Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
08/17/18 -- Vol. 37, No. 7, Whole Number 2028

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        DEAD POETS SOCIETY: Be Careful What Your Teachers Teach You
                (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        Grammar (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)
        EL MINISTERIO DEL TIEMPO (television comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)
        THE HYPNOTIC EYE (1960) (film retrospective
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        THE MERCHANT OF VENICE (letter of comment by Rincewind)
        This Week's Reading (THE NEW ANNOTATED H. P. LOVECRAFT)
                (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: DEAD POETS SOCIETY: Be Careful What Your Teachers Teach You
(comments by Mark R. Leeper)

Carpe Diem
-- Latin for "complain today"

I recently had call to watch again Peter Weir's classic film DEAD
POETS SOCIETY. This is a film starring Robin Williams as a very
freethinking Senior English teacher.  Have you seen it?  If not
class is over before it really got started.  You may be excused
until next we meet again.

Still here?  Good.

John Keating (played by Robin Williams) uses unusual approaches
teaching in his class.  Keating's message for his students is that
people should make their lives matter.  Go further than that.  Make
each day matter to the world.  Well, I agree; so far so good.

Next Keating reads from the introduction of the class poetry book
that the author thinks that the merit of poem comes equally from
the style of the poem and the importance of the idea of the poem.
The author has his own unorthodox approach to evaluating a poem.
He sees it geometrically.  He uses a Cartesian plane with style on
one axis and importance on the other axis.  He takes the rectangle
defined and considers its area.  Then the heft of a poem is the
area of the rectangle.  I am thinking that is an interesting way to
look at a poem and not a way I would have thought of.  Being a
lover of mathematics I have to say this is a new and very creative
way of looking at how style and theme inter play.

Keating turns on the author, saying you cannot find the value of
the poem as expressed as the product of vectors of style and
importance of theme.  At least this model deserves some
consideration.  Keating takes a look at this approach and violently
verbally abuses it.  Then he appears to have second thoughts, but
not for the better.  The idea must be more completely expunged.
Everyone in the class must rip the introductions out of the poetry
books and throw it into the wastebasket.  Had there been a
convenient bonfire the poetry books would likely have been burned
immediately.  John Keating is not just disagreeing with a textbook
editor; the editor's thought is being censored with extreme
prejudice.  No future students will be able to read that
introduction.  Keating is murdering thought.  He is indeed a
groovy, likeable guy, but he is a groovy Nazi.

In the course of the story one of the boys, inspired by Keating's
teaching and example, stands up to the teachers of the school and
is angrily punished.  When the boy tells Keating that he was just
doing what Keating taught him to do, Keating backs away and says
that the student should also beware the consequences of standing up
to too strong a bully.  In short, he crumbles rather than defending
the boy who took Keating's philosophy to heart.

I have always wanted to see DEAD POETS SOCIETY on a double feature
with THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE.  This is much the same story as
DEAD POETS SOCIETY, but it is told from the opposite point of view.
In this film the power that Jean Brody has over her loving students
is seen for the insidious force that it can be.  Both films look at
the damage that teachers can (unintentionally) cause.

But you know cinema heroes often are not as heroic as they may seem
at first brush.  Let us think about RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.  Its
hero is the much-larger-than-life Indiana Jones.  He was the hero
who saved the world when the Nazis were going to get their hands on
the lost Ark of the Covenant.  Well, wait a second.  Indy obviously
was a nuisance to his foes, and had he not been there the Nazis
would have opened the Ark.  And then they would have died horribly
and perhaps worse than they did.  Indy made the game more
interesting, but the ending would have been the same.  Well, that
is not quite true.  Instead of Indy getting the Ark, it ended up in
storage by people whose laziness left it undisturbed.  Let me ask
you, which end is better for mankind?  Would you feel safer with
the lost Ark lost or with Indy taking possession of the Ark?  I
know what I think I would prefer.

So there you have it, two heroes of the movies.  You have John
Keating and Indiana Jones.  I think the world is better off that
they are both fictions.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: Grammar (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

I know a preposition is okay to end a sentence with, and I know
that it is okay to sometimes split an infinitive.  Nevertheless, I
try to make prepositions words with which not to end a sentence,
and to split infinitives only rarely.  [-ecl]


TOPIC: EL MINISTERIO DEL TIEMPO (television comments by Evelyn C.

EL MINISTERIO DEL TIEMPO is a Spanish television show similar to
(but made before) TIMELESS.  So similar are the two, in fact, that
EL MINISTERIO DEL TIEMPO sued TIMELESS for plagiarism, as well as
making a snide comment about it in the episode I describe below.

Because it is made for Spanish audiences, I sit watching it with my
tablet and look up everything that seems to mean something I don't
get.  For example, it the first episode of Season 2 (the episode
with El Cid), when the temporary member of the team shows up, we
are clearly supposed to recognize him.  It turns out he is Ambrogio
Spinola and he would be as recognizable to a Spaniard as George
Washington is to us.  (Not surprisingly, everyone looks exactly
like their famous portraits.  For example, Velazquez is always
dressed in the clothes from his self-portrait rather than other
17th century garments.)

In that episode, I also like the idea that what exposes the El Cid
impostor is that he knows the legends about El Cid but not the
facts.  I remember going to see the film EL CID with my father.  My
father had a Master's Degree in Spanish, and so was presumably
familiar with both the history and the legend, but was appalled by
the film, which apparently stuck to neither.  So now we really have
*three* stories of El Cid.

in the episode, Charlton Heston goes to a scholar to ask for
background on El Cid, but asks questions like, "Did they have
rifles in El Cid's time?"  Given that El Cid lived in the 11th
century, this is a singularly stupid question, and the scholar asks
his translator in Spanish, "Don't they have basic education the in
United States?"  Given Heston's position on the right to bear arms,
I wondered if it was also a jab (I was going to say "shot") at the
idea that the people who are so enthusiastic about firearms know
practically nothing about them.  But unbelievably, one commentary
site claims that Heston did visit Ramon Menendez Pidal and ask this
very question

Other references in this episode include Viriatus, the Rif War, and
"Naranjito".  Oh, and the character who cries, "Yippie kai yay,
hideputas" is played by the actor who dubbed Bruce Willis in the
Spanish release of the "Die Hard" movies!  [-ecl]


TOPIC: THE HYPNOTIC EYE (1960) (film retrospective by Mark
R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: In an unnamed major city there is a baffling series of
incidents of beautiful women inflicting agonizing self-mutilations
on their own faces.  Dave, a police detective, investigates by
searching for a common link.  He ties the case to the visit of a
popular stage hypnotist.  The film's plot is rather
straightforward and flat.  The short 79-minute story would be even
shorter if it wasn't padded with so called "Beatnik" music and
poetry which helps the film reach a releasable length.  The film
gets its thrill (if that is the word) from cinematic misogyny and
sadism.  Rating: 0 (-4 to +4) or 4/10

If you are big into hating the female gender in movies, then 1960
was the year for you.  In addition to PSYCHO (1960) being
released, there was HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM with its eye-
piercing binoculars, and there was THE HYPNOTIC EYE.  1960 was
also the year of PEEPING TOM.  These are somewhat mean-spirited
compared to the sort of horror from 1959 when horror films were
more on the level of A BUCKET OF BLOOD (1959), HOUSE ON THE
HAUNTED HILL (1959), and THE TINGLER (1959).  That is one small
interval of time for there to be so many woman-hating films.

In THE HYPNOTIC EYE Det. Sgt. Dave Kennedy (played by Joe
Patridge) is the police detective investigating the case of eleven
women who have all mutilated themselves by burning their faces
with flame or chemical.  The incidents happen to coincide in time
with performances of a popular stage hypnotist, Desmond (played by
Jacques Bergerac) whose talent for hypnotism makes him suspected
of hypnotizing the beautiful audience members he calls up on the
stage and secretly implanting into their minds the post-hypnotic
suggestion to disfigure and self-mutilate themselves.  Desmond
boasts that he can hypnotize anybody in just a few seconds.  To do
this he uses a little ball the size of a tennis ball with
luminescent circles so it looks like glowing mechanical eye.

 From early in the film during performances the camera picks up
Desmond's assistant Justine signaling to him whom in the audience
she wants him to pick for special treatment.  What is her
connection to crimes?  Justine was played by Allison Hayes, the
title character from ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN.  But there is
little such drama here.  This film was nearly as flat and bland as
an old episode of DRAGNET.

Dave enlists the help of Phil, a police psychologist who hates
stage hypnotists for the damage they do and the damage that they
can do.  Dave takes his girlfriend Marcia and her friend Dodie to
see Desmond on the stage.  (The act hardly seems to be enough to
satisfy an audience.)  The two women become psychically linked
with Desmond who uses post-hypnotic suggestion to enslave them.
The police work is fairly humdrum.  One could find better stories
on TV police shows.

The film was directed by George Blair from a screenplay by Gitta
Woodfield and William Read Woodfield.  There are several hints
that the two writers came up with a short script and Blair had to
stretch to make a film of even B-movie length--79 minutes.  That
includes a visit to a beatnik coffee house where Lawrence Lipton,
the self-styled King of the Beatniks reads one of this beatnik
poems recites a longish and totally irrelevant beatnik poem.
Elsewhere an expert on hypnosis demonstrates his skill on a live
audience.  After that the doctor in the film breaks the fourth
wall and tells the live audience to never play with hypnotism.
Which is a rule that the audience had just broken.

I rate THE HYPNOTIC EYE a 0 on the -4 to +4 scale or 4/10

The film carries a strong message that hypnosis is serious
business and must not be used as a plaything.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: THE MERCHANT OF VENICE (letter of comment by Rincewind)

In response to Evelyn's comments on William Shakespeare in the
08/10/18 issue of the MT VOID, Rincewind writes:

I remember Asimov, in his book on Shakespeare, pointed out that
Willie's version of "Merchant" was actually the "happy" ending.  In
the original play, Shylock was put to death for daring to threaten
the life of a Christian.  [-rw]


TOPIC: This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

THE NEW ANNOTATED H. P. LOVECRAFT with stories by H. P. Lovecraft
(duh!) and annotations by Leslie S. Klinger (ISBN 978-0-871-40453-
4) has 850 oversized pages, includes nineteen stories and two
MADNESS, and weighs over five pounds.  This makes it difficult to
read sitting on the couch or at the table while having a snack.

One learns, for example, that Lovecraft's Dunwich is based on
the Massachusetts towns of Wilbraham, Monson, and Hampden.

On the other hand, what is one to make of an annotation that says,
"Congregationalism is a body of independent churches (independent,
that is, from the Protestant, Episcopalian, Baptist, and Catholic
churches)."  Although apparently some Baptists claim not to be
Protestant, so far as I can tell the overwhelming opinion is that
Baptists are Protestant.

Lovecraft's writing is distinctive.  It is archaic in word choice,
style, and in spelling.  He favors the British spellings (or should
that be "favours").  He uses "shewn" for "shown", but "strown" for

To give you a taste of Lovecraft, here is the beginning of "The
Call of Cthulhu":

"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of
the human mind to correlate all its contents.  We live on a placid
island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it
was not meant that we should voyage far.  The sciences, each
straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but
some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up
such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position
therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee
from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

"Theosophists have guessed at the awesome grandeur of the cosmic
cycle wherein our world and human race form transient incidents.
They have hinted at strange survivals in terms which would freeze
the blood if not masked by a bland optimism.  But it is not from
them that there came the single glimpse of forbidden eons which
chills me when I think of it and maddens me when I dream of it.
That glimpse, like all dread glimpses of truth, flashed out from an
accidental piecing together of separated things--in this case an
old newspaper item and the notes of a dead professor.  I hope that
no one else will accomplish this piecing out; certainly, if I live,
I shall never knowingly supply a link in so hideous a chain.  I
think that the professor, too intented to keep silent regarding the
part he knew, and that he would have destroyed his notes had not
sudden death seized him."

Later we see that Lovecraft seems to have a knowledge of non-
Euclidean geometries.  While his descriptions do not totally match
spherical or hyperbolic geometries, there are certainly hints of
them in his comments about convexity and concavity:

"Without knowing what futurism is like, Johansen achieved something
very close to it when he spoke of the city; for instead of
describing any definite structure or building, he dwells only on
broad impressions of vast angles and stone surfaces--surfaces too
great to belong to anything right or proper for this earth, and
impious with horrible images and hieroglyphs.  I mention his talk
about angles because it suggests something Wilcox had told me of
his awful dreams.  He said that the geometry of the dream-place he
saw was abnormal, non-Euclidean, and loathsomely redolent of
spheres and dimensions apart from ours.  Now an unlettered seaman
felt the same thing whilst gazing at the terrible reality.

"Johansen and his men landed at a sloping mud-bank on this monstrous
Acropolis, and clambered slipperily up over titan oozy blocks which
could have been no mortal staircase.  The very sun of heaven seemed
distorted when viewed through the polarising miasma welling out
from this sea-soaked perversion, and twisted menace and suspense
lurked leeringly in those crazily elusive angles of carven rock
where a second glance shewed concavity after the first shewed

"Something very like fright had come over all the explorers before
anything more definite than rock and ooze and weed was seen.  Each
would have fled had he not feared the scorn of the others, and it
was only half-heartedly that they searched--vainly, as it proved--
for some portable souvenir to bear away.

"It was Rodriguez the Portuguese who climbed up the foot of the
monolith and shouted of what he had found.  The rest followed him,
and looked curiously at the immense carved door with the now
familiar squid-dragon bas-relief.  It was, Johansen said, like a
great barn-door; and they all felt that it was a door because of
the ornate lintel, threshold, and jambs around it, though they
could not decide whether it lay flat like a trap-door or slantwise
like an outside cellar-door.  As Wilcox would have said, the
geometry of the place was all wrong.  One could not be sure that

the sea and the ground were horizontal, hence the relative position
of everything else seemed phantasmally variable.

"Briden pushed at the stone in several places without result.  Then
Donovan felt over it delicately around the edge, pressing each

point separately as he went.  He climbed interminably along the
grotesque stone moulding--that is, one would call it climbing if
the thing was not after all horizontal--and the men wondered how
any door in the universe could be so vast.  Then, very softly and
slowly, the acre-great lintel began to give inward at the top; and
they saw that it was balanced.

"Donovan slid or somehow propelled himself down or along the jamb
and rejoined his fellows, and everyone watched the queer recession
of the monstrously carven portal.  In this phantasy of prismatic
distortion it moved anomalously in a diagonal way, so that all the
rules of matter and perspective seemed upset."

I have enjoyed Klinger's annotations to Sherlock Holmes, and am
looking forward to his annotations of FRANKENSTEIN.  [-ecl]


                                           Mark Leeper

           The oldest books are only just out to those who have not
           read them.
                                           --Samuel Butler