A new strategy: suing liberal institutions for claiming to be non-liberal

William Peter Blatty, 85-year-old author of The Exorcist, is suing Georgetown University for falsely calling itself a Catholic institution. What a great idea. Evidently Blatty believes that words, such as “Catholic,” have objective and stable meanings, and do not mean whatever anyone chooses to say they mean. Laura Wood posts the Washington Post article.

Also, here is a critical VFR discussion about the movie of The Exorcist, titled “How liberalism with pleasing words wins us over, to our damnation”; and here is an entry about The Possessed, a remarkable made-for-TV movie which tells the true story that The Exorcist was based on, the only documented case of an exorcism in the United States.

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Kristor writes:

I would enter a word of support for The Exorcist—both the movie and the book it was based upon. I saw the movie as a young teenager, and it had a profound effect on me. It wasn’t just that the movie terrified me, as indeed it did (I can still work my way into a bit of a terror, just remembering scenes from the movie). No other movie has so frightened me. I have thought from the very beginning that the reason this is so is that, unlike other horror movies, The Exorcist is based upon true events. It is unapologetically a horror movie about horrors that, it argues, are real. Horror, like most genres, asks us for the duration of the performance to suspend our disbelief, so that our emotions can be engaged in responding to the events portrayed on screen as if they were real. Many horror flicks throw in a dollop of arch humor or irony, to make it easier for the audience to disengage when the time comes. The Exorcist, by contrast, asked us to suspend our disbelief permanently, precisely because the events portrayed on screen were faithful to reality. It provided no self-conscious humor, no hint of Hollywood’s typical self-referential allusions, that would have said, “this is just a movie, wink wink nod nod.” With even most straightforward horror movies, it is easy afterward to shoot holes in the plot, and so dissipate the residue of hormonal terror. Alien freaked me out for a while, until I figured out that the monsters it portrays make no metabolic sense. Not so with The Exorcist. It said, “Never mind all your high-falutin modern sophistications, this stuff really happens—deal with it.”

It has never stopped frightening me.

Which is salutary, right? We should be terrified of demons.

I was raised to believe that demons are not real. When I entered the theater to see The Exorcist, I was utterly convinced of this teaching. When I left, I knew in my guts that it was false. Knowing that Blatty’s novel would terrify me even more than the movie had, I nevertheless sought it out and devoured it in an afternoon. Then I bought and read his sequel, Legion. I wanted to find out about the demonic aspect of creation, that I had never before taken seriously. I wanted to grapple with these notions. And like the movie, this is just what Blatty’s books do, and ask us to do.

They are not great art. But they are a strong tonic. The Exorcist was an important first step toward my eventual rejection of modernity.

The only other similar big screen production I know of is The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Both these movies take exorcism, and demons, with deadly seriousness. They also take Christianity seriously, without any grains of salt; and they portray the Christian liturgy as powerfully effective against demons. They portray Catholic priests as warriors on the front lines of a terrific conflict, wielding immense supernatural power, and paying a dreadful personal price for their service. Finally, they portray spiritual combat as noble, beautiful, and worthwhile. These are all profoundly illiberal messages. They are good messages.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 21, 2012 07:25 PM | Send

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