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REVIEW: Chasing the Light by Oliver Stone

Edward Curtin

Like the wandering and rascally Odysseus upon whom he models his life, Oliver Stone is “double-minded” in the most profound and illuminating ways. The title of his fantastic new memoir is a case in point.

“One of the first basic lessons in filming,” he writes, “is chasing the light. Without it, you have nothing – no exposure that can be seen; even what you see with your naked eye needs to be shaped and enhanced by the light.”

For as a true artist living out a marriage between his writing and his filmmaking, his father and his mother, the warrior and the peacemaker, the domesticated and wild man, he has chosen a title that has a double meaning that is subtly woven like a thread through this labyrinthine tale. It takes the reader from his childhood through his service in Vietnam and his struggles as a writer and filmmaker up to 1987 and his great success with his powerful autobiographical film, Platoon, for which he received Oscars for Best Film and Best Director, among others.

Driven by a youthful urge to escape his internal demons first brought on by his mismatched parents’ divorce when he was fifteen, Stone dropped out of Yale, his father’s alma mater, where he had enrolled to fulfill his stockbroker father’s dream. He accepted an offer from a Catholic Church group to teach English-speaking high school students in Chalon, a suburb of Saigon, which he did for six months before traveling around southeast Asia.

Back in Saigon, he joined the merchant marine and worked his way back to the states cleaning boilers, the lowest and dirtiest job on the ship. After a storm-tossed 37 days journey, he was cured of his desire to go to sea, a romantic fascination he had acquired from literature.

The lesson: Books are not life, nor are movies – they are ways to shape and illuminate it.

Back in the states he threw himself into writing, his first love and the place where his “anxieties could be relieved” and where he felt he could confirm his independent existence separate from his parents. Through writing he could control his story. He wrote a novel called, A Child’s Night Dream.

He reentered Yale but only lasted a few months since his heart was not in the placid life of academia, having already had a taste of the wandering life. He then quit Yale for good, to his father’s great disappointment.

Lou Stone thought Oliver might turn into a “bum,” a painful refrain in this memoir. This twisted parental inculcation of shame and fear cast a deep shadow on Oliver’s soul and became one of the ghosts that he spent years trying to outrun by becoming a workaholic desperate for success. His novel was subsequently rejected and he fell into a deep depression and self-loathing.

Suicidal at nineteen, he volunteered to serve in the US Army in Vietnam to expiate his guilt, shame, and self-loathing, thinking that perhaps God would take his life for him.

“Odysseus thought he would return home when he left Ithaca,” he writes, “I wasn’t sure of anything…”

It was in Vietnam on January 1-2, 1968, after a terrifying night battle along the Cambodia border where his unit was in a hot zone interdicting North Vietnamese Army troops coming through Laos and Cambodia toward Saigon, when he experienced a profound light experience very different from the type he would later chase while making films.

The battle raged throughout the dark jungle night where confusion and terror reigned. It was impossible to hear or see, and although 25 Americans and 400 North Vietnamese were killed, Stone “hadn’t seen a single one of them [Vietnamese],” although he performed bravely. Here is his brilliantly disturbing and revealing description of what ensued [emphasis added].

Full daylight revealed charred bodies, dusty napalm, and gray trees. Men who died grimacing, in frozen positions, some of them still standing or kneeling in rigor mortis, white chemical death on their faces. Dead, so dead. Some covered with white ash, some burned black. Their expressions, if they could still be seen, were overtaken with anguish or horror.

How do you die like this?

Charging forward in a hailstorm of death into these bombs and artillery. Why? Were you terrified, or were you jacked out of your fucking mind? What kind of death did you achieve? It was frightening to contemplate, and yet, I wasn’t scared. It was exciting.

It was as if I passed from this world and was somewhere where the light was being specially displayed to me in a preview of another life. Soldiers might say it was hell, but I saw it as divine; the closest man would ever come to the Holy Spirit was to witness and survive this great, destructive energy.

So after fifty years in another life, the survivor remembers in that odd mixture that memory is, a shaping force that relies on the light of experience to enhance the existential marriage of hope lost and found, fact and fiction joined to find the truth of an epiphany. He continues:

No person should ever have to witness so much death. I really was too young to understand, and thus I erased much of it, remembering it in this strange way as a stunningly beautiful night full of fireworks, in which I hadn’t seen a single enemy, been fired on, or fired at anyone.

It’d been like a dream through which I’d walked unharmed, grateful of course, but numb and puzzled by it all. It reminded me of passages in Homer of gods and goddesses coming down from Mount Olympus to the bloody battlefields at Troy to help their favorites, wrapping a mist or cloak around them and winging them to safety.

These passages appear early in the book, and I quote them not just to point out the dual nature of the book’s title – only something a truly creative writer would conceive – but because the dual theme of chasing and being chased by the light is central to Oliver’s life story.

It is a tale of a split-soul, the twice-wounded warrior who receives a Bronze Star for heroism but who hates war and journeys to get back home where he can rest with his family by the hearth and feel at peace, and the wild, restless, tormented free pirate sailing for adventure and new discoveries.

Of course getting back home is no simple matter, especially when you left because home had set the conflict in your heart in the first place, as it did for Stone.

Home is a country as much as a family, and this personal tale is also a guidebook through modern American history, a country riven since the 1960s. A country that’s been feeding on lies that had “infected everything, and I was still numb from it. Because I’d basically never woken up.”

But there are epiphanies along the way that wake Stone up, intuitions, hunches, risks he takes, and there are luminescent passages throughout this book to crack open the reader’s consciousness to a second reality.

Chasing the Light is not a superficial trip down memory lane like so many memoirs by famous people; Stone is a wonderful writer, and as with his films, he takes you deep to places you may wish to avoid but are essential for true sanity. The great thing about this memoir is his passion for truth and life that courses through its pages.

He seizes the reader by the throat and shouts: Consciousness! Wake up! Don’t let sleep and forgetfulness make you into one of the living-dead!

A lesson he learned fortuitously at NYU when he took a course in classical drama and his professor, Tim Leahy, raged about the fate of Odysseus and how he was the only one of his crew to get back home because he dared to keep his eyes and ears open to both the dark and light forces whirling all around him. He refused “LETHE” – sleep and forgetfulness.

But as the fates decreed, when the desperately poor warrior Stone came back from Vietnam to NYC and was still struggling to find his way back to a true home he couldn’t envision, writing to make sense of his life, he encountered his Calypso, as did Odysseus along his wandering journey to get home to Ithaca.

Her name was Najwa Sarkis, an older Lebanese woman who worked at the United Nations. They fell together and for five years Najwa gave Oliver shelter from the storm in her apartment in the East 50s. The sex was passionate and the living conditions in Calypso’s cave comfortable, and although they married at her insistence, it was like his parents’ marriage, built on a lie.

“I can’t say the marriage, from my side,” he writes, “was built on love, but rather on comfort and caring for each other.” Tempted to stay by the thought of comfort, as Odysseus was by the promise of immortality, Stone finally admits the truth to Najwa and himself, packs his bags and leaves “his goddess.”

He knew he wasn’t home yet and had to risk much more to try to get there.

The flaw was that I hadn’t grown into my own man. This I knew in my gut – that I hadn’t yet been successful as a writer because I’d failed to complete the journey I started when I went to Vietnam.”

So Odysseus heads to the uptown subway with his two suitcases.

Vietnam haunts him. He starts to write what eventually will become the script for Platoon, using Odysseus as his template and example of conscious behavior to expose all the lies of the Vietnam war and the insidious hypocrisy of American life.

As in Tennyson’s poem about the older Odysseus, still wanting “to seek, to find, and not to yield,” the memoirist, himself now not young, says:

In my seventy-plus years from 1946 to now, the chorus of fear-mongering bullshit has never ceased – only grown louder. The joke is on us. Ha Ha Ha.”

Throughout this book, Stone is very hard on himself as well as the country:

I had my story, I realized. I was no hero. I slept on my consciousness. My whole country, our society had. But at the least – If I could tell the truth of what I’d seen – it was better than…what?

Nothing – the void of a meaningless war and waste of life while our society was stuffing it’s ears with wax. Odysseus, lashing himself to his mast to preserve his sanity, had insisted on hearing the Sirens, and remembering it.

Whereas I was honored for my service to my country, the truth was I soiled myself when I could’ve resisted, exiled myself, gone to jail for it like the Berrigans, the Spocks, and some 200,000 others. I was young, yes, and I can say that I didn’t know better, that I was part of the unconsciousness of my country.

He tells us he didn’t wake up until he was nearly thirty-years-old – in 1976.

Ever since he has devoted his life to the art of waking up his fellow Americans through writing and filmmaking, which he had the great good fortune to learn at NYU film school from that other passionate New York filmmaker, Martin Scorsese, who was his professor.

Scorsese shone a light on Oliver after he had made a short film without dialogue called Last Year in Vietnam. It was shown to the class, a tough group of critics, but before anyone had spoken, Scorsese said, “Well – this is a filmmaker.”

It was an epiphany that Stone says he will never forget. A pure gift that set him on his way to eventually make his great films.

But the journey was hard and took years to complete.

Stone’s mother, Jacqueline Pauline Cézarine Goddet, and his father, Louis Stone (born Abraham Louis Silverstein), were married in Paris as World War II ended. He was an US Army officer and she, a “peasant” French girl, were mismatched from the start.

They “made possibly the greatest mistake of their lives – to which I owe my existence,” he tells us. Oliver became very close to his French grandparents, especially his Mémé. As he was struggling to write successful screenplays and break into filmmaking, his beloved grandmother dies and he goes to France for her funeral.

There is a scene in this memoir – I almost said movie – where he arrives alone in a suburb of Paris where she is laid out in her musty apartment in an old apartment building. He felt the dead were calling to him from the past – Vietnam, France. So much death, so many lies, betrayals. He writes:

I thought about how Odysseus went to the Underworld to find Tiresias for a prophecy about when and how he’d return home to Ithaca. And once in the Underworld, he recognized his mother, Anticlea, who, like the other shades, had come to him to slake herself at the pool of sheep’s blood he had sacrificed to get there.

For Oliver, his Mémé was like a mother to him, and with her forty-year marriage to her beloved Pépé who had predeceased her, was a symbol of what family life should be all about, the family Oliver had lost and desperately wished for. Home as love and commitment. “Without a family, we one and all suffer,” he says.

In less than four pages, his description of this encounter with his grandmother illuminates the heart of this memoir and is an exquisite example of a great artist at work. An artist who uses words to touch your soul, heart-breaking, tender, and hopeful in turns, far different from the often-popular image of Stone. I would buy this book for these four pages alone. Listen:

I drew up my chair closer to be with her, like we’d been when I was young, cuddled in her big bed as she told me the stories of the wolves in Paris who’d come down the chimneys to snatch the children who’d been bad…There was the silence of ‘la mort,’ and then the October light began to drop.

No one else knocked or visited. Just me. And you, Mémé – and that something listening between us. Not long ago I’d been twenty-three. You were so happy when I’d returned in one piece from over there. I’d tried to pay my debt to society. We all have one, we don’t only live for ourselves. But I still felt uneasy and Mémé did too.

What did Vietnam have to do with saving our civilization when it only made the world more callous? You never asked me for an explanation. Three wars in your life time…I’d done nothing. I’d achieved nothing. Therefore I was nothing…I was crying but didn’t know I was until I felt the tears.

I hadn’t cried in so any years – I was a hard boy. I had to be, I felt, to survive. I was raised to believe men don’t cry. But this time it feels fresh, like a rain.

But who am I crying to? Not you, Mémé – you’re not the one judging me. You never have. Is it my self I’m crying to? My self, but who was that? I could not see myself. I was ugly, hiding. I could cry myself dry with self-pity. All this pain, so much pain.

Yes, I feel it now – feel sorry for myself, it’s okay – so raw, all my lies, my embarrassment naked for the dead to see, naked to the whole world! No one loves me, no one will ever love me. Because I can’t love anyone – except you, Mémé, and you’re gone now.

Can I…can I learn to love? How can I start? By just being kind like you were? Can I be kind – to myself?

In my mind, I heard Mémé reply: ‘Try – you’re a man now. You’re no longer seventeen sitting on the sidelines of your life, judging. You’ve seen this world, tasted its tears. Now’s the time to recognize this, Oliver, Oliver, Oliver’ – my name, invoked three times to rouse myself, to wake myself from this long slumber.

Do something with your life, I demanded, all this energy bottled up for years, hopeless dreaming and writing, no excuse, you can do better. Stop fucking around..Mémé continued speaking to me so gently. That soft voice: ‘Mon chéri, mon p’tit Oliverre, te fais pas de soucis pour rien…Fais ta vie. Fais ce que tu veux faire. C’est tout ce quil y a. Je t’embrasse, je t’adore.’ (My darling, my little Oliver, don’t be miserable for nothing…Make your life. Do what you have to do. That’s all there is. I embrace you, I adore you.)

…The other shades were approaching now, smelling the blood, so many young men groaning…faces distorted in death.

There was whispering, many voices. ‘Stone, hey man, don’t forget me! Where you goin’? Gimme some! Hey, tell my girl you saw me, will ya? Remember me, will ya? You got a joint?’ Mémé wanted me to go – quickly, before it was too late.

I couldn’t hear, but it clear what the shades were saying: We, the dead, are telling you – your lifespan is short. Make of it everything you can. Before you’re one of us. I rose and kissed Mémé’s face one last time…Au revoir, ma belle Mémé.

And I walked out – as she looked away and began slaking her thirst with the others…I walked the silent streets to the Metro. Like in a dreamscape, there were no living people. Maybe that’s the reason we die. It makes us want to live again.

Oliver does exactly that. Reborn, determined, he returns to the U.S. and makes his life by making the illuminating movies that have made his reputation. He does the opposite of what his father advised him.

“People don’t want to know the truth,” his father told him. “Reality is too tough. They go to the movies to get away from all that.” He knew his “very nature was unacceptable to the fantasy world of moviegoers,” but he wasn’t home yet and pushes on, getting in lots of trouble for telling truths people don’t want to hear, except perhaps the dead.

But making those films was far from smooth sailing. It was another form of warfare, treacherous, filled with betrayals, drugs, Hollywood a place where you had to watch your back. Just when the battle seemed over and you had won, another rocket would explode at your feet, throwing you for a loop. It would take another toll on Stone.

So often, when he would think his screenplay or deal to direct a film was secured – that the stone he had rolled to the top of the hill was set – back it would roll. He would find that often what seemed to be up was down and that when he thought he was at the top, he was soon on the bottom. The years that followed were a roller coaster ride.

He writes truthfully about his need to quell his anxiety with a host of drugs that fueled his days and nights and led to addiction, his guilt and confusion, his partying like his glamorous party-loving mother, who “was there for me, and yet she wasn’t; it was more like she was on display.”

He tells us how he was always running from something, writing, hustling, trying to justify himself as he traveled toward a home called success, the bitch-goddess Success, the pipe dream nurtured in Hollywood.

In numerous chapters, a reader fascinated with the nuts and bolts of filmmaking, from the screenplay through directing, financing, casting, editing, distributing, etc., will delight in his detailed description of the movie game. Midnight Express, Scarface, Salvador, Platoon are explored in depth.

If you want to know about Al Pacino, Charlie Sheen, Michael Cimino, James Woods, Dino De Laurentiis, the wild Richard Boyle, et al., it’s all here. The good, bad, and the ugly. Gossip or insights, call it what you will. It’s all interesting.

Stone writes about his second wife, Elizabeth, the joy that the birth of their son, his first child, Sean, brought him, the conflicts that developed as he’s torn between home life and the mad pursuit of filmmaking, “even if it’s leading you off a cliff.” He wrote in his diary:

What have I become? A Macbeth of workaholics. I’ve worked straight 17 years, two scripts a year, etc., and what has it brought me? Never been able to relax, but must. I’m always running like a mad rabbit down an Alice in Wonderland hole, always getting bigger or smaller and never knowing what will happen next.”

By the end of the book, Oliver, now forty-years-old in 1987, is on the top of the world when he wins Oscars for Platoon, and although he revels in this victory, something continues to eat at him, as if he hadn’t really reached Ithaca, but was still on the journey.

“So I’d come to this moment in time,” he writes. “Success was a beautiful goddess, yes, but was I being seduced by this vindication, this proving myself to my father; was it the acceptance, the power? What did I really believe?”

The double-minded rascal was still alive and at sea, despite saying that, “And truthfully, I don’t think I’d ever been happier.” He had finally achieved great film success, had a lovely wife and child, a garden, his books, a pool to jump in. Tranquility.

No. He tells us:

Mine was a free man’s life, without a home, really, except for the wenches in the local ports, like Sabatini’s Captain Blood, who ‘was born with a gift for laughter and the sense that the world was mad.’ Thus it remains a split in my soul – the home, the hearth, and then out into the wind with your crew – Odysseus’s ‘I am become a name.’

Could this be? Could I live two different lives? Like those hard men I’d worked with in the merchant marine twenty years before – six months on land, six at sea; unsettled, eccentric men who remained free in their souls yet tormented. In the next years, I’d live out this split in my nature to the fullest.

The reader will have to await a sequel to Chasing the Light to see if Odysseus ever finds his way to his true home.

In the meantime, Charlie Sheen’s words at the end of Platoon will have to suffice:

Those of us who did make it have an obligation to build again, to teach to others what we know, and to try with what’s left of our lives to find a goodness and meaning to this life.

Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely. He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/. He is the author of the new book Seeking Truth in A Country of Lies

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J. Swift Jr
J. Swift Jr
Sep 2, 2020 6:07 PM

Soldiers might say it was hell, but I saw it as divine; the closest man would ever come to the Holy Spirit was to witness and survive this great, destructive energy.

This is what happens with spiritually lobomized cultures: the only way they can catch a glimpse of the immanent and divine is by immense suffering, death and destruction. Truly a death cult….
Something to chew on next time you mindlessly mumble “Amen”… why are you reciting the name of an Egyptian king, like a good slave?

Fact Checker
Fact Checker
Sep 1, 2020 2:41 AM

I just saw Snowden last night, and I gotta say, it was profoundly revealing on the veritable omniscience of the “national security” surveillance state. Depicting events in 2011 to 2013, it puts on brutal display that they are waaaaaaaay past 1984.
Just as consciousness-raising as JFK, imo.
And like with JFK, I just kept thinking…I can’t believe he was allowed to make this movie!

Jackson
Jackson
Sep 4, 2020 4:02 AM
Reply to  Fact Checker

Snowden looks like a limited hangout op to me; how about you?

bleak
bleak
Aug 31, 2020 3:31 AM

A bit fawning, Mr Curtin, what with ‘holly wood’ being the disgusting, rancid, sewage reservoir spillover from the waters of Lethe itself. Most of them are duplicitous, slithering snakes in the grass and their heads should be chopped off. If the snakes would’ve kept their forked tongues to themselves and stayed out of the heads (and underwear) of children, this world would be very different. As a title, “chasing the light” sounds like Biden’s Lucifarian acceptance speech.

No mention of JFK because Stone didn’t get up to that point in his career? Not enough time? Not enough ink and paper? The movie JFK leaves out critical parts regarding Oswald, Banister, Garrison and the pre JFK murder period of New Orleans. A very pertinent and timely book to read right now is ‘Dr Mary’s Monkey’ by Edward Haslam, especially if you see through this plandemic “virus/vaccine” hoax that has been unleashed on the world. And yeah, ‘holly shit’ is complicit in that too.

Charlotte Russe
Charlotte Russe
Aug 30, 2020 10:50 PM

CALL ME LUCKY

A better name for Oliver Stone than Odysseus is “lucky.” His affluent Jewish father provided access to a first rate education, even if Stone rejected it; his nuclear family managed to stay intact until he was in his late teens, where a loving grandmother offered some solace; he managed to survive an ill-fated boat trip to Indonesia as well as misadventures in Vietnam; his adult life was fortuitously sprinkled with several loving relationships producing three children; he was able to pursue a career he loved networking early on with Martin Scorsese, and once in Hollywood became a success which in itself is like winning a lottery; and even his series “Untold History of the US” was wildly popular; and now in his seventies Stone published a biography which received decent reviews from the NYT, although Benjamin Svetkey ended his critique by giving Stone a swipe about his interview with Putin, but what else would you expect from the NYT “the paper of record” which warmongers even in book reviews.

“His decision to end the memoir on Oscar night 1987 does feel a bit abrupt — there’s just so much more one wants to read about, from how Stone dealt with the backlash over his 1991 film “JFK,” to the controversy he stirred up with 1994’s “Natural Born Killers,” not to mention an explanation for that fawning 2017 Showtime interview series he did with Vladimir Putin (you know, the Russian strongman who’d just finished meddling in the U.S. presidential election). But, as the old showbiz saying goes, always leave them wanting more. And this book — “a story about cutting corners, improvising, hustling … about lying outrageously, gritting it out with sweat and tears … about growing up,” as he describes it in his introduction — neatly sets the stage for the possibility of that rarest of Stone productions: a sequel.”  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/20/books/review/oliver-stone-chasing-the-light.html

Jim McDonagh
Jim McDonagh
Aug 31, 2020 5:08 PM

As an American the life Mr Stone has lived has much more to offer than that of Mr Trump or Ralph Nader etal. Mr Putin was shown not have meddled in the 2016 election to any extent and that disgruntled dems and Bernie bots hacked and leaked info on the Clintonistas as they rigged the nomination.

Charlotte Ruse
Charlotte Ruse
Aug 31, 2020 7:13 PM
Reply to  Jim McDonagh

That’s why I pointed out that even in a book review the NYT must warmonger against Russia.

John Goss
John Goss
Aug 30, 2020 10:31 PM

As well as Oliver Stone the reviewer, Edward Curtin, has no small talent as a writer himself.

It is not Stone’s more famous films that endear me to him but having the outright courage to call out those who gave us the coup which turned Ukraine into a failed state. He was not afraid to name names. You can watch his film, Ukraine on Fire, for free, though if you want to help promote future work you are urged to buy a copy. This is the free version.

tonyopmoc
tonyopmoc
Aug 30, 2020 10:19 PM

Class from Edward Curtin

http://edwardcurtin.com/why-i-dont-speak-of-the-fake-news-of-9-11-anymore/

Pity Oliver Stone didn’t quite make the grade, though I do not doubt his talent.

Midnight Express scared the shit out of me, but we are going to a Turkish Resteraunt tomorrow – last chance £10 off a meal. We love Turkey.

If you want to see a decent war film, that gets under your skin, try the Russian version of Apocalypse Now in Afghanistan

It’s called 9th Company. Don’t worry about the Russian Language, it has subtitles, and after a few minutes, whilst you are reading the subtitles, you don’t notice them. You are there in the film, with these young kids. It starts off dead gentle and innocent…

https://www.imdb.com/video/vi1023976473?playlistId=tt0417397&ref_=vp_rv_ap_0

Tony

history
history
Aug 30, 2020 5:48 PM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A80i9oWC26c

Untold History of the United States: Bush, Obama and the age of terror

Jext
Jext
Aug 30, 2020 4:08 PM

The US just recorded its’ second worst (goods) trade deficit, in its’ history. So Trump did not bring manufacturing home during his 4 years. And it looks like that war with China, the US is building up to, is not going to go very well, unless the Chinese agree to build the tech and machinery the US needs to bomb them.

Jext
Jext
Aug 30, 2020 3:58 PM

Untold History of America prequel.b

john
john
Aug 30, 2020 3:27 PM

The truth about Covid-19 is that some group has been roaming the world deliberately spreading the virus.

Why did China recover so quickly from her dose of the virus?

Because their lockdown kept the spreaders from spreading the virus.

And because the virus is not that contagious.

When the disease was seen to be failing in China they spread the virus to Iran and Italy.

Why did the whole continent of Africa escape the virus for so long?

Because the spreaders were spreading the virus elsewhere and only turned to Africa when everyone was questioning why Africa seemed immune.

The whole patchwork spread of the virus indicates that it has been deliberately spread by a small number of people.

http://www.preearth.net/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1184

Tippsy
Tippsy
Aug 30, 2020 4:40 PM
Reply to  john

Why would they need to? they can just claim there is a virus even when there isn’t one, The media do all the fear-making and the useless testing exaggerates the risks and fear. Job done.

George Mc
George Mc
Aug 30, 2020 6:41 PM
Reply to  Tippsy

Exactly the point made by David Icke. Yes I know he’s a nut and possibly an intelligence plant. But, as with David Shayler, he makes good points – possibly to “taint” them. And I recall an interview with him where he was asked about the possible danger caused by the virus and said that any genuinely lethal bug would be potentially uncontrollable. Why take the risk when it’s the fear itself that “does the trick”?

Cyd
Cyd
Aug 30, 2020 9:05 PM
Reply to  George Mc

“…he makes good points – possibly to “taint” them.” exactly, which is why either way he’s worth paying attention to.

George Mc
George Mc
Aug 31, 2020 10:11 AM
Reply to  Cyd

And that’s also why I would have no truck with those sites that present guides to where to find “reliable info”. Disinfo and misinfo operate on many levels and there’s simply no substitute for looking everywhere. You’ll pick up valuable bits here and there.

Incidentally, I messed up my comment above. It wasn’t the lethality of the virus that was being discussed but the intended lethality i.e. the possibilty that this virus was manufactured to be a killer. No such product of biological warfare is guaranteed to be controllable. In any case, considering how easily the MSM can distort events that happen outside of govt control, the actual staging of an event doesn’t have to conform to logic or evidence. As long as you have the “big bang” scenario that overwhelms everyone then the desired story can be slipped to them while they are still stupefied.

Jim McDonagh
Jim McDonagh
Aug 30, 2020 1:46 PM

Good article thanks for it . Mr Stone seems to have single handedly shaped a view , taken up by millions , of western reality since the 1960s. I recently watched his latest August interview on RTs Going Underground well worth a watch.

Howard
Howard
Aug 30, 2020 1:20 PM

No one, no matter how good, bad or indifferent they be, should ever insult the public by authoring their own “Memoir” – unless it’s purely a name dropping presentation of other celebrities. Any serious rendition of a person’s life should only be undertaken by someone else, who can truly look at the events objectively.

Besides which, who gives a flying fart about a celebrity’s life anyway? Okay, millions of people do – every one of whom will pay good money to read about their fave celebrity’s rehashed struggles to climb the ladder of fame in order to be able to look back in awe at their great achievements and the monumental struggles that propelled their rise to fame and fortune.

Autobiographies are anti-How To sermons. Instead of a pep talk in the “You can do it too!” vein, autobiographies are “You ain’t got what it takes” sermons. To which any rational human being would get down on their knees and thank God they don’t “have what it takes.” If having what it takes means ending up like a celebrity, I think I’ll pass on it.

ToyAussie
ToyAussie
Aug 30, 2020 2:15 PM
Reply to  Howard

I only wish I – as a young adult – I had a role model in my life to help me resist my parents when they tried to force me to stay at Yale…

wardropper
wardropper
Aug 30, 2020 2:38 PM
Reply to  ToyAussie

Apart from the fact that you can now celebrate your freedom from Yale, it’s also good to be your own role model. If you have the financial means to survive, it’s the only way to go.
We’ve seen what Yale, Harvard and Eton can produce.
Now let’s see what we can produce.
It’s sort of urgent…

I often think of something I heard one of the wiser acacemics say many years ago:
“Bach, Beethoven and Mozart didn’t have university degrees in music, yet countless thousands of modern professors have built their careers upon imitating and studying them”.
That should probably be the first thing our music students learn when they enter a music academy. Many people are wiser than they think.
(Let’s not mention those who call themselves composers today, but who know nothing…)

Shin
Shin
Aug 30, 2020 3:11 PM
Reply to  wardropper

Engineers are no different and definitely not less skilled. Why is that engineers, the ones that make it all happen, make it sing and work, seem to be the ones denied the gratitude? Without them, where do you think we all would be?

wardropper
wardropper
Sep 1, 2020 2:52 AM
Reply to  Shin

Quite right.
I only mentioned composers because it’s my particular field.
None of the masters I mentioned even built their own instruments! 🙂

nondimenticare
nondimenticare
Aug 30, 2020 7:20 PM
Reply to  Howard

If a memoir is “honest,” in the sense of relaying what is in the writer’s head as opposed to cataloguing celebrity friends or seeking importance, and well written, it can be enlightening and moving. And getting inside another’s head and history is always good – part of being a social animal, a cog in our civilization (what we’re losing now) – and not always easy to do, even the heads of those close to us. I applaud anyone who writes well, whether or fiction or their version of fact, about what it means to be human.

Howard
Howard
Aug 31, 2020 3:19 PM
Reply to  nondimenticare

The stumbling block is whether a memoir can truly be honest. Even the conscious attempt to honestly portray events of their life could end up being just as skewed as a deliberate attempt to re-write one’s life to better align with one’s current thinking.

It seems to be a tenet of psychology (which, itself, is a highly suspect field of endeavor) that self-censorship is an entrenched element of the subconscious which filters out things either about oneself or that happened to oneself which are too painful to allow the person to mature.

And in the final analysis, what is of greater importance: a person’s conscious thoughts or the myriad fleeting thoughts that seem to spring from nowhere? Who, upon undertaking to write a memoir, would include thoughts so heinous that they are quickly suppressed? I doubt if anyone would.

Victor G.
Victor G.
Sep 1, 2020 12:12 PM
Reply to  Howard

Hi Howard! Will you forgive me if I suggest you might have made your strong comment stronger by beginning thus, “I’ve read this book and I say … “? Cheers!

Howard
Howard
Sep 1, 2020 2:57 PM
Reply to  Victor G.

I will accept your point since this article is specifically a review of Mr Stone’s book; so, technically, general observations like mine regarding autobiographys may not be entirely in order.

DunGroanin
DunGroanin
Aug 30, 2020 12:54 PM

What No Guardian Watch article for Sunday? Where can I post their junk?

Shin
Shin
Aug 30, 2020 1:14 PM
Reply to  DunGroanin

We could always do a skit of a Dung Beetle.

Shin
Shin
Aug 30, 2020 12:20 PM

“COVID”, the movie in cinemas soon. When your allowed out.

ame
ame
Aug 30, 2020 12:28 PM
Reply to  Shin

actually the is a series each night in every country in the world usa it called the nightly task force show
u.k Hancock half hour bojio bumbling nonsense
other country’s have the exact same script
tv shows are now breaking news which is not news just theater for the brain dead aka the voter

Shin
Shin
Aug 30, 2020 12:40 PM
Reply to  ame

Yeah its very boring, maybe Tom Hanks should play Fauci?

ame
ame
Aug 30, 2020 5:32 PM
Reply to  Shin

it metaphoric so to understand dr Fauci learn about Doctor Faustusthe old play explanation the drama you all watch and feed your lifer force into
maybe it can wake you all up from you addiction of loving your slave owners the pretend oligarch who own the plantation owner politrickon
you may snapp out your coma’s

Arsebiscuits
Arsebiscuits
Aug 30, 2020 6:19 PM
Reply to  Shin

No one would the storyline…

Oh wait
…..

Arsebiscuits
Arsebiscuits
Aug 30, 2020 6:22 PM
Reply to  Arsebiscuits

Believe*

George Mc
George Mc
Aug 30, 2020 6:42 PM
Reply to  Shin

It would just be the same zombie/plague/apocalypse movie they’ve been making for decades.

Voxi Pop
Voxi Pop
Aug 30, 2020 12:10 PM

I am so sick of what we do to our beautiful men. SICK

Voxi Pop
Voxi Pop
Aug 30, 2020 9:47 AM

i’m going to go back and read deeper, not just scan, but this view of Stone’s life is rich, and worth the time. TY

Voxi Pop
Voxi Pop
Aug 30, 2020 12:08 PM
Reply to  Voxi Pop

cant HELP but think that light that “some soldiers called hell” over the dead battlefield was..Luciferrian?

Eyes Open
Eyes Open
Aug 30, 2020 9:40 AM

‘Born On The Fourth Of July’ was terrible IMO.

BlairAteMyHamster
BlairAteMyHamster
Aug 30, 2020 10:56 AM
Reply to  Eyes Open

It was an anti war movie, what more do you want?

Eyes Open
Eyes Open
Aug 30, 2020 1:14 PM

It was an anti-war film that fell short of analysing the United States’ history of global imperialism and brutality, which is why it was allowed to be made.

I’ve seen better speeches on YouTube from ex US military vets who’ve experienced a political epiphany.

George Mc
George Mc
Aug 30, 2020 1:19 PM
Reply to  Eyes Open

Yet it was still radical enough to get a re-write in “Forrest Gump” where we found that the crippled veteran was only bitter because he had “an argument with God”!

Voxi Pop
Voxi Pop
Aug 30, 2020 12:09 PM
Reply to  Eyes Open

yet Tom Cruise’s best movie lol

Moneycircus
Moneycircus
Aug 30, 2020 9:24 AM

Is It Possible To Find Freedom In An Unfree World? by Doug Casey.
https://internationalman.com/articles/doug-casey-on-whether-its-possible-to-find-freedom-in-an-unfree-world/

The financial and economic problems in the world are serious and accelerating. But as we go deeper into the Greater Depression, your biggest risks aren’t financial or economic. They’re political.

The only way to solve that problem from a practical point of view is to diversify politically the way you would diversify financially.

Edwige
Edwige
Aug 30, 2020 8:34 AM

“Midnight Express, Scarface, Salvador, Platoon” …. World Trade Center.

All his dualities and illumination didn’t seem to help much there.

Brian Sides
Brian Sides
Aug 30, 2020 8:21 AM

I did not think midnight express was dark enough.
I enjoyed Scarface but the ending was stupid
While JFK had it’s faults at least an attempt to reveal the stupidity of the official story of the lone gun man and the cover up.
I have little memory of platoon it did not tell the story that should have been told of how The promises to Vietnam during world war 2 were broken. A failed attempt by the great USA to own and control a country. The bombing of rice farmers as if they were a threat to anyone.
The Red scare like the Corona scare used to control the people. Keep them scared only the state can save them. The strategy of tension.

I_left_the_left
I_left_the_left
Aug 30, 2020 12:16 PM
Reply to  Brian Sides

The red scare AKA communist regimes killed an estimated 120m of their own citizens during the C20th. Communism remains undefeated in places like China, which has imprisoned 3m Uigyur Muslims in concentration camps where they are subject to forced sterilisation and organ harvesting alongside the usual torture, rape and murder. North Koreans are now an average 3cm shorter than South Koreans, thanks to 70 years of extreme poverty, malnutrition and oppression, but must still bow on regular occasions to their very rich dictator, for fear of going to the camps. You may also have heard about the horror of what happened in Cambodia and Vietnam after the US failed to prevent the communist takeover. ‘The Killing Fields’ offers a tiny glimpse of what that takeover meant for ordinary Vietnamese and Cambodians. I wonder how many would have preferred and still prefer the freedom, security, human rights and democracy that the US tragically failed to establish for them. Except for this last speculation, everything in this post has been verified historically and frequently. But you seem to think the evils of communism were just a story to control people. Incredible.

Howard
Howard
Aug 30, 2020 1:04 PM

One thing always stated about the “Communists” is how many of their own people they killed. But stop and think instead of just spewing “facts”: THEIR OWN PEOPLE. Yes, that’s bad, killing your “own people.” But is it really as bad as killing someone else’s people – as the West has repeatedly done, to the tune of tens of millions?

There’s scarcely a people anywhere on earth the West – the capitalists – have not either killed outright or arranged to have killed, because they stood in the way of profits. At least the communists didn’t go all around the world killing and enslaving people.

Igor
Igor
Aug 31, 2020 12:28 AM
Reply to  Howard

The US war in Vietnam only delayed the inevitable.

South Vietnam should not have never existed. Ho Chi Minh and General Giap defeated the French Colonial forces in 1954.

The partitioning was a vain attempt to retain the South as a colony of the West. Corrupt leaders were installed to manage the plantation.

Instead of a internal Vietnamese on Vietnamese bloodbath in 1954, the US added to the death tally and poisoned the South with Agent Orange.

The purge was just delayed until 1975.

The war also had its damaging affects at home in USA.

Vietnam has been in an economic boom since 1981.

USA not so much. The Gold window was closed in 1971, as there were more dollars floating than US Gold reserves to back the US dollars available per Bretton Woods. Beginnings of bankruptcy. The Petrodollar and the US military maintained the global demand for dollars.

Someone recently mentioned, on another forum, that it would take 30 years for the US to become bankrupt. I replied “1971 plus 30 is 2001”.

Victor G.
Victor G.
Sep 1, 2020 12:20 PM
Reply to  Igor

Gulf of Tonkin oil reserves

Brian Sides
Brian Sides
Aug 30, 2020 3:47 PM

North Koreans are now an average 3cm shorter than South Koreans, thanks to 70 years of extreme poverty, malnutrition and oppression

I am 5ft 2 inches tall thanks to poverty in Wales we supplied the world with coal at the expense of the workers in the mines like my father and his father before.

History is written by the winners
I do not know how many have been killed in Russia or China
Russia helped stop Napoleon and Hitler both supported by the west 
How many countries have been invaded by Russia or China who has the most military bases
The British Empire was the biggest in recorded history
Fire bombing cities dropping nuclear bombs and gas on civilians
The west and the east have supported many dictators when they wish
The west supports Saudi Arabia in its war on Yemen 

The bombing of rice farmers because there is a slight chance that they might become communists.
There is no crime that the east is guilty of that the west is not also guilty of.
 The west is not the good guys but neither is the east 
The Idea that east and west are enemies is part of the illusion
The Red scare was and is just a scare like the corona scare. It keeps the sheeple obedient

paul
paul
Aug 30, 2020 7:24 PM

If you want to see real horror, take a look at the two headed babies and the babies born with no faces in Fallujah.

Willem
Willem
Aug 30, 2020 8:05 AM

Sounds like a good book, and a great review. Thanks Ed

Moneycircus
Moneycircus
Aug 30, 2020 7:34 AM

Liberal society has those little ceramic pie birds. They stand in the middle of the pie with their heads poking through the pastry, head tilted back, beak straight up, venting a column of steam, to prevent the pie from bubbling over.

They also support the crust, giving the pie a uniform appearance from above, whatever is stewing away beneath.

comment image

Moneycircus
Moneycircus
Aug 30, 2020 7:59 AM
Reply to  Moneycircus

Now, what is stewing under that pie crust? Maybe Oliver Stone will do a movie. The time for reminiscing about the golden era is past.

500,000 children are separated from families in America annually
Yielding $49 billion dollars from the social security fund each year
The Clinton Cares Act provides an incentive to get kids adopted quickly
The better looking the kids, the faster they get adopted

The big money machine that is Child Protective Services – doctors, psychiatrists, social workers, foster parents, lawyers – is a multi-billion dollar industry that gets paid for every child they take.

Only 6% are taken based on sexual abuse allegations, 12% on physical abuse allegations. 84% are neglect – which can mean being poor.

So why not help the mother – it would be cheaper to keep that child at home. If they’re taking the most expensive path, it’s for a reason. Where is the money going?

It’s a big liberal middle class money-spinning business on the backs of the poor.

It’s also eugenics.. taking 8% of African American children into care, and 18% of Native Americans… and human trafficking.

A little Race Secret in my life, a little bit of Jailbait by my side, a little CPS is all I need, a little bit of Foster what I seek, a little bit Eugenics in the sun, a little bit of Mary all night long..

Child Protective Services Practicing Eugenics, Supreme Court Challenge w/ Dwight Mitchell https://youtu.be/bBp8iJINRKA

I_left_the_left
I_left_the_left
Aug 30, 2020 12:23 PM
Reply to  Moneycircus

According to anti-abortion activists from Black Babies’ Lives Matter, over 15m black babies have been aborted in the US since the mid 70s, and there have been several gruesome discoveries of many thousands of aborted black foetuses in dumpsters. African-American women have been aborting at 4x the rate of white women, but no BLM protest on their behalf and against this induced genocide has ever occurred.

Voxi Pop
Voxi Pop
Aug 30, 2020 9:49 AM
Reply to  Moneycircus

lol! no, this is not accurate. They are never so adorable.

livingsb
livingsb
Aug 30, 2020 5:05 AM

From what I have seen Oliver Stone is just another Hollywood narcissist who paints a very noble picture of himself. Platoon was a blatant celebration of war. I enjoyed JFK, but Stone seems to either purposefully skim the surface on many topics or he is compromised. I think he latter is true. I couldn’t give a shit about his book. Surely, there are other more truthful, inspiring authors and books to review. Confusing.

JoeC
JoeC
Aug 30, 2020 5:48 AM
Reply to  livingsb

Platoon wasn’t so much a celebration of war but a glorification of it which is so much worse in my books.

livingsb
livingsb
Aug 30, 2020 6:18 AM
Reply to  JoeC

An unseemly reveling in the struggles of war, for sure.

I_left_the_left
I_left_the_left
Aug 30, 2020 12:26 PM
Reply to  JoeC

Few films gave me a greater sense of the horror and insanity of war, nor made me understand what it can do to young soldiers’ minds, nor made me abhor violence more effectively, than ‘Platoon’.

Jim McDonagh
Jim McDonagh
Aug 30, 2020 1:54 PM
Reply to  JoeC

Agreed , While Platoon pleased Americas elites and was rewarded . Full Metal Jacket was far better. Salvador and JFK have shaped US public opinion in surprisingly numerous ways , since the reality they offered are far closer to the truth than anything offered by the status quo narrative.

Shin
Shin
Aug 30, 2020 7:13 AM
Reply to  livingsb

Stone’s an arsehole. He along with many other “real” thinkers believe 19 hijackers did 911. The guys a fruitcake. A paid off pigeon.

Jim McDonagh
Jim McDonagh
Aug 30, 2020 2:03 PM
Reply to  Shin

The US version of 9/11 is a minor incident on the global stage, and like covid a colossal fraud aka a good crisis not to be wasted. 9/11 in Chile say more folks horrifically killed and elected president assassinated by US interests. Mr Stone represents the pinnacle of cognitive dissonance and admits so in his interviews . Your assessment of him represents a great ignorance to say the least.

Shin
Shin
Aug 30, 2020 2:18 PM
Reply to  Jim McDonagh

Cognitive Dissonance, what is that the latest craze? Basically self denial. The simple fact you call him Mr. is a reflection of your own stupidity. What an utter insecure and daft comment.

Jim McDonagh
Jim McDonagh
Aug 30, 2020 7:09 PM
Reply to  Shin

Read Sartre on self deception while looking in the mirror to see a good example of it.

John Ervin
John Ervin
Aug 30, 2020 8:24 AM
Reply to  livingsb

It is intriguing that Putin gave Stone 4 hours of interview a couple years ago that seemed to suggest he had a lot of basic “street cred” over there. That made an impression. Then there’s his serial of “The Untold History of the U.S.” which I haven’t yet seen, but he’s lectured to groups at UCI here, and his resolve and discussion at forums was very forthright and seemed honest and well-intentioned and sincere.

Ron Kovic (“Born on the 4th of July”) had a brief exchange with me back in those days, and he referred to him in comradely tones and Kovic himself is an impressively kind and generous spirit.

All in all, I am tempted to see a lot of good in Stone, though he, like Odysseus, is an enigma in many ways, but that might just be my lack of enough knowledge about him. I think I’ll get his book, though I wasn’t all that wowed by the excerpts. Good to read though.

The subject, though, is so unmainstreamed in the heart of the mainstream world of Hollyweird, that that alone makes him compelling. That, and a strong affinity to social justice issues, like Salvador and JFK.

[Plus, I grew up in his world, and though much of the 18 years I spent there was steam being let out by a ceramic pie bird, I still seek to understand people like Steven Talbot, who drove me home when I was 12 in his Army ROTC dress uni, like mine, and now makes films for PBS, or his more celebrated brother, David, who was in the same marching band as me, all of us at Harvard School. (David has become sort of a dean of assassination researchers, with bestsellers, and also founded Salon, etc.) I really didn’t personally cross their paths much at all, but it was a conundrum that there were only a handful of us that swam against a strong tide of essential American upper-class fascismo there, and they’ve both become well known.

I fled that world, Vietnam War era, like it was a house on fire, the sense of entitlement was shockingly nauseating and deeply deceptive. I can relate to Stone’s stories because all that world in USAmerica is stuffed with lies and one struggles to find the right way(s) back to a non-duplicitous, non-dualist reality. It’s a load of lifelong baggage, and disencumbering oneself is a full-time job, but not without meaning of its own. Art seems to be the only avenue of approach. Father’s send such sons to law schools, where they drop out and become musicians, artists, writers…

Film-makers. I even tried my hand at that, or screenplays, but so many monetized people are involved in cinema, I chose instead music and the music of words, a better deal, at least for some like us.]

£4£&$4$~~~

“There are those who would have wept
To have stepped
Barefoot into reality.”

~~ Wallace Stevens

I_left_the_left
I_left_the_left
Aug 30, 2020 3:23 PM
Reply to  John Ervin

If US society is so ‘stuffed with lies’ that you can’t find your way back to reality, whatever must life be like in murdering totalitarian dictatorships like communist China or NK? As these living hells are run on propaganda, oppression and terror, I’m sure ordinary plebs there see what you strangely call ‘American upper class fascismo’ as paradise compared to the concentration camps awaiting anyone daring to criticise their tyrant leaders. Maybe they’d see your hate and criticism of the US as entitled insanity. Some may even illegally access the internet and learn that, in the US, you can stage mock executions of Orange Man Bad, and yet be hailed as a rebel hero by leftist celebs and MSM journalists, rather than face imprisonment, torture and execution. The duality of freedom and slavery is crystal clear to the truly oppressed.

paul
paul
Aug 30, 2020 7:30 PM

Those same “oppressed” North Korean plebs might count themselves lucky they have a leader who cobbled together a few crude atom bombs to save them from the genocidal terror of the psycho Us regime.

Jim McDonagh
Jim McDonagh
Aug 31, 2020 5:18 PM
Reply to  paul

China enabled the North Koreans in their claim to have a deliverable A-bomb , and CIA correctly thought selling that lie was a great way to increase their budget . Trumps attempts at pointing that out have created howls of outrage from the Koreans, the Chinese , and the US deep state.

john
john
Aug 30, 2020 3:30 PM
Reply to  John Ervin

“It is intriguing that Putin gave Stone 4 hours of interview a couple years ago”

Putin and Stone are both Jews.

John Ervinj
John Ervinj
Aug 30, 2020 7:16 PM
Reply to  john

AND?

That’s not so definitive. There’s millions of Jewish journalists in the US, especially in Alt-Media.

That he’s charged with being Jewish tells me nothing beyond the “obvious”. Perhaps it helped Putin make the choice, if there was some kind of short list, but I suspect mutual jewishness had little or nothing important to do with the call.

I couldnt find any data as to Putin’s religion. I’ve even been profiled as Jewish by some, which is riotously bemusing, especially by anti-semites, despite “Ervins” in West Scotland going back centuries without end and so many ancestral church affiliations.

Ah, but there may have been one way back when in the woodpile!

(I know, that gag went over about as well as Hitler’s bar mitzvah.)

Dayne
Dayne
Aug 30, 2020 12:53 PM
Reply to  livingsb

Totally agree. The best and the truly talented have been weeded out for more than 100 years now. The system has no use for them. It only promotes those who came from The Families and their culture of child abuse, occultism and severe multigenerational trauma. (I’ve seen all these first hand, and mind you, this was at a cozy, family-run language/training centre in rural Hampshire. Can you imagine what goes on in actual power centres like Hollywood.)

Of course, many of us will continue to read mainstream stories and search for redeeming qualities in individuals like Oliver Stone – an Academy Award winner. It gives us the feeling that the world isn’t THAT bad: We still connect and relate, even to the rich and famous, right?… But the truth is, we’re just kidding ourselves.

Livingsb
Livingsb
Aug 30, 2020 5:30 PM
Reply to  Dayne

Well said.

Jeff Carmack
Jeff Carmack
Aug 30, 2020 4:46 AM

Did you see Oliver Stone on Joe Rogan? When Stone deflected re: Ghislaine/Epstein and said he was not likely to research it for a production, Rogan could have asked him if he ever met Ghislaine. Stone is corrupted.

So Stone goes out there and tries to depict himself as exactly what he is not: a challenge to mainstream Hollywood.

This is the classic inversion strategy. Stone knows he’s not actually challenging Hollywood convention in the ways that matter most right now (probably because he’s complicit), so he tries to claim that he’s doing just that. It’s deceptive. Smoke and mirrors.

BlairAteMyHamster
BlairAteMyHamster
Aug 30, 2020 11:22 AM
Reply to  Jeff Carmack

He should have said something that I will agree on. But your forgetting, it may be those caught up in the Epstein scandal, or should I say avoiding justice, who will make the ultimate decision whether Stone’s movies are ever released again.

In this day and age keeping things close to your chest, or keeping your mouth shut at certain times has never been so in fashion, however wrong it appears. See his interview regarding the nearly non release of Platoon. He explains it well.

Jim McDonagh
Jim McDonagh
Aug 31, 2020 5:24 PM
Reply to  Jeff Carmack

Selling sex crimes as the equivalent of war crimes has long been a pet project of religious nutters and morality freaks in both Britain and America. Mr Stones desire to intervene ends far short of that benchmark.