Comedian Patton Oswalt’s reaction to the Boston Marathon bombings has been paraded around all corners of the Internet in the last two days, covered by ABC News, Yahoo, the Daily Mail, and many, many others. He posted this on Facebook:
This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in a while, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness. But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evildoers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.
So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”
A variation on the same theme is this Deadspin post by someone staying in the hotel above the bombing that concludes “the people or person who did this to Boston are in the minority, and as long as that’s true, we will be OK.”
Look, I don’t intend to mock the way people grieve, but why does this qualify as an inspiring message? It’s vapid nonsense.
That we should be comforted by the fact that a majority hasn’t yet become terrorists is a weird non-sequitur. If the post-9/11 paradigm has enshrined anything, it’s the idea that a small number of people is capable of wreaking immense harm. Good people have consented to an awful lot of evil out of fear of just that.
“Evildoers” aren’t eliminated “like white blood cells attacking a virus,” as if we could have destroyed Al-Qaeda by sending a horde of Rotarians into Tora Bora with vaccines and pancakes.
Oswalt’s statement is an invitation to bundle all of one’s ideas of what’s good and bad into a judgement about “good” and “bad” people; an excuse to conflate bombers with bigots. It’s more about self-affirmation than grief, which, to be a bit cynical, probably explains its online virality.
Jason Peters at Front Porch Republic conceded Mark Signorelli’s right to be discontent with the archetypical Odysseyian narrative of the Return Home, a discontent which Signorelli expressed in an essay titled “Going Home Again? Not Likely“:
If I am correct, it seems there is a certain kind of arch-typical narrative that has become quite popular here at FPR, and in some sense, emblematic of its defense of place and home. It is the “Going Home” story, the story of someone rejecting the allures of wealth and status in the big-city, and returning to the fixed traditions of his or her hometown. While such narratives are of great interest, in and of themselves, and while they clearly emerge from the sincere experiences of their authors, I find myself entirely unable to sympathize with them. I suspect, moreover, that, taken together, such narratives tend to distort more about the reality of twenty-first century America than they make clear.
But Peters missed the second part of Signorelli’s remarks, which was a preference for the archetype of Aeneas, a man who, his home having been destroyed, wanders as an exile in search of a place to build a new one. Peters briefly advised persons in Signorelli’s predicament to be as Booker T. Washington and “cast down your buckets where you are,” before defending his own dutiful return to a home still worth caring for.
That advice doesn’t square at all with the story of Aeneas, who spent many years wandering through the Mediterranean: he didn’t settle in the first place he landed, and his first effort to build a city in Crete was rebuked by Apollo. In Carthage, where he could have happily cast down his rusty bucket, his piety compelled him away.
Actually there’s more than one kind of homelessness, and Signorelli touched on only one of them. His sort is the peculiar emptiness engendered by the spirit of modernism, and from which an educated man learns to take some refuge in the wisdom of the classics. “On the street where I grew up,” Signorelli writes, “isolation was the norm. It was the kind of place where people came home from work, turned on the television, and had done with the outside world. The kind of place where next-door neighbors did not know one another’s name.” In response, he says, “one of the ruling impulses in my life since early adulthood has been a desire to get as far away from my hometown as I can.”
There’s another kind of homelessness, never unknown, but now in the United States almost as common as the modern ennui, and that is the problem of having many homes. There are grown men and women raised in homes with parents of different faiths, parents of different races, different nationalities, adults who spent their childhood moving from place to place every four years, crossing state lines and national boundaries. If their parents divorced and remarried they have stepfathers and mothers, each with another new history. These adults marry into again new cultures. Not all of these accumulated homes are worth living in. Some are like Signorelli’s hometown. But others are enduring expressions of community. It isn’t apparent by what rule couples should decide where to settle. They fit neither the departure narrative nor the return narrative.
And I begin with couples as an ethical unit, but marriage itself is a conceptual problem, a fuel to the multicultural fire. Each difference between a married couple increases the difficulty in communication and understanding, increases the basic tension between the insistent demands of their backgrounds. How do you raise your children among their grandparents when your in-laws are in Des Moines and your parents are in Miami? What if your in-laws live in Milan, or New Delhi? How do you raise your children faithfully when you, a Lutheran, can’t receive the Eucharist of your Roman Catholic wife?
I’m not discussing multiculturalism (or better, cultural pluralism), where communities with radically different cultures lead separate existences from neighborhood to neighborhood, and for which the problem is protecting the heritage of local and national history and law from the imported doctrines of an alien people who demand provision for their robust dissimilarity. I’m discussing the moral duties of the people who live in the borders between those communities. Those borders grow more complex year on year, strange combinations of tribal loyalties overlap, and the population living in them grows larger and larger.
In the absence of a series of friendly Apollonian soothsayers, it takes people a long time to work out how to solve the riddles of their moral duties. There’s no doubt humans have a common desire for home: some people learn to locate it in their family, some in a landscape, some in a club, some in a profession with a few friends. The fullest and most beautiful expression of home is larger than any one of these things, but for a child of multiculturalism the search for that home is difficult and can cause massive unhappiness.
There is a natural institution which can harbor and endure this sort of cultural anarchy, even putting it to good use: the city. Intercollegiate Review‘s Danielle Charette observed that “conservatives often use “cities” as a stand in for what is wrong in America: poverty, family breakdown, and crony capitalism. It’s true that those issues tend to concentrate more in urban zip codes. But it’s also true that cities are a magnetic testament to the human desire to congregate and experiment.” That embrace of experiment offers an endless supply of new beginnings, a place where strange ideas are constantly crashing into one-another, a place to build a half-way home while you sift through your soul to find the seeds of a more enduring piety.
The Supreme Court has made it clear that foreign book editions can be legally resold in this country, and the authors’ lobby is upset. Authors Guild president Scott Turow opens a rambling NYT op-ed this way:
Last month, the Supreme Court decided to allow the importation and resale of foreign editions of American works, which are often cheaper than domestic editions. Until now, courts have forbidden such activity as a violation of copyright. Not only does this ruling open the gates to a surge in cheap imports, but since they will be sold in a secondary market, authors won’t get royalties. This may sound like a minor problem; authors already contend with an enormous domestic market for secondhand books. But it is the latest example of how the global electronic marketplace is rapidly depleting authors’ income streams. It seems almost every player — publishers, search engines, libraries, pirates and even some scholars — is vying for position at authors’ expense.
But the way Turow characterizes the situation just isn’t remotely true. Most had assumed foreign editions were covered by fair use protections and the court’s decision just reinforced that. He then claims, somewhat confusingly, “the value of copyrights is being quickly depreciated.” That’s right if he means the ability to enforce copyrights has diminished, but the protections afforded by them have never been greater.
Rob Pegoraro tries to sort it out: “I’m not unsympathetic to the underlying business-model problem. But that’s what it is–not one of weak laws, as Turow suggests. We’ve now had 15-plus years of proof that laws (and DRM) are weak barriers to copyright infringement in a system built for near-frictionless data transfer.” Makes sense to me.
The rest of Turow’s op-ed is devoted to Google-bashing and his imagining of a bleak totalitarian future in which libraries lend e-books. He’s very concerned that people are googling “Scott Turow free e-books,” implying the search engine is an accomplice to piracy, but as Mike Masnick points out, nobody is doing that. The whole op-ed is a complete mess; a kernel of legitimate grievance surrounded by overheated complaining about technological inevitabilities.
I’m a firm believer in supporting worthwhile writing and music, and I also believe that if you care about those things you have a responsibility to do so. That’s why I’m such a fan of Chris Ruen’s work on copyright, though I can’t agree with some of his prescriptions. The Authors Guild’s job in this day and age is more or less to oppose any innovation at all—they went after Amazon’s text-to-speech software on copyright grounds, and Turow recently criticized its acquisition of Goodreads—but to be convincing, it will have to provide more substantive arguments, and more effective solutions, than this dispatch from the “old-man-yells-at-cloud dept.”
One of my first posts here at TAC was a complaint about the fashionable abuse of the term “evolution,” cropping up as it had so frequently at the time of President Obama’s conversion on same-sex marriage. Allow me to quote myself:
After hedging on the issue for some while, Obama announced he was in favor of legally recognizing the unions of gay couples. Not only had the president’s view on this issue “evolved”; we’re also to understand that this evolution is in some sense “complete.”
This is an abuse of the term “evolution.”
Evolution is not, or should not be, a synonym for progress—however one defines progress. Evolution does not have a linear endpoint. By its very nature, it can never be “complete.”
Now Howard Kurtz is on the case. He writes that instead of “flip-flopping,” politicians are “evolving.” Because, “who could be against that?”
These days, just about everyone in public life is using the E-word.
Sean Hannity said right after the election that he had “evolved” on dealing with illegal immigration. Watching the Republicans get clobbered among Hispanic voters apparently hastened the process. …
Bill Clinton, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, is now singing another tune. In a Washington Post op-ed, he said “it was a very different time” when he signed a law decreeing that marriage was between a man and a woman. Now, “I have come to believe that DOMA is contrary to those principles and, in fact, incompatible with our Constitution.” …
Forgive me if I sound a note of skepticism. Does anyone believe the 42nd president, who was burned by trying to allow gays to serve openly in the military, was trying to ensure anything other than his reelection when he signed DOMA (and is now attempting to remove the stigma)? Does anyone really believe that Obama and Hillary didn’t privately favor gay marriage in 2008, but that the politics of the moment required them to fudge?
Kurtz’s skepticism is more than warranted. But politicians with their fingers to the wind is not my primary beef. It’s the terminology, stupid.
For one last time: Individuals don’t evolve. Populations do. Furthermore, the genetic mutations that may beneficially affect the survival chances of a species occur at the embryonic level. Hence, fully-grown mammals like Barack Obama and Sean Hannity do not “evolve.” They can turn tail and run, hide in bushes and trees, or surrender meekly to predators or, um, change their minds. But they cannot evolve. They are going to die someday, and when they do, they will be the exact same kind of critter they were when they were born.
Thank you for letting me vent.
“4000 Miles,” playing at the Studio Theatre in DC through May 5, opens when twentysomething college dropout Leo turns up unexpectedly at his grandma’s New York City apartment. He’s lugging a bike, which he just used to travel cross-country, a grueling journey on which his best friend was killed–Leo skipped the funeral, and has been AWOL ever since.
Neither Leo nor his grandmother Vera are the world’s most lovable characters. Leo uses his dead friend to try to get laid, says that things are “more honest” when he really means “easier,” puts his feet on the couch, and expects his grandma to wait on him. (In fact both Leo and his girlfriend come across as really self-centered in that “spilling other people’s stuff and not cleaning it up” way.) Vera is irascible and prone to calling everybody “stupid.” She’s a (former?) Communist, and there are the usual “old people aren’t what they used to be” jokes, like when Leo tells her that the dress she’s planning to wear to a friend’s funeral is so sheer that you can see her bra: “Of course it is, that’s why I’m wearing this bra! It’s the bra that goes with this dress.” But it’s genuinely affecting to watch these two people with diminishing connections to others attempting to forge a bond with one another.
The play is too complex to be reduced to a message. This is mostly good, although a little bit more message might have helped the play’s conclusion: Eavesdropping told me that I was not the only audience member who felt like the play just stopped rather than coming to an ending. There’s a surprising streak of traditionalism here, a defense of getting a job, becoming a man (and not just a gender-neutral adult, either!), reconciling with your family even when they’re kind of awful, and entering into the rituals prescribed by your culture rather than the individualistic ones you make up on your own.
There are also the advice scenes. Advice and its uselessness are recurring themes of media aimed at “millennial” young adults. They’re simultaneously seeking advice from their elders and primed for disappointment, braced for advice which is useless or terrible. They definitely don’t trust the parental generation. In “4000 miles” the advice comes from the grandparent generation and, because it seems too cynical and resigned and old-fashioned, it’s summarily rejected. Vera tries to be blunt and realistic about men and their idiocies, but Leo’s girlfriend just tells her, “I don’t make allowances of that kind based on gender.” Yes well, let me know how that works out for you.
It’s hard to find stories based entirely on the phenomenon of giving advice, even though it’s such a huge part of our lives. There’s Emma, but I’d be interested in hearing about other stories which explore the ways advice can be taken or mistaken, rejected, or misinterpreted. Advice often assumes some degree of intergenerational trust, and always assumes that you’re not a special and unique snowflake. My impression is that movies and TV aimed at millennials often show a real longing for intergenerational connection and a sarcastic backlash against the belief that everyone’s special and different; put together, these two impulses lead to a lot of advice scenes. Commenters, what are your candidates for insightful artistic portrayals of bad, good, or just irrelevant advice?
I’ve been under the weather for a few days, and resurface to find the world spinning out of control. North Korea, the boy-king with nukes. Syria now filled with foreign fighters, many from Europe, and Damascus University under mortar fire. And what, for instance, do people think about these photos ? (Nudity, NSFW, and all that.) They do get one’s attention.
I’m curious about the instigators, who are these generally attractive young, white for the most part, women? How many—if any—are former Muslims, rebel/apostates in the Ayaan Hirsi Ali sense? How many are more typical young Western feminists, appalled as everyone is by the misogony resurgent during the Arab spring, and wanting to protest it. How many are hipsters hoping to stir the pot, in the same spirit of young women I’ve heard of trying to “provoke” the Hassidim in Brooklyn by dressing provocatively? While the targets of the protest certainly make it seem compatible with a purely Islamophobic or neoconservative agenda, it’s beyond my imagination that anyone Pam Geller-inspired could organize anything like this. But then who?
One of the appealing things in modern Islam—which I’ve seen in Cairo and in Damascus seven years ago (certainly not now)—is the blend of symbols of piety and communal belonging with a studied sex appeal: the headscarf with tight jeans and good eye make-up look. It seems to connote a lot of good things, a sort of modernism within the tradition, a sensuality compatible with marriage and family, reverence for learning and education.
I can’t imagine that these protests, which I suspect will be the most widely viewed photographs from Morocco to Pakistan in the days ahead, will convey to men and women in those societies anything beyond antinomianism and anarchy and a sense that the West is hopelessly corrupt and doomed. And I can’t see them doing any good at all for Amina Tyler, the Tunisian nude body artist in whose name they are held. Still, I’m curious about the mentality and agenda of those who planned and instigated this. Unlike many political phenomena, it’s far from obvious.
Gay marriage is driving some social conservatives crazy. By “crazy”, I don’t mean opposition to gay marriage as such, but stubborn, even willful refusal to understand why gay marriage has gained so much support, so quickly. Rather than acknowledging the reality of the situation, victims of gay marriage derangement syndrome just make stuff up.
A majority of Americans now approve of gay marriage for two fairly simple reasons. First, most Americans understand marriage as symbolic affirmation of a dissolvable commitment between consenting adults for purposes of emotional gratification. Second, an increasing number of Americans have come to know gay people in their own lives as beloved relatives, respected colleagues, or honored authorities rather than icons of flamboyance or specters of perversion. If you understand marriage in this sense, which has been socially dominant for decades, there is no plausible argument for denying it to gay individuals one loves and respects. As Rob Portman has discovered, the rest is reasoning from the particular to the general.
Opposition to gay marriage isn’t crazy because there are serious reasons to favor a more substantive understanding of the marital union as a lifelong partnership for the begetting and rearing children. On the basis of such a “thick” conception, it is possible to justify the exclusion of otherwise upstanding people. As I argued in a previous post on natural law, however, there’s little hope of convincing a majority of Americans to give up easy divorce and, above all, technologies of reproductive control. These practices, which were embraced by heterosexuals long before anyone had heard of Adam and Steve, are the real threats to “traditional marriage”.
Christopher Caldwell is the latest conservative to succumb to GMDS. In a review of Michael Klarman’s From the Closet to the Altar: Courts, Backlash, and the Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage for the Claremont Review of Books, Caldwell argues that the recent wave of support for gay marriage cannot be understood as a predictable, if not predetermined, development from Americans’ existing beliefs and experiences. Instead, he suggests, it is the result of an unprecedented campaign of unjudicial usurpation and cultural intimidation. Caldwell concludes by citing Klarman’s own evidence that gay marriage has passed a tipping point:
In a decade, gay marriage has gone from joke to dogma. It is certainly worth asking why, if this is a liberation movement, it should be happening now, in an age not otherwise gaining a reputation as freedom’s heyday. Since 2009, if Klarman’s estimates are correct, support for gay marriage has been increasing by 4 points a year. Public opinion does not change this fast in free societies. Either opinion is not changing as fast as it appears to be, or society is not as free.
As Edmund Burke might say: not so fast. According to a Gallup poll, approval for gay marriage rose from 27 percent in 1996, the first year they polled the issue, to 53 percent in 2011. Although not as steep as the trendline over the last few years, that’s still a dramatic increase of 26 percent over a decade and half. But that does not suggest that the change be attributed to fraud or coercion. In fact, it is fairly consistent with shifts on other controversial issues.
Consider interracial marriage, which is the most obvious although in some ways superficial parallel. According to Gallup, in 1972 29 percent of Americans approved of unions between blacks and whites, which is similar to support for gay marriage in 1996. What did they think think after a comparable period of time had elapsed? In 1991 (Gallup also polled the question in 1978 and 1983), 48 percent of Americans approved of interracial marriage.
Over the course of 15 years, approval for gay marriage rose 26 percent. Approval for interracial marriage, on the other hand, rose 17 percent over 19 years. Support for gay marriage, then, has increased notably quickly. But it’s not the kind of off-the-charts increase that requires a conspiratorial explanation.
But maybe interracial marriage is a bad comparison. So consider polling on another controversial issue: marijuana. In 1995, 28 percent of Americans believed marijuana should be legal–just 1 percent more than the number who supported gay marriage the following year. In 2011, however, 50 percent of Americans believed that marijuana should be legal, an increase of 22 percent. In the same year, as I mentioned above, 53 percent of Americans expressed support for gay marriage, an increase of 26 percent.
Over the almost the same period, in other words, support for legal marijuana started and ended in about the same place as support for gay marriage. Yet no one seriously suggests that we’ve conned by the pot lobby.
Before your read this story keep in mind that the killer at Sandy Hook was addicted to violent video games. So of course NPR decides that violent first-person shooter video games are great art. Well …. this one is because it’s irresistible to the NPR producers.NPR broadcast an article today about a developer of a violent video game in which the bad guys were Christians who revered the Constitution and were blatant racists. Of course with a theme like that it’s obviously comparable to one of the great tragedies of literature.
It’s out in the open now. There’s no longer any real pretense of objectivity. Each time the progressive media “report” favorably on something they characterize like this (fairly or not) — and no switch comes down to sting their hands — they grow ever more emboldened. In the Oval Office they know they have someone who believes the very same things as they do, someone steeped in the very same academic indoctrination, someone who was taught to hate the country he now leads. Just like they were taught to hate it — and to self hate — convinced that to do so was liberating, the mark of having been trulyeducated, of seeing beyond the patriotic mythology into the cold black soul of a racist country whose successes came at the expense others it had dominated. And they are protected as a result of that ideological kinship. Free to express that hatred. They are on the side of power — unbridled power that has revealed itself to them in ways subtle and direct. They are the ones they’ve been waiting for, they were told. And it invigorates them. It gives them a sense of purpose and momentum. Because through the heart of every leftist runs the blood of totalitarianism, of confirmation bias, of rank bigotry and a mob’s lust for violence, for punishment, for blood, for inflicting suffering on those who dare oppose their designs.
The certitude that it takes to say, without irony, that the game is “Exactly aimed at the “low information” voter,” strikes me as particularly unhinged. It’s a video game, for heaven sakes!
Scandinavia has a disproportionate role in the American political imagination. For progressives, the Nordic countries represent a postmodern Cockaigne, in which economic egalitarianism is balanced with personal autonomy in a way that communism never achieved. For conservatives, on the other hand, “Sweden” is shorthand for the fusion of an infantilizing welfare state with unusually suffocating political correctness. Either way, Americans talk much more than you’d expect about peripheral region with a combined population of only about 26 million.
A report in The Economist argues that the Nordic countries are worth special attention, but also that both sides misunderstand the reasons. According to an economist quoted in the piece, Sweden, in particular, is pursuing a “new conservative model” that combines flexible labor markets, consumer choice, and high technology with relatively generous welfare and infrastructure spending. The result is a successful capitalist economy without especially small government:
The Nordics do particularly well in two areas where competitiveness and welfare can reinforce each other most powerfully: innovation and social inclusion. BCG, as the Boston Consulting Group calls itself, gives all of them high scores on its e-intensity index, which measures the internet’s impact on business and society. Booz & Company, another consultancy, points out that big companies often test-market new products on Nordic consumers because of their willingness to try new things. The Nordic countries led the world in introducing the mobile network in the 1980s and the GSM standard in the 1990s. Today they are ahead in the transition to both e-government and the cashless economy…
The Nordics also have a strong record of drawing on the talents of their entire populations, with the possible exception of their immigrants. They have the world’s highest rates of social mobility: in a comparison of social mobility in eight advanced countries by Jo Blanden, Paul Gregg and Stephen Machin, of the London School of Economics, they occupied the first four places. America and Britain came last.
This account of a wired, entrepreneurial society that meets progressive demands for social integration and mobility will appeal to the kind of technocratic centrists who read The Economist. But the Scandinavian experience is too unusual to offer much guidance to the United States (or the U.K., for that matter).
As Joseph Schwartz points out, the Economist piece presents a considerably “sanitized” account of the Scandinavian economies. Even after significant cuts, Nordic governments still spend about half of their GDP, just a bit less than the U.S. spent at the peak of the Second World War. It’s true that the Scandinavians have impressively low debt and responsible fiscal policies. But that’s because their citizens take on a considerably higher tax burden than Americans are willing to accept.
It’s worth asking, then, why Scandinavians are consistently willing to spend more and pay more than Americans. An important part of the answer is that members of small, homogeneous societies are much more willing to bear the burden of supporting their fellow citizens than members of large, diverse ones.
Schwartz contends that “the publics in these countries trust government because the social democrats built their welfare state upon a vision of comprehensive and universal social rights.” That’s partly true. But it neglects the crucial fact that this vision was achieved in societies where the vast majority of the population looked the same, talked the same, had names and relatives in common, went to same churches, and so on.
As the political scientist Robert Putnam has found (behind paywall), increased diversity tends to decrease social trust and willingness to make sacrifices for others. And that’s just what’s happened as the generous North has experienced its first encounter with mass immigration, as The Economist obliquely acknowledges.
Other lessons of the Scandinavian model are similarly mixed. For example, the Nordic countries have exceptionally high rates of laborforce participation by women. But those rates are made possible, in part, by quota systems that would likely be illegal in the U.S. What’s more, Scandinavian women tend to be concentrated in “mommy-track” and public sector jobs. If there’s a lesson here, in fact, it’s that universal preschool and parental leave are not sufficient conditions of economic equality between the sexes.
The observations aren’t objections to the Scandinavian model as such. Although they are by no means without problems, the Nordic countries have developed political, economic, and social arrangements that seem to work reasonably well for them. But these arrangements, and the conditions to which they respond, are so unusual as to be almost sui generis. While we can always learn from specific policies, attempts to make American politics speak Swedish are a waste of time.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that John Cassidy (a former Murdoch empire business editor) penned an essay from the New Yorker predicting that Marx the thinker, the analyst of capitalism, would come into vogue once more. In fact it was nearly 16 years ago, before Monica Lewinsky, before 9/11, before the Iraq and Afghan wars—two large market crashes ago. When I first read it, it struck a tiny chord—yes, he may be right—and if I reread it, (which I will when my New Yorker subscription kicks in) I suspect it will resonate a bit more.
Linked to Marx’s appeal as an analyst of capitalism is the fate of societies which ruled in his name—that is, the largely failed and now defunct communist world. As I recall, Cassidy separates Marx from those failures, though not completely successfully. There is, of course, a related nostalgia for the USSR in contemporary Russia, and even for Stalin. It could be rather obviously understood as a longing for order and a fondness for Soviet great power status. But I wonder if there aren’t more subtle sentiments involved in such stirrings as well.
Over the weekend I saw “Barbara” the Christan Petzold film about an East German dissident physician in her thirties who, for unspecified political reasons, is exiled from Berlin to a provincial hospital. She has a well-off boyfriend in the West, and is plotting her escape. The tension in the film revolves around her growth of a sense of duty and attachment to her patients, despite continuous surveillance and harassment from the Stasi, and the quite realistic prospect of much easier, safer, materially richer life on the other side of the wall. Read More…