Tag Archives: Frederick Wiseman Ex Libris

Sunday morning; “The Red Pony”


Good morning, Scott.

It’s 7:22 a.m.

I’m following the foot philosophy and am going to Manhattan to take the ferry again. I’m not sure why.

I saw “Ex Libris,” the Frederick Wiseman film about the New York Public Library, last night … it’s over three hours long.

I was tired, which may have been a factor, but I wasn’t that thrilled with the film; and, I was very disappointed with Wiseman’s “lecture” Thursday evening.

Nevertheless, I am glad I saw the film.

Today, I am going at 11 a.m. to see another film at the Film Forum: “The Red Pony,” a late 1940’s film, with a score by Aaron Copland, based on the Steinbeck novella. We read it in junior HS.

I had one good teacher in junior high: Miss Hanlon, our eighth grade English teacher. She seemed to think well of me and of my appreciation of reading.

Once we were reading “The Red Pony” and I made what seems in retrospect to have been a perceptive comment about the boy, Jody’s, father. I said that he was a certain kind of stern father who had trouble showing affection for his son. I was thinking of my relationship with my own father. Miss Hanlon appreciated these comments.



— posted by Roger W. Smith

   September 2017

“a way to avoid death”


I saw the documentary film Ex Libris, directed by Frederick Wiseman, today. The film, which is about the New York Public Library, has just been released.

In one particular scene, a discussion group at the library’s main branch on Fifth Avenue is engaged in a lively exchange of views about a book (naturally): Love in the Time of Cholera (Spanish: El amor en los tiempos del cólera) by Gabriel García Márquez. (I recognized the librarian conducting the discussion. The library is like a second home to me, and this librarian has assisted me with queries and more mundane matters related to using the library for research.)

As is noted in a Wikipedia entry, “The novel examines romantic love in myriad forms. … García Márquez’s main notion is that lovesickness is literally an illness, a disease comparable to cholera.”

This idea was batted around in the discussion group seen in the film. The compulsive pursuit of love in old age by one of the main characters was brought up. Several participants in the discussion said that they were in their seventies.

A young man spoke up and posed a rhetorical question, followed by his own answer.

“What is love?” he asked. “It’s a way to avoid death. For as long as you can.”


— Roger W. Smith

  September 16, 2017