No Country For Old Men--Again: Election 2008

Okay, I'se becomin' a broken record...but iffin' ya ain't see No Country for Old Men, git to it!

I seen it again--yep, 3rd time, and it is worth it. An' Aunty read the book first (of course).

The movie is tellin' us'uns somethin' real big--bigger than politics or war or the economy. It is sayin' who we as a people are--or aren't.

So this heah is mah question--in both the book and movie the sheriff ( who is tryin' to save a good ole' boy out hunntin' who thought it might be not-so-bad-to steal 2 million in drug money he found after a drug deal gone sour....natcherly he unleashed all hell on hisself and others) makes this BIG -B I G --point:

Everthang went to hell when folks stopped sayin' sir and
mam. Does ya'll see that? See the connection?

I knows some think thas' a fer stretch--that lawlessness and violence doan have much to do with the quaint (Southern!) custom of sayin' "Sir" or "M'am" ...an' I been thinkin' so hard on this matter. Studyin' it....which brings me to a confession to all ya'll: I'se a Southern Agrarian. I reads
Edmund Burke, and his intellectual chillen, Flannery O'Connor, M.E. Bradford(author of Founding Fathers) , Russell Kirk, Allen Tate and Wendell Berry and other traditional thinkers. Flannery also said it was manners that would make livin' peaceably possible. No manner, no peace.

So--to all this (manners, tradition and a stable civilization) No Country is tellin' us Americans that we's only jes' beginin' to see horror.

We lost our good manners which is the symbol of recognizin' a fellow human bein' as worthy of basic kindness. Manners is a symbol fer voluntary fidelity to somethin bigger than yore own desires. When a people put themselves and their desires over ever'thang else, then it ain't no society no more--only a collection of loners huddled in the same city limits, county lines or national border. An that ain't No Country For Old Men (to be in if he values his soul--as noted in the movie).

In the story, Sheriff Bell asks, "Who are these people?" he means folks who have no idea of, nor intention to have, basic human decency.

So, Aunty is wonderin'--as we move into election 2008, is we still a society? Is we folks we agree to the basics of a republic, jes' disagree about how to achieve them basics we share? or is we no longer truly sharin' basics as one society?

I read this recently:

Civility is the relationship among citizens in a republic. It corresponds to the condition we call "freedom", which is not just an absence of restraint or coercion, but the security of living under commonly recognized rules of conduct. Not all these rules are enforced by the state; legal institutions of civility depend on the ethical substratum and collapse when it is absent. And in fact the colloquial sense of civility as good manners is relevant to its political meaning: citizens typically deal with each other by consent, and they have to say "please" and "thank you" to each other.

(Author Cormac McCarthy is a Southerner [Tennessee])


boneman said...

Well, "a day late" seems to be my middle name, but, what the hey... you've brought up seeing a movie.
I'll get it and watch. I like that Tommy Lee Jones, anyway.

As fer the idea of manners and such, well, there seems to be two ways to see that.
Oh, I ain't disputing the idea of having good manners, but, rather, isn'tr it funny how some small things can be overlooked but then they snowball (being from Florida, this may be lost to you, but, it does happen. Small things roll along and get bigger all by themselves) into things unknown of before.
I've been hollerin' about things like the marijuanna laws, seatbelt laws, no smoking laws, and a flock of other meaningless laws for some time now.
Folks figure it to be a small thing, nothing to fret about.

I see adolf working its magic on unsuspecting citizens who think that controlling others is OK.

Now, as for your school learned "author" from the previous post, well, you can take this as truth, and probably check it against anyone who is out of college and into the "work force" for a time....
There ain't no fool like a school learned fool.
No disrespect meant to your friend, though, because we all need dreams and goals and such. It's just that, when in college, professors sometimes give folks the idea that they can make the ideal real. And that ain't always the case.

Now, as for WHY blog?
Well, I'll trade you movie for movie.
Holy Man, starring Jeff Goldblum and Eddie Murphy, there was one of those "cliche" stories that hit me. About the little girl walking on the beach tossing starfish back into the sea after a storm. A fellow came along and explained to the lil girl that most were dead and that she was wasting her time.
"not to those that were still alive, " she replies.

Y'know, to this day, I still pick up worms from the sidewalk and asphalt and toss 'em back onto the grass after rains.

moi said...

Aunty asks: So, Aunty is wonderin'--as we move into election 2008, is we still a society? Is we folks we agree to the basics of a republic, jes' disagree about how to achieve them basics we share? or is we no longer truly sharin' basics as one society?

Excellent question.

I don't think we are all in agreement about a political goal – say, upholding and perpetuating a republic based on the right of the individual – but are just arguing about how best to get there. Because there is really only one way to get there, right? You can't fit the square pegs of collectivist/fascist principles into the round holes of our republican ideals.

So what I see happening is that we are morphing from a society that upholds the primacy of individual freedom and responsibility into one that is perfectly okey dokey with bestowing upon an outside entity (i.e. government and/or its representatives) the right to trample individual rights in favor of legislating to achieve a nebulous "collective" good.

Concurrent with our collectivist spirit is also a kind of bizarre hedonistic nihilism, in which, suddenly, desire becomes a perfectly valid justification for action.

Ergo, we only define ethics in a communal manner. Individually, however, all bets are off and, hence, the breakdown of civility and "manners."

To that end, Ayn Rand says it better than I can:

"Happiness" can properly be the purpose of ethics, but not the standard. The task of ethics is to define man's proper code of values and thus to give him the means of achieving happiness. To declare, as the ethical hedonists do, that "the proper value is whatever gives you pleasure" is to declare that "the proper value is whatever you happen to value"—which is an act of intellectual and philosophical abdication, an act which merely proclaims the futility of ethics and invites all men to play it deuces wild.

Enemy of the Republic said...

Boneman told me that you wrote on this film. I just did the same, along with There Will Be Blood. The novel made the movie easier for me to understand; I like Cormac McCarthy a lot.

Tommy Lee Jones is cool, but this wasn't his movie--it belonged to Javier Bardem. I think Tommy will be neck and neck for Oscar with Daniel Day Lewis for In the Country of Elah. Neither actor can do no wrong in my book.

Good post, Auntie!

Enemy of the Republic said...

I believe a lot of what you are saying comes out in the stream of conscious musings of Sherrif Bell, who realizes the world is just becoming a terrible place and it will only get worse. Am I right--he does say it begins with manners. Here in the North we have terrible manners; I remember being pregnant and no one giving me a seat. I'm going to read more of his books and tell you what I think, as I do believe he is pointing to social decay. In No Country, it was on the drug trade, but it was also about how a man, a Vietnam vet and a hunter so he was no fool with the gun, still was naive when it came to sheer evil. Most of us are like Moss; we do bad things and hope we can get away with them, and if we can't, we figure we will deal with the consequences. But what if the consequences are beyond anything we expect? I plan on seeing the movie again soon. I'm not afraid of movies and books telling us how it is, but I don't have a whole lot of hope for the future, Aunty.

Aunty Belle said...

Hey ya'll...

Boney-man, seems like the point in the book/movie is that laws ain't enough when folks has decided to go any way they wanna an ter hail wif' what's good fer the whole of us. So passin' meaningless laws doan do nuthin' when even meaningful laws doan work. When folks doan wanna behave on they own wifout laws, be sober, honest, decent, congenial neighbors, well, then thas' real real bad manners and there are consequences to the whole community.

Moi, uh-huh...yep...we;s morphin' fer shure--but do it seem that the REASON fer it is that folks quit bein' responsible, quit bein' decent citizens?(Sheriff Bell: "Who ARE these people?")

I guess the movie makes a point of showin' how no laws can stand up to a place whar' folks woan do right on they own account--an' I reckon thas' why we's now tryin' ter pass so many laws to define behavior --but it ain't the answer(as you hint)--din't used to be so many dang laws and we never needed so many laws before now...

Enemy, ya wrote:

"Most of us are like Moss; we do bad things and hope we can get away with them, and if we can't, we figure we will deal with the consequences. But what if the consequences are beyond anything we expect?"


Looky, I knowed a young fella newly married who is frustrated about risin' crime rate around heah--so he yaks wif' police who say they doan have enough on the force to handle the calls, and besides, too many is let go, an too many police is on the take..so the young man says it's time fer a citizen vigilante posse.

Naw, says Aunty,it ain't nearly that bad--cause when ya git in yore buggy and drive to work, ya ain't afraid that when ya come home yore bride may be hangin' by her heels from the chandelier headless--her haid on yore bed --

cause when ya unleash lawlessness by ignorin' the law and settin' up vigilantes, them bad boys can think meaner than you ever have in yore wildest time--you ain't no match fer the amoral fiends youse about to unleash in yore community.

But it seems to me that iffin' as a society we doan git a grip on thangs in the next decade, we will have the scene described above--that is, that no amount ot laws will contain a society thas' lost its soul.

I imagine it woan surprise ya'll that Aunty worries that the way we got to this point is we doan teach in schools how and why this country was founded--an why we is (was?) special. "A republic, if you can keep it"....simply stated, a people who will not govern themselves bring repressive government into being.

moi said...

Manners are a short hand recognition of the basic rights of others. When we say Yes Sir, No Ma'am, Excuse Me, I'm Sorry, Thank You, when we take responsibility for our actions and their affects on others, etc., we are in essence paying tribute to the essential right we all share to live in this world hassle-free.

Well mannered individuals are rapidly disappearing. Why? Because there's money to be made by politicians, insurance companies, lawyers, and doctors in propagating amongst the citizenry the complete opposite of the well mannered, responsible individual: the new breed of entitled thug.

As for the law, what law? Laws no longer exist to ensure our individual rights and responsibilities. They exist to guarantee our exemption from them.

Aunty Belle said...

Moi--WOW! Well said, Sweet Pea. Dern iffin' ya' ain't hit the bull's eye.

But what then? What do it mean fer us as a society? is McCarthy a prophet? Can we find a way bacK?

sparringK9 said...

civilization to many now means they expect the government to legislate you accept and celebrate and finance whatever they choose to do. i just wrote a long rant a rama about it. this election is a joke i cant believe what people expect out of these jokers...."but but what will you do for ME mr/madam president?" whah whah whah!

3 times you saw it? grrrerhahaha i understand. my brother said he read my review and is going. i cant wait to hear what he thinks of it.

i agree with enemy, its bardem's film but not one of the actors got a nomination in the golden globes.
"call it, friendo" grrrerhahaha

moi said...

Aunty, I guess what it means for us as a society is that, as we lose our capacity for both rugged self-reliance and righteous indignation, we devolve into socialism.

And I see no cure so long as we remain sleep walkers on this essential issue, which She points out in her rant: what people are whining about is not access to basic rights, including the right to try to earn things. That right we all already have. What we're whining about is the "right" to be handed goodies without working for them.

Is McCarthy a prophet? Well he certainly sees the train coming, doesn't he? What do we do about it? Wish I knew . . .