The implicit theme throughout Gladiator: No matter how powerful, the pain of a man whose soul has been irreversibly corrupted, far exceeds the pain of a righteous man whose wife and son have been murdered and has been reduced to abject slavery.
There are some characteristics that most if not all forms of identity politics share. These are 1) a peculiar relationship between the self and the collective, 2) a tendency to measure marginalisation, 3) a strong focus on the concept of power and 4) the lack of some utopian vision. Let’s go through these characteristics one by one.
Added to this is the couple making music in the left, which also suggests (sexual) impropriety. Music evokes lovemaking, with the phrase “‘to strum the lute’ being (…) an innuendo for sexual intercourse.” A watch, just above where the hands of the couple touch – the place the composition draws the eye to – is said to be reminiscent of the vanity of earthly desires.
“The truth is that the masses grew out of the fragments of a highly atomized society whose competitive structure and concomitant loneliness of the individual had been held in check only through membership in a class. The chief characteristic of the mass man is not brutality and backwardness, but his isolation and lack of normal social relationships.”
“You might say it was a case of divide and rule – except that, paradoxically, it was by being divided themselves that Europeans were able to rule the world. In Europe small was beautiful because it meant competition – and competition not just between states, but also within states.”
Most people think of the late Stephen Hawking as the ultimate scientist. However great Hawking was, he too had a mentor: Roger Penrose (b. 1931). Penrose is not as widely known as his fellow scientist, but he is one of the towering figures of twentieth-century mathematics, physics and cosmology.
“Unfortunately, the builders used “alternative” materials for some of the restoration giving the restored fortress wall and gate a ‘plastic’ look. Thus, the restoration of the Krakra Fortress has become notorious among Bulgaria’s archaeological restorations, with critics claiming that the EU money was likely embezzled by local politicians and/or construction entrepreneurs who used cheap plastic instead of proper materials.”
However, when the realisation that you were being serious dawns on them, they assume that what you say is not what you actually think. You could not possibly have come up with these ideas yourself. And kind as they are, they begin to offer you a cure: ‘’if you just read this book, or listen to this person on youtube, or read this study…All order will be restored.”
Although he sees much that is threatening, Clark seems to still be positive about this, our era. Almost fifty years later, it is hard to share some of his positive ideas, whereas some of the negatives aren’t as heavy on our mind as they were before the end of the Cold War. But Clark’s idea, that “it is lack of confidence, more than anything else, that kills a civilisation,” is stronger than ever.
If Christianity is dead, and the Romantic Movement killed it, what, if anything, has replaced it as the prime civilising force in Europe? What has civilisation gained or lost in the process? Clark touches on this question in passing, when he criticises the 19th-century bourgeoisie, but then asks what the mocking Romantics could put in place of middle-class morality when “they themselves were still in search of a soul.” This is the hole left in Clark’s narrative, the hole in the French Revolution that it sought, in vain, to fill with a religion that never took root.
Clark, rather cleverly, sums up Rousseau’s philosophy in the sentence “I feel therefore I am,” calling it a “curious discovery to have been made in the middle of the Age of Reason.” He connects it to David Hume’s work, before noting how Rousseau’s beliefs were extended from nature to man. Rousseau believed that natural man was virtuous, a belief that soon came to be widely accepted. Clark mentions and quotes three detractors of the idea, but it is fair to say that the belief that nature is somehow virtuous, while man is not, is still popular.