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Posts tagged virtue

from "Virtuous Fun in the Films of Whit Stillman," by Rebecca Tirrell Talbot, The Curator, 23 January 2009

Because Stillman praises convention and doesn’t shun virtue, there are more options open to him.  It turns out looking at convention and virtue only through a perspective that disparages them can seriously limit your stock of references.  Stillman’s characters can move from examining Jane Austen or War and Peace to analyzing The Graduate from the perspective of the make-out king.  Stillman doesn’t feel the need for hip references; he simply explores his interests, and they are fascinating.

If praising virtue leads to creativity, this is good news for contemporary artists because it opens up more options for them.  Stillman is proof that virtue doesn’t have to lead to canned narratives.  Virtue in a world where it is largely misunderstood is fuel for drama, irony and a whole lot of cinematic fun.

excerpt Virtue as vice
from "Puritans and Prigs," by Marilynne Robinson, in The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought, 2000

It is not hard to raise questions about the value of eating fish, or about the ecological consequences of mining quartz for those crystals that make us feel so at one with the earth. And is it really worth the petroleum, the pollution, the environmental wear and tear, to import drinking water? Such questions would be inevitable, if these were not the tastes of people who are strongly identified in their own minds as virtuous, and if these were not in fact signs by which they make themselves recognizable to others and to themselves as virtuous. For a very long time this country has figured in the world as a great appetite, suddenly voracious, as suddenly sated, disastrous in either case. The second worst thing that can be said about these virtuous people is, they have not at all escaped the sins of their kind. The worst thing that can be said is they believe they have escaped them.