Welcome to Part 3 of PUP’s Stanley Fish series,
Fish Food for Thought. All selections are excerpted from Fish’s new book, Think Again: Contrarian Reflections on Life, Culture, Politics, Religion, Law, and Education.
Fish Food for Thought
Part 3: Aesthetic Reflections
2.1 Why Do Writers Write?
February 11, 2007
Fish on the internal satisfaction when writing.
If you’ve found something you really like to do — say write beautiful sentences — not because of the possible benefits to the world of doing it, but because doing it brings you the satisfaction and sense of completeness nothing else can, then do it at the highest level of performance you are capable of, and leave the world and its problems to others, (41)
2.4 The Ten Best American Movies
January 4, 2009
Fish on one of his favorite movies, 1980’s ‘Raging Bull.’
Most boxing movies trace the classic pattern of rise, fall, and redemption…or tell a moral tale about the corruption of the sport… or detail the corruption of the protagonist. Raging Bull offers no triumph and no moral. It just exhibits the self-destructiveness of its central figure again and again…the wonder is that Scorsese was able to make something lyrical out of a polluting self-destructiveness, but that is what he did, (55)
2.6 Larger than Life: Charlton Heston
April 13, 2008
Fish on former Hollywood star Charlton Heston.
The fact is that Heston’s size, his monumentality, was an obstacle he had to overcome in order to become the actor he wanted to be… Not only was Heston capable of playing a small man; the tension between the inner smallness he was portraying and his physical mass added strength and poignancy to the performance,(63)
2.8 Little Big Men
March 1, 2010
Fish on identifying with actors.
Seeing men you know to be small playing big on the silver screen is comforting, even though the comfort depends on a very suspect transference…But you take your comfort where you can get it, and for me, comfort at the highest level would be identifying with a short, tough guy who is also Jewish, (71-72)
2.13 Country Roads
July 1, 2007
Fish on the world of country music.
But if you enter, if only vicariously, into the country music culture, you have to swallow, along with your enjoyment, some stances and attitude that might you pause (or might not, depending on who you are). It’s a man’s world… It’s a Christian world… It’s a white world… It’s a patriotic world… And it is a world that knows everything I have just said about it, revels in it, and puts it all into the songs, (88-89)