NOT YOUR LIBERAL: A New YouTube Channel From Alex Sheremet

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Ever since I published my essay on Ben Shapiro, I’ve had countless requests to start a political show or something similar. I’ve finally taken this advice, and am testing the waters with a YouTube channel, under the branding Not Your Liberal.

The channel will cover politics, the arts, science, and philosophy, with videos and debates ranging from a few minutes to well over an hour, depending on the topic and format. I’ll debunk talking points, as well as meatier and more substantive arguments, teach you how to correctly read a poem or evaluate a painting, introduce you to ideas you’ve not heard before, and- of course- frame and unfold arguments in unpredictable ways, as you’ve no doubt seen if you’ve followed my debates within and about the articles on this blog.

I just posted the first video- “Debunking Ben Shapiro’s Free Will,” covering a topic I am interested in but didn’t get a chance to talk about just yet. A reader, in fact, notified me of Shapiro’s article on the subject, and I decided to take her e-mail as a suggestion.

Please subscribe to the channel, and if you like the first video, click ‘Like’. I have an upcoming, much longer video debating the state of politics and culture, as well as videos on abortion, multiculturalism, film, animation, poetry, and race and IQ. I will tackle the Intellectual Dark Web in the near future, which is a pretty common request I get in e-mails.

I’ve also started a Patreon page so that I could, maybe, transition to writing and making videos full time. Even just $1 per month helps- the important thing, to me, is the number of loyal, interested, and responsive patrons that I have, and not necessarily what they’re able to contribute. Once I hit a certain number of supporters, I can start covering bigger and bolder ground.

Expect more content by September.… Continue reading →

On The History Of Criticism (& Some Updates For My Readers!)

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Now that I’m busy working on my fourth book- a novel set in Tang-era China- I will have a more regular essay schedule, both for this website as well as my Tooth & Nail column over at Cosmoetica. But first, a few updates on Woody Allen: Reel To Real, the things that have come, and the things that will be:

First, from what readers, reviewers, academics, and film producers have written, the book is now the “standard” of Woody scholarship, as well as their favorite book on the subject. I intended Reel To Real to be both scholarly and accessible, as well as the most comprehensive text of its kind. It will continue to be exactly that, given the many updates it’s slated to receive over the coming years.

The book also won an Honorable Mention in the Non-Fiction category over at Readers’ Favorite Awards. Not sure what this really means, yet, as RFA do their publicity outreach in October, but I’m looking more at niche and specialty awards over the next few months. The fact is, Reel To Real is closer to scholarship than something that typically gets picked up by intelligent lay readers, despite being geared towards exactly that demographic. I’d like to get the book into the hands of more academics, given how- to my surprise- they’ve responded so well to it.

Then, a couple of nights ago, I was filmed as a talking-head for an upcoming documentary by Bradley Weatherholt. Oddly enough, the film deals with the cross-currents of Star Wars and philosophy/art/media studies, and although I’ve exactly zero interest in those films, the director wanted someone to discuss art history and the history of criticism. The questions were sharp, intelligent, and broad, making for a good, tangential sort of conversation. The short is that Bradley wants to expose people (such as those in a fandom) to ideas that they might not otherwise hear, much less be open to, and this is a useful way of doing exactly that. And, despite our different approaches, it seems that the both of us have the same goal: to understand art correctly, and to communicate this understanding as well as we can. I talk of Aristotle, Sir Philip Sidney, Pauline Kael (on whom my essay enticed Bradley to contact me), and others, more or less arguing the following, as per my initial e-mails to him:

My personal view is that 90+% of all ‘theory’ and academic writing on the topic of film is silly and worthless. It contributes nothing to really understanding a film, and even when it (rarely) helps one understand a particular slice of a film (ex., what it might say about race), it also exaggerates this slice by bringing an unnecessary and totally unrealistic amount of attention to it.

In short- you CANNOT split art into ‘1 thing.’ Every decade or so, one gets a new fad- a new ‘methodology’ that tries to pigeonhole cinema even as they claim to bring in a … Continue reading →

My New Column: “Tooth And Nail” at Cosmoetica!

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Besides my essays for IDEAS ON IDEAS, I will now be writing a column called “Tooth And Nail” for Cosmoetica, thus taking the place of Len Holman’s brilliant several-year run. If you haven’t read his essays yet — 15 million hits, and counting! — they are witty, concise 800-900 word pieces on all things politics, and more. Len is combative, opinionated, and, most importantly, an excellent writer: qualities that I will replicate in similar articles to give you guys (and myself!) a respite from the monstrous 10,000+ word essays on this website.

In short, writers get FAR too comfortable simply being ‘one thing,’ whether it’s novel-writing, poetry, essays on this or that topic, or what have you. Yet as art grows out of its juvenile little phase, artists will take on new challenges as well as new responsibilities. These include diversity of skill and vision, greater consistency, and a better understanding of what art is, and, yes, what art isn’t.

This column is my way of going towards this direction, that I don’t ossify into merely ‘one thing’ and get fat and sassy in the process. In this spirit, the topics will cover everything from art to politics, to cultural musings, and small ‘o’ observations. Do it all, baby — and do it well!

Essay #1: Pundits On Drugs, and what drug legalization should really mean.

Bye!… Continue reading →

Dan Slevin (Rancho Notorious Podcast) on “Woody Allen: Reel To Real”

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Earlier this week, I was interviewed by Dan Slevin — editor of FishHead Magazine — for his Rancho Notorious Podcast, on my book, Woody Allen: Reel To Real. The interview focuses on Woody Allen’s film work, my reactions to it, as well as the e-book process.

According to Slevin, the book is “a massive undertaking, and one of the most significant pieces of film archaeology you could come across.”

You can listen to the interview here, a little past the 1 hour mark.… Continue reading →

Woody Allen’s Top 10 Films, Analyzed And Explained

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Today marks the release of Woody Allen: Reel To Real, which is, as of this writing, the most comprehensive book on Woody Allen ever published. Poet and critic Dan Schneider, of Cosmoetica fame, has called it a “seminal” and “revolutionary” book, a book that ought to change the way people talk and think about film. I hope that you’ll agree, if not with some of my interpretations, then at least with the tools Reel To Real provides — tools that can be applied to the art world as a whole, for greatness (as Schneider has argued) is its own company, and what works or fails in one place can be extrapolated into another, from film to film, art-work to art-work, and to the kinds of stories people like to tell.

In short, the book covers every movie that Woody Allen has ever written, directed, or otherwise acted in, with preference given to the material from Annie Hall onward, and especially to neglected masterpieces such as Stardust Memories, Interiors, and Another Woman. Thus, I take a film-first approach, with detailed analyses and 100s of references spread across ~160,000 words on art-centered writing. Yet the book also features a dialogue between the writer and reader, a huge chapter dissecting 6 major critics of Woody Allen (read it here, in full), a fiery exchange between me and Jonathan Rosenbaum, perpetual updates to the e-book via a ‘sync’ system whenever a new Woody film is released, and a final chapter wherein — after much praise, from me! — I finally take Woody Allen to task on his influences, opinions, and general philosophy. In short, no one gets off easy, because, just as Judah is told in Crimes And Misdemeanors, ‘the truth will out.’ Except, in this case, it’s not mere naïveté, and I’ve got the hammer.

Anyway, to celebrate the release of Woody Allen: Reel To Real, I’ve decided to compile a list of Woody Allen’s top 10 films, and explain my reasons in depth. Note that while there are some films, below, that can legitimately be knocked up or down a few spots, they all have at least SOME claim to artistic greatness, if not being indisputably so. So, despite Jonathan Rosenbaum’s claims, to me, a 40-minute fluff-piece like Oedipus Wrecks simply does not belong here. And, conversely — and critical negligence aside! — a well-written, well-filmed, and well-scored opus like Another Woman does. And now that at least some of my reasoning is clear, let us begin with the list proper!

 

Woody Allen’s Top 10 Films

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Woody Allen's Top 10 Films Stardust Memories1. Stardust Memories (1980)

I respect the reader, and so won’t waste time by forcing anyone to scroll to the very bottom of this page to see my top Woody pick. It’s not merely annoying, but would occlude a great film, a film that deserves the #1 spot, and needs to be watched without blinders, and understood without the silly imbuements into Woody … Continue reading →