Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Ross quoted Muley

Ross quoted Muley in 
John Ford's 1940 film THE GRAPES OF WRATH:

The rest of my fambly set out for the west - there wasn't nothin' to eat - but I couldn't leave. Somepin' wouldn't let me. So now I just wander around. Sleep wherever I am. I used to tell myself I was lookin' out for things, so when they come back ever'thing would be all right. But I knowed that wan't true. There ain't nothin' to look out for. And ain't nobody comin' back. They're gone - and me, I'm just an 'ol graveyard ghost - that's all in the world I am.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Ross - Mabuse - Cornelius!

The title card for “Dr. Mabuse the Gambler,” the German director Fritz Lang’s 4½-hour silent so-called “super-film,” promises “a portrait of our time.” That time was 1922. Yet Lang’s tale of financial panic, profiteering and doomsday revelry speaks to our own.

“Mabuse,” which was originally shown in two parts but may be streamed as one uncut film online, was greeted by its initial German audiences as akin to a news bulletin. One Berlin paper speculated that a century hence, the movie “will show people a time that they could perhaps scarcely comprehend,” a time that saw “the extravagance of the newly rich, the rapid gambling on the stock exchange, the clubs, the addiction to pleasure, the speculation, the vast amount of smuggling, counterfeiting” and more.

Stream “Dr. Mabuse the Gambler” on the Criterion Channel or Kanopy.
Adapted from a popular novel by the journalist Norbert Jacques, “Mabuse” was a lightning bolt that crackled across the stormy sky of Weimar Germany — a newly established, shellshocked democracy where two abortive revolutions followed the loss of World War I, hyperinflation was mounting and social unrest was ubiquitous.

In his later years, Lang would maintain that “Mabuse” originally started with a rapid-fire montage (since lost) that juxtaposed scenes from the left-wing Spartacist uprising led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, the right-wing Kapp Putsch that enlisted nationalist military leaders and the assassination of the German foreign minister, Walther Rathenau. This seems unlikely since Rathenau was shot two months after “Mabuse” opened, but the intro was unnecessary. “Mabuse” merged with its moment and even prophesied what was to come.
Credit...Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Paranoia rules. A habitué of decadent Art Deco nightclubs, Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge, who would play the mad scientist Rotwang in Lang’s “Metropolis”) preys upon his wealthy victims. Not just a criminal mastermind but a psychoanalyst to boot, Mabuse has multiple ways to cloud the mind. In one newly relevant sequence, he tricks an unfortunate fall guy into self-quarantine and, having destroyed his tenuous grasp on reality, induces him to commit suicide.

Mabuse is introduced shuffling a deck of cards showing his various disguises. A more accurate translation of the title would be “Dr. Mabuse the Player,” for this protean villain is also an actor. “Who is Behind All This?” an intertitle demands. Mabuse is both ubiquitous and unknown. In his classic film history, “From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film,” the German critic Siegfried Kracauer characterized Mabuse as “everywhere present but nowhere recognizable.” (Or, as President Trump described Covid-19, “an invisible enemy” that “came out of nowhere.”)

The movie’s first chapter concerns an elaborate scheme, directed by Mabuse from his study, whereby a secret “trade pact” is stolen from the suitcase of a diplomat traveling by train. News of the theft, as well as the document itself, is used to crash the commodity exchange, much to Mabuse’s profit.
While economic chaos is inherent in Mabuse’s intrigues (he also operates a counterfeit money ring, staffed with blind slaves who cannot identify him), looting the rich seems to be his preferred pastime while, thanks to his hypnotic gaze and mental powers, world domination is his ultimate goal. A behind-the-scenes manipulator whose many disguises include that of a stage mesmerist, a proletarian rabble-rouser, and a Jewish peddler, he is aided by a gang of accomplices that include his cocaine-addled manservant and a saucy dancer, Cara Carozza (the Norwegian actress Aud Egede-Nissen), a star of the Folies Bergère.

These minions are in Mabuse’s thrall, despite the abuse they suffer at his hands. The movie is steeped in individual as well as social pathology. In addition to practicing hypnotic mind control, Mabuse inspires the sort of unquestioning, zombielike obedience (known in German as kadavergehorsam) that, a decade later, Hitler would demand from his SS and indeed all Germans. Carozza, whom Mabuse uses as a honey-trap, insists that he is “the greatest man alive” even after his erotic interest has been piqued by a sultry thrill-seeking countess (Gertrude Welcker).

At once wanton and repressed, the countess is a terrific character, haunting the same casinos as Mabuse but never gambling because, as she explains, she prefers to watch. Her luckless husband (Alfred Abel, who plays Joh Frederson in “Metropolis”) is another sort of aesthete — a collector whose mansion is overstocked with mock Cubist canvases and faux African sculptures. (The cluttered parlor offers a preview of the infamous Nazi exhibition of so-called degenerate art.) The countess also casts her indolent spell on the resolute state prosecutor Norbert von Wenk (Bernhard Goetzke), who doggedly pursues Mabuse until he is hypnotized by the master to drive a speeding death car.
Credit...Bettman/Getty Images
It has been suggested that as a conjurer of mental images, Mabuse was a sort of alter ego for the domineering director. Lang spared no expense. “Mabuse” was shot in a studio vast enough to accommodate city streets and even neighborhoods. The swanky nightclubs are set pieces in themselves. One sequence juxtaposes a spiritualist soiree in a luxurious apartment with the opening of the Petit Casino, a cabaret promising “all that pleases is allowed.” Mabuse operates in both places simultaneously.

The Petit Casino features a shimmy by the notorious “naked dancer” Anita Berber, here wearing a tuxedo. (According to some accounts, she arrived late on the set and out-diva’d Lang.) The Petit Casino also provides the arena for Cara Carozza to lead on the most hapless of Mabuse’s victims, while he himself infiltrates the séance to hypnotize the countess into inviting him for dinner.
With a dozen chapters, “Mabuse” lends itself to both incremental and binge watching. Exerting its own form of mind control, it starts slowly and, abetted by an edgy modernist score, builds in intensity to a mad climax. The violent denouement anticipates by a decade the grand finale of Howard Hawks’s “Scarface.” We have long since become inured to onscreen mayhem, but original reviews suggest that early audiences were stunned by the movie’s pace. “Speed, horrifying speed characterizes the film,” one critic wrote. Applause broke out during a scene of cars racing through the nocturnal streets of a studio-built Berlin.

“Mabuse” entered German popular culture and, over the course of his career, Lang was inspired to make several sequels. His second sound film, “The Testament of Dr. Mabuse” (available to stream on the Criterion Channel and Kanopy) was in postproduction when Hitler became chancellor in 1933. Now confined to a mental hospital, the spectral Mabuse (again Klein-Rogge) uses mental telepathy and a form of radio to incite a crime wave. Lang left Nazi Germany before the film was banned. “Life under a terror regime could not be rendered more impressively,” Kracauer wrote. It was not shown publicly in Germany until 1951.

In the late 1950s, Lang returned to Germany to make several films including his swan song, “The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse” (rentable from Amazon Prime). No less than its predecessors, this Cold War “Mabuse” is a trove of prophetic paranoia with intimations of James Bond and “Dr. Strangelove.” It was sufficiently popular in Germany to inspire six sequels. You can imagine an internet version made today.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Codex Rossae Crucis

Michael Ross McConnell
b. Thursday 10 July 1952
d. Orthodox Easter Sunday 27 April 2008

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Ross' G.G.Great Grand Uncle: Chief John Ross

25 April 1979 

Total control is the game, Harry's the name 
Top This "Mr. Linguistics" 
Egyptian spoken only in the Netherworld Haw Haw Pal 
Que es mas macho Harry y "Ross"  
El Peso just another northern Mexican town

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Chief John Ross

John Ross, Cherokee name Tsan-Usdi, (born October 3, 1790, Turkeytown, Cherokee territory [near present-day Centre, Alabama, U.S.]—died August 1, 1866, Washington, D.C., U.S.), Cherokee chief who, after devoting his life to resisting U.S. seizure of his people’s lands in Georgia, was forced to assume the painful task of shepherding the Cherokees in their removal to the Oklahoma Territory.

Born of a Scottish father and a mother who was part Cherokee, the blue-eyed, fair-skinned Tsan-Usdi (Little John) grew up as a Native American, although he was educated at Kingston Academy in Tennessee. In the early 19th century he became the leader of the Cherokee resistance to the white man’s acquisition of their valuable land, some 43,000 square miles (111,000 square km) on which they had lived for centuries. From 1819 to 1826 Ross served as president of the Cherokee National Council. By this time the Cherokee had become a settled people with well-stocked farms, schools, and representative government. In 1823 he exposed attempts by federal commissioners to bribe him into approving Cherokee land sales.

Five years later Ross became principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, headquartered at New Echota, Georgia, under a constitution that he helped draft. His defense of Cherokee freedom and property used every means short of war. In the process he was imprisoned for a time and his home confiscated. His petitions to President Andrew Jackson, under whom he had fought during the Creek War (1813–14), went unheeded, and in May 1830 the Indian Removal Act forced the tribes, under military duress, to exchange their traditional lands for unknown western prairie.

In 1838–39 Ross had no choice but to lead his people to their new home west of the Mississippi River on the journey that came to be known as the infamous Trail of Tears. In the West Ross helped write a constitution (1839) for the United Cherokee Nation. He was chosen chief of the new government, an office he held for the remainder of his life.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Ross @ Woodward Court, The University Of Chicago 1977

"A strict vegetarian," Ross shared my meal plan at Woodward Court. He waited in the dining room with Sylvia Plath fan Joe, Political Science grad student Takahachi and our Near Eastern Languages colleagues Liz, Rita and Carolyn. I showed my ID and went through the main cafeteria line. Ross took my empty plate to the Seconds steam table. The arrangement worked well until he tried it without me. 

Constructed between 1957-1958, Woodward Court was originally called the New Women’s Dorm, though for nearly all of its existence the residence hall hosted both men and women. By the mid-1960s, about 330 students in Wallace, Flint, and Rickert Houses called Woodward home.

For thirty-five tumultuous years Woodward Court housed undergraduates. Popularly known as the “Pharmaceutical Society” in the 1970s and ’80s, at the height of student drug use, Woodward once had much stricter codes of conduct, including midnight curfews, enforced gender segregation, and visitation rules for persons of the opposite gender, in which one foot always had be on the floor. Former residents attested to the seriousness of the codes.

Views from Woodward overlooked Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House on the other side of 58th Street, and in 1968 students could see from their rooms the South Side riots on the Midway, in which the National Guard confronted local gangs following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The buildings themselves were known to have had bleak basements, small rooms, cinderblock walls, and incredibly poor acoustics, not to mention a lack of temperature control that left rooms freezing in the winter and scorching in the late spring and early autumn.

Despite the architectural failings, students who lived in Woodward remember fondly the social relationships developed in those dank, darkly lit rooms and traditions like the Woodward Court Lectures, sponsored by then-Resident Master Izaak Wirszup, a mathematician in the College. Wirszup brought in such acclaimed scholars as physicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and philosopher Mortimer Adler for periodic lectures, a tradition that continues to this day as the Wirszup Lectures, under current Max Palveksy Resident Masters David and Kris Wray.

Woodward Court was demolished in 2002 to make room for the Harper Center, and Wallace, Flint, Rickert, and Harper—soon to be renamed Woodward, in homage to the felled dorm—Houses and their students moved to the recently completed Max Palevsky Residential Commons.

Thursday, October 10, 2019


Memorial Service
Spring Hill Cemetery
Lynchburg, Virginia

Michael Ross McConnell
b. Thursday 10 July 1952
d. Orthodox Easter Sunday 27 April 2008 

I had to be in Chicago on 10:10:08 or I would have attended the Memorial Service. One last Ross adventure. A chance to meet his parents and members of the Ross community. 

At the Service his Father circulated a document which MJ described as a screed. 

“Screed” has distinctly negative connotations compared to “manifesto,” which is a more neutral term for a public declaration explaining the intentions behind a course of action (derived via Italian from the Latin verb “manifestare,” meaning “to make public”).

“Screed,” now used for a long, vehement denunciation in speech or writing, has had a number of semantic twists and turns in its history. When it first showed up in English sources in the 14th century, its meaning was quite different. It referred to a fragment or scrap, particularly a cut piece of paper, leather or fabric. The word apparently originated as a variant form of “shred” appearing in some local dialects of England.

‘Screed’ also had an independent meaning: A harsh, screeching noise, as from a poorly played fiddle or bagpipe.

“Screed” developed other regional meanings, such as a narrow parcel of land, a bordering strip or the frilled edge of a woman’s cap. Charlotte Brontë, in her 1848 novel “Shirley,” describes a “screed, or frill of the cap” which “stood a quarter of a yard broad round the face of the wearer.” Builders took “screed” in a more technical direction, to refer to a strip of plaster or wood used as a guide for accurate finishing.

In Scottish usage, “screed” took on yet another meaning: a long, tiresome list or a tedious bit of speech or writing. In a comic play from 1748 titled “The Double Traitor Roasted: A New Scots Opera,” one character lampoons the other’s flowery speech: “A Scots writer, by the Lord, for they cannot speak without a screed of Latin.”

As the use of “screed” for lengthy discourse became entrenched in the English lexicon, it accrued harsher tones, likely influenced by similar-sounding words like “scream” and “screech.” It likely helped that “screed” at the time also had an independent meaning in Scottish and Irish English for a harsh, screeching noise, as from a poorly played fiddle or bagpipe. In current usage, a “screed” isn’t simply tedious but suggests a bile-filled rant.