Ethics and Hats

It’s gettin’ so a businessman can’t expect no return from a fixed fight. Now if you can’t trust a fix, what can you trust? For a good return you gotta go bettin’ on chance, and then you’re back with anarchy. Right back inna jungle. On account of the breakdown of ethics. That’s why ethics is important. It’s the grease makes us get along, what separates us from the animals, beasts a burden, beasts a prey. Ethics.

Johnny Capser, “Miller’s Crossing”

It’s significant that Verna takes Tom’s hat off as she kisses him, and later in the film, in a pivotal moment, Leo hands Tom his hat.  The hat in the gangster film has always been an important prop, but here, we realize that, to these gangsters, the hat is part of the persona.  In this film, characters are constantly putting their hats on and off, and there seems to be an unusually high concern for the welfare of hats (“See you got your hat back.”)  Tom’s hat seems to be part of his identity, and you could even say that the hat helps him play a role.  The other character whose identity seems to be tied to their hat would be the sinister Dane.  Where as Tom’s hat almost acts as a mask or a shield (maybe both?), The Dane’s hat seems to accentuate his diabolical nature.  They are the horns of this devil.

Top Shelf Movies – Men Of Principle: Ethics and Hats in Miller’s Crossing

Write First, Ask Questions Later

Siegler’s on to something with “The Blogging Mindset”

All of this is to say that I think I’m going to start doing for everything what I have done for aforementioned Apple topics. And actually, have done before seeing movies for a while. That is, wait to read the other takes until after I’ve formed my own opinion. I have a link blog (read: newsletter) to link to great takes/thoughts eventually, I don’t need to do that in an initial post.

This move is also selfish: I wish to write more. When I think about what is stopping me from writing more, it’s often the amount of time needed to read all of the takes I feel like I must read before weighing in on something myself.

M. G. Siegler “The Blogging Mindset”

Siegler’s post really helps encapsulate some lingering thoughts and concerns of my own, especially:

Basically, I now feel like I can’t write about anything unless I’ve read as much as I possibly can about a topic.


If I spent too much time reading over other thoughts and reviews, my own became weaker, not stronger, as a result.

Some of the best, most impassioned writing comes when you have a passionate view on an issue. That passion is often early, heat of the moment, off the cuff, and, sure, sometimes not fully informed. But in a desire to dig and get every ounce of information before posting, you lose some of the value of your take and temper that passion and fire.

Far too often I read something that I have an opinion on. But digging into it, and the subsequent time that takes, often dilutes my desire. Not because my opinion is changed, but because I diminish the value of my own thoughts.

That’s not to say one should go off on something uninformed. You don’t want to be WRONG, but it’s OK to have a take without overthinking something. To strive to be timely and relevant. Yes, it’s a lot of WWIC, but it’s also the nature of and really where blogs shined best in a world before Facebook and Twitter.

I think originality is a word of praise for things that have been expressed in a marvelous way and that make points of origin for any particular element beside the point.  When you read Saul Bellow or listen to Bob Dylan sing, you can have someone point to various cribbings and it won’t matter, because something has been arrived at which subsumes and incorporates and transcends these matters.  In that way, sourcing and originality are two sides of the same coin, they’re a nested partnership. 

I don’t think originality has any value as a description of process.  In that regard it’s as meaningless a process word as beauty is.  No artist says, “Let me sit down and do some beauty now.”

Jonathan Lethem