me. We see each other on the roof a couple times a week when I’m up there charging my battery in the sunlight. I shared about how much value I get from doing things our culture makes unnecessary in favor of comfort and convenience.

Doing things and achieving things creates value, meaning, health, and more. Our culture has lost these things.

Having read the book, I think I can safely say I live a standard deviation away from the average American level of inaction and addiction. I exercise daily, walk a lot, and eat healthy. Still, I’m nowhere near where our ancestors did.

The author completely missed sustainability, which our culture has also abandoned. He flies around like crazy showing no awareness. Beyond the pollution, he implies nature and healthier living is elsewhere, in the arctic, where he hunted, for example, or in Bhutan, where he flew to ask a few people some questions he could have emailed. They told him the value of staying in one place, among other practices he didn’t acknowledge he was missing.

The Perfect Storm (the movie), based on the book by Sebastian Junger: Sebastian has been on the podcast, we’ve met in person, and he’s been tremendously supportive. I’ve read several of his books and watched his movies. The Perfect Storm was his first big book. I still haven’t read it, since it seems different than Tribe, Freedom, and Restrepo. The movie was a thriller/disaster movie. I suspect it didn’t do the book justice, so I’ll have to read it. It had cool special effects and was entertaining, but didn’t engage me.

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