Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mr. Blue, Prince Myshkin, Brother Karamazov, St. Francis, Sally Hawkins, and Us

Thanks very much to Elizabeth, Michael, and Patrick for their holiday film and book recommendations.  It occurs to me that I've been of a mind to recommend something contemporary in this connection too -- thought I might be a bit (characteristically) late:  The Mike Leigh film, 'Happy Go Lucky,' which I viewed about this time last year (so maybe it almost counts?) was just an utterly beautiful film.  Doubtless you all know the story by now.  An (at first) apparently ditzy, irritatingly happy person sort of waltzes and bops through a couple of weeks of her life, at first annoying most of those she meets but inexorably winning just about all of them over in time with her all round cheerfulness and deep, patient kindness.  You're at first tempted to think her a bit 'thick,' as the English might put it, or relentlessly superficial -- and 'happy' for that reason alone.  But in the most wonderfully subtle ways, Leigh makes you gradually come to realize just how very deep and decent this young woman is -- so much so as to leave you feeling almost guilty and inadequate in comparison, all while determined to be this decent yourself.  In particular, any time that Mr. Leigh focuses upon Ms. Hawkins's face, as she gazes intently and silently through a window, or into the face of a child or a homeless man, you just about shiver with awe at the sheer mystery and love and ... I don't know, indescribably facticity of this in the end inexplicable, just blessed soul.  In a way, I think Mr. Leigh provides a very nice contemporary version of a wonderful and long-familiar archetype -- that of the 'jongleur de Dieu,' or perhaps 'Holy Fool.'  I've often thought that what's demanded of me as an unjustifiably fortunate fellow is to move steadily from being a sort of Ivan Karamazov, as I was when quite young, to being a sort of Alyosha Karamazov (perhaps somehow both at once?) -- or maybe equivalently a Prince Myshkin or St. Francis or ... now, thanks to Patrick ... Mr. Blue.  Ms. Hawkins's fantastic example in 'Happy Go Lucky' provides one more roadmap of how to get there.  (Please watch especially carefully the scene with the homeless gentleman under the overpass -- it will give you shivers it's so beautiful!) 

Thanks again!,



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