Gerald Thomas © NY – Nov 20, 2014
Mike Nichols is dead. I’m obviously sad, touched.
“It was pop and classic. Pop and classic. Classically pop!”
We used to savor one movie at a time: say….. “Un Chien Andalu”, say… “Silence” or “Wild Strawberries” or “Seven”, “E la Nave Va”, “Blow Up” or Godard…or, even, ‘Happiness” (by Solondz)…John Waters or “Clockwork Orange”…
And it all tasted…. well…it tasted amazing!
John Fante tasted amazing. So did Plato. So did Ovid. So did Asterix, so did Nietzsche, so did Michael Jackson. It was pop and classic. Pop and classic. Pure Kafka, pure Raymond Chandler.
“We collect secrets over the years, hide behind them, depend on them, like aces up our sleeve. We think we have to protect the people we love from the truth, but the truth isn’t the poison. It’s the cure. Best thing you can do is teach your kids not to be afraid. We try to live a good life, a clean life. But secrets get in the way. Sure we can play dirty, use people’s mistakes against them. But put all those secrets behind us and the honest man comes out on top.”
Yes, we used to savor one at a time. And then again, we’d watch it again.
And again. Each time tasting more and more amazing! Just as we used to read Finnegan’s Wake or any Gertrude Stein, we would savor each word, each completion of a thought.
And there were many!
We’d find things we had not seen the first time around and we’d read them over and over. One film, one book or a painting: one would lead to another. Always another. One Rimbaud in, another Baudelaire out, one Satre in, one Wilde out.
Just as in Bruno, Dante, Vico… Joyce, this one, by Beckett. One Goethe at a time, slowly! One Garcia Marquez, one Hegel at a time. And what incredible taste!!!
Or…One Picasso at a time: “Guernica”! Day in, day out… “Guernica”! Or Duchamp’s “Large Glass”. Or Joseph Albers or Max Ernst or…. one Hélio Oiticica, one at a time!
It was almost monogamous! Yes, our relationship with the Founding Fathers of our cultural pillars.
The Flemish, the Spanish Masters, the drop outs. One Francis Bacon at a time, even when there were three! One Andy Warhol, even when he multiplied two by sixty!
Or, to go and see Yehudi Menuhin play live at the Royal Albert Hall or Lenny Bernstein at the South Bank or Carnegie Hall, conducting Beethoven or Villa Lobos’s “Bachianas”. One at a time. Even John Cage! One after another yet, one at a time!
Or a Wagner overture! What an explosion that was! Or “Concierto de Arranjuez”. Or Procul Harum!
Or…. Johnny Rotten. Yes, we liked him!!!
We used to listen to a few bands. A few bands only. And then, say, we used to go watch them live….like, The Stones, Zeppelin and so on. Yet, while our decibel range was from high to higher, it all seemed pretty quiet to me!
AND we used to watch plays. Yes, we’d ‘live’ in the theater and watch the same play many times over, observe specific actors in action, absorb the playwright’s lines, one by one! One after another, one by one.
And now? Now it’s all a huge web of an uninspired spy game! One huge Crime Scene Investigation!!!
Morality binds people into groups. It gives us tribalism, it gives us genocide, war, and politics. But it also gives us heroism, altruism, and sainthood. And….genocide!
It was pop and classic. Pop and classic.
We had a memory back then. We didn’t need a Google to remind us, or to remember for us. We didn’t need Google to translate because what mattered was our own interpretation.
“History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.”
Neither pop nor classic.
We are at war! Not in a Clockwork Orange World War “kind of war”, but at war. More like the kind of “Usual Suspect” kind war, or Freud’s and Hitler’s idea of war.
The age of pure and simple propaganda.
Last night I found Edward Snowden hiding between two books on my shelves. I didn’t say a word. He uttered the word “Graceland” and I pretended to understand.
I’m always pretending to understand.
But I don’t!
Not any more!!!
New York – November 20, 2014