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

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Poem of the Day: Gerard Manley Hopkins

No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief, 
More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring. 
Comforter, where, where is your comforting? 
Mary, mother of us, where is your relief? 
My cries heave, herds-long; huddle in a main, a chief  
Woe, world-sorrow, on an age-old anvil wince and sing -- 
Then lull, then leave off. Fury had shrieked "No ling-
ering! Let me be fell: force I must be brief."

    O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall 
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap 
May who ne'er hung there. Nor does long our small 
Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep, 
Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all 
Life death does end and each day dies with sleep. 
--Gerard Manley Hopkins

As I said before about Hopkins: "Even if you don't believe what he's saying (I don't), you believe that he believed it." But here I believe what he's saying in the sense that I believe he underwent deep personal torment, call it spiritual or call it psychological. His solution -- becoming a Jesuit priest -- is not one I'd prescribe, especially to a man struggling to repress his homosexual desires, and was also not one that seemed to alleviate his emotional suffering. Nowhere in his verse is that suffering more powerfully expressed than in this, one of his "terrible sonnets." (The first word ought to be amended to "terrifying" or "terrified" -- they are both.) And nowhere is it clearer that his faith, however earnestly and tenaciously he clung to it, failed to give him comfort for very long.

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