30 September 2012

Yes, I Know, Life Goes On

I just finished one of those highly acclaimed modern novels that is supposed to be a biting commentary on contemporary society, particularly consumerism and blah blah blah. Critics loved it because it is so easy to admire for its satiric wit and noble intent. I found it as subtle as a jab in the ribs. But its what passes for smart in American culture. Overblown easy to create characters who are as unbelievable as their eccentricities and constant philosophical musings. Time magazine named it one of the 100 best novels of the century. But to me it is one of those cookie cutter novels with the facile protagonist in a small college town surrounded by what are supposed to be a collection of quirky characters but are ultimately unbelievable and annoying. Post modern American literature reads like some wise ass precocious teenager making fun of his neighbors. There is insight without wisdom and pith without pathos. Intitialy you feel like you're feeding your intellect by reading one of these novels but by the end you see it as merely witty and a good read. (When someone tells me a book is a "good read" I know it is empty calories.) No thanks. Will read Thomas Pynchon next. There's always a cure.

A burial. A memorial. Endless hugs and tears and comforting and being comforted and being offered sympathy. Grieving is exhausting. Just moving on is simple enough but hard earned and there will be pangs of grief and remembrance forever and yes life goes on. I only got the one brother and now he's gone. All stages of grief checked off. Lately people have said to me: "you and your family are in our thoughts." What exactly, I wonder, am I doing there? What if I want out? I feel a sense of discomfort being in other people's thoughts. How do I know what they're thinking while I'm in there? I'm troubled enough by being in my own thoughts. I think. All right I grant you it seems I'm being flip about very sincere offerings of sympathy. I'm not. Just a little fun with words is all. But I've also heard "may god comfort you..." If  there is a god, why the deuce did she/he take my brother's life in the first place? Then I wouldn't need her/his comfort. Surely an omnipotent god could have let him live longer. He'd have seen his first grandchild for a few more years and could have met his second who will born next March. I have, no pun intended, grave doubts about this god and how capricious it is. This is my thing and I have no quarrel with anyone who has an abiding faith in an almighty. I am an ardent supporter of religious freedom (which includes being free of religion) so long as that religion is not a weapon to oppress. I thank everyone who has offered kind words these past two weeks and neither my wordplay or my strong doubts about a higher power should be seen as any rejection of these heartfelt offerings. My brother was a pious man. I'm just difficult.

I watched Amarcord (1973) last night. I did not really need another reminder for why I love cinema or why I love Fellini, but there it was. A cornucopia of a film positively brimming with memorable characters and situations. Amracord is like a reaffirmation that life is filthy rich with the amusing, the unpredictable and the beautiful. Beautiful not in the sense of physical attractiveness but in the discovery of wonderful amazing exciting moments. Characters that pulsate with the excitement of being an active member of the human race. The father who threatens to kill himself and proceeds to simultaneously pull his upper jaw up and lower jaw down. The teens who spontaneously sway in the wind to unknown music. The mental patient on a family outing who climbs to the top of a tree and shouts that he wants a woman. The town beauty who is proud to be ogled by one and all as she sashays around town with a big grin. The local historian who offers the town history into the camera despite hecklers aplenty. What a fine madness! There are sweet little films, there are taught thrillers, there are hilarious comedies, there are moody noirs, and then there are bombastic audacious swirling and shambling and rambling delights like Amarcord. Oh it does't flinch from anything. There are fascists there is a premature death there is unrequited love and the insane. In other words there is the rich stew of life. Sup, everyone, sup. You must because time is fleeting. We come we go we are left we leave we must enjoy. Bellissima!

1 comment:

dri said...

Yes, it has been hard to find "new" books that are actually good, I've been reading some for a masters exam in literature, but the new ones just suck.

I really feel sorry about your brother, I miss my mom, she died last December... the funeral and everything were just like this, weird.