an autodidact meets a dilettante…

‘Rise above yourself and grasp the world’ Archimedes – attribution

Archive for the ‘teenagers’ Category

What’s up with Trump’s frontal cortex? – part 1

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He is fitful, irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity… manifesting but little deference for his fellows, impatient of restraint or advice when it conflicts with his desires, at times pertinaciously obstinate, yet capricious and vacillating, devising many plans of future operations, which are no sooner arranged than they are abandoned in turn for others appearing more feasible. 

Trump, when asked who he consults with on foreign policy

You might be forgiven for thinking the above description is of the current US President, but in fact it’s a 19th century account of the change wrought upon Phineas Gage after his tragically explosive encounter with a railway tamping rod in 1848. It’s taken from neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky’s book Behave. A more fulsome analysis is provided in Antonio Demasio’s landmark work Descartes’ Error. The 19th century account is provided by Gage’s doctor.

Due to an accident with blasting powder the iron tamping rod blew a large hole through a part of Gage’s brain, exited through the top of his skull and landed some eighty feet away ‘along with much of his left frontal cortex’ (Sapolsky). Amazingly, Gage survived, though with great changes to his behaviour, as described above . Before the accident he had earned a reputation as a highly skilled, disciplined and reliable railway team foreman.

I was quite happy to be reacquainted with Gage’s story this morning, because in a recent conversation I was expounding upon Trump’s pre-adolescent nature, his tantrums, his solipsism, his childish name-calling, his limited language skills, his short attention span, his more or less complete ethical delinquency and so forth, about which my companion readily agreed, but when I suggested that this was all about a profoundly underdeveloped frontal cortex, she demurred, feeling I’d gone a bit too far.

Of course, I’m not a neurologist, but…

Any full description of Trump’s apparently missing or severely reduced frontal cortex needs to be evidence-based, but Trump is as likely to submit to any kind of brain scan or analysis as he is to present his tax returns. So the best we can do is compare his behaviour to those we know to have frontal lobe impairment.

Sapolsky tells us about the importance of the frontal lobe in making the tough decisions, the kinds of decisions that separate us from other primates. These are decisions in which our emotions and drives are activated, as well as higher order thinking involving a full understanding of the impact upon others of our actions.

Interestingly, in the case of Gage, his personality transformation meant that he couldn’t continue in his former occupation, so for a time he suffered the humiliation of being an exhibit in P T Barnum’s American Museum. I find this particularly intriguing because Trump has often been compared to Barnum – a showman, a con-man, a self-promoter and so forth. So in some ways – for example in Trump’s rallies, which he clearly loves to engage in – Trump has a dual role, as exhibitor and exhibit.

More importantly though, and this story is I think far more important than his injury and humiliation, Gage recovered almost completely over time – a testament to the brain plasticity which has recently been highlighted. On reflection, this shouldn’t be so surprising. Gage had been a person of rectitude and responsibility for decades before the disaster, and the neuronal pathways that his habitual behaviour had laid down, perhaps since early childhood, had only to be recovered through memory. It’s astonishing how this can happen even with subjects with less brain matter than ‘normal’ humans. Different parts of the brain can apparently be harnessed to rebuild the old networks.

The case of Trump, though, is different, as these higher order networks may never have been laid down. This isn’t to say there isn’t something there – it’s not as if there’s just a great hole where his frontal cortex should be. It’s more that his responses would map onto the responses of someone – a teenager or pre-teenager – who reliably behaves in a certain way because of the lack of full development of the frontal cortex, which we know isn’t fully developed in normal adults until their mid-twenties. And when we talk of the frontal cortex, we’re of course talking of something immensely complex with many interacting parts, which respond with great variability to different stimuli among different people.

But before delving into the neurological issues, a few points about the recent New York Times revelations regarding Fred Trump’s businesses, his treatment of young Donald and vice versa. The Hall & Oates refrain keeps playing in my head as I write, and as I read the Times article. What it suggests is a gilded, cosseted life – a millionaire, by current financial standards, at age eight. It seems that right until the end, Fred Trump covered up for his son’s business incompetence by bailing him out time and time again. This adds to a coherent narrative of a spoilt little brat who was rarely ever put in a position where he could learn from his mistakes, or think through complex solutions to complex problems. Trump senior clearly over-indulged his chosen heir-apparent with the near-inevitable result that the spoilt brat heartlessly exploited him in his final years. Fred Trump was a business-obsessed workaholic who lived frugally in a modest home and funnelled masses of money to his children, especially Donald, who basically hoodwinked the old man into thinking he was a chip off the old block. In the usual sibling battle for the parents’ affection and regard, Donald, the second son, saw that his older bother, Fred junior, was exasperating his dad due to his easy-going, unambitious nature (he later became an alcoholic, and died at 42), so Donald presented himself as the opposite – a ruthless, abstemious, hard-driving deal-maker. It worked, and Donald became his pretend right-hand man: his manager, his banker, his advisor, etc. In fact Donald was none of these things – underlings did all the work. Donald was able to talk the talk, but he couldn’t walk the walk – he had none of his father’s business acumen, as the Times article amply proves. In the late eighties, with the stock market crashing and the economy in free-fall, Trump made stupid decision after stupid decision, but his ever-reliable and always-praising dad kept him afloat. He also bequeathed to his son a strong belief in dodging taxes, crushing opposition and exaggerating his assets. The father even encouraged the son’s story that he was a ‘self-made billionaire’, and it’s not surprising that the over-indulged Donald and his siblings eventually took advantage of their ailing father – enriching themselves at his expense through a variety of business dodges described in the Times article. By the time of his death, Fred Trump had been stripped of almost all of his assets, a large swathe of it going to Donald, who was by this time having books ghost-written about how to succeed in business.

Of course it can be argued that Trump has one real talent – for self-promotion. This surely proves that he’s more than just a spoilt, over-grown pre-teen. Or maybe not. It doesn’t take much effort to big-note yourself, especially when, due to the luck of your family background, you can appear to walk the walk, especially in those rallies full of uncritical people desperate to believe in the American Business Hero. Indeed, Trump’s adolescent antics at those rallies tend to convince his base that they too can become rich and successful idiots. You don’t actually have to know anything  or to make much sense. Confidence is the trick.

It’s not likely we’ll ever know about the connections within Trump’s frontal and prefrontal cortices, but we can learn some general things about under-development or pre-development in those regions, and the typical behaviour this produces, and in my next post – because this one’s gone on too long  – I’ll utilise the chapter on adolescence in Sapolsky’s Behave, and perhaps other texts and sources – apparently Michelle Obama brought Trump’s inchoate frontal cortex to the public’s attention during the election – to explore further the confident incompetence of the American president.

Written by stewart henderson

October 7, 2018 at 5:38 pm

reveries of a solitary wa*ker: wa*k 3

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my new Dino-lite Basic, and some coriander roots, under low magnification

my new Dino-lite Basic, and some coriander roots, under low magnification

coriander roots

Having finished reading the big Darwin book I’m letting the influence of his character and world percolate through me, for example on my way home from work the other day, walking by the city river, I got the idea of taking pics of the bird species hanging by the riverside with my mobile phone – murray magpie, mallard, eurasian coot, black swan, masked lapwing, Australian pelican, Australian magpie, dusky moorhen, Australian white ibis and little pied cormorant. It really brightened my day, though the photos were pretty crappy, but I looked up the species when I got home (this is where the internet really comes into its own) and learned so much about habitats, male-female differences (the male murray magpie, or magpie-lark, has a white ‘eyebrow’ and a black throat) and such. Fun, and now I’m thinking about a good camera for bird-watching. I’ve also, on something of an impulse, bought a digital microscope, on its way from the USA. No idea as yet what to use it for.

Stephen-Hawking-AI-2

At a recent meetup group I had a stimulating discussion, or rather listened in on one, about the end of humanity, the various possibilities for our impending doom, the principal one being artificial intelligence. The idea is that so many things that humans are engaged in are barely in control, and that the best option for the survival of a species isn’t constant change and development, but stasis, as with trilobites perhaps, or some types of bacteria.  Since this appears not to be an option for us, some think that we’re hurtling, with all our good intentions, not towards the singularity, but towards extinction. Anthropogenic global warming, mass species extinction, human-induced epidemics, out-of-control artificial intelligence, or a combination of these might cause this event, but it was the view of one conversationalist that AI would be our undoing, and possibly quite soon. It might lead to a gradual transhumanism, which we won’t recognise until it’s too late. One of the key figures mentioned in analysis of humanity’s possibly grim future was Nick Bostrum, whose name has come to my attention from time to time. Wikipedia tells me he’s a philosopher based at Oxford, and the director of its Future of Humanity Institute. So, a person and an institute I should be conversant with for my solutions ok blog. I should probably link to it there, and it’ll mean a lot more reading and study, groan. Meanwhile, one of the arguments I heard the other night was that this could explain why we don’t find complex life out there looking for us, with their super-clever antimatter rockets and super light-speed travel techniques, because complexity of that sort beats an inevitable path to destruction. Highly-developed life-forms like us and our superiors burn with brief intensity then snuff themselves out. For us, this might be sooner than later. Hmmmm. In any case, existential risk is something I’ll have to pay more attention to in the future, if we have one.

p16om5i0se1fk61ca91qpv1urm1j30_79928

The other day I was listening to the amusing Answer Me This podcast when the name Marky Mark came up – apparently an actor, for he was chosen to star in Peter Jackson’s film The Lovely Bones. Not being too keyed in on popular culture, I’d never heard of Marky Mark (or The Lovely Bones for that matter) so I looked him up. It turned out that this was an early moniker for the actor Mark Wahlberg – whose name I’d heard of, but that was about it. Having now seen some photos of him, I don’t think I’ve seen him in anything, and I had no idea that in his early life as Marky Mark he was a notorious rapper and petty crim. But interestingly, I read that Wahlberg was now seeking a government pardon for the crimes he was convicted of as a teenager – including a few bashings of Asian-looking people. One of these incidents resulted in the victim having permanent eye damage. I don’t automatically trust too many internet sites, but the story appears to be that Marky, as a probably drug-fuelled and undoubtedly peer-influenced teen, indulged in some pretty nasty behaviour, spiced with language about ‘gooks and ‘slopes’, but he did have potential – don’t we all – and with the help of mentors he turned his life around to become, eventually, a Hollywood ‘star’. He did receive punishment for some of his crimes – and I read that he was tried as an adult for at least one of them – probably the one in which a victim lost an eye, or part of one….

I mention all this because it’s a case that raises a number of fascinating and important ethical issues. Firstly, there’s the tendency, most prevalent in the US but increasingly here too, to try juveniles as adults when they commit serious crimes, as if their ability to be fully responsible for their actions is in direct proportion to the damage they do. This smacks of a slide down the slippery slope of retributive justice – people have been really really hurt so the perp has to be really really punished, no matter that she’s eleven years old. While I have some sympathy for that attitude, and I’ll elaborate on that later, we have to accept that teenagers and children are different and that there are good, scientifically verified reasons for granting them diminished responsibility in a graded way from earliest childhood to the latest teens. The law is always a bit of a bludgeon of course, rarely taking full account of individual developmental and psychological peculiarities, which is one of the problems of ‘equality before the law’, but there’s no doubt that we generally do stupid things as teenagers and school kids, often under peer pressure, things we’d never do as mature adults. I myself got into trouble with the law for stealing, together with four or five of my friends, at the age of fourteen. We’d been egging each other on, and we perpetrated a lot more than we were charged with, but it all came crashing to a halt when we got caught. None of us were nasty brutish types, and it’s unlikely that any of us have reoffended.

Marky’s offending was rather brutish though, with serious consequences for a least one victim. His desire for a pardon is apparently driven by the fact that he’s disqualified at the moment from getting an Oscar or other accolades because of his past. Unlike me he has a permanent criminal record presumably due to being tried as an adult. He’s written a letter to government authorities wanting recognition for being an entirely different person than the one who committed those acts. Marky now does charitable work on the side like many other Hollywood stars – which is fine and dandy especially as they’re significantly overpaid for what they do and would have good reason to consider themselves bloody lucky to be in their position – but as online critics have pointed out, he’s never apologised or made reparations to his permanently-scarred victim. It goes without saying that this soul has also had a change of life since being bashed with a two-by-four all those years ago. Not much work for a one eyed Asian in Hollywood, methinks.

So this is the dilemma. Why doesn’t Marky Mark face up to the damage he did by trying to help the one person whose life he changed irreparably as an oafish teenager? That would seem to be an obvious move. And that brings me back to the treatment of serious crimes committed by persons of diminished responsibility. The reason we seek to impose harsher penalties, and for that reason to attribute greater responsibility to the young perpetrator, is because of the consequences of the crime. We believe someone has to pay for all that damage, and if not the perp, then who? It’s a really vexed question, but imposing an extremely harsh penalty on an adolescent for an extreme crime doesn’t really help, especially when the penalty, such as a prison term, will tend to harden the adolescent and make him more resentful, angry, and subject to bad influence, than he was before.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a very forgiving society, a society which immediately seeks to help adolescents who’ve gone off the rails to the extent that Marky Mark presumably did – and I should make it clear here that I’m just using him as an example, and I’ve no idea if the facts of his case are exactly as, or even close to, what I’ve reported (I got it off the internet after all). As part of that help, he should’ve been made to face the living consequences of the damage he had done, the suffering and change he had wrought in the lives of others. But that of course would require a massive change in our system of crime and punishment. For adolescent crime though, I think it would work well, and to be fair, it does operate to some extent in some juvenile court systems, conferencing between perpetrators and victims and their families, though there isn’t enough of it, I suspect.

Written by stewart henderson

April 23, 2015 at 9:11 am

a change of focus, and Charlie Darwin’s teenage fantasies

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He's just so moi, though I'm more rough than ruff

He’s just so moi, though I’m more rough than ruff

“bashful, insolent; chaste, lustful; prating, silent; laborious, delicate; ingenious, heavy; melancholic, pleasant; lying, true; knowing, ignorant; liberal, covetous, and prodigal”

Michel de Montaigne, ‘Myself’

Sitting at my computer with the ABC’s ‘Rage’ on in the background, when on came a video by an artist who’s taken the moniker ‘Montaigne’, and how could I not be attracted? Good luck to her. I first stumbled on the original Montaigne decades ago, and like thousands before and since, I was fairly blown away. He’s been an inspiration and a touchstone ever since, and to think I’m now approaching his age at his death. One thing he wrote has always stayed with me, and I’ll misquote in the Montaignian tradition, being more concerned with the idea than the actual words – something like ‘I write not to learn about myself, but to create myself’. This raises the importance of writing, of written language, to an almost ridiculous degree, and I feel it in myself, as I’ve sacrificed much to my writing, such as it is. Certainly relationships, friendships, career – but I was always bad at those. All I have to show for it is a body of work, much of it lost, certainly before the blogosphere came along, the blogosphere that retains everything, for better or worse.

The New Yorker captures the appeal of Montaigne well. He wasn’t an autobiographical writer, in that he didn’t dwell on the details of his own life, but as a skeptic who trusted little beyond his own thoughts, he provided a fascinating insight into a liberal and wide-ranging thinker of an earlier era, and he liberated the minds of those who came later and were inspired by his example, including moi, some 400 years on. So, I’d like to make my writings a bit more Montaignian in future (I’ve been thinking about it for a while).

I’ve been focussing mainly on science heretofore, but there are hundreds of bloggers better qualified to write about science than me. My excuse, now and in the future, is that I’m keen to educate myself, and science will continue to play a major part, as I’m a thorough-going materialist and endlessly interested in our expanding technological achievements and our increasing knowledge. But I want to be a little more random in my focus, to reflect on implications, trends, and my experience of being in this rapidly changing world. We’ll see how it pans out.

what's in that noddle?

what’s in that noddle?

Reading the celebrated biography of Charles Darwin by Adrian Desmond and James Moore, I was intrigued by some remarks in a letter to his cousin and friend, William Darwin Fox, referring to the ‘paradise’ of Fanny and Sarah Owen’s bedrooms. This was 1828, and the 19-year-old Darwin, already an avid and accomplished beetle collector and on his way to becoming a self-made naturalist, was contemplating ‘divinity’ studies at Cambridge, having flunked out of medicine in Edinburgh. Fanny was his girlfriend at the time. These bedrooms were

‘a paradise… about which, like any good Mussulman I am always thinking… (only here) the black-eyed Houris… do not merely exist in Mahomets noddle, but are real substantial flesh and blood.’

It’s not so much the sensual avidity shown by the 19-year-old that intrigues me here, but the religious attitude (and the fascinating reference to Islam). For someone about to embark on a godly career – though with the definite intention of using it to further his passion for naturalism – such a cavalier treatment of religion, albeit the wrong one, as ‘inside the noddle’, is quite revealing. But then Darwin’s immediate family, or the males at least, were all quasi-freethinkers, unlike his Wedgewood cousins. Darwin never took the idea of Holy Orders seriously.

Written by stewart henderson

February 8, 2015 at 10:53 am

what is ideology?

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ideology[1]

I recall Daniel Dennett, in an interview on Point of Inquiry, saying that one of the main barriers to critical thinking is emotional investment in a particular position. This reminds me also of Nietzsche’s remark – a great favourite of mine – that ‘there’s no greater liar than an indignant man’.

This is what ideology is all about. It needn’t be a scarey word, it’s really quite simple.

An ideologue is someone who’s stuck – as we all can be from time to time. Their emotionalism or indignation has them repeating the same mantra over and over. Hence the love of slogans.

Some time ago I wrote about the issue of GM food – in fact. it was the last of several posts, as mentioned there, but the title of the piece, ‘Monsanto and GMOs are not the same’, might’ve indicated that I was going to write about Monsanto. My intention, in the title, was to separate the scientific issues around GMOs from the political or business issues around Monsanto’s decisions and behaviour. I also felt a bit daunted about entering the messy arena of what seemed to be monopolistic or even standover tactics – at least according to anti-Monsanto activists. So I left the Monsanto issue alone. However, a recent analysis of Monsanto’s practices and the accusations against the company, presented on the Skeptics’ guide to the universe podcast, has emboldened me to look more closely at Monsanto in a forthcoming post.

I mention all this because my writing about GMOs in the first place was inspired by an encounter with one of those ‘stuck’ ideologues. I’d known this person for years, and we were just chatting about stuff when GMOs came up. I described myself as open about the issue, whereupon she launched upon a fierce attempt to disabuse me of my openness. By the end of it she’d worked herself up into a state of great emotion, there were tears in her eyes about the horrors of this practice, and I got the distinction impression that our civilisation was at stake. Needless to say, I felt sceptical, and with good reason as it turns out. But doesn’t it always turn out that way?

We tend to think of ideology as an unthinking, or insufficiently-thinking commitment to some broad set of ideas, usually political, but I don’t think it’s substantively different from most ‘I hate’ statements (or ‘I love’ statements for that matter). Over the years I’ve heard people say in my presence that they hate animals, poetry, Albanians, potatoes, Proust,  ants and Asians – and I’m sure I could come up with more.  All of these ‘hatreds’ were essentially ideological, that’s to say involving an unreflective emotional over-commitment.

Not that it requires a heavy emotional commitment – in fact the vehemence of the declaration often masks an underlying vacillation or insecurity. It reminds me of some adolescents. Relentless ideologues are often like the worst adolescents. Stuck, again.

So I see ideology differently from some. Many definitions of ideology talk about comprehensiveness and a systematic set of views, firmly held, but I prefer to focus on the emotionality inherent in all ideology. Racism, for example, is an ideology, which you might describe as all-encompassing rather than comprehensive. After all, there’s not much comprehending going on. Nor is there really all that much system. There’s just a lot of feeling, or at least a lot of display of feeling. It’s the feeling that’s all encompassing, and you find it in the anti-GMO crowd, the climate change denial crowd, the conspiracy theory crowd, the anti-vaccination crowd, and so on – an intense emotional stuckness. And it is the toughest nut for skeptics to crack, and it’s all-pervasive. If we could persuade people that their feelings are the worst culprits in leading them astray,we’d be well on the way to successfully transforming our world into a more reflective one (and I’m not convinced by the claim, made by some, that we’re all ideologues). We have to start with ourselves, of course.

Written by stewart henderson

December 26, 2013 at 10:04 am

Margaret

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Going to the Palace-Nova cinemas late on a Monday night in the middle of winter has proved a surprising experience. I expected to be confronted by a desert of dark carpet with a half-asleep attendant womanning the ticket booth cum choc-top fridge, but instead it was wall to wall people and a long, glacial queue. It gradually dawned on me that this must be the cheapie night, and it seemed I was the only one in town who didn’t know it. The bumper crowd may also have been due to some newly-released ‘blockbusters’ such as ‘The Dark Knight, sequel 2’ or What You Will.

I get weekly emails from Palace-Nova, and I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully of late, to see a film a week. The email links me to currently showing flicks, with synopses and trailers, so that I can pick out the most appealing-looking feature, taking into account viewing times. I generally prefer to go in the quiet afternoon, usually mid-week, Wednesday being a free day. However, last Monday I felt the urge all of a sudden, and though the film I chose, ‘Margaret’, didn’t start till after 9pm and ran for nearly three hours, I was up for it.

The crowd certainly wasn’t there for poor old Margaret. There were only about five people in the cinema with me. This was good of course; I got to spread out and make myself at home and to feel enlightened and superior to all those lemmings in Cinema Batman nearby. But enough; the movie.

Margaret, the movie, has a story almost as troubled as that of its principal character, Lisa [Anna Paquin]. Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, it was filmed in 2005-6, and was due for release in 2007, but was held up in post-production for over four years, while the various stakeholders wrangled about editing and the final cut, with consequent lawsuits and attendant dramas. Lonergan preferred a three-hour version while others insisted on a limit of 150 minutes. Eventually Lonergan approved a 150-minute version, with editing assistance from Martin Scorsese among others, but the producer refused to accept it, etc etc. It really is a case of life imitating art, considering the highly disputatious and volatile natures of many of the film’s characters.

It’s a coming-of-age tale, of sorts. Lisa Cohen is a teenager whose irritating qualities are only just made bearable for us by the flawed and variably irritating natures of all the other people she interacts with. She has fierce fights with her long-suffering single mum, her fellow students, and various authority figures; she flirts carelessly, takes advantage and behaves with all the casual cruelty and insensitivity of the worst of adolescents. She runs hot and cold with a sensitive schoolmate who’s clearly attracted to her [one has to wonder why], then impulsively offers up her virginity to a casual older acquaintance who’s been introducing her to the drug scene. She’s far too self-absorbed to feel much in the way of empathy for her mother’s tentative steps towards a new romance, or to really understand in any depth, or to feel, the lives of others – teachers, relatives, possible or passing sexual partners, or those caught up with her in the central event of the film and its consequences.

The event is a bus accident which causes the death of a middle-aged female pedestrian. In the moments leading up to the accident, the impulsive heroine was rapping on the door of the bus and distracting the driver because she was interested in the sombrero-style hat he was wearing. The driver, clearly too easily distracted for his professional position, missed a red light and ran the woman over. She passes away in Lisa’s arms in a bizarre and slightly unreal death scene. It’s a life-altering moment for Lisa, and the events she subsequently sets in motion have unintended consequences that lead to further frustrations and crises.

Arguably one of the weaknesses of the film is the overall, on-balance sense of the intransigence and insensitivity of humans in general. It depends on whether you agree with the writer/director about that, and it’s hardly a black-and-white presentation, but there are plenty of characters in the film that you just feel like shaking some sense into. The film also has much to say about the complexities of adult life, and the strange unintended consequences of impulsive or thoughtless acts, threads that too few people in the film are willing or able to follow. In many ways this is what the film is about, individuals preoccupied with their own worlds and their attempts to balance self-gratification and social life. For example, it’s difficult for an outsider to see why Ramon [Jean Reno], who works in computers, ‘falls in love’ with Lisa’s mother Joan [J Smith-Cameron], and fatally regards her as the one woman who could make him happy, when they appear to have so little in common. Yet we know this kind of thing happens often enough in real life. It’s as if people are living out narratives in their lives, narratives which can come crashing around them as they clash with the narratives of others, as happens with Ramon, and with Lisa on several occasions but most painfully when she clashes with Emily [Jeannie Berlin], the best friend of the deceased accident victim, over their memories and their ‘ownership’ of the person who brought them together. It’s a world of knocks and shocks, frustrations and resentment, and the coming together of mother and daughter at the end of the movie is far from being a moment of resolution, it’s more a ‘shelter from the storm’ moment, a brief burying of one’s pain and incomprehension in the arms of another sufferer, who, being family, has at least some glimmer of understanding, and much in the way of empathy.

It was a long movie, but I certainly didn’t find it over-long, being quite absorbed in its true horrendousness. Lisa’s teenage antics and indiscretions and neediness will be familiar to us, as will be, for example, the frustrations of the school English teacher [Matthew Broderick] when confronted with an intransigent teenager’s take on King Lear, another nicely observed example of worlds colliding. Hell is other people, yet we cannot help but be drawn to them, like moths to a flame. I try to keep my distance, generally.

Written by stewart henderson

August 6, 2012 at 9:59 am