A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Poem of the Day: Emily Dickinson

Tell the Truth but tell it slant -- 
Success in Circuit lies 
Too bright for our infirm Delight 
The Truth's superb surprise 
As Lightning to the Children eased 
With explanation kind 
The Truth must dazzle gradually 
Or every man be blind --
--Emily Dickinson

"The truth is rarely pure and never simple," as Oscar Wilde observed, and as anyone who has ever given a deposition or served as a witness or on a jury is likely to agree. But I think this is also a case of Emily Dickinson anticipating Paul Verlaine, who proclaimed (remember?) in "Art Poétique": Il faut aussi que tu n'ailles point / Choisir tes mots sans quelque méprise (You must never set out to choose your words without some imprecision). Maybe that's why so many people dislike poetry: If it's any good, it never takes the easy way. I won't go so far as Plato to call poets liars, but maybe this puts a different spin on Shelley's claim that poets are the unacknowledged legislators of mankind. We know how everybody feels about legislators and their tenuous connection to the truth these days. Still, maybe the real explication of Dickinson's lyric belongs to Jack Nicholson:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Bookishness,

As luck would have it, I am a denizen of the great state of New York, where our very own Gov. Patterson's cabinet is the latest in a long, prodigious line of corrupt officials... Really, I didn't think he had it in him.

Shelley was right; poets are the "unacknowledged legislators of mankind." It is too bad that our acknowledged ones are such bastards.

Maybe the real problem, if you will, is that we have too many legislators that like to legislate with a firmly intact superiority complex. In other words, we have too many of Plato's "philosopher-kings" in office; people that deem themselves to be wholly and substantively different from the rest of us low-landers that are un-enlightened.

The poets have been banned for too long (damn Book X in Republic)!! We ought to get our pitchforks and storm that shiny hill, shrouded and obscure in perversity, and take back what was, and is, rightfully ours; representation.