28 August 2011

Sometimes Just a Notion is Great, Especially in Art



There was a day spent at a beach that felt all pink. It looked that way too. There were puffy white clouds with pinkish tints and pink cherubs running about worrying their Moms to death. The waves crashed against the breakers sending up a pink hued froth. Seagulls swooped for crumbs and swallowed them down their pink mouths. Kisses were stolen and responded to with giggles and playful slaps and return smooches that all felt as pink as the day. It was just like that and I can't tell you why. It just was.

I was talking to a friend one day and said that perhaps there's someone living in Belgium who, if he were born in the States could have been the greatest quarterback ever. I added that maybe there was someone born in the 16th century who if he had been born 600 years later would have become a more renowned basketball player than Michael Jordan. My friend said how that with such and so considerations, and because of this and that and the other and due to other arcane factors, my supposition just didn't hold water.

In other words he got all literal on me. Soaked in facts and details and science he was being realistic. Yawn. I very much would want a doctor who was about to perform surgery on me to maintain a similar philosophy to work. Mathematical certainty has a very important place in our society. Such rigor is essential in many fields. But it can sure screw up a good story. Or haven't you ever heard the words: "that would never happen." But it did. Right there in Dickens' David Copperfield there were all manner of events and coincidences that defy the laws of probability. Despite or perhaps because of this, Copperfield is great literature, great art and great fun.

I do not use logic nor do I parse when experiencing art, especially perhaps films. One of my favorite movies of all time in Antonino's L'Eclisse (1962). I loved it from my first viewing and yet had not a clue what the director was saying. Nor did I care. Later viewings would sort that out, I just felt good seeing it.

Felt good seeing it. Why? Why describe a kiss or an orange sherbet? 

Yes, there is a point at which you express why something is so wonderful. But never strain yourself. Please!

I recently read Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion and by God I could find you some themes there. But I'd druther not. Really, I just liked the words and the characters and the way people talked and a lot of what they said felt real. I related to Lee Stamper in a lot of ways in others I didn't. What of it?  The book was a fabulous time. It was one of those deals where afterward everything else I picked up to read seemed amateurish. I then watched the film version, released in 1970, which I'd seen previously, a lifetime ago. 

Guess what I did? 

I didn't compare the two. I just watched the film and thought it was good in a whole different way. Hell, you get to see Henry Fonda and Paul Newman occupying space in the same movie. Beat that! There was also a lot of the Oregon coastal countryside. I've spent a lot of time there and can attest to its beauty. Nice seeing it with a story occupying it's trees and rivers and such. I wasn't gaga over the film or anything but I sure enjoyed the time I spent looking at it. Instead of letting it's omissions from the book get under my skin, I felt glad to be reminded of the novel.  

I'm all in favor of general themes, feelings, impressions and suggestions. They're more sensual than the cold hard facts. 

A movie has got to feel good. So does a novel. You knew that about music, I'm sure. People will love a song well before learning the lyrics. Dissect it later, if at all. Movie, same thing.

All too often movies are released for the sole purpose of making money. They're pretty obvious. They have formulas. They are cynical. They don't feel good. Least not to some of us. I think they feel good to a whole lot of people because they fit those comfortable formulas. They don't push or prod or ask us any questions. Sometimes they try really hard to be liked and don't have an identity. Movies should have identities. (It just occurred to me that some people are like that. They lose their real selves to be popular. And perhaps they even are popular at a superficial level. But they lose whoever it is they are and we miss the unique experience of getting to know them. We meet their veneer and are impressed at their dazzling ability to make small talk.)

I think of said all I've got to say on this topic for now. I don't have a space or word limit for my posts. This is really nice because I can't write just a little bit or go on and on and on as I see fit. Anyway, the length of any writing should be just enough to say what needs be said. Ya know, what feels right.

I sure hope it doesn't seem gratuitous that add this clip that says what I mean better than I did. It's from The Virgin Spring (1960) directed by Ingmar Bergamn.



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