Monday, April 07, 2008

Crash landings

As I was drawin’ me bath this evening, sinuses sodden with oak pollen, Waugh’s Men at Arms within reach, blurry images went through me head, images of the book and of this weekend’s viewing of Atonement. Echoes of the viewing itself, during which I felt film and book blurring as well. The astonishing surrealism of the beach scenes in Atonement seemed to blend right in with Waugh’s dark farce. All that and the fog of my oak-laden head.

I flashed to other art collisions I’ve experienced in the past, and wondered about those experienced by Tribe SA/East and West.

In addition to Atonement/Men at Arms, these come to mind:

1. Hesse’s Siddhartha and the Who’s Who’s Next: Freshman year, home for Christmas break, friend Mary plops the book into my lap one cold Jackson eve: I go home and, to the blaring repetitions of the Who’s tour de force (the violin surge of “Baba O’Riley; the lunar landscape of the entire album), I read and listen and listen and read until 4 in the morning (Van echo, much later: Four o'clock in the morning' / new full moon shinin' down through the trees), until book and music are inseparable. I cannot see the blue cover of the paperback without immediately seeing the four blighters who have just pissed on a concrete monolith (pissing on Kubrick?) in their lunar wasteland.

2. Last week was an odd triumvirate: I Am Legend / No Country for Old Men / The Pursuit of Happyness. The first two collided first, as I viewed the second right on the heels of the other. Both lay in an extremely dark wash on their canvases, into which are introduced the faintest of lights, both films invoking the same theme of small light within darkness. My crazy slip-sliding self then threw in the latter, thinking: I Am Legend is what Will’s character in Pursuit “wins.” I know: it’s my cynical self: I wept through TPOH, wept at the love and desperation and brutality, and yet when Will’s Chris finally (finally…finally) breaks through in the end, we’re given 30 seconds of triumph. 30 seconds. After which, I thought: this was triumph? To have broken through into a business that basically bankrupted the American economy through the 80s, with its rapacious greed? And then the engineered virus “cure” wipes us out. The “good” “cop.”

3. Orlando (VW’s book) and Orlando (Sally Potter’s film): I read the book and then saw the film a few months later. Most folks I knew hated the movie, feeling lost in its swerves and omissions. I’ll be the first to skewer a film for eviscerating its source (don’t get me started on All the Pretty Horses), but this pairing was simply fortuitous: the film ended up feeling like the soundtrack to the book itself, visual pairings that just seemed to work.

4. Frampton Comes Alive/Mozart: I’ve written of this before in the Ark-Hives of an old old classroom blog: thirty years ago in a record (yes, record) store on Broadway, north of the Loop here in Tres Leches, I was the only customer browsing for a good hour or so (needless to say, with traffic numbers like that, the store is no more, though it was a favorite of mine, off the beaten path, plenty big, and plenty sumptuous in its inventory). During one long stretch of this visit, Mlle. Manager played, at Gwar-like volume, PF’s classic “Do You Feel Like We Do?”—a song which has never sounded better. As it was hitting its colossal finish, I wondered, “What next?” PF crescendo splurge, guitar hero endless repetitions on the way out (you can just imagine the blond locks flailing—his, not mine) and then…Mozart. Lovely Mozart. Lilting Mozart. I look the managerial way across the record racks and she sez, “Why not?” And “Why not?” it were indeed.

Y’all out there in your lives who have as little to do in them as I do in mine, lemme know of your collisions.

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Blogger alt said...

I’m so glad to someone else’s mind works this way too. Most recently, completing Elizabeth Gilbert’s travels in India in “Eat, Pray, Love” and watching way too much “CSI: Las Vegas” led to a rather intense dream last night. Everywhere I was going I was shedding something: clothes, skin, hair, sticky food from my fingers…while behind me walked lab technicians who would carefully pick up everything in gloved hands, catalog it, analyze it, and then interpret the dream symbols for me: this is the destruction of ego, this is finding true self, this is walking away from bad habits…

An intense study session for an art history final will forever marry the images of Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” with the songs of Barenaked Ladies’ “Stunt” in my mind. The two are frighteningly appropriate with each other: hell and damnation rendered almost like a cartoon set to bright chirpy rhythms with wickedly sarcastic subtext.

In general, I have to be careful what music I’m listening to during different life events as they tend to become indelibly linked. I can’t listen to The Wallflowers without oral surgery flashbacks, I had to sell a Chemical Brothers album after receiving the news of a coworker’s fatal car crash, and damn it if a stupid boy didn’t almost ruin Dressy Bessy for me. I’m glad to say Dressy Bessy, in true glam rock girl style, won out in the end.

Here’s to the mish-mash of life.

5:11 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...


I was sure you could relate. Your Bosch/Ladies conjunction reminded me of a late night psych final cram session (no art, that) that was crammed to a Kinky Friedman soundtrack. The recurring lyric in our skulls was "there was a rumor, about a tumor, nestled at the base of his brain..."

Was a time when every book seemed to have at least one item that immediately connected back to the previous book I had just read, no matter how divergent the stories.

It's definitely all a mish-mosh pit.

5:30 PM  
Blogger San said...

My collisions seem to involve synesthesia:

During my first pregnancy I had this almost-debilitating morning sickness. The world smelled to high heaven. And we happened to be playing a lot of Tom Waits and Lori Anderson in the gallery. So, yes, to this day, when I hear either, I feel vaguely woozy. Also Philip Glass. He can send me running to the nearest toilet. OK. I'm exaggerating. But that vaguely woozy thing definitely kicks in with Philip Glass too. The last book I was reading before the morning sickness set in--Barry Hannah's Night Watchman. Somehow it's associated with impending doom. I was reading it in Golden Gate Park, little knowing that a few months later I'd be there on the Fourth of July, getting ill from the smell of barbecued burgers.

And not exactly synethesia, but a collision:

Re-watching Little Women over the Christmas holidays when Flan was home her freshman year. All of those little women growing up--I continue to enjoy the film for all of the usual reasons--amazing cast, dazzling, big shots of wintry New England, tear-jerking happy ending--but now it has acquired a reflective patina in which I see my own little woman.

3:12 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

San: I must have been pregnant when I first listened to Waits and Anderson meself: no dissin' on the folks, but those be some woozy worlds, with or without a second resident in your belly. As for BH, good lord, a contact high just from reading Nightwatchman is a definite possibility.

I assume we're talking the Winona/Sarandon LW: a great film, and as teary and satisfying and sweet an ending as Ang's Sense and Sensibility. How wonderful to have lived the arc of Flan's life and see the mirrorings around you.

4:01 PM  

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