Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Restraint, from a German filmmakers perspective

Here’s a couple thoughts after watching the indie film The Lives of Others:

Such a powerful film–“restrained” as my friend Randi would term it–and a real example of what good can come from the intersection of politics and art. Socialism is foreign to me, as is the fall of the Berlin Wall in the late 80’s. I remember viewing it on TV, but never discussing it with my family or in my high school in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Where were my teachers? How could I be so oblivious to the world?

I have this essay question on the final exam of my lit class each semester. The question posits Kafka’s idea that literature is the “axe that breaks the frozen sea within us”. I’m coming up with a new question because the quote is becoming dead to me. But “The Lives of Others” fulfills this stasis; it’s one of those films that not only looks beautiful, but provokes the right questions. How can we lead lives of action? Why do most of us plod along like sheep, allowing the institutions we work within guide our decisions? Why is activism a bad word in America today?

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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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