A Departure From Our Usual Programming

I must confess that I have found the events of the last few weeks mighty unsettling, for what they mean not just for the US and the world economy, but the possible implications for geopoltics and our own political processes. We are seeing big shifts along a lot of major fault lines.

I found this to be a bit of a pick-me-up. It is from an odd film of the 1970s, O Lucky Man, directed by Lindsay Anderson (of If fame) with Malcolm McDowell.

The movie uses the device of cutting away from action to the band, making it a Greek chorus that provides cynical observations about modern life in deceptively upbeat-sounding songs. But the theme song for the movie seems a good reminder right now:

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  1. Yves Smith

    I have the soundtrack from Paprika, and am also a big Miyazaki fan. But have not gone into anime that much, so will check your recommendation out.

    Alan Price is great. Lyrics count a lot for me, and all the songs in O Lucky Man! are deceptively clever.

  2. bg

    “We are seeing big shifts along a lot of major fault lines.”

    This metaphor implies long term built up pressures suddenly released. There is destruction close to the rupture, but stability is restored.

    That might be an optimistic metaphor for this situation.

  3. Yves Smith


    Depends if your time frame is geological or more like a human lifetime, and whether you have a vested interest in major infrastructure along said fault lines.

  4. Anonymous

    Absolutely fantastic movie.

    Love the scene with the human pig hybrid . . . ugh!

    But a lot of truth in that film and a blast to watch.

  5. satan

    What we are experiencing is a major power shift of the kind not seen in over 200 years. Any objective person could have seen it coming in the last decade.

    1] World War I was the definitive beginning of the end of western military supremacy, this economic cascade is the definitive beginning of the end of western economic dominance.

    The reality is that the west can no longer lecture or threaten other countries to do things, unlike the ‘good old days’. I however do not think that the west will accept this new position easily, and will try to push on a string with disastrous consequences.

    2] This also marks the beginning of the end of a certain pattern of thinking and behavior that had dominated the west for the last 2-3 decades. This pattern of thinking involved feminised behavior, vanity, NIMBYnes, pseudo-environmentalist consciousness and other ideas that have no relationship with observable facts and reality.

    Ideas like land zoning, super safe, no-risk, treating every ‘hyper’ boy for ADHD will now hopefully be consigned to the dustbin of history.

    3] For the past 30 years, many in the west also believed that they knew ‘everything’ there was to know. That is why mathematical models of reality from climate models to economic models were so persuasive. Well.. reality does not care about models.

    Hopefully, now that this hubristic mindset has reached it’s logical endpoint, people will realize that our understanding of the universe and reality is incomplete and try to discover more. This belief set has hurt the growth of science in the last 3 decades. It is not a coincidence that few original (and revolutionary) ideas originated in the last 3 decades, especially the last 15 years.

    Hopefully, now people will see the light (though I am not going to hold my breath on this one)

    4] In the last 30 years we have also allowed many professions that contribute little to human progress like corporate lawyers, hedgefundies, investment bankers etc keep on increasing their renumerations. Even professions like doctors, managers have received pay raises that are disproportionate to their impact on society. Now we will have to make some harsh decisions and measure peoples compensations by quantifying their true impact on society.

    I can only hope that people see that hubris (we know everything), false superiority complexes (only whites are innovative), religious type beliefs (environmentalism) and other chicanery only makes their lives worser. I also know that people often try to hang on and adapt within their belief system.

    Either way we live in interesting times.. hopefully rationality wins..

  6. doc holiday

    I’m lost with this stuff tonight: (fairly loud, actually, on my ancient Polk Audio Model 10’s with 100 watts per channel). What could this all imply? I’m picturing stuffed Congress figurines floating along in a deep well, no wait, falling into a great and very deep well…

    Radiohead – Ceremony

  7. Anonymous

    My favorite film ever. Great soundtrack and Lindsay Anderson is a genius.

    I want thank you for helping to make some sense of all of this nonsense. I am a new, or what you might call a “crisis” reader. You provided a sandy beach for a weary sailor and a reason to smile;)

    Thank you and thank the internets.

    There are three thing you can be sure of. The pain is not going to stop. You will remain conscious. And in the end you will sign.

  8. Richard Kline

    I completely _adored_ O Lucky Man! It’s a scalpel sharp satire on the slippery slope downward on the path to personal success in a capitalist society. And the entire script of a ‘Candide’s Progress’ in melting down Laborite UK is divine. The parson’s wife episode was my favorite, and the hippiesque London scenario. The thing is to watch If . . . . by Lindsay Anderson, and then see O Lucky Man! Not only is the protagonist played by Malcolm McDowell the same, but the cast features many of the same folks in both films otherwise, but playing numerous different roles. It’s a mindblower. And the final scene in O Lucky Man! is a Goddardian stepping out of the scenario trick which you get if you’ve seen both films (though I won’t say how it works for those who haven’t seen the film).

    Cinema is my favorite art form. I actually maintain a list of Notable Films, and O Lucky Man! is in the top 50, which is saying something. I prefer the generosity of spirit in O Lucky Man! to A Clockwork Orange, though Kubrick is the superior visual composer.

    And the best anime I’ve seen in quite some time I watched within the last month, The Girl Who Leapt through Time by Hosoda Mamoru. Ranks with the best of Miyazaki, and a big-hearted script in the Nipponese high school dramatic vein, but sweeter.

  9. Richard Kline

    Oh Anon of 2:03, that was a _great_ scene in the movie. Like so much else in it, it’s a quote both from British film and current events, in this case the kinds of torture being used on Irish Republican suspects though recast into the substance of that scene to shear away from the politics. The whole script is almost diabolically clever, like a face peel from the public failings of its contemporaneous society. . . . And as throughout, McDowell cooperates completely _and_ that makes his situation WORSE! That is the best insight to me in the whole film as a social commentary, an Anderson never fails to bring this theme off in any scene in the film. Loved it.

  10. Richard Kline

    I’m hogging comments, but that’s ’cause my thinking is fragmentary. Anyone who likes O Lucky Man! ought to see Privilege by Peter Watkins. The only comparable film I can think of with a UK setting. And the music in that one _also_ works exceptionally well.

  11. Raver

    In my tightly-coupled brain, Doc Holiday’s choice of Ceremony by Radiohead triggered (unstoppably)the Joy in my youth. Here’s a little something to cheer you up – Atrocity Exhibition http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tKPaQWKH7k

    Thank you, Thank you Yves … for banging the drum!

    (And thanks to all the other knowledgeable contributors helping us great unwashed get a differing view).

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