Revisiting Casanova After #MeToo
Plus, Living in a Home that Breathes.
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CATHY YOUNG: Revisiting Casanova After #MeToo.
Few figures in world history are as iconic as Giacomo Girolamo Casanova, one of a select group whose names have become synonyms for “womanizer.” And yet as historical figures go, one could argue that Casanova, the eighteenth-century adventurer and memoirist, is an extremely minor one: His existence had little effect on the course of history, and his biggest contribution to culture in his lifetime was to have devised the state-sponsored lottery. Still, Casanova continues to fascinate. His autobiography, Histoire de ma vie (“The History of My Life”), has gone through some four hundred editions in twenty languages; France’s Bibliothèque Nationale acquired the original French-language manuscript (along with other Casanova documents) in 2010 for $9 million, its single most expensive acquisition ever. The memoir has also provided source material for numerous films, notably including Federico Fellini’s 1976 Casanova and a heavily fictionalized 2005 feature starring Heath Ledger.
Casanova’s Histoire was scandalous when first published in the 1820s, even heavily bowdlerized, and soon ended up on the Catholic Church’s index of prohibited books. Back then, it was condemned for its irreverence toward religion and frank depiction of illicit sexual adventures, some of them with nuns. In the 2020s, Casanova scandalizes for a very different reason: In the age of #MeToo and of acute feminist awareness of male sexual abuse of women, a man known primarily for his seductions is liable to be, as they say, problematic—especially when those seductions took place in an era of legally entrenched male dominance and often fuzzy notions of consent. When a Casanova museum opened in his native Venice in 2018, the Huffington Post reacted with an article titled “The Real Casanova Wasn’t A Ladies Man, He Was A Rapist.”
Josh Barro joins the group to reflect on Queen Elizabeth, analyze President Biden’s democracy speech, interpret the midterm tea leaves, and evaluate what lessons we must learn from the poor US response to COVID-19.
In recent midterms, the right bet was against the incumbent party. But those elections didn’t have an overturning of a popular SCOTUS precedent and an ex-POTUS who tried to stage a coup on the ballot. Plus, an appreciation of the queen. The weekend pod with Charlie Sykes and Bill Kristol.
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Thursday Night Bulwark: Welcome to the Thunderdome. 🔐
Barbarian is a tricky movie to review because you really owe it to yourself to know as little as possible going in. As such, the top third of this review will discuss nothing beyond what is seen in the trailer and include a recommendation that you go see it—Barbarian is a terrifyingly fun film to see with an audience and one of the most-messed-up mainstream movies I’ve seen in years—while the bottom two-thirds will get into the weeds a bit further. I will break the sections up with an image or two.
You are forewarned.
ADDISON DEL MASTRO: Living in a Home that Breathes.
My wife and I have been—dejectedly, half-heartedly—shopping for a house in Northern Virginia. I hardly have to explain why it’s not an encouraging endeavor. (If you’re not familiar, just input any locality in Fairfax County into Zillow and filter by “lowest price first.”)
Yet market travails aside, one of the most curious things I’ve noticed during open-house visits around here is that the windows in these expensive, very nice homes frequently do not work.
Sometimes they’re old and have never been replaced; sometimes they’ve been painted shut; some look fine but are so stiff they’ve likely not been opened for years; some are brand new but are so cheap that the plastic in the locking mechanisms warps under pressure so that the window cannot latch shut. Some don’t even have intact screens. (That can sometimes be explained by a realtor trick: Removing the screens lets in more light. In these cases, the screens are stowed in the garage or basement.)
Happy Friday! I hope you have weekend plans that are fun and exciting as the “free summer” days continue. Addison Del Mastro’s item above reminded me of those hot nights in Shaker Heights without A/C and learning the physics of the box fan.
Private policing in Saint Louis. I told this story when I predicted the gun-toting lawyers, the McCloskeys, were screwed. I used to live down the street from them, and one night after a fraternity party, I walked home through their neighborhood with a fellow brother. We were going to go play Halo on Xbox and a city cop stopped us and was going to cite us for trespassing. I showed him my license and opined that I was an unlikely thief, living literally down the street but not in that community. He let us off.
But the folks at Pro Publica and the Post-Dispatch highlight what’s becoming a growing problem in Saint Louis: policing disparity and the role of off-duty police. It’s wild if you haven’t lived it.
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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. For full credits, please consult the article.